Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Four generations of creative women!

This past weekend, I hosted my female in-laws for our annual Christmas Craft Party.  I thought it would be fun to share with you my preparations, menu, and craft ideas in case you would like to start a tradition like this as well.

The beauty behind this craft party idea is that it really doesn’t matter how crafty or creative you are.  With Pinterest, there are craft ideas for any level of ability, time, or money.  What is really fun is seeing all the different crafts being made.  At my party, each person brought their own crafting supplies but I did have a couple of extra glue guns, scissors, glitter, ribbon, etc. available if needed.

Here is how I organized our get together:

1.      Invite:  Using Messenger on my computer I sent out a note to my sisters-in-law, nieces, and great nieces with the invitation to come craft at my house and a couple of dates that would work about 6 weeks before the party.  We were able to decide on Sunday, November 6th.
2.      Pick a Craft:  Several of us posted on Messenger pictures of what we planned on making from Pinterest.  This gets everyone’s creative juices flowing and time to get to the craft store to purchase supplies.
Two pans of delicious lasagna
3.      Set Your Menu:  I enjoy cooking for company so at this time I began to think about our lunch menu.  At last year’s craft party, I made a creamy chicken soup.  This year after some consideration to serving a brunch themed menu, I decided on lasagna, salad, and garlic bread.  I have a simple lasagna recipe that I have shared before, but I wanted a new recipe, something more substantial.  So I tried out the new recipe from The Pioneer Woman on my husband first.  When he loved it, I knew I had a good lasagna recipe to use.
Desserts provided by our thoughtful guests

4.      Ask For Help:  All the ladies wanted to help out with our lunch menu, so some brought desserts, one appetizer, two brought salads, so the workload on me was really reduced!  I’m so lucky to have thoughtful relatives!
5.      Clean & Organize:  Beginning the week before the party, I give myself a cleaning job each day so I’m not spending a whole day cleaning the whole house.  Just remember when you are planning out your cleaning chores to do them in the proper order.  Cleaning the floors (mopping or vacuuming) is always done last.
The dining room table covered in brown craft paper makes for an easy cleanup.

6.      Set Up:  The day before the party, my husband and I set up our great room/dining room to accommodate our guests.  As you can see from the pictures I posted, our dining room table was covered in heavy, brown craft paper so that paint, glue, glitter, etc. does not ruin the wood table.  It makes clean up so easy, just roll up the craft paper and throw it away after we are finished.  We needed two tables to accommodate all our crafters.  Leftover brown craft paper can be used to wrap Christmas gifts.
Second table had a plastic top, so no need to cover with craft paper.

7.      Prep Ahead:  I always make as much of my menu ahead as I can.  I like to be “present” when my guests arrive.  Like many families, these ladies all live very active lives, so it is a real treat to spend time with them.  I don’t want to hide in the kitchen, if I can help it.  So the night before the party, I made my lasagna so all I had to do the day of the party is heat up the pans of lasagna and warm up the garlic bread.
Lots of friendly help and advice available.

So much creativity in this family!

An Idea for Next Year:  Although it was too late to do at this year’s party, I had a thought for next year.  This would be the perfect timing for all of us to work on our Christmas cards.  Like so many families are doing now, instead of traditional Christmas cards, many are sending out photographic cards, which I just LOVE!  In January, I throw out the regular Christmas cards we receive but I have kept every single photographic Christmas card I have ever received.  I love going back and looking at them, seeing how the kids have grown and families have enlarged over the years.  How fun it would be to look over each other’s photos and help each other select the perfect picture/pictures for the annual Christmas card.  It is so easy to upload and personalize.

I hope I have given you some simple ideas to host your own fun and easy Christmas Craft Party for friends or family.

Monday, September 26, 2016


Are you looking for something to put you in the mood for Christmas?  I have just what you are looking for, Christmas at Promise Lodge (Zebra Books) by Charlotte Hubbard.  Nothing is more cozy than spending several hours curled up with a Charlotte Hubbard Amish novel and this one takes place during the Christmas season.  Charlotte’s writing is spot on, so warmhearted and uplifting, filled with the right amount of romance, spirituality, friendship, food, and fun.

In Christmas at Promise Lodge, we have several different romantic couples working through some difficulties and the best part is they are not all teenagers.  We have several couples in their 40’s/50s.  Is love better the second time around?  Having more mature romantic relationships featured makes the book more relatable to folks of a certain age like me.

Also of interest is the tension in the community due to Bishop Floyd’s strict adherence to the most conservative interpretation of Old Order Amish rules.  The Promise Lodge community was originally founded by a group of Amish wanting to get away from a different Bishop they had lost respect for; the last thing they had wanted was this new Bishop with his stubborn and iron will ways.

Christmas at Promise Lodge is book two in the Promise Lodge series.  This is my favorite series written by Charlotte Hubbard.  There is something just so comforting, warm, and loving about Promise Lodge.  You almost could see yourself staying there for a good long while, soaking in the friendship and fellowship of all the residents.  And I can’t forget to mention the delicious meals described within the pages of this book.  I can almost smell those sugar cookies baking right now!  Happily, Charlotte includes several recipes mentioned in the book.

Christmas at Promise Lodge will be published September 27, 2016.  I highly recommend you get a copy and carve out some alone time to read it during those crazy stressful holiday times.  I promise it will refresh your mind and put you right back in the Christmas spirit, for sure and for certain!

Friday, July 8, 2016


I'm excited to announce the winner of our autographed copy of Just Plain Sadie by Amy Lillard.


Congratulations Karen!  I will be sending you an email asking for your address and will be shipping the book to you immediately.

Thank you to all who entered our giveaway.  Special thanks to Amy Lillard for giving me the book to giveaway.  And thanks Amy for the wonderful writing you supplied me for yesterday's blog.

Readers, Amy Lillard has written other genres of books.  I have only read her Amish novels and each is interesting and well written.

Here is a list of her Amish novels:

Caroline's Secret
Courting Emily
Lorie's Heart
Just Plain Sadie
Marrying Jonah (available March 2017)
Titus Returns (available December 2016)
More Than a Promise (available November 2016)
Gabriel's Bride
Katie's Choice
The Amish Christmas Sleigh

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Amish and Mennonite:
more alike and more different than you may think

by Amy Lillard
A writer’s life is filled with “What Ifs?” What if an Amish woman discovers her father has a tattoo? (Lorie’s Heart) What if the bishop’s daughter’s long-standing love interest decides he wants to experience the English world? (Courting Emily) What if a wealthy heiress hides out on an Amish farm? (Saving Gideon) This is exactly how my latest novel Just Plain Sadie came about. What if an Amish woman falls in love with a Mennonite man?
               Just Plain Sadie is my seventh Amish book and though research into such a complex group of people is never-ending, I have to admit that I don’t know nearly as much about the Mennonites. Mostly the basics: that the Mennonites broke from the Amish over shunning way back when, now some drive cars and have electricity. But upon delving further I discovered that the Mennonites are more varied than even the Amish.
               Last year on my trip to Pennsylvania I met a Mennonite man at Roots Market. After talking with him a bit, I realized that he and his church were much more conservative than even my Old Order Lancaster friends. See, he had loaned me a cart to haul my books and things from the car and when it was time to go, I offered him a book as a thank you. He wouldn’t even touch it because he said it looked like a romance novel. Their church didn’t allow their members to read romance novels. My Lancaster Amish friends not only read my books, they help me get the details correct! Intriguing…
               The Mennonites run the gamut between ultraconservative, driving a horse and buggy, wearing prayer kapps and homemade clothes, to very modern, you might not even know the person sitting next to you in the dentist office waiting area is a Mennonite. I have a Mennonite friend whose profile pic on Facebook (yes, he has a Facebook) is of him and his wife wearing NFL jerseys. More than the issue of shunning separates the Mennonites from the Amish.
               Interestingly enough, though the Mennonites in general are considered less conservative than the Amish (though you can see from my Roots encounter that this is not necessarily the case), they are adamant when it comes to following rules.  It’s as if the leadership believes, “we have given you this. Be thankful and don’t push the boundaries.”
               I’ve heard countless stories of how the Amish ‘get around’ certain aspects of their Ordnung.  Can’t have a windshield on your buggy? Wrap it in visqueen. Can’t have rubber tires? Replace the wheels with another, acceptable kind. Can only have a phone in the barn? Move the second receiver into the house (plugged into solar power, of course).
               These differences in attitudes toward the rules and how best to follow them became a source of conflict between Sadie and her Mennonite interest, Ezra Hein. Add in a longtime boyfriend who wants to travel and a mother who can’t quite let go and that’s Just Plain Sadie.
               As with the Amish, research into the Mennonite culture could last a lifetime. And maybe I’ll take the reader back to Taylor Creek and the Mennonites of Oklahoma one day.

               What about you? Have you had any experience with the Mennonite culture? Were they conservative? Modern? Or somewhere in between? Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your stories!
Thank you so much to Amy Lillard for guest posting today!  Also, thank you to Amy for giving me an autographed copy of her Amish novel, Just Plain Sadie to giveaway to one lucky reader.  Just make sure you comment on this blog before midnight, Thursday July 7th to enter.  Be sure to include your email address or name to identify yourself in your comment.  Good luck to all and I will post the winner's name tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


_-_ GIVEAWAY_-_ Signed Amy Lillard book! Enter Here!
Comment below with your Email and we'll choose a name Friday
Come back Thursday to read Amy Lillard's own words on writing Just Plain Sadie.


Just Plain Sadie (Zebra Books) is the newest, and quite possibly, the best Amish romance novel by Amy Lillard in the Wells Landing series.  This book is so touching and heart felt that the ending will leave readers with tears of joy.  At the same time, valuable lessons are apparent within the pages of Just Plain Sadie.

The tension in this book comes from Sadie feeling she needs to choose between Chris, a “steady, strong, and true” Amish man who has been Sadie’s best friend for forever and Ezra, a Mennonite man who makes her heart beat faster when she sees him.  Sadie craves the romance that she feels with Ezra but their interfaith relationship upsets both families.  Neither Sadie’s momma nor Ezra’s momma can see past the religious differences to see the person they are in their heart.  Quoting Sadie in the book, “Why were people so narrow minded?  Why couldn’t they see past all the little things on the surface to the person underneath?”  Quite a message for all of us!

Ezra is totally smitten with Sadie.  Here is a quote from the book that sums it up quite nicely, “He really couldn’t say why, but she pulled him in like a magnet, like a moth, like a hundred other things that couldn’t resist something more powerful than them.  And there was no fighting it.  Not that he wanted to.”  This is terrific swoon worthy writing!

Conversely, Chris has been in Sadie’s life always.  They grew up together and were coupled up in their buddy group.  Everyone expected them to get married and Sadie wants that too.  Her whole goal in life is to marry Chris, start a family, and happily live in their Wells Landing Amish community.  Sadie feels that their relationship may not be romantic, but they would have a good life together.

Just Plain Sadie requires readers to ask themselves which is more important, your partner’s heart or their religious affiliation?  Should a person forego romance for family harmony?

Amy Lillard’s brilliant writing, character growth, and captivating romantic scenes clearly set the reader up for a delightful reading experience.   As noted before, Amy is talented in maintaining the romantic tension as well as interjecting humor between the characters in her books.  Readers of the Amish genre will treasure every page of Just Plain Sadie which was published March 29, 2016.
Please make sure to come back tomorrow to this blog.  I have a super surprise blog entry from Amy Lillard herself!  Her blog entry will be all about her experience in writing Just Plain Sadie.  I loved what she wrote and think you all will love it too.  Also, don't forget to enter the giveaway of an autographed copy of Just Plain Sadie by commenting below.  Be sure to leave your email address or your name in the comment so I can identify the winner.

Monday, July 4, 2016


Hopefully you all are enjoying a happy Fourth of July with your family and friends.  No outdoor picnics for me today - my town is experiencing rain all day.  So all our fun activities will take place indoors.

As you may have read yesterday, this is the week of Just Plain Sadie on my blog.  On Friday I will give away an autographed copy of Amy Lillard's new Amish novel, Just Plain Sadie.  To enter you just need to comment on any of this week's blog messages, prior to Friday, July 8th.

I have noticed that several people have comments already on yesterday's post BUT there is no way to identify them because they are using "Anonymous" as their name.  When I pick the name out of a hat, how could I identify you if 20 people all use the name "Anonymous"?  Please leave a way to identify your comment from everyone else, like your email address, or your first name and middle initial.  Thanks so much and please feel free to ask any questions you have!

Come back on Wednesday to read my review of this fine book, Just Plain Sadie.  And thank you again to Amy Lillard for donating and autographing this lovely Amish novel.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


Happy 4th of July to one and all in the USA!  And I wish my overseas visitors a happy and productive week as well.  Let me tell you readers how surprising it is that this little blog has readers all over the world.  With the internet, our world has become smaller and we are able to learn so much about each other's cultures.  I still believe we have a lot more in common than differences among us.

Now here is my good news - this week I will be running a giveaway of an autographed copy of Amy Lillard's new Amish novel, Just Plain Sadie.  On Wednesday, July 6th I will post my review of Just Plain Sadie and on Friday, July 8th I will announce the winner of the book that Amy Lillard generously donated to our giveaway.

To enter into the giveaway, I ask that you write a comment about anything in the comment section below.  The giveaway begins now and ends at midnight on Thursday, July 7th.  I will need you to include your email address in the comment so I can notify the winner or you will need to come back to the blog to see if you are the winner and private message me at that time with your address.

Let's call this the week of Just Plain Sadie!  And special thanks again to Amy Lillard for making this possible!

Monday, June 13, 2016


Charlotte Hubbard has started a new Amish romance series, Simple Gifts, with a barn burner of a book, A Simple Vow (Zebra).  The many, many fans of Charlotte Hubbard's books will be well entertained with this newest offering.  A Simple Vow includes some of Willow Ridge's favorite residents and introduces some new neighbors.  I was enchanted by the story.

I don't want to give away any of the great romance or suspense, but there are twists and turns that made me all the more eager to keep reading!  I'm telling you there is a certain point where all readers will be shocked - no one will see this plot twist ahead of time!  It is that kind of writing that keeps Charlotte Hubbard's fans coming back for more.  And I love the rich variety of characters within the storyline.  Charlotte does not deliver cookie-cutter Amish characters, we get to see the good and the bad, warts and all.

For inspiration, you need to look no further than A Simple Vow.  Reading this book truly makes you want to be a more giving, better person to your family, friends, and neighbors.  Additionally, the romance and suspense are top notch.  A Simple Vow was published May 31, 2016.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


The picture on the left was taken June 14, 2014 and the picture on the right was taken in the autumn of 2015.

There is a 50 pound difference between those two pictures.  And there is a world of difference in how I feel and what I can do since I lost that weight.  I have managed to keep the weight off for one year so far.  As anyone can tell you, losing the weight is only half the battle, it is just as hard to keep the weight off.  I have changed the way I eat, keep a food diary to track my calories, exercise more, and weigh myself daily.  I am determined to keep this weight off this time.

I will try to begin posting more recipes in the near future.  Most of these recipes will have more healthy ingredients and lower calorie counts to reflect how I am eating now.

Additionally I have also begun reading again and posting my reviews.  This time I am writing the reviews from my point of view instead of using third person point of view.  I hope you like the more personal reflections as I feel I am more directly talking to you, the reader.

You will find updates to my Recipe and Book Review pages.  I promise to keep those updated and to better organize them in the near future so you can more easily find what you are looking for.

Please give me any feedback, good or bad, on what you would like to see in my  You can comment below or send a message to my email at