Hobby Reads

Because everyone's hobby is having fun!



Mandy’s Hot Chocolate For Two by Sierra Donovan

Sweetening Up the Holidays with Sierra Donovan

It’s my pleasure to write Christmas romances for Kensington. My books fall into what’s known as the “sweet” category — love stories with plenty of warmth, where things don’t go as far as the bedroom.

The latest book in my Evergreen Lane series includes another sweet element: the hot chocolate made by Mandy, the heroine from the previous book (“Do You Believe in Santa?“). In Book 2, “We Need a Little Christmas,” we discover that Mandy’s hot chocolate may contain an extra ingredient she didn’t know she was putting in. Her cocoa seems to have a way of making people who’ve never gotten along feel friendlier toward one another. I like to think of it as the milk of loving kindness … or maybe it’s just the Christmas spirit!

Once I included Mandy’s recipe in the story, I decided to try to figure out how she made it. (Tough research, but somebody’s got to do it!) Now I’m sharing my results with you. I hope you’ll find time this season to curl up by the fire or the Christmas tree with a cup. Who knows? A little holiday magic may result.

Merry Christmas! Continue reading “Mandy’s Hot Chocolate For Two by Sierra Donovan”

Capturing Memories with Digital Scrapbooking by Mae Clair

As a kid, I loved scrapbooking, but fell out of the habit as I got older. There was a period when I was too busy with other things to pause and tuck memories away in a book. Today, I’ll dig out those old scrapbooks with their crinkly pages, magazine clippings and faded photos, and take a stroll down memory lane. I love old photographs, even when they’re yellowed and faded. That’s part of the charm of yesteryear.

Several years ago, a friend introduced me to digital scrapbooking. At first, I had no idea what she was talking about. Scrapbooking I understood, but digital scrapbooking? If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s the creative process of saving treasured memories in a digital format. I’ve since created memory books themed around birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, even holidays. They make lovely keepsakes and gifts, and are fairly easy to do. Continue reading “Capturing Memories with Digital Scrapbooking by Mae Clair”

Unconventional Brides by K.M. Jackson

Those that know me know me and my writing know that I have an intense love for love, but what may be an oddity for a romance author, I’m not all that much of a romantic, at least not in the traditional sense.

I have a huge fondness for all the quirks and mishaps that happen on the way to finding one’s true love and seeing the joy in the everyday humor of life. I also have a deep appreciation for complicated heroes and what some may call, “prickly” heroines that tend to thumb their noses at hearts, flowers and waiting on prince charming to whisk them away on his massive steed. Ahem, I’ll just leave that right there.

Something else that’s pretty well known about me is my near obsession with pop culture and television. Over years, many of them growing up in New York as a latchkey kid, I found endless solace in daytime and nighttime dramas and sitcoms and still do in today’s television shows and non-stop internet news. That said, it was both television and the internet which gave me quite a bit of inspiration for my new Unconventional Brides Series. Continue reading “Unconventional Brides by K.M. Jackson”

Keli’s Candlemas Cookies by Jennifer David Hesse

A vegan treat made with fresh oranges and poppy seeds

Candlemas, celebrated on February 2, is an old holiday with both Pagan and Christian roots. For Wiccans like Keli (heroine of the Wiccan Wheel Mysteries), it’s a cross-quarter seasonal celebration, halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Although it might still be cold in some parts of the world, there are signs that spring is on its way. Days gradually become longer and warmer. The sun is coming back. This is cause for celebration!

These cookies are perfect for Candlemas, because seeds symbolize growth and oranges are the sunshine fruit. They also work well as Yuletide treats. (Oh, and since Keli is vegan, they are egg and dairy free!)

Yield: Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies Continue reading “Keli’s Candlemas Cookies by Jennifer David Hesse”

Butterscotch Cashew Bars by Charlotte Hubbard

These thick, chewy bars are rich and satisfying. They have a place on my Christmas cookie trays every year!


1½ cups flour
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
¼ tsp. salt


½ cup light corn syrup
1 11-oz. pkg. butterscotch chips (2 cups) Continue reading “Butterscotch Cashew Bars by Charlotte Hubbard”

Christmas by Janice Maynard

Confession time… I am one of those annoying people who actually enjoys the craziness of the December holidays. I’ve downloaded the new Pentatonix Christmas album already, and soon I’ll be listening to the classics (like Bing Crosby and Andy Williams) along with Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas, the theme song from Christmas Vacation, and dozens more.

I know Christmas can be stressful. I know that most families are more like the Simpsons than a Norman Rockwell painting. I even know that Christmas is a time for some that increases feelings of isolation and depression. Even so, I choose to celebrate. I love the lights and the garlands and the yummy smells in the kitchen.

Even as I race around trying to do everything I want to do, I make a special effort to be nice to store clerks. I never play “chicken” when it comes to prized parking spaces at the mall. I stuff extra cash in the Salvation Army pail, and I participate in charitable activities at my church. Continue reading “Christmas by Janice Maynard”

Repurposed Fence Board Birdhouse by Meera Lester

A cute little birdhouse provides shelter and elements of charm and whimsy to a garden. Ideally, you’ll build your birdhouse and hang it in early spring when birds are already searching for a place to start their families. Birds that nest in tree cavities such as wrens, bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, tree swallows, and woodpeckers will also nest in a birdhouse.

For this simple, easy-to-make birdhouse, an old fence board is repurposed. You’ll need:

Fence board (6 feet long by 7.5 inches wide)

Saw for cutting the board into pieces (and use a miter saw for cutting angled edges on the two SIDE sections)

Impact drill and 2-inch finishing screws; or, hammer and nails to attach the wooden pieces together Continue reading “Repurposed Fence Board Birdhouse by Meera Lester”

Take a look at our 2016 Holiday Mystery Book Shopping List!

Trying to find that perfect gift for the mystery reader in your life?
Take a look at our 2016 Holiday Mystery Book Shopping List!
It covers everything from creative crafting cozies, all the way up to intense military thrillers.

Tune in tomorrow @ 3PM for our Facebook Live Shopping List!




SUSPENSE (softer mysteries, more psychological)

MEDICAL THRILLER (involves someone in the medical field)


Continue reading “Take a look at our 2016 Holiday Mystery Book Shopping List!”

Lemon-Cherry Candy Cane Cookies by Charlotte Hubbard

I baked this shaped shortbread cookie for the first time this year, and it will be on my Christmas trays for a long time to come! The lemony dough and chewy dried cherries are an unexpectedly yummy combination, and a squiggle of pink frosting makes them stand out on a cookie platter. Makes about 2½ dozen.



1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 T. fresh lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups flour
¾ cup dried cherries, chopped Continue reading “Lemon-Cherry Candy Cane Cookies by Charlotte Hubbard”

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