December 12, 2018

Christmas Traditions - Baking Cookies

Every Christmas our daughters and I become Cookie Elves as we continue our Christmas traditions -- baking cookies. 
We have our favorite recipes (see recipes HERE), which usually include: 
Sugar Cookies, Peanut Butter Kisses, and Chocolate Peanut Butter. 

And this last year, I discovered how much I enjoy making Springerle, Spiced Speculaas, Biscotti, and pressed cookies.
Of course, we keep some for eating and then freeze the rest to give as gifts for Christmas. 

Next we'll bake Fruit Cake, Stollen, and quick breads -- Orange Nut Bread and Poppy Seed Bread. 
Then later this month we'll make some fudge, chocolate turtles and chocolate peanut clusters. 
Do you enjoy holiday baking? 
What are some "traditional" favorites for your family?

December 10, 2018

Book Preview ~ A Christmas by the Sea

A Christmas by the Sea, by Melody Carlson

When Wendy Harper inherits her family's beachside cottage in Seaside, Maine, she sees it as a way to finally pay off the debts that have mounted since her husband died. Her twelve-year-old son Jackson sees it as an exciting new start in a life that has grown rather gray without his father.
Before it can be sold, the neglected property must be renovated. Wendy and Jackson move in - temporarily, she reminds him - in order to fix the place up before Christmas. But the charming town, along with local craftsman Caleb Colton, pulls on Wendy. She knows that the most responsible thing to do is to sell the cottage and return to Ohio, but the lure of the sea - and a fresh start - is hard to resist. Buy the book HERE.
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with combined sales of more than six million. She is the author of many Christmas books, including the bestselling The Christmas BusThe Christmas DogChristmas at Harrington'sThe Christmas CatThe Christmas Joy RideThe Christmas Angel Project, and The Christmas Blessing. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at

December 7, 2018

This Week's Recipes

Here are this week's new additions at Country at Heart Recipes.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Featured Author Jean Peterson shares her recipe for Elk Chili.

December 5, 2018

Christmas Traditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 3, 2018

Book Preview ~ The Bride of Ivy Green

The Bride of Ivy Green, by Julie Klassen

Much has happened in idyllic Ivy Hill in recent months, and while several villagers have found new love and purpose, questions remain--and a few dearly held dreams have yet to be fulfilled.

Jane Bell is torn. Gabriel Locke is back and has made his intentions clear. But Jane is reluctant to give up her inn and destine another man to a childless marriage. Then someone she never expected to see again returns to Ivy Hill. . . . 

Mercy Grove has lost her school and is resigned to life as a spinster, especially as the man she admires seems out of reach. Should she uproot herself from Ivy Cottage to become a governess for a former pupil? Her decision will change more lives than her own.

A secretive new dressmaker arrives in the village, but the ladies soon suspect she isn't who she claims to be. Will they oust the imposter, or help rescue her from a dangerous predicament?

In the meantime, everyone expects Miss Brockwell to marry a titled gentleman, even though her heart is drawn to another. While the people of Ivy Hill anticipate one wedding, an unexpected bride may surprise them all. Buy the book HERE.

Julie Klassen worked in Christian publishing for 16 years and now writes full-time. Three of her novels have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. Julie has also won the Minnesota Book Award, Christian Retailing's Best Award, and the Midwest Book Award, and has been a finalist in the RWA RITA Awards and ACFW Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit

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