Christmas Mystery Books to Read Next

Christmas Mystery Books to Read Next

Preview: Here’s your list of fun historical Christmas mystery books to read next! Grab a cushy seat by the fire, a blanket, and spiced tea. Now, read!

I don’t know about you, but at Christmastime, I naturally like to read books set in the same season. There are so many fabulous traditions and fun characters to be found, and so many problems to get mixed up in and hopefully then fixed at the family manor! Yes, one of my favorite genres at Christmastime is the historical mystery.

So, come on snow! Let’s get those yuletide fires going, spiced scents filling the air, and time to enjoy some good Christmas mystery books. Let’s go back to the Downtown Abbey Christmas mood with a twist of mayhem and detective work!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Do you love a good murder mystery at the manor? Christmas mystery books are one of my favorite genres and fabulous for de-stressing during the holidays. #christmasmysteries #christmasbooks

Why Christmas mystery books?

The historical mystery is always one of my favorite genres for de-stressing and getting a break from daily life. I find it especially important to make an escape a during the holidays and take some time out for myself. Also, I tend to be more of an introvert and so crave and need that time by myself to regroup and be ready for the next thing. What about you?

If you also need that time to yourself to recharge, don’t be afraid to send the crowd away for a while and enjoy a good book. Suggest they go on a fun ice skating outing or to a movie. Then you can take that time and dig into a stress-free murder mystery.

Christmas mystery books to read next

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas

by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas is a very enjoyable peek into an 1814 Regency Christmas with some detective work and murder thrown in. Jane and her family are invited to The Vyne, the ancestral country home of the prominent Chute family. Other friends and well-wishers join the Christmas party, and we have a traditional snow-bound Christmas.

With so many people unable to return home, one of the guests comes to an unfortunate fatal accident. But is it an accident? Jane and others investigate the politics, personal conflicts, and all the house suspects.

I found it delightful and fun to see Jane developing the characters for her next book, Persuasionon the heels of the successful Mansfield Park. Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve read all of her books multiple times and like Bridget Jones, obsessed on the BBC’s miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice. Therefore, I’m preparing you before you read this book. Be warned! Jane Austen is being turned into a character here. I personally feel it’s fun, well-researched, and excessively diverting, so don’t let the real-life author turned character bother you.

Explorer Momma’s rating: ***** 5 stars

Spoil yourself and order it now on Amazon by clicking here!

12 Days At Bleakley Manor

by Michelle Griep

Don’t you just love this cover? It immediately invited me in because I think I know what to expect. It’s cozy and comforting and another snow covered Christmas at the manor! Set in the Victorian Era, there’s a twist to this one. In the case of Bleakly Manor, the guests are invited for various reasons and enticed with personal motivations, but alas the host is absent!

I read a review of this book that said it was reminiscent of a mystery dinner theater, and who doesn’t love that? In fact, I’m a huge fan of going a step further to the mystery dinner parties where you’re assigned a character, but I digress. With just a hint of romance and almost exaggerated characters, I had a wonderful time reading this book. Perhaps I’m being generous with the rating due to the Christmas season, but it was a fun escape to the English manor and an enjoyable read.

Explorer Momma’s rating: ***** 5 stars

Why not order it now on Amazon by clicking here?! (You know you want to)

Murder for Christmas

by Francis Duncan

Oh, look! Another Christmas party at a country home. Now we’re in the Golden Age, and with Murder for Christmas, we are introduced to amateur detective Mordecai Tremaine (if you haven’t already met him before in the series). Mordecai Tremaine reminds me of a mix between Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. He’s well-known for solving mysteries and murders, but when people meet him, he comes off as harmless and maybe not completely capable of comprehending what’s happening around him.

However, of course, he’s not the tottering old man perceived! Will he aid the police to discover the Christmas Eve murderer or be a thorn in their side? Who killed the man dressed as Father Christmas found at the foot of the Christmas tree?

This book is another good distraction and amusement, although because the writing does jump around slightly making it not quite as easy to follow, my rating is slightly lower.

Explorer Momma’s rating: **** 4 stars

Would you like to pick it up now on Amazon by clicking here? Enjoy!

The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

by P.D. James

P.D. James, or rather Phyllis Dorothy James White, Baroness James of Holland Park, was born in Oxford, England in 1920. She is best known for her detective Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard, and this book indeed includes two of his stories. 

The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories is a compilation of four stories by this great mystery novelist. With a more serious and sinister tone than the first books in this list, yet with a sly humor, these stories reveal the good, bad, and difficult aspects of human nature. A novelist recounts the story of a crime she herself was a party to 50 years previously, Dalgliesh’s godfather asks him to re-investigate the details of an inheritance, and so forth.

A good set of whodunits for the Christmas season, although the holiday aspect of them is not as in your face as some of the others.

Explorer Momma’s rating: **** 4 stars

Order it on Amazon by clicking here!

Do you need more Christmas book suggestions?

What Christmas Mystery book list is complete without Hercule Poirot? I’m always up for a good Agatha Christie novel!

Mistletoe and Murder: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery

by Carola Dunn

It’s December of 1923, and Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher is the daughter of the imperious Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple who’s decided they will all spend Christmas at, wait for it…the ancestral home of Lord Westmoor in Cornwall. Daisy is her own woman and displeases her mother by writing articles for publications such as Town and Country.

On this occasion, Daisy arrives at the home before everyone else to complete an article on the house itself and it’s history. When more guests and colorful characters arrive, although Lord Westmoor is absent, our scene is set for a colorful set of ghosts, schemes, and murder.

Daisy and her husband Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard investigate along with the help of their two children and Lord Westmoor’s poorer relations. I had fun with Daisy and the characters in this book and series.

Explorer Momma’s rating: ***** 4 1/2 stars

Treat yourself and order it now on Amazon by clicking here!

The Twelve Clues of Christmas

by Rhys Bowen

What can I say about The Twelve Clues of Christmas? Set in 1936, this is the sixth book in A Royal Spyness Mystery series. It can definitely be read as a stand-alone, and score! Once again we have a house party, but this time it’s the local villagers who are being murdered.

Penniless Lady Georgiana Rannoch finds herself stuck in her brother’s castle in Scotland facing a bleak Christmas with her penny-pinching sister in law and family. Her MIA boyfriend is exploring somewhere in South America so she gets herself a position as a hostess for a large house party in Devon, in the quaint village of Tiddleton-under-Lovey. Unfortunately, the villagers keep having fatal unrelated accidents.

Georgie begins her own investigation, of course, and looks into her list of house-guest suspects. A bonus in this book is the description of all the traditional English Christmas fare and joy! an appendix with recipes. I’m hungry.

Explorer Momma’s rating: ***** 5 stars

You need this book. Find it here on Amazon!

A Christmas Revelation

by Anne Perry

Now, what Christmas Mystery Books list is complete without representation by Anne Perry? I love a good Anne Perry mystery, her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, the Monk series, and my favorite the WWI series. Truly, I’ve read a lot of Anne Perry’s novels, and most Christmases I read at least one of her novellas or, in this case, Christmas novels.

The Christmas stories often make a supporting or side character of one of the series into the main character with their own Christmas mystery adventure. In this sentimental book, a nine-year-old former river urchin named Worm enlists the help of Squeaky Robinson to go to the aid of a kidnapped woman just before Christmas. Squeaky works in Hester Monk’s clinic and so here we have a new adventure with lesser-known characters in the Monk series. How can they help a woman who doesn’t want to be rescued?

I’m always happy with her Christmas books and really any of her novels. They are familiar friends, with characters I can depend on.

Explorer Momma’s rating: **** 4 stars

Order it now on Amazon by clicking here!

Give me some good Christmas mystery books

Now some of you, in fact, many of you, will say, “Give me a good Hallmark Christmas story”. I can do that. Sweet girl from the city has some major failure and fight with big city boyfriend. Girl goes to small town USA and falls for the local boy in a Christmas sweater who helps everyone in town. However, I can only do a couple of those a year and truly love that escape.

Give me some variety! Manor houses with snowbound guests, English puddings, and murders. Oh, yes. Throw a couple of those into your yearly Christmas readings. It’s the season for traditions and cozy family time. Take some time out of the Christmas rush and start another tradition, a good Christmas mystery. Cheers to you!

Merry Christmas!

Check us out on Instagram @explorermomma!

Pin it for later here!

Do you love historical mysteries? Christmas mystery books are some of my favorites around the holidays. Families stuck together in manor houses with lots of English Christmas goodies, what's not to love? Great Christmas booklist. #christmasbooklist #christmasmysteries

Explorer Momma Giveaway!

Explorer Momma Giveaway!

Welcome to Explorer Momma! I’ve been here before, you may say, but today we are celebrating the re-design of the Explorer Momma homepage! Yes, that’s right, the Explorer Momma website is getting a facelift, and in honor of our fabulous progress, we’re hosting an on-line Explorer Momma Giveaway and Party!

For those of you who aren’t as familiar with the site, let me tell you a little bit about our goals. Explorer Momma explores the world and all the flavor in it. I bring ideas for Momma chefs, adventurers, and bookworms. You can check out Explorer Momma for delicious kid-friendly keto and low carb recipes, travel tips and destinations with kids, and fun! I blog about amazing recipes, cultural experiences, and new adventures to make the world better for our kids. Where shall we adventure today?

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Check out the new HOMEPAGE!

Explorer Momma header, exploring the world and all the flavor in it #familytravel #ketorecipes

Explorer Momma Giveaway and Party Invitation

What is this all about? Explorer Momma Re-Design Party

Why? Let’s get the word out about the Explorer Momma website and all its exciting upcoming content!

When? Please come to visit anytime, but the giveaway ends Friday, November 9th.

Where? On the website and social media

How? Check out the website and Explorer Momma social media. I’ll go into this in a minute. Then sign up through the Rafflecopter below!

 

Celebrate! Explorer Momma Giveaway and launch party #giveaway #ketorecipes

Explorer Momma’s Social Platforms

Are you a social butterfly? Join Explorer Momma on Social and help us spread the word!

PinterestFollow Explorer Momma on Pinterest #explorermomma

I’d love for you to come visit Explorer Momma on Pinterest! Pinterest is probably my favorite social platform, and I LOVE to find new recipes and travel destinations on this fun search engine. Follow my pinning by clicking here, and if you’d like to help spread the word PIN any and all PINS from my main Explorer Momma board here!

InstagramFollow Explorer Momma on Instagram #explorermomma

Next, click on over to Instagram and peruse Explorer Momma’s Instagram page. Click here to see my page and follow along! Be sure to click on the follow button!

Follow Explorer Momma on Facebook #explorermommaFacebook

Are you a fan of Facebook? You’ll find Explorer Momma there too! Follow us on Facebook by clicking here! Please follow our page and share any posts your friends might like!

Follow Explorer Momma on Twitter! #explorermommaTwitter

Help us tweet about Explorer Momma on Twitter! You’ll find the Explorer Momma page here! Again, I would love for you to follow and tweet what catches your fancy!

 

Pug in a yellow hat is ready to go to the Explorer Momma blog party #blogparty #pugsparty

Sign Up For Explorer Momma’s Weekly Newsletter

Are you signed up for Explorer Momma’s weekly newsletter? If not, sign up now to get all the info about the awesome new series we have in travel and low carb cooking.

 

Operation U.S. Parks

12 Days of Keto Christmas Cookies

Enter the Explorer Momma Giveaway!

Are you ready to get baking this holiday season? I admit, baking and preparing good foods for friends and family is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. Get yourself ready to bake with our 12 Days of Keto Christmas Cookies series by entering to win the Christmas Cookie Baking Set today! The winner, chosen at random, will get (sorry for the limitation but the winner must reside in the United States):

A Brand New Bellemain Heavy Duty Aluminum Half Sheet Pan, 18″ x 13″ x 1″!

 New Silicone Baking Mats – a 2-Pack from AmazonBasics!

AND my favorite part:

A New Christmas/Holiday Cookie Cutter Set – 9 Pack Stainless Steel Cookie Cutters!

Update your own cookie making supplies or use them as gifts! Or better yet, use them to make tins of Christmas cookies to give as gifts!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

AND…we have a winner! Thanks to everyone who entered and partied with us! Please spread the word if you know anyone who would enjoy ExplorerMomma.com!

Thank you for partying with us!

Thanks again for joining the party! I hope you explore the website and the new design. It’s meant to allow you to see more of the content Explorer Momma offers so click around! Then, follow along with us as we explore more food, travel, and fun! Also, thanks for sharing the website with friends and family on Social Media platforms or by word of mouth. It helps us a ton and allows us to share more recipes and fun destinations!

Cheers!

Lauren

 

Explorer Momma Giveaway! Win a Christmas cookie baking set and be ready for the 12 Days of Keto Christmas Cookies. Easy low carb cookies can be yours to get through the holidays without succumbing to sugar! #ketocookies #ketochristmas

Women’s What To Read Next: A Cold Weather Booklist

Women’s What To Read Next: A Cold Weather Booklist

Preview: In this booklist, you’ll find my current version of women’s what to read next. Strong women, powerful women, good stories, and inspiration. This is what I’ve been reading lately.

This post contains affiliate links which means I make a very small percentage if you click through and purchase something. All opinions are strictly my own!

We’ve made it to that time of year it’s actually starting to feel like fall. The high is a mere 54 fabulous degrees Fahrenheit today, and it’s a little cloudy. I don’t know about you, but that signals tea and book reading time to me! So naturally, I took myself off to Barnes and Noble. I made the excuse to my husband that Children’s Place is right there too, and the child really needs new jeans since his are two inches too short with holes in the knees.

I love bookstores

Like I really ever need an excuse to go hang out in a bookstore.

I love visiting bookstores, and it makes me very sad there are so few of them about nowadays. I’m sounding old, but many moons ago when I was in high school my best friend and I used to spend our Friday nights at bookstores. We’d get our latte or tea (I wasn’t doing black coffee at this time), listening to the new music, going through every book and picking just the right one. It was fabulous, and hey, you can’t get into a lot of trouble at a bookstore now, can you?

Women's what to read next booklist. Looking for the perfect book for chill weather? Literature, historical fiction, tragedy, comedy, pick one here! #booklists #whattoreadnext #whattoread #womensbooks #reading #explorermomma

 

Women’s what to read next

After a while of not being thrilled with my book choices (something was off), I’ve recently had a fabulous run of winners I’d strongly suggest to anyone. There are tales of inspiration, ghosts of the mind, difficult circumstances, powerful, intelligent women, and great storytelling. You know when a book pulls you in, and your mind won’t let you, and indeed you don’t want to, leave that world until those final pages have been turned? That happened to me on almost all of these books.

So let’s get started.

The Great Alone

by Kristin Hannah

This was a book recommended by someone in a Facebook group I’m in, and yes, I’m in several bookclub type groups. It caught my eye because of the location, to be honest. The setting is on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska in 1974, and the book begins with the main character’s family arriving from the Lower 48. My grandparents used to live in Homer, Alaska, a key location in the book and a place I’ve visited several times myself, so it naturally piqued my interest.

I agree there is this idea that if you need to get away from society you can escape to Alaska. In The Great Alone, after the Vietnam Conflict, one family is given land near Homer and their adventure begins. They have no idea what it will take to survive off the grid in an untamed wilderness. They encounter all types of people, all with their own stories and reasons for being there. It is the story of the family, a father fighting the demons of the Vietnam War, his wife who will do anything for him, and their daughter and her coming of age and survival story. A beautifully written book and one I stayed up until 3 am one night to finish! It’s engrossing with good story-telling, and I highly recommend it.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ***** Five out of five stars.

 

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

by Genevieve Valentine

Imagine a well to do New York family in the 1920s. The father is a determined businessman who wants an heir and son. He and his wife have daughter after daughter until they have a collection of them upstairs he won’t admit to society. They don’t go to school, don’t go out, don’t visit others socially, they are kept in the house.

“Dressed up in the thrill and sparkle of the Roaring Twenties, the classic fairy tale of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ has never been more engrossing or delightful. Valentine’s fresh, original style and choice of setting make this a fairy tale reimagining not to be missed” (Library Journal, starred review).

So what do they do? It’s the roaring 20s! They learn to dance, and organized by their eldest sister Jo they sneak out at night to the clubs and find a home at the Kingfisher Club. Put on some 20s music as you read for there are bootleggers, raids, and drama. The story goes deeper focusing on each girl and is a fun read.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ****1/2 Four and a half out of five stars.

 

The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist I happened upon I believe through my library app suggesting it to me. I read it, and it was interesting because I then noticed it on the PBS list of top books to read and in my Barnes and Noble promo email. Quelle coïncidence! It seemed fated for me to read it.

This is the sweeping story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel. We already have something in common. But he wants to travel in search of worldly treasures. What does he truly want? How can he get it? Will he give up? Santiago learns many lessons along this mystical journey. He reads and listens to omens that come to him and follows his dreams. We all need some inspiration every now and then, and The Alchemist certainly delivers.

I liked this book very much and appreciated the positivity and determination in Santiago to never give up. Live your life and your dreams.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ***** Five out of five stars.

Ready for the holiday season?

Are you ready to start your pile of cozy Christmas books by the fire? Here are some I recommend.

Cozy Christmas books, a Christmas booklist #christmas #christmasbooks #fireside #explorermomma

Cold Sassy Tree

by Olive Ann Burns

I picked up Cold Sassy Tree on the recommendation of a friend, and it was indeed a hilarious journey and character study. In the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia news and/or gossip spreads like wildfire. It’s 1906 and Grandpa E. Rucker Blakeslee announces only three weeks after Grandma Blakeslee’s in her grave that he’s going to marry the young milliner in his store, Miss Love Simpson. Yes, half his age and a Yankee! Gasp! His grandson, young Will Tweedy finds himself in the scandal while having adventures of his own. At 14, he’s growing up and has to deal with class and place, is run over by a train (literally), and does his best to keep the peace in his own household.

There are lots of characters from all over town in this one and an amusing read. I took this one about a chapter at a time and had fun with it.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ****1/2 Four and a half out of five stars.

 

The Woman Who Smashed Codes

by Jason Fagone

I have to say, I came upon this book quite by accident, and I consider myself lucky to have done so. This is not a novel but a popular history book that reads like a spy thriller, about a real-life character hidden in history in government secrets. This era of codebreaking is fascinating, and while I’ve seen movies and read books about the British side in Bletchley Park with Alan Turing and others, I didn’t know much about the American efforts in codebreaking in World War II.

The Woman Who Smashed Codes is the true story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman. We are introduced to her when she meets her partner in cryptology and future husband, William Friedman, at an eccentric tycoon’s estate just outside of Chicago where they both worked in 1916. They become an unstoppable team in codebreaking, or cryptology, in WWI and WWII.

See a part of the Amazon summary:

In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation’s history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizebeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler’s Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma—and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.

Due to the secrecy of Elizabeth’s missions and work, her story had never been told before, and she herself never spoke of it. She was true to the oaths she made to the government, and only recently have some of her records be declassified.

I LOVED this book, and if you have any interest in codes, codebreaking, espionage, and the history of World War II, you need to read this book. Elizebeth Friedman was a dynamic and powerful woman who was not afraid to use her mind. Read it!

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ***** Five out of five stars!!! Maybe more.

 

The Thirteenth Tale

by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale is a book for those of you, like myself, who love the brooding stories of the Bronte sisters such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, with perhaps a bit of Wilkie Collins thrown in, The Moonstone. (And by the way, if you haven’t read those three books, by all means order them all now or get to your local library and remedy that error in your book reading ways).

Our main character, Margaret Lee, is summoned to the country to write the biography of famous author Vida Winter. Throughout her life, Ms. Winter has invented many versions of her origins and life story to shield the truth. Now is the time to share her tale with Margaret, who has her own clouded and troubled story of her birth and childhood.

In this book, you get great characters, abandoned country houses, destroyed topiary gardens, ghosts, wild twins, a great house fire to conjure up scenes of Jane Eyre, and so much more. It’s a way of bringing those past ghosts to light and freeing those in the present of their haunting.

I know those who absolutely obsess over this book and how good it is. Yes, I enjoyed the book very much and a return to the feel of some of those Victorian novels. Each character (and there are quite a few of them!) is well-developed and well-placed in the setting. I don’t obsess over it, but I do definitely recommend reading it! It is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time to really transport me back in time through good storytelling.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ***** Five out of five stars.

Sugar free latte with almond milk at Barnes and Noble #booksandcoffee #ilovebooks #explorermomma

Books and coffee

So now, this is me telling you, go to your local bookstore! Enjoy your sugar-free almond milk latte (that’s mine above) or coffee, or tea, or whatever! Take some time for yourself and just breathe in the books. Wander about the bookstore and find the perfect one for your mood or pick one on my list above.

Today I found myself perusing the military history section of the bookstore. Why? Well, why not? I love history, and read a lot of historical fiction, but sometimes the true stories are even more compelling. If I hadn’t hung out in the military history section I might never have found The Woman Who Smashed Codes. Of course, you can do this section hopping on your phone or online too, I just happen to enjoy the luxury of doing it in a real bookstore!

So I challenge you! Try a new genre or section to choose your next read. You just might find your new obsession.

How to get a FREE US National Parks pass

How to get a FREE US National Parks pass

There’s something magical about being a kid in a national park. Everything is new and wondrous and makes an imprint in your mind that will last a lifetime. Did you know that every single fourth grader in the United States can get a FREE Every Kid in a Park Pass? Yes, a free US National Parks pass. It’s good for the entire family for the whole year and gets you into not just National Parks but all federal lands and waters. How cool is that?! My daughter’s in fourth grade this year and has so inspired our year we’ve titled “Operation US National Parks for Families”.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Impact of U.S. National Parks on kids

I grew up in Colorado and feel as though Rocky Mountain National Park is my own backyard and safe haven or escape. It is and will always be near and dear to my heart, but another national park also made a huge impact and imprint on my childhood. When I was a kid, my grandparents lived in Homer, Alaska. We were fortunate enough to be able to travel up there to visit them a couple of times and also experience the magic that is the Kenai Fjords National Park.

Kenai Fjords National Park, glacier calving

I remember being entranced by the glacier and the huge variety of wildlife I saw in one relatively small area. We took a tour on a little tour boat, and I think my hands were on the bars at the very front with the wind blowing in my face the entire time. I leaned over to see porpoises jump next to us as we sailed along, whales breach and wave their tales in hello, colorful puffins in the rocky cliffs, the bark of sea lions lounging on rocks, a moose on the hill, and SO much more. In a time way before the Wild Kratts entered our lives this was a miracle for me to see. AND it was live and in person, real and in the wild to my mind. It was not a zoo.

Kenai Fjords National Park, sea lions

What is Operation U.S. Parks for Families?

Operation U.S. Parks for Families is a series of blog posts to be featured throughout the  2018-2019 Every Kid in a Park Pass year. The goal of this series is to inspire families to visit national parks together and provide them with ideas for amazing activities in each park they can do as a family.

Who will be featured in Operation U.S. Parks

To begin, Operation US National Parks for Families will feature some of our own fabulous past experiences at national parks. In addition, throughout the year I’ll be highlighting our CURRENT travels to different parks and federal lands. Then as an even bigger BONUS I’ll be highlighting the experiences of other families all over the country! I’m so excited about this aspect of the series so we can provide a broader picture of family experiences with different opinions, likes, dislikes, and interests!

Operation US National Parks for Families. Join our family and more as we travel the United States together. Learn how to get your free US National Parks pass! #travelwithkids #usnationalparks #everykidinapark #explorermomma

Get your FREE US National Parks Pass and join us! 

Would you like to join us for Operation US National Parks for Families Journey? We’d love to have you! Sign up for our newsletter to receive weekly updates on where we’re exploring! Will it be the caves in Carlsbad, New Mexico? Maybe, you’ll get to see and read about an adventure to the giant redwoods and sequoias of Sequoia National Park! Perhaps, if you’re really lucky, we’ll journey to Watkins Glen National Park in New York for scenery and kid-friendly hikes that could be straight out of a Tolkien book. So get your cloaks, backpacks, tents, elf-ears, or whatever you’d like to prepare and join our EPIC National Parks journey today!

How to sign up for your Every Kid in a Park Pass

How do you get your free US National Parks Pass? It is so super simple. All you do is go to the official US Government website here. Explore the website or just click on “Get Your Pass”. As I’m writing this they’ve recently updated the site for the 2018 to 2019 school year. Your fourth grader answers a few questions to make a diary entry to begin to figure out how they’d like to use their new pass. It’s super-easy and a fun activity.

free US National Parks pass, Hand on mouse

Once you sign up and complete the diary on the website, there will be a ticket to print out. Now, you can use it as your yearly pass, or you can take it to your first park or water area, show a ranger, and obtain a wallet-sized card for the year. Did I mention it’s FREE? What an awesome deal to bring families together in nature!

Congratulations! Free US National Parks pass

The next step is to take the family on hundreds of adventures until the card expires August 31, 2019 (or the current school year). Do you know what? If you miss something or don’t have time, little brother can get his own pass in the next year or two. Then you get to plan for that national park year as well!

How to use your free US National Parks Pass

If you’re going to use it you’ve got to plan your first trip! Are you going to camp in the woods? Do you want to see protected animals and wildlife? Maybe you’d just like to find your nearest park to start! Before you go read the official rules here. Then, just present your ticket as you enter the park! The park ranger will trade your printed paper copy of the ticket for an official Every Kid in a Park card, and your fourth grader will sign it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Every Kid in a park pass, free US National Parks pass

There are sooo many opportunities for exploration and fun with this pass! Literally, you’ve got hundreds of places to visit near or far, it’s up to you.

Plan your trip with Operation U.S. Parks for Families

Now, I challenge you! Get out and explore! Follow along with our blog series and gain inspiration. Yes, I formally invite you to travel along with us virtually on our Operation U.S. Parks for Families journey. You can create your own adventures, the sky’s the limit! It’s such fun to plan destinations as a family and give every member a say. Can you tell I’m excited!?

Lily Ridge Trail with free US National Parks pass

Carlsbad Caverns National Park for Families

10 Musts for visiting Carlsbad Caverns with kids

Let’s travel with our free US National Parks pass!

I am so thrilled to explore our US National and State parks all over the country! My family and I will be planning and writing about our own trips using the Every Kid in a Park Pass. Also, we’ll all have the opportunity to travel virtually all over the country with other National Park loving families. Truly, I cannot wait to see the beauty of our parks and hear about the super-awesome and life-changing family experiences only nature can inspire and bring together.

My friends, I hope you follow along with us on this magnificent journey to explore our US National Parks!

I’d love to see your own adventures! Tag me in your National and State Park travel pics on Instagram @explorermomma.

Explore a National Park today!

Pin this article to save and share!

Operation US National Parks for Families. Join our family and more as we travel the United States together. Learn how to get your free US National Parks pass! #travelwithkids #usnationalparks #everykidinapark #explorermomma     Did you know you can get a FREE US National Parks pass? Find out how and join our family travel adventure around the United States. #operationnationalparks #everykidinapark #familytravel #ustravel #explorermomma

Thanks to all and HAPPY TRAVELS!

The Best DIY Essential Oil Travel Roller

The Best DIY Essential Oil Travel Roller

Lately, I’ve been super-picky about the household products we use in our family. Not only what you eat but what you put on your skin can have huge effects on your health for good or bad. What gets me is that there are so many toxins out there in everyday products that are not regulated and most people don’t even realize it. So today, we are going to put together the absolute best DIY essential oil travel roller.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

When you go on vacation with the kids, what are some of the basics? There’s the inevitable fall and scrape a knee, so you’ll need disinfectant and bandages. What else? If you’re on a lake or beach vacation you will probably need sunburn spray/cream to calm it when dad refuses to put on sunscreen or you miss a spot. In addition, you’ll need bug spray and bug bite relief. Do you know what I also love? A sleep aid to calm me (and the kids!) down after a big day and sleeping in a new place.

Also, if you’re camping, road tripping, or traveling by air long distances don’t you always carry a hand sanitizer and/or wipes to get rid of all those germs? What’s in antibacterial wipes, anyway? Well, I’m glad you asked! “Fragrance” (possible carcinogen, possible allergic reactions), methylparaben, propylparaben (both hormone or endocrine disruptors), phenoxyethanol (The American Society of Contact Dermatitis lists phenoxyethanol as one of its core allergens), and so many more!

I want to know what’s in my EVERYDAY use products and know they’re good for me and my family, don’t you? Wouldn’t you love to be able to make your own using essential oils and natural ingredients?

In a hurry?

Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe or PIN it here for later!

Essential oils experts: questions and answers

Lately, I’ve spent a ton of time researching the best natural remedies, but sometimes I do get frustrated when I’m looking up herbs and essential oil information. Have you noticed all the conflicting viewpoints on-line? I suppose that’s true with many subjects!

DIY Essential Oil travel roller recipe

Have you ever read that a certain essential oil is okay for internal use, only to turn around and read another article that says that same essential oil is “for external use only!”? Or what about which oils are okay during pregnancy or for babies? Also, it often comes up, which brands you can use and trust? It can all be really confusing and either make you want to pull out your hair or become your own expert! What if you could watch a panel of actual aromatherapy experts tackle all of these tough questions and more?

Maybe they won’t even agree on every single thing, but at least you’ll find out why they disagree, so you can make an educated choice for yourself. I know once I have the facts I’m FULL of opinions. 😉

If you’ve followed this blog long, you’ll know I work with Ultimate Bundles from time to time. Why? Because they put together VALUABLE, worthwhile information I love and use. When it’s something I love I like to share it with you too!

Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle

You knew you wanted to take charge of your health (and your family’s) when you first began learning about natural remedies. You probably even knew it wouldn’t be easy.

But you had no idea you’d be so overwhelmed and confused by how much there is to learn and all the conflicting opinions.

I’ve had the same frustrations. When I first became interested in natural health, I spent so much time researching. I squeezed our tight budget to find funds to grow our health arsenal. I often had to experiment and guess, and I made a lot of mistakes along the way.

Here’s the thing, though: I didn’t really have the extra time or dollars I wished I had to devote to my new goal.

I did my best with what I had, but it was hard work. And that’s why I want to make it easier for you.

What if I told you someone had already put together a complete package to get you up to speed on using herbs and essential oils safely and effectively, or even help you dig deeper into the research and learn more advanced techniques once you’ve got the basics down?

And… that package was already carefully vetted for you (saving you time) – at a price that’s way too low to miss (saving you money)?

Well, look no further, because it’s here!

Introducing the Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle!

For six days only, everything you need (and then some) is in one fabulous package, for the most affordable price ever. (Seriously, just wait until I tell you the price.)

This year’s edition of the Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle includes 28 ebooks and printables, 4 full eCourses, and 2 membership sites!

These top-quality resources cover everything you need to give you the skills and confidence to use natural remedies in your home.

You’ll get a complete library to help you:

  • Rebuild your medicine cabinet with natural remedies
  • Create beauty and skincare products without harmful ingredients
  • Treat your digestive complaints, pain, colds, and flu with everything in your medicine cabinet
  • Know which herbs are safe for pregnancy, babies, and children

Discover which natural substances combat multi-drug resistance, infections, and even cancer

  • Confidently prepare herbal extracts, salves, and balms
  • Liven up your meals and get major health benefits by using the right herbs
  • and so much more!

Plus, it comes with over $60 worth of bonus offers from companies you’ll love (like essential oil diffuser earrings, natural skincare, and herbal tinctures!).

You sort of need to see it to believe it, but the package includes 34 digital products and it’s worth over $560 (but you’ll get it for 95% off)!

Besides being so incredibly helpful, one of the things I like best about the bundle is the price. By offering it for a short time only, the team at Ultimate Bundles is able to give you access to ALL of this… for just $29.97.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Visit their website, take a quick look at all the goodness that comes in this package, then click the “Get my copy now!” button to go through their simple and secure 3-step checkout process.
  2. You’ll receive an email with a login to the online access portal, where you’ll begin downloading your eBooks, signing up for your eCourses, and redeeming your free bonus offers.
  3. Use their Getting Started Guide to pick the topic you want to tackle first and start using natural remedies!

The most important detail, though, is that this bundle is available at this price for just six days! After Monday night, June 4th, the price goes up.

I’d hate for you to miss out, so click here to learn more or buy the bundle.

It’s even backed by a 100% happiness guarantee, so you can make sure it’s right for you.

You want to protect your health. You shouldn’t have to feel overwhelmed because it costs too much or it’s too hard to trustworthy resources that make using natural remedies easy.

Learn more or get your bundle here.

(Psst… the bundle price will go up at 11:59pm Eastern on Monday, June 4th, so don’t wait!)

Have you tried eating low carb?

I love this cauliflower mac and cheese bake!

Cauliflower mac and cheese bake, square piece

Best DIY essential oil travel roller bottle

Back to the indispensable travel roller! This super simple recipe is one I use and keep on me constantly, especially when traveling. My 5-year-old son has his own he puts on his scratches and boo-boos. In addition, it’s super calming so it helps him go to sleep at night without the toxic “fragrance” in so many kids’ calming night lotions.

The DIY essential oil travel roller contains only three ingredients, well I guess four if you count the 10 ml roller bottle. Lavender, tea tree oil, and fractionated coconut oil (or olive oil works too).

Lavender

DIY essential oil travel roller, lavender

First of all, let me say lavender is one of my favorite scents in the world! It has so many properties it’s really one of the most versatile essential oils and therefore so very useful for travel when you’re trying to save space. Lavender can relieve nervous tension (calms), it’s a pain reliever, skin disinfectant, it enhances blood circulation, and can aid in respiratory problems.

Melaleuca or Tea Tree Oil

DIY Essential Oil Travel Roller

Melaleuca is also known as tea tree oil and is truly another essential oil cure-all. It has so many helpful uses, you pair it with lavender and you can’t lose. Melaleuca is an antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, expectorant, fungicide, insecticide, stimulant, and a sudorific substance.

Fractionated Coconut Oil

Fractionated coconut oil is often used as a carrier, or to dilute essential oils. Don’t be fooled! It also has its own amazing qualities that make it a great choice for a roller. It can withstand light and high heat without going rancid. Also, it’s not greasy and lighter than regular coconut oil and has more of a cleansing effect on the skin. This is a fabulous base for skin care products and as a way to use your essential oils.

As I said, the recipe itself is super simple.

To make the DIY essential oil travel roller, take one 10 ml glass bottle with a roller topper and lid. Once it’s cleaned and sterilized put in 5 drops of lavender and 3 drops of melaleuca. Fill the bottle to the top with the fractionated coconut oil. Push the roller ball into place and screw on the lid. Shake it a bit, and it’s ready to conquer scrapes, bug bites, boo-boos, rashes, stress, insomnia, and more!

It’s also one of those things I can pull out to take action on a “boo-boo” of one of the kids, and just seeing it makes them calm down and feel better. Try it out for yourself when you travel with the family or just keep one in your purse at all times. I even rub it on my wrists sort of like a relaxing perfume. It has so many uses!

What products do you like to make yourself?

So yes, I admit it. Lately, you can find me nerding out drying out my Mother’s Day rose petals for a bath salts recipe, making my own hand sanitizer, and trying out different essential oils in my lip balm recipe. It’s so time for back to basics, and I’m excited to learn more and more because hey, it keeps my babies safer. Free from daily toxins rubbed into their skin and educated to make their own choices in the future.

DIY Essential Oil Travel Roller

Multi-purpose essential oil rub. Good for scrapes, bites, stress, you name it! Save room while you travel!

Servings: 12 people
Author: Lauren Gonikishvili
Ingredients
  • 10 ml roller ball bottle
  • 5 drops lavender oil
  • 3 drops melaleuca oil (tea tree)
  • 2 teaspoons fractionated coconut oil or olive oil, fill bottle
Instructions
  1. To make the DIY essential oil travel roller, take one 10 ml glass bottle with a roller topper and lid. Once it’s cleaned and sterilized put in 5 drops of lavender and 3 drops of melaleuca. Fill the bottle to the top with the fractionated coconut oil. Push the roller ball into place and screw on the lid. Shake it a bit, and it’s ready to conquer scrapes, bug bites, boo-boos, rashes, stress, insomnia, and more!

Best DIY essential oil travel roller recipe

Family Camping Checklist And Must Haves

Family Camping Checklist And Must Haves

Now is the perfect time to be talking about family camping preparations because hey it’s just decided to start SNOWING! Do you know what? I’ll let you in on a little secret. Go ahead and go through your family camping checklist. There’s never a bad time to plan for a camping trip, and I’m in Colorado so since it’s 25 degrees Farenheit right now, tomorrow it should be 74 again, right? Because that’s what happens here!

This post contains affiliate links which means I make a very small percentage if you click through and purchase something. All opinions are strictly my own!

Family camping checklist, campfire pin

Let me first tell you what can happen on a badly planned family camping trip. Last summer we decided on a whim to grab that camping site that had just been released on the website in Rocky Mountain National Park at the Moraine Park Campground. What luck! That place is crazy busy in the summer and we hadn’t booked ours months in advance. We threw the tent, some food, and the kids in the car and set off to enjoy the mountains.

The BAD Camping Experience

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my Rocky Mountains, but what ensued was NOT a pleasurable experience. I did NOT use a family camping checklist. Our campsite was in the middle of a group of sites in the large campground, although at first, we didn’t think it was too close to others. We got our tent up and sent the kids to look for pinecones and bugs. Unfortunately, there’s not a river or lake or a lot to do at that campsite, and we were sort of pinned in. We’d forgotten our normal card games and had to drive out of the campground to do much hiking or other activity.

That night the ground was hard, the hole in our camping mattress painfully evident. Not that we could sleep anyway because it was so cold one of the people at the next campsite turned their car on and ran the heater ALL NIGHT. YES!! All night the hum of the car and the burr of it when the heater came back on caused none of us to get much sleep. By morning we were so tired, grouchy, and picking at one another that we picked up things and went home. It was not like a bear attacked our food and destroyed our campsite, it was just NOT the ideal family camping trip in nature.

SO what did that teach us? PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!! With kids, my sanity revolves around checklists and planning and preparing for every eventuality. Of course, so many people’s personalities are different, but even a little planning can’t hurt!

Prep the kids and test your gear with a trial run

Rocky Mountain National Park tree view

What do you mean by a trial run you may be thinking!? I mean exactly that. If you haven’t used your camping gear for a while, pull it all out and build up a grand event for the kids to CAMP IN THE BACKYARD!! Ooh! Try out some of your favorite or new camping recipes modified for your kitchen, but take it outdoors to eat in camping chairs by the tent. Test out your headlamps, flashlights, even the camp stove if you use one. Also, I like to shake out the tent and sleeping bags to air them a bit and make sure they’ve all been cleaned since the downpour and mud slosh of the last trip!

Another thing that I love about a backyard campout is that it’s a great trial run for the kids! If you have young ones who’ve never camped before it can be scary. In the backyard, it still can be but with easy access to the house. Once the tent and set up is more familiar to a child, they will be more comfortable with it in a foreign setting, your desired campground. Baby steps, right?

Family camping checklist picture, campsite

Reserve your campsite in advance

If you are headed to a national park or a popular campground, be sure to book your campsite online in ADVANCE. The Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds open up reservations six months in advance, and if you’re planning to go there I suggest you book it as soon as you can.

First, choose your campground. What activities are there around for the kids to do? Do you want to be by a good fishing spot, a lake or a river? Do you want to be close to accessible hikes or areas for wildlife viewing? Or do you just want a space to hang out, play cards, talk, and hang out around a campfire? Some campgrounds even have games like horseshoes, putt-putt, and other things children like to do. Do you need electricity and a bathroom? Decide, what is it you want out of the campsite area?

Second, study the campground map and look at the campsite pictures if there are any. Are you a family that likes to be in the middle of things among a lot of people at a party or more separated with space and a good view? Book your campsite accordingly! If you’ve never been there, consult someone who has or Google reviews for the specific campground. Another thing, be sure the review is recent so you know there hasn’t been a fire or attack of pine beetles or something to drastically change the area!

Third, book your campsite on-line! Find the website for the campground you’ve chosen and get your reservation booked!!

Love to go hiking with your kids?

Check out these awesome Estes Park, Colorado hikes for kids and family!

Estes Park hikes for kids, mountain with golden aspens

Camping Gear

When you’re looking at gear for a camping trip a lot of it depends on the length of time you’re going to be camping and what exactly you’re wanting to do. I’ve admitted I’m no longer a hardcore, a week at a time camper with kids, but I do like a two-night trip. When you do your trial run fun backyard campout you can determine what gear you still may need to get. I would really LOVE to have this entire awesome new tent setup from Cinch!, with solar charging hookups and super easy setup and takedown. However, for our short-term camping, our old tent will probably do just fine! What kind of tent’s on your family camping checklist?

Cinch!

I highly recommend downloading my family camping checklist. You can write all over it, add things, and cross things off as you need. As a mom going in a million directions I know I need something written down clearly defining the next step. Truly, I’ve learned because I’ve had too many experiences where I’ve said oh, I’ll remember that! And then, of course, I don’t, and it gets left in the storage area in the basement.


Sign up for Explorer Momma’s newsletter and as a bonus download this amazing family camping checklist today!

Family camping checklist preview

Family Camping Food

Food! There are so many fun camping recipes on Pinterest I encourage you to find a few new ones to please the family. As a kid, I still remember how much fun it was to wrap my packet of food up in foil and throw it in the fire to cook. How in the world did the adults let me do that?! As a strict rule follower, it was a great release and rebellion for me without really rebelling. Of course, there’s always a traditional s’more to be had as well!

If you are wanting to cook with a campfire or just sit around one, always check for fire restrictions or bans at your campsite before you go!

With food, plan out your days. What will you eat for each meal? What are your snacks? Will it spoil or need to be kept iced? There are a lot of things to think about with food, and my preferred short trips make it a lot easier than a couple week campout, although that is totally doable also.

Another thing to think about is how you can keep your food away from the wildlife in the area. Can you contain it at night so the bears don’t sniff out your camp? (Often there’s a locked “bear box” assigned to campsites to keep food if that’s a problem in the area). Maybe you can tie all the food in a bag up in a tree or in your car? Although, I’ve heard of bears getting into cars as well! Talk to the ranger or campsite director about best practices in regard to food storage.

PLEASE! When you plan out your food, remember you also have to cart out all your trash or find an appropriate receptacle for it!! Leave nature and your campsite as it was when you found it!

Tent camping in the Rocky Mountains

Things to do while camping

I mentioned this briefly before, but think about what things you want to do with the kids or friends while you’re there. Find out what’s available and what will work for you all to do. Add the necessary items to your family camping checklist.

  1. Where are the best nearest hikes?
  2. Can you fish in the area? Who all needs a fishing license?
  3. Can you boat or kayak?
  4. Bring card games to play during a downpour in your tent!
  5. Frisbee, baseball, soccer, or other sports
  6. Plan a nature scavenger hunt for the kids.
  7. Give the kids an old camera and tell them to take pictures of as many different: leaves, pine cones, bugs, birds, animals, or whatever’s around, they can. My son LOVES this and can do it for hours.
  8. Create a nature journal. This is more my daughter’s style. She loves to draw and write about the things she sees. I don’t like to give it too many rules so she can be creative, but you can give suggestions. Why don’t you draw all the flowers, butterflies, or animals you find? Can you imagine a story about that tree and write it out?

Family camping trip, kids hiking

What’s left on your family camping checklist?

Family camping and camping on your own or with friends are two ENTIRELY different animals. I used to love to pack in all my gear and tent on my back 5 miles or more to the backcountry campsite where there wouldn’t be anyone else around. Peaceful. Quiet. Serene.

Add young kids to that equation, and you are headed for a disaster of high magnitude!! Now, as a family, our ideal camping experience is 2 nights at a campground site. In addition, this site is close enough to walk back to the car, but separated enough from the other campsites so you still feel the peace of the great outdoors.

You can have an amazing experience, but it does take some patience and planning. And flexibility, which is what I always have to work on!! I hope you printed your family camping checklist and will use it this summer!

Get your family outside and run! Soak in the sun and stare at the stars. Give it a chance, and planned properly with a family camping checklist, you will LOVE your time and memories made.

Now here’s a question for you! Where are some of your favorite family camping spots all over the world?

 Family camping checklist preview1

Pin It on Pinterest

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close