Posts tagged with: Decorations

Happy Boxing Day 2016!

Well, it’s official.  The calendar has turned to a new page, and Christmas 2016 is over.  I feel as though I hardly had time to anticipate it before it was here, and now it’s gone.

Some of you celebrate the holiday, and some of you don’t.  If you do, I hope yours was merry, and if you don’t, I hope you had a relaxing day. I hope those of you who celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa are having a happy one.

img_3655Our tree is a Fraser fir, with the same ornaments we use every year.  It looks much like very other tree I’ve posted a picture of on the blog, so I decided instead to post a photo of a favorite ornament, the little house depicted at left.  The dh and I got this in a Christmas shop on our honeymoon.

After the Great Water Disaster and subsequent floor refinishing, the living room floor is nice and smooth and shiny. The guys took extra care not to scratch it when they put the tree up.  I hope they’ll be as successful when they take it down.

We have our holiday meal on Christmas Eve, so we did that this year, too.  Yesterday morning, we got up and had coffee and explored what Santa had brought.  I got DVDs of Captain America: Civil War and Season 1 of Poldark, along with a couple of research books I’d needed, so that was all great.

Then the dh made Swedish pancakes, per his mom’s recipe, for brunch, and we opened presents.  Because we’re in no rush to open gifts, that took a while, though it went faster than in the days when everything periodically stopped while the boy played with whatever new toy he’d just opened.

img_3635Pictured at right is our candle tower.  We’ve used it for years, but this year, the dh couldn’t get candles for it.  The one place that always had them informed him they had none, that they’d stopped carrying “stick candles” because they were a fire hazard.  And tea lights just won’t cut it.

Luckily, he had enough spares from previous years to make the tower work.  We’re not sure what we’ll do next year, though the boy is confident that the proper candles can be obtained online.

And yes, those are books in the dining room. *sigh* They sort of spilled out of the main book places and had to go somewhere.

During lulls in the day, I thought about what my imaginary friends, better known as my characters, would be doing.  Griff and Val, I figured, would spend the day with his family in Macon.  After years of being without them, he wouldn’t want to miss a holiday, and Val has become part of that circle.  She has no family of her own, and those who’ve read Renegade know what happened to her guardian. Of course Griff’s sister and brother-in-law, Caroline and Rick Moore, would be with them.

Warrior_FINAL_3I have a deleted scene from Warrior I’d hoped to have up on my website but didn’t get to.  It’s a snippet from Griff and Val’s first Christmas together, his first in six years with his family.  If I can get it posted this week, I’ll update this post to include the link.

Edie and Josh are outdoorsy people, so they went to Colorado to see her family and go skiing for part of the holiday.  The rest, they’ll spend in California at his aunt’s house, with his sisters and his dad.

Stefan and Mel decided to alternate years spending Thanksgiving with her family and Christmas with his.  Right now, she’s still living in Atlanta and he’s still based in Brunswick, though that could change soon. He drove to Atlanta for the holiday, and her family came down from North Carolina to join them.

Will and Audra had a quiet holiday at the home of her mentor in Atlanta.  Tomorrow, they’re flying out to join Will’s parents in Paris.  Audra’s very excited because she has never been there.  If she knew Will was scheming to get her to the Alps and teach her to ski, she’d be a little nervous, too!

Roland met Peri’s family at Thanksgiving, and she’s meeting his this Christmas.  He knows they’ll adore her, but Peri’s anxious to make a good impression.

Kelsey Mitchell and Greg Reed aren’t together this holiday season. Work has taken a toll on their budding relationship, but I have plans for them in 2017.

the-magic-christmas-guy-finalAnd of course, Jenny Bridges and Mike McLean are currently seeing where the attraction between them can go in “The Magic Christmas Guy.”

So that was my Christmas day.  How did you spend yours?

Just to satisfy my curiosity, do you like to read deleted scene snippets?  Are you disappointed if they’re just snippets instead of a story with a beginning, middle, and end? Does your opinion depend on whether you’ve already read the book?

Do you watch Poldark? Have you read the books (I haven’t)?

Finally, do you have books in a place where most people wouldn’t expect to find them?

On the 2nd Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

…two disgruntled gladiators.

tumblr_static_mistletoeSven: Move it a little to the right. We want it centered on the doorway.

Demetrius, hammer and nail in hand: Why is it you’re making us hang these balls of greenery and white berries in all the doorways of the Lair?

Lucien, moving the extra large ball of greenery tied with a red bow at the top of the center of the main entrance into the Lair: Why are you complaining to the Viking? He makes us hang these every year. And it would help if you’d hammer in the nail before my arm falls off.

Demetrius: Hold it steady. I can’t help it if you have weak arms.

Lucien: Weak arms! I’ll show you weak arms when we meet in the training arena. You’ll be sitting on your…

Sven: Enough arguing, gentleman. There’s no time for chest beating today. That’s the perfect spot right there. Besides we’re not doing all the porticos, just the ones in the public areas. And we’re hanging extra mistletoe because of that book.

Paolo, holding the foot of one of the ladders the two Gladiators were perched  upon. (The doors to the Lair are over seven feet tall. How else does one get a dragon in and out without breaking down the place?): Uhm, Sven, sir, which book? The Banditas are all writers and all have books filling up the bookshelves.

Sven, consulting his map of all the doorways in the main part of the Lair: Oh, you know that Christmas book. Next we’ll do the four doors to the bar. Come along.

The two gladiators, Paolo and Mario, one of the hockey hunks who’d been volunteered to help, carted the ladders and box of mistletoe balls through the Christmas decorated foyer down the steps to the door that led to the bar/swimming pool area. The room was a blur of activity as the Hockey Hunks and some cowboys decorated the tree, lighting the lights around the windows and helping set the tables with green and red plaid table cloths.

The gladiators climbed the ladder again with Paolo and Mario holding the bases, this time with Demetrius holding the footwide mistletoe ball and Lucien hammering away. As they moved to the doorway leading to the men’s locker room, Paolo couldn’t help pressing the issue.

Paolo: Sven, sir, not to be dense, but which Christmas book are we talking about, last count the Banditas have published almost a dozen different Christmas books. (He should know he dusted the library shelves weekly.)

Sven stopped, nearly causing a train wreck collision as everyone came to a hault behind him.

Sven: Bandita Suz’ newest one, CLOSE TO THE MISTLETOE. The one with the scene….Close to the Mistletoe final for Barnes and Noble

“Let’s get you out of here.” His voice sounded gruff in his own ears.
Grabbing her little leather jacket in one hand, and her elbow in the other, he guided them through the crowd to the exit. That’s where their progress stopped.
“What’s going on?” Holly pressed in close to ask over the noise.
“I don’t know,” he said, stretching his six-foot-two frame to see what was causing the bottleneck. It looked like an old-fashioned kissing booth, or a mass make-out session. Then he got a glimpse of what was hanging over the doorway. He bent to talk in Holly’s ear, trying to ignore the lemony scent of her dark hair. “You’re not going to believe this.”
“Someone’s hung a ball of mistletoe over the exit door.”
The line in front of them moved a little more.
“So, what? People are stopping to kiss before leaving?”
He looked over the crowd again. “Nope. Appears to be two guys stopping everyone.” Just as he said it, the pair stopped two girls, grabbing each in a good-natured kiss. The next pair was a couple who had a long kiss before heading out the door. “Actually, they’re kissing the single girls, but standing in front of the door making couples kiss before letting them out.”
“Is this some tradition here?” She’d drawn her brows up in question.
He laughed. “You’re asking me? I just moved to town, remember?”
“What are we going to do?” she asked as they moved another foot closer to the exit.
“I’ve got this.” He released her elbow and twined his hand in hers. “You just hold my coat together, okay?” While he might have enjoyed the glimpse of her ass and that wicked little thong, the idea of anyone seeing it didn’t set well with him, not at all.
She nodded, but he could feel how tight she gripped his hand. Another set of single ladies, then another couple, before they were at the front of the line.
“What’s going on?” he asked the big guys that looked like football linemen standing in front of the door, even though he’d already figured out their game.
“Just a little holiday cheer,” blue-plaid shirt said. “A little mistletoe excise tax.”
Tree“Yep, kiss your girl, or let us do it to get out the door,” red-plaid shirt chimed in.
He looked down at Holly. “Guess we don’t have any choice.”
“Guess not,” she said with a little smile.
He laid her jacket over their joined hands, then brought his free one up to cup her soft face. He’d meant it to be a quick peck like some of the other couples before them, but the moment his lips met hers, heat seemed to course through him. Holly parted her lips and he slipped his tongue in to sample her. Sweet as a Christmas cookie, but a little spicy like mulled wine. He felt like a starving man who’d just got to sample the most delicate of deserts. All he wanted was more.
Sliding his hand back into her hair, he pulled her in tight. He slanted his mouth tighter over hers, the need for her growing hotter.
“That’s some kiss!” the pair in front of them shouted, breaking the sensual spell that seemed to enthrall them.
Nick pulled back, but almost groaned as Holly licked her lips before opening her eyes, her cheeks turning pink at all the ribbing from the crowd around them. Luckily, the plaid-shirt twins pushed open the doors. “You’re free to go!”
“Thanks!” he said with a wink and a smile, pulling Holly out into the cold, snowy, December night.

Sven: It’s got the Banditas planning to do the same to their guests, the male ones. Except they’re planning a twist to it. Kiss a Bandita before you ENTER or leave.

Paolo: Oh, that explains the crate of lip balm you ordered!20151214_160458

So, dear readers I have a question for you. If you had to kiss someone under the mistletoe, who would you like it to be?

I will gift an ebook copy of last year’s Christmas novella, CLOSE TO CHRISTMAS and one of these cute little Christmas ornaments to 2 lucky people who comment!


1 cup butter, softened                                            1 cup sugar

2eggs                                                                         1 tsp. coconut extract

1 tsp. baking powder                                              ½ tsp. salt

3 cups flour                                                             Flaked coconut

Egg white                                                                Blackberry or raspberry jam

  1. Cream butter and sugar together.
  2. Stir in eggs and coconut extract.
  3. Mix in flour, salt and baking powder.
  4. Roll into ¾ inch balls.
  5. Roll into slightly beaten egg white.
  6. Roll in coconut and place on baking sheet.
  7. Indent each ball with thumb and fill slightly with jam.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  9. Bake for 11-16 minutes or until coconut is slightly browned.

You’ve Come A Long Way, Santa

When I was a little girl, Santa was a fat guy in a screaming red and white suit, with a white beard and a list.

Santa flipped

  That’s how he always looked.  

Sometimes his face looked mean—a little on the evil side depending on the depiction– but most of the “Santa” images were of a jolly, happy, kind-looking Santa, much like this one on the left. 

Doesn’t he look like a nice guy, laying his finger aside of his nose, about to nod his head and ascend through the narrow chimneSanta evily?

Back then, Santa’s  face was pretty much the only thing that varied.   Some of them looked absolutely evil.  This guy on the right isn’t too bad, but doesn’t he look like he has some mischief afoot? 

As a child, even into my teens, I didn’t realize that the “fat guy in a bright red suit” imagery was fairly new, or that it had evolved over a long, long time, and that Santa did not always look exactly like this.

But I nesanta traditionalver did much like that suit.

I suppose, even as a little girl, the beginnings of the Martha Stewart Mini-Me that I would eventually become…well…they were already in place.  I swear I don’t know where I got these tendencies.

I loved Santa back then.  But even as a little girl, when I looked at Christmas decorations in the stores, I just wasn’t into that red suit.  

Yes, I was an odd child.  I won’t deny it.

As I grew older,  I’d see those Santa dolls –you know the ones that are two or three feet tall, with fabric outfits–meant to be put out  as decorations either inside or outside, but I never wanted one for my house.  They just didn’t appeal.  santa 19-old-world-father-christmas-santa-claus-figure-with-burgundy-robe-and-gifts linens and things

Then it happened.

A few years after I was married, I was walking by the window of an upscale department store when I saw a Santa that made me stop and stare. 

He was not in a bright red suit.  He was in a robe.  Not screaming red.  It was deep dark burgundy.  The fur trim was off white and looked old. 

Now I know he’d be called an “Old World Santa,” but those weren’t around back then–or at least I hadn’t seen one.   This one on the right is not him, but he has the same look.   This is an Old World Santa from Linens ‘n Things.

After that, I started noticing more and more versions of Santa that were not the clownish guy I grew up with, but were based more on Father Christmas—the old world version of Santa. 

Santa woodland 3Not long after that, I was in another store and I saw “Woodland Santa” with leaves and pine cones in a wreath around his head, and a long robe of what looked like fur-trimmed burlap.  He had on snowshoes and there was a deer standing at his side.  In one hand was a staff made of a tree branch, and in the other, a lantern.  He had a rough knapsack over his shoulder.  His cheeks were still rosy and his beard long and white. 

It was just my style.  I love primitive antiques, log cabins, barns and woods. I had found my Santa.

I was in school at the time, and we were flat broke, so I couldn’t afford him.  Unfortunately,  I’ve never seen one  like him since, but I’d had my “Santa Awakening.”   This one on the left is similar.  It’s another version of “Woodland Santa”

Back then, all of these were “designer” Santas and were WAY too spendy for my budget, but I could still stare at them and imagine how they’d look in my future house, standinSanta woodland costcog on my future hearth beside the future fireplace.

Flash forward a few years.  Really cool Santas have come down in price, and now they’re available everywhere,  as common as Bright-red-suit Santa. 

Here’s another version of “Woodland Santa” on the right.  This one is available at Costco.  Doesn’t he look rugged and ready for some serious outdoor trekking?  Even if his sleigh breaks down, ala the movie “Elf,”  this Santa could still get where he needed to go.

FAther Christmas close up Now, thanks to the internet and shops like Etsy, there are doll makers who specialize in a zillion different versions of Santa Claus, like this Father Christmas in a fur cloak on the left. You can see the rest of him if you click on the link. He’s amazing.

Looking around the web, I found one particular doll maker whose work I absolutely love, and she was kind enough to give me permission to share her Santas with you here on the blog. 

Her name is Bona Lowery, and her Santas are stunning, one-of-a kind pieces of art, but many of them  cost far less than you’d think for such beautiful work.

If you click on the links, you can see the detail in these Santas in the bigger pictures.

Santa Cabin Bona LoweryThis is her  Cabin Santa on the left.   Cabin Santa is holding a little log cabin, and I love his fur-trimmed robe. 

On her site,  Santa Creations by Bona, she has a snippet about the history of Santa Claus. 

Pre-modern representations of the gift-giver from church history and folklore, notably St Nicholas and Sinterklaas, merged with the British character Father Christmas to create the character known to Britons and Americans as Santa Claus.

Father Christmas dates back at least as far as the 17th century in Britain, and pictures of him survive from that era, portraying him as a jolly, well-nourished bearded man dressed in a long, green, fur-lined robe.Santa fishing Bona Lowery

Okay so Santa was fat back then, and Santa is still fat.  Even  most old-world Santas and Father Christmas figures have a belly.  Every one of us feels the pressures of current fashion, but not Santa.   Santa is, thus far, immune.  

Thank goodness. 

I understand from my friends who write historical romance that centuries ago, having a little fat on you was a sign that you were well-off.  You could afford to eat all you wanted, regularly,  and you could eat yummy stuff that most people couldn’t get.   The common folk were lucky to eat at all, and worked off what they did eat.  So, not only was Santa doing okay for himself, he was also generous, especially toward kids.

Here are more Santas by Ms. Lowery.   That’s Fishing Santa on the right, complete with his tackle. 

Santa silver wreath bona lowery

  On the left is Silver Wreath Santa–less rustic, and more in keeping with the sparkle of the season.

Nowadays there are Santas with sheep, Santas with donkeys, and Santas with kittens.

  I’ve seen Santas in sleighs and Santas wearing snowshoes pulling their own sleds, Santas with huskies instead of reindeer pulling the sleigh, and one Santa I saw was riding a polar bear. 

None of them were wearing the bright red suit. I’ve even seen a “Green Man Santa”–the pagan version of Santa– with long gray beard, still carrying the traditional gifts, but wearing a wreath of leaves and sporting antlers on his head. 

Bandita Kate is like me–she’s a wine lover, and she’ll love this next Santa.  It’s a wine rack, anSanta Karen-Didion-Originals-Crakewood-Santa-Claus-5-Bottle-Tabletop-Wine-Rackd Santa is enjoying a glass of his favorite.

 The photo on the right  is of the Karen Didion Originals Crakewood Santa Claus 5-bottle Tabletop Wine Rack. 

I had not heard of Karen Didion, but she was all over the internet when I went looking for Santas, and I absolutely loved everything I saw of hers.  I think she’s brilliant.   I found her Santas at 

If you click on the link and  look at the photos, you see the Santa wine rack from all directions. Plus, the wire barrel holds wine corks.    Did I already say this Santa designer is brilliant? 

Santa Karen Didion originalsYes, she is.


Here’s another of her Santas on the left. Victorian Santa Claus.

Father Christmas dolls qvc

 Awesome Santas are not just from fancy designers.  They’re everywhere.  The Father Christmas Dolls on the right were from QVC.  

The one below, on the left, is from Lowe’s.  I *think* those are snowshoes strapped on his back, though I’m not certain.

Santa from Lowe'sBottom line? 

Santa is stylin’.

He’s no longer just a guy in a red suit.

I had a bit of an epiphany while I was writing this post and searching for awesome Santas.  If I fall in love with a Santa decoration, it’s probably because it looks nothing like the traditional guy in a red suit,  and everything like a Wizard. 

It seems the more Wizard-like the Santa is, the more I love it.  

I never thought of Santa as a Wizard before, but he does have the pointy, floppy hat.  And how else does he get up and down the chimney–and fly all over the world in one night?

Just sayin’.

What about you, Bandits and Buddies? 

What sort of Santa appeals to you?

Did you grow up with the “Bright red-and-white suit” Santa?

If you celebrate another holiday, what are your decorations like?  Do you like bright and sparkly?  Or do you prefer colors and designs that are more subdued for a holiday?

If you decorate for Christmas, do you choose Screaming-red-suit Santa?

Or do you like the old-world Santas better?

Do you have any Santa figurines or dolls like the ones in the photos?

What says “Santa” to you?  

It’s ALMOST HERE! Tomorrow is Day 1 of our annual 12 Bandita Days of Christmas!  Prizes every day, plus extra goodies for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.   Be sure to stop by the blog each day between now and Christmas and leave a comment to be in the drawings.