Well, there are many ways to get to Christmas. Many ways to count the days until finally, Christmas has arrived! It is of course especially hard for children to wait. Excitement and joy can be felt everywhere, and the anticipation of gifts can be overwhelming along with everything else going on. When my children were little we would make a red and green paper chain with 25 loops. We then wrote the name of family members and friends on each loop. Every night, we would cut off one loop and pray together for that person whose name was on the loop. This taught them to be concerned and to think of others and wish the best for them. We also would write out 25 kind deeds on slips of paper; Like, call Grandma, give daddy 3 kisses, color a picture for Uncle Paul, shovel the sidewalk for the neighbor. Then, I would tape each one to a present. Each day, the kids would pick one out of the Christmas stocking I put them in and carry out  the kindness as well as receiving a gift. From this they learned that you give what you get. Of course, we also set up a little Christmas tree in each of their rooms. Each day, we open up a box and pull out a special ornament to be placed onto the tree. By Christmas Day it is both beautiful and complete. It gave them a sense of pride in both creating a lovely tree, and doing it all by themselves. They also had their own Advent Calendars filled with goodies as well, and with each a bible verse to recite. From this they learned God's word and promise. I'm sure today things are done in all sorts of manners and ways. People come up with the cutest things. But, back when I was raising by children there was no internet until they were in High School. Can you just imagine that? Smile. So, go ahead and enjoy some of these with your kids. It makes for another fabulous family tradition. My own kids now do it with their children... Ideas to write on your chain... Christmas Paper Chain Advent *Start with the bottom link and take one off each day to find a fun activity to share with your child! 1.  Cut out a snowflake and hang it up in your window. 2.  Bake a special treat and deliver it to a lonely neighbor. 3.  Write a secret “angel note” telling a family member what you appreciate about him or her. 4.  Recite a favorite Christmas poem. 5.  Make a Christmas present for someone you love. 6.  Color a happy Christmas picture. 7.  Do a secret good deed for a member of your family. 8.  Write a letter to Santa. 9.  Read a favorite Christmas story. 10. Mail a Christmas card to a relative or friend. 11. Pass along a holiday smile to everyone you see today! 12. Make a card or gift for a special teacher. 13. Make and decorate a plate of Christmas cookies. 14. Sing a favorite Christmas song. 15. Make a Christmas ornament and hang it on the tree. 16. Wrap a present and put it under the tree. 17. Pretend you’re one of Santa’s helpers and be a helper all day long in your family! 18. Write a love note to a special friend. 19. Call your grandparents on the telephone. 20. Draw a picture of the Nativity Scene. 21. Secretly deliver a gift to a needy family. 22. Go Christmas caroling. 23. Bake a treat for Santa and his reindeer. 24. Act out the Nativity Story.


via; Berylune found HERE  

Wouldn't you agree that just a little bit of perfectly placed paper can simply transform an entire room into something magical to behold? It's so true. And every year I am taken aback by all of the beautiful paper creations I find across the pages of the internet. So many talented people that I love to watch from a distance {why? because I don't feel even half as talented} I scope out their ideas and sometimes I try them myself. Sometimes it turns out good, other times... let's just say I wish I hadn't even started because I can see I can't save it. But, then again as I have often said, we all have different gifts. {why don't I ever listen to my own advise?} We can't all be perfect at everything. But, it's really an awful lot of fun trying! And I'll never stop trying to do the things I love. So don't you stop either.


and some beautifully brilliant quotes about Christmastime!

Christmas quotations"Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. 
But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart...
filled it, too, with melody that would last forever."
~ Bess Streeter Aldrich ~(1881-1954), American author, 'Song of Years'.

Christmas quotations
"Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. 
To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. 
To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect."
~ Oren Arnold ~(1900-1980), American author.

Christmas quotations"To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. 
To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. 
If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending
its gleam of hope to the world."

~ Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), American president. Presidential message (December 25, 1927).

Christmas quotations"Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread the rush, 
the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given--when Christmas Day 
comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that 
enfolds our hearts and our homes."
~ Joan Winmill Brown, American author and editor.

Christmas quotations"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."

~ Charles Dickens (1812-1870), English author. From 'A Christmas Carol'.

Christmas sayings"Something about an old-fashioned Christmas is hard to forget."

~ Hugh Downs (1921- ), American newscaster.

famous christmas quotations"What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, 
hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings 
rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace."

~ Agnes M. Pahro  

Christmas quotes
"I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, 
and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world." 

  ~ Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993), American Protestant religious leader, author.


A tradition held yearly in Chicago, take a look at pics from years past.
This is one gorgeous place to visit during the holiday season. 
A walk down the magnificent mile will surely put you in the Christmas spirit like nothing else...

Lincoln Park Zoo
Christmas tree at the Drake Hotel
Lights parade
Window display
another window display
Macy's window display

There is no shortage of beautiful lights and decorations to see when you visit Chicago during the holiday season. 
If your lucky enough to get the chance... go and see for yourself!


There are so many good ideas everywhere on things to make and how to be creative 
or just happy places, that I thought I would share just a few that stood out to me 
for one reason or another.


First up is Making a gift bow from old magazines! What a great idea on how to re-use 
something so it doesn't go to waste! The tutorial can be found HERE

Now this little mixture really comes in handy, and I have been using it all of the time. 
It saves me tons of money that's for sure!  
How to make your own Mod Podge;

In a mason jar, mix 1/2 Elmers glue and 1/2 water. Replace the lid and shake.Use less water if you
need it to be thicker-like 3/4 glue and 1/4 water.

That's it! All there is too it. How simple is that? And you can buy the ginormous size 
of Elmers glue for super cheap.

Another good site, I thought was this one found HERE. Its called Gifted magazine. 
But of course in a matter of a year it has totally changed. I like the old stuff, 
but the new stuff is ok too. Check it out.

Next up; A year of wishes-what a beautiful site! A calendar, 12 gorgeous art prints, 
and 12 beautiful wishes for yourself and the whole world. Check it out! 

If you have never seen this online magazine, do yourself a favor and check it out!


Need some help on how to Sparkle? Here is a super-simple tutorial to help you!

What makes you come alive?

This is a wonderful article to help you find you path in life.
It is practical and quite thought provoking, and actually makes you think.

Next up is a lovely site called bentlily it has daily poems and inspirations-lovely.

Last today is CHIP IT! by Sherwin Williams-you download a picture and it gives you 
the paint chip colors that match your picture! Go and check it out! 


Enjoy this drink created at Walt Disney World found HERE!

Red-Nosed Zebra 

Makes 1 cocktail

1.5 ounces Bacardi 8 rum
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce agave nectar
1 ounce strawberry purée
Crushed ice, 3 cranberries, 2 mint sprigs, for garnish

Add all ingredients in a Boston Shaker (except garnish), fill half full with ice, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
Strain into a margarita glass filled with ice. Garnish with a mound of crushed ice, cranberries, and mint sprigs to look like 
2 green antlers, cranberries for eyes and nose.


Is really the only way to describe the ridiculously delicious holiday cupcake I found for this holiday season. 
 I'm including the recipe as well for those of you who love to bring cupcakes to work or to school for a delicious treat...

 Figgy Pudding Cupcakes



    ½ c of water
    ½ c of butter
    1 egg
    1/3 c of sour cream
    1 1/3 c of flour
    1 c of granulated sugar
    ¾ tsp baking soda
    ½ tsp salt
    1/4 c Fig puree
    ¼ cup Divine Bittersweet Baking Bar 
{chopped into small chunks}


    ¼ c Fig puree


    ½ c high ratio shortening 
{trans fat free, if possible}
    ¼ c Brandy
    1/8 c Fig puree
    ¼ finely ground walnuts
    1lb confectioners sugar


    Shaved Divine Milk Chocolate Baking Bar makes for a pretty and delicious garnish.

 linie36.gif (500x66, 13Kb)

Yield: 50 Mini Cupcakes.


For Fig Puree:

1. Put half of package (roughly 8 oz) dried figs into blender or food processor, set on “puree.”

2. While processor is running, slowly add ¼ c of Brandy until fig puree reaches a jam-like consistency.

For cake: 

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2. Heat water and butter in a saucepan until butter is melted, taking care not to boil contents.

3. In a mixing bowl, beat sour cream and egg until combined. 

4. In another bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  

5. Add water and butter mixture to mixing bowl gradually.

6. Slowly add dry goods to wet and beat until smooth.  

7. Add in chopped chocolate and fig puree.

8. In greased or lined cupcake tins, fill 2/3 way. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool on a cooling rack. 

For frosting:

1. With paddle attachment, whip together confectioners sugar and shortening until crumbly.

2. Add Brandy and continue to beat until smooth, scraping the bowl occasionally.

3. Add ground walnut and fig, continue beating and scraping until the everything is thoroughly mixed.


1. When cupcakes are cool, use a small pastry tip to core out the center.

2. Fill the cupcakes with the fig puree, using a squeeze bottle. 

3. Frost the cupcakes to your liking.  

4. Garnish with shaved chocolate.

 linie36.gif (500x66, 13Kb)


So, I should start by saying I wasn't really sure there would even be a tree this year. I went to a local nursery to pick out our tree, but I thought they all looked terrible. So, it was between getting out the artificial tree and using it as the main tree or take a hike into the woods to find the perfect tree. Yes, I elected to take a hike. Of course it was the muddiest and coldest day we've had so far... but I did it. After hours, I found the perfect tree... and I chopped it down. Then, I carefully bundled it up and brought it home. I can be really determined when the need arises I guess. 

Anyway, I got the tree home {I almost hit the neighbor who was out raking his leaves wearing camo next to the woods} gave it a fresh cut and put it in the tree stand – that is where the ease of the day ended. For some reason the tree weighed twice as much on one side then on the other side, and no matter how I positioned it in the tree stand, it listed to the heavy side. Finally, after a few hours of dancing around the tree, and trimming branches here and there I was finally able to make it stand tall and look great too. 

Of course, the entire time I was working on the tree I kept picturing myself looking a lot like the movie National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and wondering when the next catastrophe was going to happen. I even got tree sap in my hair. Yes, I was certainly rockin around the Christmas tree this year. Let's hope next year' s tree search goes a whole lot smoother! 


On a side note, it's been days since I got the tree and several showers and baths later, and I still smell like pine. What is with this stuff?

 It almost makes me wish that I had gone with one of these cute alternatives... maybe next year....

* All photos via Pinterest