Until the Dawn

Until The DawnUntil The Dawn by Elizabeth Camden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Elizabeth Camden delivers again! If you loved “Beauty and the Beast” as a child, you’ll enjoy this story. No, the hero isn’t a true beast, but he certainly could play the part at times. The heroine is a beauty, however, both inside and out. A touching story of how a person can shine the light of God’s love by how they choose to live their life.

Sophie van Riijn has known her share of disappointments. When Quentin Vandermark appears at his family’s lovely old estate – the estate where Sophie grew up – and states he’s there to tear it down, Sophie is devastated. She takes on the position as cook at the estate in hopes of finding a way to prevent such a tragedy as the loss of her beloved Dierenpark. What she never expects is to find herself drawn to the rude, cynical man bend of destroying her dreams.

Set at the end of the 19th century on the banks of the Hudson River, “Until the Dawn” is a story with a timeless feel readers will be drawn to. It’s underlying message of hope and faith will bring a smile to the reader’s face. And the mystery wrapped around the old house will keep the reader guessing until the final pages.

The Dreaded Thomas Family Christmas Webpage


It’s a new day and a new look for The Dreaded Thomas Family Christmas Page. After fifteen years I no longer own the twinwillowsfarm.com webpage. I also let my old blog, The Sheepish Scribe go dormant. And, in keeping with the times, I’ve moved everything here at PeggThomas.com. These are just a few of the many changes Michael and I have traveled through this past year.

snowing trip
A cowboy and his horse.

Jeff finished his move to Sturgis, MI. The last of his belongings, including Cash, went south after New Year’s Day. It wasn’t the best weather to travel in, much less pull a horse trailer through, but they made it.

While Jeff was starting his career job, Michael was losing his. He was laid off from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services with a month’s notice. His job was still there, but someone higher up the food chain lost their job and bumped him out of his. It was devastating.

that face
His coaching face.


We tried to keep things as normal as possible, including a visit with Jeff to watch him coach his 8th grade basketball team in January. He’s a good coach and enjoys working with the kids, but it does put a crimp in his roping schedule.

Michael’s final day at work was February 14th. Yeah. Happy Valentine’s Day from the State of Michigan. We were fine, financially, but it was still worrisome. After a couple of weeks, he was offered a position in Traverse City doing exactly the same job he did here. Of course, he jumped on it! Janet and Marsha (sister and adopted sister) had moved to Lake Ann (near Traverse City) a few months prior. They offered him a place to stay while he worked during the week while I stayed home to sell the farm.


Murphy on the run
Murphy on the run.
snowy log pile
Log Pile

March came in cold and snowy, but at least Michael had a job. Murphy and I got the house ready to put on the market. We also sold the sheep. That was difficult. But I logistically, we wouldn’t have been able to move them with us. It was a sad day when we watched them driven away.


Edwin H Gott in the ice
Michael and Murphy boatnerding

April brought a bit of a thaw, so Michael and I  – and Murphy – took a day trip up to the Soo. It was still pretty cold! The river above the locks was still clogged with ice, although the Edwin H. Gott had no problem moving through it. The river down at our favorite spot, Mission Point, was pretty much open. Just some floating ice here and there. A sure sign of spring.
fish dinner 5-25-15ARGH Cap'n MichaelMay brought fishing! I caught a handsome small-mouth bass and turned it into that beautiful dinner complete with hushpuppies. We didn’t get fishing as often as we’d like this year, but it was a casualty of living across the state from each other all week.

Michael and Jeff with Jimmy Fortune



Jeff discovered a fun place to visit in Shipshewana. It’s a little theater where a lot of old-time country music stars give concerts. We went down in May and saw a few of them, including Jimmy Fortune from the Statler Brothers. Yes … he really is that short! We also saw Bobbie Bare, TG Shepherd, and LeRoy Van Dyke.



hole under the floor 5-3-15
Hole through the cement.
what a mess 5-2-15
Ripping up the mess.



Murphy checking out the new laundry room floor 7-3-15
Murphy checks out the new floor.

May also brought … the mold. We’d lived in this house for more than 14 years and never saw a sign of mold before. We had to take the house back off the market and get rid of it.

Michael had only the weekend to work on it, so it took a few weeks. First was tearing up the old flooring and sub-floor in the laundry room, which is on the bottom level of our tri-level house. Once he did, he found this square sump pump hole. We’ve no idea what mental midget thought it would be a good idea to put a sub-floor over this open hole. *sigh* But now it’s all filled in and a brand new floor is in place. At this point, we decided maybe we’d jumped the gun on selling the house. Maybe the Lord was slowing us down. Janet and Marsha were willing to put Michael up for a longer period of time (or should that read: put up with Michael?). At about that same time, rumors expanded about more State of Michigan changes at DHHS. The last thing we wanted to do was sell the farm and then have Michael moved again. So we decided to give it some time to play out.


working the hay 6-29-15
Bailing hay
Calvin Miller raking hay 6-29-15
Raking hay

June means hay season. With the sheep gone and just Old Trooper to pasture, we asked a neighbor if he’d like to hay off our horse pasture. He did and I snuck some photos from the back porch. What a pretty sight to watch!


On the boatnerd dinner cruise 6-26-15
On the Boatnerd Cruise

We did our annual trip to the Soo for Engineer’s Day. The weather was fantastic and we saw many of our favorite freighters. Jeff joined us for part of the weekend, but he had to cut it short because he was in a friend’s wedding on that Saturday. Michael and I took the “Boatnerd Dinner Cruise” and it was fun. We got stuck in the MacArthur Lock! Our tour boat had to back out of the lock because the upbound gate malfunctioned. A word to the wise … tour boats don’t back up very well! But the tour boat guys were great and they extended our trip by an extra 45 minutes to make up for it.

Jeff and Michael with the Federal Satsuki 6-25-15
Jeff and Michael with Federal Satsuki





the family with some smiles 7-4-15
Family Photo


We celebrated the 4th of July with Greg, Sandy, Adam, Diana, Nathan, Andrew, and Danny (my brother, sister-in-law, and niece’s family). It was a fun time and the little guys didn’t mind the noise at all. We also heard Three Men and a Tenor, one of my favorite vocal groups.





matching boatnerding hats 7-24-15
Wearing our rally hats!

We did a full week of camping in July at Algonac State Park on the St. Clair River. It was HOT that week! We laughed when we bought the new camper and it came standard with an air conditioner. We didn’t think we’d ever use it. We did that week. Jeff joined us for the whole week.

Jeff toasting marshmallows 7-19-15
Jeff toasting marshmallows
Michael and Jeff with the Alpena 7-20-15
Michael and Jeff with the Alpena
Murphy steals my chair 7-19-15
Chair thief










Michael at Scalawags 8-1-15
Michael at Scalawags

August was a quick day trip to Mackinaw City to visit the Rendezvous there. There’s a fellow who has a booth there and sells handmade wooden utensils that I love. We’ll go back next year so I can purchase a couple more. And have lunch at Scalawags, of course!



2015 garden and house 8-8-15
2015 Garden
Corn Relish and plain sweet corn 8-25-15
Corn Relish & Sweet Corn

I hummed and hawed about canning any of the garden produce this year, still uncertain if we’d be moving or not, but finally decided I couldn’t just let it go to waste. So I canned a few things, but not as much as I might have if we’d been certain we were staying.



Camper on lot 215 Brimley State Park
Michael smiling 9-18-15
Michael and Murphy
Pegg and Murphy in their chair 9-19-15
Pegg and Murphy

September we camped another full week at Brimley State Park, our favorite campground. We relaxed, watched boats, and generally rested up before Michael’s surgery. About this same time, we learned that a supervisor in the Alpena office had given a retirement date of January 31. A chance for Michael to come back home!


Michael's new blue cast 10-7-15
With his 2nd cast.
Michael in recovery 9-24-15
In recovery
Michael's arm 2 post-cast 10-7-15
Between casts, a look at the scars.

But before we could get too excited about that, Michael needed surgery on this right thumb. He has degenerative joint disease and every so often he needs a joint repaired. This one was a major surgery. His thumb joint had deteriorated to total bone-on-bone. They basically removed his thumb joint, took part of a tendon out of his forearm, and then used that tendon to reconstruct how his thumb will operate. It worked! But it took longer than we thought it would. He’s still in physical therapy and just now starting to build strength back. The doctor says he’ll have 85% or so of his original strength.

sunshine through the trees
Trails at Ocqueoc Falls
Michael and Murphy
Michael & Murphy
Bridge with birch tree
The Bridge
eagle in flight
Eagle in Flight






We took another day trip to Mackinaw City while Michael was convalescing. We had sat by the bridge in the park, had lunch at Scalawag’s, then on the way home we stopped at Ocqueoc Falls and took a walk in the woods. We saw a group of bald eagles, which was really cool, and even made it back to the car just minutes before the skies opened up and drenched us.


Samuel Lewis Hainsfurther 11-23-15
Samuel – a Keeper!
Dad 06-20-09
My Dad

November brought another great-nephew! This is Samuel and he’s a keeper.

Life has its circles. While we welcomed Samuel, we said goodbye to Dad. He lost his battle with Alzheimer’s on November 16th. Jeff called me around 8:00am to tell me he’d shot his deer and while I was talking to him, my brother texted me that Dad had died.

He died at almost the same time Jeff shot his deer … with the gun Dad had given him. A deer with a perfect 8-point rack, the nicest Jeff has ever shot. I think Dad ran that buck past him on his way to heaven.


Father and Son with their 8-points

Here is the deer, along with Michael’s deer taken the evening before. Both 8-points, both now at the taxidermist’s. Look for these big boys to be on the wall and decorated with Santa hats in next year’s post! Way to go, guys!

It’s been a wild year with a lot of changes and a lot of unknowns. At this point, we’re not sure when – or even if – Michael will get moved back over to this office. The possible retirement here is uncertain. There is a possible job opening in the Tawas office. His position in Traverse City is a secure position. We’ll reevaluate in January if we should put the house back on the market, or if we should sit tight and wait. Prayers appreciated as we make this decision!

We wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year in 2016!


Fear is Louder Than Words

Fear Is Louder Than WordsFear Is Louder Than Words by Linda S. Glaz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story had more twists, back trails, and turns than a politician’s promises. At times, it was like reading two separate stories, but they came together in a rush at the end. Suspense, romance, and a solid underlying thread of faith and forgiveness gets it five full stars.

Rochelle Cassidy has a radio talk show and she’s been known to tick off a fan or two. But when one fan becomes obsessed, she finds herself in very real danger. Ed McGrath is a hockey player. He’s used to being the sports hero, but when he foils an attempted rape, he finds himself in a more personal hero role. And he likes it. At least, he likes the lady who makes him feel that way. But Rochelle’s life is a little more complicated than Ed is used to. And half the time he’s not sure she even wants him around. Will his lack of faith and her need to reconcile the past keep them apart? Or bring them together?

Plum Pudding Bride

bookPlum Pudding Bride by Anne Garboczi Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This short romantic romp will fit into anyone’s busy Christmas schedule. Patience Callahan longs for a husband full of action and daring-do. Her perfect hero will match those in her favorite classic novels. And that doesn’t include mild-mannered storekeeper Peter Foote. He’s proposed to her more than once, but she’s got her heart set on adventure. Peter finds out Patience has decided to be a mail-order bride to some unknown rancher in Montana. He’s got just a few days to change her mind. With the help of her sister Kitty’s hair-brained ideas, Peter set to prove he really is the man for Patience.

The Moses Quilt

The Moses Quilt (The Quilt, #1)The Moses Quilt by Kathi Macias
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mazie Hartford’s great-grandmother gives her a gift. A quilt she calls the Moses Quilt. Knowing her time on earth is short, her great-grandmother tells Mazie the story behind the quilt. The Moses Quilt is named after Harriet Tubman and it tells her story. Can what Mazie learns from the quilt – and the story – help her understand her reluctance to marry the man she loves?

I love quilts and history, so there is a lot of this book that I enjoyed, but I have to admit that I didn’t understand the ending. I may be thicker than a post (a very legitimate possibility) but I just didn’t get it. Loved the characters, loved Mimi’s story about the quilt, but did not comprehend how it influenced the ending at all. I’m not going to post a spoiler, but if you’ve read it and you understand it … feel free to clue me in!

Love’s Sweet Beginning

Love's Sweet Beginning (Sisters at Heart, #3)Love’s Sweet Beginning by Ann Shorey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is the third in the Sisters at Heart series. I have not read the previous two books in the series. This book stands alone as a good story, but I will be collecting the other two and reading them now that I’ve enjoyed this one so much.

Cassie Haddon and her mother have fallen on hard times in the wake of the Civil War. Forced to find employment to support them, Cassie discovers she enjoys being useful – almost as much as she enjoys the attention of her employer. If only her mother would let go of the past and enjoy the new future they have. Jacob West is hiding a secret that could destroy him and the business he’s spent years building, not to mention any chance of winning the heart of a certain young lady he’s hired to bake pies.

A good solid story with lots of sweet romance and engaging characters. Worth the read!

Summer of Promise

Summer of Promise (Westward Winds, #1)Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Abigail Harding leaves her home in Vermont to visit her sister in Wyoming. She doesn’t know what to expect, but reading between the lines of her sister’s letters, she’s sure something is amiss. What she doesn’t expect is to survive a stagecoach holdup or to meet a man who makes her forget about the one she left behind. Lieutenant Ethan Bowles is charged with finding the thief at Fort Laramie and stopping the army deserters who are holding up stagecoaches. Both jobs would be easier to do without the distraction of the lady from Vermont. Can the two work together to improve the situation at Fort Laramie for everyone, including themselves?

Engaging characters with a bit of a mystery that will keep the reader guessing the “whodunit” until the end. Set in beautiful Wyoming in 1885, author Amanda Cabot brings Fort Laramie to life. Well worth the read!

Mittens and Hat Knitting Patterns for Elementary Aged Children

**NOTE** This pattern was updated and revised in 2019

Size 5 circular needle 16”
Size 5 double-pointed needles

Cast on 88 sts. Mark beginning of round with a marker. Work in K2, P2 ribbing for 6 ½”.
Decrease pattern:
K9, K2tog, repeat around
K 1 round
K8, K2tog, repeat around
K 1 round
K7, K2tog, repeat around
K1 round
Continue in this fashion – moving to double-pointed needles when stitches get too stretched on the circular needle – until 8 sts remain. Cut 6” tail of yarn. Thread through remaining sts and pull up tight. Weave in yarn ends.

Pre-K to 1st Grade Mittens
Red Heart Super Saver 5 oz Skein
Size 3 double-pointed needles
Stitch holder
Darning needle

Cast on 32 sts  and divide 10-10-12 on 3 needles
K 1 round
P 2 rounds
K until cuff measures 1 ½”
Elastic rounds:
1) *K1, slip 1 as if to purl, repeat from * around
2) *Slip 1 as if to purl, k1, repeat from * around
Repeat rows 1 and 2 twice more (6 rounds total)
K3 rounds

Thumb gusset:
K2, M1, K1, M1, K around
K 1 round
K2, M1, K3, M1, K around
K 1 round
K2, M1, K5, M1, K around
K 1 round
K2, move 7 sts onto a holder, M3, K around
K1, K2tog, K1, K2tog, K around (back to 32 sts)

Mitten Top:
K around until mitten is 2 ½” from thumb opening.
Decrease pattern:
K6, k2tog, around
K 1 round
K5, k2tog, around
K 1 round
K4, k2tog, around
K 1 round
K3, k2tog, around
K 1 round
k2, k2tog, around
K 1 round
K2 tog, around
Cut a 6” tail, draw tail through remaining sts.

Slip holder sts onto 2 needles. With 3rd needle, pick up 3 new sts in the thumb opening. Knit around these 10 sts until thumb measures 1 ½”. K2tog around. Cut a 4” tail. Thread tail through remaining sts and pull up tight. Weave in yarn ends.

Early Elementary Mittens
Red Heart Super Saver 5 oz Skein
Size 3 double-pointed needles
Stitch holder
Darning needle

Cast on 36 sts and divide 12-12-12 on 3 needles
K 1 round
P 2 rounds
Elastic rounds:
1) *K1, slip 1 as if to purl, repeat from * around
2) *Slip 1 as if to purl, k1, repeat from * around
Repeat rows 1 and 2 twice more (6 rounds total)
K 5 rounds

Thumb gusset:
K2, M1, K1, M1, K around
K 1 round
K2, M1, K3, M1, K around
K 1 round
K2, M1, K5, M1, K around
K 1 round
K2, M1, K7, M1, K around
K 1 round
K2, move 9 sts onto a holder, M3, K around
K1, K2tog, K1, K2tog, K around (back to 36 sts)

Mitten Top:
K each round until mitten is 3 1/4″ – 3 1/2” from thumb opening.
Decrease pattern:
K4, K2tog, repeat around
K 1 round
K3, K2tog, repeat around
K 1 round
K2, K2tog, repeat around
K 1 round
K1, K2tog, repeat around
K 1 round
K2tog around
Cut a 6” tail, thread through remaining sts and pull tight.

Slip holder sts onto 2 needles. With 3rd needle, pick up 3 new sts in the thumb opening. Knit around these 12 sts until thumb measures 1 ¾”. K2tog around. Cut a 4” tail. Thread tail through remaining sts and pull up tight. Weave in yarn ends.

Have fun experimenting with colors and patterns too!





Trooper and Pegg cropped







The Frontiersman’s Daughter

The Frontiersman's DaughterThe Frontiersman’s Daughter by Laura Frantz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I need to have some serious words with Laura Frantz. She’s making me lose a lot of sleep! Too many of her books keep me up past my bedtime and this was one of them.

Lael Click was best known as her father’s daughter. Ezekial Click had come over the mountains and opened the area of Kentucky to settlers. But it hadn’t been easy. He’d survived capture by the Shawnee and had returned to his family. But there were secrets.

Her father sent her away to a fancy finishing school in the east. Lael hated it and dreamed of the day she could go back to her beloved Kentucky wilderness. But it didn’t happen like she’d hoped.

Torn between two worlds, one wild and free, one settled and steady, and two men who could be described the same way, Lael must find her place in the world. She must discover who she really is.

This book kept me guessing until the final chapters. Lael’s life could have followed several different paths. I love the heroines in Laura Frantz’s stories. They are not thinly veiled men wearing skirts. They are women, strong as a woman can be strong, but filled with the emotions and needs that are distinctly feminine. They capture my imagination and won’t let go … even in the wee hours of the morning!