Tea and Trouble Brewing: A Review and a Giveaway

I have been reading Dorcas Smucker’s blog, Life in the Shoe, and her Register Guard column, Letters from Harrisburg, for several years now. When she posted a request for help in reviewing her latest book,Β Tea and Trouble Brewing, I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, once I was committed, I remembered that I have never reviewed a book on my blog. I started to feel a little intimidated. I was worried that I wouldn’t do her words justice. Fortunately, as I neared the end of this delightful book, I read the essay “Climbing My Mountain”, and felt encouraged to write my first book review.
“It is strange, the things we classify as impossible, tucking them into that box in our heads without ever asking why we put them there or who we could ask for help or what would happen if we tried or why we’re afraid of only partial success.” (p. 149)

Tea and Trouble Brewing is a compilation of 34 of Dorcas’ newspaper articles. I had already read the majority of these articles when they were originally published by the Register Guard, but it was a pleasure to read them again, one right after the other. Reading this book was like sitting on the porch and chatting with a good and wise friend.

Dorcas writes of the every day. Life with six children. Life in an old farmhouse. Experiences that many moms and wives share. Kitchens, pets, children, anniversaries. These stories are told with humor and wisdom, and also with honesty and grace. That she is still trying to get it right, doesn’t always get it right, and it is ok if she doesn’t. She is trying. And she encourages us to do the same.

In “The Children Who Leave or Stay”, Dorcas discusses the differences between being the child who lives near the parents and being the one who has moved away. Her words resonate with me as I am “the one that has chosen to stay”.
“The ones who stay do the airport runs, rearranging their schedules to drive to Portland or Eugene at all hours…At the airport, they pick up or drop off the ones who left, siblings who swoop in from distant places carrying a whiff of the exotic and different, stay for a whirlwind week, and then leave, often with relief, as though re-escaping something they fled long ago. ” (p. 71)

In “An Old Tree, an Old Dog”, Dorcas writes of the loss of their great old oak tree and one of the family pets, both occurring within the space of two weeks. Who hasn’t experienced the heartbreaking loss of a family pet?
“I have lost friends and family members, and would be silly to liken that loss to this, recognizing their vastly greater magnitude, their exponentially deeper loss. Yet I find this has a sadness all its own, when large, beautiful, faithful, old things have been a part of your life, and then they are gone. You look for branches against the sky and listen for a thumping tail on the porch, and there is nothing where something once was, and only a large emptiness remains.” (p. 52)

Dorcas’ thoughts on motherhood are peppered throughout the book. Some of my favorites are:
“I wonder, where is the tipping point where just enough becomes too much? And how can I teach them to hear the message of the gift: ‘You are precious to me. I am interested in who you are. I am willing to invest in you because I love you.'” (p. 23)

And when the kids are away…“Solitude is a mysterious thing, distorting the normal into strange proportions. Time, space and sound are magnified five-fold; small decisions take on deep importance…Too much solitude brings loneliness, but just enough brings the gift of rest.” (p. 54, 56)

“Give yourself credit for showing up every day and loving your children and doing the best you can, I tell them, because that in itself makes a huge difference to a child. And, I add, give yourself some grace: We are allowed to make mistakes.” (p 136)

On the surface, Tea and Trouble Brewing felt like a lighthearted read. There are many humorous stories throughout the book that had me giggling. As I read more, however, I found Dorcas’ wisdom and voice moving around in my mind, settling there and encouraging me on my own journey as wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.

The Giveaway:
Dorcas has graciously sent a signed copy of her book for me to give to one of my readers. If you would like to enter this giveaway, please leave a comment on this post between now and Sunday, November 25.

To Purchase:
If you would like to purchase Tea and Trouble Brewing directly from Dorcas (with a check) visit her blog Life in the Shoe,Β  or you can send a check for $15 to:
Dorcas Smucker,
31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg,
OR 97446

You can also purchase from Amazon with a credit card.

Dorcas has three other books that can be purchased on either site…Ordinary Days, Upstairs the Peasants are Revolting, and Downstairs the Queen is Knitting.

31 responses to “Tea and Trouble Brewing: A Review and a Giveaway”

  1. Naomi says :

    I love Dorcas’ books. I have read all of them except this newest one. Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy whether by winning or buying. You did a good job on the review.

  2. Catherine Yoder says :

    I agree — her words are encouraging through real stories.

  3. Aurelia says :

    I too really like Dorcas’ style of writing and her way with words. I think you did a nice job on your book review as well

  4. Sonya says :

    This book sounds great! I haven’t read anything by her, but now I’m inspired. πŸ™‚

  5. Barbara Miller says :

    I read her blog and also have one of her books. I can so relate to her writings and think if we ever met we would be kindred spirits!

  6. Twila says :

    I love Dorcas’s blog. She’s so honest about life, in a way that alot of people wouldn’t have the courage to be. I don’t always read her columns, but when I do I enjoy those too. I don’t have any of her books, so would love to win!

  7. Beverly says :

    Very nice review. I would be thrilled to win the book!

  8. Bertha says :

    I love love love Dorcas’ writhing- I could read a blog post every day and not get tired of them! Thanks for the lovely review of her newest book.

  9. Bertha says :

    Oh my word… Dorcas’ *writing*. Sorry. 😦

  10. Connie says :

    I have her other books and enjoy her writing so much!

  11. Grandma Annie says :

    Good review! I frequently share the “Letters from Harrisburg” column with a couple of friends, and they always have positive comments.
    Grandma Annie

  12. mourninglory says :

    I so much enjoy Dorcas’ writing and jump at the chance to win one of her books!

  13. Carol E says :

    Tea and Trouble Brewing would be read from cover to cover at our house! I don’t think we would be able to discipline ourselves to stop until we got to the end. You did a good review. πŸ™‚

  14. Alyce (@AtHomeWithBooks) says :

    Great review Darcy! I haven’t read the Register Guard in many years, so I didn’t know what I was missing out on with her column. It sounds like she shares a lot of experiences that moms could relate to.

  15. Rosetta Gingerich says :

    I love to read her blog and I’m sure I would love the book, too!

  16. LInda Rose says :

    I have read two of Dorcas’ books. I also read her blog. I would love to have this book, too.


  17. twila says :

    I love Dorcas’s books. I am married to her husband’s first cousin and our husband’s and children’s similarities are uncanny! I can so relate to all she writes about!

  18. Petty Witter says :

    Hi, I saw you mentioned on Alyce’s FB page and thought I’d stop by to say hello. Great job on your first ever book review, it certainly sounds like the kind of book I’d read AND I love the cover. Anyway, nice to have met you, here’s to many more such reviews.

  19. A. Eberly says :

    I love reading Dorcas’ writing. It can make me smile even when I’m having a rough day. I think its because she writes about real life stuff and draws these amazing lessons from the experiences. I would love to win her newest book!

  20. Cheryl says :

    I need this latest book for my collection! πŸ™‚

  21. Cathy says :

    I have enjoyed reading her other books, and have shared them with my husband’s grandmother, who was in her 90’s, and also enjoyed the humor

  22. Elisa Gray says :

    I too have been reading Dorcas’ column in the Register Guard. I am always inspired. I teach really special ed, you know the kids who have all sorts of labels and disabilities. My particular group is quite naughty much of the time and I’m always struggling to figure out what I can do to make things work for them. It’s never enough and I’m usually frustrated and overwhelmed. The quote about giving yourself credit for showing up and loving them resonated with me. Even though it is about motherhood, it was a message from the Lord for me. I believe that when I hear a message coming from multiple directions that I should pay attention because God might just be saying something. So it is with that message. This makes two days in a row it has been told me. I do show up and I do love my students. That is a lot. And that matters, even if I don’t get all I think needs to be done, done.

  23. Betty Ann Landis says :

    Enter my name! I love Dorcas’ writing! She has a way of putting my thoughts into words!

  24. Theodorella says :

    I love reading Dorcas’s blog, and would love to read her book as well. πŸ™‚

  25. Sharon Mast says :

    I’m a fan of Dorcas’ writings too!

  26. Melissa says :

    Darcy – that was a wonderful review! I think you may be onto something, professionally speaking… πŸ˜‰
    As for Dorcas’ book – I would *love* to win it. This is the first time I’ve heard of her, and I really enjoyed the snippets of her work that you included in your review.

  27. Donella Wadel says :

    Please enter me in the give away. Love her blog and books!

  28. grandma ruby says :

    I enjoyed the review, have been looking for a new book and this one sounds perfect. You can enter me or remember Christmas is coming up. Any of her books would be great as I have only read her column
    Claire a

  29. yodajct says :

    I would love to win this book! Amy

  30. Raylene says :


    I want, I want, I want this. Plllleeease. πŸ™‚


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