Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lost Melody by Lori Copeland & Virginia Smith

Book Description:  The beautiful piano sitting in the corner of Jill King's apartment begs to be played. For over a year, it has sat untouched, ever since a terrible accident shattered Jill's ambition of becoming a concert pianist. The ragged scar on her left hand is a cruel and constant reminder of the death of her dream. But another dream is about to come to life---an unexpected, horrifying dream that will present Jill with a responsibility she never wanted. And choices she never wanted to make. Hundreds of lives depend on Jill's willingness to warn her small, oceanside town in Nova Scotia of a nameless, looming disaster. But doing so could cost Jill her reputation, jeopardize the political career of the man she loves, and ruin their plans for a future together. The fate of an entire community hangs in the balance as Jill wrestles with the cost of heeding one still, small voice.

My Review:  Lost Melody is a simply wonderful story about not giving up or giving in AND to always believe!  Believe that God has an ultimate purpose and a plan. 
Jill feels like a washed out has been...from great concert pianist to painful nightmares and scars.  All which came in a split second.  But she still remembers the stranger who told her that God would not let the dream die.  
Jill lives with her feisty seventy-nine year old, soon to be eighty-year old, grandma.  A grandma who lives and loves life with the passion of a person who believes the best is yet to come.
It seems that her grandma, Ruth Parkins, is the ally that keeps Jill going and keeps her on track.
Jill's boyfriend, Greg, is a strong, nice guy.  Greg is the kind of guy most unmarried, single women would love to have around.  Greg is Jill's stalwart companion.
And then Jill begins to have dreams...she needs to warn the town, but it's just a dream, a small voice.  
Can one dream, a small voice make all the difference in the lives of people? And the one who chooses to obey that voice?
A very interesting and insightful read!
*This book was provided for review by Zondervan*
Meet the Authors:
The result of that first plotting session, Lost Melody, will be available in October, 2011. Then in February, 2012, the ladies will release their second co-authored project, The Heart’s Frontier. They’re excited to introduce their readers to the writing team of Copeland and Smith. When you crack the covers of these books, be prepared to meet characters who will make you laugh and cry, grieve and love, and leave you deeply satisfied when you turn the last page.Lori and Ginny both have busy writing careers of their own, and they continue to write books independently. They invite you to visit their individual websites a t www.loricopeland.com and www.virginiasmith.org

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Great gift idea or hostess gift

From the blue eyed baker {https://sites.google.com/site/blueeyedbakersrecipes/christmas-crunch-cookies}


Christmas Crunch Cookies

For the jar:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup M&M’s
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup Rice Krispies
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
To make the cookies:
Jar contents plus
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
In a 1 quart jar, layer the jar ingredients in the order listed.  Using a spoon or something with a flat bottom (we used a cocktail muddler, shocking) pack each layer down as much as possible before adding the next.
To make the cookies, preheat oven to 350.  Beat together the butter, vanilla extract and egg in a large bowl. Add the contents of the jar and stir until well mixed (dough will be crumbly). Drop rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until puffed and golden.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

{GlassRoad Blog Tour} Precisely Terminated by Amanda L. Davis

Book Description:  With microchips implanted in their skulls at birth, the slaves of Cantral and Cillineese have labored under the tyrannical rule of the nobles and their computers for centuries. Monica, a noble who avoided the implanting and escaped a death sentence at the age of four, is now sixteen and is in hiding. She lives with the slaves inside the walls of the Cantral palace, pretending to be one of them while the slave council plots a way to use her chip-less state to destroy the all-powerful computers that strike down any hint of rebellion.

The fate of millions rides on Monica's shoulders. As the only chip-less person in the world, she must find a way to destroy the computers and free Cillineese from the nobles' iron fist before they strike with the ultimate punishment--death for everyone inside the city walls.

My Review:  The cover of this book scared me a bit.  So, I put off reading it for a week!  I seriously do not like horror reads so looking at the cover made me think of zombies.  But I ran out of books to read, so I picked up Precisely Terminated by Amanda L. Davis.
First of all, I can hardly fathom that a teenager wrote this incredible book!  After I began reading I realized why the cover was illustrated with this picture and then I saw a dust covered slave and not a zombie.  
WOW! What a read!  
It's a VERY fast paced story.  I kept turning the pages to see what would happen next!  AND the emotion!  Let me tell you my heart went out to the slaves and I kept rooting and waiting for the final outcome.  <written very realistically!>
This story starts out fast and furious and there's no let up!  
Monica is a noble and by a hand of fate does not have a chip/a sensor embedded in the base of her skull.  Monica is the only hope the slaves have for freedom. For a person without a chip/sensor is a person who is  free to go wherever he wishes.  The chips that are embedded on the slaves and even the nobles are controlled by a master computer.  If one person gets out of his place/his structure then sharp warnings are sent through the chip.  Three warnings (the sharp pains start out light and then gets sharper) and by the third warning if one is not back in his place ~ DEATH!  Horrible electrocution! The chip even dictates when a slave gets up, takes a bath, eats and sleeps.  Going to the restroom seems to be the only "me time."
The slaves are like quiet mice that do ALL the work for the nobles.  The salves use tunnels throughout the gigantic castle/kingdom. Even the young children are given tasks to complete with their mothers.
Monica was kidnapped by loving slaves because she is their only hope for freedom.  Without a chip she can somehow get to the computer and somehow she will have destroy it.  However, Monica's life is not easy!  She lives, eats and acts like slave even though she doesn't have a chip embedded in her skull.  She must wear a dead person's chip so that she can eat, bath and access different regions of the kingdom.  And then the computer terminates the dead person after it learns of his death.  A precarious life!  
What a story and the title, Precisely Terminated,  accurately describes the slaves lives!  Not a gruesome note in this fantastic read!  
This is a story of supreme sacrifice for the good of all!  Love for others reigns!  I loved this read!  *Note to self:  Don't judge a book by its cover*
*This book was provided for review by GlassRoad PR*
Meet the Author:
Amanda L. Davis is the award-winning teen author of the Cantral Chronicles, a dystopian trilogy. She enjoys reading and writing and comes up with new novel ideas while spinning yarn or running on the roads near her home. She was born and raised a Florida girl and loves the warmth of the South.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winner is . . .

Congratulations to:
Branda
who is the Winner 
of the CEB Bible!
{Winner has been contacted}

Smitten by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, & Denise Hunter

Book Description: Four friends devise a plan to turn Smitten, Vermont, into the country's premier romantic getaway-and each finds her own true love along the way. 

With Smitten Lumber closing, residents wonder if their town can stay afloat. Then four friends and local business owners-Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese--decide the town is worth saving. How will they do it? They'll turn Smitten into a honeymoon destination!As Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese work to save the town, each discovers romance in her own life. Meanwhile, the faith of a little child reminds the whole town what it means to have real faith in the God who is the always and forever Love.

My Review:  The lumber town of Smitten has been smitten with a case of bad luck; no lumber mill, no town?
But four friends decide the town is worth saving and come up with a plan! A honeymoon destination for those who are smitten by the love bug. 
"Natalie" by Colleen Coble is all about Natalie and Joe Smitten, the town leader.  Natalie finds that the heart of a person goes deeper than their words.  
"Julia" by Kristin Billerbeck how Julia must come to grips with Jake without letting him burn up all her plans.
"Shelby" by Diann Hunt is about Shelby and mountain man, Nick.  Shelby loves tea and Nick loves trees, ummm...quite a mix!
"Reese" by Denise Hunter finds Reese smitten by her long time friend, Griffen.  Reese's plan to get Griffen's attention is humorous and quite original.
This is a fun, light read!  A great book for sitting by the fire with a cup of hot tea or cocoa.  
*This book was provided for review by BookSneeze/Thomas Nelson Publishing*

Friday, November 25, 2011

Journey To Christmas {dvd}



DVD DescriptionJourney to Christmas is a fascinating new reality DVD series that invites you to explore Jesus' birth through five modern-day explorers. Shot on ultra high-definition film and packaged as a four-part DVD church curriculum, this unique study series chronicles the experiences of five very different people- a messianic Jew, a First Nations woman, a poet, a Christian radio personality, and an agnostic lawyer- as they journey through the Holy Land to discover the true meaning of Christmas. Guided by a local historian (Nizar Shaheen) with on-camera commentary from a team of Bible experts (astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross, ancient history expert Dr. Paul Maier, archeologist and New Testament scholar Dr. Craig Evans, Biblical times culture expert Claire Pfann, and others), viewers will see the Christmas story unfold though the eyes of each member on this unique pilgrimage.
My Review:  I rarely review dvds but when I see one that is worthy of praise then I like to tell everyone so that they, too, can enjoy a great story/documentary!
Journey To Christmas may become that ONE dvd that you and your family just have to view for the holiday because as the title sates, Journey To Christmas, is exactly that...a journey to the Holy Land at Christmastime with 5 average Canadians: a messianic Jew, a First Nations woman (or as we would call her~Native American), a poet, a Christian radio personality, and an agnostic lawyer. An interesting mix of personalities and beliefs.
Even if you don't like the participants (not really sure why these particular people were chosen...they seemed like weak tea to me)  the photography is worth the watch!  And the journey, well let me just say...Wow!  Eye opening!  Walk where Jesus the Savior walked *a little teary eyed here.  To actually watch the journey of our Savior's footsteps.  To see the impact one, lowly Man had upon the earth!
The discussion guide is weak but we didn't use it for a group study just a family conversation booster. 
A great dvd to begin your Christmas journey!
*This dvd was provided for review by Tyndale Publishing*


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Easy Cranberry Sauce


Ingredients

  • 12 ounces cranberries
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice

Directions

  1. In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and place sauce in a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mercy Came Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Book Description:  There are no second chances. Or are there?
Krista Mueller is in a good place. She’s got a successful career as a professor of history; she’s respected and well-liked; and she lives hundreds of miles from her hometown and the distant mother she could never please. It’s been more than a decade since Alzheimer’s disease first claimed Charlotte Mueller’s mind, but Krista has dutifully kept her mother in a first-class nursing home.
Now Charlotte is dying of heart failure and, surprised by her own emotions, Krista rushes to Taos, New Mexico, to sit at her estranged mother’s side as she slips away. Battling feelings of loss, abandonment, and relief, Krista is also unsettled by her proximity to Dane McConnell, director of the nursing home—and, once upon a time, her first love. Dane’s kind and gentle spirit—and a surprising discovery about her mother—make Krista wonder if she can at last close the distance between her and her mother … and open the part of her heart she thought was lost forever.
“A timeless tale, to be kept every day in the heart as a reminder
that forgiveness is a gift to self.”
—PATRICIA HICKMAN, author of The Pirate Queen

My Review:  Okay...once again I picked a book based on the cover and the description!  This is one of those reads that spoke to me.  Why? Simply because as a daughter I had some of the same feelings as Krista.
Now Krista Mueller is a successful, doing well on her own.  Single and feeling fairly confident about her life until that phone call comes...Krista is surprised by her heart rending love for a mom who never seemed to love her but instead demanded, always demanded more than Krista could give.
But Krista, in all of her daughter love for her mom, goes to Taos, New Mexico.  She needs to come to grips with her past and she wants, no needs to know if her mother loves her!  However, her mom has Alzheimer's.  A cruel and heartless disease that causes a mom to have some lucid memory moments but yet takes the life of a woman and drains her life.
Krista must also face her past when she meets the Dane, the man of her past who held her heart.  Dane is a kind, caring man who cares enough to help Krista face some painful moments.
A well-written story about how the how facing our past can be painful but brings out the best in our lives, for our good. Which reminded me of Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
If you're looking for a heart warming story then be sure to pick up a copy of Mercy Came Morning!
*This book was provided by Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing*
Meet the Author: 

LISA BERGREN is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty books, with more than two million copies sold. A former publishing executive, she now splits her time working as a freelance editor and writer while parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of the family’s next visit to Taos.
Visit the author’s website.
  

The Spirit of Texas an Astonishing Story of a Pioneer Rancher's Family & Their Mighty State by Winston Menzies

Book Description:  The Spirit of Texas: A Biography of William Menzies, West Texas Rancher, is reflective of a completely different aspect of his life, however, this one honing in on the story of his great grandfather's immigration to Texas in the 1870s and the ranching empire he subsequently founded. Through the pages of The Spirit of Texas, Winston not only introduces us to his own family, but also offers us an in-depth look at many of the people, politics, and events that have shaped the state from its inception to the present day. It is a must read for anyone who loves Texas or would like to get to know her better.

My Review:  As a long time resident of the great state of Texas this book, The Spirit of Texas by Winston Menzies, caught my interest.  I can't imagine living in the rugged country of Texas BEFORE it was established.
On page 119, winston writes about Primitive Living, "During the late 1800's house on the west Texas frontier were primitive.  There were no screens on their windows-if they had windows.  No electricity, no refrigerator, no washing machine, and no air conditioning."   As hot as it gets in Texas I simply cannot imagine living without air conditioning!  
Winston writes about Texas (mostly about Menard County) with the fervor of a man that has been born and bred in a land that he has not only learned to love but land where he has invested his blood, sweat and tears.
This is a wonderful resource for learning or maybe even reminiscing about the BIG state of Texas!  
I love the end, the Epilogue, "God help us to at least leave it the way we found it, and hopefully, by His grace, make it even better."  This is how most Texans feel about their great state!  
This is a grand and easy read with ever SO much history and learning with fabulous pictures that depict/show the pioneers, the work and the Texas tools (guns, wagons, etc.).  
This nice hardback book is a great gift book for the history buff, a Texan who loves his state or a "wannbe Texan."
*This book was provided for review by B&B Media Group, Inc.*
Meet the Author: 
WINSTON pastors Greater Grace Church, a non-denominational, spirit-filled church in Covington. He also oversees an evangelical ministry serving a number of prisons, jails and youth development centers in the north Georgia area. He is the director of Cars for Christ, Manna Ministries (gives food to the needy) and the Shepherd's House, a residential recovery home helping troubled youth restructure their lives.

AS AN AUTHOR Winston has written a dozen books on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from simple how-to steps for building a debt-free home to practical guidance for living a more fulfilled life in Christ. Following the adage to "write what you know" Winston's choice of subject matter, like his life, reflects the rugged individualism that is his heritage.
As the son of a World War II instructor pilot, Winston followed suit, commissioned as a lieutenant in the United States Army upon his graduation from Texas A&M. After a successful military career, he then entered the private sector, enjoying additional success in the areas of real estate, building and design before being called into the ministry at the age of 44. His writing expresses the wide range of both secular and spiritual experiences he has enjoyed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

COTT: Clash Of The Titles....Winner's Article

Guest post by Delia Latham


The Amish are known for their quiet, unassuming manner. Their love of all things peaceful…and shunning of competitive pastimes.

Well. I'm afraid that all flew out the window in the COTT Clash featuring Amish fiction. It was a fight to the finish.... a nose-to-nose race...a no-holds-barred dash to the finish line!

Contestants were:

Suzanne Woods Fisher
(Click on the cover to read Suzanne's Excerpt A)


and

Laura V. Hilton
(Click on the cover to read Laura's Excerpt B)


Both authors hit the ground running with sizzling teasers that presented a definite challenge to our readers. Both were super-fantastic! Both offered a tantalizing glimpse into an amazing read.

But only one of these fabulous excerpts could take the win.

When at last the dust died down…the crowd silenced in expectation…and the winner stood revealed…

LAURA V. HILTON
held the finish line ribbon firmly in hand!
CONGRATULATIONS, LAURA!

The choice was not an easy one, as our readers made perfectly clear in their comments:

"Both of these excerpts are immediately engaging—I think I'd like to read both books!"

"Both excerpts are winners. Can't wait to read them."

"I enjoy the Clash of the Titles!! Each author is fantastic!! And such a great place to hear of new authors that perhaps you haven't read before. Good luck!"

"I love to read stories of the Amish. Thank you for your hard work."

"The authors who write Amish fiction are doing a great job keeping true to the Amish ways while holding the reader's interest with wonderful story lines over and over again."

Heartfelt thanks and deep appreciation to both Suzanne and Laura. I wish we could call it a tie and put both in the winner's slot, because both authors truly are winners.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

{B & B Media Blog Tour} The Common English Bible...Thank You-Come Again -I Promise AND GIVEAWAY!

Today begins National Bible Week, November 20-27, and today also begins the Thank You-Come Again-Common English BIBLE Tour with B & B Media!

I was thrilled to receive a thin line CommonEnglish BIBLE {CEB}.  
God's Holy Word is a beautiful sight...bound in a two tone leather (DecoTone Tan/Brick Red).
 Now the CEB is a translation that "is committed to the whole church of Jesus Christ. To achieve this, the CEB represents the work of a diverse team with broad scholarship, including the work of over one hundred and fifteen scholars—men and women from twenty-two faith traditions in American, African, Asian, European and Latino communities. As a result, the English translation of ancient words has an uncommon relevance for a broad audience of Bible readers—from children to scholars.

What is the CEB?

The Common English Bible is not simply a revision or update of an existing translation. It is a bold new translation designed to meet the needs of Christians as they work to build a strong and meaningful relationship with God through Jesus Christ. A key goal of the CEB translation team is to make the Bible accessible to a broad range of people; it’s written at a comfortable level for over half of all English readers. As the translators do their work, reading specialists from more than a dozen denominations review the texts to ensure a smooth and natural reading experience. Easy readability can enhance church worship and participation, and personal Bible study. It also encourages children and youth to discover the Bible for themselves, perhaps for the very first time. 


Who Sponsored the Common English Bible?

The Common English Bible is a distinct new imprint and brand for Bibles and reference products about the Bible. Publishing and marketing offices are located in Nashville, Tennessee. The CEB translation was funded by the Church Resources Development Corp, which allows for cooperation among denominational publishers in the development and distribution of Bibles, curriculum, and worship materials.  The Common English Bible Committee meets periodically and consists of denominational publishers from the following denominations: Disciples of Christ (Chalice Press); Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (Westminster John Knox Press); Episcopal Church (Church Publishing Inc); United Churches of Christ (Pilgrim Press), and United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press)."
The CEB is a great Bible for studying even though it doesn't have the red letters of Jesus' words it "speaks" in the modern day language.  Now I'm not a Bible scholar so I don't know the ends and outs of all the translations but I do like the CEB.  As I read one of my favorites ~ Psalm 145: 1-3, "I will lift you up high, my God, the true king.  I will bless your name forever and always.  I will bless you every day.  I will praise your name forever and always.  The LORD is great and so worth y of praise!"  This Scripture reads a little more smoothly and is more easily understood (to me).
I think this is a great translation for those who want to delve more deeply into the Word.  Sure, read the KJV or NKJV and then go find the same verse(s) in the CEB.  Did you understand it better?
Sometimes reading the verses from more than one translation can help the reader to seek out the nuggets of God's Word.
This is a wonderful Bible to give as a gift!  In fact, I'm thinking of giving this Bible to my tween nephew as a Christmas gift.
Visit CommonEnglishBible.com to see comparison translations, learn about the translators, get free downloads, and more.



*This Bible was provided for review by B &B Media*





GIVEAWAY (U.S. only)!
One reader will receive thin line Common English BIBLE {CEB},  
bound in a two tone leather (DecoTone Tan/Brick Red).
To enter giveaway:
*MANDATORY! Please be a GFC follower of this blog and tell me in your comment why you would like this CEB...please leave email address to contact you in case of win.
*Earn an extra entry by tweeting~hashtag #CEB 
OR 
posting on your facebook page (please leave your link in the comments)
GIVEAWAY ENDS NOVEMBER 27!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Future Door {No Place Like Holmes, Book 2} by Jason Ethcoe

Book Description:  A mystery is afoot at 221 Baker Street, but will Griffin Sharpe be able to figure out the clues before the future catches up with the past?
When Sherlock Holmes moves out of Baker Street, a new tenant moves in-a mysterious woman named Elizabeth who has long been a fan of Holmes. When she discovers that Griffin and his uncle are also detectives, she becomes very friendly. So when Elizabeth goes missing along with a special invention, Griffin sets out to rescue her.  But finding Elizabeth will take them on a race against the clock that bends time itself!

My Review:  Having met Griffin and his uncle,Rupert, in the first book, No Place Like Holmes, we were excited to read The Future Door!
Though it's not absolutely necessary to read book one, No Place Like Holmes, I would highly recommend reading it before reading this book 2, The Future Door.
Jason Ethcoe writes an interesting tale using a twelve year-old boy who uses his deductive reasoning...just like Sherlock Holmes.
One can't help but like Griffin.  He's a smart, savvy but uncomplicated young man.  He is also very observant which helps him solve complicated mysteries.
In The Future Door, my eleven year old son loved the way the read begins~a lot of action and a gatling gun!  As the gun is "going off"  . . .Griffin and his uncle are being shot at, Griffin notices that the shooter is a woman!  This begins a wonderful mystery full of action and chases!  So, Griffin and his uncle set out to find the elusive Elizabeth.
We love this series designed for 9-12 year olds (but as an adult I loved the reads too).  Great reads make for great presents! 
*This book was provided by BookSneeze/Thomas Nelson Publishing*



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Inspired Design by Roxanne Packham

Here's a great book to help you this holiday season!
Drawing from a rich family history and her own collection of acclaimed designs, California-based interior designer Roxanne Packham has joined with her teenage daughter Hannah to create Inspired Design (Inspired Design Publications), an idea-provoking book filled with stunning photographs, treasured family traditions and a plethora of truly inspirational tips for creating a warm and welcoming home, not just throughout the holiday season, but every day to follow.

Whether seeking unique ways to entertain for the upcoming holidays, celebrate with friends, begin new family traditions or showcase the family history, talents and passions in the home’s interior design, the Packhams have shown the way. In doing so, they have utilized the beautifully structured pages of Inspired Design to reveal the classic truth that any home is made more beautiful when it is filled with love, joy and the determination to make those who enter it feel welcomed.



10 Tips for Setting a Beautiful Holiday Table

By Roxanne Hughes Packham,
Co-Author of the Hospitality Book: Inspired Design

In today’s rough economic climate, keep in mind that although I hope to inspire you to set a beautiful Thanksgiving or Christmas table the real beauty comes from the thought and love you show your friends and family. Beautiful tables comprise equal parts from the “Inspired” & the “Design” categories. See examples:http://www.inspireddesignpublications.blogspot.com/.

Inspired

~Place cards
I love to use the ceramic place cards that can be written on with a wipe-off marker. You can quickly write people’s names, a favorite quote or sentiment. Friends love that you thought about them before the dinner and even something as simple as writing their names on the place cards really makes them feel remembered.

~Welcome Sign
It is so welcoming, to have a sign somewhere near the front door to greet your family and friends. From a very personal “Welcome Smith Family” or a seasonal “Merry Christmas” to “We are so glad you are here” on a casual chalkboard or an elegant mirror or glass framed, and write with a wipe-off marker, that welcome sets the tone for the rest of the event.  I used an antique French cupboard door and painted it with chalkboard paint on the raised panel part.

~Quote or Scripture
The most inspirational part of the Holiday table is the beautiful quotes and scriptures. It depends on the occasion, but a quote that is either inspiring or focused on gratitude is the favorite. There is nothing like feasting your eyes, and then your thoughts, on what we can be thankful for, especially as an example for our children. Scattering them around the home (powder room, end tables, above door jam’s) is a great way to elevate your family and friends thoughts.

Design
~Fresh Greenery
Sometimes we mistakenly think a tabletop has to have flowers as a centerpiece to be really elegant and festive. Greenery is a wonderful, fresh and festive way to make a beautiful Christmas table. Simply cut a few small twigs of trees/bushes like pine or ivy, or my favorite boxwood branches, bay tree and magnolia leaves and put them in three smaller glass or crystal vases. 

~Candles
No table is complete, in my opinion, with 5 to 7 little glass votives with white candles in them. The light sparkles and makes everything else on the table more beautiful and sets a soft, relaxing, often more romantic tone.

~Seasonal Piece
By seasonal I suggest a “Santa” figurine or such, a gingerbread house, or a standing cross to have in the center of the table. A clear jar of candy canes, M&M’s or such would do just fine, as well. Think: Something available only at this time of year. I usually have plenty of items in the Holiday Decor that I switch out to put on the table for each dinner.

~Napkin Rings
These can be such a pretty way to pull a linen napkin through to set on a place and make a really beautiful table setting. You can use french ribbons, or plain silver rings and they help to really make a bigger impact for an inspiring table.

~Sparkling Glasses
Whether crystal or glass, tall freshly washed glass sparkle so much with the votive candles that it is hard to wrong with this combo. A tall glass and short glass of whatever kind you like is very dramatic and beautiful, set together. Whether colored or clear the sparkle is crucial for the holiday table.

~White Plates
Although I love to use seasonal chargers and salad plates a crisp white plate is the most beautiful element to my favorite tables. They can be dressed up or down, and makes each setting look fresh and not heavy and overdone. 

~Seasonal Linens
Of course, linen napkins add the most wonderful touch of elegance to any table, and Christmas plaid or red and green are no exception. My grandfather, who was a “Silversmith to the Stars”, loved a bare table with only plates (or placemats) but wasn’t a fan of covering a beautiful wood table. I have followed suit. Try leaving the wood table bare! The natural elements together is beautiful and simple.

“I tell you, the more I think, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh
 *Provided by B & B Media.com*

Naomi's Gift by Amy Clipston


Book Description: Take a trip to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, where you'll meet the women of the Kauffman Amish Bakery in Lancaster County. As each woman's story unfolds, you will share in her heartaches, trials, joys, dreams ... and secrets. You'll discover how the simplicity of the Amish lifestyle can clash with the 'English' way of life---and the decisions and consequences that follow. Most importantly, you will be encouraged by the hope and faith of these women, and the importance they place on their families. Naomi's Gift re-introduces twenty-four-year-old Naomi King, who has been burned twice by love and has all but given up on marriage and children. As Christmas approaches---a time of family, faith, and hope for many others---Naomi is more certain than ever her life will be spent as an old maid, helping with the family's quilting business and taking care of her eight siblings. Then she meets Caleb, a young widower with a 7-year-old daughter, and her world is once again turned upside-down. 

My Review:  I love Christmas stories!  There's just something about the "magic" of the holiday.  And Amy Clipston once again pens a fascinating and heartwarming story set in the small village of Bird-in-Hand, Naomi's GIFT.
My heart goes out to Naomi . . . she lives for everyone else.  She's a hard working, kind hearted Amish lady.  She's one of those women that can easily bake, cook, clean, quilt and love her family.  But Naomi is "riddled" by sadness.  She longs to be married and have a family of her own but after two attempts of being "burned" by love, Naomi feels that she will probably be an old maid.  Not that she minds, but she just longs to love and be loved.
The story begins with Caleb, a widower, and his 7 year old daughter stopping at the farmer's market before visiting his aunt and uncle.  His daughter, Susie, takes off once they enter the market and heads directly for the quilts.  The quilts that Naomi makes.  It is here at the quilts that the distraught Caleb finds his lost daughter.  It is also where he and Naomi meet and Naomi is distraught by Caleb's eyes!  Oh!How! Those eyes speak!  Such sadness but "that" look says ever so much!
Caleb and Susie continue on their way, leaving Naomi to go on with her life only to meet Susie and Caleb at church.  Love this love story! 
This small book is packed with the"magic" of Christmas....a wonderful combination of love, adventure and His story!
*This book was provided for review by Zondervan*