Cool Off With the Latest Frozen Treat

 

What tastes better on a sweltering summer’s day than something fruity and frozen?

Move over, ice cream, and make way for the latest and most popular sweet treat: popsicles.

Click to tweet: Popsicles are the latest fad in frozen treats.

Yes, popsicles are making a comeback. As kids, we enjoyed sucking on those skinny bars in between climbing trees and playing on swings. After a swim or a competitive game of volleyball. After a breathless game of tag or a long bike ride. Whether luscious raspberry, juicy orange, tangy pineapple, or deep grape—they always hit the spot.

How could they be made even more appealing in today’s market?   Three words: Steel City Pops.

Cool Off with the Latest Frozen Treat by Karen Jurgens

I was first introduced to these tasty confections on the last night of Pink Impact 2017, an annual women’s ministry conference in Southlake, Texas. Instead of their usual grandiose dessert buffet, popsicles of various flavors appeared.

Cool Off with the Latest Frozen Treat by Karen Jurgens

My daughter Meg enjoying her popsicle

After one bite, I was hooked. Reminiscent of ice cream, these flavors were creamy and bursting with flavor. In fact, I was informed that Steel City Pops offers three different kinds: fruity, creamy, and cookie.

Cool Off with the Latest Frozen Treat by Karen Jurgens

Cantaloupe drizzled with chocolate

That did it. I had to find a store and make a visit to explore the menu. Much to my surprise, I found out that these pops can be jazzed up just like at a premium ice cream shop—drizzled or dunked in chocolate to start, then sprinkled with other yummies like nuts, sprinkles, or coconut. And the flavors? Just look at this list:

 

Cool Off with the Latest Frozen Treat by Karen Jurgens

 

The good news? There is a flavor to please every possible taste.

The bad news? Steel City Pops has stores in only four states at present, but you’re in luck if you live in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, or Kentucky.

Cool Off with the Latest Frozen Treat by Karen Jurgens

My mother loves vanilla bean dipped in chocolate

Live somewhere else? Don’t despair—did you know you can make your own delectable popsicles at home? Yep, that’s right. Here are links to some easy recipes:

80+ Popsicle Recipes

Cake Batter Popsicle Recipes

Whether you buy from a store or make your own, may you enjoy a cool summer full of delicious, icy popsicles!

Turn up the Music in Your Writing Style

Turn up the music in your writing style by Karen Jurgens

Lyrical writing is musical, like playing a piece on the piano. The words float along like poetry, creating a mood that sweeps the reader into a magical cloud. This technique is considered a gift, like plucking chords on a harp. But can it also be learned?

In my opinion, the best practice for acquiring and perfecting style is studying the Masters. Remember, the human brain learns from exposure and repetition. Visiting, revisiting, analyzing, and adapting desired techniques take years of study until those seeds become rooted in the soil of a creative soul.

As a former English teacher, I have spent a lifetime studying many authors’ works in-depth. Of all these, my favorites are John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

When I read Steinbeck, I can crunch grit between my teeth from the swirling Oklahoma dustbowl. I suffer on the hot, slow trip to California, which greets the Joads to the Land of Promise with despair instead of hope. How long can the oppressed struggle forward before they collapse in pathetic defeat? As a reader, I crawl, pant, and shed tears with the characters all the way to the last page.

Turn up the music in your writing style by Karen Jurgens

How can writers acquire such a powerful gift?

For an ultimate study of lyrical writing, I return repeatedly to Gatsby. During my former studies of the author’s life, I discovered just how Fitzgerald’s style adds layer upon layer to a written scene until it’s fertile with imagery that comes alive and dances in front of the reader. The author often states action in one simple sentence, followed by three or four with similes and metaphors, layering it all up, like cementing bricks together with the mortar of emotional imagery.

Turn up the music in your writing style by Karen Jurgens

Have you ever read a paragraph that took up permanent residence in your memory? Here’s an example of one of my favorites:

The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor. (Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 8.)

As one example among hundreds, Fitzgerald’s words depicting his brilliant style sparkle like diamonds on a black velvet cloth, never to be forgotten.

Click to Tweet: …Fitzgerald’s words depicting his brilliant style sparkle like diamonds on a black velvet cloth…

How about you? Taking time to immerse yourself in the study of the lyrical style of one of the Masters will permanently enrich your soul and your writing.

Writing Prompt: Finish this line from The Great Gatsby using lyrical style.

The Late afternoon sky bloomed in the window for a moment like…


Karen Jurgens Author Photo

Karen Jurgens, a Cincinnati native, has been a Texan transplant for thirty years and counting. Since retiring from teaching, she has begun a new career as an author, blogger, editor, and speaker within the context of Christian ministry. She blogs about scriptural answers to life’s trials at Touched by Him Ministries and writes for other Christian blogs. She is a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Connect with her at Touched by Him Ministries , Writing Prompts blog,  HeartwingsBlog, Twitter,  Facebook Author page, Amazon Author page. Link to purchase A Perfect Fit.

 

 


A Perfect Fit by Karen JurgensFormally titled Desire’s Promise – Newly revised and expanded. Carlie Livingston is steering into her last year of college in Oxford, Ohio, confident that she and Lance Holloway are headed to the altar after graduation. Those plans are wrecked, however, by her dad’s infidelity, causing her parents to walk through a messy divorce. Will she have the same fate if she marries her college sweetheart who comes from a secular family? Her mother insists she will.

She tests God’s Word by letting Him take the wheel of her life. But if God is in control, why are all her close relationships crumbling?  Nothing makes sense.

Just when it appears hopeless, Clay McKinney two-steps into Carlie’s life, promising to provide everything she’s looking for in a Christian mate. But if he’s God’s answer, why can’t her heart release Lance? Where will her final destination be on this journey of trust?

 

 

Aunt Marie’s Stack Cake

Aunt Marie's Stack Cake by Karen Jurgens

Aunt Marie’s Stack Cake

By Karen Jurgens

One of the most ongoing traditions in our family revolves around my great-aunt Marie’s Stack Cake. Cut from a magazine at least sixty years ago, the recipe has been a cherished addition to every Christmas meal since I can remember. My older daughter, Meg, has a birthday mid-December, and she begs to have this instead of a traditional birthday cake. Since it keeps perfectly for weeks, we enjoy it through the holidays along with our other Christmas desserts.

Click to Tweet: From Karen Jurgens via @inspiredprompt: Aunt Marie’s Stack Cake is an Icelandic #holiday tradition #food #recipe

So, what exactly is Stack Cake? Nicknamed as such by my family, the actual title is Vinarterta Prune Cake. Just as it sounds, it’s seven layers of delectable cake stacked together with a dried-fruit filling and dusted with powdered sugar. Its origins are from Iceland, and seeing as how we are crazy about this cake, it’s no surprise that our family has Viking ancestry!

Here is my family recipe:

Ingredients for filling:

2 lbs. dried prunes (may substitute other dried fruit such as apricots)
½ cup prune juice (may substitute wine or rum)
1 cup sugar
½ t. cardamom seed
1 t. vanilla
¼ t. salt

Method:

Cook prunes and juice slowly until tender, drain, and conserve the juice. (Pit prunes if using seeded ones.) Grind in a food processor until smooth or just mash for a chunkier filling. Return to heat, add back the juice, and cook fruit until the consistency of thick jam. Cool.

Ingredients for cake:

1 c. butter
1c. sugar
4 c. sifted flour
2 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
¼ c. milk

Method:

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in slightly beaten eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Alternate flour, salt, and baking powder with the milk, mixing until combined. Form 7 equal balls from the dough and chill for about an hour. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Using cake pans (8 inch) turned upside-down, pat out each ball of dough evenly to the edge of each pan. Bake 15-20 mins. or until the edges of cake are lightly browned. Allow layers to cool slightly before stacking with jam.

To finish:

On a serving plate, begin with one layer of cake. Spread with fruit filling. Alternate cake and filling, ending with a layer of cake. Dust the top layer with confectioners’ sugar. This cake keeps well for weeks and can also be frozen for months.

Click Here for more explanation and more pictures of the traditional cake.

Enjoy this Icelandic holiday treat!

Aunt Marie's Stack Cake by Karen Jurgens

Stack Cake is always on the dessert table at Christmas

Pop back by on Wednesday for Karen’s 3 Questions interview! And she’s giving away a free e-version of her latest release. See you there!

The Wedding of the Ages

The Wedding of the Ages by Karen Jurgens

 

I never met a girl…

who didn’t dream of her future wedding day. And I’ve rarely read a sweet romance that didn’t end with a radiant bride on that special day. What is the source of this inspiration?

The dream begins…

with a handsome groom standing at the church altar, looking toward the back doors. The music swells, and the processional begins. After the bridesmaids have taken their places, his beautiful bride steps down the aisle, adorned in gleaming white on the arm of her father. Her veil and long train compliment her gown, styled to accentuate her figure to perfection as she marches in step with the music. He receives her hand from her father’s, and together the couple turns toward the minister to take their vows–to love and to cherish until parted by death. After the exchange of rings, their vows are sealed with a kiss. Their new life begins with a celebration meal—simple or elaborate—followed by cutting the wedding cake.

Today’s traditions

have evolved over time, but two thousand years ago, they were very different. The bride waited at home, dressed and ready because she didn’t know at what hour of the day or night her fiancé would arrive. When he appeared, he carried her off to his home where they would be joined in marriage. Afterward, a huge celebration with a feast might continue for days.

Inspiration for happily-ever-after…

originates from God, who performed the first wedding in the Garden of Eden. However, if you’ve decided my favorite book of the Bible is Genesis, you’re wrong. Here are some more hints:

7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.” ~ Revelation 19:7-9, NASB.

The wedding of the ages…

is about to take place in the near-future, and we, the church, are the bride. As we await our groom to take us away to His heavenly kingdom, we are dressed and ready to meet Him in the air. Imagine…bedecked in our righteous acts of dazzling-white linen, we will walk down the aisle on the arm of our Father God. He will give us away to His Son, Jesus Christ, to be His bride. After our vows and exchange of rings, we will receive a new name written on our foreheads, sealed forever as the bride of Christ, followed by the marriage supper of the Lamb. What a feast that will be!

Have you read…

 the book of Revelation? There is a promise of blessing attached.

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near ~ Revelation 1:3, NASB.

Although this final book is full of God’s judgment on a sinful world, the story ends victoriously for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Jesus is revealed as King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our groom with whom we will live happily-ever-after in God’s kingdom.

Could a love story have a better ending? 

Click to Tweet: The wedding of the ages…Could a #lovestory have a better ending? Fav book of the #Bible

Writing Prompt: The story you’re writing ends with a happily-ever-after wedding. What will be your final line (or paragraph)?

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The Most Adorable Dogs Ever

By Karen Jurgens

Growing up, I developed allergies to everything clothed in fur and feathers. That basically meant no horseback riding and no indoor pets. But there was one bright spot. The doctor said I might tolerate a French poodle.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens francois

My family’s first poodle was a silver toy named François. He was a grumpy little guy who endured my affection but preferred to lie in my dad’s arms while he sat at the kitchen table and read the newspaper. After my mother chose to have his glands surgically removed, the poor little thing caught a staph infection and eventually had to be put down.

My dad took his death very hard. So hard, in fact, that we promptly found a new puppy.  Our second was a black toy we purchased from a show breeder in Lexington, Kentucky. With his jet-black coat and long legs (the reason why he couldn’t be a show dog), we named him Bojangles—Bobo for short.

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Having Bobo pacified my dad, but this sweet boy was utterly devoted to my mother and she to him. He traveled everywhere with my parents, by plane or car. He later developed a quirky security attachment to one of my mother’s purses, so she let him sleep next to it. When they stayed in a hotel, Bo knew that his mommy would be back because he had her purse.

But that wasn’t the cutest part. He also had a baby blanket he carried everywhere he went. When it was time for bed, he would snatch it and prance upstairs to my parents’ bedroom where he usually slept. After a few rounds of chasing his favorite squeaky toy, “Mousie,” he would be ready to cuddle on his blanket and go to sleep.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens

At the age of twelve, little Bo lost his hearing and his eyesight. Understandably, he developed severe anxiety. To help relieve it, the vet scheduled him for cataract surgery. That morning, the anesthetic affected his heart and halted the operation, and he died the next day, on Thanksgiving Day.

Many sad years passed without a poodle in our family. But when my daughters were very young, the right time came to add a new pet.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens betty-with-cait-at-bedtime

Babette was a large white toy, and like the others before her, quite beautiful. Although not nervous or high-strung, Babette developed a territorial nature that had to be controlled. She was born with the propensity to snap before she thought, so we all had to handle her carefully to avoid being bitten. I was her “handler,” understanding her body language the best. Whenever I bathed and groomed her, I always knew she had had enough when she gave that warning growl. We always listened and left her alone—except once. When she snapped at my nose as I kissed her head, that was the last time I ever lavished her with casual affection.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens betty-on-couch

But she certainly possessed her adorable moments. One Christmas Eve she stayed up all night guarding the presents around the tree as if they all belonged to her. So, on every Christmas and birthday, she also had to have her own presents. We would loosely wrap up chew bones and squeaky toys, and while my daughters opened their presents, Babs would open hers, chewing and tearing off paper until she reached her gifts. Afterward, she would guard them for days, and we knew better than to bother her.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens

My daughters both took piano lessons, and Babette absolutely loved to listen to them play–so much so, that she would sit on the cushion with Cait while she practiced.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens

When she was younger, she tolerated being put into doll cradles and strollers. She also loved to watch the girls swim but refused to ever get in the pool herself.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens

At the age of almost fifteen, her health began to go downhill. Like Bo, she developed heart trouble, but in her case, she died peacefully at home on her favorite ottoman. My mother had recently had her groomed, so she was absolutely beautiful in death. We still have a tuft of her fur that her groomer had packaged inside a glass Christmas ornament years earlier. Every December, we still lovingly hang it on our tree.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens

We haven’t adopted another poodle since our sweet Babette, and it has been an empty eight years. However, we do plan to look for a new puppy this summer. Again, it’s time!

Writing Prompt: The most adorable thing about my dog/cat is …

This will be my last regular post for Writing Prompts. I regret having to say adieu, but I will still be around as a guest blogger from time to time. Many thanks, Jennifer and Betty, for an enjoyable and adventuresome two years. I have been truly blessed to be part of the Writing Prompts Crew.