Friday, February 26, 2010

Italian Bread

This is my go-to bread recipe whenever we have Italian night - spaghetti, lasagna, etc. I rarely, if ever, buy store bought Italian loaves anymore.

I split the dough and bake two loaves, freezing the extra one. When I want the frozen one, I thaw, wrap in foil, and warm in the oven - just like freshly baked. Mmmm!



(I forgot to take a picture of the beautifully browned baked loaf...!)





ITALIAN BREAD USING A BREAD MACHINE

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)

1 egg
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons cornmeal

Place flour, brown sugar, warm water, salt, olive oil and yeast in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Form dough into two loaves. Place the loaves seam side down on a cutting board generously sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and let rise, until doubled in volume about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl, beat together egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the risen loaves with egg mixture. Make a single long, quick cut down the center of the loaves with a sharp knife. Gently shake the cutting board to make sure that the loaves are not sticking. If they stick, use a spatula or pastry knife to loosen. Slide the loaves onto a baking sheet with one quick but careful motion. (I shape my loaves and let them rise directly on my baking stone)

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Recommend: YES

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Monday, February 22, 2010

SodaStream Soda Maker: Review

Ok, of all the products I've yet reviewed, this home soda maker was the most fun!

SodaStream gave me the opportunity to test out their Genesis Soda Maker.

I was surprised at the contents of the box SodaStream sent me!


A sleek, black Soda Maker (the Genesis model), one carbonator, 2 bottles, NINE soda mixes, and three MyWater flavors.

Making your own soda (or POP as my Western NY roots call it!) at home is super easy with SodaStream! After twisting the carbonator into the machine, you simply fill one of the carbonator bottles up to the line with *cold* water.

Then, twist the bottle onto the machine, press the button - 3 times for average fizziness - and wah-laa! Stage one: seltzer water! You can add a small amount of SodaStream's MyWater to flavor your seltzer.





OR...

Stage two: if you want pop, then you just add a capful of your favorite SodaMix flavor to the seltzer water. Gently swirl to mix...and there you go! Homemade pop!





The SodaStream was the most fun product I've tested - and also the most messy! Absolutely operator error!! I had to test the boundaries. I wanted to see if I could make sparkling grape juice (or cider or lemonade).

Ahem.

The bottle is clearly marked, "Carbonate water only."

Oh, c'mon!

I can tell you - don't do it. My children cried as juice loudly hiss-sprayed and spilled ALL over my kitchen. It was quite the sticky mess! (Thankfully I used WHITE grape juice...)

This was all that was left of a full bottle of juice:


What was left was very tasty. But, definitely not worth wasting 2/3 liter of juice all over my kitchen to do again! ;-)

But, my risk helped me get to know my SodaStream a bit better! The machine is very easy to clean! :-)

My kids loved the pop! They don't get sweet drinks very often, so the grape sodamix was a hit!


My husband and I enjoyed the Pink Grapefruit best.

I also loved that the SodaStream soda maker only makes 1-liter of seltzer/pop at a time! My husband doesn't mind flat soda, but I can't STAND it! We drink a 1-liter quick enough that it stays fizzy!!

The soda mixes are not made with high fructose corn syrup - but Splenda. So, even the non-diet ones tasted "diet-y" to me. Unfortunately, this was something I didn't like, although I'm sure it'd be a positive for many who love diet soda or can't have sugar.

A SodaStream starter kit cost may seem a bit steep ($89 and up) - unless you and your family drink a lot of pop -- OR spend $1.50/per 20 ounces from soda machines - THEN...this cool product may be just for you! On average, both a serving of soda or 1-liter of seltzer is only around $.25 - even store brand pop is almost twice that!

I think SodaStream's products would make a really fun family gift! I think you could get pretty creative with the seltzer water, creating your own simple syrups, and making your own pop flavors!

You can check out all of SodaStream soda makers HERE.

And see the amazing variety of soda flavors they offer HERE.

Thank you SodaStream for allowing our family to use the Genesis to make soda at home! We had a lot of fun!

Recommend: YES

*many thanks to my hubby who willingly allowed me to tape him making soda.* ;-)

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**Disclaimer: I was given a free product for review purposes only. My reviews are not monetarily compensated and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way, unless otherwise disclosed. Each review is based on the reactions and opinions of myself and/or family.**
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cream Cheese Brownies

Although another dozen of these would have been lovely, I made a pan of homemade Cream Cheese Brownies for my honey for Valentine's Day.

I dug out my large Wilton heart cookie cutter to make them a little extra special for that day.

cream cheese brownies
Adding a simple cream cheese layer really dresses up ordinary brownies.

So, here's what you do!

CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES

Prepare your favorite brownie batter. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.

In a small bowl, beat together until smooth:

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Spoon cream cheese mixture over brownie batter. I like to spoon 3 long sections, lengthwise.

Then, using a knife, drag back and forth, creating a swirl effect:

cream cheese brownies
Sprinkle with semisweet chocolate chips (as much or as little as you like) ;-)

Bake, according to brownie directions. Be careful not to let the cream cheese layer brown.

Recommend: YES

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love Finds You in Bridal Veil Oregon by Miralee Ferrell

Love Finds You in Bridal Veil Oregon
I was pleasantly surprised with the latest book CFBA sent me to review, Love Finds You in Bridal Veil Oregon by Miralee Ferrell.

Miralee tells a sweet (but not sappy) story of love and trusting God in all things.

Margaret is recovering from a broken heart and beginning to accept the attentions of man #2 (while rejecting creepy #3), when man #1 arrives back in town. Ah, yes.

Past miscommunication is revealed, jealousy ensues, tragedy strikes, mystery lurks, and love prevails.

Hehee. That made me laugh writing that. ;-)

But, ‘tis the truth! It’s all in the book – with a little surprise (that I’d wondered at!) at the ending!

Margaret was a character I could easily relate to. Oh, no, I haven’t had jealousy ensue over me, but her struggle to trust God in all circumstances is something I think we all can understand!

Here are a couple of lines that I loved:

"She shook her head, frustration and doubt warring inside. ‘I’d prayed about it for weeks, and I believe God told me it was right.’

[….] stared into her eyes for a long moment. ‘God wouldn’t tell you to sneak off against your father’s wishes. He tells us to honor our parents…God doesn’t go against His Word.’”

How often do we do what we think God says?? Or what we feel God told us?? Hmm… better check it with God’s Word! They are always in agreement. Always.

I really enjoyed Love Finds You in Bridal Veil Oregon and wouldn’t mind Miralee writing a sequel. I’d like to find out how Sammie and Joel grow up and turn out…

Here's the first chapter for you to enjoy of Love Finds You in Bridal Veil Oregon:

Love Finds You in Bridal Veil OregonSummerside Press (January 1, 2010)

Chapter 1

Four years later

Late May 1902

Margaret hurried to the two-story house set against the base of the tree-clad hill, anxiety dogging her steps. Papa had been tired when he’d left the house early this morning, but he’d been working at the mill long hours of late. Nothing to worry about, he’d assured her— he just needed the Sabbath to catch up on his rest, and he’d be right as rain. But she didn’t believe it. He looked peaked and moved as though weights were attached to his limbs. Best to keep an eye on him, in case he was coming down with the grippe.

“Papa? You home yet?” She flung off her sweater and dumped her books on a nearby table. She’d not meant to stay so long at the school, but little Mark James had thrown one of his temper tan¬trums and needed a talking to. Then the chores had to be done— the floor swept, the board erased, her desk straightened—all things that didn’t normally take much time, but Gertrude Graham had stopped by on her way home from the Company store and slowed her down further. Gertrude was a sweetie, but everyone in town knew her propensity for gossip ran as deep as the nearby Columbia River.

Margaret had at last made her excuses and headed home. Part of her hoped Papa had kept his promise to leave work early and rest, while the other part wanted to light the stove and get supper going before he arrived.

Dusk wouldn’t settle in for another hour or so, but she lit one lamp just the same, wanting a cheerful glow to penetrate the gloom when he made his way down the trail.

An hour later she glanced out the window again, hoping to see his familiar figure trudging up the path. Nothing. She dusted the flour from her hands and finished mixing the dough for the chicken and dumplings, then dropped globs of dough onto the steaming mix¬ture in the pan and covered the large cast-iron skillet with a domed lid. At least the house was warm. In a few minutes the dumplings would rise, filling the room with their fragrance. Her mouth watered at the thought, and her lips tipped up at the happiness that would light Papa’s eyes when he stepped through the door.

Just then the front door rattled, and her hand flew to her throat. Papa wouldn’t shake the door handle or knock; he’d stride in with his booming greeting and big smile. Margaret stood in the middle of the kitchen frozen by uncertainty—but only for a moment. Could it be a neighbor in need of help or one of the unsavory characters riding the railroad cars of late? Hobos had been increasing in number, and her father had warned her not to open the door to a stranger if he wasn’t home.

She reached for the heavy wooden rolling pin resting on the painted countertop Papa had built and gripped it tight. “Who’s there?” She took a step toward the door in the nearby living room.

No reply. The knob moved again but this time with less energy. What in the world? She gripped her makeshift weapon tighter and crept to the door.

A quick twist of the round metal knob and a jerk of the door brought her face-to-face with Papa slumped against the doorjamb, his head lolled to the side. Margaret dropped the pin, and it clattered to the floor. She grasped his shoulders and gave him a small shake. “Papa? Are you sick? Papa!” She ran her gaze over his body, trying to find any sign of what might be wrong.

A low groan escaped his pale mouth, and his head rolled like a broken-necked doll. His eyes opened, and he raised a shaking hand. “Not. Feeling well. Help me. Inside.”

She slipped her arm around his waist and tried to support his sagging weight, stumbling as his feet barely cleared the threshold. Somehow she managed to half carry, half drag him to the worn couch against a nearby wall. He settled down with a groan and started to shake. Beads of sweat popped out on his forehead, and his breath came in shallow gasps.

“What’s wrong, Papa? Where does it hurt? Should I go for Doc Albert?”

Margaret leaned over her prone father and clutched his hand, willing her own to stop trembling.

His eyes fluttered open, and the stark pain in them revealed the effort it took to speak. “Chest. Hurts. Shoulder. Jaw. It’s bad. No time.”

“Hush, Papa. You’ve been working too hard, that’s all. Let me go for the doc.”

He gripped her hand with a sense of urgency and persisted. “No time. You need…to listen.”

“No. Don’t talk, just rest. You’ll be fine.” She bit her lip, wanting to race down the path to the doctor’s home a quarter mile away but was terrified to leave him alone. Instead she lifted the knitted afghan off the back of the couch, spread it over his shaking form, and smoothed back his hair.

A movement outside the window caught her attention, and she squeezed his hand. “Hold on, Papa. I’ll be right back.”

She flew to the door and jerked it open in time to see eight-year-old Harry Waters swinging up the path with a fishing pole over his shoulder. “Harry?”

The boy halted midstride and turned toward her. “Yes, Miss Garvey? You need somethin’?”

“Yes. Run as fast as you can and get Doc Albert. Tell him my father is ill, and we need him to come. Hurry!”

The black hair flopped on his forehead as he nodded in assent. “Yes, ma’am.” A flick of his wrist tossed the pole into the nearby brush and the boy was off, racing along the path on the shortcut back to¬ward town.

Margaret rushed inside and sank to her knees next to her father. She drew in a deep breath, suddenly frightened by his face drained of color and his tightly closed eyes. “Papa? Are you awake?”

There was a slight movement of his head. Then something resem¬bling a frown crossed his face, but it could have been a spasm of pain. “Sorry, Beth.” His pet name for her slipped out as his eyes struggled to open. “Forgive me.”

“Shh, it’s all right, Papa. There’s nothing to forgive. Rest now.”

“No. Shouldn’t have done it,” he panted. “Tried. To fix it. Forgive me.” The words trailed off, but his imploring eyes didn’t leave her face.

“Of course I forgive you. Hang on, Papa. Doc Albert will be here any minute.”

A deep sigh escaped, and his eyes closed again. Margaret grasped his hand tighter and prayed. God couldn’t let her father die. She wouldn’t allow it. Mama had died twelve years ago, and her grand¬father just last year. Between that and losing Nathaniel… That was enough for one person to bear. Papa had the grippe. He’d be back on his feet soon, laughing and teasing about her temper matching her auburn hair and living up to Mama’s Irish heritage.

That moment her father’s body convulsed. The muscles around his mouth tightened, then suddenly relaxed, and the already weak fingers grew limp in her hand.

“Papa?” She gently disengaged her grip and stroked his forehead. “Papa, can you hear me?”

He lay still with not even a twitch of his eyelids.

Panic sucked the breath from Margaret’s lungs, leaving her dizzy and faint. She shook her head, drew a deep breath, and forced the reaction away. No time for foolishness. Papa needed her strong.

She drew close to his face, praying for movement, hoping for another breath. “Papa. You can’t leave me alone.” Asob tore at her throat and slipped out in spite of her effort to quell it. “I need you, Papa. Please, please stay with me.” She lifted a shaking hand and patted his cheek, hoping and praying he’d respond.

All of a sudden, realization struck her with its deadly truth, and she moaned. Frantically she searched for some sign of life—breath¬ing—a flicker of his eyelids. But there was nothing. Papa was gone. He’d never smile or tease her again. Never enjoy the meal she’d pre¬pared or sit in a church pew beside her on Sunday mornings.

How could she stand it? What would she do now? Oh, why had God seen fit to take him when he was still young and she had no one else in her life? She dropped her head on his shoulder and sobs welled up from a place so deep, a place terrified of the pain and lone¬liness she knew would come. Just like it had with Mother. Just like it had with Grandpa. And just like it had with Nathaniel. No. She’d not wallow in that now.

A knock sounded at the door, and the knob turned. She only vaguely felt gentle hands stroking her hair and a strong arm wrapping around her shoulders, drawing her away from the still figure on the couch.


Recommend: YES

Many thanks to Miralee, through Summerside Press and CFBA, for giving me the opportunity to read and review her book!

Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

A WINNER and a Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe!

YAY!! I love winners!!



And, Audra (Snowflake07) was randomly chosen as the winner of the Deni Ice Cream Maker from Cookware.com!

Congratulations!!!

Now, although Audra said that her favorite ice cream was a local flavor, Monkey Madness, and just may initiate her new ice cream maker trying to recreate that flavor at home, I've got to share a great chocolate ice cream recipe with you!


I got this recipe YEARS ago from Bettyinthekitchen (if you're out there!) when I frequented (then) BabyCenter's recipe board. Sandy's recipe has become our favorite homemade ice cream recipe!

It tastes like this, straight out of the ice cream maker in soft-serve state:


And when given a few extra hours in your freezer, I think it tastes like this:

Both ways, YUMMY!

It's actually a recipe for Rocky Road, but we don't add anything and prefer plain chocolate!

ROCKY ROAD ICE CREAM
makes about 1 quart

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups heavy cream (I use half and half)
1 cup light cream (I use whole milk)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 cup miniature marshmallows, snipped in half

In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook and stir condensed milk and cocoa until smooth and slightly thickened, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Stir in heavy cream, light cream, and vanilla. Refrigerate until cold. (I usually let this chill overnight... ice cream mixture freezes best when it starts out already cold - Alton Brown tip)!

Pour mixture into the canister of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Stir in nuts and marshmallows.

*Sandy's note: use about 1/2 table cream and 1/2 low fat evaporated milk, or sub all evaporated skim milk for heavy cream*

Recommend: YES

Many thanks to Cookware.com for such a great giveaway and congratulations, again, to Audra!! I hope you enjoy your ice cream maker!!

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Loose Meat Sandwiches

You know, it's usually the simplest things that are absolutely the yummiest!

We just bought part of a side of beef with my mother in law.

I've never seen so much beef.

Oh how I would love if you sent me your favorite beef recipe!!! (especially for ground beef)!

I remembered hearing about "Loose Meat" sandwiches on Food Network and googled the recipe.

Decided to try THIS one (with a history), even though I think the one I saw on FN was tomato based.

These were GREAT!!

So easy... and don't let the picture deceive you: so simply delicious!

(We did add a little extra mustard after the picture...and, hubby wanted a little pickle relish on his second).

Using ingredients you should already have on hand, you can make a quick, filling, and inexpensive supper! (Notice I used bread -- didn't have buns -- still tasty!)

LOOSEMEAT SANDWICHES

1 lb of real good ground chuck or ground beef round or ground sirloin
1 tablespoon fat like lard or Crisco (if meat is round or sirloin)
2 teaspoons salt, just enough to lightly cover bottom of your skillet
1 onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
water, to cover
salt and pepper, to taste

Get out a cast iron skillet-they are the best for loosemeats-or other kind if you have no iron skillet.

Melt fat over medium heat and lightly salt bottom of skillet.

Break ground beef up in skillet and start crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon-this is very important-the meat must end up being cooked up into small crumbles.

Add chopped onion while browning meat.

Keep working with the back of spoon to break up meat.

When meat is browned, drain off any fat and return meat to skillet.

Add mustard, vinegar, sugar, and just enough water to barely cover meat in the pan.

Cook, at a simmer, till water is all cooked out-between 15-20 minutes.

Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Heat your hamburger buns-they're traditionally steamed for loosemeats-some like it toasted lightly-do it the way you like it.

When buns are warm, put yellow mustard on them and add some dill pickle slices.

*If you start changing this recipe and using things like olive oil for the fat and Dijon or honey mustard for the yellow mustreard, you will not get the traditional yummy taste of a loosemeat sandwich.

Likewise, don't add any liquid smoke or Worcestershire sauce.

Make them just like this the first time so you can sample the simplicity of this famous Midwestern treat.

If you want to start making changes after that by all means do so but I'd like you to taste the original recipe at least once.

Recommend: YES

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Birthday Buttercream

I just finished eating some birthday cake and ice cream. Yum, yum!

My little guy is quickly leaving babyhood. *sob* *sniff*

I worked hard last night, decorating his special cake.


At the moment, we're all about Thomas in our house.




Wish I could claim full creative credit for his cake, but I can't. :-) I found several amazing train cakes all over the internet, but based this one on a cake found on coolest-birthday-cakes.com.

It seems like every time a birthday rolls around, I end up googling "buttercream." I'm not sure why I haven't saved one yet! ;-) I don't make homemade buttercream frosting too often, mostly only on birthdays.

Anyway, I wanted to share the buttercream recipe I used this year (found on cakecentral), which has been printed out for a keeper recipe! It's the basic shortening and sugar, but perfectly easy and tasty and hard to mess up!

EASY BIRTHDAY BUTTERCREAM

1 cup white all-vegetable shortening
1 cup margarine (or butter)
2 lbs (by weight) confectioners' sugar
6 Tablespoons water
2 teaspoons Wilton clear vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Wilton butter extract/flavor
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt (do not omit!! This is important for flavor development and must be dissolved in liquid)

Mix all liquids together and add salt. Stir to dissolve salt.

Add shortening and margarine to mixer bowl and beat on low speed for 15 seconds. Add half of the sugar and half of the liquid ingredients and mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining sugar and liquids; mix until combined, about 1 minute.

Scrape bowl thoroughly, and mix again, briefly. Don't overbeat your icing, as you don't want air bubbles. Store covered at room temperature. Total mixing time should be under 5 minutes, and never at higher than speeds 3 or 4 on your stand mixture.

Recommend: YES

P.S. If you haven't already, don't forget to enter to WIN an ice cream maker... you can make your own birthday buttercream AND homemade ice cream!! :-)

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Friday, February 5, 2010

COOKWARE.com and Deni Ice Cream Maker Giveaway!

Did you read about my pomegranate sorbet? Did you read I had a SURPRISE for you??? ;-)

Cookware.com is part of CSNstores.com, which is made up of over 200 online stores. Yes, over 200!!

From beautiful kitchen bar stools (which I'm eying for our soon-to-be kitchen redo) to wall clocks to kids' toys to dog beds to shoes, you can find just about anything through CSN stores!

When Tyler from Cookware.com contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in hosting a giveaway for you...

Um, YEAH!!

My blog wouldn't be what it is without my faithful readers!! So, I browsed Cookware.com for hours.

Seriously.

I took inventory of my own kitchen, trying to find just the right item for you! After adding and deleting and more adding and deleting, I finally decided!

We were given an ice cream maker for a wedding gift. You know the kind where you add ice and salt and get a big mess?

I think we used it once.

And then somewhere along the way - on Food Network, I'm guessing - I heard about ice cream makers with frozen bowls. No salt, no ice, no mess.

After a little bidding war, I scored my messless-frozen-bowl-insert ice cream maker on eBay!

And, WE LOVE IT!!!

So... I decided YOU should have a messless-frozen-bowl-insert ice cream maker, too!!


Now you don’t have to visit the local ice cream parlor. You can make ice cream at home, fast and easy, with Deni’s Automatic Ice Cream Maker! The Deni Automatic Ice Cream Maker contains a powerful motor and double insulated gel cylinder that turns basic ingredients into delicious ice cream in 10-20 minutes. The clear-vue lid allows you to watch the fun as it happens.

You can even buy extra bowl inserts so you always have one ready in the freezer, for double batches or other flavors!

Ready to BUY IT?
Cookware.com offers free shipping on orders over $69 and is always running different promotions and sales on high-quality cookware sets!

GIVEAWAY ALERT!
Want to WIN IT? Cookware.com has graciously offered to give one of my readers her very own Deni Ice Cream Maker!!

To enter, visit Cookware.com and tell me another product you would love to have in your kitchen AND tell me your absolute favorite flavor of ice cream!

For additional entries (must do above to qualify for extra entries!),
  • Follow my blog publicly via a feed reader, networked blogs, or subscribe by email (must confirm subscription). Comment and let me know! If you're already a follower/subscriber, comment and let me know! (1 entry)

  • Post this: "Pull up a stool to the ice cream counter in your own home. Check out the great giveaway at The Creative Side of Me" on your blog and leave me a link to your post! (2 entries)

  • Enter my giveaway URL into another blog's giveaway McLinky and send me the link so I can see it! (1 entry)

  • Snag my blog button (in the far right column) and leave a comment with the link! (1 entry)

  • Follow me on Twitter and tweet this: Pull up a stool http://www.allbarstools.com to your own ice cream counter. WIN a DENI at The Creative Side of Me: http://bit.ly/bZ0EFL (1 entry, daily)

Entries accepted until Friday, February 12, 11:59 PM.

(Please be SURE your leave your email address in your comment if not visible in your profile, so I have a way to contact you if you win! Duplicate or unqualified entries will be deleted!)

Thank you, Cookware.com!!

Recommend: YES

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Katy's New World by Kim Vogel Sawyer

I was introduced to Kim Vogel Sawyer's books about a year ago - and I really love her writing. Her books are quickly becoming my favorites and have found permanent homes on my bookshelves. I have yet to send one on to paperbackswap!

When FIRST gave me a chance to review Kim's newest title, Katy's New World, the first book in a series written for young adults, I really wanted to see what she'd write for our daughters.

Katy's New World by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Like each of Kim's books that I have read so far, Katy's New World is well-developed and full of engaging, believable characters.

Katy belongs to a Mennonite community which only schools their children through 9th grade. After much thought and prayer, Katy's community has allowed her to attend the public high school. She is warned that any sign of following the world, will result in that decision being reversed.

Having never been exposed to so much of the world, Katy finds it loud and unsettling at first. She then begins to wonder where she fits in. The "world" thinks her weird, and her close Mennonite friends seem to avoid her.

I was pleased to see that Katy showed respect to her dad, even when she felt the typical inner teen struggle between what-I-want-to-do versus what-is-right-to-do.

And, although Katy is not perfect - she makes some wrong choices - I felt her entire character was safe for my daughter to read Katy's New World some day.

*Each of us holds to different standards and guidelines. I highly recommend you reading several books by the author(s) of your children's books, before allowing them to read them.*

Many thanks to Kim and FIRST for sending me a review copy!

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Like wisps of smoke that upward flee,
Disappearing on the breeze,
Days dissolving one by one . . .
Time stands still for no one.

Katy Lambright stared at the neatly written lines in her journal and crinkled her brow so tightly her forehead hurt. She rubbed the knot between her eyebrows with her fingertip. What was wrong? Ah, yes. Two uses of “one” on the final lines. She stared harder, tapping her temple with the eraser end of her pencil. What would be a better ending?

She whispered, “Time’s as fleeting as the —”

“Katy-girl?”

Just like the poem stated, her thought dissipated like a wisp of smoke. Dropping her pencil onto the journal page, she smacked the book closed and dashed to the top of the stairs. “What?”

Dad stood at the bottom with his hand on the square newel post, looking up. “It’s seven fifteen. You’ll miss your bus if we don’t get going.”
Katy’s stomach turned a rapid somersault. Maybe she shouldn’t have fixed those rich banana-pecan pancakes for breakfast. But she’d wanted Dad to have a special breakfast this morning. It was a big day for him. And for her. Mostly for her. “I’ll be right down.”

She grabbed her sweater from the peg behind her bedroom door. No doubt today would be like any other late-August day —unbearably hot —but the high school was air conditioned. She might get cold. So she quickly folded the made-by-Gramma sweater into a rough bundle and pushed it into the belly of the backpack waiting in the little nook at the head of the stairs.

The bold pink backpack presented a stark contrast to her simple sky blue dress. A smile tugged at the corners of her lips, while at the same time a twinge of uncertainty wiggled its way through her stomach. She’d never used a backpack before. Annika Gehring, her best friend since forever, had helped her pack it with notebooks and pencils and a brand-new protractor—all the things listed on the supply sheet from the high school in Salina. They had giggled while organizing the bag, making use of each of its many pockets.

Katy sighed. A part of her wished that Annika was coming to high school and part of her was glad to be going alone. If she made a fool of herself, no one from the Mennonite fellowship would be there to see. And as much as she loved Annika, whatever the girl saw she reported.

“Katy-girl!” Dad’s voice carried from the yard through the open windows.

Would Dad ever drop that babyish nickname? If he called her Katy-girl in front of any of the high school kids, she’d die from embarrassment. “I’m coming!” She yanked up the backpack and pushed her arms through the straps. The backpack’s tug on her shoulders felt strange and yet exhila-rating. She ran down the stairs, the ribbons from her mesh headcovering fluttering against her neck and the backpack bouncing on her spine —one familiar feeling and one new feeling, all at once. The combination almost made her dizzy. She tossed the backpack onto the seat of her dad’s blue pickup and climbed in beside it. As he pulled away from their dairy farm onto the dirt road that led to the highway, she rolled down the window. Dust billowed behind the tires, drifting into the cab. Katy coughed, but she hugged her backpack to her stomach and let the morning air hit her full in the face. She loved the smell of morning, before the day got so hot it melted away the fresh scent of dew.

The truck rumbled past the one-room schoolhouse where Katy had attended first through ninth grades. Given the early hour, no kids cluttered the schoolyard. But in her imagination she saw older kids pushing little kids on the swings, kids waiting for a turn on the warped teeter-totter, and Caleb Penner chasing the girls with a wiggly earthworm and making them scream. Caleb had chased her many times, waving an earthworm or a fat beetle. He’d never made her scream, though. Bugs didn’t bother Katy. She only feared a few things. Like tornadoes. And people leaving and not coming back.

A sigh drifted from Dad’s side of the seat. She turned to face him, noting his somber expression. Dad always looked serious. And tired. Running the dairy farm as well as a household without the help of a wife had aged him. For a moment guilt pricked at Katy’s conscience. She was supposed to stay home and help her family, like all the other Old Order girls when they finished ninth grade.

But the familiar spiral of longing —to learn more, to see what existed outside the limited expanse of Schell-berg—wound its way through her middle. Her fingernails bit into the palms of her hands as she clenched her fists. She had to go. This opportunity, granted to no one else in her little community, was too precious to squander.

“Dad?” She waited until he glanced at her. “Stop worrying.”

His eyebrows shot up, meeting the brim of his billed cap. “I’m not worrying.”

“Yes, you are. You’ve been worrying all morning. Wor-rying ever since the deacons said I could go.” Katy under-stood his worry.

She’d heard the speculative whispers when the Menno-nite fellowship learned that Katy had been granted permis-sion to attend the high school in Salina: “Will she be Kath-leen’s girl through and through?” But she was determined to prove the worriers wrong. She could attend public school, could be with worldly people, and still maintain her faith. Hadn’t she been the only girl at the community school to face Caleb’s taunting bugs without flinching? She was strong.

She gave Dad’s shoulder a teasing nudge with her fist. “I’ll be all right, you know.”

His lips twitched. “I’m not worried about you, Katy-girl.”

He was lying, but Katy didn’t argue. She never talked back to Dad. If she got upset with him, she wrote the words in her journal to get them out of her head, and then she tore the page into tiny bits and threw the pieces away. She’d started the practice shortly after she turned thirteen.

Before then, he’d never done anything wrong. Sometimes she wondered if he’d changed or she had, but it didn’t mat-ter much. She didn’t like feeling upset with him —he was all she had —so she tried to get rid of her anger quickly.

They reached the highway, and Dad parked the pickup on the shoulder. He turned the key, and the engine splut-tered before falling silent. Dad aimed his face out his side window, his elbow propped on the sill. Wind whistled through the open windows and birds trilled a morning song from one of the empty wheat fields that flanked the pickup. The sounds were familiar—a symphony of nature she’d heard since infancy—but today they carried a poi-gnancy that put a lump in Katy’s throat.

Why had she experienced such a strange reaction to wind and birds? She would explore it in her journal before she went to bed this evening. Words —secretive whispers, melodious trill—cluttered her mind. Maybe she’d write a poem about it too, if she wasn’t too tired from her first day at school.

Cars crested the gentle rise in the black-topped high-way and zinged by—sports cars and big SUVs, so differ-ent from the plain black or blue Mennonite pickups and sedans that filled the church lot on Sunday mornings in Schellberg. When would the big yellow bus appear? Katy had been warned it wouldn’t be able to wait for her. Might it have come and gone already? Her stomach fluttered as fear took hold.

Dad suddenly whirled to face her. “Do you have your lunch money?”

She patted the small zipper pocket on the front of the backpack. “Right here.” She hunched her shoulders and giggled. “It feels funny not to carry a lunchbox.” For as far back as she could remember, Katy had carried a lunch she’d packed for herself since she didn’t have a mother to do it for her.

“Yes, but you heard the lady in the school office.” Dad drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. “She said the kids at this school eat in the cafeteria or go out to eat.”

Embarrassment crept over Katy as she remembered the day they’d visited the school. When the secretary told Dad about the school lunch program, he’d insisted on reading the lunch menu from beginning to end before agreeing to let his daughter eat “school-made food.”

Truthfully, the menu had looked more enticing than her customary peanut butter sandwich, but Dad had acted as though he thought someone might try to poison her. She’d filled three pages, front and back, in her journal over the incident before tearing the well-scribbled pages into min-iscule bits of litter. But —satisfaction welled—Dad had purchased a lunch ticket after all.

The wind tossed the satin ribbons dangling from the mesh cap that covered her heavy coil of hair. They tickled her chin. She hooked the ribbons in the neck of her dress and then brushed dust from the skirt of her homemade dress. An errant thought formed. I’m glad I’ll be eating cafeteria food like a regular high school kid. It might be only way I don’t stick out.

Dad cleared his throat. “There she comes.”

The school bus rolled toward them. The sun glared off the wide windshield, nearly hiding the monstrous vehicle from view. Katy threw her door open and stepped out, carrying the backpack on her hip as if it were one of her toddler cousins. She sucked in a breath of dismay when Dad met her at the hood of the pickup and reached for her hand.

“It’s okay, Dad.” She smiled at him even though her stomach suddenly felt as though it might return those ba-nana-pecan pancakes at any minute. “I can get on okay.”
The bus’s wide rubber tires crunched on the gravel as it rolled to a stop at the intersection. Giggles carried from in-side the bus when Dad walked Katy to the open door. Katy cringed, trying discreetly pull her hand free, but Dad kept hold and gave the bus driver a serious look.

“This is my daughter, Katy Lambright.”

“Kathleen Lambright,” Katy corrected. Hadn’t she told Dad she wanted to be Kathleen at the new school instead of the childish Katy? Dad wasn’t in favor, and Katy knew why. She would let him continue to call her Katy—or Katy-girl, the nickname he’d given her before she was old enough to sit up—but to the Outside, she was Kathleen.
Dad frowned at the interruption, but he repeated, “Kathleen Lambright. She is attending Salina High North.”

The driver, an older lady with soft white hair cut short and brushed back from her rosy face, looked a little bit like Gramma Ruthie around her eyes. But Gramma would never wear blue jeans or a bright yellow polka-dotted shirt. One side of the driver’s mouth quirked up higher than the other when she smiled, giving her an impish look. “Well, come on aboard, Katy Kathleen Lambright. We have a schedule to keep.”

Another titter swept through the bus. Dad leaned to-ward Katy, as if he planned to hug her good-bye. Katy ducked away and darted onto the bus. When she glanced back, she glimpsed the hurt in Dad’s eyes, and guilt hit her hard. This day wasn’t easy for him. She spun to dash back out and let him hug her after all, but the driver pulled a lever that closed the door, sealing her away from her father.

Suddenly the reality of what she was doing —leaving the security of her little community, her dad, and all that was familiar—washed over her, and for one brief moment she wanted to claw the doors open and dive into the refuge of Dad’s arms, just as she used to do when she was little and frightened by a windstorm.

“Have a seat, Kathleen,” the driver said.

Through the window, Katy watched Dad climb back into the pickup. His face looked so sad, her heart hurt. She felt a sting at the back of her nose —a sure sign that tears were coming. She sniffed hard.

“You’ve got to sit down, or we can’t go.” Impatience colored the driver’s tone. She pushed her foot against the gas pedal, and the bus engine roared in eagerness. More giggles erupted from the kids on the bus.

“I’m sorry, ma’am.” Katy quickly scanned the seats. Most of them were already filled with kids. The passen-gers all looked her up and down, some smirking, and some staring with their mouths hanging open. She could imagine them wondering what she was doing on their bus. She’d be the first Mennonite student to attend one of the Salina schools. She lifted her chin. Well, they’ll just have to get used to me.
Katy ignored the gawks and searched faces. She had hoped to sit with someone her own age, but none of the kids looked to be more than twelve or thirteen. Finally she spotted an open seat toward the middle on the right. She dropped into it, sliding the backpack into the empty space beside her.

The bus jolted back onto the highway with a crunch of tires on gravel. The two little girls in the seat in front of Katy turned around and stared with round, wide eyes. Katy smiled, but they didn’t smile back. So she raised her eyebrows high and waggled her tongue, the face she used to get her baby cousin Trent to stop crying. The little girls made the same face back, giggled, and turned forward again.
Throughout the bus, kids talked and laughed, at ease with each other. Katy sat alone, silent and invisible. The bus bounced worse than Dad’s pickup, and her stomach felt queasier with each mile covered. She swallowed and swallowed to keep the banana-pecan pancakes in place. Think about something else . . .

High school. Her heart fluttered. Public high school. A smile tugged on the corners of her lips. Classes like botany and music appreciation and literature. Literature . . .

When she’d shown Annika the list of classes selected for her sophomore year at Salina High North, Annika had shaken her head and made a face. “They sound hard. Why do you want to study more anyway? You’re weird, Katy.”

Remembering her friend’s words made her nose sting again. Annika had been Katy’s best friend ever since the first grade when the teacher plunked them together on a little bench at the front of the schoolroom, but despite their lengthy and close friendship, Annika didn’t understand Katy.

Katy stared out the window, biting her lower lip and fighting an uncomfortable realization. Katy didn’t under-stand herself. A ninth grade education seemed to satisfy everyone else in her community, so why wasn’t it enough for her?

Why were questions always swirling through her brain? She could still hear her teacher’s voice in her memory: “Katy, Katy, your many questions make me tired.” Why did words mean so much to her? None of her Menno-nite friends had to write their thoughts in a spiral-bound notebook to keep from exploding. Katy couldn’t begin to explain why. And she knew, even without asking, that was what scared Dad the most. She shook her head, hug-ging her backpack to her thudding heart. He didn’t need to be worried. She loved Dad, loved being a Mennonite girl, loved Schellberg and its wooden chapel of fellowship where she felt close to God and to her neighbors. Besides, the deacons had been very clear when they gave her permission to attend high school. If she picked up worldly habits, attending school would come to an abrupt and per-manent end.

A prayer automatically winged through her heart: God, guide me in this learning, but keep me humble. Help me remember what Dad read from Your Word last night during our prayer time: that a man profits nothing if he gains the world but loses his soul.
The bus pulled in front of the tan brick building that she and Dad had visited two weeks earlier when they enrolled her in school. On that day, the campus had been empty except for a few cars and two men in blue uniforms standing in the shade of a tall pine tree, smoking ciga-rettes. Dad had hurried her right past them. Today, how-
ever, the parking lot overflowed with vehicles in a variety of colors, makes, and models. People—people her age, not like the kids on the school bus —stood in little groups all over the grassy yard, talking and laughing.

Katy stared out the window, her mouth dry. Most of the students had backpacks, but none sporting bold colors like hers. Their backpacks were Mennonite-approved colors: dark blue, green, and lots and lots of black. Should she have selected a plain-colored backpack? Aunt Rebecca had clicked her tongue at Katy’s choice, but the pink one was so pretty, so different from her plain dresses . . . Her hands started to shake.

“Kathleen?” The bus driver turned backward in her seat. “C’mon, honey, scoot on off. I got three more stops to make.”

Katy quickly slipped her arms through the backpack’s straps and scuttled off the bus. The door squealed shut behind her, and the bus pulled away with a growl and a thick cloud of strong-smelling smoke. Katy stood on the sidewalk, facing the school. She twisted a ribbon from her cap around her finger, wondering where she should go. The main building? That seemed a logical choice. She took one step forward but then froze, her skin prickling with awareness.

All across the yard, voices faded. Faces turned one-by-one—a field of faces —all aiming in her direction. She heard a shrill giggle—her own. Her response to nervousness.

Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the pull on the other kids faded. They turned back to their own groups as if she no longer existed. With a sigh, she resumed her progress toward the main building, turning sideways to ease between groups, sometimes bumping people with her backpack, mumbling apologies and flashing shy smiles. She’d worked her way halfway across the yard when an ear-piercing clang filled the air. The fine hairs on her arms prickled, and she stopped as suddenly as if she’d slammed into the solid brick wall of the school building.

The other kids all began moving, flinging their back-packs over one shoulder and pushing at one another. Katy got swept along with the throng, jostled and bumped like everyone else. Her racing heartbeat seemed to pound a message: This is IT! This is IT! High school!



Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook.

Recommend: YES

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**Disclaimer: I was given a free product for review purposes only. My reviews are not monetarily compensated and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way, unless otherwise disclosed. Each review is based on the reactions and opinions of myself and/or family.**
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Life of Washington by Anna C. Reed

George Washington is the "Father of Our Country."

But, how many of us know the man who was our very first president?

You see our government today actively trying to erase the godly foundation on which the United States was laid; however, if you took time to research our history, most, if not all, of our founding fathers respected and honored the God of heaven.

Life of Washington by Anna C. Reed
I was sent Life of Washington by Anna C. Reed, through New Leaf Publishing and FIRST. This book, published in 1842, is a special reprint of the original.

Anna appears to have written this book for school aged children. She often writes, "Young American" or "Young reader" when trying to make a point and using Scripture to back it up. And although the vintage format (no spaces between paragraphs, some British spellings, etc.) could make reading tedious for some, the historical account, along with a few pictures, is very worth the time to read.

Even as a boy, George strove to live honestly and above reproach. He loved his country long before she was named the United States. George Washington lived a life of humility and service in America's journey to independence and her exciting beginnings as the land of opportunity.

While George Washington's life brought much joy, his death brought much sorrow to her citizens.

John Adams, president at the time of George Washington's death, said, "His example is now complete; and it will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates , citizens and men; and not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be read."

My husband and I plan to homeschool our children. This wonderful account of Washington's life is going to be right on the school book shelf! I believe it is important to remember our godly heritage and do all we can to protect the religious freedoms which those men lived, fought, and died for.

Thank you, Robert Parrish and FIRST, for sending me this beautiful copy of Life of Washington.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anna C. Reed, niece of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, authored this amazing work for the ASSU prior to 1850. Originally translated into over 20 languages, the book was among the most widely read biographies of Washington at that time. The ASSU, now called the American Missionary Fellowship, has been associated with some of America's most prominent citizens and religious leaders. Bushrod Washington, George Washington's nephew and heir of Mount Vernon, was vide-president of the ASSU until 1829. Other ASSU officers include Francis Scott Key, D.L. Moody, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and John Adams (descendant of both early presidents).

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 299 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group/Attic Books (November 30, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0890515786
ISBN-13: 978-0890515785

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The
LIFE OF WASHINGTON


CHAPTER 1


1732-1762


To give us the delightful assurance, that we are always under the watchful care of our almighty and kind Creator, He has told us that He notices the movements of every little sparrow; and as we are ”of more value than many sparrows,” He will surely ever care for us. It was His powerful and kind care that protected and guided Columbus, the once poor sailor boy, to obtain the favour of a great king and queen; and then to pass over the waves of a dangerous ocean, in a little vessel, and reach in safety an unknown land. The same powerful and kind care which protected and guided houseless strangers to a land of freedom and peace, gave Washington to their children, to lead them on to take a place amongst the nations of the earth. His history is as a shining light upon the path of virtue; for he “acknowledged God in all his ways.”

George Washington was the third son of Augustine Washington, whose grandfather left England, his native country, in 1657, and settled at Bridges Creek, in Virginia, where, on the 22nd of February, in the year 1732, his great-grandson, George, was born.

One of the first lessons which young Washington received from his faithful parents, was, the importance of always speaking the truth; and they enjoyed a satisfactory reward for their attention to this duty; for through his childhood, “the law of truth was in his mouth,” so that he was not known in one instance to tell a falsehood, either to obtain a desired indulgence, or to escape a deserved punishment or reproof. His character, as a lover of truth, was so well known at the school which he attended, that the children were certain of being believed, when they related any thing, if they could say, “George Washington says it was so.”

An anecdote is related of him to illustrate this trait in his character, which we introduce without being able to ascertain on what authority it is related. We hope it will not be supposed, however, that we regard such an incident as an extraordinary proof of an ingenuousness on the part of young Washington. We trust there are very few boys who would think of adopting any other course under like circumstances, and those who do generally find that “honesty is the best policy,” to say nothing of a quiet conscience and the law of God.

The story is, that he was playing with a hatchet, and heedlessly struck a favourite fruit-tree in his father’s garden. Upon seeing the tree thus mutilated, an inquiry was naturally made for the author of the mischief, when George frankly confessed the deed, and received his father’s forgiveness.

In all the little disputes of the school-fellows, he was called on to say which party was right, and his decisions were always satisfactory.

It is, perhaps, not out of place to remark in this connexion, that much of the injustice and oppression which are seen in the intercourse of men with each other, shows only the maturity of habits which were formed in childhood. At home, or in school, or on the play-ground, instances of unfairness and fraud are often seen, which, among men, would be regarded as gross violations of law and right. Washington in his boyhood was just.

When he was ten years old, his worth father died, and he became the care of an anxious mother, whose fortune was not sufficient to enable her to give him more than a plain English education. He was very fond of studying mathematics, and applied his mind diligently, in improving all the instruction which he could get in that science. As he grew up to manhood, he was remarkable for the strength and activity of his frame. In running, leaping, and managing a horse, he was unequalled by his companions; and he could with ease climb the heights of his native mountains, to look down alone from some wild crag upon his followers, who were panting from the toils of the rugged way. By these healthful exercises the vigour of his constitution was increased, and he gained that hardiness so important to him in the employments designed for him by his Creator.

Mrs. Washington was an affectionate parent; but she did not encourage in herself that imprudent tenderness, which so often causes a mother to foster the passions of her children by foolish indulgences, and which seldom fails to destroy the respect which every child should feel for a parent. George was early made to understand that he must obey his mother, and therefore he respected as well as loved her. She was kind to his young companions, but they thought her stern, because they always felt that they must behave correctly in her presence. The character of the mother, as well as that of the son, are shown in the following incident. Mrs. Washington owned a remarkably fine colt, which she valued very much; but which, though old enough for use, had never been mounted; no one would venture to ride it, or attempt to break its wild and vicious spirit. George proposed to some of his young companions, that they should assist him to secure the colt until he could mount it, as he had determined that he would try to tame it. Soon after sun rise, one morning, they drove the wild animal into an enclosure, and with great difficulty succeeded in placing a bridle on it. George then sprang onto its back, and the vexed colt bounded over the open fields, prancing and plunging to get rid of his burden. The bold rider kept his seat firmly, and the struggle between them became alarming to his companions, who were watching him. The speed of the colt increased, until at length, in making a furious effort to throw his conqueror, he burst a large blood-vessel, and instantly died. George was unhurt, but was much troubled by the unexpected result of his exploit. His companions soon joined him, and when they saw the beautiful colt lifeless, the first words they spoke were, “What will your mother say – who can tell her?” they were called to breakfast, and soon after they were seated at the table, Mrs. Washington said, “Well, young gentlemen, have you seen my fine sorrel colt in your rambles?” No answer was given, and the question was repeated; her son George then replied – “Your sorrel colt is dead, mother.” He have her an exact account of the event. The flush of displeasure which first rose on her cheek, soon passed away; and she said calmly, “While I regret the loss of my favourite, I rejoice in my son, who always speaks the truth.”

In his fifteenth year, he had so strong a desire to be actively employed, that he applied for a place as a midshipman in the English navy, (for our country was then under the government of Great Britain,) and succeeded in obtaining it. Full of youthful expectations of enjoyment in a new scene, he prepared ardently to engage in it, when he became convinced that by doing so, he would severely wound the heart of an anxious parent, and with a true spirit of heroism he denied himself, and in obedience to the command, “Honour thy mother,” he gave up his fondly cherished plan, and yielded his own inclinations, to promote her comfort. Thus, while his manly superiority to companions of his own age caused admiration, his filial tenderness was an example to them of compliance with the direction which is given to children in the word of God. “Let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents,” and they are assured that “this is good and acceptable to the Lord.” Washington proved the truth of this assurance; for, to the act of filial regard which “requited” the anxious cares of his mother, may be traced his usefulness to his country, and the glory of his character. If he had crossed his mother’s wish, and entered the British navy as a midshipman, it is not probable, that he would ever have deserved, or obtained, the title of “Father of his country.”

Being unwilling to remain inactive, young Washington employed himself industriously and usefully in surveying unsettled lands; and when he was nineteen years of age, he was appointed one of the adjutant generals of Virginia, with the rank of a major. At that time, the French nation had large settlements in Canada, and in Louisiana, and they determined on connecting those settlements by a line of forts; in doing this they took possession of a tract of land, which was considered to be within the province of Virginia. The governor of Virginia (Mr. Dinwiddie) thought it was his duty to notice this, in the name of his king; and it was very important, that the person whom he employed in the business should have resolution and prudence. Young Washington was worth of his confidence, and willingly undertook the perilous duty; as it gave him an opportunity of being actively employed for the advantage of his native province. The dangers which he knew he must meet, did not, for a moment, deter him from consenting to set out immediately on the toilsome journey, although winter was near. He was to take a letter from the governor, to the commanding officer of the French troops, who were stationed on the Ohio river; and the way he had to go, was through a part of the country that had never been furrowed by the plough, or, indeed, market by any footsteps, but those of wild animals, or ferocious Indians. Many of those Indians were enemies, and those who had shown any disposition to be friendly, could not be safely trusted.

The same day, (October 31, 1753,) on which Washington received the letter which he was to be the bearer of, he left Williamsburgh, and travelled with speed until he arrived at the frontier settlement of the province; and there engaged a guide to show him the way over the wild and rugged Alleghaney mountain, which, at that season of the year, it was difficult to pass. The waters to be crossed were high, and the snow to be waded through, was deep; but persevering resolutely, he arrived at Turtle Creek, where he was told by an Indian trader, that the French commander had died a short time before, and that the French troops had gone into winter quarters.

He went on with increased ardour, because the difficulty of his duty was increased; but he did not neglect the opportunity of examining the country through which he passed; wishing to discover the best situations on which forts could be erected for the defence of the province.

As the waters were impassable without swimming the horses, he got a canoe to take the baggage about ten miles, to the forks of the Ohio river; intending to cross the Alleghany there. In his journal he wrote, “as I god down before the canoe, I spent some time in viewing the rivers and the land in the fork which I think extremely suited for a fort, as it has the absolute command of both rivers. The land at the point is twenty or twenty-five feed above the common surface.”

The spot thus described was soon afterwards the site of the French for Duquesne. It was subsequently called fort Pitt by the English, and from this the name of the town of Pittsburg was taken, which was built near the for, and is not a city, containing 22,000 inhabitants. Washington remained a few days in that neighborhood, for the purpose of endeavouring to persuade the Indian warriors to be friendly to the English. By a firm but mild manner, he gained friends among the inhabitants of the forest, and obtained guides to conduct him by the shortest way to the fort, where he expected to find a French officer, to whom he might give the letter from the governor, as the commander was dead.

He arrived there in safety, and when he had received an answer from the officer, set out immediately on his return, and the journey proved a very dangerous and toilsome one. Some extracts from his journal, which he kept with exactness, will show his disregard of self, when he was performing a duty for the benefit of others. He had put on an Indian walking dress, and given his horse to assist in carrying provisions; the cold increased very much and the roads were getting worse every day, from the freezing of a deep snow, so that the horses became almost unable to travel. After describing this difficulty, he wrote thus:

“As I was uneasy to get back, to make a report of my proceedings to his honour the governor, I determined to prosecute my journey the nearest way, through the woods, on foot. I took my necessary papers, pulled off my clothes, and tied myself up in a watch coat. Then, with gun in hand and pack on my back, in which were my papers and provisions, I set out with Mr. Gist, fitted in the same manner. We fell in with a party of Indians, who had laid in wait for us. One of them fired, not fifteen steps off, but fortunately missed; we walked on the remaining part of the night, without making any stop, that we might get the start so far, as to be out of the reach of their pursuit the next day, as we were well assured that they would follow our track as soon as it was light. The next day we continued travelling until quite dark, and got to the river. We expected to have found the river frozen, but it was not, only about fifty yards from each shore. The ice I suppose had been broken up, for it was driving in vast quantities. There was no way of getting over but on a raft; which we set about making, with but one poor hatchet, and finishing just after sun-setting; this was a whole day’s work. We got it launched, then went on board of it, and set off; but before we were half-way over, we were jammed in the ice in such a manner, that we expected every moment our raft to sink, and ourselves to perish. I put out my setting pole to try to stop the raft, that the ice might pass by, when the rapidity of the stream threw it with so much violence against the pole, that it jerked me out into ten feet water.”

In this dangerous situation he was saved by the protecting hand of God, and enabled again to get on the raft; and by the next morning, the river was frozen so hard, that there was no difficulty in getting to the shore on the ice. The remainder of the journey was very fatiguing, being in the month of December, and for fifteen days it either snowed or rained.

He arrived the 16th of January at Williamsburgh, and delivered the important letter to the governor. The answer of the French officer, which was contained in the letter, was such as to make needful immediate preparations for defending the frontier of the province. The resolution with which Washington had performed the duty entrusted to him, and the judgment he had shown in his conduct towards the Indians, gained the favourable opinion of the people of the province, as well as that of the governor, and he was appointed a lieutenant-colonel of the regiment which was formed to march to the frontier, in order to prevent the French erecting their forts on it. Ardent and active, he obtained permission to march with two companies, in advance of the regiment, to a place called the Great Meadows, he thought that in doing so, he would have an opportunity of getting early information as to the movements of the French, and of forming a treaty with the Indians, to prevent their joining them. On arriving there, he was informed, by and Indian, that the French commander had sent a party to stop the American workmen, who were erecting a fort; and that they were forming one for themselves, called fort Duquesne. The Indian also gave the information, that French troops were advancing from that fort towards the Great Meadows. The night on which this account was given, was dark and rainy; but Washington marched rapidly with his soldiers to the place where the Indian said the French would be encamped; and there he found them, and surrounded them so unexpectedly, that they gave themselves up as his prisoners. The chief officer of that part of the regiment which was marching slowly on, died; and Washington then had the entire command of about four hundred men. They joined him, and he directed them to form a shelter for their horses and provisions; when it was completed, they named it fort Necessity.

After placing the horses and baggage in it, Washington marched with his troops towards fort Duquesne, for the purpose of endeavouring to drive the French from it; but when had advanced about thirteen miles, an Indian told him, that there were “as many Frenchmen coming toward him, as there were pigeons in the woods;” and he thought it was most prudent to return to his little fort, and meet their attack there. He returned, and assisted his men in digging a ditch around the fort, and while they were thus engaged, about fifteen hundred French and Indians made their appearance, and soon began to attack them. The ditch was not sufficiently completed to be of any use. The Indians sent their arrows from behind the surrounding trees, and the French fired from the shelter of the high grass. Washington continued outside of the little fort, directing and aiding his soldiers, from ten o’clock until dark, when the French commander made an offer to cease the attack, if the fort would be given up to him. The conditions he first named, Washington would not agree to; but at last, the French commander consented to allow the troops to march out with their baggage, and return to the inhabited part of the province, and Washington then gave up the fort. He returned to Williamsburgh, and the courage with which he had acted, and the favourable terms he had obtained from so large a force, increased the confidence of his countrymen in his character. This occurrence took place on the third of July, 1754.

In the course of the next winter, orders were received that officers who had commissions from the king, should be placed above those belonging to the province, without regard to their rank. The feeling of what was due to him as an American, prevented Washington from submitting to this unjust regulation, and he resigned his commission. Many letters were written to him, to persuade him not to do so; and he answered them, with an assurance that he would “serve willingly, when he could do so without dishonour.” His eldest brother had died, and left to him a farm called Mount Vernon, situated in Virginia, near the Potomac river; he took possession of it, and began to employ himself industriously in its cultivation. While he was thus engaged, General Braddock was sent from England, to prepare and command troops for the defence of Virginia, through the summer. Hearing of the conduct of Washington as an officer, and of his reasons for giving up his commission, he invited him to become his aid-de-camp. He accepted the invitation, on condition that he might be permitted to return to his farm when the active duties of the campaign should be over.

The army was formed of two regiments of British troops, and a few companies of Virginians. The third day after the march commenced, Washington was taken ill, with a violent fever. He would not consent to be left behind, and was laid in a covered wagon. He thought that it was very important to reach the frontier as soon as possible, and he knew the difficulties of the way; he therefore proposed to General Braddock, who asked his advice, to send on a part of the army, while the other part moved slowly, with the artillery and baggage wagons. Twelve hundred men were chosen, and General Braddock accompanied them; but though not cumbered with baggage, their movements did not satisfy Washington. He wrote to his brother, that, “instead of pushing on with vigour, without minding a little rough road, they were halting to level every molehill, and erect bridges over every brook.” What seemed mountains to them, were molehills to the ardent temper of Washington. His illness increased so much, that the physician said his life would be endangered by going on, and General Braddock would not suffer him to do so, but have him a promise to have him brought after him, so soon as he could bear the ride. He recovered sufficiently, in a short time, to join the advanced troops; and though very weak, entered immediately on the performance of his duties.

General Braddock proceeded on his march without disturbance, until he arrived a the Monongahela river, about seven miles from Fort Duquesne. As he was preparing to cross the river, at the place since called Braddock’s Ford, a few Indians were seen on the opposite shore, who made insulting gestures, and then turned and fled as the British troops advanced. Braddock gave orders that the Indians should be pursued. Colonel Washington was well acquainted with the manner in which the French, assisted by Indians, made their attacks; and being aware of the danger into which the troops might be led, he earnestly entreated General Braddock not to proceed, until he should, with his Virginia rangers, search the forest. His proposal offended Braddock, who disregarded the prudent counsel, and ordered his troops to cross the river; the last of them were yet wading in it, when the bullets of an unseen enemy thinned the ranks of those who had been incautiously led into the entrance of a hollow, where the French and Indians were concealed by the thick underwood, from which they could securely fire on the English. In a few moments, the fearful war-whoop was sounded, and the French and Indians rushed from their shelter on the astonished troops of Braddock, and pursued them to the banks of the Monongahela.

In vain did their commander, and the undaunted Washington, endeavor to restore them to order and prevent their flight. The deadly aim of the enemy was so sure, that in a very short time Washington was the only aid of General Braddock that was left to carry his orders and assist in encouraging the affrighted troops. For three hours, hw was exposed to the aim of the most perfect marksmen; two horses fell under him; a third was wounded; four balls pierced his coat, and several grazed his sword; every other officer was either killed or wounded, and he alone remained unhurt. The Indians directed the flight of their arrows towards his breast, and the French made him a mark for their rifles, but both were harmless, for the shield of his God protected him, and “covered his head in the heat of battle.” His safely, in the midst of such attacks, astonished his savage enemies, and they called him “The Spirit-protected man, who would be a chief of nations, for he could not die in battle.” Thud did even the savages own a divine power in his preservation; and the physician, who was on the battle ground, in speaking of him afterwards, said, “I expected every moment to see him fall; - his duty, his situation, exposed him to every danger; nothing but the superintending care of Providence could have saved him from the fate of all around him.” – This battle took place on the 8th of July, 1755. in a note to a sermon preached a month afterwards, by the Rev. Mr. Davies, of Virginia, (afterwards president of Princeton College) we find mention made by the author of “that heroic youth, Colonel Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved, in so signal a manner, for some important service to his country.”

General Braddock was mortally wounded, and his few remaining soldiers then fled in every direction. But his brave and faithful aid, with about thirty courageous Virginians, remained on the field, to save their wounded commander from the hatched and the scalping knife of the Indians. They conveyed him with tenderness and speed towards that part of his army which was slowly advancing with the baggage, and he died in their camp, and was buried in the middle of a road, that his grave might be concealed from the Indians by wagon tracks. A few years since, his remains were removed to a short distance, as the great Cumberland road made by the government of the United States, was to pass directly over the spot where he had been laid. More than seventy-five years have passed, since the terrible scene of Braddock’s defeat. The plough has since furrowed the ground which was then moistened with the blood of the slain; but it is saddening to see on it white spots of crumbled bones, and to find amidst the green stalks of grain, buttons of the British soldiers, marked with the number of their regiment, even the brazen ornaments of their caps. “Braddock’s road,” as the path was called, which his troops cut through the forest, is now almost overgrown with bushes; and few travellers pass near to it, without stopping to look along its windings, and recall the time when it was filled with animated soldiers, who were soon to be silenced by the destructive weapons of war.

In writing an account of this dreadful defeat, Washington said, “See the wondrous works of Providence, and the uncertainty of human things!” he was much distressed by the loss of the army; and the officer next in command to General Braddock, instead of endeavouring to prepare for a better defence, went into winter quarters, although it was only the month of August. It was thought necessary to raise more troope immediately, and the command of all that should be raised in Virginia was offered to Washington, with the privilege of naming his own officers. He willingly accepted this offer, as he could do so without placing himself under British commanders, who were not really above him in rank. He immediately set off to visit the troops that had been placed in different situations along the borders of the province; and on his return to prepare for an active defence, he was overtaken by a messenger, with an account, that a number of French troops and Indian warriors, divided into parties, were capturing and murdering the inhabitants of the back settlements, - burning the houses and destroying the crops; and that the troops stationed there, were unable to protect them.

Washington immediately used every means within his power to provide for their relief; but it was impossible to defend, with a few troops, a frontier of almost four hundred miles, from an enemy that “skulked by day, and plundered by night.” While he was anxiously doing what he could, he wrote to the governor an account of the distress around him; and added, “I see their situation, - I know their danger, and participate their sufferings, without having the power to give them further relief than uncertain promises. The supplicating tears of the women, and the moving petitions of the men, melt me with deadly sorrow.” – It might have been expected, that the people in their distress would blame him for not protecting them better; but no murmur arose against him; they all acknowledged, that he was doing as much for them as was within his power.

He wrote to the lieutenant-governor the most earnest and-pressing requests for more assistance; but instead of receiving it, he was treated unkindly, as he related in a letter to a friend. – “Whence it arises, or why, I am truly ignorant, but my strongest representations of matters, relative to the peace of the frontiers, are disregarded as idle and frivolous; my propositions and measures as partial and selfish; and all my sincerest endeavours for the service of my country, perverted to the worst purposes. My orders are dark, doubtful, and uncertain. – Today approved, tomorrow condemned; left to act and proceed at hazard, and blamed without the benefit of defence. However, I am determined to bear up some time longer, in the hope of better regulations.” –Though disappointed in all his best formed plans, by the obstinacy and ill-nature of the person who had the power to control him, and pained by the increasing sufferings around him, which he was not enabled to relieve, yet he did not suffer to angry resentment to induce him to give up the effort of doing some good.

He continued his active and humane endeavours, and pleaded for the relief of his suffering countrymen, until his pleadings were called impertinent. In answer to this, he wrote to the governor, “I must beg leave, in justification of my own conduct, to observe, that it is with pleasure I receive reproof, when reproof is due; because no person can be readier to accuse me than I am to acknowledge an error, when I have committed it; or more desirous of atoning for a crime, when I am sensible of being guilty of one. But on the other hand, it is with concern I remark, that my conduct, although I have uniformly studied to make it as unexceptionable as I could, does not appear to you in a favourable light.” – With calm dignity he endured a continuance of such vexations, without ceasing to toil in his almost hopeless work of humanity.

A new commander of the British troops was sent from England, and he listened to Washington’s opinion, that the frontiers could not be freed from the dreadful visits of the Indians, in connection with the French, until they were driven from Fort Duquesne; for that was the place from which they started on their destructive expeditions. When it was determined that this should be attempted, Washington advanced with a few troops, to open the way for the army; but before they reached the fort, the French left it, and the English took possession of it, November 1758, and named it Fort Pitt. As Washington had expected the possession of this fort prevented all further attacks on the frontiers; and when his countrymen were freed from the dangers which he had left his farm to assist in defending them against, he determined on returning to it. His health had been injured by his being exposed to severe cold, and being often, for many days, unsheltered from the falling rain; and he felt that he ought to use means to restore it, as he could do so without neglecting a more important duty. He resigned his commission, and the officers whom he had commanded united in offering to him affectionate assurances of regret for the loss of “such an excellent commander, such a sincere friend, and so affable a companion.”

Soon after his return to his farm, in the twenty-seventy year of his age, he married Mrs. Custis, a lady to whom he had been long attached, and who was deserving of his affection. She had an amiable temper, and was an agreeable companion; and in performing all the duties of a wife, she made his home a scene of domestic comfort, which he felt no desire to leave. Employing himself in directing the cultivation of his ground, and in the performance of all the private duties of his situation, he lived for several years in retirement, except when attending the legislature of Virginia, of which he was a member.

For the benefit of his health, he sometimes visited a public spring in his native state, to which sick persons went, with the hop of being relieved by using the water. At the season when there were many persons there, it was the custom of a baker to furnish a particular kind of bread, for those who could afford to pay a good price for it. One day it was observed by a visitor, that several miserably poor sick persons tottered into the room where the bread was kept, and looked at the baker, who nodded his head, and each one took up a loaf, and, with a cheerful countenance walked feebly away. The visitor praised the baker for his charitable conduct, in letting those have his bread, whom he know could never pay him; but he honestly answered, “I lose nothing, - Colonel Washington is here and all the sick poor may have as much of my bread as they can eat; he pays the bill, and I assure you it is no small one.”

All his private actions were as deserving of the approbation of his countrymen, as those of a public nature had been of their respect and praise; and those who were nearest to him, and know him best, loved him most.




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