Author Lauralee Bliss Shares How She Prepares for a Less Stressful Holiday

Lauralee BlissAuthor Laurlee Bliss shared this article several years ago but it’s still timely–don’t you agree??

My guest today is Author Lauralee Bliss who gives us a lot of ways to simplify our Christmas preparations–which BTW are nearly upon us! Here’s Lauralee:

“As soon as I see the month of December looming, I must admit that a certain panic sets in. Oh, the amount of work to be done! Not only in gift buying for the family but wrapping the gifts, decorating, cards, cookies and parties, and of course, Christmas Day itself. Don’t you just get dizzy reading this? My head is already spinning….

Okay, so I take a deep breath. I am a brave and courageous woman, faced with a multitude of responsibilities. And I do thank my dear Lord for giving me organizational skills that can really be useful this time of year. Without them, I know I would never be able to accomplish it all. Everything I listed is important to me. But I refuse to stress over it. I take it one step at a time. After all, this is supposed to be a joyous time of year. So I look at the calendar and begin making plans.

Cards.

When do cards need to be done so people receive them on time? Order the cads (especially picture cards which are easy and come with signatures) now. Address envelopes while Christmas music is playing (that always soothes me). I order my cards online (like at Walmart.com) and have them shipped right to the store to save postage and time.

Decorating the house.

Decide how or what you need to do. If we are having a party at the house, for example, we take more time to decorate it thoughtfully. Another idea is to make decorating a party itself. Invite family and friends to participate or make it your own family tradition. Have the kids and dad decorate the outside while you and the girls tackle the inside. Make sure to have the Christmas music playing. Order pizza for dinner so you don’t have to worry about a meal.

Gifts.

I tend to shop all year ’round so hopefully most of my shopping is done. But I have also participated in an annual event at my church that is fun. The first Monday in December, the ladies pile into a minivan and head for the big shopping mall in Virginia for a day of shopping . What fun to be with others and get the shopping done, too. It’s a chance to fellowship and even brainstorm ideas for gifts.

Christmas cookies.

Are you going to a party? Then decide on some easy cookie recipes to make. Don’t try to make complicated cookies in difficult shapes and / or with fillings (unless you really want too, of course!). For me, time is precious. I love, for example, my old stand-by–

Betty Crocker’s Russian Tea Cakes (or I call them Mexican Wedding Cakes).

A simple yet elegant cookie for a cookie exchange or a party. The snow white color and delicate buttery flavor is wonderful. And they are so simple to make, with only a few ingredients.

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour
¾ cup finely chopped nuts
¼ teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar
1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
2. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.
5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

These are a few ideas to making the December madness a little less maddening and more joyous. But above all, take time to pamper yourself. Like picking up a good Christmas novel.”–Lauralee

Here’s Lauralee’s latest book.Click the cover for more info.–Lyn

 

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Interested in a Christmas Tea with a Favorite or a New to You Author?

 Christmas Tea with Author

Here’s the schedule

I’m participating in “A Christmas Tea with an Author” on Facebook. Here are the participating authors and days they will host the tea. which will include fun games and of course, PRIZES!

Dec 1 Sherri Preble Shackelford

Dec 4 Louise M Gouge

Dec 5 Karen Kirst

Dec 6 Winnie Duplessis Griggs

Dec 7 Janet Lee Barton

Dec 8 Keli Gwyn

Dec 11 Lyn Cote

Dec 12 Erica Vetsch

Here’s the link.  https://www.facebook.com/events/146905602613636/  Hope you’ll drop in during the tea. AND WIN BIG!

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Lyn Reviews Jan Karon’s At Home in Mitford

At Home in Mitford (Mitford Years, #1)

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you haven’t read any of the Mitford Novels, why not? No matter what your faith, you will love the people in that small NC mountain town. I gave it 4 stars because the beginning moves a bit slowly but Jan Karon knows how to scatter crumbs that keep you reading. And such a variety of characters: JC Hogan, Mule Skinner, Percy Mosely, Emma the church secretary, and on. They are unique and yet just like people you know in real life. I read this many years ago, but decided to read it again. It never fails to charm and inspire me. So go check out this book and start your “life” in Mitford.

View all my reviews

Here’s a large view of the cover, Click it if you’d like to purchase it.

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Want to Win a Google Home?

Well, I’ll admit it. I had no idea what a Google Home was but I think it’s like an Amazon Alexa.

Do you ever feel like you’re living in an episode of THE JETSONS? I don’t think I’m ready for a Google Home, but if you are–here’s a way to try to win one.

Win a Google Home

 

 

You might also be interested in some free and discounted books. I have one under Christian fiction. Here’s the link  Just click and see what’s happening. The offer ends 11/30/17. Let me know if you win!–Lyn

 

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WI Author Jolina Petersheim & Harvest Medley

Jolina Petersheim

My guest today is a fellow Wisconsinite, though a newbie. Driftless Region she mentions is a very beautiful and scenic farming area of Wisconsin and also is the location of the touristy Wisconsin Dells. Here’s Jolina:

Self-Sufficient lifestyle

I never knew I’d soon be attempting a “self-sufficient life” when I started writing my third book, The Alliance, which revolves around an Old Order Mennonite woman whose pacifist beliefs are called into question as she struggles to sustain her family in a post-Apocalyptic state.

But maybe God was trying to help me transition from our dream home in Tennessee to a solar-powered farm in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin. Regardless, I am grateful for this transition and for this new way of life.

Attempts to live efficiently

Here are a few ways we’re attempting to live “efficiently.”

For nine months (most of them in winter!), I’ve been hanging my clothes on the line.

Our water—in the summer—is heated by our solar-panels and is actually scorching if we don’t add cold.

I’ve started making my own yogurt with milk from a local dairy farm (who knew that an oven could be an incubator, ’cause I sure didn’t!).

My husband recently butchered our cornish X rocks (I was too chicken – pun! – so just stood around and watched); and for weeks now we’ve been harvesting a bounty of radishes, lettuce, beets, carrots, onions, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes.

Jolina Petersheim's garden veggies

Since I’ve been trying to live off our garden as much as possible, I will share one of my favorite (and very simple) recipes that our family’s been eating about twice a week this summer.

Harvest Medley

Beets have gotten a bad rap.

I, for one, know that I abhorred them as a child and quickly passed the relish tray whenever they were presented to me at Thanksgiving or Christmastime.

However, I love them roasted with sweet potatoes or carrots and red onions. Not only do they look beautiful together (all that vibrant color!), they are delicious and good for you!

First, you harvest the beets, carrots, and onions from the garden. (Sorry, Jolina, I live in the woods even a fence can’t keep the critters out! I tried.)

Keep a kitchen knife with you because it’s easier to hack off the leaves and toss them on your compost pile rather than dragging all that dirt into your house. (Raccoons eat my compost. Sigh…)

Scrub the beets and carrots free of more dirt and then peel.

Use a mandolin slicer to dice the veggies, but be careful not to nick your fingers (my husband can’t even watch me do this because I’ve had one too many close calls!).

Layer the veggies on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, maple syrup (if you want the beets more sweet than savory), sea salt, and pepper.

Convention bake at 375 degrees for one hour, mixing the veggies every fifteen minutes.

That’s it! If you really want to have fun with this, you could place these veggies on a salad with some fresh warm peaches, toasted almonds, buttermilk ranch dressing, and goat cheese.

I’m not kidding! I had that concoction at my favorite local restaurant where I write once a week, and it was delicious!

Jolina plate

Bon appetit!

my friends! I hope you this post encourages you to live a simple, beautiful life and to also give beets another try!–Jolina

And here’s her latest book, the sequel to The Allicance. Click the cover to purchase or learn more.–Lyn

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Author Susan May Warren & The Inspiring Story of a Strong Woman

Susan May Warren

This was first posted on February 17, 2009 and I think it’s worth publishing again.

Susan May Warren is an acquaintance whom I hope to get to know better. After you read her story of finding strength in prayers, you’ll want to get to know her better too.

Here’s Susan:

“Prey!

My husband Andrew and I served as missionaries in Russia for eight years with our four children. After eight years, Russia had begun to feel like home. I understood the language, and culture, I dressed like a Russian, ate Russian food, vacationed with my Russian friends, and felt at home in my adopted country.

But see, it’s when things are most comfortable that God asks us to step in faith. Because He wants us to need Him.

And on March 1, 2002, at 1:15pm, in the middle of Far East Russia, I did.

Probably I should have paid attention to the warning signs. About two days before, my husband, Andrew was outside walking the dog when an elderly man stumbled up to him. Smelling like a brewery, but with remarkably clear eyes, he said, “I don’t want anything from you. I’m not going to ask for money or anything. I just want to know one thing.”

Andrew stopped, his curiosity pricked, keeping a careful distance.

“Why are you here?” the man asked. “I mean, don’t you know it is dangerous? There are people here who hunt foreigners. You’re like prey.”

Prey. That word took on new meaning the afternoon in March. My youngest children, Peter, age seven and Noah, age five had just left to walk the dog just outside our flat. During the time they were outside, three men snuck into our home. Five minutes later, the boys and the dog returned. I locked the door, turned around…and the bandits attacked.

With the intent to frighten more than injure, one used force to push me into my office. Meanwhile, another black-hooded thug grabbed a knife and rounded up my four children in a bedroom, threatening them to keep them quiet.

Good Christian kids that they are, they huddled and prayed.
The thieves demanded our money, my jewelry and began assembling our electronics for removal.

I closed my eyes and I prayed.

In Russia, with break-in occurring more often, it isn’t unheard of to find the victims slaughtered, the thieves reluctant to leave behind eyewitnesses. My only hope of defense was Heavenly.

Suddenly, as if shocked by some supernatural electrical force, the thieves jumped up, shouted…and ran out, leaving their weapon and our electronics behind.

I followed them, slammed the door behind them, my heart in my throat and ran for the children. We collapsed into a crying, grateful huddle.

The overwhelming theme of this event is that prayer matters. Without a doubt, God intervened and kept us alive.

Our mission board immediately sent our traumatized family to a counseling center in Taiwan. Our children were shaken, afraid to sleep at night, afraid to let us out of their sight. They clung to us at odd times. Instead of running stateside, however, our mission board wanted to see if we could stay, at least through the summer if not for another term.

God drew us close while we were in Taiwan, comforting and reminding us of His love. We spent much time in prayer, asking God for direction. He didn’t erase our nightmares, but assured us that we could hold on, tight, to His promises to carry us through the flames of fear, suffering and hardship.

We returned to Russia in the beginning of April, eyes fixed on the summer projects. We made adjustments – installed a security system, changed our dog-walking procedures. Most of all we strove to keep our eyes on the LORD Who had shown Himself sufficient, again and again in our lives.

Prey may be a term used for foreigners, but as we headed into out the last months of our ministry, our key word was – Pray.

Because prayer became my lifeline. My children refused to leave my side for four months, and every time we left our apartment (read: every day, since someone had to go buy food), we huddled at the door. The attackers hadn’t been caught. But we couldn’t stay prisoners. So, we prayed. We prayed our way out of the door, and down the stairs, and all the way to the market. We prayed through market, and all the way back home into our flat. No, maybe we didn’t actually breathe the words aloud every step of the way, but my heart was ever reaching for the sufficiency of the Lord.

We prayed our way through that summer. And into the furlough year, and even now, as I write novels for the glory of God. Because when I reach out to God, I discover that He’s already there, arms around me. Holding me up. If I’m to be known by one word, I’d like it not be Prey….but rather, the woman who Prays.”

Susan May Warren is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 24 books. She and her family make their home on the north shore of Lake Superior. You can find her online at www.susanmaywarren.com

Rescue Me

Here’s her latest book! Congrats, Susan!–Lyn

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A New Book In Northern Intrigue series!

 

Loving Wnter

BLURB:

Happily single, Winter Woodard who inherited her grandfather’s nursery is looking forward to a busy, fun fall and holiday season.

And it all begins with her cousin’s wedding where Winter meets the man the ladies around town have been buzzing about. Single by choice, Clay Dixon, the very successful football coach at the local high school, has rebuffed all offers of “home-cooked meals,” keeping the female population at bay. That’s fine with Winter. She’s her own woman, thank you very much.

Then bad things begin to happen. And unexpectedly Clay Dixon stands by her through a holiday season fraught with unnerving and destructive setbacks.

Is someone out to ruin Woodard Greenery’s, all she has left of her beloved grandfather and mother?

Welcome to Steadfast, a small town whose people and mysteries you may never forget~Lyn

Click here to purchase.

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Recipe for Thanksgiving-Crockpot Stuffing

 

Out My Window-Fall

In my husband’s opinion a Thanksgiving dinner can NOT have too much dressing or stuffing! So I stuff the bird and then fill the crockpot with more! Here is the recipe I’ve used for several years not. HOWEVER, I don’t use the parsley, mushrooms or marjoram. So make your changes and additions and enjoy! Here’s the link to the full recipe. 

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/13571/slow-cooker-stuffing/?internalSource=hn_carousel%2002_Slow%20Cooker%20Stuffing&referringId=17290&referringContentType=recipe%20hub&referringPosition=carousel%2002

And don’t forget to drop by my contest page (see tab above) and enter to win a book!–Lyn

 

 

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Author Pamela Tracy and an Inspiring Story of a Strong Woman

Once again I’m bringing back a great blog from the past. Author Pamela Tracy was my guest in January 2009 and here’s Pamela!

“I’ve sat in front of my computer many a time making up stories, writing letters, doing interviews, writing blogs with a theme… Ah, blogs with a theme, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing today: some kind of blog.

Only this one is special.

It’s not about me.

It’s not about my books.

Today, I’m writing about my friend Sandra Lagesse. Sandra is a white-haired lady who I first more than a decade ago. I met her because of carpooling. See, I’m blessed to live in an area that has not one but two Romance Writers of America groups. There’s one in Glendale, where I used to live, and there’s one in Tempe, which is close to where I live now. When I first met Sandra, there was a carpooling group that would travel from Glendale to Tempe.

One evening, it wound up just Sandra and me. I didn’t know much about Sandra back then. I learned fast!

At that time, I was a thirty-something who drove way too fast and talked was too much. I was an elementary school teacher who didn’t make enough to live on. It was while we were driving home from the meeting that our friendship was sealed. See, I was busy talking way too much, and she was listening. We got on the subject of politics. At the time, Rose Moffort was in office. The puppet Madam was also enjoying a lot of exposure. I mentioned that I thought the governor and the puppet looked alike.

After Sandra stopped laughing, she reached in her purse and pulled out some pictures. Yup, Sandra’s maiden name was Moffort. Yup, she was related to Rose.

After I took my foot out of my mouth, we became great friends, the kind of friends that last.

The fact that Sandy’s father was married to a governor is not what makes Sandy great. Sandy is what makes Sandy great. See, Sandy is a writer. She’ll tell you the irony is that. She’s very dyslexic. Because of her dyslexia, she struggled in school – only in reading. Here’s proof. My book, Daddy for Keeps, has a banker hero. Guess where I got my information. Sandy. This dyslexic child grew up to be a banker. And, although she’s retired now, she’s on many a board (mostly for historic markers) and she acts as an advisor.

Another thing that makes Sandy a hero is the love she and her late husband shared. Most of her friends really don’t know her late husband’s name. See, he was known by all of us as Honey. That’s right. She called her husband ‘honey’ so much that pretty soon he became Honey. Honey was a retired fireman. He didn’t want to retire, but he had polio. When I met Sandy, he was pretty much homebound, but not quite. Sandy’s day was get him up, take him to the gym (See, he was a great man and tried not to let his sickness get the best of him), take him to the doctor, and maybe they went out to lunch. You get the idea… The last few years of his life, he was completely homebound. And so was Sandy.

Sandy never stopped calling him Honey.

Right now, Sandy is dating my father-in-law.

Earlier, we talked about Sandy becoming a banker. Well, Sandy is also a budding romance writer. She’s a lot like Honey. She’s not going to let something like dyslexia stop her. She’s taken no short cuts. She reads, she writes, she critiques… and Sandy a writing outlet that no one else but she could fill. Sandy writes a history column for a local paper. From her childhood – think Governor Rose Moffort, a father who was a lawman while Arizona was a young state, and from her Godmother a rancher who helped build a cabin from scratch – Sandy knows the history of Arizona. Marshall Tucker move over!

I am in awe of all Sandy knows and does.

And the best that she does is friendship.”–Pamela

About Pamela Tracy:

Her website: www.pamelakayetracy.com

Pamela Tracy is a writer and teacher in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she lives with her husband and son. She’s published many writings in suspense, romantic comedy, and Christian inspiration romance.

Thanks a lot, Pamela!

Click the cover to pre-order her latest book, out Nov 1st!–Lyn

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Would You Like to See Where I Live?

Would you like to see where I live? I’m a guest on the Pink Heart Society blog today and my blog is featured in their At Home With section.  Drop by and leave a comment.

https://www.pinkheartsociety.com/single-post/October2017/AtHomeWith

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