Sunday, July 22, 2018

Weekend #Crafting - All that Glitters... #ChristmasinJuly


I LOVE glitter! So I was on the hunt for some super glitter-y crafts...and I found them. Enjoy!


DIY Glittered Glass Ornaments

Supplies:
  • Clear glass ornaments – you can get them at Michaels.
  • Glitter
  • Pledge floor polish OR Glitter It (both work great, but the pledge is less expensive for group projects)
  • Small dixie cup (for drying)
  • Paper towels
Instructions:
  1. Take the ornament hanger off before. Pour a small amount of Glitter It or Pledge Floor Care into the glass ornament. Swirl around making sure to wet the entire inside. Pour the remaining liquid out into a cup or sink.
  2. Sprinkle and pour a generous amount of glitter inside your glass ornament. You may want to use a small funnel or make a paper cone. My glitter bottle had a pretty good opening for perfect pouring, so I was able to do it without a funnel.
  3. Covering the opening with a paper towel, shake and swirl until the inside is completely covered with glitter. If you need more glitter, just pour more in. Shake out excess glitter.
  4. Set the ornament upside down with the opening facing the bottom of a small cup. This allows them to dry with no pooling of excess liquid or glitter. Dry at least 24 hours before placing the ornament hanger back on.

Image credit

Glitter Stamped DIY Gift Tags

I love the idea of these, but I would even maybe do an extra variation for myself and my bookish friends...bookmarks! You could use card stock or longer pieces of Kraft paper (cut into bookmark size) and, if you have super fancy (or even nice) handwriting, you wouldn't even have to use a stamp. Use ribbon or cord instead of baker's twine AND you could use non-Christmas-y glitter colors and make these for everyday bookmarks. Light bulb!

Supplies:
  • Mod Podge Matte
  • Kraft Gift Tags
  • Ink Pad
  • Confetti (or I'm sure any type of glitter would work)
  • Merry Christmas Stamp (similar, here)
  • Bakers Twine
Instructions:
  1. Stamp your kraft tags, making sure to leave room at the end for adding your confetti.
  2. Using a foam brush, add some Mod Podge to the end of your gift tag. Dip in your confetti, tap off the excess, and let dry.


Always in spirit...

Monday, July 9, 2018

A variety of festive sugar cookies #NationalSugarCookieDay #ChristmasinJuly


Today is National Sugar Cookie Day so I thought it would be a great day to share a few festive sugar cookie recipes I found online. Since I don't turn on the oven in the summer, I won't make these until November/December, but if you make any of them, let me know.

First, a little history on the day:

Observed each year on July 9, National Sugar Cookie Day honors the ever popular and delicious sugar cookie.

A holiday favorite and very easy to make, sugar cookies are sure to disappear quickly once they come out of the oven. Made with sugar, flour, butter, eggs, vanilla and either baking powder or baking soda, most people have the ingredients on hand at all times and can have the kids help make a batch on any day. The fun just begins with cutting the dough with fun shaped cookie cutters and then getting creative by decorating with icing and sprinkles.

The sugar cookie is believed to have originated in the mid 1700′s in Nazareth Pennsylvania. It was there that the German Protestant settlers created the round, crumbly and buttery cookie that came to be known as the Nazareth Cookie~from National Day Calendar

Minty Chocolate-Dipped Candy Canes


INGREDIENTS

2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. unsalted butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 oz. semisweet chocolate or white chocolate
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
Red and white nonpareils

DIRECTIONS
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and then the vanilla.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Shape the dough into 4 disks and roll each between 2 sheets of wax paper to 1/8 inch thick. Chill until firm, 30 minutes in the refrigerator or 15 minutes in the freezer.
  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using floured candy cane–shaped cookie cutters, cut out cookies. Place on the prepared sheets. Reroll, chill, and cut the scraps.
  5. Bake, rotating the positions of the pans halfway through, until the cookies are lightly golden brown around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Melt chocolate according to package directions, then stir in the peppermint extract. Dip half of each cookie in the chocolate, letting any excess drip off. Place on a cooling rack set over parchment paper and sprinkle with nonpareils, if desired.

Recipe and image from womansday.com


Cookie Pretzels

INGREDIENTS

DOUGH
1 stick unsalted butter
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp. Lemon Extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

DECORATION
1 egg mixed with 2 tsp lemon juice or water
Coarse white and red decorating sugar

DIRECTIONS
  1. In large bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar and salt until creamy. Beat in egg, yolk and extracts until smooth. With mixer on low speed, beat in flour until blended. Chill dough in refrigerator 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment or nonstick reusable liners. Shape level Tbsps dough into balls. On a smooth surface with floured fingers, roll each ball, 1 at a time, into a 12-in. rope; lift rope to a prepared baking sheet and shape into a pretzel. Make more pretzels, spacing them 2 in. apart on baking sheet. Lightly brush with egg mixture; sprinkle with sugar.
  3. Bake one sheet at a time, 14 minutes or until cookies are lightly golden brown at the edges. Let cool on sheet on wire rack 2 minutes; remove to rack to cool completely. Bake remaining cookies.
Recipe and image from womansday.com


Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla

Frosting
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 to 4 tablespoons milk SAVE $
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Betty Crocker™ gel food colors, as desired
Betty Crocker™ candy sprinkles, as desired

Steps
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, cream cheese and 1/2 cup softened butter with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until fluffy; scrape side of bowl. Beat in egg just until smooth. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. On low speed, beat flour mixture into sugar mixture until well blended. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes.
  3. Shape dough into 60 (1-inch) balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are set. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat powdered sugar, 1/4 cup softened butter, 2 to 4 tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla with spoon until smooth and fluffy. If frosting is too stiff to spread, add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time. Tint with food color. Using knife, spread slightly less than 1 teaspoon frosting on each cooled cookie; top with sprinkles. Store covered in airtight container at room temperature.
Recipe and image from bettycrocker.com

My cookie storage tip, especially good for those with frosting. A lot of people say layered in wax paper in an air tight container. I use parchment paper (which I also use when I bake cookies). It doesn't stick to the cookies like wax paper or plastic wrap.


Always in spirit...


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Weekend Lit - 2018 #Christmas #Book Releases #ChristmasinJuly


This list is by no means everything that is being released in 2018 Christmas books, but there are quite a few on this list. I've provided Amazon links, but I'm sure they are available from other outlets as well. Click the title to find on Amazon.


Alaskan Holiday
Debbie Macomber
October 2

Debbie Macomber brings us to the Alaskan wilderness for a magical Christmas tale about finding love where it's least expected.

Before beginning her dream job as sous chef in one of Seattle’s hottest new restaurants, Josie Avery takes a summer position cooking at a lakeside lodge in the remote Alaskan town of Ponder. Josie falls for the rustic charms of the local community—including Jack Corcoran, the crotchety keeper of Ponder’s famed sourdough starter, and, in particular, the quiet and intense Palmer Saxon, a famed master swordsmith.

Josie and Palmer become close during the long Alaskan summer days, but Josie knows that, come fall, she’ll be returning to reality and the career she’s worked so hard for. Palmer, on the other hand, would like nothing better than to make Josie his wife and to keep her in Ponder. But Josie can’t imagine abandoning her mother back in the Emerald City and sacrificing her career to stay in this isolated town—not even for a man she’s quickly coming to love.

Fate has other plans. Josie misses the last boat out of town before winter sets in, stranding her in Ponder and putting her dream job at risk. As the holidays approach, Josie and Palmer must grapple with the complications that arise when dreams confront reality, and the Christmas magic that can happen when they put their faith in love.

Debbie Macomber is at her best in this beautiful holiday story about the far journeys we travel to find a place to call home.


Christmas Cake Murder (A Hannah Swensen Mystery)
Joanne Fluke
September 25

It’s Christmas many years ago, and topping young Hannah Swensen’s wish list is becoming the go-to baker in Lake Eden, Minnesota. But as Hannah finds out, revisiting holiday memories can be
murder . . .

With her dream of opening The Cookie Jar taking shape, Hannah’s life matches the hectic December hustle and bustle in Lake Eden—especially when she agrees to help recreate a spectacular Christmas Ball from the past in honor of Essie Granger, an elderly local in hospice care. But instead of poring over decadent dessert recipes for the merry festivities, she instantly becomes enthralled by Essie’s old notebooks and the tale of a woman escaping danger on the streets of New York. Hannah’s surprised by Essie’s secret talent for penning crime fiction. She’s even more surprised when the story turns real. As Hannah prepares to run a bakery and move out of her mother’s house, it’ll be a true miracle if she can prevent another Yuletide disaster by solving a mystery as dense as a Christmas fruitcake . . .


Season of Wonder
RaeAnne Thayne
September 25

It’s a long way from New York to Idaho…but could they have found a home at last?

Dani Capelli has never truly belonged anywhere. And from her earliest days as a foster child in Queens, she would have been lost if it weren’t for her love of animals. Until high school, when she fell hard for the wrong boy, and found herself pregnant—and married—by graduation. Two daughters later, Dani realized her mistake and filed for divorce, and with the help of scholarships and loans—and a lot of macaroni and cheese dinners—she enrolled in vet school. Things were finally looking up…until her ex-husband became her late husband, in the most notorious way possible.

Now Dani and her daughters need an out-of-town pass more than ever. So when the retiring Haven Point veterinarian offers her a chance to settle in the small Idaho town and take over his practice, she jumps at it. But adjusting to the charming mountain community isn’t easy; thirteen-year-old Silver begins acting out while six-year-old Mia is growing too attached to Haven Point and everything in it, especially their next-door-neighbor, Deputy Sheriff Ruben Morales. And Dani can’t blame her. Ruben is everything she’s secretly wanted—and everything she can’t bear to risk loving…and losing.

As the holidays draw near, their shared concern for Dani’s daughters brings them closer together, giving Ruben the chance to show this big-city woman just how magical Christmas in Haven Point can be...and that the promise of a home at last is very real in the most wondrous season of the year…


The Christmas Wishing Tree: An Eternity Springs Novel
Emily March
September 25

A delightful Christmas novel in the New York Times bestselling Eternity Springs series from Emily March.

A man who loves adventure and the open sea, Devin Murphy returns for a short Christmas trip to his small hometown of Eternity Springs. Immersed in the joy and magic of the holiday season all around him, he doesn’t hesitate to play along when a young boy phones Santa to ask for a very special wish. Devin never guesses that a wrong number has the potential to make everything in his life so right.

Jenna Stockton adopted Reilly when he needed a mother and she intends to keep him safe. A small town across the country called Eternity Springs seems like a good place to hide from their past without any complications —until sexy Santa himself discovers her secrets. When Devin proposes a daring plan to face down the danger together and defeat it once and for all, she is tempted. Maybe Devin really is capable of making wishes come true? Perhaps in a Christmas wish they’ll both find the miracle they’ve been looking for all along…


Mistletoe Miracles
Jodi Thomas
September 25

A small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found, and family always brings you back home.

Griffin Holloway is desperate: the Maverick Ranch has been in his family for generations, but lately, it’s a money pit. He’d sooner marry one of his horses than sell the ranch. Marriage, though, could be a solution. If he can woo a wealthy bride, he might save the ranch—just in time for Christmas.

Jaxon O’Grady likes his solitude just fine, thank you very much. But when a car accident brings the unexpected to his door, he realizes just how much one person can need another.

Crossroads is the perfect place for Jamie Johnson: avoiding nosy questions about why she’s single, she’s happy to keep to her lakeside home. So she’s baffled when she gets the strangest Christmas present of all, in the form of a Mr. Johnson, asleep on her sofa. Who is he, and why does everyone think he’s her husband?

In this uplifting novel, three unlikely couples discover just what Crossroads, Texas, can offer: romance, belonging, and plenty of Christmas spirit.


Premeditated Peppermint (An Amish Candy Shop Mystery)
Amanda Flower
September 25

Someone’s sweet on revenge . . .

Christmas is Bailey King’s favorite time of year. For her first Yuletide in Harvest, Ohio, the former big-city chocolatier is recreating a cherished holiday treat: peppermint combined with molten white chocolate. But her sugar high plummets when her former boyfriend walks into the candy shop she now runs with her Amish grandmother. New York celebrity chef Eric Sharp and his TV crew have arrived to film an authentic Amish Christmas. Bailey’s not about to let her beloved town—and Swissmen Sweets—be turned into a sound bite. Unfortunately, she gets more publicity than she bargained for when Eric’s executive producer is found strangled to death—and Eric’s the prime suspect.

With Bailey’s sheriff deputy boyfriend out to prove Eric’s guilt, her bad-boy ex tries to sweet-talk her into helping him clear his name . . . and rekindle their romance to boost ratings for his show. Now, between a surplus of suspects and a victim who wasn’t who she seemed, Bailey’s edging dangerously close to a killer who isn’t looking to bring joy to the world—or to Bailey—this deadly Noel . . . 

Recipe Included!


The Forever Christmas Tree: A Bell Sound Novel
Sandra Hill
September 25

The Christmas bells are chiming across the Outer Banks town of Bell Cove, North Carolina, but there’s one local ‘grinch’ who’s not listening . . .

He’s got bad-boy looks and a Bah Humbug attitude, so when the local paper asks the villagers to vote on the “Biggest Local Grinch” as a fund-raising project, Ethan Rutledge isn’t surprised to hear he’s made the ballot. He might own the local Christmas Tree Farm, but the holiday hasn’t been welcome in his home since Wendy Patterson left him heart-broken twelve years ago.

But now Wendy’s back, fresh from a tour of duty as a female Navy SEAL. She’s bold, beautiful, and has five Navy buddies trailing after her—as if she needs a bodyguard! And what’s all this about them wanting to start a treasure hunting company right here in Bell Cove’s failing bell factory? Then Wendy learns about how Ethan’s been nurturing the one thing he has to remember her by: a gorgeous Norway Spruce tree.

Can the magic of Christmas and the spirit of the town help rekindle the romance between two people who thought they’d left love behind years ago?


A Christmas by the Sea
Melody Carlson
September 4

When Wendy Harper inherits her family's beachside cottage in Seaside, Maine, she sees it as a way to finally pay off the debts that have mounted since her husband died. But before it can be sold, the neglected property must be renovated. She and her 12-year-old son Jackson move in--temporarily, she reminds him--in order to do the work themselves, even though Christmas is coming. The charming town, along with local craftsman Caleb Colton, pulls on both Wendy and Jackson, who even registers himself for school in a bid to get his mom to move them there permanently. Wendy knows that the most responsible thing to do is to sell the cottage and return to Ohio, but the lure of the sea is hard to resist.

Join award-winning author Melody Carlson for a Christmas story that will warm your heart and have you dreaming of your own enchanted seaside holiday.


Santa's on His Way
Lisa Jackson,  Maisey Yates, Stacy Finz, Nicole Helm
September 25

Open your heart to the holidays with these stories of unexpected love . . .

A BABY FOR CHRISTMAS * Lisa Jackson
The uneventful Christmas Annie McFarlane expected is suddenly anything but. First, there’s the adorable baby left on the snowy doorstep of her Oregon cabin. Second, there’s the extremely attractive, yet extremely angry man claiming to be the father. Liam O’Shaughnessy may be intimidating, but this is one precious gift Annie isn’t giving up so easily . . .

WHAT THE COWBOY WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS * Maisey Yates
When Meg O’Neill’s longtime boyfriend lets her down, again, on Christmas no less, she braves an Oregon blizzard to get to her best friend Noah’s comforting arms. But this time Noah’s not telling her what she wants to hear—he’s telling her the truth, from his heart. And his words just might be the gift Meg’s been wishing for all along.

SNOWED IN * Stacy Finz
Rachel Johnson has found the perfect spot for her second Tart Me Up bakery in Glory Junction, California. Except she’s in fierce competition with hunky bar owner Boden Farmer. Worse, while the icy rivals await the city’s decision, they end up catering the same Christmas Eve mountaintop wedding—and getting snowed in. But sometimes a loss of electricity generates a different kind of heat . . .

A COWBOY WEDDING FOR CHRISTMAS * Nicole Helm
Big city art teacher Lindsay Tyler isn’t just back home in Colorado for her brother’s wedding at the Barton Christmas Tree Farm and Ranch. She’s back for good. She just hasn’t told anyone yet—including Cal Barton, the ex-boyfriend she left behind. Will it take a Christmas miracle for him to welcome her back with open arms? . . .


Bells, Spells, and Murders (A Witch City Mystery)
Carol J. Perry
September 25

Someone’s spreading deadly holiday cheer through Salem, Mass . . .

Lee Barrett has landed her dream job at Salem’s WICH-TV. As the new field reporter, she’ll be covering events live as they’re unfolding. Next on her holiday checklist is an interview with the beloved chairman of a popular walking tour through Salem’s historic districts. But it may be his ghost walking this snowy Noel season after Lee finds him murdered in his stately offices, bloody Santa hat askew.

With her police detective boyfriend working the case and a witch’s brew of suspects—including some bell-ringing Santas—Lee chases down leads aided and abetted by her wise cat O’Ryan and some unsettling psychic visions of her own. When a revealing clue leads to another dead body, not even a monster blizzard can stop Lee from inching closer to the truth . . . and a scoop that could spell her own demise this killer Christmas.


Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge (A Jaine Austen Mystery)
Laura Levine
September 25

Freelance writer Jaine Austen is feeling festive about spending Christmas house-sitting at a posh Bel Air mansion, accompanied by her friend Lance and her cat, Prozac. But when a grumpy neighbor gets himself iced, she’ll have to find the culprit or she may spend the New Year in jail . . .

Scotty Parker is a former child star who once played Tiny Tim, but now he’s grown up into the role of neighborhood Scrooge. He cuts the wires on his neighbors’ Christmas lights and tells local kids that Santa had a stroke. And his miserly, bah-humbug attitude lasts year-round—a fact known all too well by his current wife, his ex-wife, his maid, and many more.

Scotty thinks he can stage a comeback with the screenplay he’s working on (The Return of Tiny Tim: Vengeance Is Mine!), and Jaine’s been reluctantly helping him edit it. So when Scotty is bludgeoned with a frozen chocolate yule log and the police start making a list of suspects and checking it twice, Jaine’s name is unfortunately included. True, she’s been under some stress, with Lance trying to set her up on dates and her fickle feline taking a sudden liking to someone else—but she’s not guilty of murder. Now she just has to prove it, by using her gift for detection and figuring out who committed this holiday homicide.


A Simple Christmas (Simple Gifts)
Charlotte Hubbard
September 25

The rustic beauty of a country Christmas fills the Simple Gifts crafts shop, while the Amish residents of Willow Ridge pull together in uncertain times—and in the face of an unexpected homecoming.

Nora Hooley’s shop is abuzz with preparations for the holiday open house, and Rosalyn Riehl is handcrafting wreaths from evergreen boughs, pinecones, and other natural materials. The work is a welcome diversion for the only unmarried daughter of Cornelius Riehl: her gruff dat has been receiving envelopes marked Past Due, leaving dutiful Rosalyn to manage the household’s inexplicably shrinking budget. Then another distraction swaggers into Simple Gifts—blue-jeaned and leather-jacketed, with a reputation that precedes him.

Marcus Hooley hightailed it to Willow Ridge on a wing and a prayer—not that he’s the praying type. He rejected his Amish roots long ago. But behind the bad-boy attitude is a gifted horse trainer who’s counting on some
bent-but-not-broken family ties to throw him a lifeline. He can’t erase his past, but a sparking attraction with strong, spirited Rosalyn holds the promise of a second chance . . . and of shedding light on shadowy secrets to build a bright tomorrow.


A Tale of Two Hearts: Book 2 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas
Michelle Griep
September 1

Book 2 in Reader Favorite Michelle Griep’s Charming Once Upon a Dickens Christmas Series

London, 1853: Innkeeper’s daughter Mina Scott will do anything to escape the drudgery of her life, for there’s nothing more mundane than serving customers day after day. Every minute she can, she reads and dreams of someday becoming a real lady—and catch the eye of William Barlow, a frequent guest at the inn.

William is a gentleman’s son, a charming but penniless rogue. However, his bachelor uncle will soon name an heir—either him or his scheming cousin. In an effort to secure the inheritance, William gives his uncle the impression he’s married, which works until he’s invited to bring his wife for a visit.

William asks Mina to be his pretend bride, only until his uncle names an heir on Christmas Day. Mina is flattered and frustrated by the offer, for she wants a true relationship with William. Yet, she agrees. . .then wishes she hadn’t. So does William. Deceiving the old man breaks both their hearts. When the truth is finally discovered, more than just money is lost.

Can two hearts survive such deception?


The Christmas Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love through the Generations
Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas
October 2

In Kristi Ann Hunter's "Legacy of Love," Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman's grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer's "Gift of the Heart," widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas's "A Shot at Love," Fleeta Brady's rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family's brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade's "Because of You," Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?


Remembrance
Mary Monroe
September 25

In this moving, unforgettable novel from New York Times bestselling author Mary Monroe, a successful, happily married mother suddenly finds herself feeling far from joyful. But Christmas brings an unexpected chance to rediscover herself, and what happiness really means . . .

For Beatrice Powell, the holidays are usually an extra-special time to celebrate. Between her twenty-year-plus marriage, gorgeous Berkeley, California, home, and three wonderful adult children, she has everything she could desire. But change-of-life doubts are making Beatrice a stranger to herself and her bewildered family. She only finds peace volunteering at the local soup kitchen, especially helping out homeless Charles Davenport. And his sensitivity and honesty soon comfort her in ways she never imagined . . .

Charles thought he had it all—until a devastating betrayal and the shattering loss of his family drove him to living on the streets. Beatrice is the first person who’s truly cared about him in a long time. And little by little, he’s finding reasons to care about rebuilding his life—and risking a sudden, courageous choice . . .

Drawn to Charles and the temptation of a second chance, Beatrice is faced with the hardest of decisions. But his insight, secrets—and the reminder of a profound past encounter—will give her unexpected inspiration, gratitude, and the strength she needs to find her way—perhaps in time for Christmas.


Christmas Stitches: An Historical Romance Collection: 3 Stories of Seamstresses Sewing Hope and Love Through the Holidays
Judith Mccoy Miller, Nancy Moser, Stephanie Grace Whitson
Oct 1

3 Talented Seamstresses, 3 Christmas Romances
Return to Christmases of yesteryear with three seamstresses who use their talents to succeed in the late 1800s. But can love also be stitched into their lives?

A SEAMLESS LOVE by Judith Miller
1888 – Pullman, Illinois
Hannah Cushman possesses a special talent for embroidered fancywork and design which secures her a position in the Dressmaking and Millinery Shop in the Pullman Arcade near Chicago where she encounters childhood friend Daniel Price. Daniel is disappointed to learn Hannah is being courted by a detective with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. With two men vying for her attention, will Hannah seek God’s direction or ignore the warning signs He sets before her?

MENDED HEARTS by Stephanie Grace Whitson
1890 – Nebraska
Rachel Ellsworth has always been encouraged to pursue her passion for art. She looks forward to taking the Grand Tour on her honeymoon and experiencing the great museums of Europe. But when tragedy strikes, Rachel's plans are put on hold and she is forced to stay with two maiden aunts in a small Nebraska town where the most exciting things that ever happen are quilting bees and the county fair. Rachel expects her stay in Lost Creek to be temporary--until a letter from home changes everything. How can a budding artist who loves the big city expect to find happiness in the middle of nowhere?

PIN’S PROMISE by Nancy Moser
1906 – Summerfield, England
Penelope (Pin) Billings and Jonathan Evers have loved each other since they were children, promising to one day get officially engaged. Both have distinct talents: Pin for sewing dresses and teaching others to sew and Jonathan—a doctor right out of school—in helping the people of the village. As adulthood nears and the time to fulfill their promise seems right, a tragic event pulls them apart, making both question their future. Will they discover they are stronger together than apart?


Christmas in Whispering Pines (The Langtry Sisters)
Scarlett Dunn
September 25

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Whispering Pines, Colorado, in Scarlett Dunn’s inspirational series about three sisters whose faith helps them find love . . .

On the heels of her blowout European tour, opera star Emma Langtry has returned home to Whispering Pines to spend time with her family. But she isn’t alone: a smitten French prince has followed her, determined to win her love. While Emma enjoys his company, marriage isn’t on her agenda. Then she meets the mysterious Clay Hunt . . .

Clay is the new pastor in Whispering Pines. Years ago, after a shattering loss, he left everything behind—including his faith—to seek revenge. Tormented by his actions, he’s now resolved to earn redemption, and has devoted himself to his parishioners. He believes he has nothing to give any woman, not even one as enticing and headstrong as Emma Langtry.

But when the Langtry sisters’ outlaw brother turns up, bringing danger in his wake, fate will bring Emma and Clay together—and once that happens, nothing will be able to tear them apart . . .


This is the one I want for sure!

Christmas with Dickens: Seasonal recipes inspired by the life and work of Charles Dickens
Pen Vogler
September 11

No author is more closely associated with the food of Christmas than Charles Dickens, and with this collection you will be able to recreate classic Victorian dishes and drinks of the season, as featured in the writings of “the man who invented Christmas.”

From Mrs Cratchit’s plum pudding to Mr Pickwick’s "mighty bowl of wassail," Charles Dickens's novels and other writings are alive with examples of good food being enjoyed in good company. In this selection of Victorian classics, updated for modern cooks, you will find old favorites for Christmas dinner such as roast fowl with tarragon, plus recipes for entertaining, such as lobster patties and a Charlotte Russe. There’s even a recipe for a hand-raised pork pie to keep in the pantry for unexpected visitors (or escaped convicts.)


Festive Recipes (Angela Gray’s Cookery School)
Angela Gray
August 1

The third in a series of four seasonal cookbooks, Festive Recipes contains 30 recipes perfect for entertaining family or creating a festive feast. With a selection of showstopping treats to wow your guests, beautifully presented and photographed by leading food expert Huw Jones. Including metric measures.


The Tao of Gingerbread House Design + Construction
 Amy Knapp
August 1

The Tao of Gingerbread House Design + Construction will show you how to have a great time while creating charming gingerbread cottages of all shapes and sizes, plus it will inspire you no matter how you spend your time.


Chefs Host Christmas Too
Darren Purchese
October 1

Hot on the heels of his highly successful Chefs Eat Toasties Too, Darren Purchese is sharing his take on Christmas with us in his 2nd book in the Chefs…Too series. With Chefs Host Christmas Too there’s no need to be stressed about Christmas – at least not when it comes to hosting and feasting.

It’s time to play with Christmas – and we don’t mean having a starring role in a pageant, but being the star of your own show. The approach here is fresh, fun, lighthearted and accessible, with an enticing and cleverly put-together line up of Christmas greats, and new twists on how to prepare them.

Chefs Host Christmas Too includes everything you need to keep the throng fed and entertained during this festive time, including family favourites, all the chef tips and tricks, and new takes on some classic fare.


The 12 Days of Christmas Cookbook 2018 Edition 
Compiled by Barbour Staff
September 1

“Twelve Days” to a Delicious Christmas!
Wonderfully unique, The Twelve Days of Christmas Cookbook: 2018 Edition will delight taste buds and make the Christmas season even merrier! Featuring all-new tasty recipes organized into fun categories including “Breads a Rising,” “Soups a Simmering,” “Sides a Steaming, and “Kids a Cooking,” this big book is overflowing with great recipe ideas for the entire Christmas season and beyond. This delightful cookbook is destined to remain a holiday favorite for years to come!


Christmas with Southern Living 2018: Inspired Ideas for Holiday Cooking and Decorating
September 4


The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book, Volume 2: 16 Designs to Spread Holiday Cheer!
Chris Mcveigh
October 2

Building instructions for 15 clever Christmas ornaments that can be built from standard LEGO parts that fans are likely to have in their collection. These small and uncomplicated ornaments are quick to build and a joy to display.

Readers can build 15 classic Christmas designs including a gingerbread house, Santa, reindeer, a snowman, a wreath, a poinsettia, and traditional shapes like baubles and modern geometric swirls. With easy-to-follow instructions and stunning full color photography, The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book, Volume 2 will help you spread some holiday cheer with LEGO in no time!


The Christmas Star: A Novel (Christmas Hope)
Donna VanLiere
October 16

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Christmas Hope series comes another heartwarming, inspirational story for the holidays.

Thirty-two-year-old Amy Denison volunteers at Glory’s Place, an after school program where she meets seven-year-old Maddie, a precocious young girl who has spent her childhood in foster care. Unbeknownst to Amy, Maddie is a mini-matchmaker, with her eye on just the right man for Amy at Grandon Elementary School, where she is a student. Amy is hesitant – she’s been hurt before, and isn’t sure she’s ready to lose her heart again – but an unexpected surprise makes her reconsider her lonely lifestyle.

As Christmas nears and the town is blanketed in snow and beautiful decorations, Maddie and the charming staff at Glory’s Place help Amy to see that romance can be more than heartache and broken promises.

In The Christmas Star, Donna VanLiere delivers yet another sweet, joyous story that is sure to capture readers' hearts.


The Christmas Date: The most laugh out loud romantic comedy this Christmas!
Zara Stoneley
October 19

It’s the most magical time of the year, and for travel agent Sarah it’s also the busiest! But this year one man threatens to ruin Christmas for Sarah’s customers – Mr Grinch, Will Armstrong.

The Shooting Star Mountain resort is a magical place, and Sarah has fond memories of Christmas here as a little girl – visits to Father Christmas, husky rides in the snow and hot chocolate by a roaring fire. But as the resorts new owner, Will refuses to play snowball or to deck the halls with anything remotely resembling tinsel!

With customers complaining their Christmas is ruined, Sarah decides it’s up to her to convince Scroogey Will just how magical Christmas can be….

But getting Will into the Christmas spirit is hopeless – he is Bah Humbug personified! But as Sarah gets to know him better, she realises that underneath all the gloom is a man struggling with a pain of his own.

With the big day approaching, Sarah realises that the magic and sparkle can wait. This year, she’s going to spend Christmas day with someone special her very own Mr Scrooge…


A Dad of His Own: Everyone needs a Christmas miracle...
Minna Howard
August 21

A magical, comforting and emotional Christmas story. Perfect for the fans of Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde.
House-sitting in a castle over Christmas is a dream come true for Anna and her seven-year-old son Freddie. But there's one Christmas present Freddie wants more than anything, and it's the one thing Anna can't give him – his very own dad.
As Anna settles into her new surroundings and a much slower pace of life, she is soon befriended by the local villagers and the castle workforce who provide a welcome distraction.

Before even a Christmas cracker is pulled, Freddie shows a eager interest in the castle workforce; green-fingered Simon, salt of the earth Luke and charming castle manager Julius.
Could one of them make Freddie's Christmas wish come true and repair Anna's broken heart?

At the most magical time of the year, everyone needs a Christmas miracle if they're to make it to Christmas Day...


Dear Santa
Nancy Naigle
October 16

From USA Today bestselling author Nancy Naigle, Dear Santa is a heartwarming Christmas story about finding your passion for life and love.

Angela Carson wants nothing more than to be the third-generation to run her family’s holiday store, Heart of Christmas, successfully. They’ve weathered over sixty tourist seasons, major hurricanes, and urban sprawl, in their old decommissioned lighthouse. But the national chain that set up shop in their small North Carolina town of Pleasant Sands may be more than Heart of Christmas can survive.

Encouraged by her niece to ask Santa for help through the Dear Santa app, Angela gives in and lets the words fly in a way that, if Santa were real, would no doubt land her on the naughty list. What’s the harm when it’s just a computer-generated response?

Geoff Paisley has been at his mother’s side running the mega-chain Christmas Galore for the last ten years. When his mother falls ill, Geoff promises to answer the Dear Santa letters in her stead. Soon he realizes the woman he’s been corresponding with on Dear Santa is Angela. How could the woman that grates his every last nerve in person have intrigued him so deeply through those letters?

When Geoff reveals that he’s her Dear Santa, will Angela be able to set aside their very public feud to embrace the magic of the holiday and possibly find true love?


Alfie in the Snow
Rachel Wells
October 18

Can Alfie and George save Christmas?
The Sunday Times bestseller returns for a fifth book! Alfie and his mischievous kitten George are back for more adventures

When a new family moves onto Edgar Road, Alfie and George can’t wait to welcome them – especially when they discover they have a cat too!

Alfie imagines they’ll be the perfect neighbours, but when one little misunderstanding gets blown out of proportion, the street is suddenly at war!

As the snow starts to fall, Alfie and George have their work cut out for them to bring the street back together. But can one doorstep cat and his mischievous kitten use their festive spirit to reunite everyone in time for Christmas?

A heart-warming novel that is perfect to curl up with this festive season. For fans of A Street Cat Named Bob, Cathy Bramley and Holly Hepburn.

Which ones will you add to your list?

This post is part of...



Always in spirit...

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day and Keeping Christmas Spirit #FourthofJuly #ChristmasinJuly


Today I was thinking about the entire concept of my motto here at Christmas Spirit..."Always in spirit." What that means to me is not really about the wrappings and trappings of Christmas, although all that is a nice part of Christmas. It means keeping the spirit in our hearts year round. It means good will toward others and helping others just because, even in the smallest of ways, or even something as small as keeping a positive attitude. A kind word, a small gesture of kindness (cooking dinner for someone who has been ill, running errands for an elderly neighbor), even mending rifts that may have developed with family or friends. The point is, it's never too late to start. Each day is a fresh slate to start again.

Of course, it's easy to say all this, but it's the doing that can be hard. Sometimes we need daily reminders. Then, with today being another holiday, I thought of something. We have many holidays throughout the year, big and small. Independence day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, New Year's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, Memorial Day, even Halloween. Why not use these holidays as reminders to keep the spirit of Christmas alive?

So, let's strive to keep the spirit year round, but when one of the other holidays throughout the year comes around, take a moment to reflect. Have I been keeping the spirit every day (or most days)? If the answer is no, use that day to start again.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday!

This post is part of...



Always in spirit...

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Christmas in July is here! #ChristmasinJuly


It's time for another Christmas in July! I'll share as much Christmas as I can this month, given my busy life these days. Looking forward to sharing recipes, crafts, literature, maybe some Christmas Around the World, and more! As usual, some of the best news for me are Christmas movies in July!



Christmas in July on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries

As always, the Hallmark Channel will be rolling out new movies for Christmas in July. On Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, the Gold Crown Christmas started on June 29 (I've been watching Christmas movies all weekend) through July 15. The Keepsake Week Holiday Preview on the Hallmark Channel starts July 13 and runs through July 26. You can find out more on the Hallmark sites here and here. Also, for a full schedule of all the Christmas in July television programming, visit the awesome Christmas TV schedule over at It's a Wonderful Movie.


Another Christmas in July Readathon! I'm hosting the High Summer Readathon, as always, over at Seasons of Reading this month which is now a month long! Once again, we will be having a Christmas in July Readathon during the last four days of High Summer, July 28 - 31 (that's Saturday thru Tuesday) Join us at Seasons of Reading, our Facebook group and our new Goodreads Group! You can get all the details, and sign-up here. I hope you will join us!

Happy Christmas in July!

Always in spirit...