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

Ghost Gone Wild - Carolyn Hart, Author

9:10 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves


BAILEY RUTH'S OLD-FASHIONED OKLAHOMA CORN BREAD

1 c. yellow corn meal
2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
3/4 c. milk
1 egg
1 Tbsp oil

 Butter round baking pan. Cook at 425 degrees for 30 min.

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Ghost Gone Wild - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Excerpt from GHOST GONE WILD:  I was afraid I was beginning to understand.  The telegram from Wiggins had been counterfeit.  Nick's aunt Dee had nosed about the department and found my name.  Any thriller writer would consider it child's play to purloin information from Wiggins's old-fashioned paper files,  which were kept in accommodatingly unlocked wooden filing cabinets.  It was possible she sometimes served as an emissary.  However, Wiggins was always insistent that emissaries not contact family members who knew them... In any event, if she'd wanted to send help to Nick, obviously she would have hunted about in the files for someone connected to Adelaide, and so she had sent the spurious telegram and waylaid me as I was en route.

Bailey Ruth arrives in Adelaide, OK, to help out Nick, who became the target of a bullet within minutes after her arrival at his house.  Luckily Bailey Ruth was able to push him out of the way before the bullet struck him.  Bailey Ruth tries to convince him to call the police but his cell phone is missing.  And then people started appearing due to a text that was supposedly sent to them by Nick.  Jan, Nick's girl friend, showed up but wasn't thrilled to see that another woman was there.   After some fast thinking, Bailey Ruth was able to calm her down.  That is until Lisa showed up due to her text from Nick which invited her to come over.  And then the third person showed up... Lisa's husband demanding to know where she was.  All arrived 'after' the shot was taken at Nick.  Did the shooter want to implicate these three in the killing of Nick?  Well, thanks to Bailey Ruth saving him, the shooter's idea was spoiled and Bailey Ruth now had some possible suspects.

Author Carolyn Hart has done her usual in writing another fun-filled story of suspense, murder, humor and spirits.  Oh, did I forget to tell you that Bailey Ruth is a ghost?  From time to time she is allowed to descend upon earth to help a person in danger.  This is normally done through Wiggins but in this case the person, or should I say ghost, that  sent Bailey Ruth to earth is Dee, Nick's aunt who decides she has to keep an eye out and make sure Bailey Ruth does everything correctly to save her nephew.  Problem is, with Dee being the one to send Bailey to earth, she has no control over her abilities to appear and disappear, so once Bailey Ruth appeared, she was unable to disappear and with Wiggins not knowing of her descent, she became OF the earth and not ON the earth. 

This series is one that I keep an eye out for the next Bailey Ruth story to hit the shelves.  The characters are always so real, including Bailey Ruth, to the point that you actually feel that you know them as neighbors.  Now I "patiently" wait for the next volume to see what Bailey gets herself into next.

When Love Never Ends J. Alec Keaton, Author

1:03 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


 
 
AVOCADO BREAD
(A J. Alec Keaton Favorite)

3 eggs
1 cup Imperial margarine (microwave to soften)
½ cup of nuts (optional)
1 cup diced avocado
2 cups flour
1 ½ cups of sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ cup allspice

 

Soften margarine and mix with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, beat well. Add dry ingredients, nuts and avocado. Spray 3 loaf pans with PAM and pour mixture evenly.  Bake at 350 in oven for 45 minutes. (the time may vary slightly depending on the exact temperature of your oven)

Double recipe to make 5 loaves.

 

 

When Love Never Ends - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Sam never uttered the words "I love you" to any woman with whom he had a sexual relationship.  He had said those three words only to Sara, who was the love of his life.  Threatened and intimidated by her father, Sam had walked away from her a long time ago.  That happened in 1966 and now, thirteen years later, he was still in love with her.  Sam tried not to think of her, but in the deepest reaches of his heart, he could never forget her.  A man never forgets his first love.  Sam's ultimate desire was to correct the one mistake he'd made long ago.  His friend, Dr. Jeremiah Ebenezer Pike, always talked about the possibility of time travel.  If it was possible to travel back in time, then I'd correct the mistake I made in leaving Sara, Sam thought. 

It was only since the loss of his wife four years ago that Ebb had been obsessed with the concept of time travel.  On a Wednesday, Sam met Ebb for dinner.  "Ebb, tell me more about your project of time travel."

Sara's father was a bit of a bigot.  When he found out that Sam was part Japanese he forbid Sam to see Sara.  With there being a 5 year age difference he threatened Sam with statutory rape, along with threats regarding Sam's parents as well as Sara herself if he didn't break it off with her immediately without allowing her to know that her father had intervened.  Sam had always wanted to be an attorney and this dream would be destroyed if he went to jail.  He also worried about what would happen to his parents if his dad lost his job and how Sara would thrive with her father controlling her every move.  He had no choice but to break it off, hurting both of them more than either could imagine.

Sam saw his dream and became a graduate of Harvard University.  He met Elliot Benson who was the controlling partner in an exclusive law firm that represented some of the more wealthy clients in Seattle.  Benson took an immediate liking to Sam and offered him a position within the firm.  Sam was impressed but had committed to work for Senator Kennedy in Washington for four or five years.  After completing this he would return to Seattle and if Benson still wanted him he was his.

After returning to Seattle, Sam's life was still incomplete.  The missing element was Sara so when she walked into his office one day asking if he would represent her in her divorce against an abusive husband, Sam felt the missing pieces of his life coming back together.   Until......

This book is so beautifully filled with love and commitment.  It also holds hate and disappointments.  But then it holds the possibility of everything being corrected and happiness falling upon everyone within Sam and Sara's lives.  This was a truly enjoyable book with a surprise around every corner.