quick and easy delicious crock-pot chili (gluten free)

We’ve had extremely cold weather this year, so what better meal than a crock pot of chili? Here’s the quick and easy directions for a delicious dinner of crock-pot chili – one of our personal family favorites:

chiliThe night before: wash, then soak 2 1/2 cups of pinto beans according to directions on package. If you forget to soak them the night before, no problem. Simply wash the beans, then boil them until softened the day of the meal.

Brown a package of hamburger meat.

Combine the hamburger meat and the softened pinto beans in the crock pot. Add two cans of Hunt’s Dinner Starters seasoned Tomato Sauce for Chili.

Add two cans of water and stir.

Turn your crock-pot to low and let simmer throughout the day, stirring on occasion.

For side dishes: fresh spinach or tossed salad and homemade cornbread. :)

Enjoy!

*Note: Since my husband is Celiac, this is a safe meal for him. At the time of this posting, my research concluded that Hunt’s Dinner Starters Seasoned Tomato Sauce for Chili was gluten free. If you have a food allergy, always double check the label and call the company (or find their website online) to determine if the product is gluten free.

We use The Cravings Place Grandma’s Unsweetened Cornbread Mix (gluten free, wheat free, nut free, dairy free) for the cornbread. We add honey to the mix (per package directions) to sweeten.

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Tweetables

Quick and easy delicious gluten free crock-pot chili recipe (click to tweet)

Perfect dinner idea for a cold day! (click to tweet)

What’s for dinner? (click to tweet)

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Don’t Miss this Upcoming Conference for Women of All Ages!

photoI’m super excited to share with you about a conference coming to the Southeast for MOMS, MENTORS, and MINISTRY LEADERS!

It’s BETTER TOGETHER, a conference by The M.O.M. Initiative and it’s for women of ALL ages and in ALL seasons.

It’s a conference for you!

Being a mama isn’t easy and kids don’t come with instructions… and sometimes we just need to step away from things to refuel and be refreshed.

And being a ministry leader can be daunting, and at times, we need to just get away and get our batteries recharged and gain a fresh new perspective that will fire us up to keep on keepin’ on!

SOMETIMES…we just need a weekend to laugh together, cry together, and discover you’re not alone in your journey. BETTER TOGETHER is a weekend to connect with women just like you….moms, wives, single moms, moms in blended families, divorced moms, moms of teens, moms of toddlers, grandmas and ministry leaders.

With powerful keynotes from moms and ministry leaders just like you, and over 40 breakout sessions that are taught by experienced leaders and include a wide range of topics such as:

  • When Motherhood Should Come with a Training Manual
  • You Can’t Be 1/2 a Mom (for moms in blended families)
  • Social Media Wise Parents
  • Bully Proof
  • Balancing Life and Ministry
  • Fight for Your Family
  • The Making of a Mom
  • Lord, Help My Marriage
  • Building a Top Notch Team
  • Reaching the Hard to Reach Child

And MANY MORE BREAKOUTS that will meet you right where you are!

You’ll experience an amazing time of worship with The Journey Worship Band, you’ll learn, you’ll share, you’ll grow in Christ… and as a mother… and as a mentor… and ministry leader.

Expect to have fun, meet other moms, find hope and encouragement, and laugh…a lot!

  • Great worship with the live band
  • Lots of giveaways!
  • Late Night Bash with the M.O.M.s on Friday night!
  • Lots of opportunities to shop in the Exhibit Hall!
  • 15 Minutes with M.O.M. appointments where you can meet a M.O.M. and chat about what is on your heart
  • Lots of breakout sessions (over 40) to help you in your mom journey, your mentor journey or your ministry journey!
  • Panel Talk on Saturday with some of YOUR questions answered by the M.O.M. team!

Here’s the details:

When: July 31st – August 2nd, 2014

Where: Trinity Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida

How Much: Only $49 ($39 for tickets purchased before 12/1/13 & groups of 10 or more)

How: CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW!

More Info: Click here for more information

Seating is limited so you will want to get your tickets now and invite your friends!

You’ll be empowered, encouraged, refreshed and refueled…ready to fulfill your God-given calling with the confidence of knowing you don’t have to take your mom journey alone.

Don’t miss THE Southeast’s MOM conference of the year, BETTER TOGETHER by The M.O.M. Initiative…

Because we are ALL better together!

Interview and Giveaway with Author Deb Raney – 3 book giveaway!

I’m super excited to welcome Author Deb Raney to my blog and she is giving away, not one, not two, but THREE books. Yes, you read correctly! Deb is giving away a copy of each of the three books in her Hanover Falls Series.

Here is a bit about this awesome series:
An unlikely group of people are drawn together to cope with the tragic aftermath of a fatal fire at a downtown homeless shelter in Hanover Falls, Missouri. Four widows, one widower, a battalion chief, and a son of one of the heroic firefighters—a rookie fireman himself—struggle to make sense of their broken lives in the midst of discovering the mystery surrounding the fire that destroyed their dreams and their futures.
 
Doesn’t this sound like a series to be added to your TBR list? And now, let’s take a minute and meet the author behind the books…
Thank you for being with us today, Deb. It is such an honor to have you here discussing with my readers your latest series. Speaking of which, what was your inspiration behind your Hanover Falls Series? A few years ago, my husband placed a newspaper clipping beside my plate at breakfast one morning, the story of nine firefighters who died in a tragic blaze in South Carolina. “I think there’s something worth exploring here,” he said. I began thinking how the tragedy would change the lives of those firefighters’ families, yet how they would pull together, because the firefighting world is a “family” unto itself, and before long, the Hanover Falls series was putting itself together in my mind. My niece is married to a firefighter whose family has a proud history of serving as firefighters and my nephew-in-law was an invaluable resource to me, sharing stories and details about the world of firefighting, and loaning me his training manuals for most of the three years I was writing these books.

I love hearing the inspiration behind books, Deb! Do you have a favorite book in the series? A favorite character? I am learning that I’m a little fickle when it comes to books. At one time, I would have said that Almost Forever, the first book in the series, was my favorite, but with After All (book 3) just released with a nice review from Publishers Weekly and readers responding so favorably, now I’m leaning toward After All as my favorite. I really love my “middle child” Forever After, too! Fickle, I tell you!

I completely understand! I can never answer that question when I’m asked to choose which book I like most in my Montana Skies Series. Speaking of books, what is your favorite verse in the Bible and why? For several years now, I’ve thought I really should change my “favorite verse” because it seems like my verse is everyone’s favorite verse: Romans 8:28. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. And yet, that verse has been so foundational in my life that I want to shout it from the rooftops. It’s wonderful to know that even when I can’t see anything good in a certain circumstance, God’s intention for me is good. And everything that happens to me serves HIS purpose for my life. That’s a truth you can live by!

That is such a great verse!  And now, for my favorite question… if you were suddenly given one million dollars, what charity would you like to found and why? I don’t suppose I could talk you into letting me found the Deborah Raney Travel Through Europe Fund, could I? Well, in that case, I would want to fund a charity that provides workers to rebuild Haiti. My parents served on the board of an organization that supported a girls’ home in Haiti, and for more than a quarter of a century, they spent a week or two every winter working at that orphanage. Twice my family and I were scheduled to go with my Dad to spend time at the girls’ home near Port au Prince (I was researching my novel, Over the Waters, set in Haiti) but both times the trip was cancelled at the last minute due to unrest in Haiti. But because of my parents, I have a heart for the country and people of Haiti. What amazes me is how much an American dollar can accomplish in that poverty-stricken nation. We have so much and are so often discontent. They have so little, and seem always to be smiling. There’s a lesson there!

What a wonderful idea for a ministry – and I loved learning about your parents and their ministry to Haiti. Lastly, where can readers connect with you?

http://www.deborahraney.com

https://www.facebook.com/deborah.raney

https://twitter.com/authordebraney

http://novelgarden.blogspot.com

Thank you again for being here, Deb. You are truly an inspiration!

Deborah’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after 20 happy years as a stay-at-home mom. Her books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Deb’s 23rd novel will release from Howard/Simon & Schuster Spring 2013. She and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy the wildflowers and native grasses in the Kansas prairie garden in their large backyard. They also love traveling together to teach at conferences, and to visit four children and four small grandchildren who all live much too far away.

And now, readers, here’s your chance to win all THREE books in Deb’s Hanover Fall’s Series! All you have to do is leave an encouraging comment for Deborah. A winner will be chosen at random. Sorry this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. If you are a subscriber to this blog, you will receive two entries.  The contest ends on October 25, 2012.

Also, stay tuned as I will be announcing the winners of Lisa Buffaloe’s book Nadia’s Hope and Darlene Franklin’s book A Bride’s Rogue in Roma, Texas tomorrow.

And the winner of Carol Ann Erhardt’s book “Trapped” is…

As you have probably figured out by now, I love announcing winners! Thank you so much to everyone who entered the recent giveaway of Carol Ann Erhardt’s suspense novel Trapped.

The winner is…

Brenda Parker!

Brenda, Carol will be in touch with you soon. For those of you who didn’t win, I would highly suggest you order a copy at your favorite bookstore or online.

The giveaway for Margaret Brownly”s new release Dawn Comes Early is almost over! Be sure to stop by and leave a comment to win her book at http://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/interview-and-giveaway-with-margaret-brownley/ and I’ll see you each Thursday for a new giveaway!

Special guest post with author Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Today, I have a special guest on my blog – gifted author Jennifer Hudson Taylor. Many of you may recognize her name from her book Highland Blessings.

Jennifer is here today to talk about her latest book Highland Sanctuary, which releases next month and is already available for preorder and promises to be an excellent read. 

So…here’s a warm welcome to Jennifer!

My Photo

Caithness, Scotland – The Setting of Highland Sanctuary

When I decided to write Highland Sanctuary, I wanted a setting that wasn’t as well known in Scotland. I had heard and read many novels set in Galloway, Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. When I discovered Caithness, while researching historic castles, I found my ideal setting. 

Caithness, is a now a county in the far northern tip of Scotland, nestled against the sea. Formerly part of the shire of Inverness, it gained independence in 1455 when the Earl of Caithness gained a grant of the justiciary or sheriffdom. 

It’s beautiful–and different from the rest of the country. For instance, the land is open and flat, lacking trees and forest, known as moorland and covered in peat moss. A few hills are scattered about, but not the kind of mountains often associated in photos of the highlands. Caithness contains plenty of lochs and bog areas. 

In Highland Sanctuary, I created the fictional town of Braighwick and the wee Village of Braigh, referred to many as the Village of Outcasts in my novel. This gave me the freedom to create the people and layout of the town, as needed for the purposes of my story. Braigh Castle was based on the ruins of Brough Castle.  (http://www.caithness.org/caithness/castles/brough)

While my characters spoke the same English with a slight Scottish brogue as in my debut novel, Highland Blessings, it’s worth noting the language variations in historic Caithness. The area was first inhabited by the Picts, whose language is unknown. By 800 AD the Norse occupied Caithness, and later the Gaelic speakers colonized the area from Scandinavia before the English arrived. Therefore, variations of Norse, Gaelic and English was spoken in different areas of Caithness. 

Another important development in Caithness that affected my story in Highland Sanctuary, was the established religion. By 1477, when my novel takes place, The Church of Scotland, a Catholic denomination, was well established in Caithness and throughout the country. Civil administration parishes were the same as the Church. The Cathedral in my novel is also a product of my imagination after I read about the history of Dornoch Cathedral and Halkirk Highland. The Scottish Reformation of 1560 introduced Protestant theology and in 1689 established the Presbyterian form of church government. 

Highland Sanctuary Blurb

Highland Sanctuary

Gavin MacKenzie is hired to restore the ancient Castle of Braigh. He discovers a hidden village of outcasts that have created their own private sanctuary from the world. Among them is Serena Boyd, a mysterious and comely lass who captures Gavin’s heart. The villagers have an intriguing secret, while Serena harbors a deadly past that could destroy her future. When a fierce enemy launches an attack against them, greed leads to bitter betrayal. As Gavin prepares a defense, the villagers unite in a bold act of faith, showing how God’s love is more powerful than any human force on earth.

 Author Bio

Jennifer Hudson Taylor is an award winning author of historical Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas and a speaker on topics of faith, writing and publishing. Her work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Romantic Times Book Reviews, and The Military Trader. She serves as the Publicist at Hartline Literary Agency. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with family, long walks, traveling, touring historical sites, hanging out at bookstores with coffee shops, genealogy, and reading. Jennifer’s fiction is represented by Literary Agent, Terry Burns with Hartline Literary Agency.

Website/blog: www.jenniferhudsontaylor.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JenniferHudsonTaylor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jt4novels

How to prepare for a writer’s conference

With the ACFW Writer’s Conference coming up this month, I thought it would be fitting to make this week’s list a listing of how to prepare for a writer’s conference.

  • Get prayered up! Before a conference, I devote time in prayer seeking God’s direction and guidance, surrendering my writing and all of the details of the conference to Him, and asking that He help me to be sensitive to His prompting. I also ask for wisdom in choosing what editors, agents, and mentors to speak with and what workshops to attend. I pray that His will to be done at the conference and that He would use my writing to bring glory to His name.
  • Begin preparation early. I’m a procrastinator by nature, so this is a critical one for me. A month prior to each conference I attend, I prepare manuscripts, one-sheets, and proposals. I place them in a tabbed expandable folder, which is also good for organizing handouts I receive in workshops. A week before the conference, I pack everything I will need, including personal items, clothing, business cards, a spiral notebook, a camera, plenty of pens and pencils, and my Bible.
  • Know why you’re going. What is your main motivation for attending a conference? Is your goal to land an editor for your latest manuscript? To speak to an agent? To perfect your writing skills? To learn how to effectively conduct research? To develop the art of branding or marketing? Over the years, I have attended both Christian and secular conferences and have had many of these goals and more. At each conference, I also make it my goal to be an encourager to other writers and figure out ways to bless those around me. 
  • Know where you’re going. The first year I attended a large Christian conference, my friend and I got lost on the way there. Ditto for the return trip to the airport. We literally stepped on the plane as they were closing the door. Have a good map or navigation system and allow extra time for unforeseen circumstances that hinder arriving on time.
  • Keep a sense of humor. At one conference I attended, I had an appointment with an editor in another building. I ran a couple blocks through heavy rain. When I arrived for my appointment, I looked scary! Keep your sense of humor in times like these.
  • Be realistic. The first couple times I attended conferences, I carried WAY too much stuff. After one such conference, I needed chiropractic care after hauling around the heaviest briefcase known to mankind. Take only what you need, i.e., not 10 copies of each of your five manuscripts like I did in those early years.
  • Plan to network. I can’t tell you how many awesome people I have met at conferences. One of my favorite parts is during the breaks where you meet other writers. Exchange business cards – don’t leave one without taking one – and learn from those around you. Some of the best friendships with other writers begin at a conference.
  • Expect the unexpected. I wasn’t planning to meet with two specific magazine editors at my very first conference. For one thing, I couldn’t imagine what I could write that would fit well with their publications. God had other plans. I met with both of them on different occasions at the same conference and ended up writing dozens of articles for each magazine. In addition, I made lifelong connections. One of my friends I attended a conference with met an editor in the lunch line who later bought one of her devotionals. Again, expect the unexpected and allow God to lead you!
  • Develop thick skin. This is easier said than done! Have your manuscript or proposal ready, and if you can, sign up for a critique. Allow agents and editors to show you how to hone your craft. Most of the editors and agents I have met over the years at conferences have been kind, tactful, helpful, and considerate. Their goal is to help writers make their writing even better. Allow them to give you fresh perspective.
  • Think of others. What’s the most important preparation for a writer’s conference besides prayer? Thinking of others. Does someone need help pushing their wheelchair to lunch? Is there someone sitting by themselves you can invite to your table during meals? Is there someone to whom you can give encouragement? Does one of the staff at the conference deserve special recognition for going out of her way for you (be sure to thank those who made the conference possible!) Could someone in your critique group use a little bit of compassion? Our reason for being on this earth is to glorify our Lord and to love our neighbor. Show your neighbor at a writer’s conference that Christ truly does live within you and make a difference.

So there you have it – some ways to prepare for the conference. So what are you waiting for? Start preparing because the next conference is just around the corner!

Win a Free Kindle!!!

I am thrilled to again be hosting authors with interview/giveaways and guest posts on Thursdays. To kick it off, I am pleased to have author Pam Hillman on my blog today. Below is some information about her brand new ebook, Stealing Jake, and information on how you can win a free Kindle to read her awesome book. Yep, Pam is giving away a free Kindle to one lucky winner on October 8. But…here’s the kicker…the last day to enter is September 30. A bit later, I’ll tell you how to enter. Until then, some background on Pam and Stealing Jake. It’s a bit different than we usually do giveaways here on my blog, so be sure to check out the instructions below to be sure you are entered.

So many books are now being released as ebooks (including my book McKenzie, the first in my Montana Skies Series, which is available on Kindle and Nook and in paperback). Here’s Pam to give us some background on Tyndale’s exciting new program for ebooks -

With ebook sales rocketing skyward, established publishers, authors and readers alike are taking a second look at electronic publishing. Tyndale House Publishers answer is the Digital First Program.

 This past spring, Tyndale decided to offer a new model of publishing called “Digital First”, which is just what it implies, digital first with print books to (hopefully) follow. With ebooks quickly surpassing print books in sales, they asked a select group of agents to send proposals from their unpublished authors who had completed manuscripts ready to go. My agent sent one of mine, and I was offered a contract, along with 4 other unpublished authors: 3 fiction and one non-fiction. My book, titled Stealing Jake, released July 1, 2011 as an ebook. Generally, it takes 12-18 months for a print book to hit the shelves, but Tyndale put these ebooks on a fast track to publication and had them available in about six weeks.

What an exciting program! And now, here’s a bit about Pam.. .

Award-winning author Pam Hillman writes inspirational fiction set in the turbulent times of the American West and the Gilded Age. Her debut book, Stealing Jake, won the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis contest and was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart contest. She lives inMississippi with her husband and family

 [Pam.jpg]

And a bit about her fantastic book Stealing Jake…

When Livy O’Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town ofChestnut,Illinois, where she’s helping to run an orphanage. Now she’ll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.

Sheriff’s deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy–literally–while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town–as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off–Jake doesn’t have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can’t seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn’t willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.

Interwoven throughout is a group of street kids arrested inChicagoand sold as child labor. Leading this band of ragamuffins is young Luke, a scared, determined orphan intent on rescuing his little brother at any cost.

I love hearing how other authors got started in their writing careers. So here’s Pam to share her writing journey…

I’ve been writing most of my life, but seriously started pursuing publication a little over 15 years ago. Over the years I’ve developed relationships with industry professionals and other writers, learning and improving my craft a bit at a time.

Being chosen as one of the launch authors for Tyndale’s Digital First Initiative was a combination of having a completed manuscript ready to go at the exact time Tyndale started looking for debut authors to launch the program. When my agent, Steve Laube, asked if I was interested in submitting, I didn’t hesitate. And the rest is history.

Jake and Livy’s story started out as a novella proposal for Tyndale House Publishers several years ago, but didn’t make the cut. I liked the premise so much that I revised it, working with the story until I had a full-length novel.

The manuscript garnered several awards, and the attention of a few editors, but I always felt like something was lacking. I couldn’t get it out of my mind that Luke’s story needed to be told as well. And finally, one night sitting on the steps at the hotel at the ACFW conference in 2008, romantic suspense author Robin Caroll helped me brainstorm ways to weave Luke into the story.

I loved the results, and the revised version went on to final in the 2011 RWA Golden Heart contest before being contracted by Tyndale House as one of the launch books for their Digital First Initiative program.

So now the all important question – how do you enter to win a Kindle?

Go to this link, which is Pam’s blog and enter to win. Yep, it’s that easy. I know, I know, usually, I have you leave a comment here on my blog, but this time we’re doing things a bit different, (yes, I still love your comments, so feel free to leave one, lol) but if you want to be entered in Pam’s Kindle contest, you MUST sign up via her blogspot. So, go here -http://pamhillman.blogspot.com/2011/07/pams-blog-tour-kindle-contest.html

Did you enter yet? Great! And now, to find out more about Pam, check out where she is on the web -

 Website: www.pamhillman.com 

Blog: www.calicotrails.blogspot.com

Group blog: www.seekerville.blogspot.com

And last, but not least, here’s where you can purchase Stealing Jake-

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Stealing-Jake-ebook/dp/B0057Z87DK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309377471&sr=8-1

 B&N:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stealing-jake-pam-hillman/1103995167?ean=9781414366616&itm=1&usri=stealing%2bjake

 CBD:

http://www.christianbook.com/stealing-jake-ebook-pam-hillman/9781414366616/pd/19108EB?item_code=WW&netp_id=936169&event=ESRCG&view=details

Don’t forget to enter and thanks for stopping by!