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Author: Hallee

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Shannon’s Beautiful Banana Bread

I met a woman on a message board about four years ago.  She posted this recipe, titling the post, “The Best Banana Bread You’ll Ever Eat.”

She wasn’t lying. Trust me. This is the best banana bread you’ll ever eat.

2 cups flour (whole wheat or white, your preference)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp Kosher or sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 whole stick room temp butter (no subs)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tsp.vanilla
3 medium/large bananas – mashed
½ cup sour cream (I use plain yogurt)
½ cup chopped nuts (optional – pecans or walnuts)

Something with which to mash bananas.  I use a potato masher.  I’ve used a food processor before.
large mixing bowl
two smaller mixing bowls
bread pan
parchment paper
wooden spoon
wire cooling rack

Line the bread pan with parchment paper.  This will keep your loaf pan clean, and it will make it really easy to remove the bread.  You can grease and flour it if you’d rather.

Heat oven to 325° degrees F.

Mash bananas.

In a small bowl combine and sift dry ingredients: flour, powders, soda, cinnamon, salt.  Set aside.

In the mixer bowl cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time.

In another bowl mix the mashed bananas  Stir in the sour cream (or yogurt).

Using a wooden spoon, blend ⅓ of dry ingredients into the butter mix. Then add ⅓ of the banana mix into the butter mix.  Keep doing this until both dry ingredients and banana mixture are gone.  Add the nuts.  Give a good quick stir, trying not to handle or stir the batter too much.

Scrape batter into loaf pan and smooth top with the spoon. Bake in center of oven for 70-75 minutes  or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool for a few minutes then remove from pan and finish cooling on a wire cooling rack.

1 loaf

Low in Sodium
No Trans Fats

This recipe will make four miniature loaves.

I would love to hear any feedback about this recipe.  Did you make it?  Did you enjoy it?  Did you make any adjustments to it?

Find this and other recipes in The Walking Bread, the Bread Will Rise

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Strength Through the Struggle and Ordeal

When you think of a butterfly, you think of a delicate insect with beautiful wings that are easily damaged. However, when a butterfly emerges from its cocoon, it struggles until it breaks through the chrysalis, forming a hole and squeezing its body through. Through that immense effort, working through the cocoon develops fortitude and strengthens its wings. Pushing through the hole squeezes the fluid from its body into its wings slimming down the body and inflating the wings. The butterfly is meant to struggle; it needs the struggle to forge it into a complete and functioning butterfly.

Often, we find ourselves at our best place after we’ve gone through a struggle. Authors understand the concept of the hero’s journey — a basic storytelling method about ordinary people who become heroes (or quest conquerors or victors or whatever). Think Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Neo (The Matrix).

There are several parts to the three-act story of the hero’s journey. You can see them on the attached diagram:

In order for the hero to return back to his ordinary world, he needs to be transformed through tests, allies, and enemies and also through an ordeal.

Those tests and ordeals are the struggle that transform the plain ordinary into the heroic.

James 1:2-4 says: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Our trials produce perseverance which matures and completes us! I know it’s hard to see in the midst of the conflict, the tests, the ordeals, that we will be better on the other side, more complete, not lacking anything.

If this is where you are now, take heart my friends. God has you in the palm of His hand. No matter what the struggle, He won’t leave us. Isaiah 41:10 says: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I saw a meme the other day that said this: On my worst days, I remember that my track record for getting through the bad days is 100%, and those are pretty good statistics.

Like the butterfly, we need to struggle and squeeze through, because that’s what will develop our spirit and make us strong. Like the hero in the hero’s journey, we need to face those trials and ordeals so that we can be victors.

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Interview with Anne Carol and a Giveaway

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I have author Anne Carol as my guest. I really enjoyed this interview, and not just because we were both in 6th grade in 1984 (heh). I love the way that God inspired Anne to write edgier fiction for Christian authors. Those of you who have read me know that many of my books would be classified under “edgier”. It’s wasn’t easy to put those first ones out on the market nine years ago because oftentimes, readers felt the need to lecture you and bring you back to the sweet and clean writer fold. But I discovered a HUGE audience for that type of fiction. I also love that this book series follows the story of one couple. I LOVE series like that! I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. Read on to see how you can enter to win an autographed paperback of Anne’s latest release!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born and raised in Northern California, in the same town where I currently reside with my husband of 22 years and two college-aged sons. Technically, one son is away at college and the other will move to college in the fall. So we are almost empty nesters! I am not a full-time writer (yet); I work part time as a CPA, full time during tax season. I enjoy traveling, wine tasting, hanging out with our church small group, and watching Hallmark movies. I’m also a big music geek who loves making music playlists. My favorite type of music is classic alternative (80s New Wave).

Tell us about your current release: My new book is titled Never Give Up, and it is the fourth and final book of my Faithfully Yours series. This series chronicles the love story of David, a London musician, and Beth, an aspiring writer from California. They meet as teenagers in the first book, Never Let Go, when Beth spends the summer in London. The series takes you through their relationship journey from long-distance teen romance to early marriage, through the ups and downs of his music career, to starting a family, dealing with his addictions, and a few other challenging events which threaten their relationship. This fourth book is about transitions in their family life and how those big shifts affect both David and Beth. You’ll also see how they learn to put God in charge of their lives. Their faith journey over the four books is subtle but most prominent in Never Give Up. This installment took me over two years to write, and I really felt God’s presence and influence as I wrote it.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? I like this question because I feel like this is close to the truth for me! I feel largely “under the radar” in the writer world and have come close to giving up many times because I didn’t think my books mattered. There are so many talented authors out there, why should I bother? But God has made it clear He wants me to keep writing, and every so often He gives me a “God wink”: a hint that my efforts are not wasted. Moreover, I benefit spiritually from the writing process, as I work out my own issues on the pages. In addition, trusting God with the finished book stretches my faith. He knows exactly who needs to read my stories, and even if I never know in this lifetime the impact the books have had, I am confident God knows what He’s doing! I’m just the instrument He uses to reach people (or one person).

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? Not anymore, but I did several years ago when I wrote the original versions of my first two books. I wrote in a style and with a heat level that was not representative of me or my comfort level. I regret it deeply, and even though I revised and re-released the books, I still fear it hurt my chances of success going forward. But I also know God’s plans can’t be thwarted by our errors.

Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? I write for my own enjoyment as well as what God has placed on my heart. Writing is my “side gig”, so at this point, I don’t feel the need to write to market. But I’m sure my writing will evolve as I gain more experience and knowledge.

Who do you envision your typical reader to be? A reader of my books will be: okay with edgier subject matter/redemption stories, a fan of romance, open to reading young adult or college-age fiction, a bit nostalgic, and comfortable with a Christian worldview. Loving music isn’t a requirement, just know most of my stories will involve music somehow. Age-wise, I’ve had my 16-year-old niece enjoy my books as well as friends in their fifties. Christian and secular readers alike have read my books.

I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper? The idea for my first book came to me when I was in sixth grade (circa 1984), when I had a mad crush on a member of an English rock band. I had a vivid imagination which wouldn’t stop, and one day I decided to write a story about a girl from California who spends the summer in England, where she meets and falls in love with a future rock star. Fast forward twenty-five years, that story still floated around my imagination, so I decided to write it for publication. The original story from my preteen mind evolved into four books!

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? Straight off, I’ll say rock star romance. It’s my favorite genre and what I write, but it’s very hard to find clean or Christian rock star fiction. You will find scores of rock star books in secular romance, but they tend to be steamy reads. One of my writer friends is self-publishing a Christian rock star series soon, and I cannot wait to read her books!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Write from the heart and stay in constant communication with God. Don’t worry about whether you’ll make a bestseller list or earn awards, just enjoy the process. Join online and in person writing groups. Attend conferences. Read books about writing, marketing and the publishing process. Read well-written books, especially ones that are in your genre. Don’t compare yourself with other writers. Be patient and persevere. 

Find Anne online:

Facebook page:

Facebook Group:


Newsletter Sign-up:



Amazon Page:



Anne is giving away an autographed paperback of Never Give Up! Click the image below to register. (Note: Entries will be added to our mailing lists. You can unsubscribe at any time.)


Coming Out of Isolation

Last weekend, our family started coming out of our socially distanced shell. Our family hasn’t done much to expose ourselves to other people. We are high risk, and we kind of closed off of any kind of group meetings. We’ve had a few social things here and there with individual families, but only outside or at a restaurant, and always masked and distanced. But, we haven’t attended church services or small groups or gatherings of any kind.

Last week (like a good portion of the country), we had super cold weather, an ice storm, followed by several inches of snow, followed by more ice then more snow, followed by colder weather. As I type this, the snow is still on the ground a week later (not normal for Kentucky) and it’s 22 degrees outside. But, the forecast is calling for a high of 47, so I know it will all be gone before the week is over.

A friend from Bible study invited us to go sledding at their house. It took me quite a long time to decide that we wanted to do it. Our boys are 12 and 14. This type of snowfall only occurs every few years in Kentucky. The next time it happens, they may be “too old” to enjoy it. We don’t have a hill like our friends do, so we made the decision to go ahead and go and enjoy ourselves.

While the kids sled down the hill over and over again, I enjoyed having some coffee and fellowship time with two other moms. I have to say, that was so welcome. I love these ladies, and even though I haven’t seen them much in the last year, it felt very normal and natural to sit in the cold driveway all bundled up and chat while our kids played like they used to.

Our kids have longed for connection as much as we have. They’re homeschooled, so they don’t even have the classroom opportunities that their peers have. We’ve signed them up for things here and there, but they’re all via computer just like ours are.

Gregg and I are so happy that we gave them the chance to play with their friends and reconnect in person. By the time we left there, they were soaking wet, freezing cold, and happier than they have been in ages.

The next day, I met up with the ladies in my Bible study group for coffee.

Inside the military community, there is a group called PWOC. It stands for “Protestant Women of the Chapel” and was founded in 1952 to help chaplains minister to the wives who had accompanied their husbands to a duty tour in Germany. For the last 70 years, it’s grown and expanded into a global organization.

When I first heard of PWOC, I imagined a church basement, hard metal chairs, stuffy women drinking bad coffee from styrofoam cups. I went the first time because Gregg wanted me to connect with women in the chapel in the Fort Knox community. I walked into the building expecting that image I just projected and instead found a big semester kick-off party with a football tailgating theme. Over 100 women were running around, dressed in football jerseys, eating traditional tailgate food, laughing, loving each other. They embraced me into their fold like no one ever has and, two weeks after moving to Fort Knox, I had a community of my people.

I had friends whom I met for coffee, lunch, breakfast. We went to each others’ houses, had coffee parties, wine parties, dinner parties, Pampered Chef and the like parties. I found lifelong friends and sisters in Christ.

Fast-forward four years. When Covid hit, we weren’t able to have the big gatherings anymore. Some groups still met in socially-distanced person, but I did not. Because of the way we distanced, I joined the classes that were online.

After a year of pretty much doing nothing social, I hesitated before going to this coffee. But, my soul longed for a connection that didn’t involve a computer screen.

I have to say, it was amazing to be in person with people again. We all stayed masked unless it was our turn to speak. We laughed, supported, prayed, loved. It fed my spirit in a way that my introverted self will deny that I needed.

I’m continuing in my prayers that the vaccines help bring about a return to normal – even if the normal has a slightly different look or feel than it used to.

Our daughter, who is an essential worker, is fully vaccinated. We found out this weekend that we can go get vaccinated at any time through the National Guard. It’s a relief to know that is finally happening. We just keep looking forward to how different life will look a year from now, even if it’s still not what it was 2 years ago.

In the meantime, stay safe and well, friends.

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Monday Morning Coffee and Chat 2/22/21 – Do You Write Multiple Books at a Time?

Happy Monday! Today I’m answering the question, “Do you write one book at a time or are you working on multiple books/characters at a time?”

Grab a cup of coffee and join me!

What’s Hallee drinking? Hallee’s Brew! Try it today!

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Interview with Leah Pugh and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am pleased to have author Leah Pugh as my guest. I loved reading about how she “journaled” through her brother’s deployment and how she creates differently depending on the genre she’s writing. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did! Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of her latest release!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a wife and mother who enjoys curling up with a good book and a delicious cup of tea when I can find a spare moment. When I’m not doing either of those things, I’m usually jotting down stories or spending time with my family.

Tell us about your current release. Something Warm For Grandma is about little Ryan who wants to visit Grandma in the hospital. When Daddy reminds Mommy to bring something warm for Grandma because she gets cold, Ryan sets out on a mission to find just the right gift to keep Grandma warm, and help her feel better faster. 

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? A wider amount of Christian Fiction books geared towards a younger audience. (Kids, middle grade, young adult)

How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? One of my friends helped make the decision for me. I’d sent the friend my first manuscript to get her feedback. Unbeknownst to me she knew a publisher. The friend liked my story so much, she forwarded it to the publisher (without my knowledge). The latter also enjoyed the manuscript so much, she signed me on with her publishing house.

What is your preferred method of writing? (computer, pen & paper, etc.) For some reason if I’m writing a picture book, I prefer pen and paper. However, if I’m working on a novel, I do that on a computer. I also like to have music going on in the background when I write because I often feel that music helps the creative writing process. And often a good musical score will go great with the scene I’m writing.

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? (Book series, maybe?) Louisa May Alcott, Carolyn Keene, Franklin W. Dixion, Charles Dickens, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper? Door number two: I write as they pop in my head. It started back in middle school when I decided to write a story based off the adventures I’d had with my friends. And then when my brother was deployed overseas, instead of keeping a journal, I wrote a story about a girl going through the same experiences as me. That trend has continued through the years, writing as it comes to me, and it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

I assume when you start a book, you pretty much have the plot laid out. Do you ever change your mind later on in the book, and go in a different direction? Yes. That’s what’s currently happening with a book I’m working on. Halfway through, it’s started going in an entirely differently direction. It can be a bit frustrating when it happens because then I have to go back, and change a lot of stuff. However, often the new direction ends up making the story much better than what I’d originally envisioned.

Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you started this story? Yes, I’d just lost my grandma and snuck off to the bathroom to cry in peace. My son tagged along, as little ones are apt to do. However, when he saw my tears he said, “Bye, Mommy” and closed the door. We didn’t have a chance to say good-bye before Grandma passed, and I started wondering what he could have done if he’d been able to say good-bye to his great-grandma. He’s a very caring person, and the idea of a young boy trying to find the best get-well gift for his grandmother came to mind. 

Here is where you can find Leah online:

Leah is giving away a copy of SOMETHING WARM FOR GRANDMA to a reader! Click this link to enter:


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