As I am preparing to ring in another year, I'm noticing that I feel full to the brim with excitement, anticipation, and readiness. It has been a long year. No longer than any other, literally, but emotionally, and physically speaking.......I'm ready for a new year to begin. I know that nothing truly changes but a few numbers on the calendar, but somehow, as if by magic, it's change enough to help institute a clean slate. I enjoyed pouring over photos taken from the year, remembering what each one was about; what I was doing, how I was feeling, who was around. Each one holding a more precious moment or memory then the next, what a beautiful way to let this door close and another one open.



Come and share a pot of tea.
My home is warm and
my friendship is free.

~Emilie Barnes~

Christmas is such a wonderful time for celebrating friendships. And what better way to celebrate than to gather mothers, daughters, 
grandmothers, and friends for an afternoon tea? This is a special time for little girls to bring along their favorite doll or teddy bear as well.  
And really, what girl, young or old doesn't love to dress up! Light some scented candles, play soft Christmas music in the background, 
light a cozy fire, and sip tea while you savor sweet memories.

One of the main advantages of a Christmas tea party is that your home is already decorated with holiday trim.  
Here are a few special added touches that will make your tea all the more memorable:

~For a centerpiece, fill a teapot with red or white roses mixed with evergreen sprigs and accented with golden ribbon.  
Scatter rose petals around the teapot.

~Fill a sugar bowl with sugared rose petals to sweeten the tea. {Recipe Below}

~Set the table with your best china, silver, and linens.

~Arrange cookies, teacakes, candies, and scones with curd or jam, and tea sandwiches on the table.

~ For the kids, set up a small table with a miniature tea set for the children's dolls and teddy bears. Place a rosebud in a teacup for a centerpiece.

Offer a variety of teas and coffees to your guests. For a special treat sprinkle a tablespoon of cinnamon in your coffee before brewing. 
Be sure to have plenty of hot chocolate for the younger guests and garnish their mugs with a stick of peppermint that will slowly 
dissolve into the chocolate. And don't forget the homemade marshmallows!

Before your guests arrive, create simple party favors by tucking tea bags and a few recipes cards of the goodies that were served at the tea 
inside the Christmas cards. Arrange the cards in a pretty basket or bowl for your guests to pick up as they depart.

Make this special tea party an annual tradition for celebrating Christmas with friends and family. 

Sugared Rose Petals

    Egg white, 2

    Sugar, 1 small bowl
    Water, 1 cup
    Brush, 1
    Wax paper
    Edible Rose Petals,  1 bag

PreparationHaving sweetened crystallized roses is a good idea since these can serve 

as a great snack and also as a beautiful dessert decoration.
Mix the egg white and water in the bowl and stir until there are no bubbles within the mixture. 
Soak the brush in the mixture and completely and gently paint each rose petal.
Fully cover the rose petals with sugar.Place each petal on the wax paper and leave it dry in a room with no humidity, 
they should take around 12 to 36 hours to dry.

Christmas Tea Sandwiches

2 Loaves of sliced white bread
2 cup Craisins
2 Pounds prepared chicken salad
1 cup chopped pecans


Cut slices of the bread with cookie cutters in the shape of a holiday star, bell, or tree.  
Mix the Craisins and peacans into the chicken salad.   
 Spread the mixture onto the bread shapes and serve open face.

Yield 48 tea sandwiches


:: Reflection with intention ::

I am reminded how important it is to surround myself with creative and uplifting people. Spending time with people who encourage and inspire can have such a positive effect on ones life. We can spend time reflecting on how we feel about the different areas of our lives, and determining new steps we can take for the new year to keep our dreams at the top of our list. I think it is really important to take time to reflect. And to set new goals. We all have dreams. We all have opportunities and the ability to make those dreams happen. Some days we may not feel like we have much control over our lives-especially in the wake of a tragedy, but, it is really important to bounce back. Learn something from each situation, each struggle and then move on. If you never take the time to reflect, then you are just spinning with no end in site. Begin to notice how your actions affect other people. Do you let other people's actions affect you? 

The holidays are upon us and soon, a brand new year that will bring brand new beginnings. Don't forget though, that every day is a new beginning. Each morning is a new chance. Have you ever heard the saying that each day is like a picture? Simply picture a fresh canvas upon which you can paint your life. You get to choose the colors, the strokes, your pace, and everything about your work of art. So, take time to reflect on this past year, on what you accomplished, what you are grateful for, and what you want your new year to look like- and how you plan to get there.

I'm a list person. I begin each day making a list of what I want to accomplish. It helps me make the right decisions during the day to get me closer to accomplishing all the things I hope to. Even the most mundane tasks that I do either bring me happiness or closer to a goal I have set for myself.

Begin to make conscious choices. Take some time to reflect. Set goals {make a list} and take actions.
And, remember to reflect, without it you cannot make changes that may be necessary. 


I absolutely love the old Regency Christmas stories, with the manor house, 
the snow, the Christmas ball, the sleigh rides  and that special scene where 
the hero and heroine inevitably end up kissing under the mistletoe. Don't you? 

The most romantic element of the Christmas season is the mistletoe kissing. We've forgotten all about that magical little plant that used to be hung in doorways in an earlier era, an excuse for stealing a kiss. But not me. I picked some up last weekend, and now,  it has been securely hung with care in the main entryway.  No one can escape it. No one knows it is there yet. I'm curious as to what will happen when they do. Any thoughts? Shall we see the hidden side of someone's desires as they laugh "Oh look, we're under the mistletoe" ... I wonder. I won't have to wonder long. Soon the house will be filled with people and I'll get to see firsthand how people cope with the elusive mistletoe.  I'll let you know how that goes. I'm curiouser, and curiouser...

And me? Who do I want to run into under the mistletoe? No one here I can assure you of that.


This December has been different than the past few Decembers. That's because this December I'm celebrating the spirit of the season through the eyes of my grandchildren,  ...and maybe it's just me, but isn't just about everything that has to do with Christmas a little more magical and fun when you see those things through the eyes of a child? Our family traditions are about the simple things we do together....making cookies for the traditional cookie exchange, the Hot cocoa movie night party, the neighborhood get together, getting all bundled up and going ice skating, and singing Carols, driving around to take in all the beautiful lights strung everywhere, and decorating our home with colors of red and green, and of course, watching every movie from "Charlie Brown's Christmas" to "Christmas with the Kranks"! It's the little expressions of joy and wonder their little faces that have meant the most to me over the past few weeks, and the photographer in me tries to capture every  moment possible! I never leave home without my camera....even if it's just my iphone. Because, I just don't want to ever miss a thing.


:: Mucky Monday ::

Do you ever have those times, days, weeks even, when it is all you can do just to get out of bed and face your to-do list? I try very hard to stick to a good daily routine-regular exercise, healthy eating, nurture positive relationships, drink lots of water, organize my surroundings - but still, some days- just getting out of bed, putting on clothes and getting out the door feels like I'm climbing a mountain. I suppose that as the days get shorter, and darker, and much colder, the desire to hibernate feels natural. I do believe it is important to use the winter season to take care of oneself a little more than usual. To take the time to really rest and rejuvenate - after all, if you don't there will be very little to share with others. And we all know that this is such a busy time of the year. Things are nonstop everyday.

Focus instead this week on gratitude. Bring to light the positive even in the face of negativity. After all, every challenge has a meaning and gives us an opportunity. Sometimes it is really hard to see what good can come out of a bad situation, but believe me, there is always something to be learned. We all struggle, and I believe we are all doing the best we can with what we have, it's just that some days it is really hard just to get going 

Well perhaps those are the days when we should just curl up on the couch with a good book and a hot cup of tea - perhaps after a while some slow moving feel-good yoga, some journaling, some blogging, maybe some artsy creativity and some real thought to all that you are grateful for this holiday season. Because even when life is hard and challenging, there is much to be grateful for.


Life is what you make of it. My life has offered me lots of opportunities and challenges. I am going to face it with a smile on my face and a lift in my step!


:: A beautiful day it was ::

It's so hard to believe how nice it was outside yesterday. I had lunch outdoors
with a friend who I haven't seen in a while. We went to a quaint little pub
where they opened the patio for lunch at the request of many customers
who wanted to sit outside on such an unbelievable beautiful day.

You would never have guessed it was December. Not here in
Illinois. We should be knee-high in snow, but instead it was 65
or higher and the sun was beating down it's warmth as well.  

It was good meeting up with an old friend. I'm glad I took the time.
It felt good to feel the sun shine upon my face again.

I'm taking pictures of everything-everywhere I go it seems!

I also wanted to share with you another drink I tried over the weekend that is really
very good.It comes from the pioneer woman author Ree Drummond and was a real hit!

Holiday Pom Cocktail

Holiday Pom Cocktail

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine juice of one lime, 3 ounces pomegranate juice,
4 ounces berry- or currant-flavored vodka, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 4 ounces club soda.

Shake for 10 to 20 seconds, then pour into sugar-rimmed glasses
(rub a lime wedge along each rim, then dip into a dish of red-and-white sanding sugar).

Serves 4

For larger quantities, mix the chilled ingredients in a pitcher and serve ice-cold. Delicious!


:: taking some time to reflect upon my week ::

  loving the crispness in the air
  crafting with all of natures treasures this season has to offer
candlelit breakfasts
  the vibrant reds of poinsettia leaves
  watching/supervising my grandson make us pancakes for breakfast…delicious
  the smell of fresh evergreen in the house
  listening to the sound of icy rain and wind outside, and feeling so very cozy inside
  loving the shared laughter of my grandchildren and other family friends…
  Christmas music already playing on my favorite radio station...
  a warm drink in my hand Christmas lists in front of me...

and the internet fired up as I am ready to do some serious shopping now …it's a quiet house....finally!


Naughty or Nice? Who decides? Seems a bit unfair doesn't it? 
After all, you can't possibly live up to everyone's hopes and expectations. 

Being good just to win Santa’s favor and an accompanying stack 
of presents is not why anyone should be good.

So, naughty or nice? Let's just flip that chocolate coin and see shall we? 


I was driving down a dark stretch of road after a really long and exhausting day, one that I never take, and suddenly, my surroundings seemed unfamiliar. All my senses seemed to be exhausted, and one eye was even twitching from a lack of sleep... the world around me was dimly lit in the soft autumn's fog... even the music on the radio was playing some strangely familiar old one-hit-wonder, strangely resonating... melding around my mind... like that same fog surrounding the constantly moving car... and then, I was home. Having no idea at all really how I had gotten there. So lost in thought... but, I can't remember what I was even thinking..... has that ever happened to you?


More things that make me thankful...

This week I found more things to be thankful for. 

Learning something new. Everyday.
Sleeping in on Sunday morning with no plans for the day.
Friends who put up with me, no matter what I might do.
Having time to read a book uninterrupted.

Having a sense of purpose in life. 
Being given a compliment, especially if I’m feeling down.
Being asked for advice because my opinion is respected.
Getting a phone call out of the blue and talking for hours.
Writing blogs that seem to touch people.


Doing what I want, when I want to.
 Going for a walk with no destination in mind and my camera in hand.
Having someone say Yes when I was sure that they would say No.
Understanding that I am responsible for my own happiness.
Helping someone solve a problem


Listening to Christmas music every chance I get.
Getting a good night’s sleep. I always need it.
Three and four-day weekends. {one is coming up!}
Attending a Christmas pops concert~ I scored tickets early!
Being appreciated at work and feeling that what I do makes a difference.


Having supportive friends who give me great advice when I need it.
Being creative and making something crafty with my hands.
Clean, crisp, just out of the dryer sheets on my bed.
Taking a long walk on a chilly afternoon.
Planning a road trip with my friends.


Eating a Whitey's Turtle malt.
Knowing that no matter what, everything works out.
Getting new journals and planners {love it!}
Giving to people who are less fortunate than I am.
Eying my vision board and knowing I’ve accomplished many things on it.


Let me just add...
Listening to Blurred Lines {causes an instant dance party to incur}
Getting a mani/pedi ~ and adoring the foot rub that comes with it.
Having an calming Chai tea and feeling healthy!


Roasted Nuts.........

Oh my goodness, I am totally stuck on this page Snowdays, it's always snowing someplace!
You make your own snowflakes and I simply can't stop! {Hahahaha} It is really addictive!
You will simply love it! Yes, it really is getting to be that time of the year isn't it?  
We have not gotten any snow yet where I live, but, I can certainly feel it in the air, 
I know it is coming sooner rather than later,
but, not yet! I wanted to share a  great recipe I found today...

Have you ever caught a whiff of those cinnamon almonds while Christmas shopping at the mall? Well, instead of waiting until your next shopping trip, make them yourself and share them with your friends and family! I finally made some - and I took the extra, let it cool down and put them in a clear cellophane bag and neatly did it up with some curling ribbon! It is sooo easy to make -here's the recipe try it yourself!

Cinnamon Spiced Nuts

1 egg white
2 tbsp. water
3-4 cups mixed nuts
3/4 cup brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Beat egg white and water. Stir in the nuts until moist. Drain. Combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the nuts until coated. Put nuts on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes. That's it! Enjoy!

What other recipes are you going to try to make this season?  I'm also going to make some pine cone fire starters for a friend of mine. It's really easy. Actually, I save my almost burned out candles just for this. When the candle is done, but you have lots of candle left-save it. then, using tongs, carefully dip your collected pine cones in the wonderfully scented wax that has been melted. Before the wax dries tuck in a short length of wicking. Then, just light and throw in the fireplace to start a fire with a lovely scent. Isn't that easy? But believe it or not, it makes a great gift. People just don't take the time to make simple things like this. I guess.
 But, if you try it you sure won't be sorry!