Monthly Archives: April 2016

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Lucky Day

Lucky Day - Apple PanThis year is the 100th anniversary of the establishment of America’s National Park System!  I’ve been to a lot of national parks in all kinds of seasons.  Being an indoor/sit down writer, being outdoors in the fresh air and moving about gives me an appetite.  I was trying to think of my favorite (so far) park-related recipe.  It is the dish I never got to try!  During a winter’s day Revolutionary War encampment at Moore’s Creek National Military Park in North Carolina, I watched a woman bake an apple pan dowdy in a large black iron skillet.  As it bubbled over the campfire, my mouth watered.  I stuck around like a dog waiting on a hush puppy to be tossed, but she just kept saying it wasn’t done yet.  I think she meant that it was for the re-enactors, not the visitors.  Oh, well…I came home and made my own.  You can, too!  Make it with a kid or two and plan a trip to your favorite, or a new to you, national park this year.  I think I’ll pick one where they might be making, hmm…Brunswick Stew!

Boy, Howdy Apple Pan Dowdy

This is a simple recipe, easy for kids to help prepare.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace or a fire pit, and an iron skillet, you can give cooking it that way a try.  (Be safe!)  Or, use a baking dish and the oven. 

While any apples will work, sticking with the Revolutionary War theme, I prefer Northern Spys!  Wash them, core, peel if you wish, and cut into wedges.  4-5 large apples are plenty; about 4 cups.  Arrange the apples in your skillet or pan.  Cover them with ½ cup of apple cider; you can use an envelope of the apple cider mix.

In a small bowl, mix ½ teaspoon cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg with 1 cup of brown sugar.  Sprinkle over the apples.  Dot with ¼ cup of butter.

Make a homemade biscuit dough, or used canned biscuits, or frozen biscuits thawed.  Place them over the top of the apples until covered.  Bake at 350 degrees in an oven for about 30 minutes, or until the apples are tender.  For the skillet over a fire, well, just like in Revolutionary War days, you had to experiment, guess, and watch out for fire from kids and husbands who, like me that day at the military park, want some NOW!

Shortcut:  I think it works well to take your apple mixture and just go ahead and cook it on the stove in a boiler until the apples are tender.  Transfer them to your pan of choice and then add the biscuits.  This keeps the apples from being hard and/or the biscuits being overcooked.  Also, the hot, bubbling apples absorb the bottom of the biscuits to create a sort of sweet, delicious goo!  Bake until biscuits are done.  You can brush butter on the the hot biscuits and sprinkle with brown sugar.

Take a taste, don’t burn your tongue, and shout, “Boy, howdy, this is mighty good apple pandowdy!”

Old Sheldon Church

old Sheldon Church Blog

Old Sheldon Church is located 20 minutes off I-95 in South Carolina on highway 21 between Beaufort and Yemassee, at the crossroads of Awe and Wonder.

Take a ride…come around a curve…see something beautiful you did not know was there:  that was my experience with Old Sheldon Church.  These lovely ruins are the remains of Prince William’s Parish.  The church was built between 1745 and 1755, eventually burned twice, once by the British during the Revolution, then by our southern nemesis with a match—General Sherman, during the Civil War.

Today, the beautiful ruins’ red brick pillars and outside walls gleam in the sun.  The serene setting is popular for outdoor weddings and lobster lunches in the grass.  Kids enjoy operating the still-working hand-operated water pump.  It’s a great place for hide and seek, too.

I write history all the time for kids, but do a kid a favor and take them on a ride…come around a curve…show them something so beautiful that they will beg you to stop, bombard you with questions, and ponder the past as a still-living thing.

Bring some graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate.  After all, Sherman might have left a match behind.

The Storybook Shoppe

StorybookshoppeIs it just me, or are there indeed fewer and fewer places to shop for lovely books for children? Well, how would you like to shop here? Not only is The Storybook Shoppe a fairytale of a name, don’t you think, but the brave new owner is Sally Sue—now don’t you want to buy your kids’ books from her? I do!

This store is located in Old Town Bluffton. It is small, intimate, charming and packed with good reads for children of all ages. Since I count myself as a child, this means me! And, of course, all my grandkids.

Once upon a time (hmm, that sounds like a great opening for a book, doesn’t it?!), there were independent bookstores galore with amazing children’s sections. Almost every town had a school supply or teacher store. And, way back, department stores had striking children’s book departments. Today, not so much.

There’s just something special about a children’s bookstore. It smells so good and clean—not like the dank and dusty books, san dust jackets, you find in some libraries. It’s almost always bright and sunny, or is that just the glow from those amazing covers? And it’s friendly. They call a person selling you a book you will love “hand-selling,” but I think that’s a misnomer; it should be “heart-selling.”

So visit Sally Sue, bring a kid, take your time, browse, sit on the step and read a chapter, let the kid sprawl beneath the table and be transported into the land of bunny rabbits or space creatures. Take home a stack of books; after all, it’s almost hammock-reading time. Donate a book to a school. Give the gift of books, if only to counter tv and technology.

Inhale deeply; one day you may wish to recall the scent of sensibility—a bookstore devoted to children’s literature.

Support Sally Sue, she needs us, brave entrepreneur. And savor the opportunity to revisit books from your past, as well as to introduce these blocky stacks of pages with covers to a kid, who may go, “Wow! I love this thing, never saw one before—what is it?”

You’ll probably find me there, somewhere under the table or on the top step, reading. You’ll probably have to call my name two or three times before I tear myself away and look up.


Library Thing ImageI don’t follow or get many blogs myself, so if you read mine, well thank you very much!

If you love books, I can recommend LibraryThing.

It comes out monthly and is funky enough to be intriguing.

This month they recommended a Book Challenge:  reading 100 books this year?  Or whatever number you choose.  Other ideas included:

  • CAT: Pick a category (subject?) of books to read for a year…or maybe a geographic-based group of books…or books from random Dewey-based categories, so really, whatever kind of reading challenge you want to create!
  • ROOT: Read Our Own Tomes. This is where you challenge yourself to read all the books you own that you have not read!  This is up my alley:  so easy to order from amazon at midnight, so hard to find time to read them all!

There’s a lot more to LibraryThing, and it’s very readeractive and participatory, if you wish to.  Free books to review, too.  Explore on your own at  According to their website, they have almost 2 million followers, plus you can catalog your own library of books online…for me that would be a challenge, indeed!

Somehow, you gotta love a blog that includes a pix of an open book where the pages are somehow folded into a heart-shape!  Since I don’t have that pix, here’s another heart for you, from Paris, goes on my tree at Christmas…sits on my desk all year.

April is Drop Everything and Read Month