Thursday, December 7, 2023

Homemade Ornaments

This Week's Newsletter

This week's newsletter contains the following features:
(Feel free to skip ahead to what you want to read)

What's new with Ashleigh?

In my middle grade and young adult newsletter earlier today, I began a conversation on holiday traditions. My family has so many, that I have decided to share a few a day over the course of the month.

Our family loves to make our own ornaments. This tradtition started during my childhood. Growing up, I didn't even realize that not everyone had homemade ornaments on the Christmas tree.

By the time I was in high school, we had so many ornaments that we started decorating two trees. One was only for homemade ornaments. No store-bought ones allowed.

This is a tradition I have passed on to my own children. We have two boxes of ornaments. One contains all the store-bought ones. I have not brought that out of the basement for a couple of years. The other contains the ornaments we place on our tree each year.

Now, I am not a total stickler for the whole "Homemade Only" tree. I will admit, there are a few store-bought ones. The kids like to buy one each year for our family elf. There are some "Baby's First Christmas" or similar ornaments. However, each ornament on our tree has a special meaning. There are even a few ornaments that Mr. Stevens or I made when we were children. The children know how precious they are to us.

What kinds of ornaments do we make each year? The first is our annual family ornament. When my oldest was born, I bought some of those wooden frames shaped like a snowflake. I painted it white (ugh...I still remember it took so many layers!) then dusted it with a snow-like glitter. In each frame I placed a photo of my daughter, who was about ten months old at the time. I made a dozen of these for my both sets of grandparents, the two great-grandmothers who were still alive, all my aunts and uncles, my husband's aunt and uncle, and all my daughter's aunts and uncles.

Each year, I have continued making these ornaments. However, now that the children are older, they help paint and decorate them. They also decide who gets which ornament when we wrap them each year.

Another favorite ornament is our Christmas tree. No, it's not an ornament shaped like a tree. It's the bottom of the trunk. Before bringing the tree inside, Mr. Stevens always saws the bottom to make it even. (Since we've been buying pre-cut trees for a while, this also helps the tree absorb water better, I think.) We take that thin stump and decorate it with a wood-burning kit before hanging it on the tree. The last few years, my oldest has taken over that job. Sometimes we wait until after Christmas to mark it, just so we can remember the best part of the year, such as "The Year of the Missing Presents".

We have many more holiday traditions, which I will be sharing daily throughout the month. If you don't receive my daily emails, feel free to follow the conversation on Bluesky, Facebook, or Instagram.

If you have not received my newsletters from earlier this week, feel free to read about my other family traditions on my website. or follow the conversation on Bluesky, Facebook, or Instagram.

In the meantime,
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

Choose Your Own Path Stories

I know I have paused this story once before, but to be honest, I am a little overwhelmed at the moment. As much as I love providing my readers with new content, my family needs to come first. We are very busy preparing for the holidays and I simply have not had time to write. As much as I enjoy working on this project, I will have to put it aside for now. Perhaps it will return in the new year.

Free Books

Recipe for Disaster

Recipe for Disaster
A Cassie Desmarais Mysteries Prequel

A stolen recipe book brings a taste of disaster to town.

Tragedy strikes the quaint coastal town of Harmony Bay when everyone’s favorite grandmother passes away.

Mia Thomas is in charge of the priceless cookbook, left in the will to Grandma Des’s granddaughter Cassie. It’s a longstanding tradition that the book be passed on to the next female in line and Mia is proud to hand it over.

When the book is stolen, and the police are too busy with the upcoming annual Harmony Bay fair, it’s up to Mia to take matters into her own hands.

But the people on her suspect list include the Mayor’s wife, Agnes Sutton, and the local baker, Dan Caldwell. Mia works against the clock as she tries to find the book before Cassie returns to claim her inheritance, and she needs to do it without stepping on anyone’s toes.

Would you like some free books in exchange for an honest review?

All Genre Giveaway - Ends 12/31 - YA,Romance,Mystery, Read a Book for Free & Write a Review - Ends 1/02 - Mystery,
Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers - Ends 12/30 - Mystery,

Want more free books? Check out these giveaways!

Free Multi-Genre Books - Ends 12/29 - MG,YA,Romance,Mystery, Thriller, Mystery, & Suspense Books - Ends 12/11 - Mystery,
Mystery, Murder, and Revenge Thriller - Ends 12/12 - Mystery, Don't Go In! - Ends 12/15 - Mystery,
Wintertime All Genre Giveaway - Ends 1/28 - YA,Romance,Mystery, Free Mysteries You Can't Put Down - Ends 12/18 - Mystery,
Merrystery - Ends 1/21 - Mystery, The Tales We Tell, For Free - Ends 12/27 - Romance,Mystery,
Free Books for Christmas - Ends 12/30 - Mystery, Free Stories Because it's the Holiday Season - Ends 1/01 - Romance,Mystery,

Do you have Kindle Unlimited? These books are free for you!

Softly, She Floats - Ends 12/09 - Mystery, Fire Up a New KU Story - Ends 12/07 - MG,YA,Romance,Mystery,
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Other Books on Sale

Mischief, Murder & Monkey Mayhem

Mischief, Murder & Monkey Mayhem
A Bed & Breakfast Cozy Mystery

A dead woman checked in at the bed and breakfast... it didn’t sit well with the other guests.

When the wealthy and notorious Lorraine Baker shows up for a room at Avery's charming Mountain Acres Bed and Breakfast, it seems like an ordinary reservation. But by morning, Lorraine is dead, and though it appears she died in her sleep - the monkey thinks otherwise.

As the mystery piles up faster than the fluffy pancakes at breakfast, Avery, along with her sticky-fingered, kleptomaniac Capuchin monkey, Ali, digs into the details of Lorraine's life.

Fake IDs, pending divorce papers, and a stockpile of pilfered pills led Avery to believe Lorraine wasn’t who she claimed to be.

With the unbeknownst help of her detective friend, Chris, Avery sets out to unravel the threads and reveal the true identity of the guest who checked in but never checked out.

You may also be interested in these books

Where Will the Clues Take You? - Ends 12/20 - Mystery, The Weather Outside is Frightful - Ends 1/03 - Mystery,
Books as Christmas Gifts - Ends 12/20 - YA,Romance,Mystery, No Matter How Busy You Are - Ends 12/28 - YA,Romance,Mystery,
December Cozy Mysteries - Ends 1/01 - Mystery, Let it snow - Ends 1/03 - Mystery,
December Thrills - Ends 1/02 - Mystery, It's Book Frenzy - Ends 1/01 - MG,YA,Romance,Mystery,

Ashleigh's Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge Progress

This year is coming to an end. Don't forget to update your progress!

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