Christmas cookie recipes!


This post is inspired by Carolyn Astfalk and her Virtual Cookie Swap!

When I was growing up, we set up a Nativity scene at the start of Advent. Closer to Christmas, we put up our Christmas tree and we baked Christmas cookies–same ones every year. We also went to Midnight Mass, which I think was actually at midnight, unlike now when it’s at 10:00 PM around here. These were our traditions!

The older I get, the more I appreciate the way family traditions connect us to loved ones who live far away or who are no longer with us.

So in honor of my family, I post our traditional Christmas cookie recipes!

Warning: the temperatures and times might not work for your oven. Our oven was a bit odd and we were always adjusting the temperature/time for recipes. So keep an eye on your cookies as they bake!

Swedish Tea Cakes

(makes 60 cookies if you are precise with your cookie sizes)

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • more powdered sugar (sorry that’s not a precise amount)

Combine the butter and sugar first, then add the rest. Shape into 1″ balls and place 1″ apart on a foil- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Roll in powdered sugar. Cool completely. Roll in more powdered sugar!

Lemon Cherry Cookies

(Makes 48 if you are precise with your cookie sizes)

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (use a real lemon)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (from above mentioned real lemon)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 48 maraschino cherries
  • 2 cups chopped nuts (recipe says pecans but we’ve used walnut too, with equally delightful results)

Combine butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Stir in the flour. Chill for 3 hours then divide the dough into 8. Divide each 8th into 6. Make into balls (if you don’t like to be that precise, just aim for consistent sized dough balls). Roll in egg whites, then in the chopped nuts. Place on foil- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and press a cherry into the center. Space cookies 2″ apart. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes.

Molasses Drop Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 -1/4 cup flour (note: Mom was always trying to make things healthier and used to add 1/4 cup of wheat germ instead of the extra 1/4 cup of flour. It’s good that way too)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 heaping cup raisins
  • 1 cup nuts (I use whatever nuts are cheapest this time of year!)
  • note: Mom also added 1/2 cup powdered milk, but I never have powdered milk on hand. We used to drink it growing up–ack–so we always had it on hand back then.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Then add the wet ingredients. Sift the dry ingredients together to avoid a lump of nutmeg or baking powder in one cookie! Stir it all together and drop by rounded teaspoons, 1/2″ apart on foil- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Note: I end up doing this recipe a little differently every year, whether it’s the spices or nuts, or the amounts of the flour and molasses, or whether I throw something new into the cookies. They are always delicious!

Gluten free alternative: Since we have a family member with gluten intolerance, I have also made batches of all these cookies using gluten free flour (usually Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix–my favorite).

We also make Magic Cookie Bars, cut out cookies, and peanut butter cookies (gluten free are the best), and we are open to adding cookie recipes to our list so please share your favorites!

Catholic Writers Conference Online


The Catholic Writers Guild has opened registration for its annual Catholic Writers Conference Online, the must-attend online event for Catholic writers.

September 20-22, 2019

Cost is $30 for Guild members and $45 for non-members. Registration is open at the Guild’s website. Member registration click HERE and non-member registration click HERE.

This faith-focused, professional writing conference is being held completely online through webinars with audio-visual access. Attendees are able to ask questions of the presenters and receive knowledgeable feedback, and there is time between sessions for networking and socializing. The schedule is an immersive two and a half days covering all aspects of writing from idea conception to editing, publishing to marketing. Recordings and reference materials from the presentations will be available free to all conference attendees.

Conference Highlights

  • 3 Pre-launch Strategies for Every Author by Sarah Reinhard
  • 1000 Ideas for Articles: Finding Inspiration When You’re Dry by Sherry Antonetti
  • Business Bootcamp for Authors by Cathy Gilmore
  • How to Create a Storyboard by Karen Kelly Boyce
  • How to Create Memorable Characters by Michelle Buckman
  • Indie Publishing by Jane Lebak
  • Legal Issues for Writers by Anthony Kolenc
  • Thematic Grace: Stories without Sermons by Karen Ullo

In addition, we have some great deals from our sponsors:

  • IngramSpark (free title setup)
  • Final Draft (30% off)
  • Book Design Templates (20% off)
  • Duotrope (1 month free)

Authors will also be able to meet online with publishing professionals and pitch their finished writing projects. In the past, publishers from large Catholic presses, including Pauline, Ave Maria, and Our Sunday Visitor, as well as secular presses like Anaiah Press and Liberty Island, have participated.

This year’s conference lineup is being developed. In the past, topics have covered the nuts and bolts of self-publishing, the importance of faith in writing, and nonfiction and fiction writing skills from characterization to plot, editing tips, marketing how-to and more.

“Each year, we try to get a mix of practical and philosophical – what it means to be a Catholic writer,” says Karina Fabian, who has organized the online conferences since its inception in 2008. “We’re inviting back some of the favorites of our attendees, who always have great advice and a deeper perspective from the year before. In addition, we’re seeking out new presenters in the areas of non-fiction, marketing and publishing.”

Karina Fabian

“The Guild exemplifies the Catholic ‘both/and’ with writers from every part of the world, in every genre, and from every walk of life. We’re diverse in personality and style but united in our loyalty and love of the Catholic faith. Our writers’ conferences provide a unique opportunity to come together in fellowship and sharpen each other toward our united mission: a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters.”

Guild President Joseph Wetterling

“Every year we hear back from authors who finished a book, started a project, or got a publishing contract thanks to the Catholic Writers’ Conference Online. Plus, people make contacts and good friends. It’s a terrific opportunity, especially for those who can’t afford to attend a live conference,” says Fabian.

Karina Fabian

This year’s conference is sponsored by Duotrope and First Draft, who are offering deals to attendees. Duotrope offers an extensive, searchable database of current fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art markets, while Final Draft is the industry standard in screenwriting software. People can learn more about these sponsors and their offerings to conference attendees at

For more information about the Catholic Writers Guild, visit

Silver Fire Publishing


Names are so very important. As a writer, I am thinking about names all the time. Names for characters, places, books, etc. Several years ago, I also decided upon a name for my publishing imprint.

My books are published under the Silver Fire Publishing imprint. The idea comes from the Scriptures and it represents what I write and why I write.

“For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap, he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and sliver”

Malachi 3:3

Have you ever marveled at the beauty of something made of silver? A necklace or ring, maybe a decorative tray or dish?

Pure and polished silver shines with a beautiful metallic radiance. Silver is resistant to the corrosion and it is readily worked. Its white lustre is the result of its electron configuration, which allows it to reflect all visible light.

Found in its native form, silver contains all kinds of impurities. So how does it become so beautiful?

The process used in Old Testament times creates a beautiful analogy of God’s refining fire in our lives.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

In order to make something out of silver, a silversmith must first refine the silver and make it pure. This is done by heating the silver with fire, by holding it to the hottest part of the flame to burn away the impurities.

During this purification process, the silversmith watches the silver carefully. He never leaves during the process. And when the silversmith can see his image in the silver, he knows the silver is purified.

God is the refiner. His Word is the fire. We are the silver. And the more we immerse ourselves in Him, the purer we become. And even though the purification process might hurt a bit, He is with us through it all. And like the saints, we come to reflect His image.

I chose the name Silver Fire Publishing for my imprint because I write Catholic fiction. Each of my stories shows the refiner’s fire at work in my characters. My novels are written to support Catholics in their faith and to inspire a greater trust in the Divine Refiner, who is at work in each of our lives.

Each story contains elements unique to our Catholic faith: the Communion of Saints, the Blessed Sacrament, confession, purgatory, sacramentals, etc. And each story addresses contemporary issues: loneliness, fitting in, dating/courtship, purity, abortion, vocational discernment, speaking the truth in faith and morals, being the light in a dark culture, etc.

My books are written to challenge readers and to draw attention to the spiritual realities that go on within us and all around us every day.

“The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure, silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.”

Psalm 12:6

Draw near to the Master Silversmith and let Him purify you until His image is clearly seen in you.

You can learn more about my books by visiting my website.

Follow me on Twitter, Instagram (TheresaLinden2018), and Facebook.

For more Catholic fiction by other talented authors, visit

Rebecca & Heart – A Story of of a Young Girl Struggling with Autism.


Rebecca and Heart. is a Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval recipient! Before autism had a name or a diagnosis, it existed; children were referred to as “odd.”

Rebecca & Heart


In this YA, pre WWII novel, set in London and narrated by an amusing fly-on-the-wall, orphan Rebecca is considered “odd.” It takes a stray mutt she calls Heart to show her adoptive family how to enter into Rebecca’s silent world.

My review:

This children’s story really touched my heart, and I would love for everyone to read it. Rebecca, the main character, has autism. We also have a son with autism, and he is such a treasure to us. While most children with autism struggle with social interactions and are overwhelmed with sensory input of one kind or another, every child is unique. Some have special abilities like Rebecca, but most don’t. Still, every child, no matter their gifts or challenges, brings something wonderful to the people around them, if people know how to look for it and appreciate it.

When this story begins, Rebecca lives at a girls’ home. The other children, and even some of the caretakers, are unkind to her or just don’t know how to treat her because she is “odd.” One day, Rebecca meets a dog, who is also a loner, and the two soon develop a special relationship.

Told from a fly’s perspective, this story has humor but also insight and depth. Rebecca moves from the girls’ home to an adoptive family. As her parents and the others in their home try to understand Rebecca’s unique way of relating to others and the world around her, every one of them grows in compassion and sensitivity, not only toward Rebecca but toward each other. It is a great story for children and adults alike to help develop empathy for people who experience the world differently. This story would be perfect for schools and families. I highly recommend it.

Theresa Linden, author of the West Brothers series


I take a short nap on the wall in the warm sunshine, oversleep, and nearly miss the afternoon tea.

This is the first time Rebecca has ever been invited to the tea. The head mistress sits her down at a far tea table, apart from all the other tables. She sits alone.

“Be quiet,” Mistress tells her, and hurries off.

I watch her stare at the rug and lose herself in the design of concentric circles. She sways almost imperceptibly, but to Rebecca her movements are the same as the circles. Around and around she sways fitting into the circles just fine. She begins to count the circles.

Just then a lady wearing white gloves and a large hat sits down at the table where Rebecca is sitting intently studying the carpet. The woman seems captivated by the quiet girl, sitting alone, swaying in circles. She spots me on the wall and gives me a look of disdain. I get that a lot.

Twitter: @deannakklingel

Author Biography:

Deanna K. Klingel is the author of  books for young and young-at-heart readers. She attends conferences and book festivals, speaks at schools, museums, historical events, and libraries, and inspires readers and writers of all ages.

Deanna was born and raised in Michigan and married her high school sweetheart while they were students at Michigan State University. They’ve lived many places including Sandy Springs, Georgia for 20 years with their 7 children before retiring to the mountains of western North Carolina. They have recently relocated to Edenton, NC, where they are restoring a 1790 home in the Historical District.

In her miniblog Mondays and Thursdays she shares her experiences on the road selling books, the people she meets, the places she goes, and what she’s learned while selling books. Occasionally she shares more personal anecdotes.

Deanna says, “We hear so much these days about unkindness, bullying, particularly against vulnerable children. It’s my hope that young people will love Rebecca, and as they understand her and her situation, they will become more empathetic, and show kindness and respect to those who are ‘odd,’ or different from themselves.”

Buy Link:

Connect with the author:

A Financial Planning Book with a Catholic Perspective


This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Dan Gallagher’s book, The Secrets of Successful Financial Planning: Inside Tips from an Expert (SSFP).” It is a CWG Seal of Approval recipientFrom a retired (i.e., no-bias or client acquisition agenda) nationally recognized, thirty-year expert, this comprehensive, yet easy to understand, personal financial planning book is for users, old and young, seeking to DIY or better understand/choose advisors.

Secrets of Successful Financial Planning


Catholic:  The only financial planning book with a Catholic perspective, yet appropriate for users of all and no faith. As noted in Catholic News-Herald, SSFP provides 30 true tales of client tragedy and triumph” rather than boring case studies. Experience the “moral and relationships dimensions of money decisions.” SSFP Discloses secrets kept from the public and poorly knowns even among professionals.

Secular:  30 true tales of client tragedy and triumph, rather than boring case studies. Excellent reviews, including “…everyday language for practical use. SSFP can help almost anyone bring efficiency to their financial planning….  SSFP is strongly recommended.”  – Arthur B. Laffer, Ph.D., Father of Supply-side Economics, Economic Advisor to two presidents.  SSFP  discloses secrets kept from the public and poorly knowns even among professionals.


Page 28, regarding asset allocation and income draw:

The old technique still used, a reasonable rate of withdrawal below an average rate of return is assumed [to result in never exhausting income-producing assets]. But those were always a known numbers. Anything wrong with that picture? Right! The future is not known at all. Not only were rates of return not correctly known, no market losses were assumed (merely some conservatively assumed rate of return). Worse, no early losses were assumed, and early losses are the worst because they reduce what is actually available to grow. The picture was always better than reality. Inevitable result: exhausted assets for retirees, failure to adequately save for those working. …math dangerously flawed.

Where can you get a copy?

This book is available through any bookseller, online or physical, but signed and personalized copies are available at

Want to know more about the author?

Dan retired from financial services in December 2017 to work professionally as a writer, freelancer, speaker and educator. During his practice, Dan’s professional designations included: Chartered Financial Consultant & Chartered Life Underwriter (1989), Certified Financial Planner® (1992) and Certified Business Intermediary (2002). Dan’s thirty-year financial practice encompassed group andindividual benefits, money management, financial plans, business valuation & brokerage, commercial realty and – often very personal – counseling. He now writes fiction and nonfiction and also offers speaking/training services. Dan was recently (June 2018) accepted and registered as an “expert witness” with The Expert Institute, New York.

Personal Facebook Page:

Know someone who might enjoy this book? Please share this tweet!

Want to learn ACTUAL secrets & poorly knowns of financial planning from a Catholic POV? Want it by a zero-bias expert? Want true tales of client “tragedy & triumph”? Feel the responsibility to be efficient with your gifts?

New Teen Fiction: 3 Things to Forget


I am excited to share award-winning author Cynthia T. Toney’s newest release! This is the final book in the Bird Face series! To celebrate, the publisher has made book one FREE on Amazon on release day only:  October 16th! And the new release, 3 Things to Forget, is only 99 cents today too!

3 Things to ForgetNew People
New Challenges
And a whole new Altitude

In Alaska, Wendy thinks she’s left behind the problems resulting from her mistakes in Louisiana, at least for a while. But starting the summer at her friend Sam’s house and volunteering with Alaska Wildlife Conservation bring not only strange surroundings but also strangers into her life. And those strangers have a secret involving a troubled girl who threatens Wendy’s friendship with Sam.

As Wendy struggles to understand the Alaskans she meets and gets to know, will she be able to forget what she hopes to, or will her new challenges teach her the importance of remembering the past?

I was happy to have received an advanced copy of this book and so I’d like to share my review!

My Review

Cynthia Toney has written another strong story about friendship and the complicated issues that many teens face, this one with the beautiful messages of encouraging teens to share their troubles with their parents and offering kindness even to the unkind.

Wendy is such an admirable character in the way she longs to bring comfort and joy to her elderly friend who has Alzheimer’s. She is a three-dimensional character with interests in writing, sign language, and cute little wolf pups, but she also has room to grow. The more she tries to help her friends in this story, the more of a mess she makes! This is especially true of her relationship with Dev—a girl with many secrets. Wendy becomes so suspicious of Dev’s motives that she even starts to lose faith in her best friend, Sam. Her stepsister gives her great advice that we can all benefit from: “There’s always more to a person’s story than you think when you first meet them.”

With a beautiful Alaskan setting, mystery, and drama, teen readers are sure to love this fourth book in The Bird Face Series. If they’ve read the first three books, like I have, they will also enjoy revisiting favorite characters. Ever since reading 6 Dates to Disaster, I’ve been looking forward to finding out more about Sam, and this story does not disappoint.

Click here to get your copy!

Visit Cynthia T. Toney’s website to learn more about the author and the series.


Quality and Content You Can Trust


I am happy to be a member of the Catholic Writers Guild. This is a professional organization that does so much for writers, including providing opportunities for networking with other writers, publishers, and editors. Additionally, they help authors promote their work.

But they also provide a service to bookstores and readers!

logo color CWG SOA (002)Four times a year, they review books submitted to them, analyzing them for quality and content. When a book merits the CWG Seal of Approval, bookstores and readers can rest assured that it has editorial integrity and that it supports Catholic beliefs and values.

If you’ve ever read a book that disparages your faith, is poorly edited, or that contains explicit material that you don’t want to read, you can appreciate the value of this seal. The 1st quarter Seal of Approval awardees have just been announced!

1st Quarter 2018 Seal of Approval Awardees

The Fisherman’s Bride, Catherine Magia

Survival Sacrifices, Theresa Alt

Our Lady of Fatima Graphic Novel, Samuel Estrada

The Other Side of Freedom, Cynthia Toney

Julia’s Gifts, Ellen Gable Hrkach

Standing Strong, Theresa Linden

Bead by Bead, Meggie Daly

Turning in Circles, Michelle Buckman

Paul’s Prayers, Susan Lee Anderson

Saving Faith, T.m. Gaouettee

Eugenios, Julian Bauer

How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming Into the Catholic Church, Kevin Lowry

Three of these books, including one of mine, are on the website! If you enjoy clean, faith-filled, and exciting young adult fiction, please visit us!

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