Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's Kristin's Birthday

Happy birthday, Kristin!

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Rachel Short

It's never too late for a couple more additions to te Christmas Tree Tour. These are more contributions from Rachel Short. She is a kindred spirit - she collects teapots! Look at this adorable tree.

I LOVE it! The tea cart is gorgeous.

And the kids decorated this one in the play room.

Thanks, Rachel!

Rachel let me know that the Annual Great Christmas Tree Tour 2011 was mentioned in Harlequin's Simply Books, the magazine they sent through the reader service. Thanks, Harlequin!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Emu - Who Knew?

My daughter Jennifer gave me a tube of Au Natural Rough Hands Formula Hand Cream, made with emu oil. They have friends who raise emus. This product is distributed in Pierce, Nebraska.

I don't know how one extracts oil from an emu....

I didn't ask. 

All I know is the stuff works great on my hands and cuticles. I'm an emu believer.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Cousin Sharon

I'm thrilled about all the photos I received from authors and readers! Enough to fill every day since the day after Thanksgiving! THANK YOU

Today is Christmas, and whatever this day holds for you, I pray health and happiness for you now and in the new year.

I'm delighted to finish up the Annual Great Christmas Tree Tour 2011 with these photos from my cousin Sharon. Enjoy!

Okay, Sharon, we are amazed and impressed. 
Wow, what a tree!
This is the foyer tree.

 Family room tree. Love the pink!

Trees and reindeer. How cute!

And this is Lily, waiting for Santa Paws!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Rachel Short

Cheryl, I read your article about your Christmas trees in the Simply Books magazine and wanted to share my tree and its history with you.  I would have gotten it in sooner but have been so busy getting ready for Christmas, I have a really large family and it takes a lot of shopping.
I have several small trees with different themes, teapots and Santas but my big tree in the family room has handmade ornaments made over the last 45 years by my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and myself.  Our annual ornament making day is the biggest family gathering that we have besides Christmas eve.  I do have some bought ones that friends have given me but most of them are handmade.  I have special bells crocheted by my Grandma years ago.  This year we had 20 of us making ornaments that would go on 15 trees.  I love decorating my tree with all the memories of making all of the ornaments.
Thank you for sharing your tree and your lovely tradition, Rachel. Christmas blessings to you!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Chris is back with another tree!

If you've been following faithfully, you've seen Chris's other trees and ornaments. If you didn't see them, go back and check, because you don't want to miss them.

She has her big tree up now, and it's just lovely. The wooden German ornaments are her favorites and the old glass balls a close second.

Thanks for sharing all of your beautiful ornaments and trees with us, Chris!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

There's a generation who remembers these well! Thanks for sharing, Janet.

This is a silver tree from back in the 50's!  The limbs of the tree are aluminum. It has a light that goes around and around and changes color! The limbs catch the colors of the light and it is gorgeous!

Merry Christmas!

Janet Dowell

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Teryl Oswald

My local RWA chapter had our Christmas party at the home of Teryl Oswald. The theme of the party was a Dickens Christmas, so Terry's tree had a Victorian flair. It sits in the spacious corner of her living room with full sun, and the ornaments sparkle and shine.

These red ornaments were hand-made with bead pins.

The glass birds are lovely.

Love? Money? Career? Family?

Three handsome men want something different from Amanda Cash. Which one is not using her for personal gain?

An anonymous lottery winner decides to give away a two-hundred-million-dollar jackpot. Failed entrepreneur, Amanda Cash, age thirty-seven, is tapped by the winner to select deserving persons to receive the windfall. If the benefactor agrees with her choices, she will be awarded a million-dollar ‘finder’s fee,’ more than enough money to fund her mother’s risky heart transplant.

Complicating matters, Amanda must decide whether to have a baby for her husband and his gay lover, while she’s being wooed by two other men. One suitor, an overly-attentive attorney with a secret need for a fortune, is assigned to help Amanda remain anonymous in her quest. The second man, an undercover reporter, will do anything for the scoop of the century.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Liz Flaherty

I always love your parade of trees and wanted to be a part of it. 

The little one is my kitchen island one, complete with attendant polar bear. 

Everything got silver on the big one this year, and I'm not quite sure how that happened.

Merry Christmas! 

January 2012

Grace has taken care of her widowed father her entire adult life and the ornery old goat has finally died. She has no job, no skills and very little money, and has heard her father's prediction that no decent man would ever want her so often she accepts it as fact.

But she does have a big old house on Lawyers Row in Peacock, Tennessee. She opens a rooming house and quickly gathers a motley crew of tenants - Promise, Grace's best friend since kindergarten, who's fighting cancer; Maxie, an aging soap opera actress who hasn't lost her flair for the dramatic; Jonah, a sweet gullible old man with a crush on Maxie.

And Dillon, Grace's brother's best friend, who stood her up on the night of her senior prom and has regretted it ever since. Dillon rents Grace's guest house for the summer and hopes to make up for lost time and past hurts - but first, he'll have to convince Grace that she's worth loving...


Monday, December 19, 2011

Great Christmas Tree Tour: More Trees from Chris

I only know one person with more Christmas stuff than me. Chris has a couple of trees that stay up all year long. 

Chris says:
I have this little tree up all year long.  I change the ornaments on it for the seasons or holidays. I just love it!

You can tell me to stop whenever you want to!  


This antique feather tree stays up all year also.  I don't know how old it is but it has real feathers and I tried to find old ornaments to put on it.  My mom, a collector also, talked me into buying it 10 -15 years ago at a flea market in PA.  She has a very good eye for valuable stuff.  I have it in my dining room also.  We bought our real tree today and plan to decorate it tomorrow.  We usually just put all kind of ornaments on it with lots of color.  I don't really like a one or two color fancy tree for our family tree.  I like to make it personal with things we have collected over the years and the ornaments remind me of places we visited or lived.

I wanted you to see one of my most favorite yard sale finds ever!  I bought these at a yard sale across the street from my mom's house.  They are old Western Germany candy containers.  They open at the belly and you put candy inside.  I love them and I paid...... .50 cents each!  I saw them from across the table in the garage and my heart pounded like willd until I had them in my hands!  I couldn't believe what a find.

The scene has a vintage looking tv with Snoopy inside.  It lights up, plays music, and the tree and figures turn when you turn the knob. My step mom gave it to me for Christmas last year.  She is very good at finding cool Snoopy stuff I like!   All of the other items are 1940-1960.  The snowman sax player is another candy container.
I am having such fun opening up all my stuff that I have been hauling around for so many years.  This is the first time we aren't planning on moving in 2-3 years so I have been unpacking lots of boxes instead of just leaving it all packed up and waiting for our next move.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Great Christmas Tree Tour: John Everson

I've always been a sucker for Christmas. A lot of people don't expect a "horror" novelist who writes things like Sacrifice and The Pumpkin Man to get all warm and mushy for the holidays, but I am a big fan of colored lights, Christmas trees, homemade frosted cookies, warm holiday fireplaces, eggnogg (the real homemade stuff, not that bubblegum syrup they sell in the stores) and everything else that goes with the season. Every year, my son and I even build a Gingerbread house!  And I have a tradition of watching It's A Wonderful Life every Christmas Eve that goes back to high school.

Free Wallpaper
Our house is usually the brightest one on the block, and my wife strings garlands, tinsel and holly all over the place in December. Our tree is really special though -- because every year we end up adding ornaments to it that are very meaningful to us. 

From my wife's Precious Moments ornaments to my son's Cars models to my own Nightmare Before Christmas ornaments (see, there's the horror author coming out!), our tree is filled with memories. There's a box in the attic that has as many ornaments that have been "retired" as are currently on the tree.

But my love of Christmas goes beyond decorating a tree and lighting the bushes. For over a decade, every year in December I wrote and recorded an original Christmas song (usually with my sister-in-law on vocals) that I gave out to family and friends on tapes and CDs. (After several years of not doing a song, I'm reviving the tradition this year, with a new song, and my six-year-old son at the microphone!).

I also have written some short fantasy Christmas stories, including "Christmas, The Hard Way," which I originally penned for a decorative chapbook that I gave away as a gift one Christmas. That story now leads off my new Christmas Tales short e-book collection. It's a fantasy about a boy who lives in a family where magic is natural -- but they all give it up for Christmas to remind themselves of how life is for most people. The boy's aunt is a ghost who guides him on his journey, as he has to find a way to make a present for his baby brother without magic-ing it up. "Christmas, The Hard Way," and "Frost" (about a boy and a frost sprite) both appear in my Vigilantes of Love horror and dark fantasy collection, but last year I wanted to break the Christmas stories out of that book (some people don't want horror for Christmas after all!) So I decided to write a new holiday story (based on one of my song lyrics, actually) and I put the trio out as a special "feel-good" holiday collection.


I've also posted some holiday computer wallpaper and a couple of the Christmas songs I've recorded freely on my web site. Probably my favorite is "Show Me Christmas" which I recorded in a friend's 16-track basement studio with a live band and an amazing guest singer. You can listen to that and "Will You Spend this Christmas Night With Me" (which was recorded in a much lower quality -- four-track recorder in a bedroom) on my Christmas page So finally, some of the gifts I've shared with family and friends are now out in the world. I hope some others enjoy them!

I'm looking forward to spending this Christmas Eve after everyone's in bed just enjoying the lights and memories of my tree, probably with my favorite new Christmas ale -- Great Divide's Hibernation Ale --  in hand.
Merry Christmas everyone!

John Everson is the Chicago-based Bram Stoker Award-winning author of six novels, including The Pumpkin Man and Siren. His collection Christmas Tales offers three "ghosts of Christmas" in its three stories celebrating the magic of the season, as well as the lyrics of four original holiday songs. It's a book that can be enjoyed by all ages and is  $0.99 via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords, and you can also download it from Kobo, Sony and the Apple iBookstore. Visit him on the web at

THE PUMPKIN MAN is coming...

NEEDLES & SINS, 19 Tales of Twisted Redemption

Join the Mailing List at:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Patty Underhill

The Spring and Fall were both a bit sad for us. 
In late May, just a few days before my birthday, we had to say goodbye to my husband’s cat, Brat. She was 16 years old and had cancer. It was difficult to say goodbye, but we couldn’t allow her to suffer. She was a good girl and well loved. 

In October, on Halloween night to be exact, my big sook, Simba had a stroke. He was 16 as well. It really hit me hard and I still miss him every day. He was like my little shadow. We do plan on getting a couple of more cats in the future, but not right away.

I am sending you our trees for this year. Yes, I said trees. This year we opted to have two. My mother-in-law gave us her tree as she doesn’t set it up anymore since Brent’s father passed away in 2009. She comes and stays with us over Christmas. We’ve made new traditions and blended them with the old. We set our older tree up downstairs in the bar/den area and the Boys decorated it themselves. 

Our other tree we set up in the usual tree spot in the bay window of the living room. It has been weird so far, not chasing one of the cats out from under the tree or trying to get them to not chew on the branches. Silly things never did learn they weren’t real like we had when they were younger.  We miss them terribly, the companionship, the cuddling, but they are in our hearts and never far from our thoughts.

Take care this Christmas and enjoy your family. We wish you many blessings and happiness this year and always.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Melinda Elmore

Melinda Elmore wanted to share her Christmas tree in honor of her beloved husband whom she lost only recently. Melinda, we extend our deepest condolences to you and your daughter and pray peace and comfort to you this Christmas season.

Melinda also asked us to remember our Creator's birth. We celebrate the reason for Christmas with you.

Essays written by Melinda's young daughter

Journey to Christmas Creek

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Meg Mims

O Christmas Tree

Christmas tree traditions vary even within families.  As a child, I was shocked to see my great-aunt’s tree with ancient glass balls, birds and large bulb lights on the spindly, bare branches. I’d never seen a balsam tree before, and it shook my idea of what a Christmas tree ought to be like. At the time I thought it was the ugliest tree on the planet. My great aunt loved it, though, since that’s all she’d ever had through her long life. Every ornament and light meant Christmas to her. I had to admit the fragrance was nice.

Balsams trees were common Christmas trees during the time period I chose for DOUBLE CROSSING – post Civil War era. Tiny candles were fastened on the branches—electric lights were invented just after the turn of the century but only the very rich could afford them.

We used the large bulb lights until miniature ones came out. Each year Mom would add more strands, from three to four to five and six. She loved the colors! Mom also collected traditional Santa Claus ornaments – handmade, china or wooden. I have expanded that tradition by choosing a pre-lit artificial tree (no needle-hunting, no sap stains, hooray!) with both white lights and multi-colors, with a remote to choose one or the other or both. And I have several Santa ornaments from Mom, plus a huge number of handcrafted ornaments from craft shows, friends and family.

Each and every one is special. My sister made the French-knot bear ornament and the needlepoint Santa, another sister made the ruffled wreath, a friend made the “mouse under the covers” nestled in half a walnut shell, my Dad carved and painted the wooden Santa Claus (and I have several others he made through the years), another friend did the tasseled petit-point ornament, the white felt dove and cute yellow teddy bear, and an aunt made the white eyelet/red berries ornament. I bought the smocked Christmas ball, since I don’t have the patience for that sewing skill, but love it.

One important thing I’ve learned about Christmas is to change things up—okay, maybe not the tree yet!—but other decorations around the house or outside. I decided that instead of being disappointed that I’m unable to hang the wreath or lights as expected, I am deliberate in placing wreaths or candles or small items in new places through the house. Or leaving them in the box. I’ll never regret losing the traditional Christmas “routine” – there isn’t one. It’s new and fresh every year. I’m sure one day I’ll downsize the tree and give most of the ornaments to my daughter.

But it’s not the tree, the lights, the ornaments anyway. There’s a reason for the season! It’s also about giving and sharing, memories of family and friends, and love.

Merry Christmas to all, and may your memories be refreshed each year.

Meg Mims is the author of Double Crossing – a western historical romantic suspense that has garnered 5-star reviews on Amazon. Enter the Goodreads giveaway! She also writes non-fiction freelance articles for real estate, lighthouses and history for various magazines.