Thursday, December 29, 2011

Saying Goodbye to 2011.....

A big hello and welcome to everyone today : )

First of all, this is my 200th post!!!!!



Woohoooooo!! How exciting is that?? May have taken me awhile to get here, but we've made it to 200 posts everyone :D Thank you so much for giving me the support and encouragement to keep writing. I absolutely love blogging and you all make it worth every second spent on it! So thank you!

Now, I know this is a little early, but I'm having surgery tomorrow morning at 8:30am (think of me!), so we have to have this a little early lol.


In just three short days, we will be waving goodbye to 2011 and moving forward to 2012. It's a time to reflect, ponder, dream, and move on. I know my year has been kinda....crazy. Definitely filled with its' ups and downs alike.

~Meeting my bestie, Catherine Coulombe. I'll never be the same having met her : ) Sticking with me through the ups and downs that life has stuck me with has shown me that true friends really do happen. I love you so much, Cateroni!

~ Getting closer with a couple friends like Ariel Wilson. Ariel, you've been an incredible friend to me since we met. Not sure how it came to be, but I wouldn't change it for anything. I love you too, girl, crazy eyes and all ;) Weddings <3
~ My first car accident - that's one of the pictures shown to the right. Very, very, very scary!
~ More medical drama

~ Almost getting kicked out of college
~ Very, very depressed
~ Finding the right anti-depressant for me and climbing out of my hole - No, Paxil, Lexapro, and Prozac did NOT work for me, but it's a good picture :P
~ Travelling to Europe again - That picture was taken in Wales this summer at our gorgeous hotel! While in Wales....do as the Welsh do!
~ Beginning to review books!

I can't say that I have loved this year. It's probably the hardest year I've had to live through to date. The lows were lower than I ever thought I would find myself in; whereas the highs were good but seemed short lived.

As cheesy as it sounds.....a new year brings new beginnings. I really want to and need to take advantage of these opportunities.

~ Get better grades in school if I want to stay
~ Enjoy more time with friends
~ Take more pictures
~ Read and review more books
~ Be a better friend
~ Blog more frequently
~ Be more aware of myself before I speak or act
~ Be more assertive with doctors and try to find answers

One of my biggest resolutions this year, though I know everyone says it, is to lose weight. You've all at least seen pictures of me. I'm a big girl. I don't mind curves, love them actually, but I need to get to a healthier weight. I have this gut feeling that it is really going to start causing me medical problems, if not already has. I would love, love, love to go back to Weight Watchers. I lost around 50 pounds when I did it as a freshman in high school! Five years later and I've gained just about twofold what I lost. It is frustrating, depressing, hard to live with every single day. I'm hoping by next year at this time, weight loss will be in my 'what happened in 2012' spot instead of resolutions.

So....that's about all for this year, I guess, folks. In a short eight hours I need to be at the office for surgery, kinda scared about that! If you think of it and read this before then, think of me, okay? I love you all and I'll see you in the new year :D




Love to you all,
Hannah

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

Do those words ring any bells for anyone???




That curly little red headed girl is well known for her cheery, yet blunt disposition. Above is one of her most famous songs, Tomorrow. In this scene, for those of you who don't know, she is seen singing to President Teddy Roosevelt. She got around pretty good for starting in an orphanage, eh? ;)



Annie had two movies made off of the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. The first was in 1982 and the second, 1999. I, personally, have not seen the remake, but have heard it wasn't as good. The original is certainly a classic, however! Starring so many memorable faces such as Carol Burnette and Burnadette Peters, this is not a musical soon forgotten.







Storyline:

In the depths of the 1930's, Annie is a fiery young orphan girl who must live in a miserable orphanage run by the tyrannical Miss Hannigan. Her seemingly hopeless situation changes dramatically when she is selected to spend a short time at the residence of the wealthy munitions industrialist, Oliver Warbucks. Quickly, she charms the hearts of the household staff and even the seemingly cold-hearted Warbucks cannot help but learn to love this wonderful girl. He decides to help Annie find her long lost parents by offering a reward if they would come to him and prove their identity. However, Miss Hannigan, her evil brother, Rooster, and a female accomplice, plan to impersonate those people to get the reward for themselves which put Annie in great danger.

I had the priviledge of seeing the musical Annie performed at our local theater, Northern Stage, yesterday. They put on a successful, magnificent show! Incorporating actors and actresses straight off Broadway and children from the local area, Annie was a special treat. Unfortunately, Mollie Brown who normally plays Annie was out, so we saw it with Margaret Ann Marie Finley. THough she wasn't who we were supposed to see, I have no complaints, nor any regrets. She did phenomenal! You would've never known she was the understudy. She belted the songs like nobody's business. I would almost say I enjoyed her performance better than in the movie :D I had the lucky chance of a run-in with Gwendolyn Jones (Miss Hannigan) when I was working one night! She was the absolute sweetest woman, the antithesis of her character. Shows what good an actress she is :) And booooooooooooooy was she funny!!! We couldn't stop laughing whenever she came on the stage! Plus she did a GREAT job with her costume changes. All the girls playing the orphans were spectacular! Their voices were so strong for mostly 9, 10, and 11 year olds, but some younger. I was in awe at the accuracy of their performance from staging to acting, to singing and dancing. I wouldn't be surprised if someday we saw some of their names up in lights!

Book - Thomas Meehan
Music - Charles Strouse
Lyrics - Martin Charnin
Director - Brooke Ciardelli
Producing Director - Catherine Doherty (she played the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz last December!)





I feel blessed that we have Northern Stage in our backyard. It's in downtown White River Jct, which is about a 2 minute drive from my house, depending on the stoplights :P They are able to bring us quality theater with famous actors from Broadway, tours, movies, and television shows. It is incredible what they can do on this tiny stage (much smaller than our high school stage and auditiorium!). Bravo, bravo to everyone in it! I wish you the best of luck in your future and many more opening nights :D
Thanks for stopping by!
Hannah

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winners Galore!!

Well, well, well another year has just about passed us. Crazy, isn't it? In turn, this means that Christmas has passed us and New Years is upon us.

I would say overall the Second Annual Christmas Blogfest here was once again a success :) Today is dedicated to the winners. Without further ado, let's see who the lucky folks are!


The Christmas Witness by Susan Sleeman


MELANIE

Winners Choice of a Julie Lessman Book

ANNE PAYNE

Winners Choice of one of the Code Triage books by Candace Calvert

CATHERINE

Love Finds You on Christmas Morning by Trish Perry

EDWINA

'Party in a Box' Kit

SHERRY L.

'Friend' Picture Frame

JULIE

Well, there you have it, people! All winners have been emailed, they have until Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 to respond to me. That gets us through the holidays and my surgery : )



Congratulations to ALL the winners and my sincerest gratitude goes to everyone who participated. It sure makes it worth it to blog when you know someone is reading what you write : ) I have some really fun, new ideas for 2012, so I hope you will all join me then!
Much love,
Hannah

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ho ho ho! It's Christmas Eve!!



MERRY CHRISTMAS, one and all! I am so sorry that I've neglected to post this whole week. I was sick at the beginning of the week and had a fun interview planned for yesterday that didn't end up working out I guess, so here we are to Saturday already - almost the day we've been waiting for! How's everyone feeling? Good? Excited? Stressed? Haha :) I'm ready to sit back, relax, and hopefully enjoy the holiday.

The Importance of Christmas
Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to lecture you all about how we need to keep the Christ in Christmas. I am pretty sure the people that read my blog all realize that and continuously include Christ in their Christmas season. Nope, I simply wanted to talk about what Christmas means to me. Afterall, I've been holding this blogfest about Christmas but haven't put too much input into it from myself yet :) Lol

Christmas is a magical time of year. I truly feel like I begin celebrating as soon as I possibly can after Thanksgiving. I don't want to cut off Thanksgiving, that has its' own time. However, Christmas is the bigger holiday in our family. I love everything about Christmas minus the added stress! Lol! The sparkling lights, majestic trees, smell of gingerbread men and homemade rolls baking, Christmas carols playing softly in the background. It is truly magical.

Christmas Eve brings many special things, as does Christmas, in this household. Though my sister and I have to work, we will help prepare all the food at Gramma's before or after work (depending on which girl we're talking about lol). I have one last present to finish still, then wrap. Otherwise, it is a very laid back day. Presents are brought down to Gramma's from our household and Alicia and I put our presents to each other and Mom under our tree at home.

Tomorrow night we will sit through one of my favorite church services of the year. Each year, Pastor Lory is able to slightly and subtly change the Christmas story (not that it needs changing) which makes it even more interesting. I think tonight's service will be the first one where I am not going to be Head Shepherd in the pageant, so that will be a change. Afterwards, we will drive around to admire Christmas lights :) Then it's home to cookies and hot coco in our Santa mugs - yum! Alicia and I get our ONE present on Christmas Eve; it's always new pjs but we act surprised lol. Next, the two of us scramble upstairs and watch A Christmas Story while Mom is doing....soooooomething downstairs O_o hmmm wonder what? LOL! It's the one day of the year that Alicia and I actually go to bed pretty well for her, so that's a plus.

All in all, Christmas wraps our family up tight, yes tighter than normal lol. Though we are big gift givers, we also realize this is precious time that holds high value. My great uncle, Edward, was put in a nursing home this fall. We didn't even think he'd still be alive at this point. He is my grampa's last living sibling and only a couple years older than him. Likewise, Gramma has three living siblings still, but they're all "getting up there" so to speak. Edward's health problems and reluctant placement into a nursing home has really breathed new life into the concept of time for everyone in our family. We certainly cherish all the time we have with Gramma and Grampa, our other family too for that matter.

To get back to the happy of the season, Alicia and I did a remake of the classic 'Twelve Days of Christmas'! It was an early present for Mom (since we couldn't wait anymore! LOL!) and our aunt has seen it also. The rest of our family will see it Sunday :P Buuuuuuuuuut Alicia gave me her blessing to show you all, since you're my extended family : ) Please excuse the bad singing, any weird acting, and funky editing stuff lol you have to understand we were up until like 1am working on this! LMBO!! It sure was fun though XD So without further ado:




If video doesn't play, here's the LINK.

Hahahahah whatdya think!? Please be nice :O lol.

Remember that all the giveaways are open until December 27 and there are NO entries on Trish Perry's post so....if you enter, you'll win as of right now :) Winners will be announced before December 30, so get your last entries in and tell your friends too!

I hope this Christmas Eve brings you great happiness and joy in all you do, lots of family time too!
Love,
Hannah


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Best Friends Make Holidays Brighter (Plus Giveaway!) :D

What a week, what a week it has been. Yesterday I finished up finals and now I'm doing extra praying about my grades. Crazy, life-changing times might be ahead of me and that's really scary. I keep trying to tell myself that God has a plan and all things happen for a reason but this particular thing has never even been in the same TIMEZONE as my plan. That's the scary part.

Anyway, I am particularly excited about this post : ) I met this wonderfully talented, hysterically funny girl last April through my roommate this year. They were friends and Amanda said "You need to meet my friend, Cat. I think you two would really get along!" Well this just so happens to be one of those friendships that must have been planned by God lol. We have so much in common and love, love, love spending time together! We're both wicked goofy (especially when studying for hours straight during finals week together, eh? ;) ) but she's just the break I always need. It's strictly a coincidence that our birthdays are also only THREE days apart :D I am so thankful for her friendship and will never take advantage of it because good friends are extremely hard to come by. So it is to my great excitement that I introduce my bestie, Catherine Coulombe!!

Hannah: My lil Cateroni, you're finally on my blog! I've been waiting for this!! When does the Christmas season officially start in your household? What is the first thing done that marks the start (i.e. putting up Christmas tree, baking first gingerbread men, etc)?

Catherine (Cat): It depends on which household we are talking about! In my mom’s household we start in the beginning of December, getting decorations out, finding the perfect Christmas tree and obviously having family time while decorating the tree and house. However, now that I am with my dad we don’t have decorations or a tree, so Christmas starts in my heart on December 1st. I start getting into the Christmas music and watching the 25 Days of Christmas!

H: Ooooooooooooooo similar interests I see ; ) I honestly cannot imagine not having a tree. That seems so sad to me :( But you helped decorate our tree at school with Manda and I :D In a Christmas fantasy land – who would be the famous figures, past and/or present, at your dinner table and why?

C: My dinner table would be full of Christmas characters and Disney characters. I’m a little girl at heart and I would love if Mulan and Cinderella would be at my table. But I would want Rudolph, Santa, and Frosty at my table! Now for real figures I would want Elizabeth Blackwell, Harriet Tubman, Abe Lincoln and obviously Jesus.

H: DISNEY CRUISE!!! Just sayin' ; ) Love the characters idea. It's like our childhood basically; all the claymation figures! Now, I'll be honest, I had to look up Elizabeth Blackwell. Had no clue who she was lol, sorry! For those of you who don't know, she was the first female doctor! Totally appropriate since Cat is studying Pre-Med : ) This girl's gonna be a phenomenal doctor! Anyway, Elizabeth is a pretty interesting gal, so check out the link if you wanna read more! What did you ask Santa for Christmas this year? *wink*

C: I asked Santa for a few things! I asked him for books, movies, money, and a case for my Kindle!

H: Ooooooooooo!! Kindle case, smart idea! What is one unique tradition for your family during the month of December to celebrate Christmas?

C: We have a couple of different things that we do every year. My Nana gave us a homemade advent calendar, and every year I put an ornament on the tree until we reach Christmas Eve. Our family also loves driving around to look at Christmas lights, normally midway through December. Finally every Christmas Eve we open one present, which is normally pajamas, so we can wear them to bed, and my sister and I always watch A Christmas Story!




H: Alicia and I get the pjs and watch A Christmas Story toooooooooooooo :D SO cool! Didn't know we had that in common too! Lol :P I absolutely love the idea of putting an ornament on your tree everyday until Christmas Eve. That is a really, really cool idea and definitely unique : ) How will you be spending your Christmas day this year?

C: I will be spending my Christmas morning with my mom, step-father and sisters, we have a family breakfast and then open our presents. By noon I will be on the road for a three hour drive heading back to my home where I will be with my dad and Sherry (his girlfriend/basically my step-mother). I don’t know if we will be heading to my memere’s but that is always a possibility.

H: You better be safe on that drive!!! I know it might be a hard day for you, but you're gonna do wonderfully : ) And you can always text me, I'll save you with laughs and smiles all day! What have been the highlights throughout 2011 for you?

C: I have done a lot during 2011. It has been an amazing year, but I am always ready to move forward. Some of the major events were;
~ Surviving my freshman year of college, where I met a wonderful girl named Hannah : )
~ Going to Florida for 10 days!
~ Getting a job for the summer and making many new friends.
~ Spending time with one of my best friends.
~ Watching my cousin get married!
~ Finally, I started my sophomore year of college!

H: D'awwwwwww ^_^ highlight of my year too, sexy legs! I love this picture of you and your cousin (the cousin mentioned above's new wife!) and you're even in front of a Christmas tree; how appropriate! You've had an eventful year, I can't believe it's almost over already! Do you have any New Years resolutions for the upcoming 2012?

C: Of course I have some resolutions : ) I am going to start out slow! First I would like to start a diary where I will write in it about every night for the entire year! I want to work on being a healthier and better person! Finally I want to spend more time with my family and friends!

H: Oh Cat, you're already started on these! I love that, girl. And I know you can do it too because you're strong and can do anything you put your mind to. I can't WAIT to spend MORE time with YOU :D


These are some “short answer” questions. You can answer them in as few words as possible, if you want.

Favorite Christmas book read this year? Movie seen?
The Night Before Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Last Christmas song you heard? Silent Night!

Favorite food to make or eat during the season? I love baking sweets, of all kinds! I love Christmas Eve dinner which is filled with scallops, kielbasa, ham, cheese, and crackers.

Briefly describe your favorite ornament. My favorite ornament is my ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ ornament. I love it and always will!

Anything else you would like to say? : ) I hope that everyone has a Merry Christmas : )

CAT! Thank you SO, SO much for coming on my blog!!! This has been super exciting for me : ) You are an amazing person and I really do think it was fate for us to meet up! We have our squabbles as all friends do lol but I think it keeps us in check and on our toes ; ) You make me laugh and I mean really laugh! You can help through the tears, fears, and insecurities that life bears. Yet you make it so fun and worth living for me. You love to cook and eat food with me, which is actually such a good thing in my book! LOL! From stalking me and watching me sleep :P to Disney cruises, sexy legs, pranks on Shannon, pranks from Amanda and I ON you ; ) we have had some fun times! I just know they're not going to stop anytime soon. It'll be even more fun when you become a doctor and cure me ; ) That's the plans, ladies and gents! Isn't she awesome!? Lol! There aren't enough words to talk about one of my best friends and yet I've tried and failed miserably. Here are just a few that I think sum it up at least somewhat:


You're my friend, my companion through good times and bad. My friend and buddy through happy and sad. Beside me you stand; beside me you walk. You're there to listen; you're there to talk. With happiness, smiles, with pain and tears, I know you'll be there throughout the years! ~ The Notebook

It's GIVEAWAY time!!!!!!!!!! Today, I'm giving away a friendship picture frame : ) It is pretty simple, 4x6 silver frame with the word 'friends' in block letters across the top. No, it won't get to you in time for Christmas unfortunately, but that's ok : ) Who said you need to give your friend a present just on a holiday or birthday!? Lol or you can keep it for yourself to smile when you see the two of you together. Your choice, but it's up for grabs!
Rules:
~ Leave a comment for Cat
~ Must have a US mailing address for this giveaway
~ Make sure to leave a valid email address so that I can contact you if you win!

+1 If you become a new follower of my blog
+1 If you become a follower of Cat's blog
+2 If you're an old follower : )

Contest is open until December 27, 2011. Winners will be drawn randomly from the List Randomizer at Random.org by December 30, 2011.

Last night, Alicia, Mom, and I saw the Christmas Revels again! Though I know this is more about Winter Solstice, there are still many references to Christmas. This year Dartmouth's took place in a little village outside of London, England. Queen Elizabeth I gets stranded from bad weather and needs to spend the night in a commoner's home which is lively with festivities for the Christmas Revels. Through exuberant dances, songs both somber and cheery but always well sung, and humor, these masterful storytellers create a perfect allusion. From the start, the audience participates by singing the choruses and dancing in the aisles with the cast. It's a fun time for all! Due to this, I chose to play a song from that for you all : ) Enjoy!

Have a GREAT Thursday and take the time to thank a good friend for all they've done for you : ) See you tomorrow!!
Hannah

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Special Birthday Party with Giveaway!!!!!!!!

Welcome, welcome, welcome!!! I am very excited about today's post!!! Now today was my LAST final so I DEFINITELY felt like partying it up!!! Now, who will join me!? Please, please, please come and celebrate :D

Now, not only is this a PARTY (which Amber will vouch for me that I can throw a fuuuuuuuun party ; ) ) but it is a birthday party! Who's birthday are we celebrating?? Nope, not mine, you all still have a couple months yet! Lol! Nope, we're going to throw our very own birthday party for Christ! I know we're a little early, but we will all be celebrating on our own on his actual birthday, so we need to have it now!

First, I thought we'd have a little something to eat. Follow me to the table : )


I hope it looks okay! I thought we'd start out with some Irish vegetable soup that I had sent here for us! This is ALL over the place in Ireland! I kid you now, we ate it soooooooooo much in a two week period. But it's *lips licks* so yummy!

Next we've got a couple choices - Filet Mignon with asparagus cooked in a little olive oil and garlic, and Jersey Royales (potatoes) straight from the Isle of Jersey! (That's what I'M having!!!!)

For my vegetarian friends (or those who want it!) - Vegetarian Alfredo with creamy alfredo sauce, broccoli, and even peas!
There's also some different choices of dog foods over on the counter for our four legged friends : ) Not sure what their preferences are, so I'll let their owners choose for them!

Now how good was that food!? I am stuffed! I need a break before dessert I think ; )

Since this is a party celebrating Christ, I thought that it would be perfect for the entertainment to be the retelling of his birth story. However, I found an entertaining one at that! The following video was made by last year by the children of St. Paul's Church. They are absolutely enchanting! I hope you ALL take just under 4 minutes of your day to watch this, you will not be disappointed!




Aren't they fabulous!? The little lambs made me smile :)

Can I get a drumrooooooooooooooooll please!? *drumroll*



Tada!!! Here is our birthday cake because what birthday party or any party for that matter is complete without cake!? It reads "For unto us a child is born." if you can't tell : ) I just love all the figures, the colors, the different tiers. Made me happy! So everyone, dig in! Who wants a piece, I'll cut....

It's GIVEAWAY time!!!!!!!!!!! Today, I am offering a 'Party in a Box' kit that I'll make up for you : ) Nope, it doesn't have to be a birthday party for Jesus, but use it for something fun!
Rules:
~ Leave me a comment with a birthday wish for the birthday boy!
~ Must have a valid email address (so I can contact you if you win!)
~ Must have a US mailing address for this giveaway

+1 for becoming a new follower
+ 2 for being an old follower : )

Now for our song of the day! The beautiful and talented Judy Collins is singing this one today. I have a special connection to Judy. Alicia and I sang in the Upper Valley Children's choir in elementary school and was the background choir for her in one of her concerts : ) It was a truly amazing experience to perform in such a large theater with such an iconic voice! We sang this song and it really brings back memories for me. One of my favorites that we sang was Joy to the World which unfortunately is not on Youtube :( Another one was Song for Sarajevo though. It is bleak, but with such a haunting tune it is memorable for me and I can remember my part to this day still! Alicia and I like to review it from time to time ; )

Anyway, please take the opportunity to reflect a little today. We are halfway through the month and it is so, so easy to forget the real meaning of Christmas. Take the time to celebrate His birth! It's fast approaching! Time to start gettin' our party on ; ) Those of you who still have finals, I wish you the best of luck, friends! You'll do fabulously!
Much love,
Hannah

Monday, December 12, 2011

Celebrating Books and Christmas with Trish Perry (plus giveaway!!)!!!

Welcome one and all to our second Tuesday in the blogfest :D

Firstly, I just wanted to say that I am SO thankful to have this blog. It is such an outlet in times like these where I am stressed for my finals, my grades, and my appointments next week. So thank you for following me so faithfully and encouraging me to continue with it : ) I appreciate you all SO much!

Next, I am thrilled to have this guest with us today! I contacted her a couple months ago because I was so excited at the thought of having her hehehe ^_^ Though I have not read any of her books, I have read a couple interviews and boy, they sure do sound good! If you stick around to the end, you'll get the chance to win a fun Christmas story from her! So without further ado, welcome Trish Perry!!!

Hannah: Trish, thank you, thank you for agreeing to join us here today! I am so excited to hear your answers to these questions and to spend some time with you :D When does the Christmas season officially start in your household? What is the first thing done that marks the start (i.e. putting up Christmas tree, baking first gingerbread men, etc)?

Trish: The starting date definitely depends upon what else is going on around here, but usually I start warming up the first or second week into December. The front door wreath is typically my first effort. It makes it look as if I’ve got it all going on inside the house, when in fact I’m completely disorganized and working in spurts.

H: Hahahaha that is a really smart idea, in my opinion! We honestly do not decorate much outside (might try and get a picture for ya), but the wreath is definitely there :) By the way, I love that shirt you're wearing in your picture! Anyway haha, you wrote a Christmas novel, Love Finds You on Christmas Morning, why is it special for you to have written this?

T: Christmas is simply a romantic time of year, even if one isn’t involved in a romance. I mean, the setting is warm and friendly, hearts soften, and people are often more warm, fuzzy, and like minded. So I loved the chance to work a story around that environment. And I like the idea of endurance suggested with a Christmas-based story. They come back into style every year!

H: Awwww, love that you think of it as a romantic time of year. I would completely agree with that! And I'd never thought of that before! They really DO come "back into style" every year, huh?? Who is your favorite character in your book and why?

T: I love Harvey Fennicle, the eccentric old man in whose mansion heroine Nikki Tronnier lives and works. He’s funny, kind, and generous of heart. But, of course, my heroine, Nikki, is my favorite character, because this is her story. I love the fact that, even though she’s very modern and contemporary minded, she hankers for the warm family environment she remembers from her childhood, and she takes steps to recover that environment. She doesn’t just sit there, wishing her life were a certain way. She gets out there to make her life what she wants it to be. At least that’s what she tries to do.

H: I LOVE the names of the characters in your book.....Harvey Fennicle. A name drenched with personality, how cool! And that sure is a cliffhanger at the end ; ) What really happens with Nikki?? Now you've got me curious! In a Christmas fantasy land – who would be the famous figures, past and/or present, at your dinner table and why?

T:
• Edmund Gwenn, the fellow who played Kris Kringle in the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street, because he was one of my favorite characters as a kid (watching repeats of the film—I’m not that old).
• Bill Murray, who played Frank Cross in Scrooged, because he’s hilarious.
• Amy Grant, Enya, Rachel Lampa, and Nicole Nordeman, because they sing Christmas carols beautifully.
• The angel who appeared to the shepherds on Christmas Day—I think the common belief is that it was Gabriel—because I just think he has an awesome job and would love to hear about it.
• Jesus, because He’s the whole point. Happy birthday to Him!

H: Happy Birthday indeed!! Love that :D along with your other choices - very unique! Enya is very talented. What did you ask Santa for Christmas this year? *wink*

T: I actually have a lot of uncertainty before me for 2012, so I’m asking Santa (and the Lord) for a productive year, free of all surprises but the happy ones.

H: Wow....that is a very well thought out answer. I actually think that I would agree with that one in thorough. Sounds good to me. I'll certainly be praying for you as I'm sure my readers will too. What have been the highlights throughout 2011 for you?

T: My son finished his freshman year of film school and started his second, happy in his pursuit (which makes his mama happy).
My daughter and her hubby announced that my second grandchild will arrive in February 2012.
I saw the fruits of 2010’s crazy labors, releasing four books this year.

H: WOW! Congrats, congrats, aaaaaaaaaaaaand congrats! Those are incredible highlights!! :D Do you have any New Years resolutions for the upcoming 2012?

T: I don’t tend to make resolutions. But I am planning on doing my chiropractor’s “boot camp,” in January. I’m not exactly sure what that’s going to entail. I know it’s all about getting more fit and healthier in every facet of life. I’m scared.

T: Other than that, my resolution is to keep reminding myself that God has everything in hand. I’m leaning on that in a big way for 2012.

H: These are some “short answer” questions. You can answer them in as few words as possible – even simply one word.

Favorite Christmas book read this year? Remembering Christmas, by Dan Walsh

Movie seen? The Holiday, with Jude Law and three other people who aren’t him. (HAHAHAHAHA!! I love your answer XD)

Last Christmas song you heard? O Come O Come Emmanuel, by Enya

Favorite food to make or eat during the season? Pecan snowball cookies! Yum. I want some right now.

Briefly describe your favorite ornament. I have two, actually. My two kids are grown now, but I still have the picture ornaments each of them made while in elementary school. My daughter’s has her photo surrounded by a tiny grapevine wreath, and my son’s is his photo surrounded by puzzle pieces. I still see them as those little kids sometimes. Always my babies!

Anything else you would like to say? : ) I’d like to wish your readers a very happy Christmas. I pray that this is a joyous season for all of you and that the reminder of Christ’s birth renews a sense of hope and comfort for you now and during the coming year. I love to hear from readers, who can reach me through my website or on Facebook or Twitter (TrishPerryWrtr).
Thanks for featuring me, Hannah!

Wow, what a great interview! I am so glad that I was able to learn more about you! Thanks again for joining us today!

It's GIVEAWAY time!!!! Trish has happily offered you all a copy of Love Find You on Christmas Morning! Excited!? I think yes! Jealous I can't win it ; )
Rules:
~ Leave a comment for Trish
~ Must leave a valid email address so that I can contact you if you win!
~ Must have a US mailing address for this contest

+1 - Become a new follower of my blog
+1 - Follow Trish on Facebook or Twitter
+2 - Being an old follower of my blog : )

Contest is open until December 27, 2011. Winners will be drawn randomly from the List Randomizer at Random.org by December 30, 2011.

Today's song is gonna take you back, people : ) Just needed some happy music tonight before this final!!

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Enjoy chatting with Trish and see you tomorrow : )
Hannah

Holiday Cheer with Candace Calvert and Giveaway!!! :D

Happy Monday, all!
How was your weekend? Hopefully good and not toooooo terribly busy ; ) I have a special guest for you today, so we're starting the week off on a great note!!

I met this wonderful woman.....well.....actually I can't remember. That's terrible! I think it might have been in Seekerville? But I'm not 100% positive! Egads, sorry about that! In any event, she has become a special guest on my blog : ) Always positive, happy, caring, and kind, this nurse turned author is always reaching out to her readers. I feel very lucky to have connected with her myself : ) Everyone, please welcome my friend, Candace Calvert!!!!!


Hannah: Candace, thank you SO much for joining us today!!!! Two years and strong, eh? : ) When does the Christmas season officially start in your household? What is the first thing done that marks the start (i.e. putting up Christmas tree, baking first gingerbread men, etc)?

Candace: Decorating the house, then the tree—this year I did that early (for us), the weekend after Thanksgiving. I unboxed and fluffed what I call the Faux-Ho-Ho tree, wrapping it in gold ribbon garland, sparkling icicles and the big fabric butterflies that lined the walk at our garden wedding. It’s fun to hang memory-stirring ornaments—mostly from our travels. Like a mini-cruise ship, a glass Maine lobster, and even the Sphinx pyramid!

H: *snickering* Faux-Ho-Ho tree! That is absolutely hysterical XD Coming from someone who cannot imagine having ONLY a fake tree :O But I completely agree about the ornaments, ours are the same way! In a Christmas fantasy land – who would be the famous figures, past and/or present, at your dinner table and why?

C: I think I’ll hit the Easy button on this question and go for the silly answer: Ralphie and his crazy family from the classic comedy “A Christmas Story.” Complete with ever-hovering mother, the Major Award Leg Lamp, Bumpus bloodhounds . . . and Chinese food. Why? Because . . . laughter is good medicine.
H: Ohhhhhh Candace, I LOVE your answer!! You're so right :D I would love that too, especially considering Chinese food is one of my favorites! What did you ask Santa for Christmas this year? *wink*

C: (Still laughing) A Kindle Fire—actually delivered hot-off-the-assembly-line before Thanksgiving. It was hubby’s surprise, BUT he was so excited that he insisted I open it immediately. I plan to re-wrap it and stage an Academy award winning scene of surprise Christmas morning!

H: I WISH I could see that!!! You should make a video ; ) Very cool gift though! What is one unique tradition for your family during the month of December to celebrate Christmas?

C: Not unique, but I love setting up our nativity scene—one that my mother gave me when the kids were small. This year was especially wonderful because our 2-yr. old grand daughter, Ashland Skye, was old enough to delight in it, and listen to the story of that miracle. Big lump in this grandmother’s throat, for sure.
Baking is another tradition in our family—and it must be gingerbread! We host a small gathering of family and friends on Christmas Eve, and guests are delighted to see their names in frosting on their own gingerbread man or woman. (Chuckling) The photos show both the cookies and cook—though scrubs, pearls, and a stethoscope aren’t my normal kitchen attire!

H: You look so happy, Candace : ) I love your smile - it's infectious! I also love that story about the Nativity set, that is so special. How will you be spending your Christmas day this year?

C: Because we entertain the evening before, hubby and I like to have a quiet Christmas morning together—breakfast in front of the fire, then opening our gifts to each other (“Oh my goodness, a Kindle Fire!” How am I doing?). We’ll call family in other states, weather permitting (and it usually does here in northern California) we’ll take a hike along one of the beautiful nature trails nearby. We’re avid birders, so you can bet we’ll have our binoculars.

H: Once again, so interesting to hear about everyone's Christmas days! That is such a unique day, love that! And for the record, I think you'll do fabulously ;D What have been the highlights throughout 2011 for you?

C: Ah, so many blessings this year!
The biggest “highlight” of 2011 was the birth of our newest grand daughter, Piper Coraline. Combined, we now have a total of seven wonderful grand children raging in age from 21 yrs. to 8 months—we are so thankful for them!
Not long after Piper’s birth, we climbed aboard a cruise ship and sailed across the Atlantic, in a romantic anniversary trip that began in Ireland, included Wales, Scotland, London, and Paris. I’m still goose bumpy from all that we saw: like the Blarney Stone at the tip-top of Blarney Castle in Ireland. You can bet that this author kissed it! And apparently the promised “gift of gab” stuck, because . . .
I’ve signed a second 3-book contract with Tyndale House! The Grace Medical series (set in Texas) will debut in May of 2012 with the release of Trauma Plan. I can’t wait to share it with readers.

H: WOW!!! That trip :D Been to all those except Scotland myself. Truly amazing, isn't it? I can't wait to see if Gramma and Grampa will be able to do a trip this coming summer. At 85, they've seen better days, though they still do amazingly well.

(Alicia and I at the bottom of Blarney Castle :D)
YAYAYAYAY!!! Can't wait to see that manuscript as a book, Candace! That'll be awesome, seriously can't wait! Do you have any New Years resolutions for the upcoming 2012?

C: No particular resolutions—simply to maintain a healthy balance in life: Faith, family, health, and good work.

These are some “short answer” questions. You can answer them in as few words as possible, if you want.

Last Christmas song you heard?
“Silent Night” from the music box on our nativity scene.

Favorite food to make or eat during the season? Gingerbread! (Who woulda thunk it!?)

Briefly describe your favorite ornament. A handmade shimmery ball which holds: petals from hubby’s wedding boutonnière and my bouquet, and the pearls from my upswept hairdo. It’s a romantic reminder every year.

Anything else you would like to say? : )
Thank you for hosting me here, Hannah—I’m honored. I wish you and your readers a warm and wonderful Christmas, and a new year filled with unexpected blessings.

Thanks so much again, Candace!! This was wonderful hearing about your holiday : ) I wish you the happiest season yet! To visit Candace stop by her website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter (@CandaceCalvert). She loves to hear from ALL her readers!!

It's GIVEAWAY time!!! Candace wants to give one lucky commentor their choice of one of her books! This includes: Critical Care, Disaster Status, and Code Triage :D
Rules:
~ Leave a comment for Candace
~ Must leave a valid email address so that I can contact you if you win!
~ Must have a US mailing address for this contest

+1 - Become a new follower of my blog
+1 - Sign up for Candace's newsletter
+2 - Being an old follower of my blog : )

Contest is open until December 27, 2011. Winners will be drawn randomly from the List Randomizer at Random.org by December 30, 2011.

Everyone have fun chatting with Candace today! And please think of me during my first final at 10:30am today, please and thank you :D We've got another author interview and giveaway tomorrow, so be sure to stop by!!!
Hannah

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Movie Friday :D


I feel like this poor lil cat lol!!! And can I just say for the record....Mom and Alicia would want you all to know that some morning my hair actually looks just like THAT! O_O Pretty darn close anyway, it's bad lol. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway, IT'S FRIDAY!!!!! Celebrate that, people! It is also December 9th which means only 16 days until Christmas! AHHHHH! Woohoo! Yippee!! Getting close, peeps!

Today I decided I wanted just a feel good post, so what are we doing you ask? We're going to the movies!! Go grab your popcorn and soda, snag a seat, sit back and relax, and enjooooooy the show!!!

Christmas movies can be magical! Things happen that don't normally happen - snow is always pure and white, the guy and the girl miraculously find their way into each others' heart, and everyone is ALWAYS joyous. I think that's one reason everyone is always so eager for the season to get here. Who doesn't want to be happy? So year after year, we return to our favorites and maybe adopt a newbie to the hall of fame ; ) Here's a few of our must sees:

ELF: Okay, I know this one is probably inducing memories for many of you. Elf made it's way into our hearts in 2003 led by the ever hysterical Will Ferrell. The whole movie brings a smile to the face and as my mom said: "This movie makes you feel like a kid again. I can unwind, sit back, and just laugh! That doesn't happen too often....I love it!" So true : ) This has become an at least once a season annual movie in our household lol and we watched it tonight! I just need to play a clip for you (it was hard to choose just ONE!!!!):


Holiday in Handcuffs: This super FUN movie stars Melissa Joan Hart and Mario Lopez who make an amazing duo in the acting world! Like Elf, this is a modern Christmas kidnappying fairty tale ; ) Yes, kidnapping lol! It's a fast paced, laughs ensuing, 'awwww' inspiring movie from start to finish. I highly recommend it; it'll become a fast favorite!

1994 version of Miracle on 34th Street: First off, I absolutely love Mara Wilson! She was in two of my other favorites: Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire!! Otherwise, this is such a sweet story. Though this isn't the oldest version, I consider an oldie but a goodie. In my opinion, even though it's talking about Santa Clause and believing so strongly in him that he's real, it relates a lot to Christ. I think that a lot of connections can actually be drawn between Santa and Christ interestingly enough, but that's a whole OTHER conversation! For now, this is a great movie for kids and adults alike : )

Falalala Lifetime: I love what they call the Lifetime channel during Christmastime!!! Okay, so we have probably seen pretty darn near ALL the Lifetime Christmas movies. We like them usually....a lot. :P Instead of going into detail, I'm just going to list a couple of my personal faves: Undercover Christmas, Thomas Kinkade's The Christmas Cottage, A Diva's Christmas Carol (Vanessa Williams, eeeeeek!!!), and Home By Christmas. These are so easy because all you have to do is switch the channel over to the Lifetime Channel!

I will leave you with one of the best Christmas movies of all time.....
Christmas with the Kranks: Disclaimer: If you have not watched this movie, I'm giving you homework. Rent it from a videostore or Netflix or Red Box, by it from the store, order it online....whatever you do, get your hands on this movie and WATCH IT!!!! Asap!! I'm not kidding in the slightest lol. You will absolutely love it! It is a movie that we actually watch year round we love it so much. Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen make for a memorable movie that you are sure to relate to in one way or another. Anyone with kids will especially like this one, I think. It is not a kids movie, but it will probably hit on a different level (their daughter is coming home after they thought she wasn't. Since she wasn't coming home, her parents had cancelled Christmas. Now, they have two days until Blair arrives at home and need to make Christmas exactly as she remembers it!). Please, see this movie!!

Tell me, what are your favorite movies? Seen any that I mentioned above? If so, what are your thoughts on them!? Do we agree or disagree? ; ) The comment section is open to talk about your movie favorites of the season!! Can't wait to hear your thoughts :D

Our song today is by one of my absolutely favorite guys!!! If you think long and hard, I know some of you can get it ; ) We heard this one last year, but it's just so....celebratory! Puts me right in the spirit!

Have a terrific Friday!! We have another fun-filled week coming up including a couple more interviews and giveaways! See you then!
Hannah

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wonderful Winter Smiles, Stories, and Fun with Julie Lessman (Plus Giveaway!)

Well, you all made it through yet another Wednesday! How do you feel? I'm feeling happy that we're one day away from Friday! I am even MORE happy, however, that my dear friend Julie Lessman is visiting us! Lemme tell you, this lady needs no introduction, but since she sent me her own introduction....I guess we'll let that speak for me ; )

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 13 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction.” Chosen as #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Series of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #5 Novel of the Year and #4 Historical Fiction Author of the year.

Hannah: Jules!! You FINALLY managed to make it onto my blog :D Woot woot lol! Was so bummed last year when you couldn't make it, but thanks for joining this year *hugs* When does the Christmas season officially start in your household? What is the first thing done that marks the start (i.e. putting up Christmas tree, baking first gingerbread men, etc)?

Julie: For the Lessmans, the Christmas season officially kicks off the weekend before Thanksgiving when I put up our Christmas tree and decorations. You see, we split holidays in my family, and I have Thanksgiving, so it just makes sense to put up my decorations prior to so my family can enjoy them as well. Besides, it makes the house SO festive and fun and especially romantic when my hubby and I watch Christmas movies Thanksgiving weekend. Nothing says “romantic” to me quite like snuggling in the glow of the Christmas tree and a crackling fire in a hearth decorated with greenery and lights!

H: Oh you have NO idea how much I can't wait to have what you have with your special hubby, Jules. I know I'm young and definitely not looking for marriage yet, but someday....it's gonna be amazing, I can imagine : ) In the meantime, a boyfriend might be nice! :P In a Christmas fantasy land – who would be the famous figures, past and/or present, at your dinner table and why?

J: Well, Jesus is a given, of course, along with his folks! :) But then I would LOVE to see Margaret Mitchell there along with Harper Lee, Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant and Clark Gable.

H: Should've known about some of those people, especially Margaret Mitchell and of course Jesus! What did you ask Santa for Christmas this year? *wink*

J: Oh, I am SO easy to buy for, it’s downright disgusting and I ask for the same things every single year—a favorite book, flavored coffees, fun and sexy tops and cheap costume jewelry. Heaven help me, I am a glutton for cheap costume jewelry, and the more dangle, the better!!

H: :O Sexy tops? I'm surprised! LOL! Would've never expected that one out of you ; ) Sounds fun, though! What is one unique tradition for your family during the month of December to celebrate Christmas?

J: As one of thirteen kids, I’d wake up Christmas morning to a wall of presents halfway up our ceiling-height tree. I remember it being pure chaos with everyone opening gifts at the same time, paper flying and everything over within minutes. It wasn’t until I married and we adapted my husband’s family tradition of sitting in a circle while each person took their turn opening one present at a time that I realized how magical and peaceful Christmas could be. Lots of ooohs and ahhhs laced with love and gratitude while we enjoyed the unwrapping of other’s gifts as well as our own. Pure bliss!!

H: Oh man.....that would probably give me an anxiety attack. All unwrapped at once in minutes!? Eeeeeeeek! There's only my sister and I that have ever lived together (I have 5 other siblings) and so it's always been a fairly slow pace. We have been taught to cherish every gift given and usually Mom has to shoo us onto the next one or it'd take too long! LOL! How will you be spending your Christmas day this year?

J: Years ago when the kids were about eight and fourteen, my husband and I awoke early to the smell of fresh coffee and bacon. To our complete surprise, our kids had gotten up early to fix us the same breakfast I’d fixed for them every Christmas—scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, biscuits, hash browns, coffee and juice. What a treat!! This went on for years until my son moved away and got married, but now my daughter gets up to fix the breakfast for all of us along with help from my son and daughter-in-law when they arrive. So we start the day off with breakfast, followed by presents opened one by one, all wrapped up with a reading from the Bible. Then we dress up in our Christmas best for an afternoon of appetizers and fun at my sister-in-law’s followed by dinner. The day concludes with a Christmas movie with just my kids and us or just my hubby and I. Very nice.

H: This is one of my all-time favorite reasons for doing this blogfest - truly hearing how my friends spend their Christmas day. On such a celebratory and reflective day as well, it's amazing to hear of all the different traditions incorporated. Thank you for sharing those memories with us : )What have been the highlights throughout 2011 for you?

J: The number one highlight would be my new granddaughter, Aurora Grace (Rory) Lessman, who is now almost three months—OH MY, what a blessing!!! Following on her heels would be the Seeker get-together at my house during the ACFW Conference in St. Louis (where I was blessed to meet Casey Herringshaw!!) and the “A Kiss is NOT Just a Kiss” workshop that Ruth Axtell Morren and I taught—SO much fun!!

Career highlights would have to be A Hope Undaunted coming up #5 on Booklist's Top 10 Inspirational Fiction 2010 and Family Fiction magazine 2011 Readers Choice Awards of #1 Romance Author of the Year, #3 Author of the Year, #4 Historical Fiction Author of the Year, #1 Series of the Year and # 5 Novel of the Year for A Hope Undaunted.

H: Ohhhhhhh I LOVE your new granddaughter's name!! Truly love it :D It's gorgeous! You sure have a busy year, girl! What I would give at the chance to meet you....very jealous of Case on that one lol. Do you have any New Years resolutions for the upcoming 2012?

J: YES!!! Write more, get back on the treadmill and lose five pounds!!

H: I WISH five pounds was all I had to lose *groan* These are some “short answer” questions. You can answer them in as few words as possible, if you want.

Favorite Christmas book read this year? Movie seen?


Ooops … haven’t read any Christmas books … yet!! Favorite Christmas movie? White Christmas.

Last Christmas song you heard? Emmanuel by Amy Grant

Favorite food to make or eat during the season? Shrimp cocktail, turkey and dressing, and my mom’s Bourbon Pumpkin Pie.

Briefly describe your favorite ornament.
What else??? Scarlett O’Hara in a red dress … : )

(Okay, I know it's not the red dress, but I just LOVE this picture! :D)

Anything else you would like to say? : )
Thanks SO much, Hannah, for hosting me on your blog this week. I want to wish you and your readers a most BLESSED holiday season and an even better new year! I LOVE to hear from reader friends, so they can feel free to contact me through my website, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter. My newsletter is chock-full of fun info on my books and there’s always a contest featuring signed book giveaways including one right now to have a character named after you or a loved one in my next book. Also, I have a cool feature on my website called “Journal Jots”, which is a very laid-back, Friday journal to my reader friends that would give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing. Then finally, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog, a group blog devoted to encouraging and helping aspiring writers on the road to publication.
Hugs,
Julie

Julie! I was going to add all that info on you at the end; you just made my job a little easier! Lol! Thanks ; ) I sure hope you have a spectacular season as well. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you joining me here on my blog. I can't wait to finally have my hands on a copy of A Heart Revealed - nooooo, I still don't! *big hugs*

IT'S GIVEAWAY TIME! Everyone, you are in for a treat!! Julie was in the Christmas spirit when she answered my email ; ) She is offering winner's choice of any of her books AND a copy of "A Kiss is NOT Just a Kiss" that her and Ruth Axtell Morren taught at this year's conference! Wow! What a prize package!
Rules:
~ Leave a comment for Julie here
~ Include a valid email address so I can contact you if you win
~ Must have US mailing address for this giveaway

+1 For becoming a new follower of my blog
+1 For signing up for Julie's newsletter
+2 For being an old follower : )


Okay so for today's song, I stumbled upon these two singers recently on Youtube. They do not post songs terribly often, usually more podcasts and vodcasts. However, I found this AWESOME Christmas song they posted!!! Enjoy!

Happy Thursday, friends! Jules, thanks again for joining us! See you tomorrow,
Hannah

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's Gonna Be a Suspenseful Season with this Newbie to the Blog (and First Giveaway of the Blogfest!)!

Oh happy day! It's Wednesday! We are halfway through, people! This is one of the hardest days of the week, but with the help of my special guest, I'm hopefully going to make it a little better for you! Stick around to find out about the giveaway at the end : )

I met this wonderful woman in Seekerville last winter, I think it was, wasn't it? She is going to be pretty busy during this holiday season with her husband, two daughter, son-in-law, and grandson! Not to mention writing away at her next novel. Yet, she managed to find the time to come spend some time with us today :D She spends her days murdering and protexting people, sounds fun! Please give a kind welcome to Susan Sleeman with her first time on the blog!


Hannah: Susan! Welcome : ) Thanks so much to stop by today, everyone will be excited to see a new face! When does the Christmas season officially start in your household? What is the first thing done that marks the start (i.e. putting up Christmas tree, baking first gingerbread men, etc)?
Susan: There are a lot of preparations I do for Christmas. I’m one of those annoying people who likes to get my shopping done in November or early December. I do a lot of baking and send the baked goods to family members and mail out the Christmas cards early, but the season or the feeling of Christmas doesn’t really begin for me until my youngest daughter arrives home from college 3000 miles away. That’s when we put up the tree and spend time playing games, laughing and talking. We or my mother has given her a dated ornament every year of her life and we take the time to look at each ornament and remember that year. It’s a wonderful way to remember what is important in life. I’m getting all weepy just writing this and can’t wait until she comes home.


H: Awwww that is so sweet! You can tell how important that mother-daughter time still is for you two. How very special that is : ) I see my mom every weekend; she doesn't miss me very much :P Why is it special for you to have written a Christmas novel?
S: The Christmas Witness is a romantic suspense book and it may deal with revenge, murder and kidnapping, but underneath it all is a message of hope. Hope for a better future. Hope for relief from bleak medical issues. Hope for love. And to me, there is no better time to focus on the message of hope than the birth of our Savior.


H: Wow.....that description really makes you stop and think. Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
S: I’m going to choose a supporting cast member, Jessie Morgan. Jessie first made her appearance in High-Stakes Inheritance, book one in the Morgan Brothers series when she was just eight years old. She’d recently lost her mother to cancer and she was struggling with coming to grips with that loss and forging a new life with just her father. In The Christmas Witness we see her again, but now she’s ten and has found a way to use her grief to help others. She has trained her dog to be a therapy dog and visits children in the hospital who are battling cancer. I love seeing the change in her and the reader can see how the loss has made her grow up and made her wise beyond her years and how she embraces her faith in her life.


H: Ohhhh! She sounds great! I'm so glad you chose her to talk about : ) By the way, I love the cover of the book! It's fabulous! In a Christmas fantasy land – who would be the famous figures, past and/or present, at your dinner table and why?
S: I would love to have Jesus, Mary and Joseph to dinner to talk about their journey for Jesus’s birth, about how it was to raise him, and find out what their family dynamics were like.


H: Very well put. I think most of us would want that, don't you? However, I really like your reasons. What did you ask Santa for Christmas this year? *wink*
S: Nothing will beat the twirler uniform I received when I was little, but I asked him for an Asus Zenbook. Since it’s very expensive, I’m pretty sure I won’t get it, but I am drooling over it.


H: HA! I love your uniform! You look so professional! So cute :) What have been the highlights throughout 2011 for you?
S: So many wonderful things have happened to me in 2011. I have had two books Behind the Badge and The Christmas Witness, release, I contracted another series with Love Inspired Suspense called The Justice Agency and I am super excited about these books that feature five adopted siblings, I signed with a fabulous new agent, and though it actually happened in 2010, I didn’t hear until 2011 that High-Stakes Inheritance made the ECPA’s best seller list. I am so incredibly blessed and seeing this all right here in one small paragraph makes me realize it will be hard to top 2011.


H: Oh wow! I guess it has been a good year for you, congratulations! High-Stakes Inheritance was really great! You should ALL check it out for sure ; ) Do you have any New Years resolutions for the upcoming 2012?
S: My husband and I have just become members at a fitness center. So in 2012 I hope that I will be exercising on a regular basis. Time will tell. : )

These are some “short answer” questions. You can answer them in as few words as possible – even simply one word.

Favorite Christmas book read this year? Movie seen?
I haven’t read a Christmas book yet, but I’m sure I’ll be reading The Grinch Who Stole Christmas to my grandson. Ditto for movies, but I have recorded a few Hallmark Christmas movies and will watch them when the mood strikes me.

Last Christmas song you heard? It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Favorite food to make or eat during the season? Cookies. Cookies. Cookies.

Briefly describe your favorite ornament. Many years ago a friend gave me an ornament made from dough. It’s four snowmen (people) connected to each other and the names of each family member are on the individual snowmen. It reminds me of how precious family is and the many years of incredible Christmas’s we have spent together. (I love this! How cool to have an ornament so full of memories!)

Anything else you would like to say? : )
Thanks for inviting me to talk about my Christmas. I would love to hear about your reader’s Christmas favorites, too.

You heard her! She wants to hear about YOUR Christmas! This brings us to....

Rules for our Giveaway! Susan is graciously donating one copy of her newest book, The Christmas Witness, that she talked about today!
~ Leave a comment for Susan including ONE of your favorites from the list above (movie, music, book, etc)
~ Must have a US mailing address for this giveaway
~ Make sure to leave a valid email address so that I can contact you if you win!

+1 If you become a new follower of my blog
+2 If you're an old follower : )

Contest is open until December 27, 2011. Winners will be drawn randomly from the List Randomizer at Random.org by December 30, 2011.

Today's song isn't an as well known one, I don't think. Let me know what you think of it : )

Have a great day today! Come on back by tomorrow! Another amazing author who's giving you the choice of any of her books :O Don't miss it!
Hannah

Monday, December 5, 2011

Feliz Natal, Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr, Novim Godom! (And NO, I haven't been hacked!)

In other words......Merry Christmas in Brazilian, Gaelic, and Russian!! Today we're talking about what the Christmas season is like in different countries!

Brazil: I decided to look up Brazil because one of my friends and my sister's best friend is from Brazil : ) He was a foreign exchange student at the beginning from January-June and he quickly embedded himself into all of our lives, never to be the same again. He's a very special guy with a brilliant personality! So thankful to have met him and look forward to many more memories over the years. I hope I do this justice for ya, Gui!

(Gui, Me, and Alicia before prom in May!)

First of all, YES, Brazil celebrates Christmas as well :P They also have running water, cellphones, and *gasp* electricity too :O Hahahaha! Apparently they celebrate Christmas because of their Portuguese heritage. Unlike our Santa Claus, Papai Noel or Father Noel is the gift-bearer or notable figure of this season for Brazilians. According to the legend, he resides in Greenland and when he gets to Brazil, he changes into silk robes due to the summer heat! How cool is that!?

One major tradition for most is putting up the Presepio (pictured to the left). Yes, this is equivalent to our Nativity scene that we might put up. The word 'presepio' originates from "presepium" meaning the straw Jesus laid upon in Bethlehem. This is most common in Northeastern Brazil in churches, homes, and stores.

Devout Catholics attend a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve called Missa do Galo which gets out a 1am on Christmas Day.

A lot of decorations are freshly picked flowers, fireworks are seen and heard Christmas night, and huge Christmas "trees" of lights can be seen against the night skies of major cities like Brasilia, San Paolo (Gui's hometown!), and Rio de Janeiro.

Luckily (in my opinion!), the festivities continue until January 6th, otherwise known as Three Kings Day. This is supposedly the day when the three wise men gave their gifts to Jesus.

Cool, huh!? I hope you all had fun in ever-moving Brazil!! Maybe you'll see the statue of the iconic Christ the Redeemer on our way out! We're jetting off to.....can you guess it?? Ireland!! As you all know, I have a history with this beautiful country. It was my first and longest international trip. Two weeks spent touring all over the place seeing so many wondrous sites! Absolutely fantastic : ) I hope you ALL have a chance to visit someday! So welcome to our second stop!!

Christmas usually lasts from Christmas Eve to Little Christmas which is celebrated on either January 6th (ironic after learning about Brazil, eh!?). This is a very old holiday also known as "Little Women's Christmas" for women to go out with one another. Since Ireland's Christmas tends to be more religious than fun, this is said to be a day of fun for them. Ummmm can I just say I wish we had that :P

Lighted candles are placed in each window of the home as a guide that Mary and Joseph may be looking for shelter. Normally they are red in color and decorated with sprigs of holly.

They, like us, believe in Santa, but unlike our traditional milk and cookies for him, they leave out mince pie and Guinness!! I cannot get over this one XD Don't forget the carrot for his reindeer though!

Another difference is instead of stockings, children leave out sacks at the foot of their beds where basically all presents are left by Santa. Occasionally one big present is found under the tree, but it is unwrapped.

As I said before, a big emphasis is put on religion. Mass is a major excursion on Christmas Eve. Surprisingly, most actions even decorating usually have a religious purpose behind them. In the US, we usually decorate for the sole purpose of decorating and getting excited about the coming holiday. However, the aforementioned candles are due to Mary and Joseph, Christmas trees are fairly new to Ireland. Instead they used to find a holly bush, which are considered good luck in the new year. They Ancient Celts believed that mistletoe has tremendous healing powers, which was then banned until the so called "Revival-of-Christmas" in the Victorian Era.

Here's our family when we were there. Seems like such a long time ago!! Probably six years now or so? In order from left to right: Me, Grampa, Gramma, Aunt Donna (back), Alicia, and Mom. Yes, it is usually that cloudy there :P Those aren't rumors that it rains a lot!! Now, we've got one last quick stop to make! Onto Russia :) In Russia, interestingly enough the religious festival of Christmas is being replaced by the Festival of Winter, but I still thought it was an interesting place!

Christmas is celebrated on January 7th here. A great deal of the population fasts until Christmas Eve, up to 39 days! They then attend a twelve course meal, yes you read that right, twelve! Each course represents one of the twelve apostles. I think that this is a really cool idea! This meal includes things like fish, beet soup, and cooked dried fruit. Isn't it so interesting to hear what other cultures eat?

They do not have Santa Claus, but like Brazil, their story is really cool to me! Instead, they have Babushka, which in English translates to grandmother. The legend has it that she turned down the wise men to see Jesus because it was too cold! Ever since that decision, she has regretted it. So she set out to catch up to the wise men, filling her basket with presents. Unfortunately, she was never able to catch up and thus never saw Jesus. To make up for her mistake, she continues to bring presents to good children every year. I love that!

Though Babushka is the main gift-giver for their holiday, they do have Dedushka Moroz or Grandfather Christmas. Apparently he is known for wearing a blue coat and giving gifts in person instead of being secretive, like Santa for example. He also actually lives IN Russia, which is kind of cool.

Snegurochka is supposedly the granddaughter of Ded Moroz. She is known mostly in fairy tales other than actually having a role as a person. She's known for always having her animal friends with her, as depicted in this picture!

Well, now that we've been on this whirlwind trip, are you glad to be back home? How cool is it though that even though we're all celebrating the same thing.....it's so different amongst cultures. I learned so much today researching for this post about other cultures that I didn't include as well! I hope you enjoyed it even if it was a lil long : )

Thanks to Santa's Net and Ireland Fun Facts especially for helping me with this research!

Merry Christmas, since we're home sweet home! Hope to see you tomorrow for another special interview from a newbie to the blog!!
Hannah