featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Monday, December 7, 2015


Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn't often, she's hanging with her family, doing counted cross stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging...Learn more about Rachel and her books at her website. 

Thanks so much for having me back to talk about my crafting. I have a passion for counted cross stitch. My Mamaw Smith taught me the basics when I was nine, and I’ve built on it since then. It’s my craft of choice, and my favorite way to relax. If I’m sitting in the living room watching TV, I’m stitching, too.

Christmas is my favorite time of year, and actually has nothing to do with the fact that my birthday is Thursday. I LOVE Christmas. Trees, decorations, lights, music, special stuff at church. All of it. Except inflatable yard decorations.

As a family, we’ve always collected ornaments from the places we’ve visited. My Mamaw Smith always gives each person an ornament, and it’s a lot of fun to see what we’ll get each year.

Many years ago I decided to start making ornaments for my friends as part of their Christmas gift. I don’t even remember why, but it probably has something to do with the ornament traditions in my own family.

I started out with my friends’ initials, when one of my favorite designers released a freebie alphabet series that I fell in love with. One of these days I’m going to use the alphabet and make myself a NOEL set.

I branched out from there when I discovered the annual Just Cross Stitch ornament issue. I’ve found lots of great patterns in it, except for the last couple years. I’m not a fan of the primitive sampler stuff that’s so huge right now.

One year I did a Joy tree (above) so many times I got sick of it. It’s one of my favorites. Another year I did one shaped like an egg, because it reminded me of Faberge eggs. I wish I had a picture to show, because it’s so cool. Alas, I don’t.

Another year I did these lacy snowflakes, and matched up hand-dyed silk floss with beads, all from my ever-growing collection of both. Still another year I did a pelican wearing a Santa hat, because I live in Louisiana and it’s our state bird. About four years ago I did a repeating fleur de lis pattern. I think I ended up making that one five times and was thoroughly sick of it at the end.

I finish my ornaments by hand. Depending on what it is I’ll do a flat finish or stuff it. I’ve cheated and done stuffing most of the time. This year I’m doing my very first ones on perforated paper. No finishing! It’s a Christmas tree I found in a booklet that came with a set of embroidery floss.

I’m also cross stitching Christmas stockings for my mom’s collection. Each of the six family members has one, and one of my brothers is married. My mom wants his wife and kids to have a stocking to match his. One is almost done and I have two more to do.

I’m sharing ornaments on my Facebook page all month long, so stop by and have a look at what I’ve made and some of my favorites off our trees. Yes, trees.

Freedom’s Embrace, A’yen’s Legacy #4

If Taran loses his girl--and his second chance at love--he'll never find his way to freedom.

A'yen's Reign: Year Two
Taran has served Nicco, prince of Marcase, for twenty-three years. While on a fact-finding mission to Corsica--a planet annexed by the empire thirteen years ago--Taran and Nicco are kidnapped by the Freedom Alliance and taken deep into the Corsican hardwood forests.

Da'Renna, sister to King A'yen's linked bodyguard, has loved Taran since the moment he saw her. Leaving him behind wasn't easy, but her brother needed her more. Hearing about Taran's kidnapping makes her wonder if she made the right choice.

With the help of a friend from Corsica, Da'Renna and her brother sneak in to find Taran. When mercenaries take her hostage, Taran must make the choice he dreads most: his master, or his soul-mate.

Freedom isn't supposed to be this hard.
Note: This novel stands alone and is a great entry point into the A'yen's Legacy futuristic romance series


Rachel Leigh Smith said...

Thanks so much for having me!

Angela Adams said...

Awesome crafts, Rachel! Happy Holidays!!

Rachel Leigh Smith said...

Thanks, Angela! I'm starting this year's ornament tonight.