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Sneak Peek: Sleigh Bells Ring

Amish Christmas Miracles released this week! Enjoy a sneak peek of my story, Sleigh Bells Ring

Hope Miller likes working as a clerk at Lewis’s Deli and Meats, a new shop in her hometown of Gatesville, OH. But she likes the owner, Griffin Lewis, even more. Believing he will never return her feelings and not wanting to lose her job, she keeps her emotions deep inside, making sure to focus on her job and not on her handsome boss.

Griffin Lewis used to be a big-time chef, running some of the most successful kitchens in restaurants all over the country. He gave up that life to become Amish, and it was the best decision he’s ever made. He’s new to the community of Gatesville and is struggling to fit in. He also has growing feelings for Hope, who is a ray of sunshine in his life. But he could never imagine a sweet woman like Hope falling for him, especially if she learns about his past.

When Hope comes up with the idea of Griffin catering and hosting a Christmas supper for the church, he is enthusiastic about the idea. Who will reveal their feelings first—Hope or Griffin? Or will both of them continue to keep each other at arm’s length?

Chapter 1

Gatesville, near Holmes County, OH

The light ring of small bells filled Hope Miller’s buggy as she pulled into the parking lot of Lewis’s Fresh Meats and Deli. She bypassed the lot and headed for the small barn behind the shop next to Griffin Lewis’s equally small house, and then brought the buggy to a stop. After making sure her horse, Sunny, was snug in the stall next to Griffin’s fine-looking gelding, she went back her buggy and grabbed her purse. The source of the ringing was a string of tiny bells she had made last night, placed into a small bag, and put into her purse. The deli, which was her place of employment, needed some Christmas cheer.

She walked inside the back of the shop, which wasn’t much warmer than the outside. Like most Amish, Griffin took advantage of the cold weather to chill perishable food. She walked over to the small office, removed her coat, gloves, and scarf and hung them on the peg next to Griffin’s. Her heart jumped a little, just as it had a little more than a month ago when she had started working here. When she answered the Help Wanted advertisement she’d seen in the window of the shop at the beginning of November, she hadn’t expected minding the counter would change her life. It had, but she was the only one who knew.

On impulse she touched the sleeve of Griffin’s coat. The navy-blue wool fabric didn’t feel any different than any other Amish man’s coat, but she felt different. And foolish, especially since she was risking Griffin walking in here at any moment. She dropped her hand, grabbed her white apron, tied it around her neck and then her waist. She headed for the front of the deli, then stopped in the doorway of the office and hurried back to the strand of bells.

When she reached the counter, Griffin was already there, counting change into the drawer. He paused, his dark brown eyebrows forming a V above green eyes that were both serious and kind. “Is that you jingling?” he asked Hope as she moved to stand behind him.

She nodded as she pulled the bells out of the bag. Tiny round pieces of metal shone underneath the gas-powered ceiling lights, strung together on a red cord. “Where should I put this?”

His brow relaxed, but as usual, his expression was inscrutable. She didn’t mind that, though. She’d gotten to know Griffin well since she started working for him, and she was drawn to his solid strength—not to mention his punctuality and the way he took his business seriously. Her personality was a little more carefree, but when it came to work, she was as sober-minded as he was.

When he didn’t answer immediately answer her, she said, “I thought I could decorate a little around here…for the Christmas season.”

He eyed the strand of bells. “That’s a little decoration, that’s for sure.”

She chuckled. “I thought I’d start small.”

Griffin nodded and shut the cash drawer. “You can put that wherever you want. You’re right, we do need some decorations around here. I’m sorry to say I don’t have any.”

“I’ll take care of it,” she said.

“More Christmas bells?”

“Maybe one over the door so it will chime when customers walk in. But I was thinking more like some evergreen boughs trimmed with red ribbon.”

“What about a ribbon draped on the meat case? Would that be allowed? I’m not sure what the rules are here, since this is my first Christmas in Gatesville.”

She nodded. “Christmas decorations are all right, as long as they’re not too fancy. We don’t like to detract from the true reason for the season.”

“I don’t want to do that either.” He took the strand of bells from her. “I have an idea where these can go.”

Surprised, she watched as he took the small strand and wrapped it around the small miniature of an Amish horse and buggy business card holder that was next to the adding machine on the counter. “Perfect,” she said, grinning. Then she turned to him and her breath caught.

He was also smiling, his green eyes twinkling and lighting up his freshly shaved face. Dark brown curls touched the back of his neck, and his bangs, which were also curly, hung above his brow. He was the most handsome man she’d ever seen. Hope had never thought in her wildest dreams she would fall in love with a man who wasn’t born Amish.

A Christmas to Treasure

With everything that's going in the world right now, we could all use some peace of mind. And what better way to get into a that kinder, gentler lifestyle than escaping into Amish country?

My story in the Amish Christmas Miracles collection is set in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. One of characters in the story, Suzanne King, tries to play matchmaker for her widowed brother. In an interesting side note, Suzanne works at GreenValley Farmer's Market, the setting for a new series coming out in April 2021. The book cover is for the first book in the Surprised by Love series, Unexpected Amish Proposal.

Here's a sneak peek at the first chapter:

Chapter One

“Would you like to get married?”

The heady scent of coffee brewing nearly gagged Rose Beiler. How could her best friend be so cruel? They’d just finished pieces of chocolate cake at their favorite bakery, Rebecca’s Porch, to celebrate Rose’s thirtieth birthday.

Blinking back tears, Rose said in a choked voice, “If it’s God’s will.”

Suzanne leaned forward, and her intensity shook the rickety wooden table covered with a pink floral tablecloth. “Did you ever think God allowed you to be single this long for a purpose?”

“I’m sure He did.” Although for the life of her, Rose had no idea why, unless he intended for her to take care of her parents when they aged. If so, she’d be single for a very long time. Maybe forever.

“Would you marry a widower with children?” Suzanne’s eyes bored into Rose.

At this point, Rose wouldn’t care if he had twenty children, but she didn’t want Suzanne to sense her desperation. “If it’s God’s will,” Rose repeated.

  “I’m serious.” Suzanne studied Rose with an intensity that made her uncomfortable. “You like children, right?”

Why was Suzanne being purposely cruel? Rose almost snapped at her. I’ve babysat your two often enough. But she loved her friend too much to be mean. “Of course, I do. I often babysit.”

Rose volunteered to watch the children of other mamms her age from their buddy bunch at church. And she watched her nieces and nephews as often as she could.

“I know you do.” Suzanne softened a little. “I meant as in having a widower’s children all the time.”

“I’ve never thought about it.” The two older widowers at church had teenagers. Neither of them appealed to Rose.

“Think about it now, and tell me.”

Rose tried hard not to screw up her face at the thought of living with either of them. “Are you trying to match me up with Simon or Paul?”

Suzanne burst out laughing. “No wonder you scrunched up your face. No, silly, I had a different, much younger widower in mind.”

A relieved breath escaped Rose, but then she tensed. What other widowers did Suzanne know? Maybe someone at the GreenValley Farmer’s Market where she worked? “Who?” Rose asked cautiously.

“My brother.”

“Joshua?” Even saying his name brought her teenage crush back full force.

“You remember he lost his wife more than a year ago and that he has four little ones?”

“Of course. That was so sad.”

“His sister-in-law had been watching the children, but she’s sick. Joshua’s sold his house in New York and plans to move back to Lancaster to take over Daed’s construction business. He’ll need someone to help with the children.”

“I’d be happy to help any time I’m not working at the popcorn shop.” More than happy. She’d do anything for Joshua King.

Suzanne laughed. “I think he’ll need more than a part-time babysitter. The two oldest girls will be in school, but the little ones are four and two. I thought you’d make the perfect wife.”

Rose’s heart fluttered. “He wouldn’t be interested in me.”

“Joshua liked you when we were younger.”

“He did?”

“Don’t you remember how he used to stare at you when we were together?”

“He was looking at me?” She’d always thought he was keeping an eye on Suzanne.

“Of course.” Suzanne’s brisk answer seemed to be an attempt to brush away Rose’s doubts.

Marry Joshua King? Her childhood dream come true? What else could Rose say but jah?

*~*~*

Joshua leaned back in his chair at the supper table. “It’s so good to be home.”

“We’re glad to have you here,” Mamm stood and gathered plates. “We missed you so much while you were in New York.”

Ten years ago, Joshua and Lena had purchased a farm in Fort Plain, so they hadn’t been able to visit very often. He’d missed Lancaster and his family.

Daed sighed. “If we’d known you were coming back, we wouldn’t have made plans to move to Lititz.”

In the last letter Mamm had sent to Fort Plain, she’d mentioned Joshua’s older brother was building a dawdi haus attached to his farmhouse.

“When will the house be finished?” Joshua asked.

“It already is. Merv hoped you and I would help him finish a few interior details this weekend. We were planning to move in next—”

He stopped abruptly when Mamm frowned.

“We’ll stay here as long as you need us,” she said.

Daed leaned forward. “So, sohn, do you have any plans for, um, how you’ll take care of the girls while you work?”

“I can take care of them,” Joshua’s ten-year-old daughter, Hannah, announced.

“I’m sure you do a fine job.” Mamm picked another stack of plates and flashed a let’s-drop-this look in Daed’s direction.

He ignored her signal. “But he’ll need someone while Hannah is in school.”

Mamm swished into the kitchen. “Let’s give Joshua some time to get settled.”

A loud thump on the front door interrupted them.

“That’ll be Suzanne. She’s dropping off our meat order,” Mamm called over the running water. “Joshua, can you help her bring in the boxes?”

He hurried to the door and carried the first box of chicken parts into the kitchen. Then he helped Suzanne unload the rest.

“Not those,” she said as he reached for two more boxes. “The rest is mine. I can’t believe how much Mamm ordered this time, but I guess she does have five more people to feed.”

Was his sister trying to make him feel guilty? If so, she’d done a great job.

“Thanks, Suzanne.” Mamm shooed her out of the kitchen after they’d set down the last boxes. “I know you want to spend some time with Joshua.” She called to Hannah, “Why don’t you and Lillian do the dishes while I take care of the meat?”

Daed,” Suzanne said, “I’m sure Emily and Faith would love to have you read them a bedtime story.”

“Good idea.” His daed picked up two-year-old Faith, and four-year-old Emily took his hand.

What was going on? His sister seemed to be clearing the room. Were his parents in on this?

Suzanne sat across the dining room table from him. “Did you know Mamm and Daed planned to move into the dawdi haus next weekend?”

“That soon?”

Mamm had interrupted Daed before he’d given their moving date.

“Well, now they won’t. Not until you have someone to care for the children. Have you thought about what you’re going to do?”

“I don’t know.” Joshua felt like he’d been smacked with a steel beam. He’d assumed Mamm would be around for a while. Now he’d have to figure that out. He already had enough on his mind with taking over Daed’s construction business. He’d expected Daed to stick around to help with that too.

“Have you thought about getting married?”

What? Joshua bolted upright.

A dish slammed down in the kitchen, and Hannah burst through the doorway. “I don’t want a new mamm.”

“Hush, Hannah.” But, to tell the truth, Joshua didn’t either.

Hannah pouted. “If you marry someone, she’ll never be our mamm. Right, Lillian.”

His nine-year-old daughter peeked out from behind Hannah and nodded. She usually followed her older sister’s lead.

Don’t worry, girls. I won’t be adding a mamm to our family. Besides, Suzanne shouldn’t even be talking about this. Dating, which he had no intention of doing, should be his decision. And it should private.

His sister chatted about other things until Mamm had taken the girls up to bed. Then Suzanne cornered Joshua before he headed upstairs.

“I know the perfect wife for you. She loves children, and she’s always liked you.”

“I’m not interested.”

“You haven’t even heard who it is.”

He tried to walk around her, but she blocked the stairway. It didn’t matter who she had in mind. He had no plans to marry.

“Rose Beiler.”

“She’s not married?” That surprised him. She’d been sweet, kind, and cute.

He could tell she’d been attracted to him when they were teens. He’d been interested in her as well, but she was six years younger.  He couldn’t believe she’d never married.

“You broke her heart when you married and moved away.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Even if Rose had cared for him long ago, she wouldn’t have waited for him all this time.

“Rose is willing to marry you.”

“You asked her?” Joshua couldn’t believe his sister had done that. “I can’t afford to marry.” Even selling his home to move here had made little dent in the amount he owed for Lena’s cancer treatments.

“You can’t afford not to. You work long hours. How much will it cost to hire someone to take care of the children?”

“I don’t know, but—”

Suzanne didn’t let him finish. “All marrying costs is adding one more person to the meals.”

Neh, it had emotional costs as well. Costs Joshua wasn’t ready to pay.

Pool Forge Covered Bridge with snow on a bright winter day in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA.

You can get your copy of Amish Christmas Miracles at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

The Christmas Program

By Laura Bradford

I feel like a kid on Christmas morning now that our collection, Amish Christmas Miracles, if finally here! Boy, are you readers in for a treat with 14 stories from 14 different authors… So cuddle up, grab a blanket and a hot cocoa, and be prepared to meet some pretty amazing characters. You can purchase the book (in print or digital form) from a variety of online vendors, including:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

In my story, The Christmas Program, you will meet Leah Miller, a teacher. Answering the call for a teacher in a neighboring district just weeks before Christmas, Leah has a lot on her plate. In addition to learning all of the children’s names and taking over their lessons, she must also prepare them for the annual Christmas program–a beloved tradition in so many Amish communities.

It’s a fun time for the children and for Leah as they decorate their classroom and learn the songs and skits they’ll be sharing with their families on the big night. Everyone is excited except one little girl, Emily Mast.

Unlike the other children at the school, Emily is nervous about standing in front of people. But with Leah’s help and guidance (and her repeated assurance that she’ll be there to smile at Emily throughout the performance), Emily agrees to try.

Leah’s hard work may be for naught, though, when an unexpected wrinkle makes it so there may be no Christmas program at all…

For me, as a person, I believe God blesses each of us with living, breathing angels–people who come into our lives when we need them most. People who remind us, every day, of God’s love for each and every one of us. The key is learning to see them in our lives and to be them in the lives of others.

Leah is, in many ways, that angel-on-earth for little Emily. And Wes Hostetler, the handsome and very kind older brother of Leah’s student, Luke, may end up being Leah’s.

Happy reading!

~Laura

The Christmas Fudge Miracle

Dear Readers,

Can you believe that release day is only two days away? If you haven’t preordered yet, you can still do so at the reduced rate. You can’t go wrong with 14 great stories for $.99!!  The paperback version is now available, too, at a discounted price.  Here are the links:   

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

In my story, “The Christmas Fudge Miracle,” BethAnn Byler learns the hard way that people aren’t always what they seem and that first impressions can be completely wrong. She doesn’t want to approach David Yoder to ask for his mother’s recipe for the community cookbook, but she reluctantly accepts her mother’s challenge to do so. Unfortunately, BethAnn also learns that things rarely go according to plan.

Here is an excerpt from the story:

“I’m talking about our Christmas cookbook, of course. We need to gather all the recipes right away so that the Englisch printer can have them back to us in plenty of time before the holidays. We want to sell them with our wreaths and homemade items at the Christmas market at the Cherry Hill library.”

“Okay. I know all of that, but I don’t think I’m going to like the job you’ve assigned to me.”

“Nonsense. You will be perfect. All the other ladies working on the book agree. And you do still want to help, ain’t so?”

“Sure.” Suddenly, BethAnn regretted that decision to offer her assistance with the book’s production in whatever way she could. “Why do I get the feeling that you’ve given me the task that nobody else wants.”

“Not so. You are absolutely the best choice for this.”

“Now I know it’s something completely despicable if you have to butter me up so much.”

Mamm smiled. “It will be easy. We simply want you to get Naomi Yoder’s chocolate cloud fudge recipe from her son.”

AchMamm! You know how David is about anything belonging to his mamm. It will take a miracle to wrestle that recipe from him. Didn’t someone ask for Naomi’s zesty potato salad recipe for a community picnic, and he flatly refused?”

“That was some time ago. You will have more success. After all, you went to school with David and have attended singings with him. Surely, you have talked to each other enough over the years to be freinden.”

“David was two grades ahead of me, and he stopped attending singings when his mudder passed. We might smile and nod at each other, but that hardly makes us best freinden. How about if I give you some more recipes instead? You have my chocolate peppermint fudge recipe and my peanut butter fudge recipe and even my special Christmas pie recipe, but you know how everyone loves my lemon squares. I can give—”

“Those are all scrumptious, for sure, but we need Naomi Yoder’s recipe. Not only is that fudge heavenly, but including the recipe will be a tribute to a dear freind. Just be your usual charming self, and I’m sure David will cooperate.”

“I’d rather snatch a rat from a rattlesnake’s jaws!”

Mamm burst out laughing. “How many times have you done that?”

“None, actually, but it has to be a lot easier than what you want me to do.”

Her mudder reached over to tuck a strand of BethAnn’s auburn hair beneath her kapp. “You will find a way to talk to David. I have faith in you.”

“I certainly am glad one of us has confidence in me because I have none whatsoever. I’d really rather take a beating, Mamm. Can I go out and fetch you a switch?”

I hope you enjoy all 14 of these wonderful Christmas stories!!

Blessings,

Susan

A Christmas Homecoming

Dear Readers,

Can you believe we are only 4 days away from the release of Amish Christmas Miracles, 14 heartwarming Amish Christmas romances by 14 of your favorite Amish authors for only 99¢. If you haven’t preordered your copy, you can do so here from Amazon and here from Barnes and Noble. The price goes up on Nov. 16, so don’t miss your chance to get these stories at an amazing price. You are going to love these 14 stories of heart, hope, and Christmas miracles.

I am so excited for each of you to read this collection.

In my story, A Christmas Homecoming, Simon Lambright has plenty to be sorry for. A prideful mistake that almost destroyed three lives. A rebellious youth that led him away from his faith. A fatal decision that ended in his best friend’s death.   

Simon spent most of his youth trying to prove he was the opposite of the obedient one his name conveyed. But this Christmas, after losing everything, Simon is determined to become the person his mamm and daed believed him to be.

With mistakes weighing heavily on his heart, can Simon overcome the past and the impression his former community still has of him, and be the man he was meant to be?

Widow Abigail Petersheim is embracing the future she hopes is waiting for her and her daughter Lyddie this holiday season when she returns to the tiny Amish community of St. Ignatius, Montana.  

Everyone knows Abigail was a gut wife and mother, but no one knew of the nightmare she endured.

Now, after years of living with the secret, Abigail is ready to be free of the past and find the fresh start she so desires. When her cousin asks for her help at the family bakery in St. Ignatius, Abigail is convinced the job offer comes straight from Gott and will be the Christmas miracle she and Lyddie so desperately need. Yet nothing about her homecoming is as she envisioned, and the childhood farm she once cherished is about as broken as Abigail’s life.  

Abigail enlists the help of her neighbor and carpenter Simon Lambright to repair her home, but soon discovers a friendship from long ago will turn into something worth cherishing. And the past that brought two wounded souls back to St. Ignatius, will become a homecoming neither expected.

A Peanut Butter Christmas

Dear Readers!

We are only seven days away from release day for Amish Christmas Miracles, 14 heartwarming Amish Christmas romances by 14 of your favorite Amish authors for only 99¢. If you haven’t preordered your copy, you can do so here from Amazon and here from Barnes and Noble. The price goes up on Nov. 16, so don’t miss your chance to get these stories at an amazing price. You are going to love these 14 stories of heart, hope, and Christmas miracles.

In my story, “A Peanut Butter Christmas,” Alfie and Benji Petersheim are up to nothing but trouble.

Volunteer firefighter Jerry Zimmerman left his Amish community without telling anyone, not even his girlfriend Mary Yutzy. Four months later, Mary is still heartbroken, and now, at the beginning of the Christmas season, she is having trouble finding anything to be merry about. 

Eight-year-old twins Alfie and Benji Petersheim can’t stand the thought of Mary being sad at Christmastime, and they’re determined to lure Jerry back to Bienenstock. Unfortunately, to get Jerry’s attention, they might have to set something on fire, and Mamm would never approve. Add a pair of ice skates, a chocolate peanut butter pie, and two walkie-talkies, and the boys are up to their eyeballs in mischief. 

Even though she resists the pull of romance and the wonder of Christmas, Mary might just discover that Christmas miracles can be found even when you’re not looking for them. 

Don’t forget to join the Amish Christmas Miracles Facebook Group. This week and next we’ll be having giveaways and sneak peeks and all sorts of fun as we celebrate release day on November 10. You won’t want to miss it.  

The Heart’s Return

All Souls' Day. For me, the first of November always seems to have a sense of hushed calm--maybe because of the busy-ness of the preceding week. And today the clocks went back, too, which gave the morning an even greater sense that nature was taking a deep breath before winter.

Cutting silage in Lancaster CountyWinter means Christmas--and in only a few more days, our Amish Christmas Miracles collection will be in your hands!

When I was working up my story, "The Heart's Return," I knew only a couple of things. It would be set in my fictional Whinburg Township so that I could wave to my characters from earlier books as they rattled past in their buggies, gaze out at the fields where the men were cutting silage, and admire the beautiful work in the quilts coming out on beds and sofas as the weather got colder.

But how to structure the story? And of all the people in Whinburg Township, who would it be about? Well, I already had a recurring character for whom everyone has been expecting romance: Malinda Kanagy. Blonde, calm, and with a natural sense of authority, of course she would attract the new man in town. And what if that new man was actually an old flame of my heroine, Anna? And what if I could somehow wrap my favorite Jane Austen novel, Persuasion, into the plot?

The Heart's Return by Adina Senft

And "The Heart's Return" was born!

His first choice … her second chance.

Eight years ago, Anna Esch’s parents discouraged Neil Wengerd’s courtship. The family had just had a major blow, and Anna’s leaving would have led to grief and suffering. But obeying her mother’s wishes, Anna said not a word, only refused Neil in terms that wounded him past bearing. Hurt and angry, he left Whinburg Township … and took Anna’s heart with him.

Now Neil is back for a wedding and staying with his sister and brother-in-law, who have rented the farm from Anna’s father. The whole district is buzzing. Not about Anna and Neil—everyone’s forgotten they ever courted. But about Neil and Malinda Kanagy, who is everything Anna isn’t.

Can Anna stand by and watch his family make the perfect match for the man she’s never been able to forget? Or will she realize in time that Christmas is the season for God’s gifts and second chances?

I hope you like this story as much as I do!

--Adina

 

Christmas Memories

I know it’s almost Halloween, but I’m already looking forward to Christmas—and the release of the Amish Christmas Miracles Collection in just under two weeks! My novella is entitled The Christmas Fudge Miracle, so I thought I would post about Christmas goodies.

Christmas is such a special time of year. All of us probably have favorite traditions or memories associated with the season that we’ve cherished for years. One thing we always did growing up was bake an assortment of goodies.

Did anyone ever use the Betty Crocker Cooky Book? I used to love dragging the big, red book out every holiday and flipping through the pages with all those yummy recipes and beautiful pictures. Of course, we always baked the usual cookies—chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, sugar, gingerbread, and snickerdoodles—but it was fun to pick out something new to try. The pictures all looked so scrumptious, and we didn’t care if our finished products looked nothing like Betty Crocker’s perfectly shaped specimen.

Years later, my own daughters hauled out the very same book I had used as a child and pored over recipes just like I did. We rolled, cut out, baked, and decorated all sorts of treats as we waved away clouds of flour and scrunched on spilled sugar. One year, we got really ambitious and tried our hand at gingerbread houses. Sadly, that venture did not meet with a lot of success, but we had a lot of fun trying to get the walls to stick together and nibbling the decorations.

I still have the Betty Crocker book, and I still pull it out whenever I want to browse for cookie, brownie, or candy recipes. Just looking at the pages brings back memories of all the happy times I used the book in the past.

What special little holiday memory do you have? Did you bake any special treats year after year?

Here’s my “ancient” book (the price was $1.95) and a couple of my favorite recipes from that treasured book.

 

Chocolate Crinkles

 

½ cup vegetable oil

4 sq. unsweetened chocolate (4 oz.), melted

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups Gold Medal Flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

 

Mix oil, chocolate, and granulated sugar. Blend in one egg at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Stir flour, baking powder, and salt into oil mixture. Chill several hours or overnight.

 

Heat oven to 350˚ (mod.). Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into confectioner’s’ sugar. Roll in sugar; shape into balls. Place about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 min. Do not overbake!  Makes about 5 doz. cookies.

Note: If you use Gold Medal Self-Rising Flour, omit baking powder and salt.

 

Snickerdoodles

 

1 cup shortening (part butter or margarine)

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

2 ¾ cups Gold Medal Flour

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. soda

¼ tsp. salt

2 tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

 

Heat oven to 400 ˚ (mod. hot). Mix shortening, 1 ½ cups sugar, and eggs thoroughly. Measure flour by dipping method or sifting. Blend flour, cream of tartar, soda, and salt; stir in. Shape dough in 1” balls. Roll in mixture of 2tbsp. sugar and cinnamon. Place 2” apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 min. These cookies puff up at first, then flatten out. Makes 6 doz. cookies.

 

Note:  If you use Gold Medal Self-Rising Flour, omit cream of tartar, soda, and salt.

 

About Me

 

Susan Lantz Simpson has been writing stories and poetry ever since she penned her first poem at the age of six. She has always loved the magic of words and how they can entertain and enlighten others. Her love of words and books led her to earn a degree in English/Education. She has taught students from Prekindergarten to high school and has also worked as an editor for the federal government. She also holds a degree in nursing and has worked in hospitals and in community health. She writes inspirational stories of love and faith and has published a middle-grade novel (Ginger and the Bully) in addition to her inspirational romances (Plainly Maryland Series and Southern Maryland Amish Romances Series). She was a finalist in the OCW Cascade fiction contest. She is a member of ACFW. She lives in Maryland and is the mother of two wonderful daughters. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, walking, and doing needlework.

 

To Connect With Me

 

Website:

https://susanlantzsimpson.wordpress.com/

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Susan-Lantz-Simpson-372578556286726/?fref=ts

 

Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.com/susanlantzsimps/

 

It’s Christmas In My Thoughts

By Laura Bradford

I’ve always been one to savor the moment we’re in. In October, I want to enjoy the fall colors and smells. In November, I start imagining Thanksgiving and all of the wonderful foods my family will enjoy at a table together. And on and on for each holiday, each month, each season.

But this year, I find myself looking ahead to Christmas a little earlier than I normally do. I suspect some of that is my mind trying to make sense of this crazy year, and my heart worrying about how beloved traditions might be impacted as a result. Some of my early Christmas thoughts might also be due to our upcoming release for Amish Christmas Miracles. Writing my story for the collection had me thinking about the holiday season back when temperatures were still in the nineties during the day.

In my appropriately titled story, The Christmas Program, Leah Miller (my main character) is busy getting her new classroom ready for the annual tradition. She’s hanging homemade decorations, planning what treats to bring, and helping her students prepare for the poems and skits they will share with their families on the big day. Yes, the actual program, itself, is what she’s gearing up to, but preparing for it is fun, as well.

A tease for my story in the Christmas collection, The Christmas Program

That’s how I feel about the weeks leading up to Christmas. Yes, it’s all about Christ’s birth, but preparing for that celebration and the time with family is special in and of itself, as well.

My favorite part of the lead-up is decorating. There are so many special decorations that tug at my heart when I first unpack them from their container each year. The tree skirt I made 30 years ago… The ceramic caroler candle holder I made 25 years ago… The ceramic plate with the nativity scene that my youngest (now 22) painted when she was a little girl… The Fisher Price nativity set we still put up (in addition to our more grown-up one) each year… And let’s not get me started on the ornaments. So many precious keepsakes tied to the kids…

One of the many, many special-to-me ornaments on my tree

Next, comes the annual baking flurry.  I make my homemade fudge (my youngest daughter’s favorite), my white chocolate mousse pastry puffs (my husband’s favorite), my hot cocoa bar with all the best fixings (everyone enjoys this), and, of course, our iced sugar cookies (my oldest daughter’s favorite). And seeing everyone’s reaction to them? That’s my favorite part.

My White Chocolate Mousse Pastry Puffs

And then there’s the music. Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy, Mary Did You Know

I know. It’s only October. But that’s what our Amish Christmas Miracles Collection is doing to me this year. It’s jettisoning me into the Christmas season. And after the year we’ve all had, I’m glad. Because truly, this is going to be a wonderful collection of stories in which to escape starting November 10.

Blessings,
Laura

***

About Laura

Laura Bradford is the national bestselling author of more than 35 books and stories, including the just-released novel,Piece by Piece. Her first women’s fiction novel, Portrait of a Sister, was a July 2018 Book Club Pick for Delilah of Delilah Radio and a Summer Book Club pick for Southern Lady Magazine.

Laura also pens several mystery series including; An Amish Mystery series, the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, the Tobi Tobias Mysteries, the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries (written as Elizabeth Lynn Casey), and the upcoming A Friend For Hire Mysteries. She is a former Agatha Award nominee, and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award in romance. Laura enjoys baking, spending time with her family, and being an advocate for those living with multiple sclerosis.  Learn more at: https://www.laurabradford.com/

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An Amish Christmas

An Amish Christmas

Christmas is only a short time away, and I’m already getting the pre-Christmas jitters.  Before long, I’ll be digging out our favorite decorations and deciding what I’ll bake to share with my family. Let alone the Amish Christmas Miracles Collection will be releasing in just two weeks!

I often get asked if the Amish celebrate the holidays and the answer is an astounding …yes! They may not rejoice in the degree as we English do, but they still engage in holiday celebrations just the same.

Just like us, Christmas is a big day in an Amish home. They believe that Christmas is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Still, they don’t allow commercialization to overstep the real reason we celebrate Christmas. You’ll find no visions of Santa Claus or brightly decorated Christmas trees. What you will see is fresh pine boughs surrounded by a candle or two and strings of Christmas cards strung from one corner of the room to the other.

During the holiday’s Amish families across the country come together by sending letters and special Christmas cards to loved ones near and far.

The highlight of the Christmas season is the annual Christmas Eve school program. The children will read poems, sing songs and pass gifts out to the parents and teachers, all while enjoying Christmas snacks. It’s a long-treasured tradition celebrated through most Amish communities. Long winter breaks are not followed in Amish communities. School-aged children may get a half of a day off on Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day and second Christmas, but then it’s back to school as usual.

On Christmas morning, families will gather for devotionals and the exchange of small gifts. Children will most likely receive a toy, young girls will receive an item for their hope chests, and young boys will receive a tool or something special to help them with their chosen trade. In the afternoon they will come together as a family and enjoy a large meal.

Can you imagine having two Christmases? That is precisely what the Amish do, they celebrate Zwedde Grischtfaag, which means second Christmas. Since families are large, it may be difficult to see everyone on one day, so this is where the second Christmas comes in. On December 25, they fast, meditate, and on December 26, or “Second Christmas,” they celebrate with family and friends.

A more solemn celebration that begins with fasting, Old Christmas is celebrated on January 6. It symbolizes the day the Three Wise Men came to Bethlehem and found baby Jesus. This day is spent focusing on the reason for the holiday– Jesus’ birth.

No matter what traditions you hold dear, may you take the time to step back and remember this holiday in true Amish style …God, Family, and Community.

By Tracy Fredrychowski