Clinging to Love

When I was a little girl, our family spent most weekends “down in the country.” This was, and still is, how my parents referred to the area where they grew up in Southern Maryland. Though we lived just ten minutes outside of Washington, DC, my parents always thought of St. Mary’s County as home. I came to feel the same way after spending so much of my childhood there. In fact, even as an adult, the dreams in which I am “at home” often take place at my grandparents’ house. My mother tells me that at the end of each weekend, I would cling to my grandfather’s legs and beg him not to let my parents take me back with them. While my parents are THE BEST, all I wanted was to be with my grandparents.

As I got older, I spent many, many weekends and extended summer stays with Granddad and Gram, as I always referred to my grandmother. Much of that time was spent crabbing, fishing, or “helping” Granddad with his tobacco crop.

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Share Your Love

This morning, my mother began taking down her Christmas decorations. As she frequently does this time of year, she replaced the decorations on her dining room table with the tablecloth that her mother-in-law made for her as a wedding present.

This tablecloth, with hours of love crocheted into every knot and loop, is one of my mother’s most prized possessions. She lost her mother-in-law less than ten years after she and my father wed, but Grandma Mac lives on every year when that tablecloth graces my parents’ table. For fifty-seven years, this tablecloth has been not only a beautiful reminder of my grandmother but a witness to baby showers and wedding plans and family dinners and all the sorrow and joy that comes from being part of a family.

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Not Your Grandmother’s Egg Nog

We’re in he midst of the holidays, and most people are still stuck at home. It seems that most home improvement jobs have been completed, the exercise equipment gathers dust, and Netflix binges are becoming stale. However, it looks like many are still cooking and baking and trying to come up with new recipes. We’ve been baking cookies, cakes, and pies and making hot chocolate bombs. Today, I’m going to experiment with pumpkin spice bread pudding. I can’t wait to taste it!

One thing that is always the hit of the party in our family is our homemade ice cream cake. At the end of Island of Promise, it’s what Kayla makes for Todd for his birthday, and subscribers to my newsletter received the recipe in my Island of Promise Companion Cookbook.

This year, my mother had the brilliant idea to make an egg nog ice cream cake for Christmas, and I decided to make my own version. We decided one a challenge to see what recipe seemed to be preferred. I can’t tell you that there was a clear winner because not a scrap of the cake was left over in either house. Clearly, this is one that may need to become a staple in our Christmas recipe file!

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A Little Bit More

When I was a little girl, I loved all of the Christmas specials. It was a big deal in our family when they came on TV. We all gathered in our basement recroom, the popcorn popper whirring the kernels around in the melted butter, the scent filling the air, as we waited in anticipation of shows that could only be watched when they aired that one time each year. My favorites were always The Little Drummer Boy and The Year Without a Santa Claus. I loved the latter because it proved that nothing could stop Christmas from coming–not a blizzard, not a heatwave, not a feud between two warring brothers, not Santa being sick, or lack of belief in the world. Mrs. Claus was determined that Christmas would happen no matter what.

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A Lifetime of Blessings

Last night, we had the opportunity to have dinner with our now married daughter and her husband at their new home. This is Rebecca and Anthony’s first Christmas living together and the first time they decorated their own Christmas tree. I stood for several minutes and looked at the ornaments from their combined childhoods and thought about all the years we’ve collected ornaments for our girls. It felt odd to see Rebecca’s ornaments on a tree other than our family tree, but it was a beautiful, comforting feeling to know that a big part of her childhood hangs on the tree in her new home. We are still tethered together by tradition even when miles apart.

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Be Prepared

A tree beside our house was struck by lightning the other day. It was scary. The entire house shook from the sound akin to a sonic boom, and a red-orange light filled every room, like a giant fireball hurled through the windows. We knew lightning had struck nearby, but we didn’t know where. It was raining too hard to go outside and look around, and everything in the house seemed okay, so we surmised perhaps it wasn’t as close as we thought.

That evening, we all sat down together to watch a holiday special on TV, and we had no TV… The Tivo was working. It told us what channel was on and what program we should be seeing on the screen, but all we saw was a message that there was no signal. We checked the other televisions in the house and found that we had no stations on any of them. Ken went outside with a flashlight and found that the antenna was still there, so he checked the booster in the garage where the signal comes into the house. The booster was not working.

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Whatever You Do This Holiday Season

6 days!

There are just six days left until my online launch party!

I’m so excited! On Tuesday, December 1, I hope you will join me between 4:00 and 6:00PM Eastern Time on Facebook or YouTube. You will have the chance to order Desert Fire, Mountain Rain, book one of my new series which takes place in the Ozarks. You can watch me sign your book while I answer questions and talk to readers who leave comments. It’s going to be so much fun!

I don’t know about you, but I really feel like I need something to look forward to this week, and what better thing to get excited about than a new book series? Seriously, winter is coming, fireplaces are ablaze, and those fuzzy blankets are being put to good use. This one is a gift I received last Christmas from one of my best friends, and I look forward to cuddling up with it every night! I love to cover myself with a warm blanket and lose myself in a good story. Can’t you just hear those book characters calling you?

You know what else I look forward to?

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The Secret Ingredient

One of my favorite memories as a little girl is of baking and decorating sugar cookies with my mom. Baking them for Christmas is a tradition I’ve taken over, and now my girls and I are the sugar cookie providers for our family and friends. Every Christmas, we do a huge cookie swap dinner with the mothers and daughters we are closest to. It’s something we look forward to all year long–planning, preparing, baking, cooking, decorating, and then finally enjoying. This year would have been our sixteenth cookie swap, and my girls and I are so disappointed that we won’t be able to have it under the current circumstances. However, we certainly will be baking our sugar cookies because they are more than cookies.

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Groundhog Day in November

Before I get to my blog…

I have an update on my live streaming event on On December 1. Because I’ve had so many readers reach out to me who do not have Facebook, I will be hosting my Launch Party on both Facebook AND YouTube! Tune in live to get your signed copy of the first book in my new series which takes place in the Ozarks! Join me from 4:00-6:00PM Eastern Time on either YouTube or Facebook Live. I’ll have copies of my new book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain, on hand for you to purchase via a special link, and you can watch me sign your book while I answer questions and talk to readers. Leave a comment with a question, and I will answer it live during the launch. Keep checking my website and social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), for more information about the launch and the series. 

Do you remember the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day? Of course you do. It’s the one where Bill’s curmudgeonly character has to relive the same day over and over until he gets it right. Do you feel like we’ve all been sucked into the vortex of the never-ending story? That this pandemic just keep playing on a loop over and over again?

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A Sneak Peek At Buffalo Springs

Before I get to my blog…

I have big news for readers of my inspirational novels! On December 1, just in time for Christmas, I will be hosting a Launch Party on Facebook for my new series which takes place in the Ozarks! Join me from 4:00-6:00PM Eastern Time for my Facebook Live event. I will have copies of my new book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain, on hand for you to purchase via a special link, and you can watch me sign your book while I answer questions and talk to readers. Leave a comment with a question, and I will answer it live during the launch. Keep checking my website and social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), for more information about the launch and the series. 

For today, my blog isn’t quite a blog. Instead, it’s a peek into the world of Andi Nelson…

Andi always heard, You can’t go home again…

Andi Nelson’s dream was to go to the Naval Academy and serve her country. As an intelligence commander with SEAL Team Three, her life is what she always imagined until a lapse in intelligence leads to the death of her team and the man she loves. Plagued with survivor’s guilt, Andi returns to her hometown in the Arkansas Ozarks only to discover that Buffalo Springs is as depressed and broken as she is. 

Wade Montgomery, a mover and shaker in New York City’s world of finance, has closed his heart to the possibility of love. When he returns to Buffalo Springs to care for his ailing mother, Wade accepts the position of mayor and the task of helping the town to die gracefully. Succumbing to the pitfalls of pride, he closes his eyes to the illegal dealings within the town’s government, plunging the town and Wade into a pit of lies and deceit that may destroy them both. 

Will restoring the town provide the purpose Andi needs to continue living? Will Andi’s determination to save the town open Wade’s eyes and his heart?

A Teaser From Desert Fire, Mountain Rain

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