Friday, September 29, 2017

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

I am so excited to start my Christmas book reviews for this holiday season with this new book by author Melody Carlson.  I have eagerly awaited this book's arrival since I learned of its publishing date.  I am a big fan of Melody Carlson and her Christmas books are a tradition for me.

The setting of the book is during WWII in the 1940s.  Amelia Richards, a young mother who has a child out of wedlock, is struggling financially and emotionally with her newborn infant.  She has learned that her fiance was shot over Japan in his airplane and is dead. She makes the decision to go and find James' family to help her with the baby.  Many things happen, including both the baby and Amelia becoming very ill.  She manages to sneak the baby into the manger on the front lawn of James' parents' home.  She is afraid to meet them, worrying that the family might think she is just out to get money.

The story builds to an astonishing conclusion.  A perfect ending to a Christmas story.

This is an easy read. I read it in about an afternoon and a half.  Perfect for those holiday afternoons where you want to sit in front of the fireplace and sip some hot chocolate and read a wonderful story.  There is some Gospel overtones to the story.  It isn't very deep, and given that this is the Christmas season, I would have liked it to be a little more religious, but not everyone feels the same.

Melody Carlson creates characters you want to know as real friends. I fell in love with James' parents and as a parent, understood where they were coming from, even when it seemed harsh.  I will look forward to her next Christmas story.

Author Bio:  Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with combined sales of more than six million. She is the author of several Christmas books, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, Christmas at Harrington's, The Christmas Cat, The Christmas Joy Ride, and The Christmas Angel Project. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at

If you would like to purchase this book for reading, please use the link below.  It gives me a small commission but doesn't change the price for you!  Thank you for supporting Christmas Tree Lane!

The Christmas Blessing

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

DIY Christmas Gifts for Teens

I have several nieces and nephews who would be perfectly happy with a gift card from me, but I like to put a bit more thought into their gifts.  Who wouldn't want a Peppermint Candy Bath Bomb or a Lucky Lollipop?  We have so much fun with giving gifts that are from the heart and less from the pocketbook!

Last year my Teen Emergency Kits were a big hit with my nieces and nephews.  They loved the snacks and the different items that they never thought they might need. It fit right into their lockers. What gifts do you like to give to the teens in your life?

Super long rainbow scarf by Nemcsok Farms
Tetris Magnets by Moms & Crafters
Giant Pouf Cushion by Craft Passion
High School Diary by Pink When
Super Hero Canvas by Mod Podge Rocks
DIY Pillow Cover by the Idea Room
Messy Bun Hat by Knits’ End
Easy Flannel Throw Blankets by the Girl Inspired
Lucky Lollipops by I Heart Naptime
Crochet Chewbacca Zipper Pull by Dollar Store Crafts
Hammock Chair by a Beautiful Mess
Comic Book Magnets by Crafts by Amanda

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sugar Free Christmas Treats

Like many Americans and people around the world, I am reducing the amount of sugar in my diet.  It is not an easy (or fun) task, but it is so important for our health.  The holidays are known for its sugary treats, but back in the day, when these things were rare, it was a treat!  Now we can go to the grocery store and see hundreds of varieties of cookies, cakes, ice creams and all kinds of treats.

To help keep the holidays a bit sane when it comes to sugar, here are a few sugar free treats that can be available to the ones who don't want to blow it during the holidays.  I hope you find one or two that can be in your home!

Layered Peppermint Patties by Paleo Flourish Magazine
Sugar Free Pumpkin Pudding by Premeditated Leftovers
Sugar Free Snickerdoodles by What Mommy Does
Copy Cat Ferrero Rocher by Sugar Free Mom
Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies by the Healthy Foodie
Sea Salt Chocolate Caramels by Forest and Fauna
Pumpkin Spice Thumbprint Cookies by A Girl Worth Saving
Cranberry Almond Cookies by Step Away from the Carbs

I know a lot of people think that "it's Christmas, indulge!" but this list is for the person that can't, as it is a life or death situation. Holidays are meant to be enjoyed by all, and hopefully this list will let those celebrate as heartily as the rest of the world!

Merry Christmas! #itsnevertooearly

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

DIY Christmas Stockings

You might remember that my family has decided to spend Christmas in Mexico.  While I am very excited about it, I am also feeling very nostalgic about our traditions.  One tradition will continue even when we are on vacation, and that is Christmas stockings!

Burlap Christmas Stocking by Craft Passion
Easy Christmas Stockings by Craftaholics Anonymous
Classic Cuffed Stockings by Positively Splendid
DIY Sweater Stockings by Confessions of a Serial DIYer
Woven Stockings by a Beautiful Mess
Stiletto Christmas Stockings by Interior Frugalista
Duct Tape Stockings by Club Chica Cirlce
Fur Topped Stocking by Jessie at Home
Crochet Stocking by With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart
DIY Felt Stockings by Homemade Ginger
Fur Flannel Stocking Pattern by Girl Inspired

My thoughts right now are to pack up a suitcase with our traditional stockings and all the gifts we will have for them.  I am thinking that the "gifts" will mostly be experiences to have in Cabo.  Like a whale watching trip, a special homemade dinner in the condo, etc.  The gifts might be just the description of the event on a card and the card will go into the stocking.  Maybe some gift cards, too. I am still brainstorming right now.  Any ideas greatly appreciated!!

Do you have traditions centered around stockings?  Tell us yours!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dealing with Christmas Stress

Yep, I have heard it said time and time again:  Christmas can be a stressful time.  So many of us get caught up in the details, will the brothers start arguing about politics again?  Will the turkey be browned and juicy?  These details can weigh us down and create feelings of wishing the holidays would "just be over."

Are you familiar with the Christmas truce of 1914?  I wasn't until I read about it on the internet.    It seems that Pope Benedict the XV wanted a temporary cease fire at Christmas but the generals on each side refused.  When Christmas came around, the soldiers chose to lay down their weapons. Soldiers from each side exchanged gifts, shared food, and played football!  What a sight that must have been!

Our holidays do not have to be stressful.  We can let the potatoes be lumpy and the turkey a bit dry.  It is the love of our family and friends that must be foremost on this holiday.  Set aside your worries and family dramas and enjoy Christmas as it is meant to be.

These tried and true tips help me each year.  I hope one or two of them will help you, too!

1.  Plan Ahead!  Read my post here about 21 things to do before December 1.

2.  Shop Online!  I loved having packages delivered to my home and avoiding the mall!

3.  Stick to a budget. This is hard for me, but in February I am so grateful I did.  Make a list, get creative but adhere to the limits you set for yourself.

4.  Build in self care.  Schedule your hair appts, massages, manis and pedis and any other self care that you need.  Schedule it and then, follow your schedule.

5.  Learn to breathe properly.  This is a skill you need to learn. You will be surprised at the difference it will make.

6.  Do less and enjoy more.  Pick how busy you want to be.  We schedule our events carefully and then purchase tickets to the ones we really want to do.  I like to be more busy than my husband, so I schedule things to do with girlfriends and he relaxes the way he likes!

If you have another holiday destresser, share it with us in the comments!  Can't wait to learn more!