Christmas House Tour

IMG_0987Do you enjoy visiting friends at Christmas? I do, and I love to see how people decorate their homes for the Christmas Season. Recently I read an inspiring book called The Nesting Place, by Myquillyn Smith. She also writes a blog that shares ideas for repurposing furniture and decorating on a budget, emphisizing creativity and beauty, not perfection.

This month “The Nester” invited readers to post photos of their homes decorated for Christmas on her blog. That’s such a fun idea I decided to borrow it and invite my blog-reading friends over to our home for a virtual visit.

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Welcome to our home! I like to gather evergreens and holly to fill the pots on our front steps and to make a swag to hang by the door.

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One of the first things you’ll see when you come in the front door is this olive wood nativity set Scott and I brought back from our visit to Israel shortly after we were married. Joseph has lost his staff and the star has come down off the stable roof, but we still enjoy puting it out each year.
IMG_0992I like to bring out my Teddy Bear Collection each December. This year I placed them on our front landing at the top of the stairs so our young guests could enjoy them. The largest bear in the back, “Joshua Bear” was one we gave our son Josh when he was a baby 30 years ago.IMG_1021Each December I also bring out my basket of Christmas books. We’ve collected these over the years and read many of them aloud to our kids and grandkids. There are a lot of happy memories in that basket.IMG_1007Our living room is the gathering place in our home on Christmas and all year long. I try to make it cozy and inviting.
IMG_1008I found this pretty pillow online at Dayspring. I especially like the contrast of the bright red birds against the cream and gold background. This simple white nativity below was given to us by dear friends who are missionaries in Kenya. When I put it out it reminds me of them and the wonderful work they are doing there. The quilt table-topper was a gift from another good friend.
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Since I’m from Oregon where we always cut down a fresh Christmas tree, we continue that tradition here in New Jersey. Scott and I visit a the McLaughlin Tree Farm in Robbinsville, near where our church meets.

IMG_1001Our dining room with just a peek at my corner desk. We’ll be eating Christmas brunch here before we open our gifts.IMG_1005These gold angles were given to me by my mom, Dorothy Swain. The Mitchell Tolle print of the grandmother teaching her granddaughter to quilt also reminds me of my mom who was a wonderful quilter and artist.

IMG_1003This colorful angel was given to me by my sister-in-law, Traci, and I enjoy bringing it out each December. IMG_1011We hope you enjoyed your visit. Scott and I wish you a very Merry Christmas. May you be blessed with God’s peace and joy as you celebrate the Savior’s birth.

Would you like to see some more homes decorated for Christmas? Visit the Nester’s Blog for the Christmas House Tour.

Blessings and Happy Reading!

Carrie

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving flowersHi Friends,

I want to thank you for your support, encouragement, and kind reveiws of my books! I appreciate every reader who invests their time reading my stories. I hope they are a blessing and encouragement to you.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I enjoy decorating the house, setting a pretty table, and sharing the day with family and friends. I look forward to making some of our family’s favorite dishes for our Thanksgiving meal. We’ll be roasting a turkey and making stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and 7-layer salad. For dessert I’m making a gluten-free apple pie and mini pumpkin tarts.

7-layer Salad

Melissa decorating the 7-Layer Salad

Creating the 7-Layer Salad is a fun project you might like to try. We cut colorful peppers into small squares, and then use them to add a special design to the top of the salad. The design usually relates to some event in our family that year. We’ve featured the flag of Sudan when our daughter Melissa and her husband Peter were working there. The year our son Ben married Galan, we created a design with wedding bells and their initials. Last year we topped the salad with the name of our daughters’, Megan and Lizzy’s, new business, Dog Wash Depot. I’m smiling just thinking of all the fun we’ve had. Here’s a link to the recipe.

7-Layer Salad 2

7-Layer-Salad

No matter what the circumstances are for you this year . . . there is always one thing that never changes . . . and it’s always a great reason to be thankful:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34
I hope your Thanksgiving is fun and relaxing and you enjoy some good food and fun times with family and friends. Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

Carrie

Local Book Launch~October 5th

Carrie and Scott

Carrie and her husband Scott, pastor of Calvary Chapel Living Hope, Robbinsville, New Jersey

Hi Friends,

I hope you’ll mark your calendar and plan to join me on Sunday, October 5th, for the official launch of my new book, The Daughter of Highland Hall, Book 2 in the Edwardian Brides Series.

I’m grateful for my church, Calvary Chapel Living Hope, and I’m excited they’re willing to celebrate this book launch with me during our 10 o’clock Sunday Morning service. I’ll be sharing briefly about the story and about using books as an outreach tool. Then after the service I’ll be signing and giving away copies of The Daughter of Highland Hall, one per family. We’ll also be serving some special homemade British refreshments that day.

Daughter Highland HallI hope you’ll come and enjoy the worship service with us and pick up your copy of The Daughter of Highland Hall! For information about Calvary Chapel Living Hope and directions please visit our church website: www.takejesushome.com.

If you don’t live close enough to attend, I hope you’ll pick up a copy at your local bookstore, or you can order it from my website.

Blessings and Happy Reading,

Carrie

A Day to Honor Dad

Hi Friends, Happy Father’s Day! I shared this blog post last year on Father’s Day, and I wanted to share it again to honor the dads in my life.

I was blessed to grow up in a home where my dad, Bob Swain, showed me a lot of love. And when I married, I added another dad in my life, my father-in-law, John Turansky. Both of these men have had a profound impact on me, and I have been blessed to be their daughter.

Carrie and her dad Bob Swain at the lake

Carrie and her dad Bob Swain at the lake

Bob Swain was just about the sweetest guy you could ever meet. He was soft-spoken and kind, yet also strong and determined, and best of all, he was a man of his word. Born in 1920, Bob grew up durring the depression and had his first job, selling apples from a wagon, when he was eight. As a teenager he ran track, did the pole vault, and became interested in airplanes and skiing. When he was 21 Pearl Harbor was attacked, and he joined the Army Air Corp. He fought in the Pacific during WW2, and he told some very chilling stories of dangerous situation and close calls.

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Christmas Read-Alouds Everyone Can Enjoy

Hi Friends,

Reading aloud is such a wonderful way to bring family and friends closer and share a special experience together. We homeschooled our five children, and reading aloud was always one of my favorite parts of the day. We read the Bible aloud, and we often read historical fiction or award winning childrens’ books to compliment what we were learning. We also have a special collection of Christmas books that we bring down each December to enjoy together.

Here are some of our favorites:

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan ToomeyThe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechoski

“Christmas is pish-posh,” grumbles Jonathan Toomey, the best wood carver in the valley. He’s a Scroogelike recluse; but he has a gentle grouch, and it turns out that he hides a sad secret. He is transformed, not by Dickensian ghosts, but by an eager seven-year-old boy and his widowed mother who ask him to make carve a Christmas creche. The spirit of Christmas heals a sorrowing woodcarver’s heart in this splendid edition of a holiday classic. Lynch’s beautiful illustrations, in shades of wood grain, are both realistic and gloriously romantic, focusing on faces and hands at work before the fire and in the lamplight. This is wonderful read-aloud story that even young children will enjoy. Amazon link.

christmas-on-jane-street-billy-romp-hardcover-cover-artChristmas on Jane Street by Billy Romp

The warm, wonderful, real-life tale of the family that brings the Christmas spirit to life on a street corner in Manhattan. Every holiday season for nearly twenty years, Billy Romp, his wife, and their three children have spent nearly a month living in a tiny camper and selling Christmas trees on Jane Street in New York City. They arrive from Vermont the day after Thanksgiving and leave just in time to make it home for Christmas morning—and for a few weeks they transform a corner of the Big Apple into a Frank Capra-esque small town alive with heartwarming holiday spirit.

Christmas on Jane Street is about the transformative power of love—love of parent and child, of merchant and customer, of stranger and neighbor. The ideal Christmas story, it is about the lasting and profound difference that one person can make to a family and one family can make to a community. Amazon link.

An Edwardian ChristmasAn Edwardian Christmas by John L. Goodall

This small book is a treasure! It is all illustrations with no text, but each page follows the story of a family visiting wealthy relatives in a large country house during Edwardian times. Depicted in loving detail, is Christmas as it was at the beginning of the twentieth century, indoors and out, above stairs and below, as seen through the eyes of a boy and girl. My favorite illustrations are of the family walking to church by starlight, and everyone gathered to play games on Christmas Day. It was first published in 1978, so you may want to look for a used copy online.

Peter Spire's Christmas!Peter Spires Christmas!

This is also a wordless picture book by the Caldecott Medal-winning artist of Noah’s Ark, and it contains more than ninety full-color paintings capturing the spirit and joy of Christmas through the delights of three young children. My children all loved this when they were young, and it can be enjoyed by preschoolers through adults.  First published in 1996, you will also want to look for a used copy online.

Some of the other books in our collection include:

Esther’s Gift by Jan Karon, A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg, The Christmas Cross by Max Lucado, A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingles Wilder, A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, Mary’s First Christmas by Walter Wagerin Jr., Christmas at Long Pond by William T. George, The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado, Christmas by Jan Pienkowski, Santa Are You For Real by Harold Myra, The Nutcracker, A Three Dimensional Story Book Illustrated by Michael Welply, The Christmas Stories of George MacDonald, Mele Kalikimaka, Christmas in Hawaii by Julie Mehta, and The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Do you enjoy reading aloud? Can you add a favorite Christmas story to our list?

Thirty-Five Years and Counting!

Scott and Carrie on their wedding day, September 9, 1978

Scott and Carrie on their wedding day, September 9, 1978

Hi Friends, Today my husband Scott and I are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary. What a milestone! We are grateful to God for the love and grace he has showered on us and for the strength and wisdom He provides each day.

Marriage is not for sissies! It takes committment and determination to work through differences and overcome challenges. But with faith in God and a desire to follow His principles for marriage and family life He can help you build a strong and healthy marriage and family. I am blessed to be married to a godly man like Scott. His devotion to God and faithful heart are very unique in an age when so many men are self-focused and not interested in spiritual matters.

I admire Scott for so many reasons. He is a diligent student of God’s Word and is always looking for practical ways to live out those principles and help others do the same. I am the blessed recipient of much of the wisdom he has absorbed from all those years of teaching the Word each Sunday. He is the real deal . . . the same at home as he is in the pulpit. He speaks the truth in love and is encouraging and supportive. He cheers me on when I am successful, and he listens and sympathizes when I’ve had a rough day. That’s love.

Scott turansky, Carrie Turansky“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:4–8 

So Happy Anniversary, honey! Thanks for thirty-five great years together!

 

Honoring the Dads in My Life

Hi Friends, With Father’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to share some stories and encourage you to honor those special men in your life. I was blessed to grow up in a home where my dad, Bob Swain, showed me a lot of love. And when I married, I added another dad in my life, my father-in-law, John Turansky. Both of these men have had a profound impact on me, and I have been blessed to be their daughter.

Carrie and her dad Bob Swain at the lake

Carrie and her dad Bob Swain at the lake

Bob Swain was just about the sweetest guy you could ever meet. He was soft-spoken and kind, yet also strong and determined, and best of all, he was a man of his word. Born in 1920, Bob grew up durring the depression and had his first job, selling apples from a wagon, when he was eight. As a teenager he ran track, did the pole vault, and became interested in airplanes and skiing. When he was 21 Pearl Harbor was attacked, and he joined the Army Air Corp. He fought in the Pacific during WW2, and he told some very chilling stories of dangerous situation and close calls.

Continue reading