It’s Monday before Christmas for us, and the house is a swirl of pre-holiday chaos. Presents have been arriving via mail, and small towers of randomly sized boxes are leaning precariously in the corners. The gift wrapping station has taken over the dining room table, the quilting cutting mat barely fitting among the bows and tubes of holiday wrapping paper. Sparkly bows occasionally find their way to the pets somehow, and cute pictures are snapped before the little beasts shrug them off.
The day is cold and grey. Rain is sifting from the sky, painting gloom on the Texas landscape. Sometimes it picks up and drums a soft beat on the chimney in the study, reminding us that we need to replace the chimney cap. The grass is lush and green, about the only time it is that green in Hill Country, the sky is an ominous blue grey, and the whole place looks like the setting for a Northern UK crime drama.
The dreary weather has been nipping at the old bulldog, and every morning she faithfully assumes her post by the fireplace in hopes of a fire being started. Today is too warm for a fire, so she decided to join me in the study. Tubby is asleep on the couch, snug and warm in a blanket.
Nykie has finally settled down as well, but first she trailed me through the house as I took holiday pictures for this post, and the iPhone unerringly focused on her in every shot as if to say, “Yes, yes, the tree is nice, but have you noticed this cute black dog?”
This year we bought a new tree.
The last 6 weeks have been a long marathon of focused writing and release preparations, punctuated by an occasional splash of anxiety over the merchandise store and the unexpected curveballs life is so fond of throwing. On the day after Thanksgiving, I stopped editing for a moment to take a much needed breath and realized I was dreading putting the tree up. Dragging the 7 sections from the shed, wrestling with scratchy plastic branches, trying to fit them together, then trying to stab the top into it somehow while perched on a ladder… None of it seemed appealing. And decorating it required so much climbing.
I was actually dreading Christmas, my favorite holiday. It turned out that Gordon was in the same boat. We looked at each other, and one of us said, “Why don’t we get something more manageable?” And so we did.
It is a Balsam Hill tree, prelit with soft white and frosted. We put it together in about 10 minutes with no fuss. Then it waited for a few days, until I finally pushed away the books and files, and announced that I would decorate it if it was the last thing I would do that day. Gordon brewed some decaff coffee, and we hung up the decorations together, sipping our coffee and sorting through the glass birds and glittering icicles looking for the best ones. It only took half an hour and was over too soon.
The old tree, a 12 foot monster, is spending this Christmas in a storage shed, waiting to be donated. It still looks great even after 5 years of use, so my hope is, this new one will last as long and will be worth the investment.
This year the holiday decorating inside our house brings me comfort. I notice all of it, the little funny pigs, the deer with glitter horns, the tree, the outside lights Gordon and I put up – that will be a story for tomorrow – it all adds up to wrap me up in this kind of warmth. It wasn’t that way last year or a year before. Was it this way before pandemic? I don’t remember.
The two releases close together generate a lot of stress. In 90 minutes, we have a zoom with GA regarding Kate Daniels adaptations. The store is a constant source of worry right now, because not being able to review each item as it is printed tips all of my micromanaging sensors. I hope and pray that everything is printed correctly. As I write this, Natanya is asking me for the background image so she can design the wrap-around cover for the print edition of Magic Tides. The list of tasks that need to be done is hanging somewhere in the air above my head: answer emails, implement edits, get the list of ARC reviewers for Magic Tides, finish wrapping, buy a holiday roast, purchase last minute gifts…
At night I settle on the couch to cross-stitch and watch a little TV. I’ve stumbled on Drink Master completion on Netflix, and I really like it, even though I’m not much of a drinker. Yesterday I watched an episode featuring a very accomplished pastry chef. The contestants had to create a dessert-inspired cocktail, and one of the judges stated that it wasn’t something mixologists are typically comfortable with.
The chef smiled and said, “Isn’t that what life is all about? Being comfortable with being uncomfortable?”
It’s so true. Getting through high school, going to college or starting a new training course, opening a new business, releasing a new book, showing your painting to someone else, speaking in front of an audience, moving to a new house, starting a merchandise store, all of it makes us uncomfortable. We have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable to accomplish anything, because things are always difficult and anxiety-inducing at the start. Life is about coming to terms with that discomfort and pushing through. Whether the new adventure turns out to be a mistake doesn’t matter. At least we all tried.
And that’s my random thought for today. Mod R is very insistent that I let you know Sweep of the Heart is now available for preorder on Audible. I have to go now to put out some admin fires. I hope your Monday is warm and happy.
PS Mod R: We are checking on the Audible price, please wait a bit on the preorder until we can confirm. Thank you!
Moderator R says
We won’t be doing Firsts outside of Blog serials, after vociferous feedback on the matter.
(But yes :D)
Other Barbara says
Love our authorlords, adore BDH. Love Mod-r
Have a safe, joyful well fed and warm week.
+1 Well said.
The tree is beautiful:-)
Enjoy all the peaceful moments found in this hurly burly time. Even just 30 minutes w coffee and decorations.
We are currently in the last leg of our journey back to the ‘burg, and I treated myself to reading all of the comments.
Thank you so much for sharing your artistic gifts, for allowing us to feel a part of the journey, and for sharing a part of your personal self.
Wishing a very Merry Christmas to House Andrews! Thank you for the wonderful post. 🎄🎁❤️
I stumbled across Drink Master and binged it. I don’t think I’d want to drink most of the final products, but I love the set and the ideas. I’m determined to try to make the “caviar” some day.
Thanks for the Audible link! I had checked as recently as yesterday. Even though I have the ebook, I love listening to the story.
Have a wonderful holiday!
Am I the only one logging into GA every Monday to see if there’s a pre-order available for Magic Bites, even though I KNOW they probably haven’t even started yet? No one else? Ok! I simply can’t wait, I might cry when I finally see it on GA. People save up for buying a house, a car, education, etc. while I’m saving up for buying the KD series on GA 😀
Moderator R says
We don’t have an exact date, but spring next year is probably the earliest it will show up 🙂
And I thought I was the only one 😂 😂 😂
We can have a cry party together when we see the KD series on GA…
Stephanie McBee says
I know they said spring in the beginning but I check consistently too! Like Im going to miss the release of I cant Preorder ha ha ha ha. No you are not alone
I‘m sorry I seem to lack some information… what is GA? 😅
Moderator R says
Graphic Audio 🙂 . They are an audiobook publisher, with the tagline “A Movie in your Mind”- as they specialise in full cast dramatizations (each character voiced by a different actor, sound effects, soundtrack etc).
So far, they have adapted the first 5 books of the Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews https://www.graphicaudiointernational.net/our-productions/series/innkeeper-chronicles.html and are about to embark on the Kate Daniels project.
Hope this helps 🙂
Oh wow, how did I NOT know about this! This is great! Going to check it out now 😊
Thank you, Mod R for your quick reply – you are our fountain of wisdom and knowledge! And Merry Christmas!
Anne Luree says
Thank you for your thoughts on being comfortable with being uncomfortable. This was very timely for me. I copied it in the back of my notebook to read again. I can’t wait for my print copy of the new Innkeeper to arrive. Thank you for your gifts of creativity.
yes, thank you. I’m going to read it to my little girls who really struggle with anything new.
Merry Christmas, House Andrews. Your tree is just beautiful. I love it.
Best wishes to you and your family!
Wishing a merry and bright holiday season to House Andrews, Mod R, and all the fluffy BDH. Ilona, your tree is beautiful, and having it make you happy, well, that’s really the whole point, isn’t it?
If old dog likes warmth, a heated bed may appeal. https://www.amazon.com/Toozey-Heating-Electric-Resistant-Steel/dp/B07WDS9C4G/ref=sr_1_5
Judy Schultheis says
Thirty-some-odd years ago, I received the best compliment I will likely ever get.
One of my dearest friends at the time told me that I had one foot in Kansas and one foot in Oz and both of them firmly on the ground.
I am very much a creature of habit, but change doesn’t bother me because I figured out when I was quite young that it was going to happen whether anybody wanted it to or not.
Eleanor W says
That’s a wonderful compliment! I have to settle for “finding serenity in the face of discomfort,” which is hit or miss. Speaking of missing, I missed seeing Tuna during the Wednesday Zoom-inar (so much fun!). I hope all is well in the feline department.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays! Thank you to HA and Mod R for everything you do, and to the BDH for the delightful comments/conversations that add enjoyment to my day.
Here’s to Kansas and OZ!
I bought all solar lights for outdoor decorating. For the environment my neighbors asked. Nope. No electric bill and even better, no trying to figure out extension cords or timers. Once the battery runs down out goes the lights . Sometimes I get a whole night of lights. Biggest hassle were the 3 m hooks. They may show the hooks outside but as a neighbor mentioned, when the temperature goes below 32 the dumb things fall off. But it still was so much easier than electric. And thanks to Amazon there are some really cool ones.
Have an awesome Christmas any way you decorate!
Amy Ann says
I am doing that next year. I am not putting outdoor lights up this year because they were all tangled up and some sections were burned out and I just do not want to try to figure out which bulb is the culprit. Plus, the electric bill in this year of inflation. And climbing up and down the ladder trying to position everything. I have convinced myself I don’t need them this year. So they will be trashed and I’ll get new solar ones next year!
Brenda Harry says
I love the wee piggies! No XMas tree for me this year as I’m in the middle of moving from Texas to Missouri. I am planning on doing some serious raiding on the 26th as I have an entire house to buy decorations for next year including a live evergreen that has to be at least 10-12 ft high in the front yard. Lights only mind you. Waiting on SotH audio in both Audible and GA. I have both sets on Audible as well as GA.
Patricia Schlorke says
I wish you well with the moving. If you don’t already know, Missouri has sales tax on food, and they have a state tax along with the federal tax. I use to live in Missouri long ago.
The scenery is beautiful regardless of where you live there. 🙂
Your tree is spectacular! So glad you made the decision to buy it. Ours is about four feet and is all one piece. It suits us. I know you have so much going on, but I very much hope you can let go and enjoy the holiday with your family. Warmest wishes to you and Gordon and the kids. You all deserve a great holiday! 🥰🥰
Love the little pigs!! And the dogs! And a new tree!
Went to a friend’s Christmas concert yesterday. All the holiday feelings from the songs she performed. This year, the season feels like Christmas the way I remember as a kid. Got my cards done and mailing them today.
Merry Christmas, I love your beautiful tree! We put up an 18 inch one with ornaments from my childhood and ones my daughter and I made for my Dad’s little tree 30 years ago. I also have a big nativity. Once you start collecting relatives get you more and more through the decades.
Where did you get the pigs? They’re so cute. The tree is beautiful.
Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to everyone
Moderator R says
Thank you for the gift of your blogs!
I have my 5yr old Balsam Hill tree and still love its ease of assembly and beauty. I’m so glad you’re happy with yours too.
Sending you lots of hugs and best wishes for a season of less stress and more joyful moments.
Yay! Tree looks great, and obviously the camera would focus on that dog because she is adorable! If you have HBOmax I also recommend the Big Brunch, which is a food competition show with very comfy happy vibes. Happy holidays, House Andrews!
A beautiful post. It brightened my day. Thank You.
Happy Holidays to House Andrews, and a very Joyful New Year.
Peace and Blessings to all.
Question re: Audible
Do you know what the whispersync price will be for folks who already bought the kindle ebook? I’m trying to decide if I should preorder with a credit or wait until release (sometimes the whispersync price is worth it if it’s lower than the value of a credit).
Moderator R says
Amazon is in charge of pricing, so the best advice is to wait and purchase based on what is offered in your country 🙂
Judy Schultheis says
I bought the audiobooks to link with my Kindle purchases. $7.49 each, and an Audible membership isn’t required.
I decided to preorder with a credit anyway since credits are only $8.13 USD on sale right now.
Our two trees are up – one 5 ft tall for me to decorate, and one 1 ft tall for the kid – I accidentally stumbled upon that option a few years ago and it was a huge hit. I get to have a tree decorated in silver, and the little tree gets to showcase all the Paw Patrol, M&Ms, and assorted other branded content 🙈 Both of us are happy 😊
Happy holidays to one and all!
Churches and Schools often would love a big tree donation. I used to sell them, so I know. Also, prelit trees still need bulbs replaced as they burn out. plan on needing a pack or two of bulbs a year, to keep it running well. 🙂
Debbie B says
I suggest getting (a) plug-in pet heating mat(s) for those days when it’s too warm for humans, but fur child(ren) desire More Warmth;there are static temp models And adjustable ones also. Another option is using Sweeter Heater(not adjustable) that has a ‘hanging’ & side-mounting. We’ve used some of both, in our chicken flock set-up and outdoor dog crate(house wrecker), that’s most weather protected. The flock gets non-frozen food, we get non-frozen eggs(when laying), the dog gets to Be Out, yet restrained, not running/jumping fences, comfortably.
When you mentioned dessert-drinks, I’d just done some reading for some hours, about Layered drinks, the various glasses, differing spirits, and dessert drinks, this past weekend. Most I’ll never try as family issues, both sides, have cautioned against much imbibing, much of life, but very interesting!
May be a hot tub as a relaxation investment? There are some, easy to set-up/take-down, as small as 2 seaters, to consider…! Rest and reinvigorate!
Debbie B says
And we had to give up Christmas Trees, due to rambunctious cats! We all seen the videos, you all know the stories, that I needn’t write some here, except that even years later a tiny ornament will be found.
This is just what I needed to hear today in the hospital. Life is really about being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Moderator R says
Get well soon!
Patricia Schlorke says
Happy holidays to everyone. I didn’t put up a tree this year. Some years I do; some I don’t. Stay warm (or cool depending where in the world you are) and enjoy!
Deep breaths. deep breaths. Before you know it the holidays will be over.
I love those pigs! Your tree is beautiful and your pups are so cute! I am so happy that you’re enjoying the season this year. Although you have a lot on your plate, I so appreciate you taking the time to give us a peek into House Andrews.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!
Your tree is beautiful! Kudos to you for making a switch that brought you happiness. 😊
I wish you all a holiday season filled with as much peace and happiness as you can get. We all have to take it whenever we can. 🤗
Your closing remarks were very uplifting for me today. Thank you. ((Hugs))
There is a typo length of audio book 1 min
Sweep may not sell
Moderator R says
Sweep is a best seller already 🙂 .
Once the system checks the final audio files, the duration will be updated automatically.
I got a Balsalm hill pre lit tree a few years ago and it was such a good decision. So much less faffing around and looks great. Except for this year where for the life of me I could not figure out where the connector was for the bottom section of the tree lights to attach to the rest. After 2 hours, a glass of red and fruitless searching whilst watching Strictly, I’ve decided that a tree with no lights on the bottom is fine
Still need to finish Christmas emails, Facebook Messenger, and electronic Christmas cards. Arrrgh! And get cake for Christmas dinner but I can’t get it today and needs to be just before The Day so it is fresh and tasty. My brain is fried.
“…it all adds up to wrap me up in this kind of warmth.”
OH. This is why I want to light the candle in my lantern constantly. It’s time to find some bells and pine boughs.
Brain is fried not fired.
Moderator R says
Fixed it for you 🙂
I hope your family enjoys a wonderful and restful Christmas. The older I get the more I realize it is the family time that matters most.
I do have a quick question. I went to Amazon to order the Audible Sweep of the Heart because I love to listen to your books while I hand sew. But it is showing a $42 list price. I have never paid that much before. Is that a correct price?
Moderator R says
Hi Caroline, I’m going to check this for you 🙂
Happiest of Holidays to everyone…and hope of comfort and good memories for those that the holiday times are not happy. Thank you, House Andrews, for the joy you bring us and here’s to a less stressful New Year!
Lina Christenson says
That is so true! And I really needed to hear that right now.
I’ve finally decided, after much thinking and “letting it settle in” to move to the country next year. And I go from being excited about all the things I will be able to do to the house and the renovations we will be able to afford now that we won’t have to pay rent (capital city rent too…), and drawing every room and which furniture will go were and planning when the best time to move will be, and in which order… To getting panicked in the evenings when I’m tired, or last week when I had a cold and was ill, and then everything feels too much, I don’t want to pack EVERYTHING and then have to unpack it again, and it won’t be in the “right place”, and how will I fit this or that in, and will there be room for my super British Christmas decorations in the country house, and on and on my brain goes. Even though I am very good at creating structure, planning and getting things done in the right order! It’s my thing! The thing my friends and family, and anyone I know, would probably put on top when describing me… So I know I can do this. Probably quite smoothly too.
So I realize it’s all about that “pushing your comfort zone”. I find that harder and harder the older I get, and the more stress I’ve had in my life. So that little sentence actually reinforced my determination to push myself to take the step I’ve thought about, planned for and yearned for since I realised it was realisticly possible (during the pandemic, when we moved out to our country house), and not to let fear of the unknown, or physical and emotional tiredness trick me into making my dreams and my world smaller…
I was having some wobbling just today, because the carpenter is installing new windows and the house is a bit messy, and I can’t clean it up or put the Christmas decorations I moved back into my home office, and so I’m stressing. So reading this helped me take that step back and just… It’s ok, I’m ok, it’sall gonna be ok. I’m even lucky enough to have a wonderful contractor who made sure he will be done by Christmas, even though the windows were two weeks late! How lucky is that? I’m gonna take it as a sign for the good fortunes of our moving plans… 🤞
I feel your window pain, we had ours replaced this week and what a kerfluffle! Move things here, move things there, house wide open in 42F weather yadda yadda yadda. I hope you are as pleased with your new windows as we are with ours.
Fortunately I had Sweep of the Heart to keep me happy! Happy holidays to all the BDH, the marvelous Moderator R and especially to House Andrews.
Oh, Mimi, that’s a great name—Marvelous Moderator R. I’ll remember to call her that.
Happy holidays and thank you for the wonderful things you do for the BHD!
I just finished Sweep of the Heart and eeeeeekkkkkk!!!! Much excitement! Told my husband he needs to hurry up and finish it so we can talk 🙂
Please take time for yourselves to rest and recharge 🙂
The new tree is really nice! I got out a minimal amount of my collection this year as I just haven’t been in the mood. Maybe I’ll find a nice new tree next year. I almost did, but when I finally settled on one, they were gone. C’est la vie.
Enjoy the holidays all and stay safe and warm.
BreAnns Mitchell says
Any news on when the physical copy for the new Kate book is going to be available to order?
Moderator R says
We will update the blog as soon as we have a date 🙂
A gorgeous post to read this morning. I’m sending you, the rest of House Andrews and Mod R lots of Christmas joy and peace from a warm and wet NZ. Thank you for everything you do for us. X (PS loved loved loved Sweep, didn’t read the serials so I could gobble the book, worth the wait!).
Cheryl M says
Merry Christmas! Our first in our new house, and husband decided to wear some ornaments as jewelry as we decorated the tree. One of them hit the ceramic tile floor. It is rather unforgiving when it comes to crystal. Sigh.
I really like Balsamhill trees and their ornaments. I have a small tree up with all my cat and dog ornaments. I had been going to put up the 7 foot tree in the basement but got lazy. Lucky for me because there was a flood down there.
I love white trees but they yellow with age which is sad and they also shed. The Denali white tree from Balsamhill looks promising but I can’t justify that
Merry , happy to all
I’m so happy GA might take on KA. I love their Innkeeper versions. Can’t wait!
Have you seen Blown Away on Netflix? They have done three seasons and a holiday special. I had seen all three seasons and stumbled across the holiday season on my suggested watch list. I adore it, even if I’m not a huge fan of the host. So cool to see the different artists work with glass. I so want to get out to a local place and see it live and in person now that the pandemic closure has ended. I’ll have to check out Drink Masters. I had been skipping it in favor of medical documentaries (if you like that kind of docu, Lenox Hill and Diagnosis are excellent IMO).
Terry C says
Be very VERY careful with the flocking on your tree! Apparently it can be toxic for cats and dogs to ingest. This cautionary warning has been making the rounds here in Canada and I’ll assume your artificial trees are imported from China as well. Other than that, have a wonderful, peaceful holiday! Much love 💕 💕💕💕
Moderator R says
From previous years I know that House Andrews pets are not interested in the tree 🙂 but thank you for the warning!
The tree is absolutely beautiful! And I’ve been able to sample drinks from four of the “Drink Masters” through a cocktail subscription box (SHAKERANDSPOON.com) that helped me learn mixology and got me through COVID, somewhat, with sanity intact. They are good people.
Your Christmas looks beautiful and cozy. I hope you grab every chance you get to sit and enjoy it.
Merry Christmas House Andrews! I hope you have a restful and refreshing time!
Another vote here for loving Drinks Masters (and as a non drinker as well!), also on Netflix have you caught the American BBQ Showdown (their first in the Great British Bake-off/Baking Show models), I’m convinced one of the competitors is Captain Janeway in disguise and a new one out this week – Cook at all Costs? I’ve enjoyed both of those.
Beautiful Tree, just need to get mine up now.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from me and mine to you and yours. 🎄🎁🎉🥂
Your next to last paragraph really resonated with me. I am that person about comfort and even just change.
Christmas tree is gorgeous!!
Have a Wonderful Holiday!!!
Terrie C says
i have a request if possible. at one time you had photos of all the contestants. I did not read the book when you had posted it on your site as i like to wait until the book comes out.
could you repost the pictures of the candidates I am having a little difficulty remembering what the candidates looked like and who belonged to who.
Moderator R says
There are lists at the end of the book which contain an index of the characters, with physical description and faction. You have a short list for quick referral and a longer with further insights to help you afix them 🙂
Thank you. Now I hope my Kindle does not lose my last page LOL.
Happy Holidays to all
Bill G says
Warm and cozy is nice, but it’s also necessary to be able to leave one’s comfort zone.
Jessie West says
What a lovely tree!
Cute tree and puppies!!! Hope you have a relaxing holiday!
Love the new tree-it’s gorgeous! Just ordered the audio of SotH on Audible. Happy holidays to House Andrews, Mod R and the BDH.
Your Christmas-y house looks lovely. I hope your holidays are joyous and filled with family and friends (furry and not).
Thank you for the wonderful gifts you gave the BDH this year – not only SotH, but Magic Tides! So very grateful!
My minimal decorations are up – the wreath on the door and the aluminum cut out tree – and I even added a bowl of assorted (plastic, because – cats) ornaments. I looked at a more realistic tree, but didn’t see a little one I liked. Perhaps next year on that.
It’s been 30 plus years since I wanted to decorate for Christmas – 20 years of working in retail and 10+ years of recovery. I never did get my “Bah, Humbug” sign. It was my only Christmas request for years…
My big gift this year is my daughter and son-in-law coming down from Baltimore for the holidays. I hope I have convinced them that I will not be ready for them to leave after 3 days, but I will take it if they feel the need to go.
May everyone have the holiday they desire this year. Best wishes always…
Hope they bring you some good crab cakes! Our family Xmas Eve tradition is to have delicious crab cakes and drive around looking at the lights…
Thank you so much for this post! Your writing is so lovely, whether it’s about the most ordinary things or magic and monsters and intrigue. You’ve inspired me to bring myself some coziness, get some things done, and welcome (ish) my discomfort in between semesters, with a big transition to college coming up. I love those little pigs and I hope all of HA has a lovely Christmas!
Merry Christmas House Andrews. Thank you for all the joy you have brought me this year. May 2023 be filled with more (mildly) uncomfortable opportunities for growth.
“It’s so pretty it makes me happy every time I see it.” Isn’t that what holiday decorating should be about?
Thanks for sharing the pretty so we can be happy, too. 🙂
Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season. Hope all the joy and good will to you and everybody else out in the world. Everybody who reads this comment have a Happy Holiday Season and good will in the new year 2023
Thank you for this. I also watched drinkmaster. And that line also stuck with me. I woke up this morning after a horrible vivid dream where I had thrown a piece of plastic rubbish and it had cut my dog in half (almost) and I had spent the rest of the dream trying to get to the vet. I woke up crying and kept crying for twenty minutes in real life my dog is fine if a little over fed. I’m trying to pull off a bunch of things in my work:business life and Christmas and parenting and that feeling of utter uselessness that hounded me through that dream is permeating my life currently. Subversively raising its head saying yep I’m still here you’re still useless. Which obviously isn’t true but my god the stories we tell ourselves. So yesterday I hit pause and had a bath and read Kate Daniels for the 200th (or what it seems like) time and lost myself in that. That’s what your words bring, joy and escape and a pause from our own expectations our own lives. Thank you for that.
That’s the toughest part of dreams – where you keep trying to get somewhere important (even if it’s only Away from whatever’s chasing you) and you just can’t. You’re not useless. You’re a parent who’s trying to get through Christmas and work while parenting. Good for you for taking a break from putting one foot in front of the other. You can’t keep doing the latter forever without doing the former when necessary. Merry Christmas, and then Happy New Year.
Your tree is gorgeous. And whoever gets your donated tree will be V V happy also. Now breathe- year is almost over the BDH is BV Happy and the Merch store has great items.
Kat in NJ says
HA, your new tree is just beautiful! I totally sympathize with dreading setting up a tree. We always get a real tree (which is turned to mulch after the holidays), but I (the busiest person in the house: the present buyer, present wrapper, menu planner, cook, and chief bottle washer!) always seem to be the one ‘cheerleading’ us into getting a tree. We always end up setting it up on Christmas Eve (but leave it up until Little Christmas, 2nd week of January.) The times I have threatened that we won’t get a tree have been met with LOUD howls of protest…and next year, there I am cheerleading again! Oh well, no worries: it is always worth it (once the work is done) and I do enjoy it. There’s something so peaceful and lovely about sitting quietly and just enjoying this time of year…
I am sorry that the store is causing you much stress, but I think all of the BDH agrees that we are happy with whatever we get, perfect or not…so please try to relax, it’s all good. And you are so right, life is all about geting comfortable with being uncomfortable. I think I have heard that vineyards in France don’t baby their vines, as the vines that have to deal with the worst weather, drought, wind, etc. produce the best grapes. I bet it’s the same with people.
Here’s wishing everyone *HA, ModR, and the BDH) wonderful holidays and the best year yet in 2023!
Noël S says
Your tree is so beautiful that I find it tempting to buy one. I live in Oregon though, my husband works in the woods, and I’m not allergic to the tree (I don’t think? So many allergies). It’s so much like a real tree with a light dusting of snow. I think I’ll look up Balsam trees and bookmark it for when I am old and don’t want to fuss with a real tree.
Happy Christmas Andrews!
Happy Winter holidays everyone!
Donna A says
Christmas has leapt out this year as we’ve been preoccupied with “hospital stuff” that just finished last week. And now suddenly it seems like BANG it’s Christmas and rush, rush, rush. Craziness to follow. Though seems likely to be the quietest one in a very long time so not too much madness. But the last minute wrapping has been a bit back-breaking (I normally do it piecemeal through November).
Anyway, hope everyone has a great holiday season and New Year.
I have 2 heated mats for the poodle beast. (she has 3 beds, don’t judge me). They are worth every single penny. She lounges on her office bed while I’m working and will sleep on her back with her paws in the air, snores sounding like and old fashioned percolator coffee pot
Bill from NJ says
Hah I know the feeling about being uncomfortable with the new. last week my company Holiday party was in lower Manhattan. The company would reimburse an Uber from there to my house in northern NJ..but I have never used Uber. Plus the weather was bad&I figured there would be a long weight for the Uber..so I took the train in in the morning, figure I would do it that night. Got to the train okay at Penn Station the night (just made it), was happy. but then the train was stopped 5 stations from mine, the overhead wire was down bc of a tree down ( it was pouring and windy). Before I could think I called my wife, she got me,it was like 20m from our house. I could have done Uber there too….and ppl who took Uber from the party said it went fine. maybe universe was trying to tl me something.
We bought a Balsam Hill tree 2 years ago when the live tree we had cut ourselves died before I could decorate it,we had a tradition of cutting our own at a tree farm since we moved to this house ( I suspect the bucket I had it in may have had some kind of chemical in it,).
anyway the tree is great, it goes up easily and looks fantastic. piece of trivia, the first plastic artificial trees were made by a toilet brush company in the 1930s….
I read this and thought “Didn’t they just get a monster tree last year?” It’s amazing to think just how long I have been reading your blog. I don’t read blogs.
We have our tree up. I was sick. the kids threw a fit and so I hauled myself up and helped husband fluff it. The kids helped husband hang the ornaments.
The new-ish dog ate one of the soft ornaments, so they’re up higher now and only durable presents are under the tree in advance. Mostly unwrapped, to the confusion of my in-laws. But we’ll get there.
Last year I looked at my 10 ft three piece, very heavy Christmas tree and I balked. I also bought Balsam Hill, prelit at 6 ft. I love it. So easy. I put it up right after Thanksgiving and hopefully take down after Little Christmas. Merry Christmas and thanks again for a great week of surprises! 🌲⭐️ 🌲
We adore our Balsam Hill tree and it is now 3 or 4 years old and doing great!
I am a fan of the flip-it Balsam hills trees. Two pieces and prelit. plus it rolls and can store in the coat closet. We put the tree up the first Sunday for time change. Helps to have pretty sparkly light to combat gloomy short days. Decorating on Thanksgiving weekend. I do miss the smell of fresh pine needles, but I can go outside and commune with my blue spruce if I feel the need. 😊
I too am enjoying the Xmas decorations at home this year like a cheerful 6-year old. Let’s hear it for fun!
This year, everyone I know seems to have slowed down; enjoying pieces of the season as they fit in their lives, rather than stretching to achieve, Martha-Stewart style. Perhaps it’s a silver lining of the Covid years, a relearning that sometimes less is more.
Anyway. Loved the Magic Tides snippet. Thanks muchly. And happy happy holidays.
Judy Siud says
Happy Holidays to everyone. Thanks for all your books and snippets and voting on characters, etc. It’s lots of fun. Mod R keeps the BDH well informed and inline. Have you thought about putting Orro on a mug?
Thank you so much for the tree pictures. Love the new one!!! For whatever life reasons, this will be the 3rd year with little to no decorations for Christmas. Christmas is also my favorite holiday and the warm fuzzies that usually go with it. Not feeling it for some reason. This helped. Happy Christmas and Merry New Year to House Andrews and all the beloved BDH.
Is there anyway we can get the pictures of the spousal candidates that were shown in your blog for the voting when you were doing the weekly release of Sweep of the Heart. I would love to look at them again while I read the book. I am one of those who waits until the entire book is published before I read it.
That’s a really gorgeous tree! It looks so inviting! Fire up the fireplace, get a cup of hot chocolate, turn out all the lights except the tree, and relax…….. Thanks for your hard work, it is much enjoyed and appreciated. Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Maria Schneider says
Merry Christmas. Thank you for sharing your life stories with us and for writing such great fiction. Your tree is beautiful; may it continue to bring you happiness and comfort.
Oh your tree is so pretty!
Thanks for the snippet of your pre holiday prep. I envy your weather. Currently it is 8 degrees in South Dakota with drifts and piles of snow from last week. Too cold to melt. Wednesday we are expecting the hi temp to be -7 and the overnight low of -18 snow about 3inches and winds with gusts up to 50 mph. Thursday also well below zero but hopefully no snow and milder winds. Christmas day should be 45 degrees above zero. Two weeks of horrible weather just before Christmas makes it hard to enjoy the holidays. But I’ll keep trying.
I have not lived well, just strewn crap around my apartment until my last move in September. I boxed everything, paid people to load and unload the truck, and was pleased with my organization here until 2 weeks ago when I realized my Christmas tote didn’t make it here. It had some Lenox carousel ornaments I’ve been collecting and a basic Nativity set. Oh well, things could be much worse.
Mary Beth says
My mother fell off our back porch and broke the ball joint in her right shoulder when I was 12.
This was close to Thanksgiving. We always put the tree up the day after. Mom was adamant about it. I was allergic to pine trees, so we always had a fake tree.
She was so upset. So we had a family meeting and we decided to assemble the tree on it’s side, then set it upright. We’d have to wind the lights around, but if we were careful most of the ornaments she loved would be fine.
So that’s what we did.
It taught me that Christmas would happen as long as we loved it enough.
Much love this Holiday Season.
Your tree is lovely!!! Mind my asking where you got it! I would like something like it! Im in canada so probably cant get it anyways but ya never know😋. Thank you for the post. It really hit home. We just recently moved and its the first time ive ever lived outside the province i was born in. I have days of homesickness. And my girls are really struggling making friends at school which tears at me. Hopefully with time it gets better….. right!? Lol
I am in Canada too.
I suggest you try Canadian Tire. They have their own house brands mostly, but a good selection of styles and sizes of both tabletop and full-size artificial trees, including some that look much like Ilona’s. And most of them are already on sale at about 50% off or better…
Good luck with the new province. It does get better over time, including for the kids in the new school.
In a chaotic Christmas/Holiday season, I so appreciate the reminder to be ‘comfortable with being uncomfortable’ in our lives. It’s a welcome reminder that this is how we grow. ❤️
Bless you! Your stresses sound very similar to mine, although I’m in a science field, not a creative one…but this year, Christmas has been an effort, instead of a joy. It very much helps to know it’s not just me.
And, like y’all, I am choosing to ease up on some things so that I have the energy and attention for others. If it helps at all, I appreciate that you do so much, and NEVER resent it if you take time ‘off’ for real life–you have more than earned a break. Your readers are loyal, and will wait for you!
Your tree is gorgeous with all of your favorite and your best ornaments to cheer you through the holiday season. We put our tree up in the living room and the candy colored lights make me ridiculously happy. The co-pay for my daughters wisdom teeth extraction (all four at one time) is taking a big bite out of the budget, so we are being creative and having a lovely time doing lots of crafts and art projects with things around the house while listening to cheery Christmas music. In the evening after dinner we enjoy watching a Christmas movie with popcorn and apple slices. It has been so pleasant that I think is going to become a regular holiday tradition.
Happy Holidays to HA, Mod R and the BDH!
I’m excited that the Audible of SotH is coming soon and hope GA will also want to continue with the Innkeeper books – they do a fantastic production! I buy both so I’m covered either way! 😄
Wow! What comfort in the chef’s reply, “isn’t that what life is all about…………….” I think you have given the Borders Brood a motto for the coming year.
I like your new tree and I am with you in that this year … I just can’t. It took me over a week to buy a tree, get it home, put it up inside the house, then drape with lights. Normally this takes about 24 hours. Did not help that I got a lingering head cold that sapped energy and brain cells.
I have been streaming instrumental holiday music and breaking normal tasks into many small pieces. I am getting out Christmas cards in batches. Shopping has been done online with some local pickups. Working myself up to wrapping. I have everything except table space. Packages still need to be mailed. I did have fun ordering from Fortnum and Mason’s.
I am enjoying my first Christmas, New Year’s, and kids’ birthdays without having to work a 9-5 plus job. I am set on enjoying as much of it as possible. I am planning on baking cookies and pumpkin pie, and am planning small scale breakfast and dinner meals for family and friends who will be visiting us for Christmas.
My snoozy cats send regards to your warmth-loving dogs. May you have a peaceful, renewing Christmas and New Year’s!
Merry Christmas. I hope the merch shop turns out well for you so it is less of a worry in the new year.
I watch an art restorer on YouTube. After he fixes, straightens and cleans a painting, he always starts retouching it at the easiest part. He says it is setting himself up for success.
That is what you did when you got a new and easier tree. Putting up the tree is always the first step. And that is why you feel comfortable with Christmas this year. No struggles with a tree.
It looks lovely, and I love your new floor!
Baumgartner Art Restoration? Because tacks ARE better? Asking ‘cause I may be slightly addicted to his YouTube channel…
Ms. Kim says
“We have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable to accomplish anything, because things are always difficult and anxiety-inducing at the start. Life is about coming to terms with that discomfort and pushing through. Whether the new adventure turns out to be a mistake doesn’t matter. At least we all tried.”
This is fabulous! I’m going to send it to my son.
House Andrews has made the last week of my own holiday preparation madness a bit more bearable thanks to FINALLY being able to read all of SOTH (circumstances that would have challenged an innkeeper’s abilities, including an ankle deep flooded basement of the home I’ve lived in for 20+ years, meant I missed, roughly, the last 50% of the weekly installments. 2022 has given me new appreciation for Dina’s challenges when she first came to Gertrude Hunt – and made me wish for a house capable of instant renovations with the supply of raw materials.)
With thanks from a member of the BDH – wishing House Andrews a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I love Drink Master too! My boyfriend and I watch it every time I hang out at his place. I also recommend The Great Pottery Throwdown for lowstakes crafty enjoyable entertainment.
Laura Martinez says
Got it on Kindle and now preordered on Audible. Yay!
Thankfully I have a Audible subscription so I pre-ordered the book. One credit is one credit and I have a bunch to use. I loved the kindle version and can’t wait to the artist/narrator interpret the book.
Merry Christmas and a happy healthy and prosperous New Year to you, your family and the BDH family.
Pamela Pastrana says
Have a great week with family – I look forward to everything! Love your new tree. Blessings.
Badmama Battillo says
It has been freezing for the last three nights in NW Florida! I can’t remember the last time it was cold like this at Christmas. My poor husband keeps running out at night to cover our lovely blooming plants and then running back out in the morning to uncover them when the sun comes up! He is getting lots of exercise dashing back and forth! Our kittens are confused!
Carrie S says
I love this about discomfort. My husband has said for years, “Growth isn’t comfortable,” and when you combine that with my Louisiana mother’s mantra, “One way or another, it’ll be all right,” I have been able to get through many hard things, and find joy on the other side. May your holiday be one of peace and joy.
Jennifer W. says
Thank you for your thoughts about becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. I am sending a screenshot of this to my kids. They need to read this and think about it. Me too!
I’ve got one of their trees but without the built in lights, mine is 7 years old and still looks as good as new.
Merry Xmas to House Andrews and Mod R.