Saturday, August 20, 2016

Book Review: Pioneer Mixology: Switchel, Sack Posset, and Shrub by Robynne Elizabeth Miller

After reading Robynne Elizabeth Miller's book titled, From the Mouth of Ma: A Search for Caroline Quiner Ingalls, the author contacted me to let me know another one of her books, Pioneer Mixology: Switchel, Sack Posset, and Shrub, was available for free in April. Having enjoyed From the Mouth of Ma, I downloaded the free book.

If you're interested in the history of the pioneers, then Pioneer Mixology is a book you should add to your e-library. The author explores the numerous beverages of the times. They are broken down into three major categories: hot, cold, and alcoholic.

What is so neat about this book is that each section explores the different types of drinks in each category, explains how they were made, and even offers recipes. You could easily use this book for a home schooling lesson or just for an experiment of what it was like to make things the way the pioneers did.

From buttermilk to eggnog to mulled cider and more, you'll enjoy learning more about the liquids consumed back then and how resourceful pioneers were considering the limited availability of ingredients.

File Size: 926 KB
Print Length: 102 pages
Publisher: Practical Pioneer Press (March 11, 2016)
Publication Date: March 11, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

I downloaded a free digital copy of this book from Amazon. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Trip to the Lake: LHOP Inspired Fan Fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

A Trip to the Lake

LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.

The seat rocked Laura back and forth as Barnum pulled the buggy in the direction of the lake. She and Almanzo rode in silence, their newfound relationship making the ride uncomfortable, unlike the others they had been on. She had never ridden alongside him as her beau. She assumed that's what Pa and Almanzo had been talking about when she had seen them in the yard.

"I was surprised to see you this morning," she said.

He glanced over at her. "Were ya now?"

Afraid she might have offended him, she added, "But it was a pleasant surprise."

A crooked smile crept across his face. "Did ya have a good time last night?"

"Oh yes." Laura felt the warmth of her blush and covered her cheeks to hide their scarlet color.

"I was hopin ya did."

"I didn't know you could dance."

Almanzo shrugged. "With three sisters in the house I didn't have much of a choice. They were always using me for practice."

"They taught you well."

"Thank you."

Laura wanted to reach out and touch his hand, but he was busy driving Barnum. As if he read her mind, he switched the other rein into his right hand and picked up her small, white hand in his. He brought her hand up to his lips and then ran his thumb over the back of it, before placing her hand down on the seat and switching the rein back into his left hand.

Should she ask. It was driving her crazy not knowing. "What were you talking to Pa about this morning?"

"I was askin his permission to court you…if ya want me to." He looked at her out of the corner of his eye.

Her heart skipped. Could this finally be happening? It would be awful if she woke up and found it was all just a dream. "I do."

"Well, now that's settled, why don't we enjoy the day."

Laura couldn't imagine how she would find any fault with this day after taking a ride with Almanzo as her beau.

After tying up Barnum, he led her by the hand to  an area of grass alongside the lake. It was a cool afternoon, but the bright sunshine would make it comfortable enough for them to enjoy their picnic.

Almanzo laid the blanket down. He had tucked one away in the back of his buggy. They sat down on the blanket, the basket between them. She didn't dare reach for the contents of the basket. She was so nervous, she was certain eating would make her ill. Almanzo began sharing his life in Malone, NY where he grew up. He spoke fondly of his parents and the farm where his mother spun wool and he had broken in his first colt.

"What was your brother, Royal like?" she asked.

"Typical older brother, I guess. He knew everything, and did everything better than me. I hated it when I was growin' up, but now I look up to him."

"Sounds like Mary. She was smarter and prettier than I could hope to be. She had boys lining up to carry her books home from school every day. She liked to sew and always wore her bonnet. She sure knew how to do the right thing all the time."

"And what about you. Beth?"

Laura shook her head when she thought back to some of the schemes she had played a part in. "Me — I was always in trouble. I got into a fight with Nellie Oleson on my first day of school."

He smirked. "I can understand how that might happen."

She slammed her hands down in her lap. "My temper always gets the better of me."

"Ya, don't say."

"And what are you smiling at?" She puckered her lips up like a pouting child.

"Seems I've seen that temper a couple times myself."

Laura blushed thinking back to her theatrical performance in the parlor of the Wilder's house, screaming how she was a woman and that she hated all of them. Again, a blush rose in her cheeks. "I was distraught over how Nellie's trick forced me to fail my test."


She crossed her arms over her chest. "And of course there was that part about you calling me a little girl."

He glanced away. "Yeah, I thought we'd get to that." Almanzo pulled out a glade of grass and twirled it in between his fingers. "Does it help knowing I don't think of ya that way anymore?"

"Yes," she admitted. "Just don't go punching any more of my students."

His cheeks went instantly red and she knew he was thinking of Chad Brewster. He quickly recovered and pulled her against him into an embrace. "What a pair we make."

After lunch, they took a stroll along the shore. Laura threw some bread crust she had saved from her sandwich to the ducks. She knew they would be flying south soon, and the green grass and autumn colored leaves would be replaced by the beauty of a white winter.

"What are ya thinkin about?" asked Almanzo.

"A frozen lake with its ice shimmering in the sunlight, surrounded by barren trees decorated with snowy white leaves."

"Would ya like to go on a sleigh ride this winter?"

Now it would be her turn to tease. "Depends on who's doing the driving."

"What if I was doin' the driving?"

"Then I'd be happy to go," she said, " long as Pa agrees."

Almanzo nodded. "I have a great deal of respect for your father."

The young couple walked hand in hand, admiring the beauty of nature and thrilling in the joy of being together. Clouds had slowly moved in and the sun disappeared. The breeze had picked up too. Laura noticed just as the first few drops of rain hit  her hair. The shower quickly turned into a downpour and they ran towards the buggy.

Almanzo, whose feet were close to the shore, slipped on the wet grass and tumbled sideways into the lake, bringing Laura down with him. He jumped up and helped Laura out of the water.

When they were on solid ground Almanzo tried to brush off her wet, muddy dress. "Oh Beth, I'm so sorry."

Laura glanced up at him and then back to her dress before busting out in laughter. The sides of her stomach ached by the time she was able to stop.

"What in the heck is so funny?" he asked.

"Once again, you get to see me looking graceful."

They laughed together, thinking about how Almanzo had brought Laura back to his place to dry off when she had that terrible mud fight with Nellie Oleson over failing her test.

He pulled her in closer. "I love you," he said before placing a small kiss on her cheek.

Her gaze fixed on him and she whispered, "I love you too."

Their lips met in a passionate kiss. The rain continued, but she didn't notice. Laura had waited two years for this. She had tried so hard to make him see her as a woman, and in the end it had all been worth it. As she shivered in his arms, she felt protected and loved.

He pulled away and gazed into her eyes, the rain slowing to a steady shower. He reached over and removed the pins holding her bun in place. He tucked the pins into his pocket and began to unroll her hair. She shook her head to help him. When he was done, he stepped back and stared at her, his eyes blinking away rain drops.

His actions confused her. "What?"

"You're beautiful."

"Like this," she said, making a face at her wet dress.

"Yeah, like that."

He cupped her face in his hands and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. "I should get ya home," he whispered.

"Let's go slowly." Laura didn't want their time together to end.

On Almanzo's arm she strolled back to the buggy. He helped her up and then jumped in himself. He gave her his coat, which he had left on the seat. It was drier than everything else and would keep her warm until they arrived back at the Ingalls farm.

As Barnum pulled the buggy back towards the little house on Plum Creek, Laura leaned against Almanzo's shoulder. He kissed the top of her head. Her stomach was filled with butterflies and her heart was filled with joy. She didn't know how she was going to leave him tomorrow to go back to her teaching job in Curry.

Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

Our Independence Day celebrations may be a far cry from the ones Laura Ingalls Wilder celebrated as a girl, but it's still important to recall the birth of this great nation and to remember all who have died to protect our freedoms. 

The Little House books often shared the importance of this holiday. In this article on Bustle, you'll find the author believes the old fashioned Fourth of July celebrations are one thing that draw readers to the books. You can check it out at

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Reminder: Vote for LEGO® Ideas Plum Creek - The Little House on the Prairie

Reminder to vote at the LEGO® Ideas project page for a fan-created Plum Creek - The Little House on the Prairie. It is gathering support. At 8009 votes, we're a bit shy of the required 10,000 votes.

Visit for more details and to show your support.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Investors Business Daily Article on Michael Landon

In the Leaders and Success section of Investors Business Daily you'll find this article on Michael Landon and how his largest role was in fostering family values on TV. Check it out at

Friday, May 27, 2016

New Book for Laura Fans Coming in 2017 from State Historical Society

Found on the South Dakota State News site is the following press release:

CONTACT:  Jeff Mammenga, Media Coordinator, (605) 773-6000,

New book on Laura Ingalls Wilder coming in 2017 from State Historical Society

PIERRE, S.D.—To celebrate the 150th birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder in 2017, the South Dakota State Historical Society will release a new book on the writer’s legacy.

In 2014, the South Dakota Historical Society Press released Wilder’s “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography,” edited by Pamela Smith Hill, which became a national bestseller. The new book, “Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder,” edited by Nancy Tystad Koupal, will bring together writers from across the continent to explore the impact that “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” made on our understanding of one of America’s most iconic authors.

“Readers want to know more about Wilder and her creative process,” said Koupal. “This book will gather important voices on topics like Wilder’s collaboration with her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, the influence of Wilder’s personal politics in her personal voice and her lasting place in children’s literature. The national response to ‘Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography’ shows how keenly readers want to dig deeper into these topics and others.”

Sales for “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” shot past original expectations, and the book is now in its ninth printing with 165,000 copies in print. A contract for Japanese translation rights is underway between the South Dakota Historical Society Press and Taishukan Publishing.

In addition to “Pioneer Girl Perspectives,” two more volumes dedicated to sharing Wilder’s publishing journey are being planned. The first, slated for publication in 2018, will examine the edited typescripts that came after Wilder’s original, handwritten manuscript and will constitute a rigorous study of Rose Wilder Lane as editor. The second volume will utilize manuscript material leading readers directly from Wilder’s “Pioneer Girl” texts to Wilder’s rough draft of “Little House in the Woods.”

Preorders for “Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder” will open in November 2016; the book will be available in the spring of 2017. Wilder was born Feb. 7, 1867, and died on Feb. 10, 1957. More book details will be released by the Pioneer Girl Project on its website in the coming weeks.

Koupal is director and editor-in-chief of the Pioneer Girl Project and the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Since 1997, the Press has served its readers and authors with award-winning books and gained a national reputation for excellence. Koupal has over 30 years of editorial experience. She is also a board member of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet, S.D., and did postgraduate work in American literature at the University of Wisconsin.

“Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” is available for $39.95 plus shipping and tax through


About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call (605) 773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call (605) 394-1936 for more information.

Monday, May 2, 2016

New Release: Visiting Laura's Little Towns by Sandra Hume

For Laura Ingalls Wilder fans, there is nothing quite like going to the scene of the story. Every year—roughly May to October—thousands of fans descend upon the spots the Ingalls family called home in Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota. They even visit her husband, Almanzo's, childhood home in New York as well as Mansfield, Missouri, where Laura lived out her adult life. And because the Little House books are for children (even though we adults read them), for generation after generation, these sites are the quintessential family destination.

"Family vacation" sounds idyllic, but parents know that the reality of traveling with little ones doesn't often match the dream. As a parent, traveler, and Laura Ingalls Wilder scholar, Sandra Hume has perfected the art of family travel to the Little House sites. Her "Visiting Laura's Little Towns" series addresses family concerns for this kind of travel. From how far in advance to reserve to what to expect to eat to the must-sees of each site, she guides families through the land of Laura Ingalls Wilder every step of the way.

Visit Laura's little towns ... because you want to go where Laura went.

File Size: 2046 KB
Publisher: Not the Critic Press LLC (May 20, 2016)
Publication Date: May 20, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

Purchase here!