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  • Thanksgiving … in pictures.

    I hope that you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and had a great time with your families. I’ll try not to throw a guilt trip on mine for not calling (Mom has a valid excuse, as she was working, but the rest of you … well, I’ll forgive you this time). 🙂

    So I thought I’d share some of my Thanksgiving memories with you. Because of Stephanie’s work schedule, we  (Amy, Katie, Steph, and I) decided to have our big dinner and celebration on Wednesday night, which was actually wonderful! It was great not to have wake up early on Thursday to get the turkey in the oven. I had everything but the turkey done, so when I got home from work, all I had to do was pop it in the oven. Then everyone brought their additions – potatoes, corn bake (yum!), rolls, and more.

    So here’s a glimpse into our evening …

    Fortunately these pictures don’t show the moment that I realized that while carving the bird I’d punctured the bottom of the baking pan and turkey juice was leaking down the front of our dishwasher, and I was standing in my socks in the puddle. (Yuck!) Or when I realized that I’d left the paper bag of giblets inside the whole time it was baking. (double yuck!) I mean, I took out the plastic bag and the neck and wrestled out the plastic thingy-ma-bob that holds the legs. Why didn’t anyone tell me that there was another thing to look for?

    And then there was that instant that I remembered I hadn’t put any salt and pepper on it. And that other time when I realized that I’m absolute rubbish (only a British accent will do for this sentiment) at making turkeys! Next year, I will gladly give up the duty to someone … anyone else!

    What was your biggest Thanksgiving success … or failure?

    A bit late … and it’s my fault!

    Hey guys, so I was supposed to send Katie and Stephanie my top 5 made for TV Christmas movies weeks ago so that they could send me their thoughts. Did they agree or disagree, etc. But I failed to do that until this last Tuesday, but Katie was great and still sent me her thoughts on Holiday in Handcuffs. (We’ll try to get these timed so you can read them all together in the coming weeks.) 🙂

    Katie’s thoughts:
    While I feel Holiday in Handcuffs is a little too new to be in my Christmas top 5, this movie basically hits all the made-for-tv movie requirements which is why we love it: single girl in need of a guy for the holiday celebrations – check, crazy family trying to have a perfect christmas and failing miserable – check, completely implausible storyline – check, falling in love in less than a week – check, 2 teen tv stars now on the made-for-tv movie circuit – check and check. Plus I can pretty much conjure up the image of Trudie’s (aka:Melissa Joan Hart) home perm gone bad any time of the year and it gives me a good laugh. So single ladies, the next time you are at your breaking point and you’re thinking of kidnapping some random hottie to pass off as your bf – do it! If it works for MJH – it’ll work for you – that’s what I say!


    Thanks for your input, Katie! 🙂 You rock!

    As a side note, last night I totally watched The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Hallmark’s release last year, with Henry Winkler as a crazy cop uncle) while I wrapped Christmas presents. (Yes, I was wrapping gifts. I can’t help it. It’s all too overwhelming if I wait until the last minute!) I had my roommate Tracy in total agreement that the guy in the movie was well-worth running through an airport to catch. 🙂

    Christmas Movie Countdown – Number 5

    As previously confessed on this very blog, I love made for TV movies. I catch nearly every ABC Family, Hallmark, and a some of the Lifetime made for TV movies. So in honor of all the wonderful made for TV Christmas movies, I thought I’d offer a countdown just for you. So every Friday from now until Christmas day, I’ll share with you one of my favorites.

    As a disclaimer, I’d like to point out that these are only those movies that first aired on TV, so Elf and Miracle on 34th Street couldn’t even be considered. 

    Before I reveal number 5 on my list, I can’t fail to mention some others that I enjoy.
    Borrowed Hearts – a classic from the 90s that my mom and I used to watch every year
    The Christmas Choir – a new one from Hallmark based on a true story
    The Christmas Card – totally would have made the top 5, except that the guy is not a good actor. at all.
    All She Wants for Christmas – I totally relate to the heroine, who is a bit of a clutz
    Moonlight and Mistletoe – Candace Cameron Bure in a sweet story that was new to Hallmark last year

    So now … let’s begin the list. In the 5th spot ….


    Melissa Joan Hart (oh, yea, that’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Clarissa Explains it all) stars as a waitress whose family has higher aspirations for her, but her life is falling apart rapidly, starting with a bad perm (oh, my gosh, that’s one of the funniest scenes) and her fiance dumping her. With her family expecting to meet her fiance at their cabin for Christmas, she’s desperate.

    Enter Mario Lopez’s character, who is about to propose to his girlfriend at the diner where our heroine works. She pops him over the head and kidnaps him, telling her family that he likes to joke about being kidnapped. And they buy it.

    It’s a funny, sweet story of learning to love your family wherever they are. And that what you thought you wanted in love, might not be what you really need.

    Catch it on ABC Family in their 25 Days of Christmas celebration this year!

    Don’t forget to enter the contest!

    Don’t forget that today starts the big Christmas Gift Giveaway right here on my blog. Visit, and leave at least 5 comments to enter. Or put a link on your blog for 2 entries and leave 3 comments. Each additional comment increases your chances of winning, and we’ve got good stuff up for grabs. So visit the Contest page for details and come back regularly for your chance at some great Christmas gifts to keep or give away!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you’re able to spend some time with your family and share some things you’re thankful for. What’s on your list this year?

    As for me, I’m thankful for my family–the whole clan of Johnsons and Whitsons, especially the little ones, who make me laugh. And for my friends in Colorado Springs, who have become my family away from home. For my job and my agent and my publisher and my editor. Mostly I’m just thankful that God’s hand has been on my life, and He is faithful to continue working on me.


    I’m also thankful that today in Denver at Invesco Field, the Broncos take on the Giants. Go Giants!

    Have a very happy day of thanksgiving. And don’t forget to be thankful every day! -LJ

    Teaser Tuesday – Seaside Cinderella

    teaser_tuesdays1MizB of Should Be Reading hosts the Teaser Tuesdays weekly event

    Here are the rules:
    * Grab your current read
    * Let the book fall open to a random page
    * Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12
    *You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    * Please avoid spoilers!

    This week’s teaser is:
    “Both sisters had died in the fire. In spite of everything Lucie had tried, they had died. She stared down at her palms, then closed her fingers over them, hiding the ugly marks of her failure to rescue her friends.”
    pg. 146 – Seaside Cinderella by Anna Schmidt

    – In this sweet book from Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Historical line, Lucie McNeil is haunted by memories of tragedy back in Ireland. I do love a good Cinderella story, and what fairy tale would be complete without a handsome prince? Happily Ever Afters abound in this cute book. I love it!


    Monday Movie – Jane Austen-athon

    About two years ago, my dear friend Kelly Blewett offered her home for a group of us to watch the 6-hour BBC version northanger-abbey-coverof Pride and Prejudice. About 6 of us gathered together for brunch and all day of Colin Firth as the incomparable Mr. Darcy. After 6 hours of some of Jane’s best story-telling, we talked about going to our respective homes. But we didn’t. Instead we went out and rented Jane’s Emma and watched that.

    I tell you this story to tell you what happened this past Saturday. A couple months ago, I was chatting with my friend and office-mate Ashley. We both love Jane Austen movies, and I mentioned what Kelly had done a few years ago. Ashley said it sounded like a great idea. We kept talking about what a good idea it would be, but we never really got anything planned.

    Until about 6 weeks ago. That’s when we set a date, one we figured would be cold and we’d want to stay inside (of course, Saturday was a beautiful day, no snow, and actually rather warm) and sent out invitations. We got a group of 6 girls together who wanted to spend an entire Saturday devoted to watching Jane Austen movies.

    Fast forward to Saturday, and Katie, Stephanie, Amy, Ashley, and I met at 10am for breakfast burritos (thank you, Amy, they were awesome!). And then we sat down to enjoy Mansfield Park–the old-school version with Frances O’Connor and Johnny Lee Miller. Ashley and Amy had never seen it. Or Northanger Abbey. Or Persuasion.

    persuasionOh, my word! It was amazing! With appropriate breaks for nachos (thank you, Steph, for the amazing nacho cheese!), puppy chow (Ashley, you rock!), and other assorted snacks, we made our way through the first three movies. It was agreed upon that our third flick of the day, Persuasion, as absolutely the best–receiving appropriate swooning from Amy and Ashley. Katie and Steph and I were already well acquainted with Rupert Penry-Jones’s awesomeness, but it was great to be validated by our friends.

    By the time we finished Persuasion, it was nearly 6pm, and Jess Barnes, our 6th hadn’t made it over yet. (She claimed her dog groomer held her poor pup hostage all day. Hmm … likely story.) When Jess finally made it, we decided for one more Jane Austen movie–Sense and Sensibility, the one with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.

    Add a little Chinese food for dinner, and boy howdy. We were stuffed, and super-giggly-girly after a day of Jane’s heroes. It was awesome! 🙂

    I think we need to have a Jane Austen-athon every year! Maybe the 6-hour Pride and Prejudice will make a return next year. What’s your favorite Jane Austen movie?

    Friday Favorite – LetsSayThanks.com

    A friend of mine shot me an e-mail about LetsSayThanks.com recently. It’s a site hosted by Xerox, and it’s purpose is to allow regular folks, like you and me, to say thanks to the many amazing men and women currently serving overseas.

    The site lets visitors pick a card design (drawn by kids from across the country), write a message (or chose one that’s already been written), and sign their name. Then Xerox prints off these cards and notes and sends them to our military personnel abroad.

    What a really, really cool idea! My hat is off to the folks at Xerox for providing this free way for all of us to offer our gratitude to men and women who sacrifice so much. The site also has a section from the troops, with notes from men and women in the armed forces, sharing why they do what they do.

    If you haven’t thanked someone who serves our country recently, take a moment and visit LetsSayThanks.com. Remember that we have freedoms in this country because of the men and women who have laid down their lives for people they don’t even know.

    “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

    This Thanksgiving, I’m really, really thankful for the men and women who put their lives at risk for all of us. Thank you!


    Christmas Gift Giveaway begins November 27!

    The Christmas Gift Giveaway Begins November 27!

    Don’t miss out!

    As I’ve mentioned many times on my blog, I love Christmas! And I love giving Christmas gifts. So I’m delighted to host a Christmas Gift Giveaway on my blog from November 27 through December 18.

    Since I happen to think that The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn will make a great gift (a perfect fit and price for stockings, too), I thought I’d give away a few copies, as well as some other cool stuff, like tea towels embroidered by my roommate Amy and gift cards to the winners bookseller of choice.

    The joy of Christmas lies not only in the act of giving but also in the thoughtfulness behind each gift. As we anticipate the Christmas Gift Giveaway on the blog, it presents an opportunity to explore unique and personalized gifts that hold a special place in the hearts of the recipients. Alongside copies of “The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn,” you can consider custom gifts that carry a personal touch. For instance, name necklace for women are delicately crafted.

    In the spirit of meaningful gift-giving, another wonderful idea to consider is a personalized photo keychain. This small yet sentimental gift allows the recipients to carry their cherished memories with them wherever they go. Whether it’s a precious family photo, a snapshot with a beloved pet, or a memorable moment captured with friends, a photo keychain serves as a constant reminder of those special times. The personal touch of selecting and customizing a photo keychain specifically for the recipient demonstrates a thoughtfulness that will surely warm their hearts. This unique and practical gift not only adds a personal touch to their everyday lives but also creates a lasting keepsake that can be cherished for years to come. By including such personalized gifts alongside other heartfelt offerings, the Christmas Gift Giveaway ensures that each winner receives a truly meaningful and memorable present.

    In addition to these heartfelt offerings, the winners can also enjoy Amy’s beautifully embroidered tea towels and the freedom to choose their favorite bookseller through gift cards. By curating a collection of thoughtful and personalized gifts, this Christmas Gift Giveaway will undoubtedly create memorable moments and spread the joy of the season to all who participate.

    Here’s what’s up for grabs:
    First Prize: 3 embroidered holiday tea towels made by Amy, a signed copy of The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, and a $20 gift card to the winner’s choice of Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, CBD.com, or Walmart

    Tea Towels by Amy

    Second Prize: a signed copy of The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn and a $10 gift card to the winner’s choice of Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, CBD.com, or Walmart

    Third Prize: 2 signed copies of The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn-one to keep, and one to regift

    Full details are available on my contest page, so make sure you check it out for rules and how to enter! Don’t miss out on the 1st ever Christmas Gift Giveaway!

    Dreaming of a white Christmas until next time. -LJ

    Teaser Tuesday – Blessings of the Season

    teaser_tuesdays1MizB of Should Be Reading hosts the Teaser Tuesdays weekly event

    Here are the rules:
    * Grab your current read
    * Let the book fall open to a random page
    * Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12
    *You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    * Please avoid spoilers!

    This week’s teaser is:
    “The entire town glowed with brilliant reds, greens and twinkling clear lights. The Nativity lit up with soft lights that were hidden behind the carved figures of Bethlehem.”
    pg. 161 – Blessings of the Seasons by Annie Jones and Brenda Minton

    – Big shocker, this is a Christmas book. Actually it’s two stories in one book that was only $3.50 at Walmart. 🙂 I love a good deal and sweet stories. I hope you find some great Christmas reads this year!