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Thursday, December 28, 2023

Rambling by Bea Tifton

 Filling in for the lovely and talented Beth Trissel

This is going to be a rambling post, Dear Reader, in honor of that disorientation many of us feel during the time between Christmas and New Years’ Day. What day is it? What am I supposed to be doing? How much did I gain from Christmas treats? (I’m definitely not ready to answer that last question!)

We had a low key Christmas this year. Usually, since both my mother and I both *love* Christmas decorations, it looks like Christmas just threw up all over our house. This year, I was recovering from a nasty respiratory virus, not Covid or RSV, but potent, just the same, that resulted in a slight case of pneumonia. Unfortunately, both my parents caught the virus with the same result. It hit my mother hardest. We missed all the parties, light viewing, decorating, etc. associated with Christmas. I sing in a community choir, and I missed singing with the local symphony and in our Christmas concert. Ouch! But I managed to get a small tree up and a few other decorations.

Like many families in the Southwest, we have tamales and other Tex Mex food on Christmas Eve. Then we open presents. On Christmas Day, we open our

 stockings and this year we had lasagna for our main meal. I managed to make gingerbread and cookies, and I bought two pies. We watched The Muppet Christmas Carol and Christmas in Connecticut (the original version, of course). Dad and I watched every Victorian version of A Christmas Carol we could find and we both reread the original short story.  It was a nice celebration.

For New Years, I don’t plan to make any resolutions. Before the Season of Eating, I’d already been on a new plan for eating and I’d lost 17 pounds. Not anxious to see how many I gained back, but am committed  to continue to become healthy. It’s not a diet, it’s a new lifestyle and I’m not motivated by making a resolution because it is January 1. I don’t do well with keeping New Year’s resolutions. We don’t really do much on New Year’s Eve.  We will watch the New Year’s TV specials and I plan to stay up until midnight because, unfortunately, we have neighbors who disregard the fireworks laws and even the “firing a gun into the air” laws, which terrify  my poor pets and keeps me awake. After that noise subsides, I will say good night to the New Year and go to bed.

On New Year’s Day, we will have a ham, cornbread, potatoes au gratin, deviled eggs, and black eyed peas. In the South, eating black eyed peas for dinner on New Year’s Day is considered good luck. 2023 was a tough one. I almost lost both my parents this summer and we’ve been plagued by health problems and assorted odd misfortunes. I’m  not superstitious, but hey, it’s tradition and we can use all the luck we can get.

There’s an inevitable post holiday letdown for most people. I read several articles and asked several people. My favorite advice was to do something kind for someone else.

Psych Central also had some great ideas. They include:

              -Getting the proper amount of sleep
              -Creating or maintain strong boundaries as needed (Saying no)
           -Embracing moments of solitude and quiet (

I hope your holidays were wonderful, Dear Reader, and you successful navigate the New Year and resume your routine. Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog posts this year, and I hope you continue to do so in 2024. May it be a wonderful year for us all.


Photo Credits: 

Pexels Andrea Piacquadio "Portrait of Woman in Red Top Wearing Black Framed Eyeglasses Standing in Front of White Background"
Pexels Ngah Duong "Boxes Under Christmas Tree in Room Corner"
Pexels Pavel Danilyuk "Christmas Decorations Under White Background"
Wikimedia Commons: Dwight Burdette Creative Commons "Black Eyed Peas"
Pexels Baurzhan Kadylzhaaov "Woman Sitting Between Brown Trees"
Pexels Jill Wellington "Happy New Year Text"

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

It's Movie Day! by Laura Hunsaker

 Happy Boxing Day! I don't celebrate, but for those who do, enjoy your day! I do, however, celebrate it's-the-day-after-Christmas-catch-up-on-movies day. I just made that up, but feel free to join me ;)

I love Christmas movies and the Christmas season, but as busy as we get, I don't always get to watch the movies I want to. I watched A Castle For Christmas last night and that's a good one! Wow, Carey Elwes in a kilt? Sign me up! 

Tomorrow though, I plan on eating leftovers, doing nothing, staying cozy, and watching Christmas movies. There's no baking, or shopping, or decorating, or anything, day! 

And I finally get to watch Jingle All The Way. That's my favorite one of them all. Luckily my kids love it too, so we'll all kick back and enjoy, and maybe we'll binge the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter or something. But for sure, I get to watch Jingle All The Way.

Tonight we watched Home Alone 2 which is my kids' favorite, we've watched all iterations of the Grinch, and many others. So I want to hear from you now! Do you have a favorite? Do you have some staples that you watch every year, even if they aren't your favorite? Let me know!

And my latest novel has been out since the end of last month, and in case you missed it, here's the blurb:

Amazon   |  Barnes & Noble   |  Kobo  |  Google Play   |  Smashwords  |  Goodreads

She’s running from her past…

Lark Seawell is the daughter of a serial killer. His reputation has long been a shadow looming over her since his arrest when she was a child. Especially since she’s the one who called the police. She has spent her entire life trying to live as anonymously and quietly as possible. She is not her father’s legacy.

He wants to be her future...

FBI agent Jay Sutherland is visiting a friend in a small mountain town when free spirit Lark asks for help with her injured dog. He is instantly enamored with her, and their one night stand stays with him far into the next morning, though Lark is long gone. When his partner realizes that she is the daughter of The Highwayman, Jay refuses to believe Lark is anything like her father.

What happens when she stops running…

When a trail of dead bodies follows Lark on her cross-country drive, the FBI believes she’s the killer. How can the sweet woman who rescues injured animals and makes him feel things he hasn’t felt in years be a murderer? The bodies don’t lie. Jay knows there’s more at play. If he’s wrong, and Lark is as much a monster as her father, he may be the next target…

*Author's Note: This book contains a sunshiney heroine, a gruff hero, a couple of goofy dogs, some intense action, and begins when a one night stand leads to more…

Amazon   |  Barnes & Noble   |  Kobo  |  Google Play   |  Smashwords  |  Goodreads

Saturday, December 23, 2023

The Humble Pines

 by Judy Ann Davis

Winter is the time to snuggle down and watch snowflakes fly. Unfortunately, tasks we’ve set aside indoors—lured outside by the long warm days of summer—now call us asking for completion.

As a writer, I have folders of unfinished stories and works shoved into folders, hidden from my eyes and conscience. Many pieces need a new direction, some may need corrections and rewrites, a few may need a trip to the trash can.                                                       

In my search through these fat folders marked, save, I found a poem I wrote for Christmas over a century ago. What I wanted to do with it, or even why I wrote it, is buried somewhere at the bottom of an informational dump in my brain. It’s a Christmas poem and seems
appropriate for December.

The Humble Pines

'Twas daybreak in the forest,
the winds blew crisp and cold. 
And snow lay in a white-washed 'guise
on oak trees, staunch and old.

The sky was slate. The drifts, knee-deep,
as snowflakes fluttered down.
While high above, the hemlock sighed
a faint melodious sound.

Across the vale a shaft of light
broke through the frigid morn,
And scattered rays of hope and love...
Today, the Child was born.

Then firethorn threw shimmering beads 
amid the sun-kissed laurel.
Bright holly bushes shook their limbs
with shades of red and coral.

And in these woods where nature reigned,
where peace and ice abound,
The stately pines all bent their heads
and bowed their branches down.

In these trying times let’s all send out a humble wish:

 “Let there be peace on earth…and let it begin with us.”



For some heartwarming reading during the holiday season, 

please check out my "Musical Christmas Series" 


Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Christmas Top Ten by Liz Flaherty

When I have nothing to say--like today--I will post a list...of some kind. Of course, today, I don't have a fresh idea for a list, either. Just give me a patient...I'll think of something. 

So, some Christmas favorites. And please feel free to join me with most-beloveds of your own. so, here are mine.

1. Song: "Mary, Did You Know?" (That's this year.)

2. Movie: Scrooge, the 1951 version with Alastair Sim. (And a couple dozen others.)

3. Cookie: Cherry Winks, spritz, chocolate-caramel chip, shortbread, iced sugar...oh, sorry, got carried away...

4. Present: A sewing machine. 

5. TV episode: Andy Griffith Show, Season 1, Episode 11. Gunsmoke, "P. S. Murry Christmas." I know, I know...that's two. 

6. Tradition: Air oats, the story my husband told the kids about what grew in the fallow fields that allowed reindeer to fly. 

7. Christmas tree: Any and all. Right now, we have a white tree in the house with blue lights and blue garland and all our treasured ornaments on it and I love it. I also love the little kitchen tree and the one in the office and...

8. Event: Christmas Eve candlelight service. Just something special there. 

9. Wish: Peace on earth, good will toward all. (There are things in life, like this wish and chocolate fudge, that can't be improved on.)

10. Candy: Speaking of fudge...

There's my Top Ten. What are yours? Thanks for sharing, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

You’re invited behind the scenes of a romance movie set in small, snowy Christmas Town, where you’ll discover eight feel good, sweet romances unfolding among the film’s cast and crew.

"It's like 8 Hallmark movies all in one!" 5 Stars ARC Reviewer

Welcome back to Christmas Town, Maine!

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Christmas Breakfast Granola Crumble Cake by Joan Reeves

Happy Holidays!

This is such a busy time of the year. We all want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible and as much time as possible with family and friends.

We have guests, games to play, jokes to share, and meals to cook and clean up after.

We want easy to make and serve food that tastes good too. Why not start the day with a breakfast that ticks all of those boxes. Even better, it can be prepared in advance and frozen.

Breakfast Granola Crumble Cake

This is easy to make and can be served for breakfast or for snacks. You can even freeze portions in zipper storage bags and heat in the microwave before serving.

Crumble it in a bowl and pour milk over it or eat it like a granola bar.


1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

4 eggs

1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup APC flour (or use 2 cups APC flour)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup wheat germ

1 cup uncooked rolled oats

1 cup raisins or dried cranberries or other dried fruit of your choice (I actually put in 1/2 cup each of dried apples and raisins)

1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (your choice, I use pecans)


1. Prepare a 13" x 9" x 2" rectangular baking dish with baking spray and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (177 degrees Celsius)

2. Cream butter until fluffy then beat in molasses and sugar.

3. Beat in the eggs and mix into the butter mixture.

4. Stir flours, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl and add a litt at a time, mixing well after each.

5. Add the wheat germ, oats, dried fruit, and nuts, mixing well after each addition.

6. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared baking dish and bake 20 to 30 minutes.

7. Remove from oven and cool in the pan.

8. When cool, cut into 2-inch squares, split, and butter. Serve as a granola square or crumble into a bowl and serve with milk.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Get Joan's FREE Newsletter, I LOVE READING.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

The Christmas Trifecta by Bea Tifton

 I can still recall it vividly. That distinctive music and the rotating logo coming to rest on the screen of our large box TV set. The thrill as I waited. Then, the word rights itself on the screen. “Special.” And then something that only came on once a year would begin. For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched the trifecta of Christmas specials, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and “The Charlie Brown Christmas Special.” They’ve been around longer than I have. I’m an adult now and they’re ostensibly children’s programs. And I still love them.

Rudolph is such a sweet story with just the right balance of scary, sad, funny, and happy. I heard a group of disc jockeys discussing the special, making insensitive jokes, and it was obvious they completely missed the lesson of accepting people who are different. Still very pertinent. We as a society still need to work on that. Burl Ives is a classic himself, and I love all the music, but my favorite is the song “There’s Always Tomorrow.”

Dr. Seuss was an amazing talent. When I was a teacher we celebrated his birthday each year on March 2. The Grinch, the original cartoon and not that awful live action remake, is my favorite of all his works. This year, I watched it from network television with my parents and we were all glued to the screen. Such charming illustrations and such a nice message.

Charlie Brown is a national icon, and his Christmas special is my favorite of the series. I have a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree in my study.  I wasn’t happy when a subscription streaming company bought all the Peanuts programs and made them inaccessible to so many. You know who I mean. But I l manage to watch it each year on the “Everyone Can Watch This Program for One Day” event. I confess, when Linus makes his speech about the true meaning of Christmas? I still get a little lump in my throat.

I have a small replica of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree in my study. Bent over by the one ornament and swaddled in Linus’ distinctive blue blanket, all it needs is a little love. And isn’t that true of us all?

Merry Christmas, Dear Reader. 


Photo  Credits:
Wikimedia Commons: Evert F. Baumgarner "Family Watching Television 1958"
Somet Korkmaz "Reindeer and Red Bauble Hanging on Christmas Tree"
Brigitte Tohm "Low Section of Woman"
Frank Cone "Bright Moon on Dark Sky"
Monstera Productions "Biscuit with Merry Christmas on Spruce Sprigs"


Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Christmas Bears- Sherri Easley


This is a revised version of the story I posted in January 2022.

It was the first Christmas after losing my son, and I was struggling to find joy in anything, especially the holidays. I had not put up my tree and there was no trace of anything festive.

My daughter saw a post on a social media Mom’s page, asking if anyone had experience in repairing memory bears. Not for the first time, my daughter volunteered me. I am beyond blessed and sometimes frustrated that she seems to believe I can fix or make anything when it comes to sewing.

I got the poster’s information, and we chatted a bit by text. Her grown son was off to college and was struggling with being away from home and in his new environment. The only thing he asked for that Christmas was for his childhood bears, “Bear” and “Other Bear”, to be repaired.

When the woman brought the bears to me, all I could do was bite my lip and think to myself, this would require a miracle. 

She handed me two ragged, brown, near faceless bundles and explained to me how she held one of them while she was in labor with her son and that her son loved the bear so much; they had to find another one because the first one was showing wear.

She asked how much it would cost to repair the bears, and I told her I wasn’t sure I could fix them and that there would be no charge. I've always felt that when you are blessed with a skill or gift, you should pay it forward as much as possible and this was the perfect opportunity.

 I researched the well-loved bears to see how they looked in their less loved days and found, to my shock, that they were originally white. Picking one up, I inspected it closer, wondering what I had gotten myself into and doubting if I could return them to their actual youth. 

Doing what I always do when in doubt- I jumped in and started testing ideas. 


I made a bath of warm soapy water with an oxygen powder and let the little guys just hang out and swim for a while in my kitchen sink. That hardly made any difference, so I sprayed them with a different oxygen based cleaner and a miracle occurred. I rinsed them well and wrapped them in towels to squeeze the water out, then let them dry.

 I used a wire dog brush and gently brushed them out. I was shocked to find that they still had fur; at least a little. I had to be careful, because the fabric was pretty fragile. Then, I fattened them up with fluff, stitching the many holes and sewed their heads back on.

I used oil-based paint pens to retore their eyes, being careful to add that special white dot for the gleam. It was the nose, though, that brought the bears to life and gave them back their personalities.  

During the process, I sent a photo to my daughter and the difference was so stark that she asked if I had changed out the fabric on them.

 The last time I saw the bears, they were neatly tucked in a box awaiting pickup. I thought nothing more about them until Christmas eve when I got an emotional video of the young man opening his gift and his sweet and sentimental reaction at the realization it was Bear and Other Bear and in a cracked voice, he said to his mother taking the video, "thank you, Mom." 

… and just like that – the joy and spirit of Christmas found me once more.


Saturday, December 2, 2023


By Caroline Clemmons

Is it just me, or does this time of year excite everyone? I suppose I’ve never gotten over a childhood anticipation of the Christmas season. Do you feel the magic in the air?

I no longer venture into department stores on Black Friday, but I have in the past. In fact our youngest daughter and I used to wait in line until a store opened and then weaved our way through the crowd to obtain the bargain we sought. But the season is more than snapping up bargains! For Christians, it's a time to celebrate the birth of Christ--even though we have no idea of the real day of his birth. I'm embarrassed to say I don't know what the season represents for all the other religions, except for those who are Jewish.

But that's not the point. Don’t you find people kinder and friendlier at this time of year? To me, it seems people of all religions are even nicer during the holiday season. No matter the religion, there are holidays from the middle of November through the middle of January. Don’t be offended if someone offers “Happy Holidays.” That’s a phrase to celebrate with everyone. 

The twelve days of Christmas begin on December 25th through January 6th.

We always plan to have decorations up and ready to turn on the day after Thanksgiving. Seldom do we manage that goal. Currently, we’re decorating the inside of our house. The outside lights and figures went up yesterday. Each year we add to our decorations, even though we have quite a few—a couple of wire reindeer, an angel, a small Merry Christmas sign, a wreath on the door, lights along the eaves, and a nutcracker/soldier by the front door. 

Last year, someone stole our lighted candy canes. I suspect it was kids on a dare. The theft didn’t dampen my spirit for the season, but it made me sad for the thieves. This year, Hero bought more candy canes. We’re hoping the thieves don’t return.

Our youngest daughter is as much a fan of decorating as I am, so we should have every surface covered. LOL We find magic in the air during this season, which is my favorite time of the year.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. Wishing you the best this year and in those to come, and that your heart is filled with magic.