A Thankful Heart

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m back after a short break. I haven’t had a blog post for a couple of weeks. But, hey! Time is rushing by so fast, you probably didn’t notice.

Today is one of my favorite days, Thanksgiving!

Early in the morning, I’m up, preparing the bird for the oven. Yesterday, I baked pies and made a couple of family favorites, anything that could be done ahead of time.

So, today, it’s all about the turkey! And family, of course. I love watching their faces as they bite into the food I’ve spent so much time preparing.

I’m so thankful for this time to spend with those I love. I know some of you don’t have that, and I’d like you to know, you’re on my mind and in my heart.

How to Write a Christmas Movie

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! The very busy month of November is now upon us. Can you believe it?

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and the air is filled with … Christmas music.

Are you a fan of Hallmark Christmas movies? I have to admit, I love watching some of them. Some. Of. Them.

I have to be careful not to overwatch because it eats up a lot of time that should be spent reading, writing, cleaning, cooking, etc.

There are benefits to watching Christmas movies. They can help you prepare mentally for the onslaught that we call “the holiday season.” They provide Christmas decorations so you don’t have to. Honestly, if I didn’t have grandkids, I wouldn’t bother.

I am not a Christmas fanatic. I tend to endure the holidays. Those roots run deep, and I really can’t tell you why.

But, I do enjoy the movies. Maybe I’ll write one someday, so you could call it research. 🙂

A pattern has emerged as I watch, and I’ve decided there must be a checklist involved in writing those things.

At some point in the story the couple:

  • Heads over the meadow and through the woods to cut down a tree (or maybe just the tree lot in town).
  • Puts up the tree.
  • Decorates the tree (may or may not involve the girl falling from a ladder into the guy’s arms).
  • There’s a snowball fight.
  • They build a snowman.
  • They create a gingerbread house, which may or may not involve a contest.
  • They make snow angels together.
  • Ice skating!
  • Enjoy hot chocolate together, often after ice skating or snowman building.
  • The “almost kiss”—that first kiss is always interrupted.
  • The small town they live in has a tree lighting, usually on Christmas Eve.
  • The town Santa is really Santa (in disguise). He knows things no one else could know and is often a matchmaker.
  • There’s mistletoe, often in unexpected places.
  • Snow falls, even in locations where it never snows, like Florida, or southern California (Christmas miracle!).

If I’ve left anything out, please feel free to comment!

And now, just so you’ll know I’m not a total grinch, my favorite Christmas movie among the Hallmark offerings is The Christmas Secret.

The casting is spot-on. I love the story and the small town of Wilsonville and Betty’s Bakery of course. I can almost smell those cinnamon rolls! Wilsonville is also the setting for another Hallmark Christmas movie, The Christmas Note.

Last-minute addition: A brand new movie this year, Two Turtle Doves, moves into my list of favorites. It’s heartwarming and intelligently written. I will be watching that one again.

Are you a reader or a watcher?

Would you rather read a holiday story, or see it in movie form?

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Have a blessed weekend!

Annabelle’s Oatmeal Cookies

Drought scarred maple tree and black cat.

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! This morning, I’m looking out at a maple tree that is trying its best to show off, even after forty days straight with no rain. We’ve since had a good bit of rain, but you can still detect the scars of drought on the tree’s leaves.

Can you see the black cat? It belongs to a neighbor, and I suspect it is watching for birds and squirrels at my feeder.

Just in time for Fall, I’m sharing a recipe from Annabelle’s collection. She loves to make these, because her neighbor, Tom Franklin, loves them.

If you’re new here, you may not know who Annabelle is and you may be wondering about it. She’s a sweet, middle-aged lady from the 1950s, who lives in my Kinsman Redeemer series of novels.

What’s so great about this recipe is, you can make the dough and put it in your fridge, then bake them later. You can even freeze the dough. The cookies are thin and chewy, kind of like lace cookies. They are wonderful served with hot tea or coffee. If you’d like a printable recipe, you can download it from my Facebook group page here: Betty Thomason Owens Readers Group.

Annabelle’s Oatmeal Refrigerator Cookies* – an old-fashioned, chewy, oatmeal cookie!

Ingredients:

½ cup lard (I prefer softened butter, but you can also use your favorite vegetable shortening)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1-1/2 tbsp. molasses
½ tsp. vanilla
7/8 sifted flour (that’s ¾ cup + 2 tbsp.)
½ tsp. soda
½ tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups rolled oats

Sift dry ingredients (except the oats) into a bowl and set aside. Combine the first seven ingredients (shortening through vanilla) in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon (you can also use a mixer). Add the sifted dry ingredients and stir well.

Add the oats to the mixture. Using hands, mix thoroughly. Note: Annabelle preferred the hand-mixing method. You can continue with a mixer or stir with a spoon.

Additions: Tom Franklin loves these cookies with raisins, so Annabelle mixes in about ½ cup of plumped raisins (she soaks them in hot water for a few minutes to plump them). You can also add chopped walnuts or pecans at this stage.

Mold the dough into a long, smooth roll about 2-1/2” in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper (or plastic wrap). Chill until stiff. This usually takes about three hours, or you can leave it in the fridge overnight.

Heat oven to 400°

Unwrap dough and using a thin, sharp knife, cut in thin slices 1/8” or 1/16” thick. Place slices on a greased baking sheet. Note: I prefer to use parchment paper on my baking sheets. It’s just easier! And I use a serrated electric knife to slice it. It works best if you have left the dough in the fridge overnight.

Bake until lightly browned (about 8 – 10 min.). Annabelle’s note: Watch these closely, you don’t want to burn them.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

[You can slice these thicker to make larger cookies, but they really spread, so leave lots of room in between]

*This recipe is adapted from one found in the 1950 version of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

No Greater Joy

Hello, Thursday Morning readers. Welcome.

I have officially renamed this post three times. Hah! And I am fully coffee’d up, so I can’t use that as an excuse. Speaking of coffee, I wish we could meet for a cup one day. I’d love to talk to you. Hey, we can, if you live nearby.

I’ve got a book signing at Barnes & Noble next week, and they have a cafe!

What is your greatest joy-producer? We have lots of things in this world that can bring us happiness (or take it away). But, joy runs deep and tends to last throughout the driest season.

We happen to be in a dry season right now. Everything’s looking pretty wilted and the temps are soaring past the 100-degree mark. Hot! The sun bakes the soil and cracks form along the surface, but down deep, water flows. You know it’s there, because the trees, whose roots run deep, are still green and healthy.

Are you deeply-rooted in a joy-producing life?

I hope so. But, if you’re experiencing a dry season, here are a few helpful suggestions:

  • Immerse yourself in the Word of God. Since joy is a fruit of the Spirit, it needs to be cultivated.
  • Singing praise and worship always lifts my heart. Find good music on YouTube or your favorite Christian stations or apps.
  • Pray and spend quiet time with the Lord. Find a quiet place to sit in His presence.

Joy is a choice you make. Doing any one of these things will help you. Making a regular habit of doing all of them will provide the growth you need to send your roots down deep.

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.

Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
    sing the glory of his name;
    give to him glorious praise!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
All the earth worships you
    and sings praises to you;
    they sing praises to your name.” Selah [Psalm 66:1-4 ESV]

Click-to-Tweet: Are you deeply-rooted in a joy-producing life? No Greater Joy via @batowens #Joy #ThursdayInspiration