Slack Week between Holidays

Daughter and son-in-law packing their Christmas tree we cut down.

This week between Christmas and the new year gives time to stop and reflect and look forward. While the days seem to be lost during this time, I think it’s because we give ourselves permission to think about so much that happened over the year and think about what is to come in the new year.

Reminiscing with family and friends over the holidays is a fun way to look back and remember good times. There is sometimes sadness mixed in with the good, thinking of people who are no longer here, but there is always the brightness of knowing we have another year to look forward to.

Christmas in SE Oregon was white and cold. I loved it! There is nothing like a white Christmas to make the day feel even more festive. The week following is cold. It makes taking care of the animals a little more difficult. Water troughs freeze, the animals are cold and need extra food.

After the chores are finished, it is comfy to sit at my computer with a heater under my desk or in front of my sewing machine while I work on quilts. There is always something to do inside, if the weather outside isn’t pleasant.

I have a hard time understanding people who say they are bored. As a kid I might have uttered it a time or two but as an adult, there is never time to be bored. I can always find something to do. In fact, I never have enough time to do everything I want to do.

What do you do during this week between Christmas and New Years? Do you work, take a vacation? Maybe just spend your time when you aren’t working watching movies or working on a hobby?

The Best Part of This Season

Me in the forest-my happy place

I’m probably not the only person who can’t wait to get their Christmas tree up and decorated. For me it’s not just the tree with lights, sparkly bulbs, and tinsel, it’s the whole process of finding the right tree.

Earlier this week I went with my daughter and her family to get our Christmas trees. My hubby doesn’t like to go, but will if I insist. This time he happened to be out of town, so I hopped in with my daughter and her kids and away we went!

About 2 hours from where we live is the Malheur National Forest. There was 6 inches of snow at the Idlewild campground. The kids were ecstatic! These Alaskan grown kids love their snow! They hopped out of the van and started suiting up in snow pants, boots, coats, and gloves. Then they tied sleds to the back of the pickup.

We headed off on a forest service road toward King Mountain pulling two sleds and three kids. The first part of the road had mostly pines. We were looking for fir trees. At the same Y in the road as we’d stopped the year before, we pulled over and the kids started playing in the snow, building forts and snowmen, while the grownups and the littlest child headed out through the trees looking for the prefect Christmas trees.

Hiking through the forest looking for Christmas trees.

I found my tree first. Or at least I thought it was the tree I wanted. We cut it down, put the permit on, and hauled it back to the pickup. We checked on the kids, who were having a wonderful time and headed a different direction looking for a tree for my daughter.

We marked an X in the snow by one tree along the road and kept looking. We found a small grove of about a dozen trees. My son-in-law and I liked one but my daughter thought the one by the road was better. We hiked back to that one and she said, no, the others were better. So we hiked back to the small grove and she cut down the one we all liked that was there.

It was nice having helpers to get my tree.

When we returned to the truck, the kids were busy rolling large balls of snow and making snowmen. My daughter and son-in-law joined in helping one of the younger siblings make a big snowman. Once everyone agreed they were hungry and ready to head home, we tied down the trees, and set out the sleds so four of the kids could ride the sleds back down to where we’d parked the van.

Snowman in the works.
Enjoying my tree.

Back home, I hauled my tree into the house and realized it was going to take up too much room. After toppling it once, drilling holes and putting in limbs where there were bare spots, I decided to cut the bottom 3 feet off the tree to make it fit where I wanted in the first place. The limbs I cut off went to my daughter to make wreaths and boughs for decorating her house.

With my tree chopped down to a size I could decorate by myself, I enjoyed putting on the lights, ornaments, and tinsel. It isn’t a perfect tree, but it makes me smile when I look at it.

I hope you all have a special event you do each year that makes you happy!

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are spending this day, or weekend, with people you care about or how you wish to celebrate or not celebrate this time of year.

We are spending the day with our family who live down the road. We see them all the time, and we live rural. One of the perks of being rural. 😉

As always at the end of the year, I figure out what I’ve accomplished and where I want to go with my writing. I am ending a mystery series. The last book is written and will be published in early 2021. I’m starting a new murder mystery series that I’m nervous and excited about. It’s requiring a lot of research because it is set in a business I know nothing about- Indian run casinos. And the protagonist is female disable veteran. Lots to learn!

I’m excited to write the next Gabriel Hawke book which will deal with Missing and Murdered Indigenous women. I know that sounds bad to say I’m excited about writing it. But what I really mean, is I hope by using this as a premise in my book, I can shed more light on the problem. And 75% of the proceeds from this book will go to the MMIW organization.

If you haven’t had a chance to start the Shandra Higheagle murder mystery series, or have been putting off getting the 7th book in the series, Yuletide Slaying, it is available right now at all ebook venues for $0.99. It was picked by Books2Read for a special Christmas promotion. http://d2d.tips/diehardchristmas 

The best part of Christmas to me is finding the perfect gift for each friend and family member. I love the search, wrapping the gift, and then the look on their faces when they open the gift. That and spending the day together, playing cards, visiting, and enjoying good food.

Wishing you a fabulous Christmas and a New Year that brings you all the joy and love you could ever wish for!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Itching to Decorate for Christmas & Party!

As hubby keeps saying, “It isn’t Thanksgiving yet!” However, last year for some reason, I can’t remember, we only had the decorations up for a few weeks and I felt slighted. I feel like I need to get the decorations up so I can enjoy them longer. I’ve already started listening to Christmas music- Penatonixs- but I’m still not ready to gorge on Hallmark Christmas movies.

I’m also going to be gone all next week at a writing retreat on the coast. Which will cut into time to get other things done *cough* Christmas presents *cough*. I always sew something for the grandkids. I know my kids enjoyed when my mom would give them things she made herself.

And, I’ll lose a week in December when I travel to Wisconsin with my daughter to pick up pigs. You can believe I’ll be blogging about that trip!

My Norfolk Pine with lights

The more I think and write about this, I will take down some of the Fall decorations and be prepared to have our oldest daughter and her girls along with another granddaughter help me decorate the house the day after Thanksgiving! Then it will be finished and I won’t have to worry about it when I’m on the trip.

How about you? Do you like to decorate or have your house decorated for the holidays? I tend to do something for every season/holiday. It makes the house look happy.

I’m having a “Where in the world is Isabella Mumphrey?” Facebook party to reveal the new covers for my Isabella Mumphrey action adventure/suspense/thriller trilogy. There will be clues and those who leave the correct answers will be in the running for some great prizes. Books, gift cards, tote bags, swag, and other goodies.

So join me Nov. 14th on Facebook. Sign in that you are attending today so you will be ready to join the fun at 5 pm PST.

https://www.facebook.com/events/471554667120961

And book 1 Secrets of a Mayan Moon is on sale in ebook for $0.99 through the weekend.

Secrets of a Mayan Moon

Book one of the Isabella Mumphrey Adventure series

Move over Indiana Jones and MacGyver- Isabella Mumphrey has arrived!

Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job. Unless she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can. She heads to Guatemala at the request of her mentor, but drug trafficking bad guys and artifact thieves wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions.

When undercover DEA agent, Tino Kostantine, meets Dr. Mumphrey it’s obvious she’s never been in a jungle or outside of the States. Entangled in helping her discover the truth in the tablets may make both of them lost casualties buried forever.

https://books2read.com/u/bzQEE4

Merry Christmas!

I can’t believe December is half way over and I hadn’t blogged here since November!

Life has been kicking my bootie! I put a lot of miles on my car the last month. Visits to my dad, book signings, and dentist trips. If you are an ice chewer or love hard crunchy foods, stop now before your teeth start falling apart!

With all the traveling and preparing for Christmas, my writing has been on the back burner. This week, I’d planned to get back in book 14 of the Shandra Higheagle series, but I find my narrator for book 2 in the Gabriel Hawke series has finished the reading, and I need to listen to those. So I may not get to Shandra and Ryan’s trip to Hawaii until next week, or even January.

Beach in Hawaii that may end up in a book…

It’s going to take a lot of discipline when I get back to writing. After seeing how hard it was to manage the goals I’d set for this year, I’ve backed off a bit, and have down to write two Gabriel Hawke books and 3 Shandra books this coming year. So 5 books total. I had tired for 7 this year and didn’t make it. Too many things came up and 2 trips of a lifetime.

The good thing is those trips are going to go into books. Which will help me remember the fun I had.

Gingerbread cookies! Yum!

I have been baking for friends an neighbors. That is one of my favorite things about this time of year. Sharing something I’m fairly good at. But I’ll have to say… watching the Cookie and Gingerbread challenges on TV has taught me a few things I didn’t know and I’ve been incorporating into my baking this year. We’ll see if the people who receive my goodies enjoy the changes. 😉

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas filled with family and friends and you are healthy and prosperous in the new year, 2020!

A Cowboy Christmas with Shanna Hatfield

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The jangle of spurs mingles with the jingle of sleigh bells in this celebration of Christmas, cowboy style….

A Cowboy Christmas Western Celebrations, Recipes, and Traditions By Shanna Hatfield (October 2019 • 304 pages • 978-1493042340 • Cloth •$26.95)

Through photos, interviews, 15 how-to’s, and 75 recipes, this book offers a guide to creating your own Cowboy Christmas and a celebration of the style, traditions, food, and family celebrations unique to the lifestyles of American cowboys. Featuring ranch families, rodeo cowboys, and communities with western-style Christmas celebrations, this book will highlight the things that make a Cowboy Christmas special. Each chapter will feature traditions, recipes, decorations, and stories from the interviewees.


From October 1 through December 24, Shanna is donating 10 percent of the proceeds from all her book sales (not just A Cowboy Christmasto the JCCF through her Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign. 

To check out a recipe, learn more about what is in the book, and to purchase visit Shanna’s website: https://shannahatfield.com/book/a-cowboy-christmas/

USA Today bestselling author Shanna Hatfield is a farm girl who loves to write. Her sweet historical romances are filled with sarcasm, humor, hope, and hunky heroes.  When Shanna isn’t dreaming up unforgettable characters, twisting plots, snapping photos, or trying new recipes, she hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, at their home near Walla Walla, Washington.