Free Collection of Short Stories
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Christmas 2015 • Happy Spring
• July Summer Issue: "Fun Stuff Happenin'"
• December Christmas issue - Light and Life
More Freebies below
• General group discussion questions (suitable to most books & book clubs)
• Fun facts
Below is a random collection of tidbits, which I trust will grow over time (feel free to send me suggestions!). Along with recipes and tips for this and that, I’d like to provide short inspirational articles as well as interesting snippets of information related to my book topics.
General Group Discussion Questions for Book Clubs
Most of my books have discussion questions at the end that are specific to each book. However, your book club may want a discussion guide that's less focused and that can be used for any fiction book they choose to read. My thanks to church librarian Jackie Huffman for sharing these with us. (To open, click here or on document image to the right.)
This story, told to me by a friend, was published in Free Spirit, a religious publication that went out of business several years ago.
Diane’s youngest daughter was born with bleeding ulcers,
which her doctors did not know how to treat. One morning,
as the anxious mother sat in the hospital nursery watching
blood flow into her baby’s tiny body, a strange man
appeared in the doorway. His clothes were dirty and torn,
and a grungy hat flopped over his grimy face. She turned
away, determined to ignore the slovenly man, but he walked
directly to her and asked, “Do you want me to pray for your baby?”
She hesitated for only a moment before responding, “I can use all the help I can get.”
“Then,” Diane says, “he prayed the most beautiful, positive prayer I had ever heard. ‘Let her be completely well, Lord, with no problems again. Don’t let any other part of her body be hurt.’” With that, he turned and left the nursery.
“His prayer was so clear and precise,” Diane says, “and such a strong sensation of peace came over me that I fell asleep. Shortly after, a nurse woke me to tell me the bleeding had stopped.”
Diane never saw the man again, and her daughter, now grown with children of her own, never had another ulcer.
Almond Cinnamon Cookies
5 C blanched almond flour (not almond meal)
½ t sea salt
1 t baking soda
1 T ground cinnamon
1 T vanilla
½ C melted coconut oil
½ C honey
2 cookie sheets
4 pieces of parchment paper
Place one sheet of parchment paper on each cookie sheet. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball and divide in half. Flatten each half into an oblong shape on the parchment sheets and top with the other two parchment sheets. Roll each half to ¼ inch thickness between the two pieces of parchment paper. Refrigerate for one hour. Remove top parchment paper and cut out cookies. Use a spatula to separate them on the parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees (on the parchment paper) for 5-8 minutes or until edges are light brown.
Frozen Fruit Ice Cream
2 C of your favorite frozen fruit/s
¼ – ½ C coconut cream (depending on desired consistency) (be sure to get coconut cream, not coconut milk; I refrigerate the can for an hour or two before using)
1 T agave, honey or maple syrup or a few drops of Stevia
Pulse the fruit in a blender until pureed. Add the coconut cream and sweetener. Puree until smooth. Scoop into bowls and enjoy!
Several years ago, my friend Debbie gave me a simple formula for a spray window cleaner.
1 T cornstarch
1/2 C white vinegar
2 C water
(Some people add 1/4 C rubbing alcohol and a few drops of essential oil, which I’m sure would work even better plus smell good.)
I use the spray on our glass-top stove as well as on windows.
Christmas Candies - Honey Almond Crunch
Here’s a great recipe my sister gave me years ago. I make the
candy every Christmas for my family, friends and neighbors
(I usually double or triple it).
1/3 C butter
1/4 C honey
3/4 C slivered or sliced almonds
• Melt butter in heavy skillet. Stir in honey and almonds. Cook over hot burner, stirring constantly until mixture turns golden brown (and/or a tiny amount dropped in cold water forms a ball – remember your mother teaching you how to do that?).
• Spread in an 8x8-inch pan (larger, if you doubled or tripled ingredients), working quickly (be careful – the mixture is hot!). Cut into squares with a buttered sharp knife. Cool, store covered in the refrigerator. (I don’t cut the squares; instead, I put the candy in the freezer. When it hardens, I break it into bite-size pieces.)
• The cold version is crunchy. As it warms and softens, the candy becomes chewier.
My daughter-in-law recently tried this Almond Roca recipe from the Nourishing Gourmet site – pretty tasty!
Easy Open-Face Sandwich
Spread cream cheese on muffins, top with Canadian bacon and pineapple slices, crisp in 350º oven, serve.
Do you love campfires but have trouble getting them going? Unless you’re like my son who rubs a couple sticks together to start a fire, you’ll appreciate this handy, oh-so-cheap recipe I found years ago. Works every time!
What you’ll need:
Wax (old candles, paraffin, canning wax from the grocery store – whatever you have on hand)
Lint from your dryer (or cotton balls or cotton stuffing from pill bottles)
Empty egg carton/s (paper, not Styrofoam)
What you’ll do:
As you know, hot wax can be messy and extremely difficult to remove from carpets, clothing, etc. Be sure to wear old clothes or an apron and cover your workspace with newspapers to absorb spills.
1 – using an old pan, heat the wax just until liquid
2 – while the wax is heating, tear the top lid off the egg carton/s
3 – drop a blob of dryer lint into each egg holder
4 – cover the lint with wax, filling the holder ¾ full
5 – let the wax set until solid and cool
6 – tear apart the sections and, voilà, you have a dozen (or more) fire starters
How to use:
Place one starter in your fire pit (within easy reach) and layer kindling around it. The top edges of the fire starters are easy to light and quickly burn into the wax-covered lint, which keeps the starter going long enough for the kindling to catch and ignite a log or two. Enjoy!
Fun (and Not-So-Fun) Facts about Bison
(featured in my Kate Neilson “Winds” novels)
(from the American Bison Association's "Bison Breeder’s Handbook, Third Edition" and various online sources)
• "Buffalo" is not an accurate name for American bison. The shaggy animal’s closest relative is the European bison, not any of the buffaloes found in Asia, Africa and Indian.
• Bison once roamed the plains in numbers so great the early explorers could not count them. Herds were described as "numberless," "the country was one robe," and "the plains were black and appeared as if in motion."
• In addition to Indians using every part of a bison for food, clothing, cooking utensils, medicine and shelter, the white man also found uses for the skins, which were made into robes and rugs and drive belts for industrial machines. The tongues were offered as delicacies in fine restaurants. After hunters removed hides and tongues, they left behind thousands, if not millions, of bison carcasses on the Great Plains to rot. Later, when the bones were dry, they were collected and ground for fertilizer.
• Bison can grow taller than six feet, be as long as ten feet, and weigh as much as 2500 pounds.
• They live up to 15 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity.
• Wyoming’s state flag has a bison in the center of it.
• Although bison appear to be ungainly, they’re agile and incredibly fast, easily clocking 35 miles per hour. They can outrun and outmaneuver most horses. They can also jump like a deer and pivot on their hind feet as well as their front feet.
• People are injured more frequently by bison than bears in Yellowstone National Park.
• Despite the docile animals you see on YouTube, bison are unpredictable and, without warning, will charge a man or a machine. The ABA Handbook warns readers to never trust a bison. “Bison are not mean animals but will not hesitate to react if they feel threatened. There have been a few people seriously injured by supposedly tame bison.”
• Bison are intelligent and curious.
• The massive bovines love to wallow in dirt and mud.
• The bison is the biggest land mammal in North America.
• Yellowstone National Park has the largest and oldest public bison herd in the U.S.
• Two types of bison reside in North America – plains bison and wood or mountain bison.
• Wood Buffalo National Park, the biggest national park in Canada, hosts the world’s largest free-roaming herd of wood bison.
• The species cross between bison and cattle is called “beefalo.”
Discussion Questions for Small Groups
From novels and non-fiction books
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