Shanna’s Favorite Things

It’s my turn to share some of my favorite things. I could tell you about my favorite flowers (roses!), my favorite candy (dark chocolate and Peanut M&Ms), my favorite season (any but winter), or my favorite book (can’t pick just one!), but instead, I thought I’d share some favorite things that make my life easier, prettier, or better.

Our nephew moved in with us in September which meant I had two guys spilling stuff all over my tablecloths at mealtime. I tried placemats, but that still meant messes to wash away. I resorted to a plastic tablecloth.

I know. I know!

I was skeptical when I ordered this one, because plastic tablecloths aren’t generally nice. The ones I could find locally were thin, with the tacky pieces of backing that look terrible, and not of good (or even acceptable) quality.

I started searching online and found this tablecloth that had a bunch of good reviews. When it arrived, I was pleasantly and happily surprised. It is super thick, very nice quality. The floral pattern looks exactly like it does in the photo, and the scalloped edging is so pretty. It comes in several sizes and colors. I would not hesitate at all to recommend this to anyone, especially if you are tired to scrubbing BBQ stains out of your tablecloths. Wipe this with a damp cloth and you are good to go!

 

When we remodeled the kitchen, I bought one of these little silicone trays to keep my soap bottle in by the sink. Then I bought another one, and another one, and …

You get the idea.

In addition to using it by the sink to hold the soap bottles, I use them to hold bottles of stuff that might make a potential mess in a cabinet or pantry, like olive oil bottles, syrup bottles, etc. If they do get dirty, they are easy to wash by hand, or stick them in the dishwasher.

Speaking of silicone, this mat has been so, so handy next to my sink. We live in the country and have really hard water that leaves behind hard water residue everywhere. I have one of these mats right next to the sink on the dishwasher side where water tends to get dripped from hands and dishes. It’s easy to keep clean by wiping it down, and it keeps the hard water from building up on my counter. A big win!

 

One day last month, I was searching for a box to hold a special gift for a friend. Not just any old box would do. Which is when I found this one that looks like a book. The wooden box is covered in a soft, rich velvety material. I liked it so much, I ended up keeping it and getting a different box for my friend. For now, the box holds a bunch of little promotional booklets from the early 1900s that Captain Cavedweller gave me.

I don’t always have time to exercise, even though I know I should. I was looking for something I could do while multi-tasking, and came upon the DeskCycle. Oh, my goodness. I love this thing! It’s easy to use, has different settings, and it fits beneath my desk. While I still don’t pedal as many miles as I should in a day, it really is fun to use.

So there’s my list of random favorite things for the month of May.

How about you?
What item is making your life easier, prettier, or better this month?

This post includes affiliate links.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day!

It made me think of how good our house smelled when I’d walk in the door after school and Mom would have a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. They were my favorites.

I tried and failed so many times over the years to recreate her cookies and couldn’t.

Mom was never good about writing down recipes or sharing them, so I finally gave up.

After she passed away, I happened to find her recipe, tried it, and the cookies were just like the ones she used to make.  With every bite of chocolate-imbued nostalgia, they took me back to those days when I’d come home and she’d ask about my day while I sat at the counter and had a glass of milk with a cookie or two.

If you need a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, here’s the one from my mama.

Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients: 

1 cup salted butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and combine. Add vanilla. Stir baking soda and salt into flour then add a little at a time to dough. Stir in chocolate chips.

Use a cookie scoop, or a tablespoon to drop dough on parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes until cookie are just set and barely starting to brown. Remove from oven and cool for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Yield: 36 cookies

What is your favorite way to enjoy chocolate chips?

If you aren’t a chocolate fan, what is your favorite cookie?

Post your comment for a chance to win a set of recipe cards!

 

Lilac Bride Sale

 

I don’t know about you, but I love it when the lilacs bloom. I mean, really LOVE it!

The flowers, from the deep purples, to the creamiest whites, make me so happy. They make me think of spring, and bring to mind memories of picking them for my mom for Mother’s Day, and gathering them from my grandpa’s garden.

Their scent isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I find that fragrance to be glorious.

A few years ago, I wrote a story about a bride-to-be who wanted a spring wedding filled with lilacs in memory of her mother.

 

Then it seemed like nature and everything else conspired against her getting the wedding of her dreams.

Just when it looks like it will all fall apart, some meddling octogenarians (like fairy godmothers who need cholesterol meds and Aspercreme) come to the rescue.

For a limited time, you can get Lilac Bride for just 99 cents. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll give it a whirl!

When wedding plans go awry, wily matchmakers come to the rescue . . .

Katherine Kelly has been dreaming of her wedding since she was old enough to cut pictures out of magazines and glue them into her bridal binder. When Kaden, the handsome cowboy who holds her heart, proposes on a snowy Christmas Eve, she couldn’t envision anything more perfect or romantic. The spring date is set, all the nuptial details have been meticulously arranged, and she only has six weeks to go before the big day. Then, in a blink, her carefully formed plans begin to rapidly unravel. A freak snowstorm, rampaging rodents, and a lost wedding gown are only the beginning of the troubles they face.

Cowboy entrepreneur Kaden Ford still can’t quite believe Katherine Kelly agreed to marry him. She’s beautiful, elegant, intelligent, and the woman who fills his heart with joy. He doesn’t care if they get married in a cathedral or a cabin in the woods. All he wants is to spend his life loving Kat. But when faced with one overwhelming challenge after another, will love be enough to hold them together?

Find out in this sweet, charming, small-town romance full of laughter, love, and scheming octogenarian matchmakers.

What is your favorite flower fragrance?

Dreams of Love Unfurling Tomorrow

 

 

I’m excited to share a brand new series with you that will start releasing tomorrow!

Three sweet and wholesome historical novellas are set in my fictional town of Holiday.  If you haven’t read any of my other Holiday stories, start with Holiday Hope, which is the story of Jace and Cora Lee Coleman and the beginning of Holiday. After that check out Henley, and then you’ll be ready for this new series.

 

Each book can be read as a standalone, but it’s fun to read about the characters you meet in other books too.

DREAMS OF LOVE

 Release Date: March 21

Will dreams of love lead to an unexpected future?

Weathered from too many years of apprehending outlaws, Marshal Dillon Durant is resigned to a life of solitude. The small community of Holiday, Oregon, offers the opportunity for him to build lasting friendships while discovering a sense of belonging. Then he encounters an exasperatingly beautiful woman attempting to break into the local school, leaving him to contemplate the possibility of a new chapter in his life.

Desperate to escape the arranged marriage her father is attempting to foist upon her, Zara Wynn accepts a job as a schoolteacher in Holiday. Intent on a fresh start, she doesn’t want anyone to discover she’s a runaway bride. But concealing her past proves difficult, especially when the astute and handsome Marshal Durant captures her heart.

When her father and fiancé find her, will Zara be forced to abandon her dreams of love? Or will Dillon make them come true?

Amazon

DREAMS WITH FAITH

 Release Date: March 28

Can faith conquer their fears?

John Ryan is committed to his role as pastor in the quaint town of Holiday, Oregon. He values each member of his congregation, and aims to lead by example. However, his resolve is tested when a free-spirited woman arrives in town. John struggles with his growing attraction to her, determined to keep it from distracting him from his calling.

Following a devastating tragedy that leaves her isolated and shattered, Keeva Holt is eager for a new beginning. In need of consolation and clarity, she decides to seek refuge with her brother in Holiday. As she navigates through her grief and attempts to find direction for her future, Keeva’s vibrant spirit and exuberance challenge those around her, including the reserved Pastor Ryan. While logic tells her that John is beyond her reach, her heart urges her to pursue her dreams and embrace the possibilities of tomorrow.

Will John and Keeva learn to lean into their faith and let go of their fears?

Amazon

 DREAMS FOR COURAGE

 Release Date: April 4

Will two lonely hearts find the courage to love?

A loner for most of his life, Rowan Reed wants nothing more than to be left alone. He buys a run-down farm near Holiday, Oregon, intending to turn it into a successful ranch through hard work and determination. When a nosy, albeit beautiful, woman shows up on his doorstep, the instant attraction he feels to her sets off nearly as many warning bells as her barrage of probing questions.

Private detective Rhetta Wallace always unearths the truth. Involved in a lengthy investigation into a man suspected of killing a politician’s son, her pursuit leads her to the town of Holiday. Accompanied by her adopted son, Rhetta finds herself squaring off against the grumpy, growling rancher she believes is the suspect. Whether or not Rowan admits his true identity, Rhetta is sure of two things: his innocence of the crime, and the deep affection he awakens in her heart.

Will their dreams for courage help them release the past and embrace a future together?

Amazon

The heroines are all so different.

Which one would do you most relate to?

Post your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of Dreams of Love!

Winter Wonderland Romance

When I was thinking about the third book in my Winter Wishes series, I knew who the heroine would be. She was the former love of the hero in the second book, Sleigh Bell Serenade. Olivia Burton left town quite suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving Bo with a broken heart. Thankfully, he’s moved on and is ready to find his happily ever after – eventually.

Anyway, I knew Olivia needed her own sweet romance and the opportunity to fall in love. The only questions was what hero would be perfect for her.

I happened to see a cover Covers and Cupcakes had for sale one day and it just screamed “buy me for Olivia’s story!” so I did. Who was I to argue with a screaming book cover?

It was perfect for the title of Winter Wonderland Romance.

So, after studying the guy on the cover, the story for our hero, Alex Adams started to take shape in my thoughts.

Turns out, Alex is a veteran, dealing with PTSD,  and in desperate need of peace and quiet away from his well-meaning but suffocating family. Alex heads to the wintery mountain town of Pinehill with his dog, Dude. (Yes, the dog’s name is Dude and every time I type it, I might smile.)

Olivia has returned to Pinehill to take over the medical practice there when the old doctor who was her mentor wants to retire. Although her teenage self had vowed to never return to her hometown, she finds she doesn’t detest living there as much as she anticipated.

When Dude eats something he shouldn’t, Alex races to the clinic and begs Olivia to help his dog (there isn’t a veterinarian in town). She does, swears him to secrecy, and the two of them begin to form a tenuous bond.

She never wanted to return to her hometown.
He needed an escape from his family.
When a chance meeting brings them together, will their attraction keep them from drifting apart?

Doctor Olivia Burton never intended to return to her hometown of Pinehill. After graduating high school, she set off on a new path, eager to leave her past behind. However, years later, an unexpected phone call from her mentor pulls her back to Pinehill to take over a thriving medical practice as the town’s primary physician. Determined to avoid the local gossip mill, Olivia attempts to keep a low profile as she settles back into the community.

Alex Adams is desperate for an escape from his well-meaning but suffocating family. After a life-altering explosion ended his military career, he finds himself plagued with post-traumatic stress disorder. Surrounded by his loud and overbearing family only intensifies his struggles. Seeking respite, he retreats to his aunt’s mountain cabin in Pinehill, desperate for peace and quiet.

When a chance encounter brings Alex and Olivia together, the sparks begin to fly. Olivia, cautious and hesitant to let anyone into her guarded heart, begins to question if it’s time to leave her past behind and embrace the possibility of a winter wonderland romance. Alex, yearning for connection and understanding, finds himself drawn to Olivia’s warmth and kindness.

As they spend more time together, will Olivia and Alex discover that love, much like freshly fallen snow, has a way of blanketing everything in a layer of beauty?

Uncover the joys that come with new beginnings, the transformative power of love, and the magic that can be found in the simplest moments in this sweet, wholesome, and tender romance.

If you could stroll through a Winter Wonderland,

where would it be and who would be with you?

Share your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of all three books

in the Winter Wishes series!

The Christmas Letters series

Back in 2022, I bought a pre-made book cover from Covers & Cupcakes LLC.

I had no idea what I’d do with it. but the image of a snowy mailbox with mountains behind it just spoke to me.

I started thinking about that cover, and a storyline about a woman who was a Santa expert came to mind.

Then I started thinking about letters. Actual, in-the-mail, hold-in-my-hand letters. Hardly anyone takes takes the time to write a pen to paper letter these days. In fact, I’ve had several friends mention how much they miss receiving letters.

So, that got me thinking about how special and meaningful a hand written letter can be.

And I started thinking about a series of stories that begin with a letter.

The cover I originally bought became the cover for the first book in my new Christmas Letters sweet and wholesome contemporary romance series.

And the idea for the Santa expert story became the third book, which I wrote last, because the second book and fourth books are about cousins, so I wrote those together in an effort to keep as much consistency between the books. (And that wasn’t confusing at all!)

Christmas Letters is a series about four friends, all experts on something related to Christmas, and their journeys to finding love.

He can’t save Christmas, but he can save her tree farm.

Dr. Jaxon Frost, a highly regarded authority on Christmas trees, is known nationwide for his expertise in the field. Preferring solitude, he dedicates his life to his work. However, his routine is interrupted when he receives an unexpected letter from Holly Crest Tree Farms, seeking his assistance in identifying a disease affecting their Christmas trees. Jaxon heads to the farm and is caught completely by surprise to find the owner isn’t a crusty old farmer, but a beautiful woman who captures his interest and admiration. He will do anything to help Jaylyn save her trees, even at the risk of losing his heart.

Jaylyn Smith carries the weight of immense responsibility as the owner and manager for Holly Crest Tree Farm, a family-owned business passed down through four generations. The fate of their cherished legacy, symbolized by their beautiful Christmas trees, rests solely on her shoulders. When she can’t identify a disease attacking a section of trees, she reaches out to an expert for help. Jaxon Frost is nothing like she expected, but everything her heart has been longing for.

Will their collective efforts salvage the valued heritage of her family?

Discover the answer in Dear Mister Frost, a heartwarming and sweet holiday romance that exudes warmth, laughter, and the joy of the festive Christmas season.

He can’t create a miracle,  but he can give the gift of love

 When heirloom ornament maker Sam Silver receives Erika Esposito’s heartfelt letter, he is deeply moved by her plea for a special ornament for her dying son, Joey. Despite having shut himself off from the world due to his own personal trauma, Sam feels compelled to step out of his shell to help Erika and Joey.

Erika, who has already experienced a profound loss with the unexpected death of her husband, is desperate to bring some joy into Joey’s life as he battles cancer. She reaches out to Sam, unaware that her plea will bring not only hope but also the possibility of finding love again.

Rich in Christmas spirit, Dear Mister Silver offers a tender and heartwarming holiday romance. Sam’s journey as Ornament Guy, crafting heirloom ornaments as a way to rebuild his life, takes on a whole new meaning as he pours his heart into creating a special ornament for Joey. Through his efforts, Sam not only brings joy to a little boy but also discovers the wonder of opening his heart to love.

Filled with warmth and touching moments, this story reminds readers of the magic that shimmers in acts of kindness, and how love and hope can be the greatest gifts of the holiday season.

 

She’s striving for success, not searching for romance

 Lyra Nicholas is a renowned expert on all things related to jolly old Saint Nick. When she receives a letter from Tucker Lee, a rancher in a small Oregon town, she hesitates to consider his request to help his sister with a museum exhibit. But something in the note intrigues her, and she soon finds herself in The Dalles, preparing for a grand Santa installation. Then she meets Tucker and finds herself falling love.

Tucker Lee will do anything for his sister even if it means groveling to a snooty Santa expert to set up an exhibit at the museum Remi manages. Expecting an old, dowdy female, Tucker is taken aback when he meets Lyra, a beautiful young woman who makes him realize there may be more to life than running his ranch.

As they work together to make the exhibit a success, sparks dance between them like twinkling tree lights.

The essence of Christmas, the joy of family, delightful humor, and heartfelt emotions take center stage in Dear Miss Nicholas, a wholesome and uplifting holiday romance.

 

She’s not about to give him a second chance, even when it comes to love

Halston Baker’s career took a nosedive when she crossed paths with Kutter Hayes five years ago. Now, Halston has rebuilt her life and found success as a gingerbread house designer. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase her skills at a Las Vegas resort with a life-size gingerbread village. Little does she know that Kutter, the man who turned her life upside down, is also in town for the finals rodeo. Despite her head shouting at her to stay far away from the troublesome cowboy, her heart has other plans.

Kutter has his own plans and ambitions for his career as a stock contractor and not a single one of them involve fiery, feisty Halston. She blames him for ruining her dreams, and is as prickly as his grandmother’s pin cushion. But as Kutter spends more time with Halston, he realizes there is far more to the fascinating woman than her ability to create amazing gingerbread houses.

As the magic of the holiday season wraps around them, Halston and Kutter must decide whether to follow their hearts and pursue love or step away from what might be their chance at a happily ever after.

Dear Miss Baker is a treat for the senses, combing the flavors of the season with the joys only Christmas and first love can bring in a wholesome holiday romance.

What about you?

Do you like to receive or write letters?

What’s the most meaningful letter or note you’ve ever received?

Or who would you like to receive a letter from?

Share your answer in the comments for a chance to win a digital set of all four books!