Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A December to Remember

I've been away so long, I am having a very hard time putting this all together. Trying to condense all the joy and feelings, the happiness and pleasure, the fun and laughs.  Here it is, our December to remember...

Since we last talked, this is what has been happening...

I got all my baking finished in three days...12 kinds of cookies plus kolacky, a Polish cookie my Mom used to make.  I took my own advise and when I was finished I had some fun...
Before our guests arrived we went to the Winter Solstice fire at the Somme Woods in Northbrook.  This lovely lady looked like she stepped out of the movie The Village.  She was carrying her Dad's guitar.  Her Dad is the brother to our Piper Marty.  You might remember that last year we missed the start of the fire and the music.  Marty stepped out into the woods and serenaded us in the snow for a magical memory we'll never forget.  I got to tell him so this time. He was so kind and friendly, I think we have a new friend.
 Families and friends gather on the shortest day of the year to banish the darkness.
If you love a campfire, you'd love this huge fire.  It warms you to the core and is the perfect way to kick off the Christmas festivities.
The stewards of the woods burn all the brush and invasive trees cleared by volunteers.  Around the ash left behind, plant seeds germinate in the spring.  It's so very cool to attend and a new tradition that next year this little one will be able to attend with us...
Our baby grand in her new bedroom.  Mom and Dad found a beautiful apartment in Chicago.  Sweet P. was very excited to dance in every room and we even partied in her closet.  They arrived on the Monday before Christmas and left on Saturday.  This girl is full of fun, mischief, energy and especially love.
Speaking of love, our dear daughter now has her own washer and dryer!  A luxury unknown to most New York apartment dwellers.  I'll write more soon about their move and all the changes coming to their family and ours.  Just know that Grandma and Grandpa couldn't be happier, and that our constant companion, the sweetest grand in the land will be a much bigger part of our lives.  We got a taste of it over the holiday and it was pure pleasure, exhausting for the old folks but Love and sweetness that only a child can give.
On Christmas Eve I had all my children home.  For me that was my best gift.  Mike came in for just a couple of days, and we all had the best time.  .
 When my sweet husband and I walked outside on Christmas Eve, as we do each year, my heart was full and grateful.  Oh the the joy we felt.
 There really is no place like home for the holidays! We love our kids so much and enjoy their visits.
Also all of my brothers and their families were able to join us.
Christmas morning our little one woke up to this little kitchen.  It was a magical, happy and blessed holiday for my family.  I hope that you and yours enjoyed every moment.

Now to get the house back in order, and plan a little something for new year's eve for my sweetheart and I..

Thanks for stopping by and for your friendship and kind comments.  Enjoy this beautiful day.

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.