December 17, 2014

Christmas Tea Party Ideas

One of my favorite traditions at Christmas is to have a tea party with our daughters and those who are special to us. Here are some recipe ideas for you to try. Enjoy the moments . . . 

CLICK HERE for more tea party recipe ideas. 

December 15, 2014

Book Preview ~ Winter Brides

Happily ever after begins today. The honor of your presence is requested at three winter weddings . . .
A December Bride by Denise Hunter
When Layla O'Reilly and Seth Murphy make their engagement public, she knows it's only to convince a major client that she's high-society enough to work for his agency. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, but she’s never given him the time of day. For Layla, this romantic illusion is the chance to save her career. And for Seth, it's the chance to finally win her heart.
A January Bride by Deborah Raney
Novelist Madeleine Houser arranges a temporary office in a local bed and breakfast to escape the distracting renovations on her own house. Although she's never laid eyes on the inn's owner, an unlikely friendship blossoms between them as they leave daily notes for each other, and before long, Maddie finds herself falling for her mysterious host—a man likely many years her senior—and a man she's never even met.
A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant
History repeats itself when Allie Andrews escapes the church on her wedding day—wearing the same dress passed down for generations of women in her family, all women with histories of failed marriages. Allie loves Marcus but fears she's destined to repeat her family's mistakes. When thrown unexpectedly together for a wedding months later, Allie and Marcus discover their own story might be far from over.
Purchase the book HERE. 

December 12, 2014

This Week's Recipes

Here are this week's new additions at Country at Heart Recipes. Enjoy your weekend! 

Rhonda Gibson's Recipe for Simple Pecan Pie

December 10, 2014

Hallmark and the Holidays

Every year when the holidays come around, I find myself looking forward to snuggling up with a blanket and a cup of tea or hot cocoa to watch a favorite Hallmark movie. What is it about Hallmark and the Holidays? 

Is it the feel-good music that accompanies each movie? Or the heart-warming commercials between scenes? Or maybe it's just knowing that when you reach the end, you'll sigh in contentment at the satisfying conclusion. 

Our oldest daughter and I always visit about the Hallmark movies we've watched. She loves them just as much as I do!  Here are a few Hallmark movies we've enjoyed through the years. 

The Christmas Card - Always a Favorite
A Dog Named Christmas
A Very, Merry Mix Up

A Season for Miracles
Mrs. Miracle
A Princess for Christmas

The Magic of Ordinary Days
Come Dance with Me
Sara, Plain and Tall (Probably our very favorite Hallmark movie)

What Hallmark movies have you seen lately? Do you have a favorite?

December 8, 2014

Book Preview ~ Evergreen

Evergreen, by Susan May Warren

An empty nest has Ingrid Christiansen dreading the upcoming holidays, but her husband, John, couldn't be more excited about this new season of life. He even has a surprise trip abroad planned. He's sure she'll love it. What's more romantic than Christmas in Paris?Before he can stop her, however, Ingrid agrees to spearhead a major church project. Then their faithful dog, Butterscotch, needs emergency surgery, draining their savings. And then-because disasters strike in threes-an unexpected guest arrives, dredging up old hurts.As a beautiful blanket of snow transforms the north woods into a winter wonderland, a deep chill settles over John and Ingrid's marriage. With the holidays fast approaching, their only hope of keeping their love evergreen depends on turning the page on the past and embracing a new chapter of their future. Buy the book HERE. 

Growing up in Minneapolis and attending the U of MN, I learned to love city life, although
I'm a woodsy girl at heart. Or maybe I'm an adventurer -- having lived and traveled all over the world, including Siberia Russia as a missionary for eight years. Probably that's why my characters can't sit still, and seem to get into one scrape after another -- they're too much like me! I love God, my family, my country, my church, and feel privileged every day to be able to write stories, that I hope inspire and entertain! Learn more about Susan's books HERE.

December 5, 2014

This Week's Recipes

Here are this week's new additions at Country at Heart Recipes. Enjoy your weekend! 

Cookbook Preview ~ Taste of Home Christmas 2014

December 3, 2014

Christmas Traditions

This past weekend, we decorated our house for Christmas, and I thought it might be fun
 to share a few Christmas traditions. In our home, we have a few special traditions that we take part in -- tea parties, building gingerbread houses, baking cookies, collecting angel ornaments, and even playing tricks with Elf on the Shelf. Below are a few facts about Christmas traditions and how some of them began.  

Christmas Tree - originated in Germany in early 1500's. Some say it began with Martin Luther when he was out walking and came across 
a group of evergreens dusted with snow and shimmering in the moonlight. He then took a tree home to his children and decorated
it with small candles to honor Christ's birth.

Candy Canes - originated in Cologne, Germany in 1670 when a clergyman and choirmaster gave children hard white candy shaped with a shepherd's crook to keep the young quiet during church service.

Holly - Its sharp edges are symbolic of the crown of thorns worn by Jesus at his crucifixion. The red berries represent blood.

Santa Claus - originated with Saint Nicholas, a 4th century bishop and patron saint of children, who threw gifts to them through their windows. He began a feast day for children on December 6. The tradition of giving gifts also came from the wise men who brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

Nativity or Creche - said to have originated in 1223 by St. Francis of Assisi, who set up a manger scene in the woods for his people to commemorate the nativity of Jesus. Included in the scene was a manger, hay, an ox and donkey.

So, as we decorate our homes for the holidays, "may we never forget to see in our hearts the little Babe of Bethlehem who came to save us from our sins", and who is, after all, the one and only reason we celebrate this Holy Day.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:4-7
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