Saturday, July 31, 2010

Christmas in July--Event's end...Carol of the Bells

So...we have come to the end of Christmas in July=O(  
I have really enjoyed this month of Christmas posts which included 2010 TV Christmas movie releases, Christmas literature, crafts, and a wonderful royal icing (for sugar cookies) tutorial.  And, of course, a wonderful guest post from Ryan at Wordsmithonia.  Also, we must not forget the giveaway! I will be drawing the winners tonight after midnight.  I will announce the winners here and will also email the winners.

And now I leave you with some lovely trivia (and the lyrics) about one of my favorite Christmas carols:

Carol of the Bells

Carol Of The Bells Lyrics

The Carol of the Bells lyrics were added to the original folk music from the Ukraine by Peter Wilhousky. The lyrics and words to this popular Christmas song celebrate the festive season and its traditions such as the pealing of church bells at Christmas and of the singing of Christmas Carols - caroling. The original Ukrainian lyrics to the song was entitled Shchedryk meaning bountiful and were traditionally sang to celebrate the New Year.

Trans Siberian Orchestra Carol of the Bells

Trans Siberian Orchestra Carol of the Bells version of the song combines traditional, classical music with a modern heavy metal style. The Trans Siberian Orchestra Carol of the Bells rock opera version can be found on Christmas Trilogy CD by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra which combines "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Carol of the Bells". This Trans-Siberian Orchestra version of Carol of the Bells was dedicated to the spirit of humanity even when war ravaged places such as those on Christmas Eve - Sarajevo 12/24. Sarejevo is located in the region of the Ukraine where the Carols of the Bells originated.

Home Alone Carol of the Bells Christmas Song

The music from Carol of the Bells was featured in the movies Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York directed by Chris Columbus. These famous Christmas comedy movies use the song as the young hero Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, is unintentionally left 'Home Alone' at Christmas by his family. The Home Alone Carol of the Bells music is used when young Kevin sets amazing and hilarious traps to capture the inept and stupid thieves Harry Lime (played by Joe Pesci ) and Marv Merchants (played by Daniel Stern). Next time you watch the movie listen to this popular Christmas music.

Carol of the Bells Lyrics

Hark how the bells,
sweet silver bells,
all seem to say,
throw cares away

Christmas is here,
bringing good cheer,
to young and old,
meek and the bold.

Ding dong ding dong
that is their song
with joyful ring
all caroling.

One seems to hear
words of good cheer
from everywhere
filling the air.

Oh how they pound,
raising the sound,
o'er hill and dale,
telling their tale.

Gaily they ring
while people sing
songs of good cheer,
Christmas is here.

Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas,
Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas.

On on they send,
on without end,
their joyful tone
to every home.

Ding dong ding... dong!

(Information obtained from

I hope you enjoyed Christmas in July as well! I'll see you on August 25th for my monthly Rudolph Day post.

Always in spirit....

Friday, July 30, 2010

Christmas in July--How to Decorate with Royal Icing Tutorial

This is an example of Christmas cookies decorated with royal icing.
Photo from HubPages
I would like to thank Michelle from the wonderful (and yummy) blog browneyedbaker for allowing me to post her royal icing tutorial for my Christmas in July event.  I love making decorated sugar cookies during the holidays (and sometimes in July...LOL), but I never seem to achieve that gorgeous look of the cookies in all the holiday magazines.  With this tutorial, all that can change.  Enjoy!

How to Decorate Cookies with Royal Icing

I was always very good at baking snowmen, Christmas trees, angels and the like in December, slapping on some buttercream, a few sprinkles and calling it a day. Not that it isn’t good. It is definitely good. But then royal icing came onto my radar. The possibilities seemed endless – a completely smooth finish to the cookies and intricate designs? Now THAT looked fun! I’m here to guide you on a step-by-step tutorial on how to achieve any design you want on any shape cookie. Ready? Let’s begin!

Step 1: Find a Good Sugar Cookie Recipe

This might seem obvious, but not all sugar cookie recipes stand up well to heavy-duty decorating. If you don’t already have a favorite, let me point you to mine: Dorie Greenspan’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies. They’re incredible.

Step 2: Cool Cookies Completely

Again, maybe elementary, but we’re going step-by-step here. You can’t decorate cookies that have just come out of the oven. Or even cookies that are slightly warm. They need to be completely cool before you can move on to decorating.

Step 3: The Equipment

Now, you don’t necessarily need fancy equipment for decorating with royal icing, but investing in just a few decorating tips and couplers, some disposable pastry bags and squeeze bottles will make your cookie decorating experience exponentially more pleasant. Here is a run-down of what I typically use:

12″ disposable pastry bags. So easy to just throw away when you’re done instead of washing them!

Decorating tips. For outlining the cookie I use a #3 tip and anything from a #1 to #3 for intricate designs on the cookie. It’s not a bad idea to have a few of each number, as I find myself using them a lot.

Couplers. These make it easy to switch the size tip you are using in the same color.

Squeeze Bottles. I use these for flooding my cookies. Since the royal icing is very thin at this point, it’s a much neater alternative to a cut-open pastry bag. Plus you can put the cap on and save any extra icing for next time.

♦ Small bowls or Tupperware (to color your icing)

♦ Toothpicks.

Step 4: Prep, Prep, Prep!

This got me the first time I decorated with royal icing, and is especially important if you are going to be using multiple colors and different tips. I flew by the seat of my pants and ended up making a huge mess, it took twice as long as it should have, and I was trying to fish used tips out of pastry bags to re-use them somewhere else. Your plan of action:

♦ Write down how many different colors you will be using and take out that many pastry bags and couplers and prepare them. Also figure out what size decorating tips you will be using and fit them to the pastry bags.

♦ If you don’t have squeeze bottles for flooding, add additional pastry bags for however many colors you will use for flooding, in additional to the bags of that color you will use for detail work (if any).

♦ Have your icing colors ready and as many small mixing bowls (Tupperware works great for this) as you have colors planned.

Step 5: Make the Royal Icing

The recipe for royal icing is very simple:

4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
6 tablespoons water

Mix all ingredients on low speed for 7-10 minutes or until the icing loses its shine. Add more water by the teaspoon if it appears too stiff. At this stage you want to be able to pipe it easily:

Step 6: Color the Icing

Divide the icing into your containers based on how much you will need of each one. Proceed to color the icing and then cover each container with a damp paper towel. It is key when working with royal icing not to allow it to dry out.

Step 7: Outline the Cookies

You will want to outline the cookies with whatever color you will be using to fill them in with. Place some of the icing into a disposable pastry bag fitted with a #3 tip and outline the outside of the cookie. I find that keeping the tip about ½-inch above the cookie while moving it allows the icing to lay on the cookie more easily.

You’ll want to make sure that the outline is pretty well set before moving on to flooding the cookies, but I generally find that by the time I am done outlining the first ones are already dry.

Step 8: Flood the Cookies

Take whatever color you are using to fill in the cookies and slowly start adding a few drops of water at a time, until the icing reaches an almost liquid consistency. The test here is to pick some icing up with a spoon and let it drizzle back into the bowl – the drizzle should disappear into the bowl within 10 seconds. Once you have achieved this, you are ready.

Either fill a squeeze bottle with the thinned icing or transfer it to a disposable pastry bag with a ¼-inch hole cut off the end.

Now squeeze in the icing to almost completely fill the inside the cookie.

Then take a toothpick and gently use it to distribute the icing to any empty spots.

Once you are done the cookies need to dry completely before moving on to any intricate piped designs. Some bakers will let them sit overnight but I generally find that a 2-3 hour rest will do the trick.

Now use whatever colors and tips you’d like to achieve the design you want!

If you have any questions, comments (or praise) for Michelle, you can contact her here.

Isn't this the most amazing tutorial?!  Please be sure to visit Michelle's blog, browneyedbaker.  Not only does she have great recipes, but she also has more tutorials and even a baking faq.  Now...let's learn a little bit more about her:

I’m Michelle, the Brown Eyed Baker, and I’m a passionate foodie, baker, writer, and eater. My hope for your visit here is to be enticed by delectable recipes, inspired by delicious photography, and armed with increased food knowledge. I want you to leave with the insatiable urge to run into your kitchen and whip up whatever you have seen here, and the confidence to know that you can do it. Growing up Italian, the kitchen was always the hub of activity – it’s where everyone gathered to talk, eat, and share life while great food was being created.

About the Food

I have no formal culinary training and have never taken a cooking or baking class in my life; everything I’ve learned has been through trial and error, reading and research (and the occasional YouTube video). All of the recipes you find here typically come from one of my cookbooks, food magazines, other food blogs, family recipes, or a combination of any of the above. As the name implies, the vast majority of recipes here on Brown Eyed Baker are of the sweet variety. In addition to all of the desserts and sweet snacks, you will also find a nice selection of appetizers as well as some traditional comfort foods (think macaroni & cheese, roasted potatoes, and beef stew), ethnic specialties (like Sweet & Sour Chicken, Pasta Fagioli, and Enchiladas anyone?), and meals I’ve made that were just too good not to share (like a Roasted Shrimp and Orzo Salad).  (All recipes mentioned here are available at browneyedbaker)

I'd like to thank Michelle again for allowing me to share her tutorial here today.  Stay tuned because Michelle may be back in the future with a guest post.  Something to look forward to. =O)

Happy Christmas in July

Always in spirit....

Please note:  All photos are from browneyedbaker (and are linked back there) except for the Christmas cookie photo at the top of the post.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Reminder: Christmas in July Two Book Giveaway

There are only 3 days left to enter the Christmas in July giveaway.  There will be two for each book.  Up for grabs are The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck and 'Twas the Night Before by Jerry B. JenkinsGiveaway ends on Saturday, July 31st at 11:59 pm.  Click here to go to the original post for details and to enter.

(This is not the giveaway entry post.  Entries here will not count)

Always in spirit....

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Guest Post--The Year-Round Love of Christmas and....Christmas in Connecticut

Please welcome one of my best blogging friends and a fellow Christmas addict, Ryan from the book blog, Wordsmithonia.

When the heat starts to get to be too much to bear in the Summer, July being the worst, I find myself wishing for snowy Winter nights and especially for Christmas. I'm one of those freaks that will listen to Christmas music in July (in the car where no one else can hear me) and I've actually found myself coming to this blog, leaving the page up, and listening to Christmas music while I'm surfing the web. I'm actually listening to the Holiday Classics station on as I'm typing up this review. There is nothing like the sights and sounds of Christmas to cheer me up and make me feel cool on a hot Summer day. That's one of the reasons I'm so glad that Michelle started this blog, it helps me get my Christmas fix throughout the year, whenever I'm in the need to feel the special warmth that the season brings.

So, by now, you may be asking yourself if this is going to be a post about my favorite Christmas songs, which wouldn't be a bad idea, but it's not. While Christmas music is worthy of a million posts, I wanted to talk about the one thing I have to have at Christmas, movies. Right now I'm going to talk about one specific movie, but believe me I could do a post every day for months and still not get through all of the ones I love.

I first watched the 1945 version Christmas In Connecticut (I'm making the distinction because Arnold Schwarzenegger directed a really bad remake with Dyan Cannon and Kris Kristofferson in 1992) because I'm half way in love with Barbara Stanwyck who plays Elizabeth Lane, the popular Smart Housekeeping columnist who dishes our mouth watering recipes and grand tales of a perfect country life. The only problem is that not only does she have no clue on how to find her way around a kitchen, but she doesn't have the husband, the farm in Connecticut, or the baby she's always talking about. In fact she lives in the middle of the city in a small but fashionable apartment. So needless to say when her publisher, who is a stickler for the truth, invities a war hero to her home for Christmas, Elizabeth finds herself in a jam.

Does she fess up and get fired, and her editor along with her? Well that was the original plan until her overbearing publisher, Mr. Alexander Yardley, convinces her to do it anyway. Lucky for us, if not her, she has a ready made solution in John Sloan, her would-be suitor who just can't take no for an answer. For you see he owns a farm in Connecticut and his housekeeper babysits for women who work in the war plant. The catch is that she has to agree to quit her job and marry him. Though she really doesn't want to, she does it for her editor, so he can keep his job at least.

With her Uncle Felix in tow, the real cook behind her columns, she heads up to the farm for Christmas and the fun really begins. The rest of the movie is one misadventure after another as the wedding keeps getting postponed and she starts to fall in love with the war hero, Jefferson Jones, that Mr. Yardley so kindly gave her for Christmas. Between wayward cows, stolen sleigh rides, and a "kidnapped" baby it's a miracle that the movie has the happy ending that you know is coming the entire time you are watching it. It's a heartwarming, Christmas comedy that makes me wish for a Christmas romance every time I watch it. It is now a staple in my home for Chrsitmas and throughout the year when I need a boost of romance in my life.

I want to thank Michelle for the oppotunity to share one of my favorite Christmas movies with her readers and I can't wait to see what she has in store for December.

Thank you to Ryan for sharing his love of Christmas and the wonderful movie "Christmas in Connecticut" with us today.  I know I enjoy it as much as he does (I won a copy of it from his giveaway last year) and I hope you will too!

Happy Christmas in July!

Always in spirit....

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Christmas in July...Weekend Craft Project #2

Here's another cool Christmas ornament craft, if you're not busy this weekend (it's too hot to be outside, that's for sure...100 degrees in Nashville today...ugh!) or bookmark it and come back closer to Christmas.


Family Name Ornament

What you'll need:

  • Wood alphabet letters to spell out last name
  • Acrylic paint: green, red, white, gold
  • Spool of gold ribbon
  • Acrylic sealer spray
  • White craft glue
  • Wax paper
How to make it:
  1. Line up the wood letters on the work surface, spelling out your last name.
  2. Paint the letters with green and red, alternating the two colors until all letters are painted. Add a second coat if needed. Let dry (see image).
  3. Use a toothpick dipped in gold or white paint to decorate each letter. Do some with polka dots, some with curly shapes, and others with stripes. Let dry (see image).
  4. Have an adult take the letters to a well-ventilated area and spray all of them with acrylic sealer, then let dry.
  5. Lay out a piece of waxed paper on to the work surface.
  6. Turn letters over and use a generous amount of white craft glue to attach ribbon hangers to the backs of the letters. Place letters, right side up, onto the waxed paper. Gently press down and let the glue dry completely.
  7. When dry, carefully and slowly peel the letters off of the waxed paper.
  • Wood letters are available at your local craft store.
  • Use colors that match your tree’s theme. Some nice combinations include red & green, ice blue & white, red & gold, and silver & blue.
  • Always check sales after each holiday as you will find some fabulous crafty bargains on theme and holiday colored supplies!

There is still time to contribute a guest post to Christmas in July...there are seven days left in July! Just email your contribution to me at

Happy Christmas in July!

Always in Spirit...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Christmas in July GIVEAWAY!


In honor of Christmas in July and because I am The True Book Addict, I am having a two book giveaway! There will be two winners!

The first one is a brand new hardcover edition of The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck.  I have not read this book (for personal reasons), but I have heard from others that it's a good book.

Description from Goodreads:

If you could change your life by reversing your biggest regrets, sorrows and mistakes...would you? New York Times bestselling author and renowned rad...more If you could change your life by reversing your biggest regrets, sorrows and mistakes...would you? New York Times bestselling author and renowned radio and television host Glenn Beck delivers an instant holiday classic about boyhood memories, wrenching life lessons, and the true meaning of the gifts we give to one another in love. We weren't wealthy, we weren't poor -- we just were. We never wanted for anything, except maybe more time together....When Eddie was twelve years old, all he wanted for Christmas was a bike. Although his life had gotten harder -- and money tighter -- since his father died and the family bakery closed...Eddie dreamed that somehow his mother would find a way to have his dream bike gleaming beside their modest Christmas tree that magical morning. What he got from her instead was a sweater. "A stupid, handmade, ugly sweater" that young Eddie left in a crumpled ball in the corner of his room. Scarred deeply by the realization that kids don't always get what they want, and too young to understand that he already owned life's most valuable treasures, that Christmas morning was the beginning of Eddie's dark and painful journey on the road to manhood. It will take wrestling with himself, his faith, and his family -- and the guidance of a mysterious neighbor named Russell -- to help Eddie find his path through the storm clouds of life and finally see the real significance of that simple gift his mother had crafted by hand with love in her heart. Based on a deeply personal true story, The Christmas Sweater is a warm and poignant tale of family, faith and forgiveness that offers us a glimpse of our own lives -- while also making us question if we really know what's most important in them.

The second book is a gently used (I hope), hardcover edition (again, I hope) that I am receiving from BookMooch, Twas the Night Before:  A Love Story by Jerry B. Jenkins.  I read this several years ago and I really liked it so I keep a copy in my Christmas book collection.

Description from Fantastic Fiction:

Noella, a journalism professor at Northwestern University, and Tom, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, are engaged to be married. As Christmas approaches, though, they come up against a basic difference in temperaments. When Noella insists that a medallion she received as a child was actually from Santa Claus, Tom bah-hum-bugs it. However, while in Germany on assignment to write about the Father of Christmas, Tom makes a discovery that restores his faith in much more than Santa.  'Twas The Night Before is a spellbinding love story that will join O. Henry's Gift of the Magi, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and Frank Capra's film It's a Wonderful Life as a Christmas classic that will bring romance, good cheer, and hope to the season.

Giveaway guidelines (tried to make them as easy as possible):
  • Open to U.S. residents only.  I'm sorry, but my finances at this time only allow for domestic mailing.
  • You do not have to be a follower to enter, but please look around the site.  You might want to follow, if you like what you see!
  • You will get ONE extra entry if you share this in some way...Facebook, Twitter, sidebar (there is a fancy new share tab at the bottom of each post that makes it a little easier).  You MUST leave a link to wherever you shared...thanks! But only ONE extra entry so don't feel like you have to share it everywhere. =O)
  • You MUST include your email address.  I will notify the winners and they will have 48 hours to get back to me with their mailing information.
  • Please leave all information in ONE comment and indicate which book you would like to win.
  • Giveaway ends on July 31, 2010 at 11:59 pm.  I will choose the winners via and I will announce the winners on August 1st.

Happy Christmas in July!

Always in spirit....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Opinions Please...and an announcement!

I changed the background! What do you think?  Opinions please.  Personally, I love elegant! Also, I added more music to the player.  It is located at the bottom, if you want to check it out...or you can just listen awhile.

Stay tuned because later today or tonight I will be announcing the Christmas in July giveaway.  Of course, it's going to be books, but I can't tell you which ones until I do the official giveaway post so be sure to check back.

There are only 10 days left in July (not counting today) so just a reminder that I'm still looking for guest posts.  If you have any questions or you know what you would like to contribute, email it to me at 

Happy Christmas in July!

Always in spirit....

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Christmas in July...Weekend Craft Project

Since it's the weekend and many of you might have some free time, I thought I would share another wonderful Christmas craft I found.  And if you don't have time now, come back closer to Christmas or even do it on the next Rudolph Day!

Also, a reminder.  Would like to contribute a guest post for Christmas in July?  This can be anything...a Christmas book or movie review, share a favorite Christmas memory, share a favorite Christmas poem or excerpt from a favorite book, a recipe, a craft...pretty much anything goes! Please email me your contribution to  Hope to hear from you.  Thanks!

Miniature Presents*

What you'll need:
  • Wooden cubes
  • Acrylic paint in festive colors
  • Festive ribbon
  • White craft glue
How to make it:
  1. Paint each cube with desired color. Let dry.
  2. If you like, make polka dots on your cube using a toothpick dipped in paint. Let dry (see image).
  3. Cut a piece of ribbon about 12 inches long. Find the center of the ribbon and place a painted cube onto it. Wrap the ribbon around the cube as you would a regular present.
  4. Tie the ends into a bow, and then double knot the bow.
  5. Take the two open ends of the ribbon and bring the up together, tie in a knot at the top to create the hanger.
  6. Use a few dots of white glue to secure the ribbon to the cube.
  • Wood cubes are available at your local craft supply store.
  • Let children pick whatever colors they like for the paint, festive or holiday colors are not a requirement!
  • If you prefer to make this a recycling project, use small boxes, such as a toothpick box.
*craft idea was obtained from kaboose

Hope you enjoy it! This is definitely one I will be doing this year.

Happy Christmas in July!

Always in spirit...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Christmas Book Releases for 2010

Here are some great new Christmas books coming out this fall...I'm psyched!

A Piggly Wiggly Christmas by Robert Dalby (November 25, 2010)

Christmas is especially festive in the small Delta town of Second Creek, Mississippi.

When the big MegaMart off the interstate starts to drain away business from Second Creek's historic town square, Laurie Lepanto approaches the mayor, Hale Dunbar-previously the proprietor of Second Creek's Piggly Wiggly supermarket-with a scheme to revitalize the area.

But when an electrical fire devastates the square's beautiful old buildings a week before Christmas, everything is thrown into chaos. It falls to the town's indefatigable army of matrons-the Nitwitts-to find a way to revive the holiday spirit and raise money to rebuild. It will take a miracle... But it's Christmas in Second Creek, where everyday miracles are a way of life.

The Christmas Chronicles: The Legend of Santa Claus by Tim Slover (November 2, 2010)

Just in time for the holidays comes a heartwarming and irresistible Christmas story---the true and complete history of Santa Claus---sure to delight fans of Richard Paul Evans and inspire people of all ages looking for a little holiday spirit.

Christmas with Tucker by Greg Kincaid (November 2, 2010)

From the author of A Dog Named Christmas.  No description available at this time, but this is a prequel to the previous book.

On Christmas Eve:  A Cape Light Novel by Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer (Nov. 2, 2010)

Lucy and Charlie's relationship has been on the rocks, but just as Lucy's about to call it quits, a runaway teenager crosses her path. It turns out this girl has been shuffled from home to home and has decided to make her own destiny-landing in Cape Light. Lucy takes her in despite Charlie's protests. This could be the thing that makes or breaks their frayed relationship...

With a grown son embarking on his own life, and an ex-husband starting a new family, Betty realizes it's time to find a partner of her own. Then Santa bears an unexpected gift at the Rotary Club's Christmas party: himself. Beyond the red suit and the padding, she notices a twinkle in his eye. Has the holiday cheer gone to her head, or is she really attracted to a struggling magazine writer who plays dress-up? But things aren't always as they seem, especially in Cape Light-and unless Betty realizes that good things come in different packages, she risks Santa passing over her this Christmas.

Carolina Christmas: Archibald Rutledge's Enduring Holiday Stories edited by Jim Casada (Nov. 1, 2010)

Carolina Christmas collects for the first time holiday stories of Archibald Rutledge (1883-1973), one of the most prolific outdoor and nature writers of the twentieth century and the first poet laureate of South Carolina. Some of Rutledge's finest writing revolves around his vivid memories of hunt, hearth, and holidays. These memories are celebrated in this keepsake collection of enduring stories and poems, further augmented with traditional recipes and food lore associated with the season.

Archibald Rutledge spent decades teaching at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. All the while he supplemented his income through his writings in order to support a growing family and restoration efforts at Hampton Plantation, his ancestral home in coastal South Carolina--now a state historic site. Each Christmas, Rutledge returned to his cherished Hampton Plantation for hunting, celebrations of the season, and renewal of his decidedly Southern soul. This annual migration home meant the opportunity to enjoy hunting and communion with nature--so vitally important to him--and to renew acquaintances with those living on neighboring plantations and with the African American community he immortalized in his book God's Children.

Rutledge wrote dozens of stories and poems revolving around the Hampton Hunt, fellowship with family and friends, the serenity of the winter woods, and his appetite for seasonal Southern foodways. Edited by Jim Casada, this collection highlights the very best of Rutledge's holiday tales in a vibrant tapestry through which Christmas runs as a bright, sparkling thread. In these tales of Christmas past--each representative of the author's sterling literary reputation and continuing popularity--Rutledge guides us once more into a world of traditions now largely lost. But to tread those forgotten trails once more, to sample and savor the foods he loved, and to experience vicariously the sport he so enjoyed is to experience the wonder of yesteryear. 

The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas by Lauren Willig (Oct. 28, 2010)

****my most anticipated Christmas release...squeeee...can't wait****

description from Goodreads:

Arabella Dempsey’s dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls’ school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies…

Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh—often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation—has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French, “Meet me at Farley Castle”, the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens’ modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate 12-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? And is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?

The Christmas Journey by Donna VanLiere (Oct. 26, 2010)

For one solid month Christmas is everywhere. You can’t miss it. The celebration stretches from one end of the globe to the other. Other holidays receive a one-day recognition but Christmas is one-twelfth of the calendar year. There are stores, books, movies, songs and careers that are dedicated to Christmas. All because of one unassuming birth.

Because of this birth history is divided into BC (before Christ) and AD (anno Domini, in the year of the Lord). Every event in history is dated around this birth. The 80-mile journey of a common carpenter and a simple peasant girl is one of the most powerful stories in history. As books go out of print and stories fade from memory the journey of Joseph and Mary and her delivery inside a common barn continues to bless and inspire hope in people around the world.

A Christmas Odyssey:  A Novel by Anne Perry (Oct. 26, 2010)

Once again, the distinguished mathematician Henry Rathbone is approached to help solve a mystery. This time, the call comes from an old friend whose son has gone missing--and just before the Christmas holiday. Now in his early twenties, Lucien has known trouble for some time and has often fallen victim to the vices of drugs, alcohol and women. Thus, his father now fears the worst.

Henry's first thought is to enlist the help of Hester, since her work in the East End clinic might prove useful. However, when he calls in at the clinic, the first person he meets is their old friend, Squeaky Robinson, who says he mustn't involve a good woman in this kind of search, and volunteers himself instead. Henry agrees and, joined by Crow, a young doctor at the clinic, the pair trawls the pubs, brothels and opium dens of the West End, which in some ways are even worse than those in the East. After all, these establishments cater to people with money, and as a result the entertainment procured is more extreme and dangerous.

The trio finds a young barmaid who actually knows Lucien and who insists on coming to help them, and through their sleuthing, they find even more troubling information about the missing youth: he had become obsessed with a woman called Sadie, and had begun working for a major drugs dealer.

Eventually, the group finds Lucien on the streets, but badly injured following a vicious knife-fight. He asks them to let him die: he's beyond redemption. But of course, they refuse to do this and instead patch him up and nurse him, all-the-while still wondering about the elusive Sadie. The only clue to her whereabouts seems to be a pool of dried blood.

Eventually they learn Sadie's sad truth--a tale of prostitution and murder. But just as this comes to light, the detectives' own situation becomes increasingly dire. The drug baron is not a man to be toyed with and Rathbone and his friends quickly realize he has them trapped, confined to a labyrinth of underground passages and alleyways.

Finally, with nothing left to lose, Lucien embarks on an act of bravery and self-sacrifice that will ultimately save all their lives and reunite father and son for a much-deserved Christmas celebration.
Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop edited by Otto Penzler (Oct. 12, 2010)

Each year, for the past seventeen years, Otto Penzler, owner of the legendary Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, has commissioned an original story by a leading mystery writer. The requirements were that it be a mystery/ crime/suspense story, that it be set during the Christmas season, and that at least some of the action must take place in The Mysterious Bookshop. These stories were then produced as pamphlets, 1,000 copies, and given to customers of the bookstore as a Christmas present.

Now, all of these stories have been collected in one volume—Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop. Some of the tales are humorous, others suspenseful, and still others mystifying. This charming one-of-a-kind collection is a perfect Christmas gift, appropriate for all ages and tastes.

Contributors include:

Charles Ardai
Lisa Atkinson
George Baxt
Lawrence Block
Mary Higgins Clark
Thomas H. Cook
Ron Goulart
Jeremiah Healy
Edward D. Hoch
Rupert Holmes
Andrew Klavan
Michael Malone
Ed McBain
Anne Perry
S. J. Rozan
Jonathan Santlofer
Donald E. Westlake

The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story by Patti Callahan Henry (Oct. 12, 2010)

Jimmy Sullivan has been living on the road with his brother, Jack, and his band The Unknown Souls. Without a place to call home, Jimmy and Jack lead a nomadic life filled with music and anonymous cities. When they return to a place Jimmy never wants to see again—their old hometown of Seaboro, South Carolina—he falls in love with Charlotte Carrington.

With his soul now filled with hope, Jimmy writes his first love song. When he performs it at a holiday concert to a standing ovation, the lyrics are dubbed the “Perfect Love Song,” so much so that Jimmy finds himself going on tour with famous country music stars, catapulted into a world where the trappings of fame and fortune reign supreme.

All too soon, the hope that had once inspired Jimmy to write such beautiful, genuine lyrics is overshadowed by what the song can do for him and his career. In his thirst for recognition, he agrees to miss Jack’s wedding in Ireland to sing at a Christmas Eve concert. And his ties to Charlotte seem to be ever so quickly slipping away.

Alone in New York City on Christmas Eve, Jimmy finally sees—with the help of a Christmas miracle or two—that his material gains are nothing compared to love, that he is losing all that really matters in his life. Is it too late to find his way to Ireland, to his brother, and to love?

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball: A Novella by Donita K. Paul (Oct. 5, 2010)

Can mysterious matchmaking booksellers bring two lonely hearts together in time for Christmas?

In a sleepy, snow-covered city, Cora Crowder is busy preparing for the holiday season. Searching for a perfect gift, a fortuitous trip to Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad’s (a most unusual bookshop) leads to an unexpected encounter with co-worker Simon Derrick. And the surprise discovery of a ticket for a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas Ball.

Every year, the matchmaking booksellers of the Sage Street bookshop host an enchanting, old-fashioned Christmas Ball for the romantic matches they’ve decided to bring together.

This year, will Simon and Cora discover a perfect chemistry in their opposite personalities and shared faith? Or will the matchmakers’ best laid plans end up ruining everything this holiday? 

Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson (Oct. 1, 2010)

Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless, and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life after false accusations landed her in prison, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent. When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret? This tender story about fresh starts will charm readers as all of Melody Carlson's Christmas offerings do. Full of redemption and true holiday spirit, Christmas at Harrington's will be readers' newest Christmas tradition.

Carol: A Story for Christmas by Bob Hartman (Aug. 1, 2010)

Jack O'Malley hates shopping,snow, and even Christmas. All three at once is Jack's idea of a very bad day. Storming into a Starbucks seeking escape, Jack runs smack into a beautiful and mysterious stranger, almost knocking her over and unintentionally changing his life forever. In this one moment his entire life—who he once was, who he is, and who he has the potential to become—flashes before his eyes. In this humorous rendering of Charles Dickens' classic tale, timeless lessons are reexamined through the lens of modern society. The result is funny, moving, and ultimately thought-provoking.

*all descriptions are from unless otherwise noted.

Which titles are you looking forward to?

Happy Christmas in July!

Always in spirit...

Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 TV Christmas Movies

2010 New Christmas Movies (obtained from the It's a Wonderful Movie blog)  Be sure to check out their blog closer to Christmas for a complete schedule of Christmas television programming. 

(PLEASE NOTE: Titles of Movies below may change as filming and production takes place.)

Hallmark Channel -

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

The whimsical tale of a family trying to save the annual tradition...

Charley and Eileen Fox, together with their children, Hannah and Toby, find themselves on December 23 without a tree, presents or Christmas spirit. Like too many modern families, they have grown apart, too busy with their individual lives and schedules to spend time together, even on the holidays. All of this is about to change when, due to elf error, Santa sets out on the night before Christmas Eve and crashes on the roof of the Fox home. Santa’s sleigh is disabled, his magic gift bag is missing, and even worse, he has amnesia! Will Christmas be lost or can the Fox family come together and save Christmas and, in the process, their holiday traditions?

CAST:  unknown
Farewell Mr. Kringle

from Hallmark:

Christine Taylor (“The Brady Bunch Movie,” “Zoolander”) and Christopher Wiehl (“Jericho,” “Moonlight & Mistletoe”), star in “Farewell Mr. Kringle,” a heartwarming Hallmark Channel Original Movie about a skeptical journalist who is assigned to chronicle the 50th anniversary of Kris Kringle, a Santa Claus in the town of Mistletoe. As her involvement in the town grows, she begins to open up to the enchantment of Christmas and some other wonders of the season.

After 50 years, Mistletoe’s Santa Claus is hanging up his hat and Anna Walls (Christine Taylor), a magazine writer, is assigned to find out what makes this Santa tick. Having tragically lost her husband on Christmas Eve, Anna has become a nonbeliever. But with the help of Mark Stafford (Christopher Wiehl), a former cutthroat divorce lawyer turned compassionate bed and breakfast owner, she finds there is something magical about this particular Santa.

Through various conversations with the townspeople, Anna quickly discovers how much Kris Kringle means to the small town, and how much Christmas means to Kris Kringle. And having lost his wife years before in an automobile accident on the week of Christmas, he honors his wife by being Santa Claus all year long; therefore, he is the perfect person to show Anna the true meaning of Christmas! He brings so much joy and happiness to the town that they changed the name from Summerland to Mistletoe and renamed all the local shops and streets. Through his benevolence and altruism, he brings Christmas magic to everyone. All the while Mark recaptures more than just Anna’s Christmas spirit!

"Farewell Mr. Kringle" is being produced by Larry Levinson Productions. Larry Levinson, is the executive producer. Brian Gordon and Jim Wilberger are the producers. Kevin Connor ("The Wish List") is directing from a script written by Robert Tate Miller ("Secret Santa").

Call Me Mrs. Miracle

Doris Roberts returns to star in the sequel to the highly-rated "Debbie Macomber's Mrs. Miracle" which premiered on Hallmark Channel in December of 2009.

In the new movie, it's Christmas in New York City and Mrs. Merkle (Roberts) is a sassy saleswoman in a family-owned department store that could use a little holiday magic. She gets to work quickly selling the season's expected hot toy, the SuperRobot, for her new boss, Jake, who is micromanaged by his dad, JR.

But before long, she has things under control at the store but is also helping along a romance with Jake and Holly, a beautiful assistant to a fashion designer who's the legal guardian to her nephew, Gabe. Mrs. Miracle still has a lot work ahead of her, but she's planning on a wonderful Christmas for all.

Dan Wigutow, Michael M. Scott and Debbie Macomber are the executive producers. It is a Dan Wigutow Productions Film in association with KZ Productions Inc.
An Old-Fashioned Christmas

AN OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTMAS is a sequel to the highly-rated An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving starring Jacqueline Bisset.

from Hallmark:

This story follows the movie, An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving...

It's December 1870, and we pick up on the adventures of Mathilda "Tilly" Bassett and her rich grandmother Isabella, having toured some of Europe's cultural centers and are now arriving in Dublin for a month-long stay. Tilly's inner struggle is between being a society woman in-the-making and the Yankee farm girl that are her roots.

Isabella's mission is to expose Tilly to the world of letters; that's why she's bringing her to Dublin, to meet Ireland's poet laureate, the Earl of Shannon. But there's a saying throughout Ireland: "If you want to make God laugh, try making plans."

Joel Rice and Michael Prupas are the executive producers for Must Entertainment and Automatic Pictures production in association with WildRice Productions.

Annie Kringle's Year Off

from Hallmark:

ANNIE KRINGLE'S YEAR OFF is the story of Santa's Daughter, Annie Kringle, age 29, who, having spent her entire life in Santa's Village, gets a year's sabbatical to experience the outside world, and then decide if she would like to take over the family business upon her father's (the current Santa's) retirement.

Annie is in charge of Toy Manufacturing. She oversees the production and distribution of all toys and her division is a well-oiled machine. She is stellar at her job and while her parents don't want to lose her, they know that they must offer her this opportunity. Because of her father's tales, she chooses Los Angeles for her Christmas sabbatical, and soon the adventure begins.

Larry Levinson is the executive producer for Larry Levinson Productions.

Hoops & YoYo Animated Christmas Special

Hallmark’s popular online e-card characters Hoops and Yoyo will be starring in their own cable holiday Christmas Movie in the near future. Hallmark Channel is developing a new animated movie featuring the cute, Helium-voiced pink and green duo as part of its effort to beef up its original programming fare. In addition, Hoops & yoyo will continue hosting the channel's "Movie Night" during this year's upcoming Christmas Season. The characters will entertain viewers with their own fun “Do's and Don’ts" for the season as interstitials.


Bob Holt ... Yoyo’s voice
Mike Adair ... Hoop's voice
Bev Carlson ... Piddle's voice
? ... Little Brown Bear
? ... Marshy's voice

These sound like some great movies! I'm really looking forward to watching.

Happy Christmas in July!

Always in spirit...