In which I am back!

Hello, chickens–and happy 2015! I hope all of you enjoyed the guest blogging during December. A HUGE thank you to all the fine folks who participated. It gave me a much-needed break to focus on the revisions of my new novel and spending the holidays with my family. As of today, husband–who only had to work five days in December!–is back at work and daughter is heading back to college after more than three weeks at home.

By noon the house will be quiet…possibly too quiet after all the heightened energy of December. That’s when the letdown comes–the feeling that January is an afterthought. If you’re inclined to celebrate Epiphany, then today is Twelfth Night and you still have a bit of revelry to enjoy. For the rest of us January is both a relief and a footnote. I don’t do resolutions, so I don’t have that to contend with, but I do have a deadline on January 15. The deadline and all its attendant stresses–Do I like this book? Is this book good? Will anyone else think so? Why EXACTLY do I write?–coupled with the post-holiday bleurghs could make for a fairly grey mood. So I have a plan.

My plan is to extend the holidays. Not the decorations–those are already packed up. Not the excess–I overindulged on Christmas Day and haven’t touched a drop of alcohol since. (We won’t even TALK about how much I ate. Let’s just say I’m craving Thai red chili soup and green tea and lots of vegetables.) But there are little things I can do to stretch out the holiday mood just a wee bit longer.

*Candles. I stocked up on wintry scents, and I’m burning candles even in daytime to make the house smell good and look cozy. (In a pinch, some cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange peel simmered on the stove will do nicely.)

*Mysteries on TV. I have subscribed to the Acorn channel on YouTube and it’s WELL worth the $4.99 each month. They have all the recent Marple and Poirot adaptations as well as oodles of other lovely British offerings. (I can’t explain why mysteries feel “holiday” to me; they just do. This time of year I’m particularly smitten with Golden Age British crime featuring fogbound or snowy houses and murderous houseguests. This may also explain why I hate to entertain…)

*Mysteries on my Kindle. I’ve recently discovered Clara Benson’s Angela Marchmont series, and I’m LOVING it. They feature a wealthy, just-past-the-first-flush-of-youth sleuth and England between the wars. So far I’ve guessed the culprit far in advance of the end, but I don’t even care. They’re just right for this time of year.

*Winter music. NOT holiday tunes, you understand. If I hear one more rendition of anything regarding marshmallow worlds or chestnuts and open fires, I might take up violence as a hobby. But Loreena McKennitt, Gregorian chants, Baroque chamber music–it all feels wintry without being twee.

*Tea. I’ve recently discovered two new favorites. Marcus Samuelsson’s Ambessa Safari Breakfast is one of the most delicious black teas I’ve ever sampled. It’s gotten so bad I’m now ordering it online just to make sure I don’t run out. To counteract the caffeine blast from too much Safari Breakfast, I’ve also taken to drinking Tazo Bramblewine. It’s lower in caffeine, and delightfully fruity–as if you’ve stirred cherry jam into your tea.