Sparkling Vintage Fiction. Among other things.

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October 2016: New Releases in Christian Fiction

girl-reading6As the weather cools and you spend more time indoors, you might be looking for something good to read. Here’s a list of new releases from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Enjoy!

October 2016 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Biblical Fiction:

Providence: Hannah’s Journey by Barbara M. Britton — When the prophet of Israel refuses to heal her, Hannah flees Jerusalem and is captured by an enemy with a curse all his own. (Biblical from Harbourlight [Pelican])

Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette — In defiance of her mother, Shira pursues her heart’s calling to become an apprentice midwife. When a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself bound to a man who betrayed her, the caretaker of three young children, and the target of a vengeful woman whose husband was killed by Shira’s people, the Levites. As contention between the Hebrew tribes and the foreigners fans the flames of another dangerous rebellion, Shira will come face-to-face with the heartbreak of her past that she has kept hidden for so long. How can she let go of all that has defined her to accept the love she’s denied herself and embrace who she truly is? (Biblical from Bethany House [Baker])

Christmas Novella:

Christmas Lights by Chautona Havig, Vikki Kestell, Cathe Swanson, and April Hayman — From historical romance to contemporary cozy mysteries and Christmas wonder, these four “light” reads will warm your heart and ignite your Christmas spirit! (Christmas Novella, Mixed Genres, Independently Published)

Contemporary Romance:

Risking Love by Brenda S. Anderson — Can cautious bank employee Lissa Morgan risk falling in love with a former thrill-seeker, a widowed single dad, when she may have to foreclose on his house? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Mom for Christmas by Lorraine Beatty — Noah’s dream of a happy family and Beth’s dream of a continuing ballet career are both dashed, but when they come together they discover that the Lord might have a new dream for both of them. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Sleigh Bells Ring by Sandra D. Bricker, Barbara J. Scott, Lynette Sowell, and Lenora Worth — Santa Claus is coming to town, and so are the Tucker sisters. The girls have inherited their father’s run-down horse farm for Christmas. It needs some serious TLC in order to make it sell-ready. Joanna knows that by recruiting her sisters and one handsome ranch hand they can fix up the place and even celebrate one last Christmas while they’re at it. However, to Isabella, returning to their home in Kentucky bluegrass country for Christmas seems like an impossible hurdle. Can her Chicago boyfriend make life merry and bright again? One thing’s for sure: nothing is peace on earth for Sophia as a new beau brings up old wounds. And when the fate of the horse farm is put in jeopardy because Amy accidentally fraternizes with the enemy, tensions rise. But it’s not like the land developer stole Christmas . . . just her heart. Can the Tucker sisters have themselves a merry little Christmas? (Contemporary Romance from Gilead Publishing)

Do You Hear What I Hear? by Margaret Brownley — Stranded at the old Star Inn until the road back to his cabin reopens, lumber mill owner Rick Talbot suddenly comes face to face with the past. The only woman he’s ever loved is standing in front of the inn’s blazing fire trying to get warm. Both Rick and Sally regret what happened between them years ago, but his family lumberyard clashes with her tree-hugging ways and neither is willing to try again. It will take the storm of the century, one stage-struck young boy, a certain meddling “angel”–and even a cranky cat–to convince them that in matters of the heart, sometimes the second time around is best. (Contemporary Romance from St. Martin Press)

More Than a Tiara by Valerie Comer — Marisa Hiller abandoned her modeling career to nurse a broken heart in Montana, far from the photographer who ruined everything. Her family farm is now part of a CSA program teaching gardening and cooking to single moms, but when the coordinator begs her to represent the program in the Miss Snowflake Pageant, Marisa balks. God has forgiven Jase Mackie but hasn’t answered his prayer to bring Marisa back into his life… until Jase finds himself out West as the official photographer for a beauty pageant, face to face with the woman he’s never forgotten. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Room at the Inn for Christmas by Mary Connealy — Ambitious hotel executive Amanda Star’s has got her sights set on the CEO job at the multi-national Halston hotel chain. But then she inherits the Star Inn, a place her father had always wanted her to run alongside him. With no time to be away from her job, she rushes home to put the inn up for sale. Once there, she’s struggles against keen regret, sweet memories, and the longing to return, which grows stronger when she is reunited with an old classmate: Anthony Carter, a handyman with a guarded heart. (Contemporary Romance from St. Martin Press)

Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac — A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England. (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

A Christmas Homecoming by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Interior design assistant Bailey Calderwood suspects the mysterious admirer sending her cards and flowers is none other than the son of her unpleasable, bed-ridden boss. When Stephen Belafonte’s mom demands he fire Bailey, can he find a way to heal the rift in his family as well his own heart, or will he be forced to let Bailey go? (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson — When Caden Holt’s boss asks her to show off their own beautiful Prince Edward Island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the Red Door Inn, the reclusive executive chef is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen–and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [A Division of Baker Publishing Group])

Trust My Heart by Carol J. Post — Grant McAllister, a jaded big-city lawyer and small-town reporter Jami Carlisle have no hope for finding true love–except for a zany old matchmaker who won’t give up. In the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there’s healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what’s needed to finally guide him home. (Contemporary Romance from Waterfall Press)

Insight by Deborah Raney — She’s having a baby. It’s a blessing that brings comfort to newly widowed Olivia Cline. Yet with no insurance, no job and precious little money, how will Olivia care for herself and her child? The answer is a handsome and brooding artist seeking an assistant. Reed Vincent has recently regained his eyesight thanks to a donor. And through his eyes, Olivia begins to see all the possibilities before her. Before them. Until, in a flash of insight, she knows why his signature is so hauntingly familiar. (Contemporary Romance from Raney Day Press)

Silver Bells by Deborah Raney — As Elvis croons from the radio and Christmas descends upon a small Kansas town, two people find the miracle of love. (Contemporary Romance from Raney Day Press)

A Family Under the Christmas Tree by Terri Reed — In this heartwarming tale set during the Christmas season, a single father and a fashion photographer are brought together by a young boy and a mischievous Bernese mountain dog–but first they must learn to set aside their differences if they are willing to let their relationship bloom. (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

Third Strand of the Cord by Catherine Richmond — Caroline will do anything to keep her ex-husband from putting her son with Down syndrome in an institution–even enroll the boy in a class taught by a know-it-all karate instructor. Lee Marivaux is an expert at reading people. He knows his feisty new student will thrive with firm guidance – and he’s right. He pegs the boy’s mother as a clueless socialite who loafs at the country club – and he’s never been so wrong. When Caroline’s abusive ex shows up, demanding custody, Lee and Caroline must join forces to keep the boy safe. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Buying Love by Toni Shiloh — Impatient for marriage, Nina Warrenton places an ad in the newspaper for a husband–attaching a monetary reward. But when she begins to fall for the small-town chef who answers her add, she realizes how much she wants him to love her and not her money. Dwight Williams needs fast cash to save the family restaurant, but can he let it go to prove his love for Nina? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)

Moonlight Over Manahttan by Carrie Turansky — Professional organizer Sarah Montgomery is hired to organize her elderly neighbor’s cluttered apartment by Justin Latimer, her neighbor’s grandson. Sarah believes free-spirited Justin is a lazy, unemployed poet who is taking advantage of his grandmother’s generosity. Though attracted to him, she guards her heart against her growing feelings. As Sarah and Justin work together to help his grandmother and enjoy Christmas events in NYC, romantic sparks fly. When Sarah discovers who Justin really is, she must decide if she will continue to hide behind her protective wall or open her heart and embrace love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Love Bears All Things by Beth Wiseman — Charlotte Dolinsky needs time to recover after breaking up with her boyfriend, Ryan. But when a surprise visitor shows up on her doorstep in Texas, she’s forced to put aside her own worries to help her Amish friends in Lancaster County. Daniel Byler struggles each day in his Amish community to heal from his fiancée’s betrayal. When he discovers that a member of his family is in danger of being shunned, his pain turns to fear. His only way to help is by partnering with Charlotte, a woman he barely knows who has already deceived them all before. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

General Contemporary (includes Women’s Fiction):

Paint The Storm by Dawn V. Cahill — When Meg is challenged to love her lesbian daughter as Christ would, she struggles to live out God’s command, and when her daughter goes missing, she finds herself joined with the unlikeliest of allies in her search for Linzee, and finally learns of God’s unconditional grace for sinners. (Contemporary Women’s Fiction from Spring Mountain Publishing)

Restoration Road by Elise Phillips — Mallory Andrews’s short trip back to Texas for her mother’s funeral quickly becomes a move home to help her grieving father with his contracting business. When her old crush, Tres, hires them for a restoration project Mallory falls in love with the crumbling old house. And when feelings bloom between her and Tres, she finds herself on the road to a brand new, unexpected life filled with faith, sweet tea, and fresh paint. (General Contemporary from Desert Breeze Publishing)

Above All Things by Deborah Raney — Expecting their first baby, Judd and Evette McGlin are thrilled to become parents. But the couple faces the ultimate test when Judd learns he already has a child: a six-year-old mixed-race girl born amid secrets and lies. Now, Evette must decide if she can accept the child. She thought she was open-minded–until hidden prejudices threaten the future of an innocent little girl, Evette’s marriage and the very notion of who she thinks she is. (Contemporary Women’s Fiction from Raney Day Press)

Restoring Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti — Alexis set out to restore a fieldstone farmhouse in need of repair. She didn’t expect to restore a life in the process. (General Contemporary from Worthy Inspired)

Strings of Faith by Terry Stafford — Darcy is a classically trained violinist who dreams of playing bluegrass and winning The National Oldtime Fiddle Contest in Weiser, Idaho. When tragedy strikes, Darcy lays her gift aside for her family and faces unimaginable pain and loss, leading to dissension with her husband, disappointing judgment from her church, and anger with God Himself. Can her gift of music survive when her life is turned upside down? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

Historical:

The Lost Generation by Erica Marie Hogan — On August 5th 1914, the world changed forever. For John and Beth Young, it meant the happiness they finally achieved was snatched out from under them. For Emma Cote, it meant that her husband Jared would do his duty, despite her feelings. For Christy Simmons it meant an uncertain future with the boy she loved. The lives of six people, spread across the British Empire to America were changed forever. (Historical from Elk Lake Publishing Inc.)

Aboard Providence by Keely Brooke Keith — When an accident forces Jonah Ashton to serve as a ship’s physician, he boards the Providence with the plan to escort a group of families to their new settlement in South America and then return to Pennsylvania to finish medical school before rumors of Southern rebellion erupt into all-out war. What he doesn’t count on is getting lost at sea… and Marian Foster. When the settlers finally reach land, Jonah makes a startling discovery that changes everything, but will it change his heart? (Historical from Crossriver Media Group)

Historical Romance:

The Rails to Love Romance Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Amanda Cabot, Lisa Carter, Ramona K. Cecil, Lynn A. Coleman, Susanne Dietze, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Connie Stevens, and Liz Tolsma — Journey the Transcontinental Railroad along with nine unlikely couples who encounter all the dangers and disappointments of traveling the rails in the late 1800s. From sight-seeing excursions to transports toward new lives, from orphan trains to circus trains, can romances develop into blazing love in a world of cold, hard steel? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Cowboy Christmas Homecoming by Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Julie Lessman, and Anna Schmidt — For widow June Harper, another cold front is about to hit. Most call him Hugh. She’d call him Scrooge, except as the man ensures her needs are met, June can’t help but wonder how to meet the needs of his heart. Netty Lewis can take care of herself, has for a while now. And even if Roy, her hired help for the holidays, does take care of her, that doesn’t mean he cares for her or that he’ll stay past Christmas. Pastor Colton McCabe is not sure he’ll make it through the holidays with his new housekeeper. Grace can’t seem to do anything right but love. Perhaps being a homekeeper will earn her a permanent residence in his heart. Connie Lancaster is determined to return to St. Louis, and no cowboy can change her mind. But if Isaac can change her heart, maybe Connie will see the homecoming she’s been longing for isn’t to a place but a person. (Historical Romance from Gilead Publishing)

The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep — Stranded in a strange land, Eleanor Morgan faces starvation or marriage . . . but who wants to marry a murderer? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Rightful Heir by Angel Moore — Cowboy Jared Ivy must work with stranger Mary Lou Ellison until a judge comes to town and determines which one of them is the rightful heir to his family’s Texas newspaper. Intrepid reporter Mary Lou won’t lose the Pine Haven Record–the legacy he left her–without a fight. But when she and Jared stop sparring long enough to investigate a story together, they become a force to be reckoned with. Will they let their battle over the Record get in the way of something even more newsworthy: true love? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Christmas at Stoney Creek by Martha Rogers — When newspaper reporter Tom Whiteman befriends a homeless man named Joe, Tom decides to bring him home to Stoney Creek, Texas for Christmas. As Tom and his childhood friend Faith Delmont set out to learn the truth about the mysterious old man with the kind, sad eyes, they discover that God’s love can turn tragedy and loss to triumph, and that true love comes to those who wait. (Historical Romance from Realms [Charisma Media])

Mystery:

Another Day, Another Dali by Sandra Orchard — In order to regain her grandmother’s favor FBI Special Agent Serena Jones agrees to investigate a missing Salvador Dali painting. But when the evidence points to members of the owner’s own household, it becomes clear that Serena won’t be winning any popularity contests. Then Serena stumbles upon links to her grandfather’s unsolved murder. (Mystery from Revell [A Division of Baker Publishing Group])

Romantic Suspense:

Tangled Webs by Irene Hannon — After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime in the woods. But when someone threatens his neighbor, publishing executive Dana Lewis, Finn and Dana must work together to discover who wants her to leave her lakeside cabin before it costs both their lives. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [A Division of Baker Publishing Group])

Identity Unknown by Terri Reed — When a John Doe washes up on the shores of Calico Bay, no one knows who he is—including him. But one thing’s instantly clear to deputy sheriff Audrey Martin: the man’s marked for murder. And she’s the only one who can protect him from the assassins who lurk at every turn. The arrival of a team of men claiming he’s Canadian Border Services officer Nathanial Longhorn only further complicates the matter. As his memories slowly start drifting back, Nathanial and Audrey work to uncover who wants him dead and why. If they don’t, this Christmas might be their last. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Speculative:

A Time to Rise by Nadine Brandes — What more can you sacrifice than your life? Parvin Blackwater is dead. At least that’s what the Council and the world thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world? (Speculative Young Adult from Enclave Publishing)

Unblemished by Sara Ella — Eliyana can’t bear to look at her own reflection. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world exists where her blemish could become her strength? (Speculative Young Adult from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Beast by Chawna Schroeder — For as long as Beast can remember, she has lived among her master’s dogs. With them she sleeps. With them she eats. With them she fights and struggles to survive. But through hunger and cold she dreams of one day becoming her master’s favorite, earning bones with meat and a place beside the fire. When her pack scatters after a surprise raid, Beast must defend herself against slavers, hunting down the loners. They are so strong, and she is only a beast . . . or is she? (Speculative Allegory from Enclave Publishing)

Accelerant by Ronie Kendig — He’ll destroy the world. But he must save it first. As the only able-bodied heir to the Fire Throne, Haegan, Prince of Seultrie must return to the Nine Kingdoms and fight for his people. But there are insidious forces at work. When reality itself falls into question, Haegan struggles to know where to fight, who to trust. Caught between duty to his country and duty to the world, Haegan must see clearly enough to choose the right path to save his devastated world. (Speculative High Fantasy from Enclave Publishing)

Thriller/Suspense:

Death in the Mind’s Eye by Rick Acker — It knows what you’re thinking. It knows when you’re lying. Does it know how to kill? San Francisco attorney Mike Webster and Dr. Johanna Anderson, a brilliant and beautiful psychologist, must clear Jo’s name of a malpractice case before the controversial, technologically-assisted Mind’s Eye therapy is seized by a shadowy finance firm and used as a weapon. (Thriller/Suspense from Waterfall Press)

The Warrior’s Seal by Ronie Kendig — A Special Forces team is thrust into a war with the past to save the president after an artifact unleashes a deadly toxin. Special Forces operative Cole “Tox” Russell and his team are tasked in a search-and-rescue–the U.S. president has been kidnapped during a goodwill tour. The mission nosedives when an ancient biblical artifact and a deadly toxin wipe out villages. Tox must stop the terrorists and the toxin to save the president. This is a free e-novella prequel! (Thriller/Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Deadly Infiltration by W. Richard Lawrence — Infiltrators inside the American government are betraying undercover agents while helping sneak weapons of mass destruction across our borders. To keep their work hidden, they are willing to murder anyone who gets in their way. Sara, a brilliant computer expert working for the FBI, finds herself caught in the middle. Sara’s young faith in God is gravely tested when she is framed for the murder of an FBI agent, forcing her to go into hiding. Meanwhile, Sara’s fiancé Derry lives up to a promise he made to her, and gives up his future to save her and hopefully the country. (Thriller/Suspense from Boarding House Publishing)

Western Historical:

Refining Fire by Carol Cox — Meet the Arizona Territory Brides. Four strong, independent women–each determined to stand on her own two feet, and not one of them looking for romance. But sometimes love shows up when you least expect it… (Western, Pioneer/Prairie, Independently Published)

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Come and say “hi”!

FYI I’ve recently added an Events tab at the top of this website to keep track of my upcoming book-related appearances. Here are some comings and goings taking place this fall:

Saturday, September 17: A Roaring Twenties-themed book launch party! Kokanee Coffee, 509 N. Fifth Ave., Sandpoint, ID, from 10 to noon (drop in anytime). Coffee! Cake! Event is free to the public. Books will be available for purchase, plus 2 door prizes (gift baskets containing a copy of the book, a limited-edition hand-crafted coffee mug, and a bag of gourmet coffee beans).

Tuesday, September 20: I’m scheduled for a chat on Barbara Carpenter’s radio program on KSPT-Sandpoint.

Friday and Saturday, September 23-24: The Idaho Writers League Annual Conference at the  Coeur d’Alene Inn & Conference Center in Coeur d’Alene, ID I’ll be speaking on Writing for the Inspirational Market on Friday at 10:30 a.m. Books will be available for purchase.

Saturday, October 10: Indie Author Day at the Bonner County Library, Cedar and Division in Sandpoint, ID, from 9:30-3:30. I’ll be speaking about the research process for historical fiction, and also doing a short reading and book signing. Event is free to the public. Books will be available for purchase.

 

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Go Mad for Plaid (31 Days to a Sparkling Vintage Fall, Day 30)

plaid adPlaid fabric has long been associated with fall for a very good reason: it’s warm and cozy as the temperature drops! Weather in Scotland, where plaid originated, can notoriously blustery and harsh. During the 1500s, a “plaid” simply meant a kilt or blanket meant to keep the wearer warm. “Tartan” refers to a specific, unique pattern in the weave of a plaid that signified a particular clan, group, or home territory . . . “team colors,” you might say. Highlanders wore, and still wear, their tartan-bearing plaids with great pride. In fact, the wearing of tartan was banned by the English government for a time in the 18th century, as it was considered sign of rebellion against British rule.

Clan Lamont tartan--my family's plaid. Source: tartanregister.gov.uk

Clan Lamont tartan–my family’s plaid. Source: tartanregister.gov.uk

Buffalo plaid shirt, favored shirt of lumberjacks and grunge rockers. Source: bustle.com

Buffalo plaid shirt, favored shirt of lumberjacks and grunge rockers. Source: bustle.com

During the 19th century, American importers and manufacturers applied the term “plaid” to any tartan-patterned fabric. “Buffalo plaid,” the red-and-black fabric long associated with lumberjacks and other hardy outdoorsmen, is distinctly American, first produced by the Woolrich company in the mid-1800s. Oregon’s Pendleton Woolen Mills began mass-producing their iconic buffalo-plaid shirt for men in 1924 and for women in 1949.

Plaid enjoyed another flirtation with rebellion in the 1990s, when it was favored by grunge rockers.

The fashion world has once again proclaimed plaid “new” again. But this classic never really goes out of style.

 

Take a Hike (31 Days to a Sparkling Vintage Fall, Day 29)

fall woods

Source: hdwallpapers.ca

 

Autumn is the perfect time to take a walk, whether through the woods or down a city street lined with colorful oaks and maples. Walking is good for you! In Personality Unlimited (1941), Veronica Dengel says, “Walking is good exercise for the legs, and when indulged in out of doors, encourages deep breathing and better circulation.” While Miss Dengel agrees that strolling on city streets is “better than nothing,” she goes on to say, “Hiking should be done in as clear, fresh air as you can find. . . . Exercise will help to improve the digestion of your food and promote better assimilation of it, so that you get more nourishment from everything you eat.”

I’d say a walk in the woods nourishes more than the body . . . it nourishes the mind as well. When I walk, I let my mind wander where it will . . . to think, to pray, to work out some knotty problem in my novel or my life. In Younger By the Day, Victoria Moran recalls a particular walk she took one October day. “In the company of squirrels and skateboarders, toddlers and Scrabble players, students and lovers, the arch and the fountain, I walked through the park. I read a plaque about Garibaldi, bought water from a guy with a cart, and then sat on a bench and watched and listened. I felt more alive than I had in a really long time.”

The deep woods may not yield quite the same things as a city park does. The squirrels are there in force, but I see no skateboarders or Scrabble players. Just a chipmunk and some deer, perhaps an eagle if I’m lucky. But what Victoria Moran says next still resonates with me. “Sometimes, to remember when you’re old and revel in right this minute, walk in the part–or something on that order. Do it before the winter comes. Once you get in the habit, you just might want to do it then, too.”

Lace up your walking shoes. There’s a world of wonder out there.

 

Bake an Apple (31 Days to a Sparkling Vintage Fall, Day 28)

baked apple2When the weather’s dreary and chilly, nothing beats a baked apple for comfort. In her book One’s Company, author Barbara Holland describes a baked apple as the perfect remedy [f]or October, when the days are getting shorter and your coat smells of mothballs.” While she mentions that an apple (with butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar) can be baked in the microwave in four minutes, she notes, correctly, that “it smells better that way and warms up the kitchen” to bake it in a 350-degree oven for an hour.

If you want to do it great-great-grandma’s way, here’s a baked-apple recipe from 1917:

Baked Apples

4 apples
8 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Select apples of uniform size. Wash and core. Place in a pan; cover the bottom with water. Fill each cavity with sugar, a dash of powdered cinnamon, and a tiny lump of butter. Bake for thirty minutes in a hot* oven, basting occasionally. Serve around a platter of pork chops.

I suppose you could add raisins to it, as the photo suggests, or chopped nuts, or even a piece of caramel candy to make sort of a hot caramel apple. But I’m a purist and like mine with the ingredients above, plus nutmeg, plus a dollop of real whipped cream. Yum!

*(Note: A “hot” oven would be about 400-425 degrees Farenheit or 200-220 degrees Celsius.Back in 1917, much baking was done in a wood-burning oven without precise temperature controls. My Grandma Ruby, an accomplished baker, could tell when an oven was ready by opening the door and thrusting her hand into it. I don’t recommend this method, but for Grandma, the way the heat felt on her skin told her what she needed to know.)

Make a Pear-Apple Compote (31 Days to a Sparkling Vintage Fall, Day 27)

pearsI love pears even more than apples. I remember how, as a thrifty college student studying in France, I would buy a bag of the most delicious, juicy pears at the market and practically gorge on them back in my tiny, cell-like room. To this day, the distinctive flavor of pears transports me back to that time and place.

I was thrilled to stumble upon this extremely simple compote in French Women for All Seasons by Mireille Guiliano. (Compote dates back to Europe in the Middle Ages, and can either refer to either a dessert of fruit soaked and/or cooked in syrup, or to the dish that holds such a dessert.)

Mireille Giuliano’s Pear-Apple Compote

1 lb. apples
2/3 lb. pears
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons honey

Peel, core, and dice the apples and pears. Pour lemon juice over them and toss. Into a heavy pan pour 1/2 cup water and the fruit mixture. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the fruit from sticking or burning.

With a fork, crush the fruit coarsely while continuing to cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the excess water evaporates. Remove from the heat, add the honey, and mix gently. Serve lukewarm or cold (if you store it in the fridge, take it out 30 minutes before serving.)

Create a Fall-Themed Collage (31 Days to a Sparkling Vintage Fall, Day 26)

fall collage2I have a glass-fronted shadowbox that I like to keep on our mantel. In the last few years, I’ve started changing out the items in the shadowbox to reflect a seasonal theme.This is a really fun way to fill a couple of hours on a rainy afternoon.

The photo above shows my autumn shadowbox “in process.” I simply gather scraps of paper, bits and bobs that remind me of fall, photos from magazines, etc., then play around with them until I’m pleased with how they look. Then I glue or  pin them in place. This shadowbox includes assorted scraps of paper left over from card-making, a few leaf embellishments, foliage, pumpkin and fruit stickers, and a bit of extraneous sheet music. In about a month, I’ll exchange these items with Christmas-themed ones.  It’s a low-stress way to use up scraps and add a little bit of seasonal decor to your home.

Read (or Write!) an Autumn-ish Poem (31 Days of a Sparkling Vintage Fall, Day 17)

come little leaves

My Grandma Ruby (born 1898-ish) used to sing me this song. The poem is credited to George Cooper. I haven’t heard the tune in ages, but I was thrilled to find a copy of the words online. I found several videos of song versions, but they are not the tune my grandmother used to sing, which I remember very distinctly.

Another poem I remember from childhood is Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Autumn Fires”:

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

Do you have a favorite autumn poem?

Autumn in a Mug: Apple Cider (31 Days to a Sparkling Vintage Fall, Day 16)

apple cider label“Cider on beer, never fear; beer upon cider, makes a bad rider.”

~ English Proverb

For many of us, the taste of apple cider is the taste of autumn. Available in both both nonalcoholic and alcoholic (hard cider) varieties, cider-drinking has been a hallmark of harvest time for centuries.

The making of cider dates back to Roman times, and became especially popular in England following the Norman conquest in the eleventh century. In areas where the climate was less than ideal for growing grapes, fermented (alcoholic) cider was often a replacement for wine. Cider was also easy and inexpensive to make, thus a well-loved harvest-time drink of the common people. Even the humblest farm boasted one or two apple trees. Colonists brought cider-making to America. and it was a very popular drink among the Founding Fathers and their contemporaries. In a letter to a friend, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Malt liquor and cider are my table drinks.”

What’s the difference between apple cider and apple juice? Experts hold various opinions on the exact distinctions, but most agree that juice has been strained of pulp and solid matter, while cider has not.

Cider served plain is delicious, but spiced cider is a sip of heaven. You can buy spiced cider ready-made, but for real cider-power (and a house that smells heavenly), it’s easy to make it yourself. Heat a gallon of cider over low heat (or in a slow cooker) with cinnamon sticks and cloves mixed in, and even a bit of brown sugar if you like it very sweet (I leave the sugar out). You can also drop in a cut-up apple or orange for extra zip.

 

Decorate for Fall (31 Days of a Sparkling Vintage Fall, Day 15)

I don’t have much in the way of autumn decorations–just a few candles, leaf garlands, a leafy wreath for the door. Historically the homes I’ve lived in have had limited storage space and thus not a lot of room to store seasonal decorations. But frankly it doesn’t take all that much to celebrate fall’s beauty and embellish a room with seasonally-appropriate grace notes. Victoria editor Phyllis Hoffmann DePiano, over at the Ribbon in My Journal blog, offers up some great ideas for vintage-inspired fall decorating, such as making the most of the warmth of wood and putting family heirlooms to good use. I might have to take a second look at that soup tureen I keep tucked away!

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