Things I’m Loving this Week

I’ve always been a reader, and with half the world obsessed with reality tv or ugly politics, for me that translates to blog reading. There are about a handful of blogs I read regularly. Why? I always want to hear from these people because they’re so real, and Crystal Paine’s weekend post is one of those I look forward to in my inbox. I thrive on “off topic” randomness, and the weekend posts are just about as random as you can get, so in honor of this I want to jot a few random offerings of my own.

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  1. Hello September!

If you didn’t know, this month begins the season I love most. Bring on the #PSL’s– although where I live, I prefer the amazing local version which combines pumpkin spice with toasted marshmallow. It just makes me happy. At this moment, there’s a wicker basket set under my living room chair, just ready for when the hats and mittens come out. Fall means delicious breezes, a last hurrah for the roses surrounding my porch, and gorgeous colors on the trees. Our extended family spends extra time together, because birthdays! Also, there are always great events, so I’m already planning date nights for me and hubby. 🙂

What do you love about fall?

  1. Hoopla– digital streaming

I have recently discovered this tiny goldmine, brought to us by our local libraries, and I love it! It’s free, you can get the app, and you have 10 titles per month. With. Rollover. I am currently hoarding my last five titles from August until they expire, and I will carefully choose my books for September one at a time. Until the end of the month, when I’ll snag like a crazy person.  Right now, I’m finishing up Lisa-Jo Baker’s book, followed by Breaking Busy from Alli Worthington on audio. I also have three ebooks in fiction from Melissa Tagg, Colleen Coble and Denise Hunter.

I don’t have a ton of time to read, as I’m sure you don’t either. When I do, I like something good on my shelf. I love a new Bible study book or Christian fiction new release, and last season’s featured books from Lifeway are mostly on the shelves of Hoopla. You can find your favorite 2017 releases pretty quick–even for you music and video lovers–and it costs nothing. Definitely worth a shot.

What are you reading in September?

  1. Lisa Jo Baker’s Never Unfriended wrecked me in the worst possible way. The truth is, the only people I have ever unfriended are people I loved most, because of life choices and healthy boundaries–all the things that would sound responsible in a TEDTalk and feel like garbage in real life.  That being said, I never intended to read this book. I probably wouldn’t have, except for Kristy Cambron’s book club featuring…you guessed it. Never Unfriended and Lizzy & Jane. I decided to check out the audio version and let it roll while I drove to all the mom things, then folded laundry.

The thing I loved about this book is the way Lisa cuts through social pretense with a reality knife, takes the cracked sheet cake and layers it with fruit and whipped cream before she serves it up on a plate. Belle melange never tasted so good–maybe because the women who read this book  aren’t eating alone. A favorite quote refers to, “Velveteen Friendship.”

“Love is born when we misunderstand one another and make it right…when we cry in the kitchen, when we show up unannounced with magazines and granola bars in an effort to say, ‘I love you.’” –Lisa Jo Baker

I hope your weekend finds a way to tell the people in your life how much you love them.

**Bonus: I’m looking forward to this Scripture writing plan on serving. Hop on over and join me!

Grace to you,

Nicki

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Interview & a Giveaway with Author, Virginia Smith

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Welcome to the blog today, Ms. Ginny!  I’m so happy to feature your fun, hometown series, “Tales from the Goose Creek B&B”.  Can you tell us a little bit about your Goose Creek series and how you came up with the characters in the Richardson family?

Goose Creek is a fictitious town in central Kentucky, home to a bunch of funny, quirky residents that resemble small towns everywhere. Everybody knows everyone else’s business, and they have no problem voicing their opinions. There are really three main characters. First, a nearing-retirement-age couple, Al and Millie, whose marriage full of laughter and conflict and misunderstandings, and especially moments of tenderness. I’ve had so many people tell me, “You’re writing about my marriage!” Another main character is Susan, a young veterinarian who buys the local animal clinic and struggles to find her place as an outsider in town. Who among us hasn’t felt like an outsider at one time or another?

Yay, another Kentucky girl!  Well, as all Kentucky residents know, there is a huge rivalry among Kentucky basketball fans–even in Goose Creek!  What is your team of choice:  University of Louisville or University of Kentucky?

SERIOUSLY? I’m part of the Big Blue Nation. I bleed blue! U.K. Wildcats all the way!

Haha, ok.  My husband is a Wildcat, also.  His dad, however, is a Louisville fan.  We have had a lot of Christmas gift (switching) hilarity with those two and their sports teams over the years!

Now that the weather is starting to turn, and it’s just about perfect for a hot drink and a good book–what’s your preference:  Coffee or cocoa?

Coffee, preferably hazelnut.

Yum, that sounds good.  There is also a lot of sweet treat sharing in Goose Creek.  What do you look forward to the most:  Christmas cookies or Christmas cake?

Cake. Definitely cake. I included the recipe for a family Christmas tradition in the first book in the series, The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade – my grandmother’s lemon cake.

I remember that recipe!  Now I’m going to have to try it.  We have way too many sugar options at Christmas, but my husband always asks me to make a Dark Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake.  It’s rich, decadent, and loaded with real butter!  🙂

One thing that I still enjoy, even after the main event is through, is the beautiful glow of twinkle lights.  What is your favorite to display:  white lights or colored?

I think white lights are elegant and beautiful, but for my home I like the variety of colors everywhere.

I feel the same way.  We alternate strands of white and colored on our tree, and my oldest daughter said this year, “Mom, some people get white lights and some people have colored lights, but I like that we get to have both.  That’s pretty good.”  🙂

While we’re on the subject of decorating, there are a lot of decorating ideas floating around Goose Creek this year.  I found it quite entertaining!  How would you describe your own decorating style:  “Country geese” or “Chip & JoJo (Gaines) chic?”

 Since I don’t know who Chip and JoJo are, I’d have to pick Country Geese. I’m not really into pictures of roosters and all that, but I prefer comfort over elegance.

Comfort in Kentucky sounds just like home!  Good choice.  🙂  P.S.  Here is a picture of the couple I mentioned.  They had a TV show on HGTV called Fixer Upper for several seasons, and their new book is on my reading list for 2017.  All their decorating is beautiful and comfortable–my kinda people!

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I love the way that Christmas decorations make you feel.  My kids enjoy looking through their ornaments and remembering who gave them each one.  What is your favorite decoration at Christmastime?

I have almost the entire Whoville village from Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which is my all-time favorite animated Christmas program. I set that village up every year, and play with the little Whos and the Grinch and Max.

Nice!  My kids would love that.  Now, what about gift-giving? Can you share a special Christmas gift memory?

The ones that stand out in my mind are gifts I’ve given, not ones I’ve received. The year my husband’s mother passed away I found her old high school letter (she lettered in softball), and had it framed in a memory box with an engraved plate. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen him cry.

On the other hand, my sister and I have a gift tradition. Each year we give each other the world’s ugliest Christmas ornament, and try to outdo each other. Some of the memorable ones are a glass fish with legs and lips, a fuzzy brown ball that had no business being a Christmas ornament, a ballet dancer (complete with fuzzy tutu) with our stepfather’s head glued in place of the dancer’s. Christmas Eve always provides a few laughs as we open our ugly ornament gifts.

Both of those are really good memories.  One tradition we love in our family, is the scavenger hunt my parents create every year for Christmas.  Sometimes we have it before the gifts are opened, sometimes after, but it is priceless to watch all four of my kids run around the house looking for clues to a family gift! 

Now that Christmas is over, there is a little time for reading left for all the moms on break.  What book(s) you would recommend over Christmas break?

Rachel Hauck’s “The Wedding Dress”; Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale”; for fans of The Princess Bride, “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride.” If you can listen to that one on audio, it’s awesome because it’s narrated by Carey Elwes who played Westley in the movie.

And of course, if you haven’t read the Goose Creek series, I HIGHLY recommend those books – “The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade,” “Renovating the Richardsons,” “The Room with the Second-Best View,” and the two novellas, “Dr. Horatio vs. the Six-Toed Cat,” and “A Goose Creek Christmas.” The Christmas book is a free eBook download for the next month or so, and you can read it out of order.

Thank you so much!  I’m sure all of our readers will enjoy a free Kindle copy of A Goose Creek Christmas!  **Don’t forget to leave a review!**  Even a few kind words is a blessing to any Christian author. 🙂

 Thank you so much for being here today, Ms. Ginny.  Before we go, do you have a favorite winter recipe to share?

This one’s easy and delicious and perfect for winter:

Taco Soup

Ingredients:

1 pound hamburger

1 pound sausage

1 can each of the following: red beans, black bean, pinto beans, Mexicorn (also called Fiesta corn)

1 cans Rotel tomatoes with green chilis

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 package Ranch mix dressing

1 package taco seasoning

Accompaniments:

Sour Cream

Shredded Cheese

Tortilla Chips

Directions:

Brown meat and drain well. Set aside. Empty all cans (undrained) into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add Ranch and Taco seasoning packages and stir well.

Add meat. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream, cheese and tortilla chips.

 

Yum!  That is one of our family favorites.  Thanks again, and for all of our readers, don’t forget to pick up your free copy of Virginia Smith’s Christmas book, A Goose Creek Christmas.

Happy New Year!

 

 

The Days In Between

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Well, it’s official.  The “In Between” days have begun.  After the main event, before we rush back to the normal schedule of school and such—this is the best time for me.  When the parties are over, the presents are put away, and a load of laundry is in the washer, I love to sit in the twinkle-lit living room with my fuzzy-sock feet propped up on the ottoman and a cup of coffee nearby.

Taking a few extra moments to sip and savor, knowing that I have nowhere to be and nothing pressing to attend to—these are the moments.  Getting to read a little extra in my Bible, picking up a devotional, turning on praise music—Love it!

For me, the days in between also allow time to knock a few things off of my “to do” list.  Over my teaching break this year, I will be entering grades for the last grading period, decluttering the house a bit, reading my Middle School and High School kids’ NaNoWriMo entries, and (I’m super excited about this one) **creating the wedding invitation design for my nephew and his bride-to-be**!!  This is a first, and I can’t wait to see how it will turn out.  (Yes, there will be pictures.)

 

Something else I love is catching up on my reading.  Teaching doesn’t allow for a lot of free time, so I really enjoy binge-reading through my “to-read list” on break.  This year, I picked a few excellent reads from the Christian writers I have met in 2016:

A Goose Creek Christmas (novella) by Virginia Smith

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Precious in His Sight by Karen Pashley

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A (Sorta) Southern Serenade by Krista Phillips

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(I also recommend the cute, Christmas novella I read earlier this year,

The Funky Chicken by my friend, Melinda Eye Cooper.)*The links in this post are all non-affiliated

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What about you?  What are you doing on the “Days In Between”?  What are your favorite reads in 2016?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

reading books 2016 christmas free novel novella good read reads mom homeschool wife mother teacher teaching schoolyear kids parenting ACFW writer writing KY Kentucky