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Ivy Daly’s Shortbread Cookies

Christmas Memories: Ivy Daly’s Shortbread Cookies

Not my Nana’s cookies, but they looked very similar to these.

One of my favorite Christmas memories as a child was making my Nana’s shortbread cookies. She would travel from Michigan to Arkansas to visit us at Christmas and my brother, sister and I would help her make the cookies. We decorated them with red and green sugar, but you can use any decorations you like. I hope you enjoy them!

1 cup sugar

1-pound butter at room temperature (no substitutes)

4 cups all-purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together until well mixed. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, beating between additions. The dough will be stiff.

On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness (or thicker if you want). Cut out cookies with cookie cutters and place them on an ungreased baking sheet. Prick with a fork 2-3 times.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes. Cookies should be barely brown at the edges, and they will be soft when removed from oven. Let cookies sit on the cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes; then transfer to a cooling rack. Decorate as desired.

Have you pre-ordered Amish Christmas Miracles yet? Visit my website for ordering information.

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With over a million copies sold, Kathleen Fuller is the author of several bestselling novels, including the Hearts of Middlefield novels, the Middlefield Family novels, the Amish of Birch Creek series, the Amish Letters series, the Brides of Birch Creek series, the upcoming Mail Order Brides of Birch Creek, as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. She has also contributed to numerous novella collections.

She and her husband James live in Arkansas and have three adult children. When she’s not writing, Kathleen is avidly crocheting, reading, and traveling, sometimes all at the same time. She runs the Facebook group Books & Hooks, which combines her love of books, crochet, and collecting recipes that she’ll never have enough time to make.

Meet the characters of A Christmas Homecoming by Mary Alford

Like each of you, I love reading about the Amish. It has quickly become one of my favorite genres to read and to write. Which is why I’m excited to be part of Amish Christmas Miracles.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to the characters of A Christmas Homecoming, my contribution to Amish Christmas Miracles.

First of all, the story takes place in the remote Amish community of St. Ignatius, Montana.

St. Ignatius is a small Amish community with just two church districts. The community is situated at the base of the breathtaking Mission Mountains of Montana.

An interesting fact about the community is it’s the only one located on the tribal lands of the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Widow Abigail Petersheim is embracing the future she hopes is waiting for her and her daughter Lyddie this holiday season once she returns to the tiny Amish community of St. Ignatius. When her cousin needs help at the family bakery, Abigail is convinced the job offer comes straight from Gott and will be the Christmas miracle she and Lyddie so desperately need.

“Abby” grew up in St. Ignatius, but after a tragic accident took her brother’s life, the relationship she once imagined having with Simon Lambright ended suddenly after Simon left the community. Abby ended up marrying someone else. She moved away from St. Ignatius, but she never forgot her life there or the boy who broke her heart.

When her husband passes away, Abby and Lyddie move back to St. Ignatius to help out her cousin only to find Simon has returned as well.

Simon Lambright has plenty to be sorry for—including a prideful mistake that almost destroyed many lives. 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?

Nothing about her homecoming is as Abby envisioned, and the childhood farm she once cherished is about as broken as Abby’s life.

Letting go of the past is hard when there are so many secrets standing between her and Simon. When Abby enlists Simon’s help to repair her home, she soon discovers the feelings she had for him are all still hidden inside her heart. The broken relationship they left behind will turn into something worth cherishing this Christmas. And the past that brought two wounded souls back to St. Ignatius will become a homecoming neither expected.

About Mary Alford

USA Today Bestselling Author, Mary Alford, loves giving her readers the un-expected, whether it be in a rugged mountain setting or a peaceful Amish community.  

Her titles have appeared on the USA Today Bestselling List, Publisher’s Weekly Bestselling List, and have been finalists in the Daphne Du Maurier award of excellence, The Beverly, The Maggie, and The Selah Awards.  

Mary is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Face-book and Twitter or any social platforms listed at www.maryalford.net.

Connect with Mary

Website: https://maryalford.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaryAlfordAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryalford13

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/maryjalfordauth

Amazon: amazon.com/author/www.maryalford.net  

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/mary-alford  

Newsletter signup: https://maryalford.net/email  

From Romantic Suspense to Amish

Hello friends! I am so happy to be here with you today. I just realized that we are less than four months away from releasing Amish Christmas Miracles. Wow! I am super psyched about getting this wonderful collection of stories out to our readers. I thought I’d tell you how I got into writing Amish romance.

I have always loved the written word. I remember as a child, going to the library and coming home with as many books as my arms could hold. I usually selected 80% new to me books, and about 20% were stories that I loved to read over and over again.

One of those stories was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I cried every time I read it. That’s a lot of tears! When I heard she had written that outstanding book at 17, the dream was born.

Now, I didn’t write a book by 17. I hadn’t even completed a book by the age of 40. But I always knew I would write a book one day. I dithered about what I wanted to write. I didn’t know anything about author voice back then. I just knew what I enjoyed reading. That list ranged from romance to suspense to science fiction and fantasy.

I finally narrowed it down to romance. I knew I wanted to write inspirational stories, so I started to look at Love Inspired. When Love Inspired Suspense had a contest to find new authors in 2014, I entered, never dreaming I’d come out of that contest with a contract. Romantic suspense intimidated me. I didn’t know if I could come up with all the twists and turns to keep the story moving. When I got the first contract, I was gobsmacked. (I love that word, by the way.)

That was July 2, 2014. In April, 2015, Presumed Guilty released. After my second Love Inspired Suspense book released, my editor asked me to consider writing stories with Amish elements. At first I said no.

But the idea wouldn’t let me go. I had read some Amish fiction and enjoyed it, but wasn’t sure I could write it. I gave it a try, and found I loved it. One of the things I loved about writing Amish was the way it touched people who don’t normally pick up Christian fiction.

I recently released my 11th book with Love Inspired Suspense, Plain Refuge. And this morning I am turning in book 13. I am so happy I listened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. And I am so thankful for all the wonderful readers who make writing such a blessing.

Dana

About Dana

Dana R. Lynn grew up in Illinois. She met her husband at a wedding and told her parents she had met her future husband. Nineteen months later, they were married. Today, they live in rural Pennsylvania with their three teenaged children and enough pets to open a petting zoo. She is a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing by day and writes stories of romance and danger at night. She believes in the power of God to touch people through stories. Her books have been on the Publishers Weekly Best Sellers lists. She has been a Holt Medallion finalist, a Selah finalist, and a New England Readers Choice finalist and Award winner. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. She is an avid reader, loves cats and thinks chocolate should be a food group. She enjoys engaging with readers and can be found on social media or contacted via her website www.danarlynn.com.

Links:

website: www.danarlynn.com

facebook: www.facebook.com/WriterDanaLynn

Instagram: www.instagram.com/danarlynn

Christmas in July Giveaway

Christmas in July is here, and you're the one getting the gifts! The Amish Christmas Miracles authors have teamed up to bring you a Christmas in July giveaway!

The 14 Amish Christmas Miracles authors are each giving away one of their Amish books to 14 lucky winners. To enter, please visit here.

And don't forget to preorder Amish Christmas Miracles: 14 Amish Authors, 14 Heartwarming Christmas Romances. You're going to love it!

You can get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple Books.

 

Adina Senft’s Herb of Grace

When I travel to Lancaster County to research my Amish books, part of it includes slowing down, taking a deep breath scented with grass (and cows!) and appreciating the simple things—like a leisurely walk through a field. But when I wrote Herb of Grace, book four in The Whinburg Township Amish series, which came out yesterday, walking through a field became vitally important to my writing.

Why? Because this is what my heroine, Sarah Yoder, does as part of her calling as a Dokterfraa, or herbal healer.

The Amish have a strong tradition in alternative medicine. While they go to the doctor when it’s necessary, and the church funds their visits, they prefer to look after themselves. This can mean going to the Englisch chiropractor, or it can mean visiting a local Grossmammi who keeps a pharmacy of bottled tablets and capsules in her front room, ordered from an herbal supply warehouse and sold to the community.

Amish fields

Folk names

Medicinal herbs have lots of folk names. When I was researching this book, I realized that people often summed up some spiritual property in an herb through the name they gave it, and the idea for this trilogy was born. My favorite folk name was Queen of the Meadow, which is Filipendula ulmaria, or meadowsweet. But I couldn’t seem to make that work for a humble Amish woman! In any case, in Herb of Grace, this particular folk name reflects a healing property in the herb that Sarah uses for her cure. But going a little further, God begins a similar healing process in the spirit of Sarah's patient.

Herbal medicine

To prepare for writing about a Dokterfraa, I took a six-week herbal medicine course and learned the difference between an infusion and a tincture, and between lady’s mantle and nightshade. I learned that elderflowers make a divine tea, and in the autumn, the berries make a good cure for cough and sore throat—just in time for cold season. I read dozens of herbal references, and consulted with my instructors on the best cures for my story people. They got quite used to me sidling up during classes in the garden (below) and saying things like, “How would I treat a teenage boy who is allergic to ibuprofen?” (The answer: Mormon tea, made from the stems of a certain bush that grows in Western deserts.)

In class, outside

I had other help while writing the books, too. My own chiropractor, who is also deeply interested in homeopathic medicine, told me a simple cure for gout. Here’s how the information played out in Herb of Grace:

Oran had stopped now, and was fiddling with the straps on the gray-sided buggy sitting next in line for repairs. “Medication ain’t so strange,” he muttered just loudly enough for [Sarah] to hear. “It’s putting that burden on the church for no reason I can’t abide. Stuff’s expensive.”

 

“No, it isn’t,” she chirped. “You can find it at the supermarket. Sometimes you can get it on sale for a dollar fifty-nine.” He huffed as if she were babbling nonsense, and turned to make his way through the big sliding door. “Black cherry juice did the trick, didn’t it, Simon?” She raised her voice just enough to carry through the door. “A couple of glasses a day, and Jacob was right as rain in a week. It dissolves what they call uric acid, you see, that forms crystals in the toes.”

Learning how the Amish look after their own has opened my eyes to the simple cures all around me—even in my own backyard.

Want to know more?

“Herb of grace” is the folk name for rue, a bitter and astringent herb used in small quantities for ailments of the digestive system. And as we know, rue is also a verb meaning to be sorry for something one has done … but there is a world of difference between ruing one’s mistake and coming to that place of repentance where God’s grace can begin its healing work…

About Herb of Grace

Herb of Grace is filled with spiritual insights and multilayered storylines. At times readers will be chuckling and other times, misty eyed as the book unfolds.” —Amish Reader

Herb of Grace by Adina SenftWhile a young Dokterfraa learns to heal the body, the Great Physician heals the heart …

Sarah Yoder, an Amish widow in Pennsylvania’s Whinburg Township, is doing her best to provide a home where her family and members of her Old Order Amish church can find fellowship and friendship. But it’s getting more and more difficult to pay the bills—until the local Dokterfraa, or herbal healer, makes a startling suggestion: Could she begin training as a healer? Now Sarah stands where two ways meet. Caring for others could take her away from home. At the same time, she must be willing for the place where God wants her.

But when she does choose, her family seems to  splinter. Her stepson Simon wants to move out west to find work. Her youngest, Caleb, is spending too much time over at the tumbledown home of Henry Byler, who left the church long ago. Henry inherited the family farm and has returned—under protest—never suspecting that God has been waiting there for him all this time.

As Sarah compiles her cures, she waits for God to do his healing work. In a man who rues a harsh decision. In a lonely prodigal who has lost everything. And maybe even in a herbalist-in-training who firmly believes she will never love again …

About Adina Senft

Adina SenftAdina Senft grew up in a plain house church, where she was often asked by outsiders if she was Amish (the answer was no). She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, and is currently at work on a PhD in Creative Writing at Lancaster University in the UK.

Adina was the winner of RWA's RITA Award for Best Inspirational Novel in 2005, a finalist for that award in 2006, and was a Christy Award finalist in 2009.  She appeared in the 2016 documentary film Love Between the Covers, is a popular speaker and convention panelist, and has been a guest on many podcasts, including Worldshapers and Realm of Books.

She writes steampunk and contemporary romance as Shelley Adina; and as Charlotte Henry, writes classic Regency romance. When she’s not writing, Adina is usually quilting, sewing historical costumes, or enjoying the garden with her flock of rescued chickens.

Connect with Adina

Website: www.adinasenft.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/adinasenft

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/shelleyadina/the-whinburg-township-amish/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Adina-Senft/e/B004Y8EK2I

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/authors/adina-senft

Newsletter signup: https://shelleyadina.com/contact/

Books & Hooks

Are you a reader who enjoys crafts? You might like the Hooks & Books Facebook group hosted by one of our Amish Christmas Miracles authors, Kathleen Fuller.

A fun and relaxed place (like sitting down over coffee with friends) to share what you are reading, the crochet and other creative projects you are working on, Kathleen Fuller’s latest contests, new projects, collaborations, her pets, her coffee, and of course, chocolate!

This group is for both readers and creatives!

You can find Hooks & Books online here.

And if you haven’t ordered your copy of Amish Christmas Miracles yet, you can get this collection of 14 heartwarming stories of faith, hope, love, and Christmas miracles for only 99 cents. Preorder now and receive it November 10, 2020:

Amish Christmas Miracles

Amish Camel Farms

STOP! There's a camel! A camel in Amish country? Jah, an Amish farm raising camels AND water buffaloes.

Last summer, many authors and readers of Amish novels headed to Lancaster County, PA, to explore Amish country. In addition to visiting quilt shops, roadside stands, and other Amish businesses, we did a lot of sightseeing. My favorite spot was driving by the Amish camel farm in Bird-in-Hand, PA.

I'd been there several times before to research for my novel, His Pretend Amish Bride. Not only does this farm have camels, but they also have water buffalo. It's totally unexpected to be driving past typical Amish farmhouses and go around the bend to spy camels. And water buffaloes.

I adore the baby camels; they're so cute as they stay close to their mamas. Watching them trot across the road from the field to the barn gave me the idea for my hero's opening scene. A buggy racing around the curve heads straight at those babies. The hero knows there's no way that buggy can stop in time, so he prepares to sacrifice his life to save those baby camels. (I won't give a spoiler.)

The farm also has a huge warehouse-like store where they sell camel and water buffalo milk, yogurt, and cheeses. The first time I went for research, it was summer. I didn't realize you'd have to walk into a huge refrigerated room to get the milk. We wanted to explore all the interesting products inside the refrigerator, but we rushed out with our teeth chattering after only a few seconds. The next time we returned, we brought our coats even though it was close to 80 degrees outside. I'm sure the neighbors thought we were crazy as we packed the car with scarves, mittens, hats, and down jackets. But that time, we even managed to take some pictures.

Water Buffalo Cream

And buy some camel's milk.

camel milk

Can you believe this tiny pint of camel's milk cost $15? I opted for a partially filled pint container, which was less expensive. I'm glad I didn't get much. To me, camel's milk tastes like salty powdered milk--rather watery.

A young boy, similar to the one I wrote into my story, waited on me. He was all alone in the store, but he wrote up the receipt. I'm always impressed at the way Amish families trust their children to run businesses alone at very young ages.

Have you ever seen an Amish camel farm? If so, where? If not, would you want to see one?

If you'd like to win a free copy of His Pretend Amish Bride, you can comment on any (or all) of the blogs listed here during my tour from now until July 13, 2020. Here's a link: Celebrate Lit Blog Tour

His Pretend Amish Bride novel cover

His Pretend Amish Bride
(Notice the cute camel in the background!)

___________

About His Pretend Amish Bride 

In a small Amish town like Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, one solution to an indiscretion is to get married. Or perhaps, fake a respectable engagement . . .
 
Priscilla Ebersol has a fulfilling life teaching special needs children—until her boyfriend’s humiliating betrayal ruins her reputation and threatens her job. Shunned for something she didn’t do, Priscilla throws herself into a project on the benefits of camel’s milk for autism. Her research leads her to a newly opened Amish camel farm, where she discovers far more than she bargained for. . .

When a pushy Englisch company shows interest in shy, handsome Gabriel Kauffman’s camel farm, he struggles to get out of a sticky negotiation. Lovely, well-spoken Priscilla appears at the perfect moment and defends Gabe’s business so well that she is mistaken for his wife, a pretense they both secretly wish could be true. But though their bond deepens, Priscilla’s heart is still wounded, and Gabe battles with a troubling secret. And when a misunderstanding comes between them, it will take faith, honesty, and trust in God to overcome the past—and to allow their partnership to blossom into something more.

About Rachel J. Good

USA Today bestselling author RACHEL J. GOOD writes life-changing, heart-tugging novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. She grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for her Amish novels. Striving to be as authentic as possible, she spends time with her Amish friends, doing chores on their farm and attending family events.

Rachel is the author of several Amish series in print or forthcoming – the bestselling Love & Promises, Sisters & Friends, Unexpected Amish Blessings, Surprised by Love (2021), and two books in Hearts of Amish Country – as well as the Amish Quilts Coloring Books. In addition, she has stories in many anthologies, including Love’s Thankful Heart, Love’s Christmas Blessings, Plain Everyday Heroes, Love’s Truest Hope, and the forthcoming Amish Christmas Twins (September 2020) with Shelley Shepard Gray and Loree Lough. She is also the coauthor of the Prayerful Author Journey: Inspirational Yearly Planner.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: www.racheljgood.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/racheljgoodnovels

Twitter: https://twitter.com/racheljgood1

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/racheljgood1/

Amazon: www.amazon.com/Rachel-J-Good/e/B019DWF4FG

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/authors/rachel-j-good

Instagram: www.instagram.com/rachelj.good

Newsletter sign-up: http://bit.ly/1qwci4Q

Hitching Post: https://www.facebook.com/groups/196506777789849/

 

The setting for my story in An Unexpected Christmas Gift

A new sign!

If you’re interested in the Amish and you’ve visited Rush County, Indiana, then you’ve likely been to Troyer’s Country Store in Milroy. I first visited the small Amish business when I came to Indiana for the first time back in 2013. Now, the establishment has become inspiration for my story in the Amish Christmas Miracles Collection.

I recently visited the store again and took a few photos while there. I also picked up a few Amish-made goodies to enjoy! To my disappointment, they didn’t have any soft pretzels, like the delicious ones Janie makes in An Unexpected Christmas Gift. However, I did find a soft pretzel mix that I plan to include in an upcoming giveaway! Stay tuned to the Amish Christmas Miracles Collection Facebook page for details.

Without further ado, here are the photos. Enjoy! 🙂

The apple butter was tempting, but I decided on the fresh-ground honey roasted peanut butter to go with the fresh loaf of bread I purchased. Talk about yum! I should have bought two.
I thought this was interesting. We often don’t think of Amish men sewing for themselves. Hmm…book idea, anyone?
Most Amish stores I’ve visited sell these essentials.
I had to take a bottle of Kutztown Sarsaparilla home with me. I should have bought a case.
Giant whoopie pie, anyone? I opted for a snickerdoodle. No, it didn’t make it home!
This cabinet contains everything needed for making your own prayer kapp. They usually sell some ready-made, but none were available at the time.

I also attempted to snap a photo of the food counter, but it unfortunately did not turn out. Maybe next time. Meanwhile, I’ll have to stop by Country Creations (another Amish store near me) and grab one of their homemade soft pretzels!

Blessings, friends!

Jennifer Spredemann

Heart-Touching Amish Fiction

Grab your FREE story here: www.jenniferspredemann.com

Amish Christmas Traditions

Amish Christmas Miracles is coming, and you are going to love it! Amish Christmas Miracles is a collection of 14 Amish Christmas romances from 14 Amish authors, and it is available on preorder for only 99 cents!

Amish Christmas Miracles features stories from some of your favorite Amish authors: Kathleen Fuller, Lenora Worth, Loree Lough, Laura Bradford, Tracey Fredrychowski, Jennifer Spredemann, Rachel Good, Adina Senft, Ashley Emma, Susan Lantz Simpson, Mary Alford, Dana R. Lynn, and me, Jennifer Beckstrand.

All 14 authors will be blogging here in the weeks leading up to the book’s release. Be sure to come back here on July 25 when we will be celebrating “Christmas in July” with some fabulous giveaways.

*

One of the things I love about writing Amish Christmas stories is that Amish Christmas traditions are simple and meaningful. Their traditions focus on time with family and the true meaning of Christmas. I love Christmas traditions. They are definitely anchors for my family. Even though my children are adults with children of their own, they still look forward to the things we do every Christmas.

Every December I pull out twelve special Christmas candles and use them as a centerpiece on our table. After a traditional Christmas Eve dinner of ham, rolls, Gala Jell-O Salad, and cheese potatoes, we take turns lighting the candles one by one. The person who lights the candle gets to pick a Christmas song that we sing together. After we sing the song, the next person lights a candle and picks another song. Once all the candles are lit, we enjoy their flickering light and share our feelings for our Savior and express appreciation for each other. It is one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

I wanted to put this tradition in one of my books. In my Amish Christmas novella, “A Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill” in The Amish Christmas Kitchen collection, Anna Helmuth tricks her grandson Titus into coming to Huckleberry Hill to take care of her special Christmas goat. Katie Rose Gingerich is staying with Anna and Felty, and she misses her family and their Christmas tradition of lighting candles and singing Christmas carols. To make Katie feel at home, Titus decides to recreate the candle burning tradition for Katie in Anna and Felty’s barn. Unfortunately, Titus can’t find twelve candles, so he tries a goat manure pellet as a substitute.

So, I had to do some research. I needed to know if goat poop would burn like a candle—the pioneers used to burn buffalo chips. It seemed logical that goat manure would burn.

I contacted my friend who owns a goat farm and asked her if she would kindly let me borrow some goat poop. She laughed and told me I could have all I wanted. I took my little bag of goat manure home and let the little pellets dry out in the garage. (My husband didn’t even bat an eye—he’s gotten used to my wacky schemes. Mostly.)

After the pellets dried, I tried to light them on fire while my husband documented the experiment with his iPhone. I am sorry to report that the poop smoked and sizzled but did not hold a steady flame. That answered my question, so Titus had to get even more creative in the book.

Many Christmas traditions in our family revolve around food, as they do in the Amish community. On Christmas morning after the presents are opened, our family gathers around the table for Christmas breakfast. This is extra special because I seldom make breakfast of any kind the other 364 days of the year. In various years, we’ve had yogurt parfaits, pancakes, sausage, bacon, hash browns, scrambled eggs, breakfast casserole, and orange juice. (In that one day, I make up for a lot of breakfast neglect.) We use the snowman cups and the festive plates. There is nothing my children look forward to more.

Here is an authentic Amish recipe for breakfast casserole from my Amish friend Priscilla in Lancaster County, PA.

Priscilla’s Breakfast Casserole

8 slices of bread

½ lb. cheddar cheese

1 lb. sausage (cooked) or ham

4 large eggs

2 cups milk

1 t. salt

1 t. paprika

1 t. mustard

½ t. oregano

4 T. butter, melted

Grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Cube the bread and place in the casserole dish. Sprinkle cooked sausage or ham over the bread. Mix together the rest of the ingredients except the cheese. Pour mixture over the bread. Top with cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Priscilla tells me she sometimes substitutes Tater Tots for the bread.)

Be sure to order Amish Christmas Miracles, which will be full of love, laughter, food, and many Amish Christmas traditions.