La Bella Mafia - Morgan St. James & Dennis N. Griffin, Authors

12:44 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Honey Bun Cake
(A Bella Favorite)

1 pkg. Super Moist butter recipe yellow cake mix
2 sticks of butter (1 cup) softened
4 eggs
1 container (8 oz.) sour cream
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease bottom only of 13 x 9 pan, or spray with non-stick spray.  Remove 1/2 cup of dry cake mix and set aside.  Beat remaining dry cake mix, butter, eggs and sour cream in large bowl on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Spread half batter in pan.  Stir together reserved dry cake mix, brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon.  Sprinkle over batter in pan.  Carefully spread remaining batter over pecan mixture (to make spreading easier, drop batter by dollops over pecan mixture then spread).  Bake 30-33 minutes or until deep golden brown and cake springs back when touched lightly in center.  Stir powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until thin enough to drizzle (stirring in additional milk, 1 tsp. at a time if necessary).  Poke top of warm cake several times with fork and spread glaze over top of cake.  Cool completely and store covered.
 
La Bella Mafia – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish



I was old enough to want to try to figure out how I became the person I was.  I felt a need to locate people who had known me when I was little.  I was able to find one of the social workers who worked with my whole family when I was small.  I stayed with that woman for a week, went places wither family, ate dinner with them and learned a lot about those early years.  She was wonderfully frank about answering every question I asked her. 

I wanted to know how she saw me as a child.  Imagine my shock when she said, “I saw you as a little girl who could poison her parents’ coffee and walk away like nothing happened.

Bella was four when the abuse really took hold of her life.  Her mother was an addict, her father had ‘connection’ and got his enjoyment by getting drunk and beating her mother and older brother.  Her brother got his kicks by beating her and later abusing her sexually.  And after he mother went into rehab her father decided she would become his punching bag.  But Bella didn’t give up nor give in to any of her life of hell.  It was the only way of life she had ever known so it became ‘normal’ to her.  So when she started cutting school, drinking and doing drugs she was doing what was normal.  But when the beatings got worse she had no choice but to turn herself in to social services for protection, several times.  That venue out was sometimes good and sometimes bad.  She was tossed from foster homes that didn’t care, to one that really did to a group home that she found to be more of a cult than a real home for her and the others living there.

With all of the beatings as a child as well as an adult, it’s a miracle that Bella survived.  Her determination, with the help of God, kept her from committing suicide many times. It gave her the courage to live next door to the park that was practically owned by a gang known as the Crips.   It gave her the strength to stand up to her husband, take her four daughters and leave everything she knew and loved and start over while burying herself in hiding.  But most importantly, it gave her the knowledge and desire to help others who have been through her trials in life and are on the verge of giving up. 

I can’t help but be amazed by this woman whom I see as being terribly strong but I also see her as one that can never let her mental guard down for fear of slipping.  There are few women, or men, in this world that I truly admire.  Most people never acquire the strength to fight back and keep going while living through what Bella has endured her whole life.  Most give up and give in, eventually destroying what is left both inside and out.  But not Bella.  This book is one that everyone, male and female, should not only read but listen to what you’re reading.  While reading I ran across what I believe to be the perfect closing for my review.  This is Bella’s purpose in life and I can’t help but feel proud to say that I’ve read her story and felt her pain, as much as possible, without going through this with her.   This is priceless.

“When your reality is a living Hell, you actually do believe you did something wrong and that’s why you’re there.  The first time I sat in a  therapist’s chair I didn’t feel like I deserved to be there.  Of course, I have come leaps and bounds from that time and now I pour out my soul every day in the hope my message will reach even one girl who feels the way I did.  If that happens, it will spare her some of the torment of finding her way.  That’s how LaBella Mafia began.  Most of the Bellas are women I touched who had experienced what I did and worse.  We’ve bonded to help each other.  It is never really over, but it can get better.” -  Bella

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