A Season for Fun

by Carole Brown

There are numerous reasons for holidays, but one of the reasons is for fun! Enjoy life, appreciate what you have or that things could be worse, and praise God. Here are a few ideas for a season of fun:

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  • Cut your own tree or decorate it. Make it an adventure. Whether you do this by yourself or have children, have fun decorating. I always believe in decorating the tree for children, but whether you choose the more elegant look of white lights, shimmering big bulbs and lots of ribbon or go with a more traditional look of old, cherished ornaments and/or handmade ornaments, enjoy this activity.

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  • Take time for relaxing moments or quiet reading sessions, hot chocolate or tea (or coffee) a delicious dessert in front of fireplace (if you have the privilege of one). Sit down and challenge your family to a favorite game. Relate fond memories with your children and other family members. 

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  • Take a mini vacation. Go see the light displays on neighborhood houses or light shows in parks, city businesses, and small towns. Go to the zoo and wander around. Many of them have light shows to enjoy while seeing the animals. Take walks in the park. Go ice skating, sled riding or horse drawn sleigh riding covered with a thick blanket and snow flakes on your nose. Walk in the woods. Go to a mall and check out the decorations they have in the main center. Go to neighborhood concerts and Christmas pageants.

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  • Go shopping together. Hold on, and I’ll explain what I mean. If you have mini-items to purchase, or your children have their own money to spend, and you shop at the discount stores, then help them make lists, go with them and encourage/advise them on their choices. Relax, and don’t stress out! Sometimes their thoughts are far different (and above) an adults. Help them make the right choices but don’t allow this time to turn into a battle. Children learn by mistakes. Their smiles and pride at gifts purchased is well worth another bottle of “unloved” cologne they might have chosen. 🙂

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  • Worship together. If children are old enough to behave, then allow them to attend with you. Show them your enthusiasm for the older favorite Christmas hymns; allow them to sing and praise God (encourage and guide them gently) with the congregation. Attend other church functions such as Christmas programs and plays, and suppers. Let them help with dinners for the more unfortunate. Consider sponsorships to worthy causes to help the less fortunate. Re-read the old, old story of Jesus’ birth together and help them understand the real reason we celebrate this time of the year.  

 

I’ve mentioned several items that can be done with your children or grandchildren, but I also understand that many do not have this blessing. Consider adopting (in actions) a child and sharing what you can with them–moneywise or timewise.  Many schools have grandparenting programs. I’ve seen the results when the children love that little bit of extra attention. Teach Sunday School classes. Offer to help teachers host parties. Volunteer at various groups. 

 

Most of all, enjoy the season. Don’t let anything rob you of the peace, love and joy. 

Merry Christmas!

A Season to Remember

by Carole Brown

It’s such a pleasure and privilege to remember the past–the good times that encourage us we can move one, keep on, be better, endure again, and make it. Here’s a few thoughts that might give you a smile and urge you to remember your past Christmas good times.

 

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  • The children’s faces. Their smiles, eyes and expressions of wonder.

 

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  • The trees–the good and ugly–the Charlie Brown ones and the big city, breath-taking, eye-popping gorgeous ones.

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  • The meals–simple soups, luscious deserts and finger foods. The lavishly delicious dinners with people being proper and elegant.

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  • The quiet times of devotion, cuddling our children and babies, reading and exchanging of thoughts and ideas.

May you have a special memory to enjoy or share with family and friends.

Guest Author Gail Kittleson Talks About the Season of Advent

gailI’d like to welcome guest author Gail Kittleson. An Iowa author, Gail writes World War II Women’s Fiction, with heroines who face tough odds, make-do and ask honest questions. She and her husband enjoy the Arizona mountains in winter. Gail delights in word play and quotes, and facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats.

http://www.gailkittleson.com

The Season of Advent

by Gail Kittleson

O come, oh come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel…

The Season of Advent is upon us. While these forty days once meant waiting for Epiphany, when the Magi visited the Christ child, God Incarnate, with a focus on the His Second Coming, the Roman Christians began to associate this season with the birth of Jesus.

Advent means the arrival of someone or something. These early December days have turned gloomy in Iowa—the sun has gone AWOL, and a daylight savings time five p.m. seems like ten o’clock. It’s good to switch on the lights our granddaughter arranged atop our piano on days like this.

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This energetic eleven-year old transformed our abode into a haven of lights and words last weekend.

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They help me recall the hopeful meaning of Advent. Today, what will come to us? Will we connect with someone whose kindred spirit encourages us? Will an unexpected gift arrive through something we hear or read? Or perhaps we’ll plot the perfect scene to show our characters’ resolve?

Whatever happens, an attitude of expectancy can make all the difference. This year has brought me new readers—even a few that qualify as fans. What a blessing their kind words have proven on my writing journey—thank you Irene and Jean and Ann and Lisa.

It’s hard to put into words my delight that Addie’s story, In Times Like These, has touched readers’ hearts and lives. One even says she’s earmarked passages that help her in her personal challenges right now. It doesn’t get better than that!

2016 has also provided great editing for the sequel, With Each New Dawn —thank you, Amberlyn and Ann. I look forward to this new release in February, and to new WWII stories to meld into a third novel with Kate, Addie’s best friend, as the heroine.

What lies ahead in the new year? Not knowing creates expectation. We keep expecting, one day at a time, and our lives unfold. The lights around us brighten our spirits in the shadows, and good memories shore up our anticipation of even better experiences ahead.

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Every day, I seek words and light. Note how our granddaughter brightened my reading nook.

The other day my morning devotions contained this: “All the best to you from THE GOD WHO IS, THE GOD WHO WAS, AND THE GOD ABOUT TO ARRIVE…” Revelation 1: 4 MSG. The God about the arrive … what a great approach to every single day.

How will the divine manifest in our lives during the next twenty-four hours, our present, allotted time on this earth? As writers, we can count on words coming to us, and light.

gail-bookIn Times Like These

Pearl Harbor attacked! The United States is at war.

But Addie fights her own battles on the Iowa home front. Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father’s stoke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God’s punishment.

When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits.

Will Addie be able to help Kate, and find courage to trust God with her future?

Top 10 Christmas Movies of All Time

Christmas movies and holiday classic cinema and TV flicks with a red clapperboard and a Santa Clause hat white fur trim as an entertainment symbol of the winter film industry cinematic releases on a white background.

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

These are 10 classic must watch every year Christmas movies. Since everyone has their favorite version of A Christmas Carol, I didn’t include those movies. To see my favorite 10 renditions of A Christmas Carol, check next Wednesday’s blog.

10. Remember the Night

Released 1940

Directed by Mitchell Leisen

Starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwick

A prosecuting attorney asks for a pretty thief to be let out on bail for Christmas. When the thief is placed in his custody, interesting things occur.

9. The Homecoming: A Christmas Story

Released 1971

Directed by Fielder Cook

Starring Patricia Neil and Richard Thomas

This movie became the pilot of the TV series, The Waltons, and tells of a family during the depression.

8. Santa Claus, The Movie

Released 1985

Director: Jeannot Szwork

Starring David Huddleston and Dudley Moore

The best film that tells the story of Santa Claus.

7. 3 Godfathers

Released 1948

Director: John Ford

Starring John Wayne

A Christmas western where three outlaws must get a baby safely to the cow town of Bethlehem while running from a posse. This is my personal favorite John Wayne movie.

6. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Released 1992

Director: Chris Columbus

Starring Macauley Culkin

Best of many movies about a boy accidentally left home alone at Christmas time. Our president-elect and the twin towers make appearances in this movie.

5. White Christmas

Released 1954

Director: Micheal Curtiz

Starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye

Best Christmas musical ever made with great singing and dancing features the song, “White Christmas”.

4. A Charlie Brown Christmas

Released 1965

Created by Charles M. Shultz

Animated

This animated classic helps Charlie Brown learn the true meaning of Christmas. The best part is where Linus tells the Christmas story word for word from the Bible and ends with “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

3. Miracle on 34th Street

Released 1947

Directed by George Seaton

Starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gween, and a very young Natalie Wood

This is the best movie made about believing in Santa Clause. It also featured the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

2. A Holiday Affair

Released 1949

Directed by Don Hartman

Starring Janet Leigh and Robert Mitchum

This is the best Christmas love story ever filmed. It’s sad more people don’t know about it.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life

Released 1946

Directed by Frank Capra

Starring James Stewart and Donna Reed

This touching story of an ordinary man who sacrifices his own ambitions for others is my all time favorite Christmas movie.

Christmas Carol Adaptations are not included on this list. Check back next Wednesday for them.

Honorable Mentions: Elf, A Christmas Story

My Favorite Things…

by Carole Brown 

Ah…tis the season! A beautiful, exciting, and wondrous time of the year. So to start off the season, I thought I’d list a few things that inspire me and make me happy. I’d LOVE it if you all would share some of your very favorite things too in the comment section. 

Here goes!

  • brown paper bags with simple, even homemade pictures on the front! L-o-v-e!
  • handmade nativity scenes–well, actually, beautiful nativity sets period! Lol

 

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  • Christmas trees, live, artificial, colored and plain, and the “chore” of cutting a live one.
  • cards that speak to the heart. That includes handmade ones.
  • New snow.
  • People who dress up for the festivities
  • church programs, especially the children who lisp and stumble and forget. I’m sure God smiles with indulgent love!

 

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  • forgiveness and peace
  • Christmas music. Swoon! (I did an MRI last week and it was the easiest yet–I requested Christmas music. I wonder what the techs would say if I ask for it in summer?)

 

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  • Crackling fireplaces
  • Tastefully decorated homes
  • Lovely set tables

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  • fragrant pine cones
  • Picking the “just right” present for a favorite person
  • Taking pictures
  • candlelit Christmas services with hearts lifted in praise to God!

 

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  • Saint Luke chapter two!

There you have it. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but these were at the top of my list. NOW, let me read yours!

Merry Christmas!

 

 

Thanksgiving Tables for Even the Laziest and the Most Busy

By Carole Brown

I love Autumn decorations almost as much as Christmas decorations. Here’s a few suggestions that can inspire you to adjust them to suit your capabilities and budget. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

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If you’re not a fan of the traditional oranges and browns, try softer hues such as light greens, blues, white and grays. Those beautiful white pumpkins and squashes are elegant and perfect with touches of leafy greens. Why not use those blue dishes with white or gray decorations?

 

Use pumpkins to build a topiary. Choose your colors, remove stems from all but the top one, then stack. Finish the centerpiece with sprigs of leaves, nuts and pine cones.

Have a multitude of different plates? Chose varying ones to match for each place setting, then stack them with the napkin on top and a small pumpkin, squash or other holiday ornament or even a large name tag tied to the pumpkin’s stem.

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Tired of the pumpkin-themed decorations? Use what you have, like fruits and vegetables. After all, we’re being thankful for what we have, for the bountiful harvest God’s given us!

 

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Have a chandelier? Don’t forget to decorate it too with magnolia or holly leaves, pine coves and even–wait for it; I love the idea!–turkey feathers! Beautiful and elegant.

 

 

Add a table runner or place mats of your own design and making. Don’t be afraid to be creative and use what you have. Linen, burlap, and crisp cotton can add to the look you especially favor. Have children? Have them add your choice of painted creations on a long piece of cotton material.

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Use the dishes you have. Antiques or hand-me-downs from parents or even unique pieces you seldom use? Use them as centerpieces or for whatever you have need of. Sometimes old is better. And they definitely make a statement.

 

 

Use pedestal-ed cake plates of candle stands. Wrap middle of candle with rope, surround with greenery and other items. Lovely.

Fill smaller pitchers like creamers, etc., with dried bittersweet, wheat sprigs, and skewered fruits of small twigs. Give each place setting their own creation, or set several here and there on the table.

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And lastly: Put together small, sweet bouquets by tying dried wheat sprigs and
goldenrod together with twine. Use hearty fresh foliage that will look nice out of water for hours, so they don’t wilt on the table. Tie a tag onto each bouquet, with the guest’s name, a verse, poem or favorite saying, and give to them as a favor.

 

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Most of all, stay relaxed.

Enjoy the day.

Be thankful!

 

Sabotaged Christmas: A Finalist!

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It is with great pleasure to announce that you have been selected as a Book Excellence Award Finalist for the following book and category:

Book Title: Sabotaged Christmas
Category: Fiction

There were hundreds of entries from around the world and your book was selected
for its high quality writing, design and market appeal. 

 

 

I’m excited, yes, and so thankful for this honor on the first book in my Appleton, West Virginia Romantic Mystery series! 

If you’re interested and would like to see what all the hoopla’s about or just want to get ready for some December holiday reading (although it can be read any time!), then go here:

https://www.amazon.com/Sabotaged-Christmas-Appleton-Romantic-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0186GF4GY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8https://www.amazon.com/Sabotaged-Christmas-Appleton-Romantic-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0186GF4GY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

HAPPY READING!