Friday, November 30, 2018

Month in Review - November

  • Wrote 0 words
  • Sculpted 1 babies
  • Tatted 2 crosses
  • Sewed 0 sock monkeys  
  • Knit 0 hats
  • Exercised 21 days
  • Read in the Bible 30 days
  • Wrote up 0 backlogged book reviews 
  • "Comfort & Joy" by Alana Terry, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, & Chautona Havig --Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

    About the Book

    ComfortandJoy updatedBook: Comfort & Joy
    Author: The Christmas Lights Collection: Alana Terry, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig
    Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance, Cozy Mystery, Suspense, Christmas
    Release Date: October 16, 2018
    The third-annual Christmas Lights Collection is pleased to present: Comfort & Joy–four Christmas Novellas. From contemporary romance to cozy mystery and suspense, this diverse collection celebrates the comforts and joys of Christmas.

    Toni Shiloh: Deck the Shelves --
    Kendall Jackson is the proud owner of Heartfalls’ bookstore, The Cozy Shelf. Her life is one straight out of the pages, except she’s missing that leading man. Although she has a crush on the handsome auto mechanic, Quinton Hendricks, Kendall wants an old-fashioned type of romance—the stuff swoon-worthy romance books are made of. But Quinton seems to need a little prodding.

    Something about Kendall sparks hope in Quinton Hendricks that love could be his again. Only being abandoned by his ex-wife has made him cautious to the point of non-moving.

    Can two people hesitant on second chances find love as they Deck the Shelves?

    Cathe Swanson: The Christmas Glory Quilt -- 
    Scrap quilts, bridal gowns, an old Swedish farmhouse and a hidden family heirloom. What more you could you want in a Minnesota Christmas romance?

    Penny Anderson has a dream – she’s going to be an exclusive bridal gown designer, and she won’t held back by dyslexia, a rural location or the doubts of others. 

    Brian Michaels has waited seven years for Penny to see him as man instead of just a childhood friend. Can he work up the courage to speak before the tall, dark and handsome business consultant sweeps her off her feet?

    Aunt Violet is interested in only two things: Genealogy and quilting. As she chronicles the family history in a series of patchwork quilts, she comes to peace with her own past.

    Chautona Havig: The Ghosts of New Cheltenham-- 
    Mitchell Bogaert hasn’t done much with his life in the four years since college, to which his negative-digits bank account and credit score will attest. So when news of an inheritance from a man he hasn’t seen in years arrives on the same day as his eviction notice, Mitchell considers the odd terms of the will to be a no-brainer.

    Sure, he’ll move into a building in the tourist village of New Cheltenham. Of course, he’d be happy to live there for a year as a condition of inheritance. And yes, he’ll suffer the humiliation of creating, entering, and presenting at the annual Dickens Ghost Story Competition. Free room and board for a year plus a rather substantial inheritance to boot? Who wouldn’t?

    But someone either doesn’t want him in New Cheltenham or doesn’t want him to receive that inheritance, because the more he works on his story, the more convinced he is that a ghost resides in the narrow building he now calls home.

    What’s a guy to do when the ghosts of his past converge on his Christmas present?

    Alana Terry:Frost Heaves-- 
    A single mom. An Alaska state trooper. And more to fear than just the cold …

    When Jade’s daughter turns up missing, all suspicions point to the cult Jade escaped from when she was just a teen.

    Are members of Morning Glory retaliating against Jade’s child? Or are their intentions even more sinister than simply revenge?

    A fast-paced thriller set in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness from award-winning Christian suspense author Alana Terry.

    My Thoughts
    Frost Heaves by Alana Terry: Alana Terry's books tend to deal with heavier topics and "Frost Heaves" was no exception. I found the portrayal of the abuse in the book to be well handled and not graphic. I felt very frustrated at some of the characters' inability to see the abuse for what it was and how things were twisted from what was really being done and said. I liked little Dezzirae and her innocence, yet knowledge she exhibited. Jade went through a lot in the book, but learned and grew through it.

    Deck the Shelves by Toni Shiloh: I liked Kendall and Q. They felt genuine and real. Their hesitance and fear over getting into another relationship was portrayed realistically. I wish I could go visit the Cozy Shelf and hang out at the hospitality table or go read in a nook somewhere. Deuce was a fun addition to the story. I thought the book quotes and the notes were fun.

    "The Christmas Glory Quilt" by Cathe Swanson: After realizing that we weren't getting a Unity Plenkiss story like I was expecting, I settled in to find out what was going to happen with Brian and Penny. I liked the mystery of the box in the garden and wondering what was up with that. I laughed at the references to The Princess Bride and Penny's obliviousness.

    "The Ghosts of New Cheltenham" by Chautona Havig: Mitchell was adorable in his cluelessness and I really liked Brenna and Lauren. I want to be able to go visit their town and stroll the square. I could feel Mitchell's fear and wondered along with them who or what was behind the strange happenings at his house. 
    About the Authors
    AlanaAlana Terry: Pastor’s wife Alana Terry is a homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second. You can find her at
    ToniToni Shiloh: Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness. You can find her at
    She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the president of the ACFW Virginia Chapter.
    CatheCathe Swanson: Cathe Swanson lives in Wisconsin with her husband of 32 years, and the long Wisconsin winters are perfect for writing and reading books! Cathe enjoys writing stories with eccentric characters of all ages. Her books will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again. You can find her at

    ChautonaChautona Havig: Amazon bestselling author of the Aggie books and Past Forward, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave desert where she uses story to connect readers to the Master Storyteller.

    Guest Post from Chautona Havig

    Why Do So Many Christians Love to Celebrate Christmas?

    “We don’t celebrate Christmas because we were ordered to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We were never commanded to celebrate His birth.”
    Something about that statement didn’t sit well with me, but I was honest enough with myself to admit that it might be because I happened to love Christmas, and the idea of not celebrating it didn’t sit well with my twelve-year-old mind.
    No, I didn’t go in for the Santa thing. I never had. As later my children were taught to say, Santa wasn’t “invited to our family celebration.” But still, the family, the joy, the music, the spirit of the thing moved me.
    So, I did what I always did when I didn’t understand something. I asked Dad. “Why do we celebrate Christmas?”
    If I recall correctly, Dad took a sip of coffee and watched me for several long seconds before he said, “What is Christmas?”
    Ever the teacher, Dad had to put on his Socratic robe and make me work for it. I answered. “What we call the day Jesus was supposedly born. His birthday.”
    “Okay. So, we celebrate Christ’s birthday on Christmas—on Christmas.”
    He gave me that slight smirk that always meant something good was coming. “And what did God do when His Son was born?”
    Dad stumped me there. I blinked. “I don’t know.”
    “He sent out the biggest birth announcement ever known to man—a star, angels, music.” Then Dad continued his leading questions. “He…”
    I got it. “Celebrated the birth.”
    “Yes.” Sometimes Dad was a man of few words.

    But I couldn’t be satisfied—not yet.

    “So, why do we give presents to each other if it’s Jesus’ birthday? Isn’t that backward?”
    “Isn’t all of Christianity backward to the fallen mind?” When I didn’t answer, he smiled again. “What does Christ say about doing things for others?”
    It wasn’t word-for-word Scripture—not even close. Just as he would have prompted again, I remembered Jesus’ story of the man who was fed, clothed, and given a drink. “When you do things for others, it’s like you’re doing them for Jesus.”
    Dad shrugged then. “Maybe it’s just justification for continuing a beloved tradition, but it brings me joy to give you gifts. And Christ had something to say about how fathers love to give good gifts to their children.”

    That brought me back to the original question.

    “What about the fact that we’re told to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus? We aren’t told to celebrate the birth. Does that make it wrong?”
    This time, Dad’s jaw hardened. I saw it twitch, and prepared for a blasting. After all, I had kind of argued with him. I hadn’t meant to, but I could see how it might be taken that way.
    “Chautona,” he said, “don’t ever put rules on yourself that God hasn’t. We may not be commanded to celebrate Christ’s birth, but we aren’t forbidden, either. We have God’s example to emulate, and we have this truth.” His voice gentled when he saw he’d startled me. “We would never have been able to celebrate Christ’s death if He had not been born. If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.”

    What does all that have to do with Christmas novellas (or “noellas” like I prefer to call them)?

    Well, people ask me all the time. “Why do you write so many Christmas books? Why do these Christmas collections? Why focus so much on the birth of Jesus and the trappings of cultural Christmas when it’s inferior to the “big thing”—the Resurrection?”
    Dad’s answer is mine. Because it points to it. It draws attention to it. And because Christmas is one time of year—the only time of year in which you can walk into almost any building in America and still hear praises sung to God at some point. They slip in between love songs about giving away your heart at Christmas and rocking around Christmas trees to “Jingle Bell Rock.”
    And even the more “secular” versions that aren’t an outright praise to God like “Silent Night” or “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” sometimes throw in Jesus anyway because they can’t quite leave out, “Merry Christmas” in some place or another.
    So maybe our Christmas books are inferior to what “Easter” books could be. Maybe they are. But if Christmas trees, caroling, and “ghost stories” keep Jesus at the forefront of someone’s mind in October, November, or December, then I think that’s a pretty cool thing.
    Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thanks for coming.

    Blog Stops

    A Diva’s Heart, November 29
    Multifarious, November 30
    Bibliophile Reviews, December 1
    Britt Reads Fiction, December 1
    Vicky Sluiter, December 2
    Remembrancy, December 2
    Among the Reads, December 3
    A Reader’s BrainDecember 3
    KarenSueHadleyDecember 4
    Inklings and notionsDecember 4
    Quiet Quilter, December 5
    Lots of Helpers, December 5
    Simple Harvest Reads, December 7 (Mindy Houng)
    Mary Hake, December 8
    Janices book reviewsDecember 9
    Carpe Diem, December 10
    BigreadersiteDecember 10
    Kat’s Corner Books, December 11
    Texas Book-aholic, December 11
    Aryn The LibraryanDecember 12


    To celebrate their tour, the Christmas Light Collection is giving away a grand prize of a 6-month Kindle Unlimited subscription!!
    Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

    "Comfort & Joy" is available for a limited time as a collection for Kindle:
    • File Size: 7193 KB
    • Print Length: 614 pages
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Publisher: Havilah Press Publications (October 22, 2018)
    • Publication Date: October 22, 2018
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B07JM43HYL

    Thursday, November 15, 2018

    "Love's Christmas Blessings" by Laura V. Hilton and Rachel J. Good

    About the Book

    Book: Love’s Christmas Blessings
    Author: Laura V Hilton, Rachel J Good
    Genre: Christian Fiction, Amish, Christmas
    Release Date: November, 2018
    Publisher: Celebrate Lit Publishing
    Winter’s Treasure
    Paris Kauffman believes she is about to embark on her family-tradition birthday treasure hunt, but for the first time ever, her daed is sending her to various businesses and homes in the community. Little does Paris expect that when she enters the bakery to collect her gift, the bus will drop off none other than her old crush, Aquila Stutzman, the man she’d done everything except cartwheels and handstands to get his attention. And failed. Of course, Quil doesn’t remember her.
    Quil was offered employment working on his grandparents’ new tree farm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Since he’s recovering from a broken heart when his longtime girlfriend Priscilla up and married his cousin, a move Quil never saw coming, he decides to take the job. This will give him time to separate himself from the hurt and maybe, eventually, move on.
    Paris and Quil have sparks from the beginning, especially since his appearance causes a vicious rivalry between friends. But who can resist when a chance meeting beginning with donuts and coffee ends with a missing person, puppies, a skunk, and a sleigh ride—not to mention a trip the Amish young people plan to Niagara Falls. Could it also involve falling in love?
    Mistletoe and Miracles
    Daniel Graber has spent years caring for his aging parents. Now Daed’s in rehab with a broken hip and a bad case of irritability. He snaps at the workers and complains about doing physical therapy, so Daniel is grateful for the new aide, Fern Chupp, who uses her sweetness and charm to convince Daed to cooperate. Turns out, Daed isn’t the only one she charms.
    As a widow, Fern is grateful for her new job at Fairview Rehab Center, even though it meant relocating to Ephrata, Pennsylvania, with her nine-year-old daughter, Lyddie. But Lyddie is grieving the recent death of her grandfather and dislikes leaving her Ohio home. Lyddie’s shyness also makes it difficult to make friends or recite school lessons.
    When her class goes to the rehab center to interview patients, Lyddie’s too scared to do her assignment, so she runs away. During the hunt for her missing daughter, independent Fern learns to accept and appreciate Daniel’s help and support. By the time they discover Lyddie, she’s made a very unusual friend, and Fern and Daniel have developed a . Can four lonely heart create special bonds to make it a Christmas to remember?
    Winter's Treasure by Laura V. Hilton: I found the story to be well written and flowed well. I liked Paris and the treasure hunt her family sends her on for her birthday. There were a few characters I wanted to give a piece of my mind and set them straight on how things were. They all seemed like I could go to the U.P. and meet them. It was fun to see characters we've met before and I'm excited to read more of their stories.

    Mistletoe and Miracles by Rachel J. Good: I enjoyed reading this story. I found Daniel and Fern to be likable and believable characters. I especially "bonded" with Lyddie in her shyness. She made me think a lot of my son who struggled with being able to talk in his early elementary years. I liked the growth that the characters experienced. I look forward to reading more books by Rachel J. Good. 

    About the Authors

    Laura pictureLaura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with over twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write.
    Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.
    When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.
    rachel goodInspirational author Rachel J. Goodwrites life-changing, heart-tugging novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. The author of several Amish romance series, she grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for many of her stories. Striving to be as authentic as possible, she spends time with her Amish friends, doing chores on their farm and attending family events.
    Rachel’s Amish series include Sisters & Friends (Charisma House & Harlequin), Love & Promises (Hachette/Grand Central), Hearts of Amish Country (Annie’s Book Club), and the forthcoming Surprised by Love (Kensington). She also has several anthologies in print as well as the Amish Quilts Coloring Book.
    To learn more about Rachel, visit her at

    Coconut Potato Fudge Recipe:

    1/2 cup plain, mashed potatoes, either instant or one medium potato, cooked
    1/8 cup finely chopped (or crushed) almonds (optional)
    3 cups powdered sugar
    1 cup shredded coconut
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    3 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
    give3 tablespoons butter
    Beat powdered sugar and coconut into warm potatoes; then add the vanilla extract and almonds.
    Press into a lightly-greased 8-inch square pan; set aside.
    In a saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally. When melted, pour over top of the potato mixture.
    Refrigerate until set and then cut into squares.
    Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

    Blog Stops

    Vicky Sluiter, November 11
    The Avid Reader, November 11
    BigreadersiteNovember 11
    Among the Reads, November 12
    Wishful Endings, November 12
    Britt Reads Fiction, November 13
    Maureen’s Musings, November 14
    Quiet Quilter, November 15
    Blossoms and BlessingsNovember 15
    Jeanette’s Thoughts, November 16
    Bibliophile Reviews, November 18
    Splashes of JoyNovember 18
    D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 19
    Mary Hake, November 19
    Just the Write Escape, November 20
    Moments, November 21
    Bukwurmzzz, November 21
    Blogging With Carol, November 22
    Texas Book-aholic, November 22
    Janices book reviewsNovember 23
    Carpe Diem, November 24


    To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit Publishing is giving away
    Grand prize of $25 Amazon gift card
    1st place: Paperback copy of Love’s Christmas Blessings
    2-4th place: eBook copy of Love’s Christmas Blessings!!
    Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

    "Love's Christmas Blessings" is available in Kindle edition:
    • File Size: 4090 KB
    • Print Length: 233 pages
    • Publication Date: November 15, 2018
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B07K2M1R3B

    I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received for my review.

    Saturday, November 10, 2018

    Anniversary Present

    During the last week of December last year, I got the idea to make my parents a graphgan for their 50th wedding anniversary. I was trying to finish up my temperature blanket but kept getting distracted by figuring out how to make a graphgan of my parents' wedding picture.

    I checked out several programs/websites and finally settled on I still didn't really like the way the graph turned out as it had a big white blob on my dad's forehead and my mom's dress was half cream and half white, with no shading. I figured I could tweak it myself, but then I discovered that Stitchboard had other color palettes to pick from, so I tried them and found one I liked. The widest that the graph could be was 150 stitches which made it 255 rows tall. (For a total of 38, 250 stitches) I still needed to change some of the colors as it had pink, cranberry, and 2 shades of green. I wanted to use all the same brand of yarn but wasn't able to find the right colors I needed and ended up with a variety of brands.

    Red Heart Super Saver Soft White
    Bernat Natural
    Red Heart Super Saver Aran
    Caron One Pound Off White
    Caron One Pound Soft Grey
    Mainstays Medium Grey Heather
    Red Heart Super Saver True Grey
    Red Heart Super Saver Charcoal
    Caron One Pound Dark Grey
    Red Heart Super Saver Black

    Originally, I was going to leave the yarns attached to the skeins, but soon realized that it was not a good idea!

    So I wound off 10 yards of the colors and put them on clips or bobbins. It made it a lot easier to keep things organized. I did leave my lightest color still attached to the skein as I was going to use a lot of it.

    I hadn't gotten very far before I wasn't happy with the darkest light color. It was thinner than the others and fuzzier. But I didn't have any other options so I continued. When I had 10 rows done, I knew I had to do something different for that color. 

    So I looked some more and came up with a color that would fit in the color gradient scale closer to the lighter end. I knit up a 20 stitch swatch in the 10 rows to see if it would work.

    I liked how it looked better, so I ripped out what I had made and rearranged the colors and adding the new color in as the 2nd lightest color.

    I also decided to cast on with just 2 colors instead of the 10 colors the chart gave for the first row. It made it easier to do the first row with just the white and gray. 

    I figured if I did 2 rows a day, not counting weekends, I'd get done with plenty of time to spare. 

    This is how far I had gotten by May 2:

    A week later, I put it aside. It was hard to work on with the kids being home and everything that was going on. This unfortunately caused me to have less time to get it finished in time. So now I need to do 3 rows a day.

    Aug 30:

    Sept 7:
    Done with 2 sets of charts.

    Sept 12:
    34 bobbins so far

    Sept 14 (1/2 done):

    It is taking about 45 minutes per row now.

    Sept 24:

    Sept 26:

    Sept 28:
    This row took me an hour and 20 minutes to do the ONE row! There were so many color changes.

    Oct 2:
    56 bobbins.

    Oct 3:

    Oct 5:
    2/3 done. 84 more rows, 36 more days until I need to be done. Working with 53 bobbins now.

    Now I only have 1 set of charts left and with the amount of background, the rows should go faster.

    The bobbins have gotten a bit tangled and messy.

    Nice and neat and organized now.

    Oct 10:

    Oct 12:
    Done with 3 sets of charts now.
    Taking an average of 30 minutes a row.

    Oct 15:
    3/4 done.
    It is measuring 40" wide x 36" tall so far.

    Oct 24:
    Only 25 bobbins now and about 20 minutes per row.

    Oct 31:
    16 more rows to go.

    Nov 5:
    I cast off today! It is 40" x 54"

    Here are the bobbins I used during the construction of the blanket.


    Nov 6:
    I laid the blanket on top of the backing fabric with the wrong sides together and pinned the blanket down to make it lay flat and even.

    It was easiest to sit on the blanket while I worked.

    All pinned down
    Next, I folded over the edges of the backing fabric and pinned them down.

    I had picked up these tags on clearance and we thought it was funny they were called "Crochet" labels when they all say "knit".

    I sewed the backing down through all the layers.

    All finished.

    The tags I sewed on the back.  

    I decided to give it to them after we set up for the party today.

    Video of my parents opening the blanket:

    I had decided to knit the blanket because with large crochet projects I've done, the sides sometimes end up wavy because the tension isn't always consistent. I would, however, crochet any other graphgans I might be crazy enough to undertake in the future. The color changes in knitting were much harder to keep neat and not too tight or too loose.