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Friday Features

We are sharing a

Christmas card for all our followers

Ribbon Christmas card

Drawn by Catherine (the C of C.D. Hersh)
original copyrighted art
For permission to reuse, please contact C.D. Hersh

Catherine created this card in a time past when we painted Christmas scenes on windows for various stores in our area. We painted on the inside of the store windows so that the weather would not wash the pictures off prematurely. This also necessitated painting the picture backward.

She created this piece of window art at church to coordinate with a cantata the choir was performing then later turned the drawing into a Christmas card. Fortunately, this window was meant to be viewed from inside and she didn’t have to write the partial verse “For God so loved the world…” backwards on the glass like she did when we decorated store Christmas windows with the holiday greetings Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. While she can write backwards, it’s not as neat as writing the normal way.

A bit of trivia here on our window and card art. We used tempera paint on most of the big windows because of the expense of acrylics for large areas. They are messy to clean up, but lots of fun to create. The card artwork however was done with colored pencils.

We hope you’re enjoying your Christmas day!

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Christmas Bouquets

by

Emma Lane

I love to create festive bouquets for any season, but my personal favorite is Christmas. The holiday colors are vibrant and a joy to bring together in stunning arrangements. So let’s talk a little about how you can create masterpieces for your home and as hostess gifts. The work isn’t hard. It simply takes a little patience.

It looks easy, but the greenery for bouquets is more complicated than you might think. I’m fortunate because there is a veritable forest in my front and back yards. I deliberately refrain from trimming the evergreen shrubs out front until the holidays. That gives me a very fresh start to my bouquet which is difficult to match with store bought greenery. If you have any type shrub in your yard it will work. If not then you are forced to purchase them. I strongly recommend you visit your local nursery for the foliage you want.

There’s a combination of old-fashioned yew shrub because it holds the needles for a good while. I add cuttings from a blue spruce just because I love the tinted color. Then my secret choice for Christmas is clippings from a juniper shrub for its heady, wintry seasonal fragrance. I once made a bouquet using only juniper but quickly learned why that wasn’t a good idea. They dry out rapidly and lose the rich green color most desired. So, tuck them in to smell good but toward the back. There are plenty of other types of evergreen shrubs for possible Christmas decorations. By all means, bring them inside and test their worthiness.

Next are the luscious red berries. They grow on a native shrub named winterberry (ilex, a member of the holly berry family) in slightly swampy terrain. No, don’t go wild crafting unless you wear high waterproof boots! Fortunately, our brilliant horticulturists have propagated this shrub for home gardeners. Consider planting them in your yard. You must have a male and female to get berries and it takes patience. They are not fast growers, but well worth the effort. Plant toward the back of the garden. The bush itself is not all that attractive until the Fall berries appear. Then you begin a vigil to pick them before the flocks of robins descend during migration. Cedar Waxwings love them too, but they are so beautiful I give in just for the pleasure of watching. Winterberries are frequently found for sale at late Farmers’ Markets and in craft and florist shops. They will dry out but seldom fall off unless bumped or roughly handled.

You all know about poinsettia, the official Christmas potted flower. It’s the brackets that have the color. The flower itself is the small yellow center bloom. I personally find them boring, but one day an idea came to me. I cut them as if for a cut flower bouquet. Here are a few photos to better explain.

 

Once I bought a pink one and lightly sprayed it a tinted blue, as a blue bouquet was what the customer needed, pairing it with sprayed-gold milk weed pods.

The last one is a pale pink mixed with dried dock and milk weed pods, the red berries tucked in here and there with a brass colored vase. I’m particularly fond of this one. Christmas bouquets need not always be red to be lovely.

I wish you all a beautiful healthy and happy holiday season!

Emma

Enjoy the holiday season with one or both of Emma Lane’s sweet Regency Romances collections. Here is a brief intro for you.

 

Families can be troublesome, but a next door neighbor can sometimes be even worse. Caroline is
a strong-willed young lady and refuses to be bullied by a handsome duke. Four sweet Regency romances to get you in the mood for the season.

Amazon Link


Winter storms swirling snow and unexpected guests on the eve of Christmas, the pungent fragrance of fresh pine boughs, springs of mistletoe hung with red ribbons, and a stolen kiss underneath the kissing ball comprise scenes of Christmas in the country. Ice skating anyone? Have a cup of wassail and toast your toes in front of a warm fire while you enjoy four short stories of sweet Regency Christmas
romances.

Amazon Link

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

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Friday Features

We think writing and Christmas have a lot in common.

Preparing for Christmas is like writing a book—not that anyone gets much writing done in the weeks before the holiday. The concept, however, is the same; start early and stay on target.

For an easy Christmas holiday:

  • Shop all year long, especially on vacation where you can get one-of-a-kind items, and avoid the mall rush.
  • Plan in advance. Knowing your menu weeks in advance and looking for recipes you can prepare ahead, freeze, or have on hand reduces stress in the kitchen and lets you enjoy the holiday too. Don’t want to cook ahead? Then remodel the kitchen (not before the holidays, of course) and get that second oven you’ve been wanting so all those green bean casseroles will fit in. Better yet, let someone else host.
  • Get familiar with your Christmas dishes. Start using your Christmas dishes at the beginning of December so you don’t have to get them out of storage at the last minute. That 24 piece place setting of hollies and Christmas trees needs to be used more than once at Christmas dinner!
  • Get next year’s Christmas cards as soon as they go on sale.  After all, you have a pretty good idea how many you will need for next year, and they never go out of style.
  • Begin next year’s Christmas letter now. Start in January and keep a running tally of the important things you want to include. If you bind the letters in a notebook you have a ready-made life journal. One stone, two birds.
  • Make a goal list. Shopping done before Christmas, house cleaned thoroughly by the first weekend in December, trim the tree the day after Thanksgiving (since you don’t have to shop on Black Friday), Christmas cookies baked by the second weekend (or cheat and just buy them), the guest room readied right before your guests arrive, and so on. Tweak the list to fit your needs.

For easy book writing:

  • Write all year long, every day. Then when you take all that time off in December to get ready for the holidays, you won’t feel so guilty.
  • Plan your book in advance. Some seat-of-the-pants writers claim too much planning takes the fun out of writing. We’ve done it both ways, and have found thorough planning and plotting keeps us out of those pesky writer’s blocks. You just have to be willing to let your characters speak to you even if they don’t want to go where you’ve planned.
  • Get familiar with your book and characters. Let the novel and your characters live with you daily. When you are thinking about the book all the time, the words come easily to the page and your characters’ voices sound more real.
  • Get your ideas as soon as they come to you. Carry a notebook, or use your phone, to jot down everything that comes to mind about your current WIP or ideas for new books. Even if you don’t use the ideas now, they may work, with some tweaking, for something in the future. Writers are always writing and we need to capture those ideas when they come.
  • Begin your next book now. Writers who don’t think about future projects while they are still working on the current one run the risk of writer’s block for their next book. A running log of ideas, thoughts, characters, or anything related to the next books will make coming up with the stories easier. We brainstorm when we drive places, capturing all our ideas, good or bad, in a composition notebook. In a single composition book we have at least 10 new ideas waiting to be developed. Will we write them all? Maybe not, but we have ready-made journal filled with possibilities.
  • Make a goal list. Set writing goals for yourself. Whether it’s 100 words a day, or 20 pages a day doesn’t matter. It’s the goal that counts. Tweak your goal list to fit your needs and you’ll be surprised how quickly those 100 words will turn into pages, and pages into chapters, and chapters into a book.

So this holiday season, when you are laying your gifts beside the nativity, under your Christmas tree, give a gift to yourself. Promise to start writing early in the New Year and stay on target. Who knows, with perseverance and a little luck, you could be tucking your brand new book under next year’s tree as a gift to someone else.

Happy Writing and Merry Christmas!
C.D. Hersh

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Tina Ruiz

Nothing goes to waste in my kitchen. If I have leftover Italian or French bread it becomes the base for a dinner. And what a dinner it is – easy – quick – delicious. Can’t beat that if you’re on a busy schedule or tight budget.

Pizza Bread
½ loaf Italian or French bread
1½ cups spaghetti sauce, possibly more
½ lb. Genoa salami or pepperoni, sliced thin
3 – 4 slices fresh tomatoes
1½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Split the bread in half lengthwise. Smear spaghetti sauce on the white part of the bread. Lay meat slices on top. Scatter on mozzarella and then Parmesan.

Place the bread on a cookie sheet then pop them into the oven until the cheese melts, and VIOLA, dinner is ready!

A nice treat after the pizza bread is a dish of vanilla ice cream topped with Kahlua or your favorite coffee liqueur. No whip topping, just the ice cream and liqueur. It is sooooo good and really hits the spot.

Here’s a brief intro to my children’s Christmas book your little ones will enjoy.

Blitzen was born at the North Pole, but he is unable to fly. Because of that, he is taunted and called names by the other reindeers. Rudy saw what was happening, and he decided to teach Blitzen how to gain some confidence. And with a little magic powder from Santa, Blitzen is not only able to fly, but he becomes part of Santa’s famous team.

Amazon Buy Links

 

Tina Ruiz was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school. She began writing children’s stories when her own were little. Through the years Ruiz wrote twenty-seven books. Most of those stories went into readers for the Canada Board of Education. Two did not. Mayor Shadoe Markley is a story about a ten-year-old girl who becomes Mayor for a Day through a contest at school.

Little did Ruiz know that story would “change the world.” The book came out at early January 1988. By the end of that same month, everyone was calling the mayor’s office at City Hall, trying to get the forms to fill out so their children could participate in the contest. Thirty years later that same contest is still runs at full speed. And not only in Calgary, but all across Canada. The Mayor’s Youth Council is now in charge of the celebrated contest and invites Ruiz to attend and meet the lucky winner. It’s usually followed by a hand-written thank you card from the mayor himself. Recently Ruiz was invited to be part of the Grand Opening of Calgary’s New Library where the mayor shook her hand and introduced her to the attendees.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

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Tell Again Tuesday

 


 

The happiest of holidays

20141225 Born in shadow of cross

On the eve of our Savior’s birth we wish you a Merry Christmas. May joy and love and blessings fill your homes, your lives, and your stockings.

Merry Christmas,

From C. D. Hersh (Catherine and Donald)

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Tell Again Tuesday

A blog series where we shamelessly share posts from others that we have enjoyed.

 


 

The Christmas Encounter

By Belle Ami

Mandy had never hated Christmas, but now she did. The holiday time was like a big exclamation point, an emphasis on the failure of her life. Only the truly lost were alone at Christmas, and here she was Christmas Eve without . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Soul Mate Publishing blog

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Tell Again Tuesday

A blog series where we shamelessly share posts from others that we have enjoyed.

 


 

Christmas in the Regency

By Jude Knight

Jude Knight Highlights Christmas romance and reminds us how it was celebrated in the Regency

With Christmas just around the corner, I’ve been wrapping presents, decorating the house, and making lists of ingredients for Christmas baking. I’ve been writing and reading Christmas stories set in the Regency, and thinking about the differences between then and now. And I’m publishing my own box set of novellas and novelettes set at Christmas.

Party on, dude

Many of the Christmas practices we think of as traditional began in. . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Caroline Warfield’s blog

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

This beautiful cover for Caroline Warfield’s 2017 Christmas Novella, Lady Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil, comes with the announcement that the book is available for pre-order from various retailers. Be sure to get your copy today!

Love is the best medicine and the sweetest things in life are worth the wait, especially at Christmastime in Venice for a stranded English Lady and a dedicated doctor.

About the Book

Lady Charlotte Tyree clings to one dream—to see the splendor of Rome before settling for life as the spinster sister of an earl. But now her feckless brother forces her to wait again, stranded in Venice when he falls ill, halfway to the place of her dreams. She finds the city damp, moldy, and riddled with disease.

As a physician, Salvatore Caresini well knows the danger of putrid fever. He lost his young wife to it, leaving him alone to care for their rambunctious children. He isn’t about to let the lovely English lady risk her life nursing her brother.

But Christmas is coming, that season of miracles, and with it, perhaps, lessons for two lonely people: that love heals the deepest wounds and sometimes the deepest dreams aren’t what we expect.

Pre-order on Amazon here.
Pre-order on Smashwords here.

About the Author

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—award winning and Amazon best-selling author Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures while she nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart. She is enamored of history, owls, and gardens (but not the actual act of gardening). She is also a regular contributor to History Imagined, a blog at the intersection of history and fiction, and (on a much lighter note) The Teatime Tattler, a blog in the shape of a fictional nineteenth century gossip rag.

Her current series, Children of Empire, set in the late Georgian/early Victorian period, focuses on three cousins, driven apart by lies and deceit, who must find their way back from the distant reaches of the empire.
Click here to find out more here .

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shadow of the cross

It’s week 3 in our Christmas Card extravaganza and it’s another card created by Donald entitled The Shadow of the Cross. This was another Christmas window created for our church windows. Like the first piece of art we displayed, the original art did not have the solid blue background or the greeting. Those were added when we turned the art into a Christmas card. Note the windowpane shadows that form the cross on the manger cradle. As you might guess, Donald likes to play with the shadow theme.

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Christmas blog post

Preparing for Christmas is like writing a book—not that anyone gets much writing done in the weeks before the holiday. The concept, however, is the same; start early and stay on target.

For an easy Christmas holiday:

  • Shop all year long, especially on vacation where you can get one-of-a-kind items, and avoid the mall rush.
  • Plan in advance. Knowing your menu weeks in advance and looking for recipes you can prepare ahead, freeze, or have on hand reduces stress in the kitchen and lets you enjoy the holiday too. Don’t want to cook ahead? Then remodel the kitchen (not before the holidays, of course) and get that second oven you’ve been wanting so all those green bean casseroles will fit in. Better yet, let someone else host.
  • Get familiar with your Christmas dishes. Start using your Christmas dishes at the beginning of December so you don’t have to get them out of storage at the last minute. That 24 piece place setting of hollies and Christmas trees needs to be used more than once at Christmas dinner!
  • Get next year’s Christmas cards as soon as they go on sale.  After all, you have a pretty good idea how many you will need for next year, and they never go out of style.
  • Begin next year’s Christmas letter now. Start in January and keep a running tally of the important things you want to include. If you bind the letters in a notebook you have a ready-made life journal. One stone, two birds.
  • Make a goal list.  Shopping done before Christmas, house cleaned thoroughly by the first weekend in December, trim the tree the day after Thanksgiving (since you don’t have to shop on Black Friday), Christmas cookies baked by the second weekend (or cheat and just buy them), the guest room readied right before your guests arrive, and so on. Tweak the list to fit your needs.

For easy book writing:

  • Write all year long, every day. Then when you take all that time off in December to get ready for the holidays, you won’t feel so guilty.
  • Plan your book in advance. Some seat-of-the-pants writers claim too much planning takes the fun out of writing. We’ve done it both ways, and have found thorough planning and plotting keeps us out of those pesky writer’s blocks. You just have to be willing to let your characters speak to you even if they don’t want to go where you’ve planned.
  • Get familiar with your book and characters. Let the novel and your characters live with you daily. When you are thinking about the book all the time, the words come easily to the page and your characters’ voices sound more real.
  • Get your ideas as soon as they come to you. Carry a notebook, or use your phone, to jot down everything that comes to mind about your current WIP or ideas for new books. Even if you don’t use the ideas now, they may work, with some tweaking, for something in the future. Writers are always writing and we need to capture those ideas when they come.
  • Begin your next book now. Writers who don’t think about future projects while they are still working on the current one run the risk of writer’s block for their next book. A running log of ideas, thoughts, characters, or anything related to the next books will make coming up with the stories easier. We brainstorm when we drive places, capturing all our ideas, good or bad, in a composition notebook. In a single composition book we have at least 10 new ideas waiting to be developed. Will we write them all? Maybe not, but we have ready-made journal filled with possibilities.
  • Make a goal list. Set writing goals for yourself. Whether it’s 100 words a day, or 20 pages a day doesn’t matter. It’s the goal that counts. Tweak your goal list to fit your needs and you’ll be surprised how quickly those 100 words will turn into pages, and pages into chapters, and chapters into a book.

So this holiday season, when you are laying your gifts beside the nativity, under your Christmas tree, give a gift to yourself.  Promise to start writing early in the New Year and stay on target. Who knows, with perseverance and a little luck, you could be tucking your brand new book under next year’s tree as a gift to someone else.

Happy Writing and Merry Christmas!

C.D. Hersh

Khron Conservatory Crib. Cincinnati Ohio

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