Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Allie Pleiter's super-easy Christmas treat

I'm not much of a baker.  While I love desserts, I'm more about eating them than making them.  So, I'm always on the lookout for snacks and desserts that are easy and fun.  Here's one that has been a staple in the Pleiter household since the kids were tiny:

Reindeer Eyeballs
About the silly name--back when it was highly amusing to little minds, we used to make them with pretzel rings so that with a single M&M in the middle they did look like eyes.  Now that we're older and more dignified (supposedly) we make them with square pretzels and four M&Ms.  But the name simply refuses to go away....

1 package Christmas M&Ms
1 package vanilla almond bark
1 package pretzel "snaps"--or any shape that amuses you

1.  Lay out pretzels on wax paper.
2.  Working in small batches, melt one or two blocks at a time of the almond bark in the microwave until it is a pudding-like consistency.
3.  Using a spoon, dab a glob of almond bark onto (or in the spaces of) each pretzel.
4.  Arrange M&Ms on the almond bark and let cool.

This is a salty-sweet snack that is a holiday must-have around our house.  I hope you enjoy it!


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Deb Kastner here with a holiday question.
 Do you believe in miracles?
My family has been through SO much this year that my answer is an unqualified YES.

First, my husband had a double-stroke in September. The first stroke was immediately treated and we thought the worst of it was over, but then he was sent down to get an MRI and stroked again. He truly thought he was going to die in that moment, but God brought him back. He's still needed on earth, and I think the Lord every day for that. Even with his new disability, every day I spend with him is a blessing.

Then my mother had back surgery and there were moments that were touch and go. I'm nowhere near ready to say goodbye to my mother, and am happy to say that, while she's still in pain, she's recovering.

And last week my youngest daughter, with my five-year-old grandson in the car, had a major automobile accident. Her car was totaled, and yet they walked away, not totally unscathed, but considering what her car looks like, with relatively small injuries. She has a painful case of whiplash in her neck, shoulders and back, and one hand is in a splint, but for what it could have been, we're thankful. And the highlight of my grandson Boo's day was riding in the firetruck, with nothing more than a cut on his neck where the seat belt was.

Let's just say my family's guardian angels have been working overtime.

And in a most unexpected reminder of Christmas miracles, my Christmas cactus bloomed--at Christmastime! I have the blackest thumb ever and if it blooms, which is rarely, it's always been around Easter.

In my latest release, Mistletoe Daddy, Nick and Vivian are awaiting a miracle of their own. I'll bet you can guess from the cover what that is!

 Christmas is a time for miracles. Has God been working in a special way in your life?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thanksgiving Traditions

I still can’t believe next week is Thanksgiving. It just seems like yesterday it was hot out…oh wait, I live in Texas, so yesterday it was hot!

But seriously, this is one of my favorite times of the year. In my opinion, Thanksgiving is one of our unsung holidays because it doesn’t always get its due. I mean look what comes next.
Thanksgiving is the time where we give thanks to God for all the gifts he has blessed us with before we celebrate receiving of the greatest gift of all. The birth of our Lord Jesus.

So, as I sat down to write this, I thought about all the Thanksgivings that have passed in my life. At 57, there’s been quite a few that come to mind.

As a child, I remember all the family coming together over a wonderful meal cooked by my mother. Turkey and cornbread dressing, pies, and one of my favorites, my mother’s fruit salad. Of all the things that made the Thanksgiving meal so good, it was her fruit salad that I loved the most. It’s stuck with me through the years.
By then, the weather had usually turned colder, though we lived in a different part of Texas. I remember one year it even snowed. All special memories for a child.

One of our other traditions was to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The floats and the balloons were great, but when Santa made an appearance we knew Christmas was on its way.

Most of my family have now gone on to be with God, so nowadays, Thanksgiving is bittersweet for me.

As a grandmother, we have our own holiday traditions, but I do my best to make all those wonderful dishes my mother made so well and that I loved as a child, (even the fruit salad). And on occasion we watch the parade still.    

So what about you? What are your family’s Thanksgiving traditions? Do you have some that you learned from your childhood and that you carry on to your children?  


All the best…


Mary Alford

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Finally, Fall has arrived by Leann Harris

Cool weather is here. Yeah. Last week folks were in shorts, sandals, and t-shirts. This morning we had rain and cold. But now I have to switch out my closets from summer to winter. Don't tell me I'm the only one who has taken over their children's closets (once they left). Okay, I need to be brutal and go through those closets and throw out things I haven't worn in the last three years, but in my defense, I wore a dress this summer I haven't worn in more than ten years. There's also another wrinkle in this plan to clean closets. I have a proposal to finish. What is more important to a writer, clothes or writing? Need I say more.
I wanted to share pictures of my yard at this time and table, but I'm not brave enough to take a picture of those closets and post it. There are some things a girl doesn't do.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Being a writer is scary

How many people can say they kill people for a living and get away with it? Well, if you’re a suspense writer, you can. The ability to make up dangerous situations and then throw your main characters headfirst into the action, is both fun and a little scary.
I tell my husband all the time that I hope no one ever takes a serious look at my computer history. They’d see such things as what is the name of a fast acting poison? What’s the best long range weapon for a sniper? What type explosives can bring down a building? Research for writing suspense can take you to some strange places.

And yes, all those things are scary to think about, but there are other parts of writing that are equally frightening. Like sitting down to a blank screen and writing…something. There’s nothing more exciting or daunting than typing those first few words of a book, or trudging through the middle of a story when you’re really not sure where things are going, then finally limping battered and bruised across the finish line to be able to write, “the end”.
Then, just when you think your heart couldn’t possibly take any more excitement, it’s time for the edits. That in itself can be scary because most times your editor is asking you to stretch yourself as a writer in order to make your story the best it can possibly be.

With the edits finished, you ca relax, right? Wrong. The book is ready to be released, but what if no one likes it? Just because you wrote it, agonized over every single word in it, doesn’t mean the reader will have the same reaction you did.

So you see, writing can be scary, but let me just say, I wouldn’t trade a second of the terror, the rollercoaster ride of emotion, or the nail biting moments of doubts, for anything else. Because it is a true blessing to be able to say I am a writer, scary or not.


All the best…

Mary Alford



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Allie Pleiter's favorite Fall tradition

November 1 is coming in few days, which means it's time for my favorite Fall tradition: Snickers Bar Salad!
This started one year when I was speaking to a women's conference on November 1.  One of the attendees who knew my sweet tooth brought this to me as a treat. I loved it. Now, for something like 10 years straight, it gets posted to my email list and Allie fans everywhere celebrate November 1 as "Snickers Bar Salad Day." With so much fun-sized candy around from trick or treating, it's a cinch to make. And yes, I have it for breakfast!
Snickers Bar Salad

6 (or more—go ahead, you’ve earned it…) fun-sized Snickers bars, chopped into small bits (my friend says more are permissible if it's been a bad week!)
3 Granny Smith Apples, diced
one 5-oz package vanilla instant pudding mix
8 oz cool whip
1 c. milk

In a bowl, mix pudding mix and milk. Fold in Cool Whip. Mix in apples and Snickers Bars. Cool and enjoy.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Glynna Kaye...and A Taste of That Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Yes, it’s only October, so maybe these snowy scenes seem a bit premature to you? But with my Love Inspired November release The Pastor’s Christmas Courtship already spotted on retail shelves (and Arizona mountain country experiencing a dusting of snow on the highest mountain tops), I couldn’t resist!
As some of you already know from having read my books, this part of Arizona isn’t all desert heat and saguaro cactus. At a 7,000 ft (and higher!) elevation it’s a beautiful ponderosa pine-studded four-season region--which makes it such a fun place to set my stories. Especially a Christmas one!

Have you started thinking about or even preparing for the upcoming holidays--Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year?
If you’ve started preparations for Christmas, what might those entail? Making a To Do List and checking it twice? Gift shopping or making handmade gifts and decorations? (Don’t you just love the craft and fabric stores this time of year?)
Perhaps you’ve picked up holiday-themed magazines for ideas and are reviewing your recipe file for family favorites? Or maybe your community or church choir is preparing for a cantata or a presentation of Handel’s Messiah? Have you been tempted, as I have, to read a Christmas novella to get a tiny taste of this most wonderful of seasons?

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
In The Pastor’s Christmas Courtship, the heroine finds herself reminiscing about family traditions and gatherings held at her now-deceased grandparents’ mountain home. She’s retreating there for a healing time alone and to get the place ready to sell—never expecting that her former crush would be back in town or that her sisters would insist she provide their children a Christmas at the cabin just like the ones they used to love themselves.
I hope Garrett and Jodi’s story gives you a taste of this most wonderful time of the year!
Happy soon-to-be holidays!
Jodi Thorpe’s childhood vacation cabin seems the perfect place for her to heal her broken heart…and avoid Christmas cheer. After twelve years, nothing in Hunter Ridge has changed--except Garrett McCrae. The bad boy who was once her secret crush is now the town minister. And Garrett won’t let her miss out on all the hope and joy the holiday brings.  With every day he’s drawn to the vulnerable woman Jodi’s become, even as he’s about to leave for a mission halfway around the world.  But as they grow closer, their plans begin to change. Can Garrett make it a season to remember, with a love they can’t forget?
Click HERE to order Jodi and Garrett’s Christmas story!