:: Of course I'm still here ::


I know right, I'm finally back at it. Well, who can blame me for feeling lazy with a 5 day weekend? That's right a (5) day weekend. I don't have to go back to work tomorrow! Not until Tuesday! Whoo - whoo! Now, don't be jealous. I deserve this little break. I have lots to do preparing for Christmas, and to that end I really did get a lot done. The house is completely decked out in Christmas right down to our Christmas flannel sheets and Christmas bedspreads. Not one thing around here does not scream Christmas so, I did alright I think! But now, I'm taking some time for me. I like to call it "Give yourself a merry little moment". And I think I will! What have I been doing? I made some Christmas cookies of all kinds, read one Christmas book, had a few newly concocted warm and delicious drinks I'll share with you later, I've been working on the Christmas puzzle, watching Christmas movies, making a Family Christmas video, and trying not to eat to many of those delicious leftovers in the fridge. Right now, I'm making some chili. and in a little while, I'm going to try my hand at at making a wall Christmas tree. Maybe a hanging one too. So for now, enjoy the rest of you holiday weekend, I'll be back tomorrow!


:: Smitten and Slushed ::

I am totally smitten with the holiday season!  And best of all, I know why… it's because for once, I am just going with the flow. I'm not trying to be everywhere and once, and I'm not even doing everything myself because I don't think anyone else can do it as well. {even if that's true, I'm still letting go} instead, I'm carrying faith and hope in my heart. So much about this season is bringing me happiness and an inner calm.  I am slowing down and I like that.

I like that I am looking at things very differently now. The lights of the Christmas tree serve as a good reminder to keep a light in my heart. The stars and angels reminding me that they are here to guide me when I feel lost. Even the birth of Christ…tells me that we all have a new beginning. In the end though, I suppose it's all about how you decide to look at things.

Right now, looking at the bright side of life is much better. Good things are always happening when you do, recently,  I even found an old slush drink recipe that my Aunt used to make every year. I'm going to make it and set it in the garage to keep cold, then when friends come over I'll have something quick to serve! She was quite the smart woman. And, as a bonus... I'm sharing her recipe with you! 

I hope you are enjoying the hope that this season offers you.


:: a little holiday poem ::

Twas mere weeks before Christmas and oh what a sight, as we readied ourselves for a party tonight.
The Tree's all aglow in it's beautiful light, makes me wish I could just stay at home for the night.
There will be so many sweets that I fear I'll get fatter, but, it's Christmas after all, so why does it matter?
Instead, I believe we'll have pizza and beer, that's one way to bring on that holiday cheer!
Then, out in the yard there arose such a racket, I ran for the door, and pulled on my jacket.
There were my neighbors,  all dressed and all ready, after several stiff drinks it was hard to keep steady,
Why, what else are neighbors for if not to give you a ride?,  I'm sick and can't go {I actually lied}  
But, I got to stay home...and just relished the sights, and I had myself a most wonderful night!

Let the holiday season begin....



:: DIY Starbucks Chai Latte ::

Chai Tea Latte

I am making one right now. This is so delicious, it will have you fooled. It tastes just like Starbucks Chai tea Latte. 
You will have to let me know how very much you enjoyed it!

:: Taking my work home with me ::

Via; Pinterest
There's a lot of good here. If I can just focus on it, hold it close, and keep it front and center in my mind.

Lately,  I've been noticing on my walks, that I think and worry about the people that I meet on a daily basis. Some are so fragile. I very often drop in on them and bring them little things that they need, or would mean a lot to them. I never forget.  I know I should leave work at work, but my work is helping our oldest citizens. They are not objects, or a book I can just close. These are  literally and figuratively, people dulled down by life and fear.

via; Pinterest
It can sometimes take a little while for me to show them all the many ways that I can improve their lives. But, I do. Every day. Slowly, each of them let me in, and I turn their whole life around for the better. Just like that. It is something that I take great pride in. Some of my greatest treasures are all the many Thank-you cards that are hung up and strewn around my desk.  It is a wonderful feeling to be appreciated. But it is even more wonderful to know that I am changing lives for the better one by one. 

I have already been gifted three knitted scarves from some very talented clients! I never accept gifts, or money, or anything. We are not allowed to. And, I have explained that to each and every client, but, they don't listen. They have taken to sending gifts to me through the mail. Old people are sneaky aren't they?  What I have discovered: They are not my clients. They are my friends. And, lucky for them... I will always be here for them. Is that taking too much home? I don't really care. It's my life, isn't it? Don't you love the sign?  I feel lovely today, how about you?



:: Life is full ::


:: Christmas Books ::

These are wonderful children's Christmas books to share with your family. As you can see, I added the "Elf on the Shelf" as well.
It's a wonderful book and a great way to take fun pictures and surprise your kids! Anyway, the hardest Christmas books to find would be the ones meant for adults. Every year I have gifted Christmas books to my friends, always reading one every year myself, but, some have been good, some, not so good. So, I decided to give my honest opinion of the Christmas books I have read over the years and let you know that I like them. And you will find them below! I know one of these will be a great read for Christmas...enjoy!

The only real question of course is... what book will you read this Christmas?


: November Days :

Sunlight, simply streaming through my window.
a Christmas tree that I somehow set up all by my big girl self.
finding the most beautiful, awesome wrapping paper ever! 
acquiring some great new Christmas music for my collection
my new car stereo that plays my iphone and ipod music!
unbelievable, lucky, and thrilled to death - thrift store finds!
crisp, cold weather, and it looks like it's here to stay.
looking forward to lots of new cold weather adventures!


:: Weekend Plans ::

Yippie! The weekend is finally here—and there is nothing but creative projects and sparkling moments on my to-do list for today...

wake up with a smile

meet my friend bright and early- 9:00am sharp!
First stop: Starbucks
Second stop: The Festival of Trees parade {meeting 2 more from work}
Third stop: The SIS store for some shopping!
Fourth Stop: The Festival of Trees! Wander amongst all those beautiful trees!
Fifth Stop: Lunch - The Christmas Cottage for our fill of all things Christmas!
Sixth Stop: Lunch - undecided where at this time
Seventh Stop - My friends house. She wants my help setting up her Christmas stuff!
Eighth Stop - If I make it that far... I'm going to fall into bed completely exhausted.


What I must accomplish:

I must try a holiday coffee from Starbucks

I must start on our new book club book
I must get a few presents bought and wrapped
I must go for a nice long walk in the brisk winter air
I must buy a new holiday candle
I must enter my new bead picture into the contest
I must pick up my Christmas cards
I must do something creative and fix 2 wreaths by Sunday

What creative delights do you have planned for the weekend?


:: Priorities ::


My yard


“This is the real secret of life  ― to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. 
And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”

~Alan Wilson Watts ~

As I considered my goals and priorities in November, the prevailing thought that came to mind over and over as you well know, was one of gratitude. This goes nicely with the spirit of Thanksgiving, but I think it’s more than just good timing. During the last few months I have really worked on embracing my creative side and expanding world. I have developed a better idea of my passions and have spent time cultivating my sense of self.

Here is a short list of things I want to be mindful of and grateful for this month:

Health—yoga, fruits, veggies, sleep, water, tea, walking, breathe

Peace—journal time, meditation, bubble baths, time management, routines, rituals

Wealth—spend mindfully, budget wisely, pay bills as usual with a smile

Happiness—spread kindness and love, live in the moment, dwell in possibility, make room for dreams

November has so far been a month I have struggled to get used to. It started full of  fire-colored leaves, then turned cold, the leaves blown from the trees until made bare, the skies turned gray much of the time, and when I leave work, it is completely dark already. It is so weird to come home in the dark. And it makes me feel tired and un-motivated to do much of anything. That is why this list, and making and sticking to a real schedule is so important. Otherwise, I would just sit like a bump on a log! I am taking my time cooking healthful dinners, exercising, drinking lots of water and tea, taking breaks at work to meditate and relax, and most of all, extending kindness wherever I can. It's such a simple little thing that means so much to so many.
How about you? How is November going for you? Has it turned cold in your neck of the woods?


:: Best Burgers Ever ::

For no reason at all, I have my mind set on a burger. Not just any burger, but a really good one, like the kind they serve at Uno in Wisconsin Dells. Why, or why did I take so many pictures of our food there? I guess just to torture myself later, because... I really have them on my mind right now. Here are a few choice pics from The Dells, and more precisely Uno's.

I totally love these burgers from Uno 

Of course, I'm pretty partial to their 
Margaritas as well...

But, even away from home...
you'll find a piece of Chicago

Steak, fries, roasted vegetables
and bread sticks...

BBQ, Bacon double Cheeseburger
and fries, and a pickle of course...

Double Cheeseburger with the
works and fries and a pickle 

Like I said, this one is weird.
Downtown Wisconsin Dells
One day, I will have to check
this place out for sure.



Fall is such a pretty season, chock full of such simple splendor, it's really too bad that it doesn't last longer, don't you think? I do, but then, it's my favorite season of all I think. Or, do I say that about every season? Sometimes, I can hardly believe how awe-inspiring nature can be. There are moments when I look around and I'll notice something that seems especially beautiful. Often it has to do with the way the light is falling...glimmers of a setting sun shining though the clouds...or the sun's rays softly illuminating the trees, sending sparkly bits of light through the leaves as they flutter in the breeze. Or, just how colorful the leaves have become, like I've never seen such vibrant color before. And with my camera in hand, I try to capture the beauty of the moment.
Anyway, a week or so ago, I thought I'd take a few photos of some of the pretty, vibrant leaves outside my window before fall said farewell. Within days, the weather took a turn for the worst and the wind came, whisking all that color down to the ground. 

It seems like once the leaves fade away and Halloween has come and gone, my mind tends to skip right over Thanksgiving and right on towards Christmas. Maybe it's because it's my favorite holiday...I don't know. At any rate, all of the things that I want to do for the season start popping into my head and I start making plans. Because it's such a busy time of year, most of them never actually become a reality, but it's nice to dream a little, right? And, I know, every year I say I'm going to do more of what I want to do, but you know what? Every year I do get a little more me time in there don't I? So there. 

I'm already thinking about my Christmas color scheme and whatnot and have made a few purchases with it in mind. Last year I went with neutrals, so this year I'm leaning towards red and white...maybe a Scandinavian type thing. Do you have any plans in the works yet?


:: The Jar ::

The Jar

Small bits of memories.
It's simply rocks and sea glass
and tiny little shells in sand
from an island far away

My friend brought it home
from her vacation just for me.
In this adorable small jar.

I keep it on my desk.
It reminds me how much
I want to travel, and,
it makes me day dream...

Once in a while, I open it ...
to smell the ocean.
I tell myself that I do.
and that makes me happy too!


: 15 bean soup :


Very easy.  You soak the beans overnight, change the water and simmer the beans for 2 1/2 hours.  
Then you saute onion and garlic along with sausage or kielbasa (optional).  Add that along with 
a can of diced tomatoes or stewed tomatoes, seasoning packet and lemon and simmer for about 
30 more minutes.  We also had plenty to have leftovers which always seem to taste even better!
Be sure to serve this up with a side of cornbread. It's absolutely necessary that you do.


:: Promises, promises ::

I have promised myself I will:
Get back behind my camera, it has been sitting idle too much lately
To leave the monkey's at the circus when I leave work. Not my monkeys. Not my circus.
To follow my HEART, my HEAD and my SOUL more {trust myself}

at the end of the day...

You have to decide what your personal time and sanity
is worth to you and what you are willing to risk losing if you don't have them.


:: Little kindnesses ::

It's getting real close now to that time of year. You know, the time where goodwill abounds easily and seemingly effortlessly. It should be that way all the time don't you think? I mean, after all, there are so many ways to extend simple kindness into the lives of others. Some people call it random acts of kindness. I like to call it everyday living. There should be nothing unusual about being kind every chance you get. How?  Well, that's the easy part. There are so many ways. You do little kindnesses each and every day without thinking about it or even realizing it. But, if you're looking for a little help... here a some suggestions...

1. Create a happiness jar for a friend who needs some uplifting. Put 50–100 paper hearts or smiley faces in the jar. On each cutout write something that is special about your friend. Then, anytime they get lonely or just needs a quick pick me up they can pull out one of them and read it!
2. Find opportunities to give compliments. There are so many to give, and it costs absolutely nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it. People really appreciate it.
3. On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, remember any friends who have lost a parent the previous year, and check in with them.  Those will be tough days. I know.

4. Make little gift baskets for the kids in your neighborhood. It makes them feel so special. Each little basket is probably only $5, but, it means so much. It lets them know, they are not alone, and that we are all one big, happy, caring neighborhood. And that each person is important and means something. That is why we are such a close knit neighborhood. Because it feels more like family.
5. If you’re an Amazon.com customer you can donate Amazon.com’s money to your favorite U.S. nonprofit through Amazon Smile. It takes a total of 20 seconds to read how to do this and set it up. Then Amazon will donate to your favorite nonprofit each time you make a purchase.
6. Collect soda can tabs to donate to Ronald McDonald House for sick children and their families. The charity gets paid for these.

7. Put a surprise note or drawing in with your spouse’s or kid’s lunch. Or even a beautiful painted rock with something special painted on it just for them.
8. When it’s summer and the heat is on, remember the people who have to work out there, hand out cold lemonade to your mail carrier and to your garbage men, and likewise, when it's freezing outside, offer hot chocolate to crossing guards, police officers and others. They will really appreciate it.
9. Cook an extra portion of dinner (or dessert) for someone who needs it. Every once in a while I cook an extra and give it to the neighbor down the street who lost his wife last year. He is not a cook to say the least, and if he were left to his own devices would probably eat TV dinners every night. But, as it is, we each pitch in and every night someone different brings him dinner. He won't admit it, but, he loves it. And the attention-we always invite him each week to game night-he's the life of the party... and the referee when one is needed! He coaches the kids basketball now as well. He has become more active then he ever was- he feels needed, because he is needed. It's totally a win-win!

10. After a wedding or party donate all of the flowers to a nursing home. If you want to see the impact of these acts of kindness, personally deliver a flower to each resident.
11. Tell someone the truth. Sometimes it’s really hard, but it’s what friends do. There are times when being quiet is just plain old wrong. If you know it, and it bothers you in the pit of your stomach-let it out once and for all. Do what's right.
12. You could text someone just to tell them something you appreciate about them. Trust me, it will make them feel awesome!

13. Keep an extra umbrella at work, so you can lend it out when it rains.
14. Sometimes we shy away from people when we know they're having a rough time. We assume that we should just wait for them to approach us, instead, ask them how they are doing. Most of the time people are relieved to have someone to talk to.
15. Slip $5 into the coat pocket of someone who needs it.
16. Listen. Don’t interrupt. People don’t always want us to suggest a solution. They just want us to listen. We underestimate how important and comforting it is to be listened to.

17. When you get great service tell the person who helped you. Then, tell a manager. Go to the corporate web site and submit an email. It can really make a difference for that employee-some even get raises based on customer feedback.
18. Write a positive online review of a business you like. It makes a difference.
And, don’t forget to point out those people at your work who do a great job.
19. Encourage someone to pursue their dreams. And, if possible, help them to achieve their goals.

20. Donate your things instead of saving things in case you need them in 10 years, consider giving stuff to someone who needs it now.
21. Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
22. Everyone is important. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day. Greet them by name. Also say “hello” to strangers and smile. These acts of kindness are so easy, and they almost always make people smile.

23. In the middle of December, contribute to Operation Santa Claus. Go to the Post Office, snag one of the letters to Santa, and fulfill a wish for someone who needs help buying gifts.
24. Contribute a small sum of money to grant a wish of a foster youth. One Simple Wish has an online directory of requests that case workers submit for their foster youth. The wishes are often the simple things – money to go to prom, dance lessons, money to pay for being on the school cheer leading squad, to name a few.
25. Get an email address for your kids and send them memories, achievements, awards, etc. Give them the address at 18.

26. Check in with someone. Recently an acquaintance emailed me just to see how I was doing. She said she hadn’t seen a blog post in a while and wanted to say “hi.” Although it was simply my work keeping me really busy, I thought it was really touching that she was concerned enough to reach out and check on me-it was quite touching indeed.
27. Loan money to a third world entrepreneur through Kiva. These tiny investments change the lives of the families who receive them, and in turn, their whole community. And, 99% of the loans are paid back.
28. On Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, go to your local memorial or event and pass out mini flags or flowers to Veterans.

29. When a friend makes a meal that you love, ask for the recipe.
30. Teach someone. We can all teach something, and sometimes the small things make the biggest difference.
31. Invite someone to dinner – especially at the holidays, when it is difficult for some people to be alone.
32. Make a helpful introduction.
33. Buy a small gift for someone. Just because.
34. Share a great book you've read.

35. Don’t ignore the next homeless person you see. Buy him food. Enjoy his smile when you give it to him.
36. Carry around a care package of food or toiletries that you can give to a homeless person.
37. Let another car merge in front of you, or stop to let a pedestrian cross the street.
38. Hold the elevator. Are you really in that much of a rush that an extra minute will hurt you?

39. If you print an Internet coupon before going to a store, print a few extras to give to other customers.
40. In five minutes you can sign up to become an organ donor. Then, when you die (we all do eventually), your organs can be used to save lives. One person’s organs can save up to 8 lives.
41. If you see someone who looks lost and might need help with directions, don’t wait for him to ask you for help.
42. Photograph tourists. See a person or a couple trying to take a photo of themselves? Offer to take it for them.

43. Stop at a kid’s lemonade stand and buy a drink.
44. Leave a big tip.
45. Call someone you love. Tell him you love him.
46. Allow someone to help you. Let them enjoy performing an act of kindness.
47. Donate some extra money to charity; you never know the impact you might have.
48. Carry around a $5 gift card so you can give it to someone who does something awesome. Or, create and carry “thanks for making my day” cards that you can give to people.
49. Seek out an opportunity to help every day. Hold open a door, offer assistance, help someone trying to get a stroller down the steps or take any small acts of kindness.

50. Every small interaction with someone is an opportunity to have a positive impact on both of your lives.When you look, you’ll find opportunities to perform acts of kindness. When you take those opportunities to perform random acts of kindness, you’ll feel great. Trust me.