Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Willoughby Gazette, Holiday Edition

 All the news that's fit to print! Extra, Extra, read all about it...
 Wow, things are hopping here in English Valley with the news of an ENGAGEMENT!  Son Jonathan asked his sweetheart Charlotte to marry him, and she said YES!  No surprise to anyone who knows these two who are hopelessly devoted to each other and crazy in love.  They've had a very hard year, both being injured in two car accidents, other health issues, Charlotte's job search, but they stuck together and overcame obstacles, and persevered.  On the 4 year anniversary of their meeting,  Jon popped the question in front of the Christmas tree at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago, using his Grandmother's emerald ring from the 1940's.  My Mom just loved Jon Jon as all the family still calls him.  She would be so proud of the wonderful man he has become and his choice of the beautiful, smart and wonderful Charlotte for his bride.  A perfect match.
 We celebrated with sparking grape/blueberry juice and hazelnut candies.  We are thrilled to be adding Charlotte to our family!  I love these two, they are both wonderful.
 Here's my favorite little family.  Their time in NY is quickly coming to an end.  Today we celebrate Kristen's birthday.  Oh the joy and love Kris has given to me. Next year we will celebrate her birthday together, or maybe we'll babysit so Kris and Doug can celebrate while Grandpa and I have some fun with our sweet p.
Happy Birthday Kristen, may all of your dreams come true! I love you so!

Mike and  Amanda sent me one of the first pictures of their place decked out for the holidays.   Stockings, a Norfolk Island Pine for a Christmas tree and the Charlie Brown tree I bought to them on the mantle. They are settling in to their new life in Ohio and Mike was able to transfer one of his jobs to the greater Cleveland area.  I am still missing my baby boy, but he'll be home for Christmas.  I can't wait.

Baking starts NOW.  I have 3 lbs of butter softening on the counter with three more in the fridge.  I'm gonna try to bake as many cookies as possible today and tomorrow, then move on to all the other stuff that needs to be done before my family arrives. Christmas carols playing, thoughts of Mom and Dad in my heart will make baking a pleasure. Hope to show you some finished cookies soon.

Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind comments.  Enjoy this beautiful day!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Gift of Friendship...Gifts of Love

Melanie from Comfy House and I have not been friends for very long, but we made a connection from our first meeting and now have friendship that I cherish.  We met for breakfast on Monday, when every part of me was saying no, don't go, except my heart that needed to see my friend.

We had a great conversation, a delicious breakfast and many warm hugs.  It was just what I needed to get me back on the path to Christmas, and following my mantra for this holiday...
Don't get so wrapped up in the holiday  hustle and bustle that you forget to enjoy yourself.

Melanie brought me so many beautiful gifts, but none as wonderful as a warm and loving heart, a friendship through thick and thin. Priceless treasures. Thank you Mel. I love you!
All the actual shopping I've done was in pit stops at the Cracker Barrels between here and Ohio.  Boxes keep arriving at my door...the kids in NY shipping things for their new digs and for the holidays. With just two weeks to go, I should be more stressed out, but really I am not.  I have had quiet evenings since my return where with the help of Pandora radio, a soothing background for my lists and thoughtful moments to remember what's most important. ..
 God willing and the creek don't rise, ;-) we will be together on Christmas Eve.  First time I will not be dreaming of a White Christmas. Oh to have all my chicks in the nest.
A candle shines from every window to welcome everyone home again.

Jean and Tom's cozy great room

I wanted to show you what our Guild did for our local Mental Health Center this Christmas.  With funds from our treasury, we purchased gifts for 32 residents.

They will each receive a pretty Cracker Barrel shopping bag filled with goodies.  A hand crochet edged throw, scarf, washcloth, toiletries, treats.  These residents are often forgotten by family and friends.  We've done this service project for several years.  Everyone shops, a faithful few crochet each blanket edge for a home made touch, and our dear Jean and her sweet hubby Tom gather it all together and deliver the bags. Jean and Tom. what can I say.... Kinder and more generous people I have never met. They filled the director's office with the bags.  I am so very proud of our small but mighty group. Spreading love this Christmas and everyday throughout our community. Love each and everyone of those girls!

Hope that all is calm and bright at your home.  Be back soon my friends.
Thanks for stopping by.  Enjoy this beautiful day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Interrupted

 My Christmas preparations took a back seat to helping our son Mike and his girlfriend Amanda move from Lansing Michigan to Cleveland Ohio.  Arriving in Lansing, this was the welcome sign on our room.  A good omen since I collect picnic baskets.  We helped the kids clean and pack up the old place, then join them in Ohio.
 Mike and Amanda parked the truck at the hotel and arrived at dawn for the first part of their journey.  Dad was there to help supervise the loading of Amanda's car on the trailer.  Crazy kids, who moves in December?
 They do... when Amanda got a terrific job offer and they were able to sublet their Lansing apartment. (the new tenant wanted possession immediately!)
 Here is their new town, Cleveland Ohio.  I was surprised at the beauty of Lake Erie.
.I will be learning more about it in the months to come since it is in Mike's backyard!
 Beautiful homes line the shore, not unlike our our shoreline on the North Shore of Lake Michigan.
 Their new place has character.  Many built ins, claw foot tub, old fashioned charm.
 Wait till they get all their things arranged and put their mark on this apartment and make it home.
Vintage touches.

The road home was long and lonely. I am so very proud of Mike and the wonderful hard working man he is. I wish they were closer, but distance cannot change our mutual love or change our closeness in heart.

One more thing...

"Don't get so wrapped up in the holiday hustle and bustle that you forget to enjoy yourself!"
I saw that in Better Homes and Gardens and I am taking it to heart  Thanks so much for stopping in.
Enjoy this beautiful day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How to Make a Boxwood Wreath

Oh yes, I am loving the look of boxwood wreaths, but was hit with sticker shock when I saw them at the perennial farm.  Little did I know when I spent $16 on two bunches of boxwood to make my own wreath, that there were boxwood wreaths at Trader Joe's for $10! (Thanks for the heads up Melanie ;-)  Oh well, it was fun and easy to make my own. If you have a boxwood hedge or even a pine tree, you can make a wreath
I started by making little bunches of boxwood and secured them with wire.
Used my wire cutters to cut the boxwood and the wire.
Then after you've made more bunches than you think you'll need, start attaching them to a wire form.
 I found my form and wire at Michael's.
I've heard that boxwood is smelly, but maybe that is just the preserved kind.  The fresh was not.
You start attaching the bundles with the same wire you will use to make the bundles.  I used wire that comes on a paddle found in the floral section. It was easy to handle and I only dropped it twice ;-)  Make sure that the bundles overlap and that they are all going in the same direction. I secured the wire on the form and started to wrap it around and around the boxwood stems adding more boxwood and using a continuous length of wire.  The paddle is easy to handle and you don't have to worry about the wire tangling. You have to tuck in the last couple of bunches that will complete your wreath. There you go... Now you have a hand made wreath. From what I was told the boxwood is very long lasting, so you should be able to enjoy it for weeks to come.

I used a old plaid scarf to hang my wreath on my garbage picked door.  Classing up the place for the holidays.  I was inspired by my friend Joy at Savvy City Farmer.  Joy uses plaid in the most wonderful way.  When I found this scarf I knew how I would use it. So there you go, head out to the yard with some clippers or to Trader Joe's.
A boxwood wreath for Christmas!

The other day I took this sunset photo.  It was like a painting, so beautiful.
The next morning I saw a orange glow outside my window and caught the sunrise.
Sunrise, sunset...sunrise sunset...
What a gift life is!

Thanks for stopping by my friends.  Enjoy this beautiful day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Rest and Relaxation

When all the kids were back at home and the house seemed a little too empty, we headed out for a little R&R up to Wisconsin.
We stopped at Northwind Perennial Farm and got to see all of the amazing Christmas finery.  Such a magical place to wander.  Guided by friendly dogs and cats and chickens, even a gaggle of geese!
 My dearest stayed outside by the fire while I walked and gawked.  
 There is so much to see...one of those places where there are treasures at every turn.
It was a beautiful day in the 40's, the the snow was melting from all the roofs. I ran between the drip drops to look at all the splendor.
 The thing I liked best in this display...the rustic frame with the hardware cloth. Go figure.
 The misty snow covered tree in the silo is worth the trip in itself.
Saw some great ideas too, like the canning jars turned into lanterns.  I know just where I have those very same wicks.
 It really is an art,  making displays so beautifully they catch your breath.
We've visited in every season, but I love our winter visits the best!

I came home with two bunches of boxwood and I made a wreath...want to see how?  Come back tomorrow and I'll show you.  Thanks so much for stopping by and enjoy this beautiful day.