Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011!

We had a blast tonight! Carving pumpkins, taco soup, the boys had friends over, chocolate cupcakes .... It was soooo much fun!

An Angry Bird!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Our society is afflicted by a spirit of thoughtless arrogance unbecoming those who have been so magnificently blessed. How grateful we should be for the bounties we enjoy. Absence of gratitude is the mark of the narrow, uneducated mind. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge and the ignorance of self-sufficiency.

Gordon B. Hinckley

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Fun Kids Meal

We're expecting snow tonight, and tomorrow the temps are supposed to "climb" into the mid 30s! Time to haul out the cold weather recipes!

This is one that I remember as a child, and making for my boys when they were small. Meatballs are always a hit with kids because it's food that's small like they are! These are called Porcupines because they're made with rice and it sticks out when they're cooked making them like those cute little critters they're named after!

Serve them with cooked rice or mashed potatoes to serve the sauce over and some veggies or a salad, and you'll have some happy, and well fed, kidlets!


• 1 1/2 pound lean ground beef
• 2/3 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
• 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
• 1 large can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
• 1 cup water
• 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Mix ground beef with rice, 1/2 cup of water, chopped onion, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Shape porcupine ground beef mixture by tablespoon into 1 1/2-inch balls.

Place the porcupine meatballs in an ungreased 2-quart shallow baking dish. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over the porcupine meatballs. Cover and bake at 350° F. oven for about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake porcupine meatballs 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Porcupine meatballs serve 4 to 6.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I haven't been feeling well the past few days, and my sweet son Kevin bought me a bouquet of tulips to cheer me up. I can't remember when I've seen anything so beautiful! They make me feel cherished. And when the snow comes in tomorrow night they will be wonderful to look at as the cold and snow swirl around outside!

I Had To Post This

I had to post this, if only because I am in the major minority of those who didn't like Twilight. It was the only book in the series that I read, I'll be honest, and I have not see any of the movies. I found the angst and drama of high school bad enough to live through, and it is probably a testament to Stephenie Meyers that her brought it all back for me.

"He looked at me, does he like me?"
"He's not at school today, is it becase of me??"
"Oh he talked to me! He must like me!"
"He's so cute! He couldn't like me!"

Yikes. I am not aware of a discussion of Twlight or Harry Potter being the better book, but that seems to be what Stephen King is addressing here. I just really liked his comment and had to post this here today.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

In All It's Purple Lovliness!

We lost a good friend today .... our toaster. Oh, he'd been going downhill for quite awhile, and it was not pretty. Smoke alarms going off .... toast burnt so black you'd think it was charcoal, and that was on the lowest setting!

Then finally it got to the point that you had to stand there and hold the button down and wait for it to toast. While it was nice to spend time together like that, I had to keep letting go to make my hot chocolate, turn the CD on to listen to while I ate, grab some napkins ... you get the picture. It was time to say goodbye.

AJ bought me a new toaster today, an early Christmas present. And it is amazing in it's beauty, because it is PURPLE!!! Those who know me know it's my favorite color. It looks perfect in my (non-purple) kitchen.

Can't wait to see what Stan says when he gets home tonight!

Isn't it cute?
And don't you love AJ's reflection in it??

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Release Day for My New Book!

I am happy and excited to announce the release of my newest novel, The Christmas to Remember!

The Christmas to Remember is a very personal book for me, as it is based on many of the personal experiences of my grandfather, Neal Jacobsen Hillyard. It is from his personal history that I have taken many of the events and people and based this fictional account of a young boy named Jens.

Here is a synopsis of the book:

In 1902 Aalborg, Denmark, life is hard for the Pederson family. Eight-year-old Jens has started working to help his mother and his older brothers and sister provide for their family. With angry adults around him, a bully at school out to get him, and his teacher assigning a dreaded essay, Jens has far too much to worry about.

But Christmas is fast approaching. With their meager earnings, the Pederson family begins preparations for the Christmas feast. Learning the true meaning of faith and hope as he helps with the plans, Jens has but one wish: to make this holiday the best one ever for his family. A Christmas to remember.

The gorgeous cover was designed by Rachael Sherwood, a professional photographer and a personal friend of mine. She has such a lovely eye for the beauty in the "ordinary" things of life showing how extraordinary they really are. She has created magic with her camera, not just for this cover but in her photographs of families, which are her specialty. I invite you to visit her website A Thousand Words at to see what she can do!

Right now, The Christmas to Remember is available on Amazon ( and at Smashwords ( and will soon be on sale at other e-book online retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, Scrollmotion and Diesel.

I hope you'll take the time to check out this very special holiday story and add it to your personal collection. And if you do, please let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: The Lace Makers of Glenmara

"You can always start again," Kate Robinson's mother once told her, "all you need is a new thread."

This line is the recurring theme in this lovely novel The Lace Makers of Glenmara by author Heather Barbieri. Reeling from heartbreak and loss, Kate embarks on a journey she and her mother had always planned. Her mother's early death, the ending of her long-term relationship, and the failure of her life-long dream of her own clothing design send the 26-year-old to Ireland, the home of her mother's ancestors, to try to discover a way to move on from the pain she carries in her heart.

She stumbles upon the small town of Glenmara, a tiny coastal village that is struggling to survive as their young people abandon it for the bigger cities of Dublin and London. She meets a group of women who carry on the ancient tradition of making lace, having been taught by their mothers and grandmothers. Embracing Kate and taking her into their group, they teach her their craft and soon she finds a home for her talents as well as her heart.

For, not only are these women lacemakers, they are also women who carry their own burdens of loss and heartache. Bernie is looking for a purpose for her life since her husband died two years ago, Oona is trying to regain her sense of self after surviving breast cancer, Moira is dealing with an abusive husband, and Colleen's fisherman husband is missing at sea, and Aileen is watching her teen-aged daughter, and possibly her marriage, slip through her fingers. Then Kate meets Sullivan Deane, a man who has his own haunted, and tragic tale and recognizes the same in Kate.

This is such a sweet story. It is not all sweetness and light; Aileen resents Kate's presence and feels threatened by the young American who seems to have captivated the rest of the women. The parish priest sees her as a menace to his flock and is determined to drive her away from Glenmara. But through it all Kate remembers how her mother showed her the way. Nothing is so awful it cannot be recovered from. All you need is a new thread.

My best friend of 43 years, Beth, recommended this book to me, saying it reminded her of my own novel In the Company of Women. There are many similarities, specifically how women support, love and share each others burdens. The relationship between Bernie and Aileen reminded me a lot of Beth and myself. They've been friends forever, and their conversations are sprinkled with memories of their long history together.

While I completely enjoyed this book, there is a feeling toward the end that Ms. Barbieri is trying to wrap things up, and it felt a bit rushed to me. It does not detract from the story, and I would whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone who has had a friend who has stood by her through the trials of her life. I think if you read the story of The Lace Makers of Glenmara you will find some familiar characters.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Something to Consider

Sensual pleasure passes and vanishes in the twinkling of an eye, but the friendship between us, the mutual confidence, the delights of the heart, the enchantment of the soul, these things do not perish, and can never be destroyed. I shall love you until I die.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Happy 22nd Birthday AJ!

Today is AJ's 22nd birthday! Yay! He has brought so much joy, laughter and love to our lives that I cannot imagine a world without him in it.

We celebrated early today because he has school today and he couldn't miss. He had a Calculus test this morning, and he has a Physics test this evening. He returned home about 1:00 this afternoon and we had his birthday dinner then. In our family you get to pick the menu yourself since it's your special day. AJ is pretty consistent. It was good!

We had Cornish game hens ...

Roasted fingerling potatoes ...

and pea and cheese salad.

Captain Cool even stopped by for a visit!

With a birthday kiss for the Man of the Hour!

When we were done with dinner we brought out the triple chocolate cake that AJ had requested!

We sang to him, which he seemed to like,

then he blew out the candles!

He liked the presents the his father, brother and I gave him: a copy of one of his favorite movies Tron: Legacy, a new pair of sunglasses, and a subscription to Astronomy magazine!

And through it all -- a very happy, and blessed, mom!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A New Kind of Birthday Cake!

Yesterday was my birthday, and I had such fun celebrating! Thursday, the women I serve with in the Relief Society Presidency took me to lunch and gave me the best goodies to take home with me! I wish I'd taken pictures of these beautiful women, but I forgot to take my camera. We had Mexican food, which is one of my favorites, and we talked and laughed and had such fun. I got candles and chocolate, a good book, some body spray, a heatable wrap to use when my arthritis gets bad and a Christmas cookbook! I'll be making some awesome plates of goodies to give away this holiday!

On Friday Kevin bought me a new dryer. We had ordered one and things got messed up and it wasn't coming as we expected. (Kevin was buying that one too.) I decided to go "green" and bought a used dryer which didn't cost as much and makes me feel like I'm doing one more thing to help Mother Earth out. The boys took all four of us out to the diner for hamburgers (again ... I forgot my camera!) where they made me get up and do the twist while they sang to me. (Be happy you missed that little show!)

Friday night, instead of a birthday cake Kevin made homemade funnel cakes for my birthday. I don't know how he did it, but they were fresh and warm and oh my goodness! We topped them with strawberry jam, chocolate sauce and powdered sugar. As AJ said, these were better than ones you get at the fair or Elitch's because we could make them just the way we like

And were they good???

They sure were! Getting older was never so much fun!