Choosing a Gift to Grow On by Nancy Radke #mgtab

Thinking about gifts and how much they are used and enjoyed, probably the best gift I ever gave to my grandsons, ages 10, 8, and 6, was an i-Mac. As soon as they set it up, they realized they could make movies. They immediately made a “movie” using the camera in the monitor, making funny faces and adding music and rolling credits.

Before long I could see that they needed a camera, so got them a small hand-held video camera smaller than most of today’s phones. The oldest child would envision a script, and then direct the others and himself in making a movie, telling them what to do and say. They would get their cousins and friends and other family members involved, sometimes filming all summer.

One movie, called “Trigger Happy,” which centered around a paintball contest, took a full year to film (some shots in the snow!). By that time the oldest child was in high school. When he was a junior, he and the others won a local contest with an anti-bullying video called “A Good Day,” and when the middle child was in college, he entered their high school “Trigger Happy” movie into a college film contest and won.

This gift kept around eight kids entertained all summer, as they would gather as soon as school was out, figure out what kind of movie they wanted to make, and start filming. They worked hard to make it funny and to entertain their audience.

They made up their own special effects. For “Trigger Happy” they wanted a paintball to “float” in the air, so we used a needle to thread one with clear plastic thread so that it wouldn’t show on film. They bought a fake leg that they could detach, and used editing techniques to work in humor.

Besides the summer fun, these kids benefited in other ways. First, they all learned to use the computer and to do video editing. The two oldest are extremely confident and have no problem doing public speaking, while the youngest has his own video editing company along with being a wedding videographer. The cousins—boys and girls—have that same confidence. Two of their friends are trying to break into modeling and movies.

As for grandma, I can go to their youtube channel and watch their videos and remember the children at that age and what they thought was funny. So whenever you think of gifts for creative youngsters, consider an iMac as it contains all the programs necessary to start young filmmakers on their way. Buy a refurbished, used one.

What gifts have you given that you felt had long-range consequences?

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Gingerbread Cake Means Christmas by @JoanReeves #mgtab

In our home, it’s not officially Christmas until I make Old-Fashioned Gingerbread.

Everyone talks about gingerbread men and gingerbread houses during the holidays, and both of those items are really cute. But, to me, they look better than they taste.

I don’t like crisp, hard-baked gingerbread cookies. Maybe it’s because my mom never made gingerbread people or houses. She made gingerbread cake and served it warm from the oven with a dollop of cream cheese frosting sprinkled with lemon zest on top. From scratch.

Oh, my goodness, the smell of the gingerbread baking made salivary glands go into overdrive. And the taste? Amazing.

Many people think it takes too long to make a cake from scratch so they buy a cake mix. I’m sure the cake mix is probably a good product, and you may want to try it.

However, I’d like to share my recipe for homemade gingerbread with you. It’s darker in appearance than the picture shown on the box. That’s probably because my recipe calls for molasses. That’s what gives it the darker color, rich aroma, and depth of flavor.

Old-Fashioned Gingerbread

  • 1/2 cup sugar, white or brown
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup hot water (hot from the tap, not boiling)
  1. Butter a 9x9x2 inch baking pan and set aside. Turn your oven on and set it for 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift flour into a small bowl along with the ginger, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl, and add the egg. Beat well.
  4. Add the molasses to the butter mixture and beat well.
  5. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture a little at a time. Mix well after each addition until all is incorporated.
  6. Carefully stir in the hot water and mix well.
  7. Pour the batter into the baking pan and place in the preheated oven.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  9. Serve warm plain or with a dollop of whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.

I made Gingerbread this past weekend so, for me, it’s officially Christmas!

Be sure and enter our Rafflecopter on our Home Page and check out all the wonderful Holiday Romances—books and box sets galore—you’ll find from the very talented authors of The Authors’ Billboard.

Holiday Romances by Joan Reeves

Above are a few of my Christmas Romances for your consideration. I invite you to sign up for my Newsletter which has new release information and giveaways too.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year!

Why My Outdoor Lights Stay Up Until March

Why My Outdoor Decorations Stay Up Until March by @_NancyRadke #mgtab

I am one of those who put my outdoor lights up around Thanksgiving and don’t take them down until after March. I especially love the white fairy lights that cast a warm glow on everything. This year I plan to put up some larger, colored lights, but I still want the tiny white fairy lights around my windows.

So why do I leave my decorations up so long? It has nothing to do with decorating and everything to do with a slight amount of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I live near Seattle where it gets dark around 5 pm, starting in November and continuing through February. I happen to be very sensitive to outdoor light or lack of it.

In the summer, I get up with the sun and am pretty much happy all day. I rarely close my curtains. (Some of my windows don’t even have curtains.) But in the winter, when it is dark out, it makes me want to sleep and not get anything done. Closing the curtains doesn’t work. I KNOW it is black on the other side. Pitch black. Dark as the inside of a wolf’s mouth at midnight.

One year I put up fairy lights as a decoration. I didn’t think much of it until I realized that it kept my windows from feeling dark. Even though I KNEW it was dark outside, it didn’t FEEL that way. I could leave my curtains open. Even with them shut, light shone on them from the outside, as if it wasn’t dark out.

I no longer wanted to start closing down at 3:30, 4 pm, and instead felt full of energy. Hooray! Fairy lights are wonderful. I put them on a timer so that they would come on before it started getting too dark and not go off until 10 pm. This worked so great that I left them up until the spring equinox was close enough that I no longer needed them.

So if you feel dreary during the long northern winter nights, get those fairy lights working for you. Don’t take them down in January just because the holiday season is over. You may be the only house on the block with your lights on, but if it works, keep them on.

My Christmas story this year, Three French Hens, takes place on a Montana ranch, with freezing cold weather, darkness, and the bank threatening to foreclose on a widow and her son. The hero finds his way to her door because she had put a bright light up on the barn to help guide herself back home. He thought at first it was a star helping him find his way. That’s the way I feel about fairy lights.

Click here for set containing this story.

The set shown here is Unforgettable Christmas Dreams, put out by the Authors’ Billboard. If you want to enter our monthly contest, click this link.

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Something Personal #GratitudePost #Family

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

GRATITUDE

What gratitude means to me.

This is going to be a rather personal post, but I feel the need to put into words my topsy-turvy state of mind.

I guess it all started a couple of years ago when my daughter and grandson moved to the other end of the country so she could pursue her master’s degree in biology.

I’m so very proud of her, but miss them horribly.

Then, earlier this year my mother-in-law passed away. She’d been ill for a while, and we expected a call sooner or later, but it’s still hard.

July comes and DH’s union decides to call a strike. This is the first time he’s ever been in a union, so we didn’t know what to expect- five months and counting wasn’t on the list!

And finally, my mom went in for her regular blood work check up last week and received a call the same night to get in to emergency as her potassium had bottomed out and she was in danger of a heart attack.

What does all of this have to do with gratitude you might ask?

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

I’m grateful for the roof over my head, the medical services available in our country, the family and friends who have supported us during these rough periods, and most of all, for the strength to keep going when I’d sooner hide under a rock.

I’ve come to realise, no matter how hard life seems, faith and hope is a fire that will NOT let us give up. And sometimes, miracles happen.

Do you ever get depressed? What do you do to overcome it?

My upcoming release is the story of two sisters faced by the ultimate betrayal and how the strength of family ties bring them together again.

#COVERREVEAL

I’M EXCITED TO SHARE THE COVER FOR MY UPCOMING WOMEN’S FICTION NOVEL, THE SISTER PACT!

THE SISTER PACT: HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081L4SWDB/

International: http://bookShow.me/B081L4SWDB

Two sisters lose sight of what’s most important- family bonds.

Holly Tremaine is living on borrowed time. A life-threatening illness ends her promising musical career and sends her home in the hope of making amends for the past.

Levi Anderson is on the fast track to a successful year within his profession- the last thing he has time for is his twin brother’s shenanigans. But when it includes the one woman Levi hasn’t been able to forget, his conscience won’t let him avoid the temptation to see her again.

Can remorse heal all wounds? Or will past betrayals continue to ruin family ties, one thread at a time?