Saturday, December 26, 2015

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Charlene Raddon's Homemade Ornaments

Tradition tells us the first tree was brought indoors in Strasburg, Germany, in 1605. Martin Luther decorated it with candles to entertain the children. During this time Christmas trees were embellished with wafers, candies, fruits, paper flowers, hard cookies baked in various shapes and tinsels made from tin and silver. Humans being humans, families were soon competing to outdo each other with their decorations. Eventually, the tradition of a decorated tree indoors spread beyond Germany.

During the 1800s the hand cast glass ornaments became widely popular. Lauscha in Germany was the hub of glass ornaments production in Germany. Later on silk, wool thread, chenille and stiff spun glass were used in Christmas tree ornaments.

Legend plays an important role in the History of Christmas Ornaments. The popular pickle ornament of the Germans carries with it a wonderful tale. Pickle ornaments are glass ornaments formed in the shape of a pickle. The German parents used it to judge the most intelligent child in the family. The first one to trace the pickle got an additional gift from St. Nicholas.

Christmas trees along with the fanciful ornaments entered England in 1840 through the hands of Queen Victoria and her German Prince Albert. Glass ornaments, decorative beads, paper baskets with sugared almonds and hot air balloons were used for decoration.

The first Christmas tree ornaments began as items easily found in nature, such as nuts, fruit or pine cones. German families began to bake gingerbread or other hard cookies in different shapes. Americans strung popcorn or cranberries into strands to string around the trees. Families in the United Kingdom crafted lace or paper into unique shapes to place upon the tree.

Christmas Tree Ornaments reached America around 1880. F.W Woolworth, an American retailer first sold imported glass ornaments in his shop. Decorations also included cut outs of old magazines, cotton wools and tinsel. The First World War disrupted natural commerce and necessitated the production of cheaper ornaments with new technologies. The introduction of injection plastic molding facilitated to figure tiny miniatures.

Mistletoe was believed to have magical powers of healing. The tree was sacred to the ancient Celtic Druids. The cutting of the mistletoe from the oak (mistletoes are parasites, though they can grow on their own) signified the emasculation of the old King by his successor. Having the mistletoe decorated in the Christmas season, originated from the pagan customs. The famous axiom "kissing under the mistletoe" has its origin in the Norse mythology and Celtic rituals.

The Holly, which is strongly linked with Christmas or rather Christmas festival, has a history of its own. Though Christmas Holly history has its roots in Northern Europe, the sanctity of the Holly plant has a pagan origin. The Holly plant is characterized by green leaves that are prickly in nature. It needs a mention here that the Druids adorned their heads with twigs of the Holly plant whenever they went to the forest.

The Germans began making ornaments for mass production in the mid-1800s. Around Lauscha, Germany, glass blowers began molding glass into fruit or nut replicas. After those became a big hit, they began making different shapes, such as hearts and stars, as well as saints, children or animals.

In the 1920s, more countries vied with Germany for the Christmas ornament market. Japan came out with more colorful designs than Germany, while the Czech Republic produced very fancy ornaments. After World War I, glass ornaments began to be produced by a machine in Corning, New York. They were the first glass ornaments to be made by machine.

Tinsel first came into use around 1610 in Germany. The first tinsel was made out of silver, pulled very thin. It tended to tarnished quickly by the heat of the candles placed on the tree. Experiments were made to make tinsel better, and it was next made out of tin and lead. This tinsel was very heavy, however, and would break from its own weight. Tinsel is currently made out of lightweight synthetic material and is used by many people around the world.

The ornaments shown on this post were made by the author.


#1 is made by using bits of fabric, ribbon and decorative trimming glued to a Styrofoam ball. The fabric is cut into elongated leaf shapes to fit around the ball.  A loop made of heavy thread is glued to one end for hanging. These can be made to fit all sizes of balls.

#2 is crocheted using crochet thread into two circular motifs sewn together around a Styrofoam ball.



#3 is made by cutting old Christmas cards into nickel sized circles. The circles are then bent to form triangles. The folds are glued together in 4 rows of five, and the edged decorated with sparkle.


#4 is made with photographs according to the pattern in the photo. You can use pictures of your children, family, favorite places, pets or squares of Christmas cards. After being folded and glued, the edges are then decorated with sparkle. See the box in the top photo.

#5 The snowflakes are crocheted using various patterns which can be found by googling “crocheted snowflake ornaments.”

#6 The stocking is crocheted with crochet thread in 12 six-sided motifs sewn together. My motifs are about 2-3/4” in diameter, making a stocking about 12” long.  Naturally, if you make the motifs larger, adding another row to each one, or using thicker thread, you can create larger stockings.


 #7 are needlepoint backed with felt and trimming added to the edges for a finished look.

Anyone wanting more detailed instructions or patterns are welcome to email me at and I will send them to you.

Start now and decorate your tree this year with your own handmade ornaments.

A woman's smile . . .

Rosalyn Delaney's husband, Josiah, vanished six years ago. Following a private detective's lead, Rosalyn leaves Salt Lake City and boards a train heading to the mining town of Whiskey Ridge, Arizona. She arrives at Rose House, an old mansion reputed to be haunted, only to discover that her missing husband has been killed, and his business partner, Whip Kincaid, is wanted for his murder. Determined to uncover the secrets surrounding Josiah and his death, Rosalyn decides to stay--even though she begins to receive nightly visits from a charming "ghost" . . .

A Ghost's Kiss . . .

Escaping a troubled past, Whip Kincaid had hoped he could make a fresh start in Whiskey Ridge and open a saloon with his friend Josiah. Now, as a murder suspect hiding in his own house, Whip's future looks bleak indeed . . . unless he can find the real culprit. But the unexpected intrusion of Rosalyn ruins his plan to sneak out at night to investigate. Scaring her away is his first step in clearing his name, but Rosalyn doesn't rattle easily. And Whip isn't sure he wants the lovely widow to walk out of his life -- especially when she'll take his heart with her.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Linda Broday: The Meaning of Christmas - Great Christmas Tree Tour

Each year, the older I get the less enthused I am about a Christmas tree. Sure, they’re gorgeous and can add such cheer to the holiday but big ones are a lot of work. And when you live alone with no young children and are pushing a deadline, I’d just as sooner downsize and go on.

Over the years, I’ve learned that Christmas isn’t about the size of the tree or the glittery ornaments anyway. The holiday is about the size of your heart.

A few weeks ago, I dragged out this scraggly little thirty inch mini-tree and hanged some western ornaments on it. I had quite a few small cowboy boots, hats and assorted items that created the look I was going for. After all, a western romance author needs a cowboy tree. 

Then I had bought some little cowboy dogs one day when I was out and sat them around it like they’re guarding the tree. I call them Deputy Dogs because of their guns, holsters and cute sheriff’s badges. 

I added a whimsical touch at the foot – a cowboy statue with his rifle pointed at the person about to mess with his Deputy Dogs and the tree.  My pitiful attempt at some humor.

The only other thing I carefully unpacked was my beautiful angel. I bought her at least 20 years ago, maybe longer. But Christmas wouldn’t be the same without her. She’s been through a lot with me—the deaths of some family members and three big moves. She and I are getting a bit ragged but we’re still here and she continues to watch over me.

I have some exciting news—A new release on December 1st. FOREVER HIS TEXAS BRIDE is the thrilling conclusion of my popular Bachelors of Battle Creek series. This book features the half-breed brother Brett Liberty. The story’s message of tolerance and acceptance is as pertinent now as it was in 1879.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and remember why we celebrate. It’s not about the gifts, the trees or how much money we have. Christmas is what’s in our hearts and remembering that tiny babe that lay in a manger in Bethlehem one cold night so long ago.


Linda Broday is New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of six full-length novels and seven short stories.
She resides in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed.
Linda loves scouring history books and the internet for little known details to add to her historical western romance stories.
She’s been accused, and quite unjustly she adds, of making herself a nuisance at museums and libraries.
Humble roots and the love of family have become focal points of each book she writes.
Watch for her Men of Legend series coming 2016!

Visit Linda at: 
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Order Linda's Books:

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ruth Logan Herne is my Special Guest for Christmas Eve

Cheryl, thank you so much for the chance to be part of the 2015 tour!!!!

This is our family tree... It's tucked in the corner of our family room, a room recently added to help house our six kids, fourteen grandkids, and big Blodgett/Herne family gatherings.

We finished the room a couple of years ago, but as a daycare provider by day, and sweet romance author by night, I didn't dare put the family tree in this room for obvious reasons:

Four four-year-olds and a two year old! So this is our first Christmas having a tree in the new family room, and I love how the tree is reflected in the windows at night. So pretty!

I can't see the new room from the kitchen, and youse all know what that means. If Mama/Grammy can't see you, anything goes!

But this tree is more than a pretty tree with lights. This is a memory tree. This is the most precious of precious trees, filled with rare, hand-crafted ornaments of the highest order. Here's a look at them:

A Christmas card from my son Seth, now a teacher, a small business owner and the father of three...

And here's an ornament he made us that met with a few rough scrapes over the years:

And here's Matt back when we called him "Buddy" in pre-school, now a puzzle-solving CPA and father of three:

And Sarah, so sweet, earnest and industrious from an early age, now a college professor at Duke University and mother of three:

And Bethy, in pre-school, charming hearts then... and now a mother of four, a wrap-around care provider and a free-lance editor:

And Zach, back in the four-year-olds Sunday School classroom, now a New York City lawyer and writer:

And Luke's pre-school pics disappeared, so I'll be recreating them this week. I have no idea where they got tucked last year, but that's not unusual around here! At 6' 2" tall and 190 lbs., Luke is our throwback because Dave and I are not big people! In both families, we were the runts of the litters, so we love that Luke ended up on the tall end of the stick because every family needs a Bumble:

So this is Lukie's ornament and Luke gets the honor of putting angels on treetops when he comes home...

And that's what makes this tree so special, and worthy of guarding! :) These memories are decades-old and priceless. They remind me of Christmas past, present and yet to come because we've got new ornaments to hang on our most special of special trees!

A New Generation!!!

More precious ornaments to mark the years, made by more precious children. To me, Christmas is always about the child, the Christ child, and what was given to us in that cool, dark hillside cave. A baby, born in a manger, a child of the poor. So I celebrate children, the gift of all ages... The First Gift of Christmas.

And I'd love to share some old-time Christmas cheer with you guys, so I'm giving away a copy of "A Heart Full of Christmas" and "Home for Christmas", two wonderful collections for Kindles! In the contemporary "Heart Full of Christmas", you'll meet the third Karralis cousin "Jake", and he's the kind of wonderful hero you'll never forget... and then in "Home for Christmas" you'll get my newest historical set in Second Chance, South Dakota, a story of new beginnings, strong men and the even stronger women who helped settle the West! Two sweet collections from top-name authors, written with faith, hope and ... you guessed it! Love.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Danica Favorite & Creating Christmas Traditions on The Christmas Tree Tour

We recently moved to our dream house in the mountains. Well, sort of. We are under construction as we’re having an addition built. With the move, we lost about a thousand square feet of house, but gained an incredible view and somewhere around eight more acres of land. So, for now, we’re cramped in a much smaller house, and most of our stuff is in storage.

The only space we had for a tree is in a small corner of our living room. We don’t have a mantel for our stockings, so they’re hanging out on a shelf in the dining room, which is currently acting as our computer area. 

Despite the challenges, we did our best to give our home a festive feel- it’s cozy but homey and we love it. 

We’re expecting a white Christmas, so with this view, I don’t think we really need a whole lot in the way of d├ęcor. It’s going to be a Christmas to remember. 

For us, it’s not so much about old traditions, but how we are looking forward to creating new traditions and memories in our new home. Next year, we’ll have more space, and who knows what great memories we’ll make!

Lawman on a Mission 

Former deputy Will Lawson is fighting to regain his reputation—and Mary Stone is his only lead to the bandit who framed him. Now that he's tracked Mary to Leadville, Colorado, Will needs the proud beauty to reveal her past. Instead, his efforts spark a mighty inconvenient attraction… 

Mary's only real crime is that she once believed an outlaw's lies. Still, she fears disclosing the truth to Will may land her in jail—and leave her young siblings without protection. Now she must choose between honesty and safeguarding her family. And if Will does clear his own name, can he convince the woman he loves to share it?

A self-professed crazy chicken lady, Danica Favorite loves the adventure of living a creative life. She and her family recently moved in to their dream home in the mountains above Denver, Colorado.  Danica loves to explore the depths of human nature and follow people on the journey to happily ever after. Though the journey is often bumpy, those bumps are what refine imperfect characters as they live the life God created them for. Oops, that just spoiled the ending of all of Danica’s stories. Then again, getting there is all the fun.

You can connect with Danica at the following places:

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Angela Meyer Joins The Great Christmas Tree Tour 2015

Christmas Memory Favorites

I keep thinking that one of these years, I’ll just leave the “some assembly required” tree in the garage and go hunting for a live one, the very smell of which adds to the atmosphere of Christmas. I look forward to the day. Especially with our tall ceilings.

Even if we switch to a live tree, our ornaments will most likely remain our collection of memories we hang. I think my daughter would riot if I put up a coordinated designer tree in its place. My only concern is running out of room since we add to our collection each year. 

We look for something sentimental that represents our life during the year in some way. I also like to collect angel and nativity ornaments. One of my favorite ornaments I found a couple of years ago after my debut novel released: a typewriter with “Once upon a time…” etched into it.

This year, my favorite new memory ornament is this Eagle, Anchor Globe, a gift from my son who is in the Marines.

What is your all-time favorite ornament that hangs on your tree? Or two, or three favorites? 

Where Hope Starts 
In a city full of dreams… Karen Marino’s life is a nightmare. The New York City restaurant manager is a professional success, but her marriage is in shambles. When her husband, Barry shows up drunk at her restaurant, she loses both. She flees The Big Apple and returns to her Midwestern home to sort through her options. But instead of answers, she finds an old boyfriend ready to rekindle romance, a family full of secrets and an angry brother bent on revenge.

Still in New York, Barry fights his own demons. He knows he messed up, but is powerless to stop his rage and addictions. A fistfight on the streets of the city lands him in jail and forces him to face the possibility of a future behind bars. 

Karen knows holding onto her bitterness won’t repair her marriage. But how do you forgive someone when you don’t feel like it? As she searches for the answer, she uncovers the family secret that threatens to tear them all apart. Can she find her way back to the place Where Hope Starts?

Angela D. Meyer lives in Nebraska with her husband of 24 years and their daughter. Their son is now in the Marines. She enjoys good stories, connecting with friends, and a hearty laugh. On her someday-to-do list, she wants to vacation by the sea and ride in a hot air balloon. Stop by and visit Angela on her website:

Announcing Tina Radcliffe's Drawing Winners!

Thank you, Tina, for a fabulous visit and for sharing your holiday traditions!

Here are Tina's THREE drawing winners!

library pat

cheryl c


You may contact Tina at to claim your prizes.

Congratulations and THANKS TO EVERYONE who's been following the Great Christmas Tree Tour 2015!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Visiting Elisabeth Hobbs in The Great Christmas Tree Tour

Cheryl, thanks for letting me play along.  I’m a bit delayed putting my tree up this year because I dislocated my arm a week ago but now we’re back on track.

Every year I say I’m going to buy a huge, real tree but I look at the space I’ve got to fill and remember how long it takes to pick needles out of the carpet and cats.  Then I dig the old fake one out of the loft and say it will do for another year as it is never as bad as I remember it being.  I’d fill the whole house with holly and greenery and beeswax candles and deck my house out like a medieval Great Hall (what else, given the time period I write about?) if I thought the cats and kids would let me get away with it.

While I look on enviously at people with beautifully colour-coordinated trees I’ve never had one because if I spot decorations I buy them whether they match or not.

Each Christmas since my children were born I’ve bought them a new decoration to find in their stocking.  Part of the Christmas morning tradition is adding it to the collection on the tree.  The first job of Tree Decorating Day (important enough to deserve capitals when you’re 8 and 10) is working out which decoration belongs to which child.   It’s very important that they add their own!

I plan to carry on doing this until they leave home, then they can take their decorations with them to start their own trees.  At that point I’ll have a very bare tree and can start buying decorations for myself to fill the gaps.  Maybe at that point I’ll start on colour schemes but I doubt it!

I do have a few of my own decorations, bought, made by my children or presents from a child in my class, which manage to sneak a little space.  I ’m not sure how Yoda appeared but he generally gets to sit somewhere up the top.  I’d love to know if any blog readers have such a strange decoration hanging from their tree.

I had a lovely surprise through the post as my sister-in-law sent me these gorgeous baubles for my tree made from the covers of my books. Maybe I'll ask her to do me a new one for each release!

I’d like to wish love and peace to everyone for the festive season,
whatever and however you celebrate.

'I suppose a kiss of gratitude is out of the question?'

Widowed Lady Eleanor Peyton has chosen a life of independence. Living alone on her rocky coastal outcrop, she’s cut herself off from the world of men — until William Rudhale saves her life and demands a kiss!

As steward to Lady Eleanor’s father, Will knows the desire he burns with is futile — but he’ll still wager he can claim Eleanor’s kiss by midwinter! Yet when the tide turns Will realises vulnerable Eleanor is far too precious to gamble with. Can he win his lady before it’s too late?

Elisabeth grew up in York where she spent most of her teenage years wandering around the city looking for a handsome Roman or Viking to sweep her off her feet. Sadly this never happened, however, inspired by this she took a degree in History and Art History before training as a teacher. Her writing career began when she entered her first novel, Falling for Her Captor, into Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write contest 2013 and finished in third place.
These days she holds down jobs as a part time teacher and full time mom. When she isn't writing, she spends most of her spare time reading and is a pro at cooking one-handed while holding a book.

Elisabeth's other hobbies include skiing, Arabic dance, fencing and exploring dreadful tourist attractions, none of which has made it into a story yet. She loves ginger mojitos, historical fiction and has a fondness for dark haired, bearded heroes.