The Great WHO's Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies revisited

Every year, I notice that someone in Australia searches for this old post. The hazelnut cookies must be pretty good! Maybe you’d like to try them this Christmas, too. I’m going to! They are Sophie Topfeather’s favorite cookies, made by her grandfather, the Great Wise Horned Owl of the Park. He does everything well–too well, if you ask her! This is the one thing he does well that Sophie does NOT find annoying.

Merry Christmas, everyone! The end of the post has an update about my Sophie Topfeather series.

The Great Wise Horned Owl’s Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies:

Gather enough hazelnuts to make 1/2 cup when chopped.

Choose a foggy, moonless night for baking. You don’t want to alarm any people by the sight of smoke rising from your tree.


1/2 cup butter, room temperature.

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg, unbeaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 squares semisweet chocolate, melted

1 cup flour, stir before measuring

1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

To prepare the hazelnuts, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Watch carefully to make sure they don’t burn. Transfer the nuts to a dish towel and let them steam briefly. Then rub them in the towel until the skin flakes off. Cool completely before using.

Once the nuts are cool, put them in a small bowl and chop them finely with your sharp talons. A  knife would also work on a cutting board, but be careful and have an adult nearby.

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in salt and sugar. Add egg; beat well. Blend in vanilla and chocolate. Mix in flour, then chopped hazelnuts, mixing until well blended. Drop by level tablespoonfuls of dough, 2 inches apart, onto greased cookie sheets. Stamp lightly with a flat bottom glass covered with a damp cloth.

If desired, sprinkle more finely chopped hazelnuts over the top of each cookie. Bake for about 15 minutes, until done.

Makes about 2-3 dozen cookies.

Original recipe from Sophie Topfeather and the Great Wise Horned Owl of the Park are characters in my children’s novel, Sophie’s Quest.

Look for the entire Adventures of Sophie Topfeather series to be republished by Brimstone Fiction, beginning in 2020, including the NEW third book in the series, Sophie’s Gold Rush

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Corrected link!

Framed! first appeared on

I thought you might enjoy it! Click on the link and it should come up. 

I write guest posts for this group every two months. Other than that, I’ve been hard at work on a new website, so stay tuned for that, and the new edition of Sophie’s Quest is being worked on right now–complete with black line illustrations!


Posted in Faith | 2 Comments


Framed! first appeared on

I thought you might enjoy it! Click on the link and it should come up. 

I write guest posts for this group every two months. Other than that, I’ve been hard at work on a new website, so stay tuned for that, and the new edition of Sophie’s Quest is being worked on right now–complete with black line illustrations!


Posted in Faith | 2 Comments

Play “What If?” and Change the World

Ramadan starts today. What can Christians do to love their Muslim neighbors?

Click on the link to read my post on the Christian Children’s Author website:

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“Are Unicorns in the Bible?”

I was curious about the sudden uptick in kids checking out the Bible in my school library. It wasn’t until I overheard two kids discussing whether or not there were unicorns in the Bible that I finally understood.

Kids are crazy for unicorns right now. All the kids’ clothing manufacturers, toy-makers, book publishers, lunch box designers, etc., have seemingly worked together to create a conspiracy of Unicorn Madness. So, it wasn’t too shocking to hear that someone, somewhere, had started a rumor about unicorns showing up somewhere unexpected–even in the Bible.

When one of the students checked out a Bible last week, I asked her about the whole unicorn thing. “Oh, yes,” she said. “There’s unicorns. I heard.” I tried to set her straight, and said that I had read my Bible through a couple of times, and, sorry, but no unicorns.

I had a little time at the computer while waiting for some stragglers to check their books out, so I turned to my trusty Bible Gateway website and typed “Unicorn” into the search box. Imagine my surprise when a verse from Daniel popped up!

Daniel 8:5 reads: “As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground.”

Huh. Not exactly the shining white horse with a rainbow mane that adorns a lot of t-shirts and backpacks these days, but there it was: an animal with a single horn between his eyes.

Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me” ((Luke 18:16). He might have added, “Even if they’re just in search of unicorns.”

I can’t wait to tell the 2nd grader that I was wrong.

What are you excited about this week?

Posted in Bible Stories, Faith | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Skipping Chocolate for Lent? How’s that Going for You?

I was never very successful as a kid whenever I attempted to give something up for Lent. Neither my family nor my church emphasized it as an important part of my faith, so I usually started with some good intentions and gave it up a few days later.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, you might like to read my post on the Christian Children’s Author website. I write about a new way to think about Lent this year–more of a giving in than a giving up. It’s more meaningful to me, and maybe it will be to you, too. Part of a life-long journey re-orienting our lives toward Jesus.

You can find it here:

Thank you for reading! Do you recognize Lent? Please share your thoughts in the comments on the Christian Children’s Author site, or here.


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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sophie’s Quest Fan Art

Happy Valentine’s Day from snowy Seattle! A young friend greeted me at school today with this lovely picture inspired by Sophie’s Quest (“Sophie” and “Timley” are written under the pictures). So cute!

This is our one and only day in school this entire week as Midwinter Break begins tomorrow. A little crazy for normally rainy Seattle! I used all of our snowbound days to work on Sophie’s Gold Rush, the third and final book in the Sophie Topfeather series. I’m on the revision stage and have been checking for consistency of things like names and places and deleting redundancies. When you work on something in bits and pieces over several years, it’s surprisingly easy to forget what you named a minor character fifty pages back!

I’m not quite ready to share the manuscript yet, but getting close! If you are interested in being part of my “Beta Readers” team, could you let me know? That’s a fancy name for a group who is willing to read a novel-length manuscript and give me honest feedback with the purpose of making it the best book it can be before it gets published.

You can leave a comment below, or a message on the Contact page, or an email or Facebook message. I’d like to have two types of people who can help me review this manuscript: someone who has read the other two books in the series and can help me ensure that this one is consistent with the first two in tone and themes and loveability, and a group of new readers who will read this manuscript and tell me if it’s confusing and if they can relate to the characters even if they didn’t read the other two. A lot of kids read books in a series out of order, and I want to make sure they can enjoy this one if it’s the only one they read.

It’s been some time since my last post! I hope you are doing well. I’d love to hear from you and what you are reading or doing, especially if, like me, you’ve been snowbound for awhile! I will close with a highlight from the end of January, right before all of our snow started falling. These are pictures from a Young Author Day where I was invited to give three presentations and sign a lot of books! What a fun day with the kids at this private school in Bellevue!

Posted in Sophie Topfeather, Sophie's Quest, Writing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Sophie’s Quest Giveaway Contest!


SophiesQuest_FRONT-COVER-400 Join Sophie Topfeather and Timley Mouse on a Holy Land quest in Sophie’s Quest, a novel for kids ages 7-11. With Sophie and Timley, you’ll hear about the first Christmas from a Bethlehem sheep dog—a dog whose ancestors were with the shepherds when the angels shared the startling good news of baby Jesus’ birth! Keep reading for a chance to win a free copy in the 12 Days of Christmas Books Giveaway.
Continue reading

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Christmas Book Giveaway Contest!

Hello! Do you like children’s books? To celebrate the holidays, I’m contributing Sophie’s Quest to a giveaway contest sponsored by a Christian Children’s Author group blog that I have joined!

Click here to see ALL the wonderful Christmas books that you could win (starting today!) and keep tuned in to this space for a chance to win Sophie’s Quest beginning this Friday. It’s easy to enter–all you’ll need to do is leave a comment, and share the post for extra chances!

Until then, let me just assure you that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth! I have been busy memorizing the book of Philippians as I told you about in my last blog post (I’ve begun chapter 2!), and I’ve been focusing my writing time on finishing the third book in the Sophie Topfeather series, Sophie’s Gold Rush. I still don’t have a publisher lined up for this one, but the continued enthusiasm for the series at my own school is keeping me motivated and excited to bring the book out when it’s done, even if I have to put it out myself! Thank you to my prayer team–I sense God’s leading in this, for sure.

The rough draft is done and I am nearly finished typing in all the handwritten pages. Yes, I still do first drafts by hand! Then it will be off to the races with revision, revision, and more revision. Got to get it right!

This Thanksgiving season I have much to be thankful for, and I trust that you do as well. Blessings to you as we enter the Christmas season! Enter the contest, and maybe you’ll begin the holidays with a new book in hand!


Posted in Faith | 12 Comments

What’s in Your Wallet? No, HEAD!

Sonja's Cross stitch Bookmarks

For me to live is Christ

Wallets are held close–usually with us every time we go out, with our most important personal cards or pictures tucked inside. Shouldn’t it be the same with our MINDS?

What do you hold close in your head? This question keeps coming up for me. After working on the blog series this past year about our hope in Christ, and feeling a change in my levels of anxiety and peace, I wondered what to do next. What could help me to continue to grow, to continue to replace my anxiety about our nation’s uncivility and unwillingness to compromise and work together with more good news from God? What could increase my love toward those I don’t understand?

One Sunday this spring, a woman came into my Sunday school class with a challenge. She had memorized the book of Philippians over the past couple of years and had experienced such joy and closeness with God while doing it that she wanted to present us with the opportunity to memorize scripture, too. She would meet with us after church every other week or so to hold us accountable.

Could this be the next thing to help me counter my addiction to American politics? I prayed, remembered how I “wrote lines” of poetry in high school AP English, and signed up. We could memorize any part of the Bible we wanted, short or long, but I was intrigued by the leader’s memorization of Philippians. It has only four chapters and includes a life-changing verse that I learned as a kid from a Camp Mission Meadows banner in the dining hall: For me, to live is Christ  and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

So, this summer, that’s what’s in my head. Philippians. It gives me something to recite and think about when I go walking, and when I am pulling all those weeds out of my garden. Have you ever memorized anything? Any tips to share on how to do it? Please let me know in the comments! What was your experience?

Perhaps as an encouragement, and to hold myself accountable, every once in awhile I’ll type out from memory what I’ve done so far, okay?

Here’s what’s in my head so far (I promise not to look):

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons;

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this: that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And my prayer for you is this: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

(Philippians 1-11)

I can’t guarantee that every comma and semi-colon is in the correct spot, and it took two weeks to nail down just the first couple of verses, but there you have it!

Have a blessed summer, everyone! What’s in your head today?

Posted in Faith, Politics | Tagged | 4 Comments