Posted on December 13, 2012 - by Regina
“Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling too . . . . “
Christmas is upon us! In less than two weeks, the presents will be opened, the parties and family dinners will be attended, and the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ will be celebrated!
So, if you love all things Christmas, you want to get your hands on some great Christmas reading, right? Of course! And this year, Janice Hanna (who also writes under the name Janice Thompson) has blessed us with her first Christmas-themed novel, Sleigh Belles, book 2 of her “Belles and Whistles” series.
Here’s a blurb . . . .
From Savannah to Montana…
In 1916, Southern belle Alanna Lessing travels to Montana on a mission—to rescue her older sister from the influence of suffragettes and bring her back home to Savannah where she belongs. Alanna fears that her sister, Margaret, has allowed herself to be swept away by these newfangled beliefs.
The Christmas season is drawing near, and sleigh bells are ringing among the snow-covered peaks. The charming town of Missoula begins to grow on Alanna, and so do a few of its inhabitants—particularly neighboring rancher Tanner Jacobs. Alanna takes it upon herself to turn Tanner into a true Southern gentleman. He plays along, in part because he likes being near her, and in part because he’s intrigued by her very different way of life. Will their differences bind their hearts, or forever keep them apart?
In true Janice Hanna Thompson style, romantic comedy and warm faith abounds in this fish-out-of-water tale. The author tackles a time and place infrequently visited – the wilds of Montana in the days leading up to WWI, during the suffrage movement that was growing in popularity in the Western states when it was still frowned upon in the more refined areas of the East Coast.
Can a rancher from Montana and a Southern Belle find common ground in the snowy west? Will Alanna’s traditional beliefs about the roles of women and the suffrage movement survive the winter? Can Tanner measure up to Alanna’s expectations of gentlemanly behavior – and can Alanna measure up to the expectations of a true woman of the frontier?
And do they want to measure up to the ideals of someone else, when they are each convinced that their way is the “right” way?
Hinging on all this is the question of the hour: Will Alanna succeed in convincing her sister and brother-in-law that the only place to raise their newborn child is the South, where things will be easier . . . or at least more genteel?
Read Sleigh Belles. If you want to read about a white Christmas that you probably won’t have, Montana is more than likely going to fit the bill. If you want to laugh, cry, and swoon, all in the same chapter sometimes, Sleigh Belles will definitely fit the bill.
Giveaway!!! We’re giving away one copy of Sleigh Belles this week! If you’ve commented on any of the posts from December 10-14, you’ll be in the drawing for your copy! We will contact the winner via email!
Posted on November 29, 2012 - by Regina
What is on my Christmas List? I must say, it’s an eclectic mix of books and other necessities of life.
FICTION: As the director of a small public library with a great Christian Fiction section (hey, I know my people!), one of the books I want for my very own is Tamera Alexander’s To Whisper Her Name, set in our most local Southern city of Nashville, TN, at real-life Belle Meade Plantation. The plantation house, formerly the homestead of a successful horse farm, can be toured today, and figured in the Civil War. Her last book, A Lasting Impression, was set at Nashville’s Belmont Mansion, the centerpiece of Belmont University.
NON-FICTION: “It’s Christmastime and time for a carol, time to sing about a little KING . . . .” And for me, the cooking juices and decorating juices start flowing big time at Christmas. I don’t do ANYTHING Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving, but when that Friday rolls around, shopping is not on my radar . . . DECORATING is! And making FUDGE! So, what do I like to read this time of year? Stuff with PICTURES and RECIPES!
For pictures, I’ve put Better Homes and Gardens ‘Best of’ Christmas Ideas on my list. Besides Pinterest (and don’t even get me started there), these kinds of books are my go-to for ideas and just simple eye-candy pleasure for the holidays!
Recipes? Who better than Ree Drummond, everyone’s favorite “Pioneer Woman?” The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from my Frontier is at the top of my list. I’ve been hinting around for a year now for this particular cookbook – and when I found that, I found some of her other books, too! Love her show. She exemplifies fish-out-of-water lifestyles and putting it all on the line for a brand new life that she LOVES.
I don’t JUST want books this year. Last night my husband tried to get me to give him some ideas of what to get me. That’s what spurred the Amazon “wish list” and got the juices flowing.
Before that, all I could think of was the following:
- Sewing machine for all those crafts I want to make that I never wanted to before Pinterest.
- HDMI cable to connect the laptop to the television for those times I miss CASTLE.
Happy wish-list making, and happy shopping!
Posted on November 15, 2012 - by Regina
You could say that books have been a very important part of my life for a long time.
As a preteen, I read the requisite Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, throw in a little “Meg” and “Donna Parker” for good series fodder, and of course the “Little House” books.
That was during my pioneer phase.
But the first book I can remember clamoring for? “The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew.”
It was third grade. My mom had talked all my life about that book that she read in elementary school that was simply her favorite.
“The Five Little Peppers” became my Holy Grail. In third grade, we FINALLY got to go beyond the picture book section of the K-12 library at our school. Our elderly librarian (OK, I don’t know just HOW old she was, but I thought she was ancient – especially when I found out she’d taught both my PARENTS, too) helped me find the chapter book and promptly told me that I couldn’t read that.
Couldn’t? or SHOULDN’T? Would it not interest me? Was I incapable?
I made it my goal in life, at that moment (picture brown curls, hands on hips, chin sticking out in determination) to READ THAT BOOK.
So I stubbornly held my ground. And I checked it out.
AND I READ IT.
And loved it.
I learned that day (well, a few days later, after I’d read it) that I loved stories of families long ago. This was even before my pioneer phase. It spurred me on to read those stories of a family that lived, loved, worked, and suffered together.
It’s one of the things I give thanks for every day. Books that teach children and adults what it is to love one another. To work side-by-side. To suffer consequences when things go wrong, and to come out on the other side loving one another even more.
That’s why I’m thankful for books.
Read “The Five Little Peppers.” And “Pollyanna” . . . and “Little Women” . . . and . . .
Posted on November 1, 2012 - by Regina
Names are hard.
Like Brenda, in yesterday’s post, we never knew that until we were expecting a child. Then it hits you.
I mean, when you name a child, you are placing a label on that child for LIFE, the same as naming a character. Of course, with a character, you can change it before publication if you like . . . the replacement feature works great for that.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. – William Shakespeare
For kids, not so much.
I read this quote from Proverbs: A good name is rather to be chosen over great riches. – King Solomon, Proverbs 22:1
No pressure there.
So, we chose a first and middle name that we could agree on. No small feat, that. We knew we wanted traditional. No androgynous names, no made-up names, etc. Pure Aglophile, that’s us. So we chose Emily (think Emily Dickenson for my English-teacher husband) Suzanne (the name I wish my plainer “Sue” had been).
Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry. – Bill Cosby
When number 2 came along, we had gotten sentimental in our old age, I guess, because we immediately came up with a great name that combined the middle names of BOTH our mothers! Why we didn’t think of that before, I’ll never know – but I think we made the right choices. Ellen (My mother-in-law’s middle name) Priscilla (my mother’s middle name and HER grandmother’s name) came to be.
Both names fit. Do children fit the names we give them, or are their names predestined? Hmmmm . . . deep questions.
And then there are character names. In my unpublished work, my main character is Sarah Jane Crawford. A good, straightforward Southern name. Her love interest? Jared Stuart Benton. Sarah’s best friend is Lucy Dixon. His best friend? Tom Livingston.
Now here’s a challenge for you, dear reader. What can you tell me about each of these four characters, simply from their names? Sorry, no prize involved except the bragging rights to your obvious gift of discernment.
Happy Thursday, folks!
Posted on October 4, 2012 - by Regina
I’ve been in a conundrum about which superhero to pick. I mean, after all, I love ‘em all. Well, just the good guys.
When I was a wee lassie, back in the early to mid-1970’s, they were everywhere. Saturday morning cartoons were filled with them! I loved the Justice League, Superman and Batman, and then when they started making live-action comics, I was in heaven! There was Shazam, and Isis! Finally! A girl superhero! (My dad loved to tease and called it “is-is.”)
Around that time came the Superman movies, and the really early Batman movies, then later regular-guy “Greatest American Hero.” But my favorite – my must-see-tv – was “Wonder Woman.”
She had those beautiful golden bracelets that could stop bullets. She had the golden lasso. She had the Invisible Airplane.
And she had Lyle Waggoner. I mean, what pre-pubescent girl in the 70’s didn’t know who HE was? Straight from playing the romantic leads in sketch comedy on “The Carol Burnett Show,” he flew into our hearts as Diana’s leading man when he crash landed in Amazonia.
Sigh . . .
So, beyond that, why did I connect with Wonder Woman? Was it the outfit? Uh, no, but Lynda Carter wore it well – as did Emily Deschanel in an episode of Bones (is that not freakishly just like the original?).
Was it the fact that she had all that neat STUFF? Nope.
She was a lady. In a time when being ladylike was going out of fashion and tough broads were coming into fashion, Wonder Woman maintained that elegance, that demeanor, that no matter how bad the situation or revealing her outfit was, no man was going to mess with her.
You know what? We all have the potential to be Wonder Woman!
Oh, and the superpower I would pick? Brenda featured it yesterday – S T R E T C H !!!!! I want to reach the stuff in the top cupboards without having to get a ladder!!
Posted on September 20, 2012 - by Regina
Superheroes of the Bible – it’s for sure Stephen would be one of my top pick. When you read the first 53 verses of Acts chapter 7, you can’t help but go, “Yeah!” or, “Preach on, Brother!” Stephen lays it all out there for the Jewish High Council after being falsely accused of blasphemy. He had performed many signs and miracles in the name of Jesus, but it wasn’t enough. It scared them.
He reminds them of where they came from – why do they even HAVE the jobs they HAVE? And, by the way, why are they treating their positions that were created by God Himself, like just that – a JOB? A status-symbol?
God spoke directly through Stephen. These religious leaders were transfixed, according to Acts 6:15, because his face became “as bright as an angel’s.”
They couldn’t look away. This was a man standing at Jesus’ feet, telling these learned men what God had done for them throughout their nation’s history. How God, through Jesus, had given them a WAY. THE way, THE truth, THE life.
But these men didn’t know Jesus as Stephen did. When he finished telling them of their spiritual heritage, he rebuked them, telling them that they were stubborn heathens and that they had disobeyed God’s law. For these guys, that was the last straw. THEY didn’t disobey the LAW, of all things!
Infuriated, they rushed at him, killing him – even while Stephen looked up into Heaven, seeing Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Throne of God. In death, there at Jesus’ feet, he reflected the love that Jesus has shown to us all. Mercy. Grace. Unmerited favor. He asked Jesus not to blame them for what they were doing. And from there, he went straight to the arms of Jesus.
As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died. Acts 7:59-60 NLT
There was a young man on the sidelines – his name was Saul. He watched the coats of the accusers while they stoned this man of God. He went on to lead many against men like Stephen, but one day, on a lonely road to Damascus, he was struck with a great light – not unlike the one that was reflected in Stephen’s face those years before – and taken straight to the feet of Jesus, where he had his name, and his very LIFE changed. That early episode with Stephen must have crossed his mind many times as he spread the Good News of Jesus.
Today, in Heaven, I have a feeling that Stephen and Paul find much in common, as they sit together, basking in the light . . . at the feet of Jesus.
Will you meet me there?
Posted on September 6, 2012 - by Regina
Peggy was what our pastor-at-the-time called “a good Christian dog.” If ever a dog exuded the fruits of the spirit as listed in Galatians 5 – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – Peggy would be that dog.
She came into my life in March of 1976 for my twelfth birthday and my sister’s 5th birthday (our birthdays are just 10 days apart). My 32-passenger yellow school bus rumbled to a dusty stop on our red-gravel road, and the first thing I saw was my sister, frolicking in the front yard with a ball of black and white puppy fir. A total surprise! My cousin leaned out the bus window (they were all down, of course!), and yelled, “Hey Gina! Is that y’all’s dog?” To which I could just give an excited, but confused, shrug before the bus roared off to the next stop.
Granddaddy had brought us A Border Collie. We’d had a Border Collie a few years earlier, and he was a wonderfully exciting handful that loved, more than anything, to escape from his backyard pen! But Peggy. Sigh. Peggy was a part of the family from the very beginning.
She would bark at anyone who drove up in the driveway, but as we all said, a kind word and she’d show a burglar to the family silver (if there WAS any!). She traveled with us when we moved to Indiana for three years, and then with my parents and sister when they lived in Wyoming for a year. She was a well-traveled dog, and never complained.
Have you ever seen a dog blush? I think I saw Peggy do that at least once, when she literally slipped and fell down in the snow! I never saw such a sheepish look on a dog in my life!
There have been other dogs in my life – Sadie, the neighbor dog that walked through any wet cement she could find and was the bane of our OTHER neighbor’s existence. Rex, that first Border Collie that loved 7-up and popcorn, and ate a whole box of Ding-Dongs one night (even unwrapping the aluminum foil from around them!). Bingo, the first dog of MY family, who adopted us when Emily was just four, and was by Todd’s side as much as possible.
They were all special, but Peggy was that one dog of a lifetime. The puppy of my youth. The one dog that truly exemplified what unconditional love WAS and IS.
Posted on August 9, 2012 - by Regina
When I knew that this round of blog posts had to do with books we were anticipating for fall, little did I know that I would have the privilege of reading them EARLY! I can fully endorse all three of the books on this list – 2 of which I have read, and one of which is sitting on my nightstand as we speak!
Last week I read Laura Frantz’ September release, Love’s Reckoning, Book 1 of the Ballantyne Legacy series. I have longed for Laura to delve into series books because I can never stand for her books to end. This one ends – but there is promise of SO MUCH MORE! You will sigh. You will laugh. You will be angry. And you will speak with a Scottish brogue for a few days after putting it down. On top of all that, you will keep thinking about it, and about what can possibly come next!
Here’s what the back cover says -
On a bitter December day in 1784, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of blacksmith Liege Lee in York County, Pennsylvania. Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship quickly and move west. But because he is a fast worker and a superb craftsman, Liege endeavors to keep him in York by appealing to an old tradition: the apprentice shall marry one of his master’s beautiful daughters.
Eden is as gentle and fresh as Elspeth is high-spirited and cunning. But are they truly who they appear to be? In a house laced with secrets, each sister seeks to secure her future. Which one will claim Silas’s heart–and will he agree to Liege’s arrangement?
In this sweeping family saga, one man’s choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come. This is the Ballantyne Legacy.
Also to be released on September 1, I just received the advance copy of Shelley Shepard Gray’s Found, Book 3 of the “Secrets of Crittenden County” series, and I cannot WAIT to dive in. A contemporary Amish mystery, the entire series – set in my own home area of Crittenden County, in Kentucky – takes place in about three week’s time. You can imagine that getting my hands on the conclusion hasn’t come a moment too soon!
If you’d like to visit Crittenden County and meet Shelley, she will be appearing at the Crittenden County Public Library on Saturday, September 8, 2012!
Here’s what the back blurb has to say -
A murder is solved and a quiet Amish community must deal with the repercussions. Amid the surprising revelations, can a new-found love survive?
As the search for Perry Borntrager’s killer continues, Jacob Schrock feels like his world is about to crumble. Right before Perry went missing, he and Jacob got into a fistfight. Jacob never told anyone what happened that terrible night. He’s good at keeping secrets—including his love for Deborah, Perry’s sister. But when Deborah takes a job at his family’s store and their friendship blossoms, Jacob senses everything is about to be revealed.
Deborah has been searching for a slice of happiness ever since her brother’s body was discovered. When the police start questioning Jacob, Deborah can’t believe that the one person she’s finally allowed in could be the one responsible for her brother’s death. Will she believe what everyone seems to think is the truth . . . or listen to her heart, and hope there is still one more person who is keeping secrets in Crittenden County?
And I’ll veer off of Fall offerings for a moment to bring you an amazing book by Love Inspired author Sandra Robbins, a member of my Ken-Tenn Writers’ Group! She has taken a beloved slice of the Smokey Mountains and created characters that I want to get to know! Released August 1, this book should be available wherever Christian Fiction is sold.
A little about this book -
In the first book in the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, acclaimed author Sandra Robbins weaves a tale of love, loss, and God’s faithfulness in every circumstance.
Anna Prentiss has never wanted to be anything but a nurse. Before she can start school in New York, however, her brother sends her to Cades Cove, deep in the Smoky Mountains, to spend a summer apprenticing to the local midwife. Anna is determined to prove herself and then head to the big city.
But nothing could have prepared Anna for the beauty of the Cove, or the community and friendships she finds there. And she certainly wasn’t prepared for Simon Martin, the handsome young minister, or the feelings he arouses in her. Has God’s plan for Anna changed? Or is she just starting to hear Him clearly?
Posted on July 26, 2012 - by Regina
Someone who has made an impact on me. Sounds like an easy-enough task, doesn’t it?
My life has been, and continues to be, filled with people who made a difference to me. Today, however, I find myself going back to my childhood to someone who has continued to make a difference in my life.
Yes, I said childhood. You see, Margaret Ellen Stroube Merrick and her husband, James Huell Merrick were my own parents’ Sunday School teachers, when they were in high school. They were that young couple with a cute little red-haired baby, and later a sweet little dark-haired baby, that attended my parents’ wedding. In fact, with two toddlers in tow, they were a little late for the wedding, so they delayed the start until they could get there.
The next year, about the time I was born, they had a third little boy who became one of my classmates. As I grew into little-girlhood, their oldest son was my ideal for what an older brother would be like. He never ignored me, never made fun or pushed me to the side. Instead, he laughed with me and played with us little kids. The middle son? Well, he was nice, too. The younger was my first boyfriend, at age five. It ended there, as well.
I always looked to Margaret as a fun, happy person who loved me, and was the mother of one of my classmates. She went back to school and earned her teaching degree, and always said that she would teach even if they didn’t pay her. When I was in third grade, she was my Sunday School teacher, and I will never forget that year. She had us memorize scripture, visit the sick, and learn more about a walk with God that we didn’t even realize we were learning at the time.
In sixth grade, my dream came true. Margaret, or Mrs. Merrick, then, became my homeroom teacher! I can honestly say that she is one of two or three teachers that I still look to as my all-time-favorites. She made learning fun – and read us a Bible story every day. Not the BIBLE, mind you, but a Bible STORY. She was sneaky like that.
When I was a young teen, she began taking a group of us to visit a nursing home on a regular basis. She showed us how to show compassion to the elderly by simply being there with our youthful countenance and listening as they told us stories and tried to make US laugh.
About that time, I started noticing that middle son of hers. When Todd and I started dating, I was no longer one of her students, so I had to learn to call her “Margaret” again. Would you believe I spent the first two years of our dating life not calling her anything? It just felt funny.
Now, nearly thirty years later, I call her Mee-Maw, because she became one of two wonderful grandmothers to my amazing daughters. She prays for us all, attends sporting events and arts events for her seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, works with children in her church, and visits the sick and those in the nursing home.
Yes, she made an impact on me from a very early age. So when I think of Hebrews 12:1-3, I think of my friend, my teacher, my mentor, and my mother-in-law.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Don’t you just love that “great cloud of witnesses?” I know I do!
Posted on June 28, 2012 - by Regina
What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.
–A. A. Milne
Potatoes are my favorite vegetable, year-round .
Factoids off the top of my head about potatoes: They are tubers. They are laden with starch and carbohydrates. They fit together with butter and sour cream like nobody’s business. Alton Brown devoted an entire episode of Good Eats to the humble potato. At one point in history, the Irish economy was based on potatoes, and when a blight hit the potato, it hit the entire country, starving people to death. Nearby Benton, KY has an annual “Tater Day” to celebrate when area farmers used to bring the potato crop into town to sell. The potato even got newsworthy in the 90’s when our vice president had a problem spelling it. (Darn those words ending with a vowel!). You can bake ‘em, boil ‘em, roast ‘em, fry ‘em, smash ‘em, mash ‘em, garlic ‘em, and cover them with cheese.
Yes, they’re important.
My family has loved potato salad forever, and when warmer weather beckons, we welcome the first batch of the summer season.
Here’s the simple Rudd Family Recipe:
Mom’s Potato Salad
8 medium potatoes
6 eggs, boiled and chopped
2 large dill pickles, chopped
¼ c onion, diced
1 ½ – 2 cups mayonnaise
Instructions: (remember, I’m just typing it like I would be telling you!)
Cut up your potatoes in ½-1-inch squares. Cover with water to boil. I always put some salt in the water (probably about a teaspoon or more), and a couple of tablespoons of butter or margarine. Boil until cooked, but not over done, maybe about 10 minutes, depending on the potatoes. Drain well when done, and put in a large mixing bowl.
Chop your boiled eggs, dill pickles, and onion. Mix these ingredients with your potatoes, and add the mayonnaise.
Serve warm, or chill and serve cold.
If you like other spices, go for it. My main goal is to not have mustard in my salad, but if you like it, who am I to say “NAY?” Mom sometimes puts ranch dressing for part of the mayonnaise, which is yummy, and I like my pickles tiny, but everyone else likes big chunks. When I was little, it was always sweet pickles instead of dill, but somehow as we got older, dill became the pickle of choice.
So potato salad is important, as I said. My husband and daughters can whip up a batch without a recipe, and it tastes as good as mine and Mom’s
Well, a couple of weeks ago, I came across a recipe on the Internet, via Pinterest. I tried it. We LIKED it, so I’ll SHARE it!
8 medium potatoes
1 tsp. seasoning salt
10 slices bacon, cooked crisp, drained, crumbled
8 green onions, sliced
2 C. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
16 oz. sour cream (light works well)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 C. mayonnaise
1 tsp. garlic salt
2 tsp. prepared mustard
1. Boil potatoes until perfectly tender. Drain and allow to cool to warm– they shouldn’t be hot enough to melt the cheese.
2. Peel (if desired– I like to leave the peel on) and cube potatoes and place in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with seasoning salt. Mix gently.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together the sour cream, pepper, mayo, garlic salt, and mustard.
4. Add bacon, onion, and cheese to the potatoes. Mix gently. Stir in the dressing mixture.
5. Cover and refrigerate this 4th of July picnic recipe at least 3 hours before serving.
And yes, I even left the mustard in this time. If you want a potato salad experience that rivals the best of “loaded baked potato” flavors, this is IT!
Happy Summer, everyone. May your tea have plenty of ice, and your potato salad have JUST ENOUGH mustard – but not too much!