Hey Good Lookin’, Whatcha Got Cookin’ by Cher’ley


 This Blog  by Cher’ley Grogg

Food is an important part of our lives and we all have favorite recipes we have been raised with. There were 5 kids and two adults in our family and often we children would bring in visitors and Mom would always say, “Stay to eat. We’ll throw another potato in the pot.” Some of my favorite foods were the soups that Mom made. She had many different kinds of soups, and one of my favorites was hamburger soup.


1 finely chopped onion
1 pound lean ground beef
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 cups potatoes, cleaned, peeled, chopped
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (we always had home-canned)
1 6-oz can tomato paste (to thicken quicker)
Pepper and salt to taste


Brown hamburger and drain. Transfer to a pot, add chopped carrots, celery and potatoes.  Continue cooking over medium heat for about 5 -8 minutes.  Add diced tomatoes and tomato paste (do not drain the diced tomatoes).  Blend. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are cooked. Bigger families, “Just throw another potato in the pot.”

My mom could create something that tasted good from practically nothing. When my children were younger, I too picked up some cheap and far-reaching dishes. When times were tight, the cook would always find ways to stretch the budget just a bit. I discovered many things that made good gravy, even a bit of flour and bacon grease tasted good over biscuits fresh from the oven. But, I find that I miss my mom’s simple recipes and since my children and grandchildreI remember n aren’t around much for meals, I’m still trying to learn to not cook for an army, but most of the older recipes tend to taste better when “super-sized”.

Aunt Linda is the main cook in “Stamp Out Murder”, people visiting McKeel’s Bed and Breakfast want good old-fashioned, West Virginia style food and Linda doesn’t disappoint them. In fact, many of the return guests do so because of her wonderful, mouth-watering recipes.

***Do you miss your Mom’s or Grandma’s cooking? What was your favorite dish? Do you have a favorite dish that you fix?***

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. Her newest book is an Advanced Coloring Book and she has one that is freshly published with 11 other authors.

Stamp Out Murder”.
 The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren
The JourneyBack 3The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey Back
Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology
 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 

All About the Girls 5(3)

Four Moons and Fair Ladies Four Moons and Fair Maidens

Memories from Maple Street U.S.A: Pawprints on My Heartlink coming soon

Wonders of Water      Advanced Coloring Book

And please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell
Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE

Gratitude and Thanks


Post (c) by Doris McCraw

We are coming on my favorite time of year. I am partial to the Holiday of Thanksgiving. It is not a time of giving gifts. It has nothing except the heartfelt idea of being thankful. Despite how horrible we think life is, we really do have many reasons for gratitude and thanks.

The world around us is full of beauty, we have only to look.


We are surrounded by music, we have only to listen

How many of us have tried something new to eat, or savored the joy of eating an old favorite?


We hold our pets, our loved ones, the delight we take in that touch.


The smell of the air after a rain, of pine when you walk in the woods, or the rose you hold to your nose.


Take time to enjoy and employ all the senses, be thankful for all this world holds for us. No matter what happens, we have so much right in front of us, so much that makes our lives worth living. So tell that friend how much you appreciate them, hold your loved one close, and be grateful and thankful you get to experience life in all its glory. Remember the quote from my last post “It takes life to love life.”

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ” John F. Kennedy

Thank you.


Fun In The Big City


This post is by Joe Stephens


I’ve been in Louisville, Kentucky since last Thursday doing the AP Reading. What that is, in a nutshell, is a couple thousand English teachers and professors from all over the country gather in one place to read and score 1.2 million essays that were written in May by high school students on the AP (Advanced Placement) English Literature and Composition Exam. The good news that the 1.2 million is the total, not how many we each had to read. We were divided into three rooms with each room responsible for reading one of the three essays. My room read the prose essay. I scored 1508 essays from Friday until today (yesterday when this goes live). I say I scored and not read, I mean that, well, not all the kids wrote all the essays. But that’s another story. Even the essays in general is another story. What I want to write about is all the stuff that you can do for fun in Louisville.

20160613_205656First of all, the part of Louisville I saw is mostly what’s called the Central Business District, or downtown. The city is huge, with a metro area totalling over 1 million people. So what I saw and did is miniscule compared to the entire city. But even in our little corner tucked against the Ohio River (which seems really WIDE compared to the part that flows past my town of Parkersburg, WV), there’s so much to do that you just can’t get to it all, especially when you only have a few evenings free to do stuff. So if you want to visit, plan for plenty of time. There are even theme parks here, but I won’t be talking about that.

First of all, anyone who’s been to one will tell you that AAA baseball games are the best 20160613_191845entertainment bargain around. My friends and I went to a Louisville Bats game and the tickets were $10. Yes, drinks and refreshments were as expensive as at a movie theater, but if you plan your trip right, you can get there on a promotion night. We missed dollar hot dogs and soft drink night by one day, but they have them regularly. Almost every night there’s some kind of discount or giveaway. And even if you don’t like baseball, go. The park is amazing and there’s some sort of goofy entertainment between every inning. We had a blast and we barely even paid attention to the game.

20160615_174136If you’re not into sports, there are tons of other things to do, including museums, theater productions (Louisville is the unofficial Boston of the South, with many future Broadway hits having their final tune-up productions taking place here for a fraction of the cost as on the Great White Way.), big-name concerts, and even crazy activities like the world’s largest underground zip-line. While you’re here, you really need to see the Muhammad Ali Center. It was simply fascinating. We happened to be there the week of his funeral, so it was even busier than normal, but we had no trouble seeing 20160609_142201everything.

Maybe the best part about Louisville is the food. Where we were, there seemed to be a great restaurant every fifty feet. One area, Fourth Street Live, in addition to being the location of many shows and events every week during the warm months, is completely lined with fantastic restaurants. If you can’t find something you like there, you don’t like food. And, if you’re into beverages of the adult type, Kentucky is the home of good ol’ Kentucky bourbon. But you can also find many varieties of craft-brewed beers and local wines if you’re looking for something a little milder.

So if you have some time on your hands and are looking for a fun place to go, Louisville, Kentucky should be on your short list.


sunrise cover option 7



Joe’s newest book, Dawn of Grace, just debuted on June 9. It’s available on Amazon.



ITS Cover ArtCheck out his third book, In The Shadow on Amazon

kindle cover

Take a look at his debut book, Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at his second book, Kisses and Lies on Amazon


Food for Thought

This post by Jennifer Flaten


What is your go to meal when you just can think of anything to cook/eat? For me it is cereal. Really. Sometimes, nothing appeals to me but a big bowl of cereal. It doesn’t matter what type of cereal it is, as long as it’s in the cabinet I’ll eat it. It doesn’t matter if it’s Fruit Loops or Special K, although the Special K makes me feel like I’m more adult.


Of course, when the kids were little I wanted to model better eating habits so I tried to cook as much as possible, even on the days when I didn’t want to eat.  On those days, I went with kid friendly meals like eggs, pancakes, mac and cheese, and hot dogs.


Now, I have one kid doesn’t like boxed mac & cheese, one kid who won’t eat eggs and another kid who is suspicious of hot dogs. So, now on the nights when I don’t feel like cooking or eating much of anything I feel free to turn the kids loose on leftovers/sandwiches and I make myself a nice big bowl of cereal.

Even the kids sometimes go with just a bowl (or 3) of cereal or oatmeal. Although, we try not to do that too often, but sometimes after a really tough day nothing is better. I think it is the fact there is hardly any clean up.

DSCN7278What’s your go to meal?


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Rarin’ to go


This post by Jennifer Flaten


Another food based holiday has passed and I managed not to poison anyone. I am, I think, a competent cook, but there is just something about the holidays; or more specifically cooking for a large (and by large I mean anything over 5 people) crowd that throws me off my game.


On any other day of the week, I can bake a chicken and be 100% (okay, maybe 98% because you just never know) certain that my cooking won’t forever doom the event to be known as “The day I got so sick I thought I was going to die”.


Thanksgiving, on the other hand, with all that thawing and basting, not to mention working with a gargantuan bird that just barely fits in the oven cause me to have heart palpitations.


Part of my anxiety could stem from growing up with my grandmother. For her there was only one way to cook meat. There was either (over) done or OMG we’re going to die of Ptomaine poisoning.


She was the queen of well done. I can’t imagine what she would think about sushi or some of the other wacky gastronomical creations they have Food Network. She cooked everything on extremely high heat for the maximum amount of time.


I didn’t realize there was any other style of steak besides over-done until I moved in with my mother and then it took some time for me to actually try my steak that way. I still haven’t tried sushi with actual raw fish, I go for the tame rice and veggie version of sushi. I don’t even eat raw cookie batter for cryin’ out loud.


How about you? Do you dare to go medium rare?


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Lunch Time

This post by Jennifer Flaten

Summer is here, which means the kids are home for lunch, most days. During the school year I send them off to school with a bag lunch and it is much the same every day, sandwich, drink, fruit snacks, and a granola bar.


They don’t complain much about the sameness.  I think that they like the familiarity, plus given how short a student’s lunch hour is these days (only about 20 min) I think they like the simplicity of what I pack (or at least that is what I tell myself).

During the summer, tho’ they can make whatever they want for lunch. They can also eat lunch more in line with when they are hungry instead of when the official lunch hour is, although I do have to keep them from eating lunch at 10am.

I’ve noticed that one food tends to be the “it” food of the summer. One year it was chicken patties on a bun. Sure, one kid at it with pickles, while one kid ate it with mayo, and don’t even get me started on the kid who insisted on eating it plain. For days upon days, it was chicken patties.

The next year it was Ramen noodles. Yes, those salt laden cup o noodles and yes, I know they aren’t terribly healthy, but they are easy for three kids to make and inexpensive.

This year, no clear favorite has emerged. Of course, it is only the first week.

Do you find yourself eating the same thing for lunch? I do, mostly because I am eating at my desk and need something that one end up squished between computer keys. On the days, I am home for lunch I will think, “Today is the day I eat something different for lunch” and then end up with a salad or that old stand by cereal.

Until the end of June I am offering free shipping on my jewelry on Etsy , just use coupon code FreeShip.

Asking ‘Beets’ Assuming

This post by Jennifer Flaten


Remember how you’re taught that assuming something can make an a$$ out of you and me? Well, the result of my assuming wasn’t quite that bad, but it did leave a bad taste in my mouth.


Let this serve as a cautionary tale.


Yesterday was staff lunch day at work. We have staff lunch once a month and it is usually a potluck and yesterday’s was no different. I walked into the conference room and found a nice array of food.


I’d broughtmor a fruit plate. When I signed up for my item I noticed that the only other person signed up was bringing muffins. I joked that we had the makings of a nice continental breakfast, it seems my joke stuck because the other items on the buffet included an egg casserole and what looked, to me, like a strawberry (perhaps even with rhubarb) fruit crisp.


The mystery dish was a deep maroon red with pieces of what could only be strawberries. Plus, it had a lovely sprinkle of  walnuts on top, so I plopped a nice scoop on my plate. At this point, I should have asked, but I didn’t.


At the table I’m biting into my blueberry muffin, when I hear a co-worker asking the maker of the “fruit” salad if it was his version of ambrosia. His explanation seemed a bit elaborate, but someone talked over him, so I didn’t couldn’t really hear his reply.


Muffin finished it was time to eat the compote/ambrosia/crisp thing. I took my fork and stirred it around. Hmm, what is that big slab of red…is it a strawberry. Of course, it’s a strawberry, after all this is some sort of strawberry fruit compote/ambrosia crisp thing. I mean, I assume it is.


Just then I heard the salad’s maker talking about how he uses both fresh and frozen raspberries in his salad…okay, so this is some sort of fruit salad.


I popped the forkful in my mouth. It took approximately one second for me to realize my mistake. This was NOT a fruit salad. Nor was it a compote/ambrosia/crisp.


This was, in fact, a veggie salad. Specifically a beet salad. The strangest beet salad (my apologies to its maker) I’ve ever had. It had raspberries, a raspberry sauce, mandarin oranges and beets.


Let me just say, I don’t hate beets. If pressed I would say even that I am okay with them. When I know they are beets. When they are a strawberry trojan horse  I don’t like them.


My first instinct was to spit it out-violently, but I couldn’t spit it out. For goodness sake’s I am at WORK I should act like an adult. So I dutifully chewed the offending beet and washed it down with a lot of water and a nice bite of egg casserole.


I poked the beet salad one more time for good measure, just to see if any strawberries were in it.


Another co-worker plopped down next to me, she had a blop of the beet salad on her plate. She motioned to it with her fork and said “This looks interesting…how is it?”


I replied that it was made with beets (trying to suppress the shudder). My co-worker frowned at the salad and used her fork to move it to the far edges of her plate.


She she didn’t assume…she asked. Thus saving herself from the beets.


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A Watched Pot Never Boils

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

Actual excerpt of conversation I had with my daughter

Me:” I have the oven preheating, it will beep when it is done, just ignore it. Now, when the water boils I need you to add the noodles and set the time for 8 minutes, when they are done drain them and leave them for me. Got it?”

Kid: “Yes!”

Me: “Okay, I am running out to pick up the two other kids from their after school activities, I will be home in a few minutes. You sure you’re okay with watching the noodles?”

Kid: nodding vigorously “YES.”

I drive off and as I pull into my son’s school I get a text, it‘s the Kid “The oven timer went off what do I do?”

I text back that it is just letting her know it’s preheated no action necessary. My son hops in the car and I continue on my merry way to pick up the next kid.

As I pull into that kid’s school, I get another text. This one is a picture of the noodles happily boiling away. Great, I can just finish making the sauce for the mac & cheese when I get home and supper is done. I am pleased that we will have a nice meal together, since we haven’t because of various after school activities.

This kid takes a little longer to get to the car so I am a few minutes late getting home. I walk in and kid number one greats me a tad sheepishly. Before I can even ask, she tells me that she accidentally set the timer for 80 minutes instead of 8 minutes, and then got involved in a TV program. She remembered the noodles, but it was too late they are way past al dente.
She looks so remorseful that I can’t even chastise her for not keeping track of the noodles.

Since, we don’t have any other noodles in the house, so I work with the mushy noodles. The macaroni and cheese is still edible, but my other daughter keeps making pointed comments about the texture of the noodles.

I think from now on she is in charge of frozen pizza night.

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You Say Tomato

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

It’s tomato season. This year I planted a lovely exotic black beauty tomato plant. The fruit starts out a deep black and as it ripens, it turns a lovely shade of dark red or so the little picture on the plants tag led me to believe. file9161338653823

I wouldn’t know for sure because right after the plant fruited, and yes, the little tiny tomatoes were a lovely shade of deep purple/black, the tomatoes started disappearing one by one.

The same thing occurred on my cherry tomato plant. At first, it was loaded with lovely miniature tomatoes. Then every day there would be one less tomato. Some little creature was making off with my tomatoes.

Entirely my fault, I planted the tomatoes in containers but failed to secure a fence around them. Although, with how wily the critters in my neighborhood appear to be, I don’t a moat would have stopped them from eating my tomatoes.

This reminds me of a wonderful book I used to read the kids at story time Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming. The book shows how a farmer tries to prevent bunnies from eating his garden by building more and more elaborate fences. Still the bunnies get in and muncha! Muncha! I so identify with the farmer.

Luckily, we have a lovely fruit stand at the end of our block so I can have fresh tomatoes for my salsa.

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What’s Cooking?

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

I signed the kids up for summer school. When I went to school summer school was akin to a stretch in the big house. Your parents threatened you with it, if you didn’t get your grades up and if you did end up in it, you spent the entire time looking out the window day dreaming about all the wonderful fun you’d be having on the outside. If only you weren’t trapped inside learning algebra.

Now summer school is more like an affordable day camp for kids. This year the kids could build paper roller coasters, put on a summer theatre production, or learn how create motion picture masterpieces among other things.

I let the kids sign up for fun stuff, but I also signed them up for cooking class, after all, it is important to feel comfortable in the kitchen.

Actually, my motives weren’t purely altruistic. In the class, they learn how to make muffins, cookies and pizza to name just a few. Aside from them getting more comfortable in the kitchen, the kids bring home samples for me.

Yep, it’s all about the muffins for me. So far, they brought home muffins and a huge batch of spaghetti, which my husband happily packed in his lunch box.

They did make pizza, but some how I didn’t get any pizza. How many samples I get varies depending on hfile5811252090673ow much the kids liked the cooking project of the day.

I know it makes the kids happy to know I am looking forward to sampling all their hard work and conveniently, school lets out right before lunch so I don’t have to worry about what I am having for lunch.

Today I got two strawberry empanadas-tasty-but I know when cookie day rolls around they won’t bring me even a crumb.

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