A Mountain Hearth Christmas ~ Day 4

Posted on November 6, 2013 | 34 comments

Mountain Hearth Christmas names in darker green

Imagine a fireside scene…
Logs crackle,
Sparks dance,
Conversation stirs…
The air is tinged with the warm scents of fresh-baked cookies.

That’s where we invite you this week…

To a place of sweet fellowship, sharing not just the recipes of a traditional cookie exchange, but also the corners of our hearts where we hold cherished scriptures.

Our hope through this blog hop is to join with you in starting the holiday season off in gentle, truth-filled simplicity, and perhaps even inspiring a new tradition in your home.


The Way It Works: Readers who “hop” from blog to blog this week will have five printed recipes and scriptures by the end of the week. The scriptures can be crafted into the beginning of a scripture garland– a place to gather verses close to the hearts of those you love. They can also be used as ornaments or gift tags.

Read on for more information, and be sure to check the list of all five stops at the bottom of this post!

First of all, Welcome to the Sierras, home of beautiful Lake Tahoe! Take a moment to view this music video to immerse yourself in the place that I’m blessed to hold in my heart. So much of my own life story is tied to this beloved place, I suppose it’s only fitting that my fictional stories are set here, as well.

(video source)

Did you read the Little House books as a child? I remember listening as my mom read them to us, and thinking how utterly splendid it was that they made candy by pouring maple syrup into snow. I think we may have even tried it ourselves one time!

So when this blog hop rolled around and I got to thinking “what recipe could I use that would say “Tahoe!”? I did a little research to compose my own rendition of that recipe. Tahoe may not be known for its maple syrup operations, but… snow? That’s a different story. Tahoe gets plenty of snow! So here, for your candy-making pleasure, is the recipe for…

Maple Snow Swirls

• 2 cups real maple syrup
• 1/3 cup salted butter
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or ¼ teaspoon Almond extract for flavoring
• Candy thermometer
• Fresh snow (feel free to substitute crushed ice or ice cream)



Combine syrup, extract and butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.

Bring mixture to a boil. After about six minutes (220-234 degrees), test to see if it stiffens when drizzled on a plate.

Remove from heat. Wait about two minutes, then pour/drizzle over snow in decorative patterns. If fresh snow isn’t readily available, feel free to use crushed ice or vanilla ice cream.

(Aside: this is a very sweet mixture. If you like a little bit of salty with your sweets, sprinkle a light dusting of salt over the candy at this point.)



As soon as it’s cool, it’s ready to eat!


Perfect for crumbling over ice cream, cheese cake, mixing into your favorite cookie recipe, or just as a sweet treat on its own.

To print this recipe, along with the verse I’m about to share with you, click below to download the file I’ve just loved making for you.

Amanda Preview

If you’ve been following the blog hop this week, you know we’re each sharing a scripture that’s dear to our heart. You can cut out the strip and create a paper chain/garland with them, or cut out the wreaths that bear the scriptures, to use as ornaments, gift tags, or to adorn pine garlands, etc. The hope is to create a simple but meaningful reminder of the life that this season celebrates, and the Life Eternal that we share, as a result.

My verse is…

“…for He Himself is our peace.” Ephesians 2:14

You see, I am a peace-craver. When life gets a bit turbulent, I yearn for peace. If you’ve read any of my blog posts, you may have seen a pattern: I need reminders of where to find this peace. I need to remember: my peace is Him. Not smooth-sailing, or calm waters, but His presence in the midst of it all. If you’d like a further peek into my heart’s journey in this area, I wrote about this recently here.

And so, as the season of remembering where this peace all began– in the shadows of a manger, with promises wrapped in every moment– that is the verse I hold dear.

The God and King who humbled himself to draw near to me, that I might learn to draw near to Him… He is my peace.



In the comments, would you share a favorite scripture of yours?
Or perhaps a favorite Christmas memory, moment, or song?

At the end of the week, each of the five of us will pick one of the scriptures from our comments, and put them together on one last printable for you in the days that follow. When all is said and done, you’ll have 10 scriptures total to begin your scripture garland, and we’ll provide you with a blank template as well, should you wish to carry on the tradition and include more friends-and-family-favorite scriptures in your garland.

Check back here next week for information on where to find those last printables!


Oh! And before you go? I have a special Christmas surprise up my sleeve for my dear newsletter subscribers…
with snow

Tin Can Serenade is a Christmas short story told entirely in the form of letters. This project has been such fun, especially because I had the delight of weaving readers’ special Christmas memories into the story.

(Thank you to those of you who shared your special stories with me last July! For you, especially, I’m excited to share this.)

Here’s a tiny sneak peek at the first pages…


If you’d like to receive Tin Can Serenade, I’d love the chance to send it to you this December. Just sign up for my newsletter below and watch your inbox for it!

(This signs you up for my newsletter, which is sent out a few times a year, and for periodic blog posts as well. If you’d rather not receive the blog posts, you can sign up for just the newsletter by clicking here.)

If you know someone who might enjoy the recipe, fellowship, and short story, would you consider sharing this post on Facebook by clicking here?

You can also click to tweet a little invitation, if you mingle in the Twitter-sphere at all. 😉

Merry Christmas, my friends!

I’ll see you tomorrow for Lauraine’s post– and my, does she have a treat in store for you. Meet right back here on my blog to discover her family lefse recipe!


The Mountain Hearth Christmas Line-up:
Monday 11/4: Laura Frantz
Tuesday 11/5: Joanne Bischof
Wednesday 11/6: Melissa K. Norris
Thursday 11/7: Amanda Dykes
Friday 11/8: Lauraine Snelling



  1. I love the song in the video. Anything with a banjo has my toes tapping. And I blame my mother reading me Laura Ingalls Wilder books every night as a young girl for my pioneering ways. 🙂

    Now I’m checking the snow level on the mountain wishing it would drop so I can make these the old fashioned way.

    As a sneak peek reader of the Tin Can Serenade, you won’t be disappointed. Amanda’s story is crafted as beautifully as her posts and pictures. A treat of God’s timing and forgiveness….

    • Melissa, isn’t that song grand? “Toe-tapping” is the perfect description for it. And if your mother is to blame for your “pioneering ways,” then well done, her! I’m grateful for you and your wonderful ways.

  2. I have ALWAYS wanted to try the maple sugar snow-candy. I can’t wait to try this with my 11-year-old daughter. She will love it! And I can’t wait to read the rest of Tin Can Serenade. What a beautiful idea. In fact, everything you do is touched with beauty and grace, Amanda! You are a treasure!

    • Karen, I hope you and your daughter have a wonderful time trying this! You do such neat things with your kids. You’re an amazing woman in every role you fill- mom, writer, wife, incredible friend, servant of the King… and you’re cherished!!

  3. I can’t wait for it to snow here in Cincinnati, Ohio so I can give this recipe a try with my kiddos:) I might have to use crushed ice though, or I will be waiting a long time for snow here LOL. Thank you for the recipe, my kids and I will definitely enjoy making the candy:) I thank God everyday for my kids and family. I love making memories with them. I love the verse Palm 118:24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

    • Rebecca, I hope it’s a sweet memory in the making for you all! Believe it or not, we actually *did* have snow on the ground the week I made this in October, but it didn’t last long. So I went the crushed-ice route, as well. 😉 I love your verse, too! Such an important reminder of the purpose in every single moment. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  4. Amanda, You truly have one of the most beautiful places to land on the web. Your pics and everything are just stunning. And the heartfelt message even moreso. Thanks for being here. Off to pin to Pinterest :)!

    • Laura, as always, seeing you is an absolute joy! Thank you for the steady and gentle light that you allow to shine from your life. You are a gift, your friendship is a gift, and I’m thanking God for you in this moment!

  5. Hi, Amanda!

    Can’t wait to try this recipe – love the maple flavor, & the only thing I have ever made with snow is snow cream. Loved the video & song, & will now have a picture in mind of the beautiful area, in which you live, when you write about it in future posts.

    Enjoyed your comments about the bible verse – EVERYTHING about you speaks peace, & calmness. Your post is absolutely beautiful – as ALWAYS – & I can’t wait to read Tin Can Serenade, such a novel, wonderful, way to write a story – in the form of letters!

    Another wonderful bible verses: Psalm 27:6 – “And now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies round about me; in His tent I will offer sacrifices and shouting of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord” (amplified version). I love to sing, & listen to praise & worship music. It fills me with joy, & helps keep me in the presence of the Lord – which I think is what this verse is asking me to do. When I keep my attention on Him, He has promised to defeat my enemies, & hide me in the day of trouble (verse 5).

    Hugs, & blessings, on your day, Amanda!

    • Bonnie, how glad I am to see you here! I can’t tell you how special it is, the way you take the time to craft your words of encouragement so specifically to each person you bless with them. 🙂

      And your words– “When I keep my attention on Him”– I’m so glad you said that. So many of our concerns, when we turn our eyes upon Him, shrink to their proper size and perspective, when we dwell in the truth of who He is… in the refuge of trust. Have you heard this worship song? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czxd5oa-gi0 I love it. So simple, such truth. Refuge indeed.

      Thank you for being here today, Bonnie!

      • Beautiful song, Amanda – thank you!!,

  6. Hi Amanda,
    Thank you for sharing the recipes, I loved reading the Little house on the Prairie books or watching the tv shows.
    I love baking during the holidays this time of year
    My favorite bible verses is 1Timothy 4:12
    And I have a few yummy cookie recipes that I like, have you every tried an Egg Nog cookie? Or a jello cookie? Last year we had some girls over to our house and we made a lot of yummy cookies. And these were the cookies that I absolutely loved. Not the jello cookies are just make out of jello powder , if u followe me on Pintrest my user name is Danie Walther you will find these yummy cookie recipes
    Hope too see you soon. Thanks for letting me participate in the activity. It’s fun.

    • Hi Danie! Your “thank you” there at the end made me smile so much– for it’s YOU we’re thankful for! Our hope for this little blog hop was to bless our readers with something tangible, but more importantly to get to know them and interact with them in a low-key way, about things that matter to us all. I’m so glad you’ve traveled this road with us this week! I’ll come find you on Pinterest so I can take a gander at these delicious recipes you speak of. Thanks again, Danie!

      • Hey Amanda,

        You are so very welcome. And I hope that will find the yummy recipes. That I’ve told u about.

        See ya soon.

  7. These are so divine looking and oh, they bring me back to my favorite books… Little House. I’ll always remember the sugar snow and the dance and Grandma making these candies. I love that you put together the how-to. These are a MUST when we get some snow. And what a great idea, sprinkling on the salt. Yummy! Amanda, your heart shines so brightly in all that you do. Thank you for such a beautiful and warm post. Hugs sweet friend!

    • My friend! You always bring a smile to my heart. …and NOW, after reading your memories of that book, I need to back and read it again, as your memories of it far surpass my own foggy recollections! The sugar snow is ringing a bell. Hugs right back to you, and thank you for being a kindred spirit– one that I cherish!

  8. Amanda……I love the song!! Thank you for the pick me up with that amazing song. I went straight to Itunes and got it to have on my Iphone. I also posted it on my FB page!! LOL.

    Love the recipe too. I can’t wait for it to snow!! My girls and I are going to have a great time making these. They sound so tasty and perfect for those sweet tooth moments.

    I love that you chose a verse about Peace. I think its a chore for all of us at some time or another to find the peace we long for in that moment. I love your verse for today and the reminder that He is our peace. My verse today is:

    “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

    I picture myself crawling up into the arms of my papa and sharing all that’s weighing me down or troubling me as he encircles me with the safety of His everlasting arms, arms that never grow weary of me running to them for shelter. He sits and listens patiently as I unload then pours the most unexplainable love over me till all the cares melt away and I’m filled with His peace once again.

    Thanks again or this amazing blog hop. This has been one of my favorites by far. Love you ladies!!!!!


    • Kristie, it’s always a wonderful treat to meet up with you online– thank you for being a part of our little “get-together” here! Your verse is SO key to discovering and dwelling that peace that God’s created for our lives. A two-fold call to action: trust him with the things that trouble us, and recall how greatly he treasures us. Enough to give everything for us. Thank you for bringing that beautiful truth to fresh light! I’ve been following your comments this week during this blog hop, and it sounds like you’re finding such strong refuge in Him during this season. I just stopped right now to say a prayer for you as you walk this road tightly gripped in his embrace and strength. You make an important difference!

      • Amanda,
        Thank you for the prayers! Every one of them is felt and appreciated. This weeks blog hop has been so refreshing to me. Blessings and beautiful reminders come in the most unexpected places sometimes but I’m oh so thankful for them.

  9. Hi Amanda!

    I am so glad to discover your website and the beauty and heart you share here. I look forward to following along!

    Thank you so much for sharing your Maple Snow Swirls! Yummy!!

    TIN CAN SERENADE sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to read it! Letters are some of my favorite things. I love to collect old, handwritten letters. They are such treasures!

    The Bible verse I am sharing today is Psalm 27:1. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

    • Hi Britney! What fun to see you here! I’ve loved each of the verses you’ve been sharing along the way this week- we can’t thank you enough for joining in! I hope you do enjoy Tin Can Serenade— it’s not long, but it sure was fun to write. 🙂

      The verse you chose to share here is one I hold close to my heart– one of those anchor verses we can cling to at every turn. A foundation to stand on. Thank you so much, Britney! You’re a joy!

  10. Amanda, what a delight and blessing to visit you here. (I’m a tad late and getting caught up.) So glad you wonderful ladies are doing this. Good recipes, delight-filled stories (and videos!), and God’s Word. What a super celebration.

    Enjoyed your video. The Sierras are one of my very favorite places — many spots God has used to bring comfort, peace, and growth. I’ve been at the very spot the band was first performing at and have a photo — but we were surrounded by sun pennies, not snow. 🙂 My son and Daughter-in-love held their wedding on the shores of Donner Lake, not far from your spot.

    Another favorite verse is a familiar one, Psalm 23:4. During an extreme bout with mourning/depression/suicidality, God used that to bring me back from the precipice. Clearly He is with us in everything—even the valley of THE SHADOW of death. It would feel death-inducing, but it was not a valley of death. He reminded me that He accompanied me ~~ but that the journey could not be taken around or over the painful places, but we together would go THROUGH. Avoidance was not an option, but the pain would not kill me, it would just sometimes feel like it might, but feelings were not the measure. His truth was. And is. Might appear so obvious to some, but it was a life-changing truth for me. Isn’t it so amazing and lovely that God provides exactly what each of us needs when we need it? I love cookies.  But there’s no cookie-cutter provision from God.

    A special Christmas memory ~~ a few months after my mother died, and during the dark time referenced above, my earthly father (never the buyer of our Christmas gifts and never very demonstrative) gave me a lovely gold watch, one of the nicest pieces of jewelry I’d ever received. It made me feel like a princess.

    Blessings on all you ladies for this heart-warming gathering. I will miss it next week.

    • Mary Kay, you won’t believe this, but just today I was thinking of how faithful God is to bring us *through* the valley of the shadow of death- not around or above it (though He certainly delights in also giving us seasons of “green pasture” too, from the same Psalm). I was thinking just what you put into words so perfectly: He loves us enough to let that terrain come and never let us face it alone. It has been during life’s rough-terrained stretches that I’ve leaned on Him the most and therefore felt the reaches of His strength the most. Oh, how glad I am that you emerged from that season with such insight. And now, you use it to encourage others.

      I adore what you said here: “Feelings were not the measure. His truth was.” There is so much depth to that statement. What an incredible, priceless thing He has given us in the form of His unchanging truth: an anchor for our souls. A foundation to stand on. Something true and good and life-giving.

      I can only imagine how much you cherished the watch your father gave you. What a gift, and how beautiful that he reached out to you in that special way!

      Thank you for being here today, Mary Kay, and for sharing so much of your heart with us! This is a treasure to me!

  11. PS 🙂 If I’d memorized YOUR verse, Amanda, years ago, likely I would not have fallen into such a depression. Yea, God! And I’m certainly signing up for you newsletter and look forward to reading Tin Can Serenade. It sounds wonderful

    Hope you can read this. What I’m typing is such a light gray I can’t read it. LOL

    • It is a wonderful verse, isn’t it? It’s one I return to again and again (and again!)

      Thank you so much for your kind words– I’m so blessed you’ll be able to receive Tin Can Serenade!

      (p.s. I agree– I need to find a way to make my comment-typing box darker and larger font!)

  12. Loved the video. I can’t wait to do this with my gdaughter. I need to get them all downloaded. Love to win.

    • Diana, I’m so glad this will provide some fun for you two! Thank you for being a part of our gathering this week! 🙂

  13. Hi Amanda,

    It is so nice to see you using the gifts God has given you to touch so many, but the most dear to my heart of course is what you have done for a precious young lady who simply defies description. So in honor of Elaine, my verse for you is Psalm 40:3

    He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
    Many will see and fear the Lord.

    Thank you
    and put their trust in him.

    • Karen, this is a treasure among treasures to me. I was actually thinking of Elaine as I wrote tonight– as you said, a precious young lady who simply defies description. Courageous and beautiful and anchored in life-giving truth. Just like her mom. 😉

      I love your family and I’m so blessed to know you! This verse is so full of hope, thank you so much for sharing it!!

      • I guess you figured out the Thank you landed in the wrong place, lol. We love you too!

  14. I do like the song in the video. Favorite songs for me include O Holy Night and Go Tell It on the Mountain. A favorite scripture is: I Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    • Charlotte, thank you so much for sharing these! I love “O Holy Night”– such a soaring melody. And your scripture is so wonderful- I love the profound simplicity of it. Faith, hope and love… so much substance, so much life in those things. Thank you for chiming in, it means so much to us!

  15. Amanda,

    The minute I saw the picture of that snow candy, I was thrilled. We used to do that in Seattle, but of course, it doesn’t snow tons there, so when it did we were very excited. I’m reading Little House books now to my six year old and reliving all the fun memories.

    I love the verse you’ve chosen. What a great thought that He is our peace. Keeps us grounded in a season where we’re overloaded with activities and things clamoring for our attention.


  16. This recipe brought to my memory my Daddy making Snow Ice Cream for me and my two sisters when we were little girls. He also would buy us a doll every Christmas and pretend Santa had brought it.

    I look forward to receiving Tin Can Serenade. Thank you and Christmas Blessings.