Saturday, December 31, 2016

Introducing ... Lady Grace

Hi friends! I decided it was time to officially announce that I have a new blog! Now, this in no way means that I'm going to discontinue blogging from here, A Writer's Heart.

What happened is I noticed that people seemed to like my inspirational/thoughtful/faith posts; but I wasn't posting them on a consistent basis ... since, this is a book blog! Thus, I decided I should start another blog and do all my inspirational posts separately. Then I would be more likely to post regularly about book stuff, and faith stuff.

So may I introduce, Lady Grace ~ A Quiet and Gentle Spirit! ^_^ If you miss seeing my inspirational posts, please visit this new blog at I will be transferring all my previous posts of that type to Lady Grace, so they'll all be in one place. *smiles*

Tell your friends; share the news! I hope to reach out to women, especially, through this blog. Be an encouragement, and maybe a challenge. Share Christ's love and truth.

I hope you enjoy! <3

With love,

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Christmas Character Tag

Hi, my friends! I was tagged by Hannah @ The Writer's Window for The Christmas Character Tag! Thank you, Hannah! *grins* Yes, we are past Christmas, but nevertheless, I shall forge ahead with this tag. Still feels like Christmas to me ... snow and a relaxing morning and the noise of happy kids who stayed the night after last evening's family Christmas party.

Anyway ... ^_^

  • Acknowledge the person who tagged you. Thanking them is nice, but not necessary. You can be annoyed at them if you like. (Though, if you're annoyed, why are you doing the tag anyway?)
  • Pick your characters. I advise having several, though not too many. They can all be from the same story, or they can be from different stories. If they're from different stories, make sure to specify who's from the same story.
  • Answer the questions. This should be self-explanatory.
  • Tag people. If you want. Don't tag more people than you have characters in the tag. If you don't want to tag anyone, you can do that too.
  • Listen to your favorite Christmas song. Because putting the effort in to write a post deserves a reward, my friend!

We'll be talking about some characters from my fantasy novel, Silver Rose. So, we have my main character, Karalee Rose, who's lost all her memories except for her name and haunting nightmares of a past life. We have a sweet couple who befriend Karalee; Alexander and Nenette Shonnon. My other main character, Wolfe, a young man with overwhelming regrets. Some friends we meet later, redheaded Anastasia and tall Harrison Enlowe. Also, a Brother of the Council, Eagle Far. And Alexander Shonnon's nine-year-old twin sisters, Majesta and Mariette.


1. If any of your characters are from Earth: what are some of their Christmas traditions? If your characters aren't from Earth: does their world have an equivalent to Christmas, and if so, how do they celebrate it?

My novel is fantasy, so there are made-up lands - no earth. Karalee wakes up in a beautiful land called Golden Shore, where she meets all the characters I mentioned above. Times are getting crazy upon Karalee's arrival, so thus far, she hasn't experienced a Christmas-like celebration. But perhaps in future books ...

2. Which of your characters gets the most into Christmas? The least? Who gets annoyed at the commercialization, and who doesn't care because it's CHRISTMAS?

Note, my characters abide in a medieval-like setting. If Karalee was ever to be introduced to Christmas, she would adore it. The family and faith aspect of it would warm her heart. Most likely an orphan and devoid of any memories of laughter and love, Karalee deeply desires to belong - to be home.
Majesta and Mariette love celebrations of any kind, so they would probably be the most thrilled over Christmas.
Stoic Eagle might get a little annoyed with any overmuch silliness.

3. All the characters try to decorate a Christmas tree together. What happens?

They have great fun! *grins* There's lots of laughter and teasing. Anastasia probably squeals and shrieks a little, and Karalee just laughs and loves every bit of it. Everyone would enjoy it. Eagle might even crack a smile. I don't think any of them would be too picky about making it look just right, so they'd just relax and have a grand time.

4. What's each character's favorite Christmas song?

Um ... Karalee would like 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' when she's feeling happy and content, and 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel' when she's in a more sober, reflective, or even melancholy mood.
Anastasia would go about singing, 'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year'! Majesta and Mariette would join in.
Nenette would be fond of 'O Holy Night'. Alexander might teasingly sing 'Christmas Cookies' to Nenette, hoping she might bake some sweets.
Wolfe has lots of stuff to wrestle with, but at certain points in his life, he would like 'O Come All Ye Faithful' and just fun Christmas songs.
Harrison might like 'The First Noel'. It would intrigue him.
And Eagle ... hmm, Eagle would most likely prefer 'We Three Kings'.

5. Can your characters agree on a Christmas movie to watch together? What happens if they try?

They would probably all be okay to sit down to something like a When Calls the Heart Christmas special. Or one of the Love Comes Softly movies that includes Christmas time. But if it didn't have to be a particularly Christmas-y movie, the guys would be much more thrilled with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe or a Hobbit movie; and the girls would love it too. Or even Frozen. *grins*

6. Speaking of which, who cries at Christmas movies? Anyone?

Definitely Anastasia and Nenette - they both can be pretty open with their emotions. Karalee would probably cry too, especially if there is a heart-touching moment having to do with family or romance. Wolfe might even get emotional, depending on the situation, because of the things he's gone through in life.

7. What's each character's favorite Christmas treat?

They would all be pleased with an assortment of Christmas cookies. Karalee and Anastasia would both be ecstatic over anything with chocolate. (Chocolate pudding, chocolate cake, chocolate pie, chocolate truffles?) And hot apple cider. Wolfe, Harrison, and Eagle might go for dark hot chocolate. Alexander enjoys traditional Christmas-y breads.

8. Who among your characters likes eggnog? Who thinks it's disgusting?

Eggnog? Uh, Alexander maybe? He's the only one I can picture loving it, though others might try it and like it too.

9. Who's meeting who under the mistletoe? Who's catching those people and teasing them about it forever?

Alexander and Nenette, of course! ^_^ These newlyweds won't miss the chance for a sweet kiss under the mistletoe, though Nenette might be a little shy. Everyone would smile, and Karalee would inwardly wonder about this loving relationship.
As for the others ... there probably won't be much of meeting under the mistletoe until later books! Hehe. *grins*

10. Who makes all the Christmas cookies and other treats? Who eats all the Christmas cookies?

Nenette would do Christmas baking for sure, and Karalee would be happy to help. Majesta and Mariette might pitch in for awhile, but mostly they'd be sneaking a taste. Alexander too. *winks* Anastasia likes baking as well. Harrison and Wolfe would probably enjoy helping out if everyone made a fun day of it.

11. Who stays (or used to stay) up late waiting for Santa?

If there were a Santa in my story ... Mariette would, and probably convince Majesta to stay up with her. If Anastasia had had a more carefree childhood, she'd probably be one to as well.

12. What would each character say Christmas isn't Christmas without?

Karalee - FAMILY. Laughter and home.

Wolfe - People who matter to you.

Harrison - As long as he was with his friends, he wouldn't care.

Eagle Far - The traditional services and such of the holiday.

Alexander - Christmas treats. *winks*

Nenette - Her husband by her side. <3

Majesta and Mariette - Snow, gift-exchanging, big, merry celebrations.

Anastasia - Hot cider and PEOPLE. Maybe a few snowball fights. *grins*


Hope you enjoyed! Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought. *smiles*

I'm going to be lazy again and just tag whoever wants to do this tag. Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! May the Lord bless and keep you, and draw your heart nearer to His! <3

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Book Review: Girl Defined: God's Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird

Purchase HERE

Title: Girl Defined: God's Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity

Author: Kristen Clark & Bethany Baird

Series: Standalone

Genre: Christian Living

Audience: Teen - Adult


In a Culture of Distortions, Discover God-Defined Womanhood and Beauty

In a culture where airbrushed models and career-driven women define beauty and success, it's no wonder we have a distorted view of femininity. Our impossible standards place an incredible burden of stress on the backs of women and girls of all ages, resulting in anxiety, eating disorders, and depression. One question we often forget to ask is this: What is God's design for womanhood?

In Girl Defined, sisters and popular bloggers Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird offer women a countercultural view of beauty, femininity, and self-worth. Based firmly in God's design for their lives, this book helps women rethink what true success and beauty look like. It invites them on a liberating journey toward a radically better vision for femininity that ends with the discovery of the kind of hope, purpose, and fulfillment they've been yearning for.

Girl Defined helps readers 

- discover God's design for femininity and his definition of a successful woman 

- uncover the secrets of lasting worth, purpose, and fulfillment
- be equipped and empowered to live out a radically better vision for womanhood 
- gain personal insight through the chapter-by-chapter study guide

**5 stars**

Girl Defined: God's Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird is a book I think every woman (teen+) can benefit from reading! For one, it's very easy and enjoyable to read - I continually wanted to return to its pages. And it truly speaks to the heart! Girl Defined explores issues we as women are facing everyday, and gives Biblical advice, eye-opening truths, and encouraging/challenging stories.

It speaks to younger girls (around teen years) as well as married women, or even middle-age/older woman. There are stories about teens, young moms, 30-year-old singles, and older widows. I can't wait to share this book with my younger sisters (14 and 16)! I loved it! Girl Defined speaks to WOMEN and calls for us to find our identity in Christ and embrace God's plan for womanhood.

As with every Christian Living/Self-Help book I read, I didn't agree with absolutely everything said in Girl Defined ... word for word. Some things I thought, "Well, I wouldn't exactly say it that way."
But this book really hits the nail on the head when talking about Biblical womanhood. Sisters Kristen and Bethany have the Word of God, life experience, statistics, and well-known Christian speakers/writers (such as Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth, Dannah Gresh, and Mary A. Kassian) to back up what they're teaching.
So many things clicked for me when reading this book. It just makes sense, what they're saying. Even if it is TOTALLY against the cultural norm, totally against what the world tells us to do/be ... when you read about femininity, beauty, and identity the way Kristen and Bethany see it, it makes sense when you think about how God designed us. Men and women were created to be equal, but different, for specific purposes. This book embraces that, and I LOVE it! Ladies, we are going to be so much happier and fulfilled if we embrace GOD'S DESIGN! If we embrace femininity. If we embrace womanhood and the "nurturing", "helping", and "life-giving" that comes with that role.

Girl Defined also talks about living purposefully, with eternity in mind, which is a message for ALL Christians, no matter where you are in life. It was both challenging and encouraging! Exciting, even! ^_^ Let's live, my friends! Let's live a life that we can look back on and not regret. A life of fulfillment. A life of honoring God.

I really liked how Kristen and Bethany quote authors like Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth in this book. They have such powerful things to say! One of my favorites from Mrs. Wolgemuth is: "Being created "for someone" indicates that God created the female to be a highly relational creature. In contrast to the male, her identity isn't based on work nearly as much as on how well she connects and relates to others. Forming deep relational bonds is at the core of what it means to be a woman." (pg. 91)

And from Mary A. Kassian: "A wimpy woman gives up on biblical femininity when life gets hard. A wimpy woman quits when she has to stand alone. A wimpy woman caves in when the culture pressures her." (pg. 169)

They also share thoughts from some of the past top models in the industry, such as Kylie Bisutti. She say that models are some of the most insecure women she's ever met! Have you ever thought about that? We simply cannot place our identity in our outward appearance, because we'll never measure up.

Yes. Overall, I feel Girl Defined is full of Biblical truth and has the potential to make a big impact on women today. I want to share this book with all the women I know - young and old! It reminds us of our beautiful identity, purpose, and femininity. This is so much more freeing than what the culture is telling us! So priceless! I would strongly encourage you to read Girl Defined: God's Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity, women! *smiles*

Find Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird on their Youtube channel: 
And their website:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Guest Post: Christmas Recipes

Christmas season is the time for guest post, apparently! ^_^ I'm so pleased to bring you, this month of December, another guest post from my family! Another of my lovely younger sisters is going to share Christmas recipes today! (And she has beautiful pictures of them too! *smiles*)

Christmas Recipes

I'm here to bring you some scrumptious Christmas recipes! Many of these are things my family makes nearly every year, and some are more recent discoveries. ;) I hope you enjoy this, and maybe find a new recipe to make during this Christmas season!

Sugar Cookie Cutouts


(for cookies)

1 1\2 cups powdered sugar                      2 1\2 cups flour

1 cup butter                                                 1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla                                                1 tsp. baking powder

1\2 tsp. almond extract                            1 tsp. cream of tarter

1 egg

(for frosting)*

3 cups powdered sugar                            2 Tbsp. milk

1\3 cup butter                                         almond extract to taste (optional)

1 1\2 tsp. vanilla


Sift dry ingredients together. In separate bowl, cream butter and sugar. Then add next 3 ingredients. Combine wet and dry ingredients.

Refrigerate dough for 3 hours.

Roll out dough. You may need to flour your surface and rolling pin to keep dough from sticking. Cut out cookies with Christmas cookie cutters and place on cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes.

When cooled, decorate with frosting!

*note: you can add food coloring to your frosting, if you like it colored. Otherwise you can choose the "healthy" way. ;D
Sprinkles are also fun!

These cookies are basically tradition for us. We make them every year. :) It's always fun for the younger kids to cut out the shapes and decorate the cookie with frosting when they're cooked and cooled ... well, not just the younger kids. =D

Double-Dipped Ginger Snaps


(for cookies)

3\4 cups butter                                  2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup brown sugar                             1\4 tsp. salt

1 eggs                                                   1\2 tsp. cloves

1\4 cup molasses                               1 tsp. cinnamon

2 1\4 cups flour                                 1 tsp. ginger

(for dipping)*

1\4 cup shortening (or butter)

two 12 oz. pkg. vanilla milk chips
crushed candy canes


Cream butter, then add sugar and mix well. Add eggs and molasses and mix well. Then add dry ingredients and combine (you really have to work it in). Form into balls and roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

After cooled, dip one side of cookie in white chocolate, then in crushed candy canes.

*note: we used vanilla candy coating

This is also a recipe we like to do. They're so festive - so Christmas! =)

Chocolate Crinkles


1\2 cup vegetable oil                            2 tsp. vanilla

3\4 cup cocoa                                        2 cups flour

1\4 cup butter                                        2 tsp. baking powder

2 cups sugar                                           1\2 tsp. salt

4 eggs                                                      1 cup powdered sugar


Mix oil, cocoa, butter, and sugar (not powdered). Blend in 1 egg at a time. Add vanilla, then the rest of the ingredients except for powdered sugar. Chill several hours or overnight. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into powdered sugar. Roll in sugar, then shape into balls. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Don't over-bake!

This recipe isn't so Christmas - not as much as the previous ones. But it the powdered sugar on top looks kind of like snow, so it fits in nicely with the holiday. :) The dough is quite sticky, but very yummy - I just kept on picking at it. ;P

Chocolate Pistachio Thumbprints


(for cookies)

1\3 cup powdered sugar                     1 egg

1 C butter                                               2 C flour

1 t vanilla                                             1\2 cup miniature chocolate chips

3\4 tsp almond extract                      3\4- 1 1\4 cup nuts, finely chopped

1 package instant pistachio pudding mix

(for filling)

1 1\2 cups powdered sugar                                  1 tsp. vanilla

2 tbsp. butter                                                          1 to 3 tbsp. milk

(for glaze)

1\2 cup chocolate chips         

2 tsp. coconut oil


Beat first six ingredients (for cookies). Add flour and chocolate chips. Mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls, then roll in nuts. Using your thump, make an imprint in the middle.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely. Mix all filling ingredients. Drop a scant teaspoon into the middle of each cookie. Melt chocolate chips and oil, and drizzle over cookies. Let set until hard.

Ooh, I love these! They are simply delicious, with the pistachio cookie, dollop of frosting in the middle, and drizzle of chocolate. :) These are something we've made more than one Christmas season as well.

(And can I say I love how my picture of them turned out? FOOD PICTURES<3)

Pretzel Hugs


square pretzels

white chocolate and peppermint candy kisses (a.k.a. hugs)



Place pretzels on a cookie sheet and put a candy kiss on each one. Put in the oven at 200 degrees for 4 minutes. Upon removing from oven, press an m&m onto the candy kisses. Let cool and enjoy! :)

We made these with friends the other day; they are a perfect treat for the little kids to make. :) Oh, and they're yummy too. ;)

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Greek Yogurt Pancakes


2 cups plain greek yogurt                              4 tsp ground ginger

4 cups rolled oats                                            4 ripe banana

4 tsp. baking powder                                      4 tbsp. molasses

4-8 tsp. cinnamon                                           8 eggs*


Blend ingredients in blender, in order listed, until batter is smooth. Let sit for a few minutes. Pour on greased skillet, sprinkle with a few chocolate chips, and cook.  **

source of recipe:

*note: original recipe calls for egg whites, but we just do whole eggs. :)

** This recipe feeds a big family - you may have to half it or something if you have less people to feed. ;)

This is a DELICIOUS pancake recipe, and one to definitely have for breakfast during Christmas season (since it's gingerbread pancakes). We do eat it during any season, though, usually without chocolate chips. But the chips, and a dollop of whipped cream make these special during a special season. ;)

No-Bake Coconut Balls


1 3\4 cup coconut                                            1\2 tsp. vanilla

3 tsp. coconut oil                                              1\8 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. maple syrup                                            dark chocolate (for dipping)

2 tbsp. unsweetened coconut milk        more shredded coconut (optional)


Blend 1 cup of coconut with oil to make butter. Combine with the rest of the ingredients, then add remaining coconut. Dip in melted dark chocolate and roll in coconut.

This is a great option for a Christmas treat for those who don't want all the sugar! And they're really good, believe me! :)

Pistachio Almond Biscotti


(for biscotti)

1 cup butter                                         1 tbsp. baking powder

2 cups sugar                                        2 cups flour

4 eggs                                                   1 1\2 cup whole almonds

1 box pistachio pudding                   1 1\2 cup shelled pistachios

2 tsp. salt

(for glaze)

1 cup powdered sugar                             2-3 tsp. water

1 tsp. almond extract


Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in next three ingredients until fluffy. Sift next three ingredients together and add to wet mixture. Fold in nuts last.

Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet; shape dough into logs 3 in. by 3 in.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, then slice the "log" into 1 inch slices with a sharp knife. Cool for 1\2 hour.

Turn oven down to 325 degrees. Lay the cut side of biscotti on baking sheet, then bake 8 minutes. Turn each biscotti over and bake for 8 more minutes.

Biscotti should be dry, but not very browned. When cooled, glaze, and enjoy!

I've always enjoyed this biscotti! So good! :) (no picture because we haven't made these recently.)

Do you have a Christmas recipe that you make every year?