Quiet and common notions...shared here...with you! Of life ~ our hearts and our home.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

{Mugs & Muffins} :: Tea and Trouble Brewing, by Dorcas Smucker ~ Giveaway! and recipe { CLOSED!}

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Welcome back to Mugs and Muffins!  It seems like it's been such a long time... hasn't it?  At least for me it has.  Anyway...

For any new friends visiting here today... Hello! You might be coming here as part of the Tea and Trouble Brewing blog hop/giveaway tour and I'll just fill you in quickly. Mugs and Muffins is a once-a-month "event" that I try to regularly host here at Treasured Up and Pondered.  It's where I'll feature a guest post writer/speaker/giveaway and a recipe.   Glad to have you come by.

For most of you, my readers, you've been waiting for this and are wondering... and well, as I've alluded to on Monday - something is/was abrewin'.  Thank you to you too, for coming by.  I hope I won't disappoint.

So, here it is!  The time has come for me to introduce to you my guest speaker, all the way from the state of Oregon.  Harrisburg, Oregon, that is; living in a 100-year-old farmhouse nestled in the lovely Willamette Valley. 

Pull up a chair.
Pour yourself some hot tea! Your favorite, please.
And, of course, you'll need a Cranberry-Orange Scone to go along with that. (smile!) Something I'm anxiously awaiting to try myself.

(I know we usually do muffins here but this recipe/idea was found in the back of this book, I am talking about today - and I felt it appropriate to go this route!)

Without further adieu...  let's welcome our guest and friend... Dorcas Smucker!

Dorcas is the wife of a Mennonite Minister, the mother of six children and author of several books/memoirs.  She is a once-a-month columnist for the Eugene Register-Guard, on Facebook and is blog host for Life in the Shoe.  Dorcas has recently written a new book called Tea and Trouble Brewing...and let me tell you, I laugh and I cry as I read.

I feel as though I've found a kindred spirit...

I've been reading along- only recently - as a friend of mine (Tricia E.) introduced me to Dorcas' books, and got me "hooked up" in this giveaway.  I'm so glad she did.  It's kind of funny...how such a small world it is we live in... and all of the many connections we can "find we have" with people.

Not knowing anything prior of Dorcas, I have found out that she and I know a couple of the same people, (I know.  Her and I are going to have to talk about this) we share similar interests and my most favorite find while reading her book ...similar to my own, is her dry & witty sense of humor.  The fact that I still consider myself a Mennonite, by some standard, (maybe not outwardly, but in my heart) obviously explains that scenario - right there. {smile!}

I get it!!

I've been thoroughly enjoying getting to know her and her family through these Memoirs...Ordinary Days- Family Life in Farmhouse, Upstairs the Peasants are Revolting and Downstairs the Queen is Knitting.

I know you will, too.

I asked for Dorcas' permission to share a chapter, from her newest release, in it's entirety, in order for you to get a glimpse of how she writes.  This was one of the hardest things to choose.  Which one?   I finally choose this particular chapter because it really, really resonated me.  If you've read Treasured Up and Pondered for any length of time, you know of my love-hate relationship with ants - and old, old Farmhouses!  It's the farmhouses - I love!  Ants not so much. Even though they are one of God's most amazing of Creation; the ones we're told to learn from. (Proverbs 6:6-8) But, oh how they rattle me!

I'm always up for a good and strong analogy with which to identify with and to be strengthened by.  This chapter has given me pause... and something "new" to consider.  I hope it will for you, as well.

The Ants of Marriage  

~ Dorcas Smucker, Tea and Trouble Brewing
I had coffee with my brother Phil and his wife, Geneva, last week, and after Phil went back outside, Geneva and I talked about marriage. “You need to write a book about marriage after twenty-some years,” she said. “How to keep it alive and meaningful. How to keep the connection. There are no books out there like that; I’ve checked — Barnes and Noble, Borders, everywhere. Everything is for newlyweds, not for people our age. So that needs to be your next book.”

Geneva can be very persuasive, especially when she looks at me like that over her coffee cup. However, considering how I bumble through marriage and parenting without ever quite knowing what I’m doing, I told her I would be the wrong person to write a how-to book.

Nevertheless, it was an intriguing thought as I drove south on Interstate 5 — what exactly does it take to make a silver-anniversary marriage work? I consider Paul’s and my marriage healthy, usually, but we spend far too much time meeting all the demands on our time and consequently going too long without really communicating. So do we have a good marriage or are we just too busy for conflict?

When I came home, my thoughts were quickly diverted to more tangible things, such as putting groceries away, making supper, is Jenny coming down with something, and who was the culprit who didn’t push down the last corner of this Tupperware lid and  let the ants crawl all over the chocolate chip cookies again?
Our house has been invaded by ants for months now, little black creatures that by themselves look innocent and even cute, but in massed crawling swarms are downright terrifying. They arrived in stealth, located all the vulnerable entrances, then fanned out and conquered the kitchen. Soon they took over new territories in other rooms as well.

Nothing was safe. We found them on the stove, the toaster, the counters; in the flour, the precious European chocolates, the dishwasher, the new cereal. They were fond of water, molasses, homemade cookies and electrical components.

Our son Steven started playing a CD in his room and soon saw a disturbing river of ants flowing out of his CD player. He investigated and found a city of them inside among the wires, complete with a nursery of larvae. A few days later, I cleaned behind the computer in the office and found hundreds of ants milling inside and around the power strip along the wall.

Desperate, I bought little plastic igloos that were supposed to lure and kill them. They did nothing. My homemade window-cleaning spray with rubbing alcohol and vinegar stunned them only temporarily. Tilex, we discovered, killed them instantly and cleaned the counters thoroughly as well, but soon they were back for more.

The best solution we found was liquid Terro, a clear syrup that we dropped in dime-size dollops on little papers in the cupboards. The ants swarmed in black rings around the droplets, like cattle around a tank, then they would all march away, touching antennae with incoming ants.  Then they evidently died, because that particular area would be ant-free for a few days. But the next day a new colony would take over a new drawer, swarming over the brown sugar.

I went online for help. “Exterminators don’t work,” said most pages. “At least not for long. Try to find and destroy the nests, and especially, try to locate and kill the queen, the source of the problem.” Impossible, in a house this size and age.

My daughter’s friend Felicia said we should pour a bag of sugar around a tree in the yard. “It’ll lure the ants outside,” she insisted. Yes, outside, where I was sure they would reproduce in vast numbers with that food supply, and then come swarming back inside tenfold when the sugar was gone.

Meanwhile, life kept galloping on, and Paul and I passed each other coming and going. Valentine’s Day came and Paul got me pink roses. In spite of that gesture, I got irritated at him for going around school all day with his thick jacket on with only the bottom snap fastened, which makes it ride up in the back, which lacks the dignity he needs as a teacher. He was annoyed at me for leaving the lamp on to read at night when he wanted to sleep. I reminded him again about that everlasting remodeling project upstairs that he’d never finished.
Our poor old marriage. We needed a date, maybe going out to eat, just the two of us. I had in my purse four gift cards, for three different restaurants, that we were given for Christmas up to two years ago and never used. Paul told me to line them up on the dresser right by his pens and keys, so he would see them and remember.
I used to think it wasn’t Truly Romantic unless he read my mind, or surprised me, but now we both know that’s a destructive deception, and after 20-odd years I can be forthright and tell him what I need.

So we sat in a booth at Olive Garden, both on one bench seat, not for cozy romance but so he could hear me better, and we ate and talked and were happy to know we still enjoyed each other’s company. Then he drove us slowly home in the thickly falling snow and asked me if I was scared. No, I said, he knows what he’s doing and I can trust him.

We talked about marriage things that are hard to bring up, about how that makes me feel when you say that, and what we should do or say instead. We did not have to reassure each other that we are in this marriage to stay, because we both know that.

We watched the falling snow seemingly curve and rush toward the windshield, and we remembered the night we drove in snow just like that and hit a moose and lost our van and nearly our lives, and then we were quiet, thinking of what we’ve survived together.

After we came home, I thought about Geneva’s idea for a book as I sprayed the ants in the sink and washed them down the drain.

Inspiration struck. “I got it!” I crowed to the family. “Keeping your marriage healthy is like fighting ants!”
Emily, the dramatic ant-hating daughter, was horrified. “Goodness gracious, is it really that awful? Why would you ever want to get married?”
Oops, maybe not such a good analogy after all. And yet...
“Think about it,” I said, “all the comparisons.”

Nature and life and Newton’s laws are not conducive toward either a clean, ant-free kitchen or a happy marriage. Both are won by fighting against natural regression. Everyone you ask will offer you their own wonderful solution, but it’s less about easy magic than about persistence, vigilance and hard work, pouncing on the destructive little beasts that come crawling out of the corners. And you have to identify the root problems.
Clever, I thought. Emily still looked skeptical, but then, she is very young.

School was called off the next day because of the snow. Paul cut sheet-rock and hauled it upstairs to finish the everlasting project — and to make me happy. I turned off the lamp so he could sleep, because I love him. He didn’t kiss me goodnight because he had a bad cold and didn’t want me to catch it. And all that will never make much of a how-to book for a long-term happy marriage, but it works.

See what I mean?? Dorcas makes you think.  She is funny.  She is real.  In all of her essay's or stories - you can see her faith is strong, authentic and in complete trust to her Creator's orchestration.  She is a woman who is not afraid to share her life and life her life to the fullest.  Her cup runneth over...and yes! even the saucer.

All I can say is Dorcas had me at "hello!"  And yes! to her daughter's quandary?  Marriages are that much worth fighting for and more...

Per the Author's request - the following information is made available to you:

To order a copy, for yourself, go to Amazon , to pay by credit card.
If you would prefer to pay by check, please send $15 (postage is included in this price) to Dorcas Smucker, 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446.

**Dorcas also has a special right now. All 4 of her books for $40.00. Again, postage is included.

Of course, this book, a signed copy of Tea and Trouble Brewing is on for the GIVEAWAY today, and the giveaway will run to the end of the week.  I will draw an entry through random generator on Saturday, at 12 noon, EST.  Winner will be notified, on Saturday. {now... CLOSED!}

To enter the giveaway:
* For one entry. Leave a comment here on my blog. Tell me: Are you a Tea Drinker?  If so, What is your favorite kind of Tea?  Or, if you care to share, What's your current trouble?
* For a second entry. Follow Dorcas' blog - Life in a Shoe .  Let me know!
* For a third entry. Sign up to follow my blog - Treasured Up and Pondered. Let me know!

Pass the word!  REMEMBER you have until Saturday, at noon, to get in on this. (Facebook comments must be redirected here to the blog in order to enter.)  If you have trouble commenting, email me and I'll add you in. (aitsbevy@yahoo.com)

Now, for that Scone Recipe.  

I hope you don't mind but I found a recipe for these scones in the back of Dorcas' book...and a photo of scones via Pinterest.  The recipes are extremely close...

Cranberry-Orange Scones Recipe

With Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow - and plans to be away from home all day - I knew you would understand if I didn't make the plate of scones up myself.  These, however, are a must try...in my book.  Don't they look Delish?  I can almost smell them... they look so fabulous.

Hope you enjoy!

Thank you for stickin' around today.  I hope you'll be back.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  May you enjoy it most with your family and friends. 
Remember.  We truly do have much to be grateful for.  We are blessed with more then we deserve.  God is Good!  Amen?



  1. Tea is okay.. especially iced tea, but for hot drinks I much prefer coffee or mocha or some such thing! If I win this book I will also give it away.. probably either my mom or sister.. hard decision! Wait. Maybe they could both read it!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Best of luck to you. I see you're now following here at Treasured Up and Pondered. Welcome!! and Thank You!

  2. My favorite tea is the southern iced tea too. But I do have a mint/chamomile blend here that isn't too bad! I love to read Dorcas's writings and would be delighted to win her book!

    I also follow her blog. . .

    1. Nice to have you stop by...

      I love a not-so-sweet southern iced tea... trust me! I have my story. ;)

  3. Loved the post today! Thanks for the encouragement, Bev and Dorcas! We've had ants in the house and marriage in our 17years as well just as described here. Terro bait works for the home just like good conversation over hot tea and a game works for the marriage. Our "ants" include nit-picking, thoughtless words, unresolved anger... creeping into the nooks and crannies when you're busy with family life. Thanks, Bev, I follow your blog and I am heading to Dorcas' blog right now!
    PS Dorcas, did you know you can get Terro ready to go in traps, so you don't have to pour sticky stuff around? Just cut open and set it wherever, move it to a new spot when the ants are gone.

    1. And I forgot to say... we like hot tea in the evenings, but prefer coffee during the day. I confess though, that I have an addiction to McD's sweet tea, light on the ice, please.

    2. Can you believe it? I've never tried McD's sweet tea.

      Thanks for your honesty - in both of your "ant" troubles. ;) I know you follow here (thank you!) and that will give you two.

  4. I am not a fan of tea. I drink instant iced tea but don't like brewed iced tea. But I am a fan of Dorcas' writing! Thanks for sharing. I could very much relate to the image of fighting ants in marriage. My husband and I were just doing some ant fighting on Sunday after church. I can relate to what Dorcas said about being too busy to conflict but that busyness seems to drag us apart and we seem to forget we are fighting together and instead start fighting each other. It helps us to reorient things and remind ourselves that we are in this together even when apart. I did sign up to follow Dorcas' blog. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh Lindsay - love your honesty, too. There is nothing better than - REAL!

      - I got it! That you're following Dorcas' blog now too.

  5. Let me just say what a pleasant surprise on two accounts: that you featured Dorcas Smucker and that she has another book. I have all her other books. I love them. She is so funny and down to earth. We also have common connections. I would love her new book:)

  6. I also signed up to follow your blog:) Though I have been following if for some time, but unofficially.

    1. Well, thank you my friend. I wondered if you've followed it through FB or how?

      Thanks for entering in here today. I got you tagged for three entries. Best of luck...

  7. I really enjoyed the article on Ants in Marriage and would really enjoy reading the whole book. Hot mint tea and iced southern sweet tea would be my choice of tea. I have been reading Dorcas' blog for about 7 years now...


    1. Thanks for coming by Carol. Nice to meet you. Best of luck in your chance at winning.

  8. Wow! I love how she writes - that was beautiful!!!!

    Tea, yes I will drink it - mostly on cool Autumn evenings and cold winter nights - but I prefer coffee! ;) But as for tea I love a good earl gray!

    1. I would LOVE to sit and have a cup or two of coffee or tea with you - up underneath that Canadian Sky.

      You know - Dorcas lived in Canada for awhile. She has some very interesting stories. Hence the reference to the snowy night and the moose... very nail-biting!

  9. I drink some tea; peppermint is one of my favorites.

    1. Well. It's soon that time of year for the peppermint to be in full swing. Best of everything. Thanks for coming by today.

      You're blog looks fun to read. I was snooping around. :)

  10. I've been following Dorcas' blog for several years. I love her writing, but do not have any of her books. I also love tea -- cold in the summer, hot in the winter. Almost every dentist who's examined my teeth has asked if I drink tea. (Is there a non-staining kind I should know about?) My preferences are herbal and fruit varieties.

    1. Oh - you let me know if there is a non-staining kind - the same for coffee. I KNOW coffee is my culprit.

      Thanks for coming by today, Bev! Or, do you just stick with Beverly?

      It's a good name, isn't it? Not to, too many of us around.

  11. I'd love to win! Thanks for the chance.

    Not really a tea drinker but I do like a cup every now and then. Actually,I'm not a big fan of hot drinks in general--weird, I know.

    I actually know Dorcas in real life--her mom is my Dad's cousin (2nd, I think). She lives in my hometown and taught my sister in 5th and 6th grade way back in the day.

    I've never read her books but have enjoyed her blog and newspaper column for years.

    1. I told you that Dorcas and I know a lot of the same people!! :)

      Actually, what a small world. I didn't know you knew her. This is too funny.

      You could probably tell us some more stories about her? Eh?

  12. I follow her blog via Google Reader!

  13. Dorcas has a way of wanting you to keep reading.
    Thank you for sharing her with us today.

    (sweet & spicy tea)

  14. Been following Life in the Shoe for a little while. Ants and Marriage will be a favorite chapter. =) Thanks for sharing! -Donella

  15. I have a slight addiction to Rosenberger's and Turkey Hill Iced Tea, with hot tea I need the company of a good friend. I enjoy both blogs and check in often. Happy Thanksgiving! Tricia E.

  16. I actually drink more coffee, but when I do drink tea I love vanilla chai, iced or hot. I love Dorcas's writing style. She's so honest and she makes me laugh.

  17. I already follow her blog.

  18. And I now follow yours as well.

  19. Number one: For cold tea, I prefer mint tea over "Lipton's". I also love hot mint tea, unsweetened, in its pure flavor.

    Two: I read Dorcas' blog.


    --Linda Rose

  20. My favorite tea in Peppermint with lots of sugar!
    I also follow Dorcas' Blog
    Thanks for a chance to win the book

  21. I am a tea drinker! I love all kinds. Some of my favorites are Peppermint, Chamomile, a black tea with raspberry, and peach tea. UMMMM!

  22. I am a follower of your blog! :)

  23. I'm more of an iced tea gal. Turkey hill, specifically. What a good word from Dorcas in this story!

  24. I am a tea drinker and right now I am enjoying apple tea! And my current problem is ants! Amy

  25. I'm happy to follow your blog! Amy

  26. I was SO excited when I saw Dorcas's name. I have read her books and LOVE Them! I think she is even a distant relation to my father in law!

    1. Thanks for coming by - dear anonymous... but do you have a name?? ;)

  27. You know me... I am totally a coffee drinker. But I do enjoy my tea as well... right now I am trying to drink gobs of red raspberry leaf tea to try and help this stubborn baby out of the womb! I enjoyed Dorcas' chapter and would enjoy reading her book as well! The scones sound heavenly!
    Thanks for posting Bevy.


  28. Hey Bev,

    Please include my name in the give-a-way.
    I drink green tea every morning, and I love following your blog. I’ll add Dorcas’ to my blogs now too.



  29. I love peppermint tea!

  30. I'm behind on my blog reading and soooo bummed I missed this give-a-way. But I loved the post and the book is intriguing. I love coffee by day, but enjoy a cup of tea to unwind from the day just before bed. My absolute favorite is Trader Joe's Candy Cane Green Tea. I have to stock up in November, but never seem to buy enough for a whole year. I'm sipping a cup right now as I catch up on your blog. I'll have to borrow the book from Becky!


Thanks for coming by, today! You're visits always mean so much...

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