All About Thyme
  A Monthly Calendar of Times & Seasonings

  Celebrating the Mysteries, Magic, and Myths of Herbs
Susan Wittig Albert  
December 3, 2018
read the web-formatted e-letter:  

This Month's Special Days:
A Potpourri of Celebrations

Herb of the Year for 2018: Hops
Flower of the Month for December: Poinsettia. Good Cheer, Success. Its message: "You Are The Special One"
December is Egg Nog Month (Fruit Cake Month, too)
Week 1. Cookie Cutter Week.
December 2: Hanukkah begins.
December 4: National Cookie Day. Also St. Barbara's Day.
December 6: St. Nicholas Day.
December 8: National Chocolate Brownie Day. (Yes: Chocolate really is an herb!)

Week 2. Human Rights Week.
December 12: Gingerbread House Day.
December 17: National Maple Syrup Day.

Week 3. Christmas Bird Count Week.
December 18: On this day in 1843, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was published.
December 21: Winter Solstice.

Week 4. Christmas Week, Kwanzaa Week.
December 24: National Egg Nog Day—just in time for Christmas Eve.
December 25: At last, it's Christmas! Have a very very merry one!
December 31: New Year's Eve.


At Thyme and Seasons, I buy mistletoe from a local supplier and Laurel and I package it in plastic bags tied with festive holiday ribbons. During the Christmas season, we process hundreds of mail and telephone and email orders for the herb, which grows in basketball-sized clumps on the hackberry and pecan trees in the wooded hills to the west of Pecan Springs. Once you've seen those fresh yellow-green leaves and translucent berries, glowing like huge pearls, you can understand why our mistletoe is so popular.

Mistletoe Man: A China Bayles Mystery

North American mistletoe (Phoradendron tomentosum) does not belong to the same genus as the European mistletoe (Viscum album), but the legends and lore of the European plant long ago made their way to America. In fact, this evergreen herb that seems to miraculously grow in trees has spread its magic across many different cultures. Here's some fascinating mistletoe information I gathered when I was doing research for the China Bayles mystery, Mistletoe Man:


Things to Do in December

* National Cookie Day—and there's no mystery about what we'll be doing! Here are the top 10 holiday cookies from Taste of Home. But for China's all-thyme cookie favorite, bake a batch of Ruby's Hot Lips Cookie Crisps. They'll disappear before you can say The Darling Dahlias and the Poinsettia Puzzle (the title of Susan's latest holiday mystery).

* If you're stumped for gingerbread ideas, you might try Beatrix Potter's favorite gingersnaps or Lady Longford's ginger cake. And if you haven't read one of Susan's Cottage Tales mysteries, now is a very good time!

* St. Barbara was traditionally invoked against thunder and lightning. But there are a few herbs that might help, as well. Check them out in Susan's post, "Green Safeguards Against Bolts from the Blue."

* Did you know that maple bark has been used medicinally? Mohawk Indians and other Northeastern tribes used it to prepare a blood purifier, eye medicine, and cough medicine. Like us, they cherished the sap, boiled, as a sweetener. For a baker's dozen sweet & savory recipes, go here.

* How many eggnog recipes do you have in your file? Not nearly enough! Here are 20 more—bet there are some you've never thought of. And to go with your eggnog (or mulled wine or hot cider), some very special eggnog cookies with eggnog glaze. Oh, my!

* Celebrate Kwanzaa with a great Kwanzaa feast. Recipes & ideas for a real celebration.

* Check out Susan's Pinterest collection of holiday sweets from around the world. Special recipes for a special month of parties, celebrations, and joyous revelry.

* Find out what Susan has been up to by visiting her blog, Lifescapes. Gardening, reading, writing—there's always something interesting going on. And for fun, check out her Pinterest boards—see what she's up to, what delights her, what she reads and recommends.

Facebook Facebook Twitter Pinterest

Who's Susan Albert?

Susan Wittig Albert is the author of two recent memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place. Her fiction, which has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, includes Loving Eleanor and A Wilder Rose (biographical/historical novels); the China Bayles mysteries; the Darling Dahlias mysteries; the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter; and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige. She is founder and current president of the Story Circle Network, a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and Honorary President (2012-2014) of the Herb Society of America. More

To find out what's going on in Susan Albert's life in the Texas Hill Country, read .

Follow Susan on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,, & BookBub.

Who's China Bayles?

She's the beloved fictional herbalist in Susan Wittig Albert's popular mystery series, set in Pecan Springs TX. For more about her books, visit

For more about herbs and the passing seasons, read China Bayles' Book of Days.

To request permission to reprint all or any portion of one of Susan's e-letters, email webmistress at, stating which e-letter you'd like to reprint, with full details.


Please forward this newsletter to anyone interested in mysteries, herbs, and gardening. If a friend has forwarded this to you, click below to get your own subscription.

Subscribe to China Bayles' Monthly Herbal e-letter: "All About Thyme"

To unsubscribe: see link at the very bottom of this email.

The Darling Dahlias & the Poinsettia Puzzle

It's Christmas, 1934, and the citizens of little Darling, Alabama, are unwrapping a big package of Christmas puzzles. You'll enjoy your holiday visit to Darling, where real people have courage, respect for their neighbors, and the dream of doing their best, even when they're not sure what that is. Preorder now, read in October, cherish all year.


Susan's latest books!

Loving Eleanor

Don't miss Susan's prizewinning novel about the friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok.

"This warm, extensively researched novel will entrance readers and inspire them to look further into the lives of two extraordinary women." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Now available!

Amazon / B&N /
Order from your local independent bookseller
The General's Women

A compelling novel about love, betrayal, and ambition by New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert, The General's Women tells the story of two women—Kay Summersby and Mamie Eisenhower—in love with the same man: General Dwight Eisenhower.

Available in ebook and print.

Amazon / B&N /
Order from your local independent bookseller
A Wilder Rose

Named to Kirkus' best of Indie 2013 Books! Susan's historical / biographical novel tells the story of Rose Wilder Lane's collaboration with her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder in the writing of the famous Little House books.

"Pitch-perfect... A nuanced, moving, and resonant novel... an absolute pleasure." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

To read Susan's most recent e-letter on her website, click here:

This newsletter is a publication of Susan Wittig Albert and it is provided free, via e-mail, to anyone, worldwide. ©2018 Susan Wittig Albert. Do not quote without specific permission.

You may forward this e-letter to one or more friends, but please send the whole e-letter, rather than excerpts. If you see any portion of our e-letter on another website, please let us know.

This newsletter is designed, written, and edited by Susan Wittig Albert & Peggy Fountain.

email: webmistress at
Susan's blog: