Saturday, December 31, 2016

Holiday Wrapup

 A beautiful Christmas, with all of my family, extended family and friends.  We had a house full for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
 Son Jonathan did a wonderful job on the bread.  Makes me so happy to see that wedding ring on his finger.
 All my children, my grand daughter, nieces and nephews, brothers and my SILs, cousins and friends filled the house and ate all the food I prepared and grazed on  the cookies.  We played our silly lottery game, hugged everyone at least twice, held our new baby niece and had a great time.
 My favorite tradition is the lumenarias we place along the walk and front of our home to welcome everyone. One candle was still burning 24 hours later!
 I always take a moment to go outside and look inside.  Always grateful for my family and for my hard working hubby that makes it all possible each and every holiday.
 We had some time late on Christmas Eve to celebrate with all our kids.  We were just missing Amanda this year, as she spent Christmas in the UP with her family. Have I mentioned how wonderful it is to have them all close by.  What a blessing to have loved ones who want to be together at the holidays.  Something I will always be grateful for.

My hubby had the entire week off between Christmas and New Years.
 We've wanted to visit the Chicago History Museum again for a very long time.  When I was a teen, our choir sang at the then Chicago Historical Society each year at Christmas.  Also when I was a child we would visit with school.  My favorite things are fused marbles from the great Chicago Fire and the bed that Abraham Lincoln died on.  Both are still there and I always cry at seeing the bed.
 Chicago is such a beautiful city.
 Here inside, a mobile of street signs.

 Here is the bed.  I also cried at Lincoln's Tomb, Lincoln's home and recreated town of New Salem when in Springfield, a youngster and a teen.  I am moved by history,   You should see me in Washington D.C., I cried buckets.

 Standing before this famous Norman Rockwell, I wondered who the model was in this painting.  Rockwell used friends and regular people from his town in his work. This is the famous clock at Marshall Fields a Chicago landmark.
 Here are the marbles.  This really made an impression on me all those years ago, imagining the fire that swept through and destroyed most of Chicago in 1871.
 I am the Queen of Milwaukee Ave.!  Self proclaimed, of course.  I can get anywhere by way of Milwaukee Ave.
We also had a great day with our girl visiting the Chicago Botanic Gardens's 
Wonderland Express.

 A amazing train set up combining plants and flowers and Chicao landmarks.  It even snowed inside!
 Wrigley Field and the Championship trophy.
 One of my all time favorite spots, the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette.
 It was so beautifully done...I was caught up in the magic as was Penny and Grandpa.  We had the happiest time.
 If you've ever been to my home, you'll know why I love this vignette so.

So that brings us to New Year's Eve.  I have one question, WHERE IS MY FLYING CAR?  It's a few hours before 2017, and no flying car!  Oh well.

Wishing you peace and good health. friends and family to love and comfort you, and Love...more Love than you've ever dreamed of.  That's my wish for you.  Happy New Year my friends.

Enjoy this beautiful day!

Love, Penny

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Taking the Leisurely Path to Christmas

 I'm not sure how it started, but I am taking a leisurely path to Christmas this year.
Enjoying every moment, even the snow shoveling and death grip trips to pick up pizza, or other things around town in the snow and ice.
 Anyway, a Christmas just doesn't seem right without some snow and cold temps.

 We had our girl over for a Saturday of snow fun.  We threw her into snow drifts, she helped shovel the driveway.  She followed tracks in the snow and was an all around joy to have around.
  Later the family joined us to celebrate our daughter Kristen's birthday.  Seems like yesterday I was holding her tiny self in my arms.  I was a mother for the first time, nine days before Christmas. That was xx years ago now...  Now she's a great Mom and a talented, kind and funny woman I so admire and love very much. Time flies...
With all our kids nearby, my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and love for each of them.
Mike and Amanda are settling into life in Chicagoland.  Both happy in their work and happy to be close.  Jon spent the day with me last week to learn the art of bread baking, my Mom's braided bread that everyone loves.  He and Charlotte left with my Kitchen Aid mixer and a large Pyrex bowl.  He is taking over the bread making for Christmas Eve and I couldn't be happier to pass the torch to the next generation.
I had two happy visitors yesterday.  My nieces came for a long overdue visit.  We had a tea party of sorts, made forts, colored and they watched movies and danced.  A pleasure to have some time with them.  My brother Greg (their Grandpa) is in the hospital.  Greg is doing well and will be home for this birthday this week. So glad that everything went well.  My niece Emma, now a beautiful grown up 16, lost her dear Oma this week. Oma was a lovely, graceful lady, someone I always looked forward to talking with.  She will be missed by us all.
Thinking of all those who will have someone missing this Christmas.  Wishing them peace.

Last night we enjoyed a concert, George Winston.  It was very cold outside, but warm and relaxing inside.  The music was beautiful, so many familiar melodies.  Such talent and quiet appreciation, letting the piano sound the last tones, which is a beautiful thing to hear. After the concert the quick walk in the frigid temps, the slow warmth filling the car as we headed home.  Hungry, we decided a slice of fruitcake filled the bill and we were in bed and cozy by the time the 10:00 news was over.

This week may will get crazy, as it always does, but I hope you take some time to savor each and every moment.  Sending warm wishes for a very Merry Christmas to you my friends, and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year, from everyone here At Home in English Valley.

Enjoy this beautiful day!
Love, Penny

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hearts of Gold

 On Friday our Guild was honored at a luncheon for our support of a  local mental health center.
It was held at a beautiful ballroom, decorated for Christmas.
Our Guild is small, about 20 members and fourteen were able to attend.

 We have the best ladies, and they all share a common goal of doing good through out the community
We were warmly welcomed and treated to a delicious lunch.
 So many wonderful women, some new to our Guild, others founding members.
This is the amazing Jean, accepting the plaque from our friend at the Center, Maxine,
 commending us for our work and support.
We were given a standing ovation.  
It was a moment that I will long remember.  Our work continues in the new year, with projects and an ongoing commitment to help where ever we can.

Thank you for visiting.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, December 5, 2016

December Snow

I rarely use red at Christmas, but this year that pop of color called to me.
You'll see it outside and in my kitchen this year.
 Oh how I wait for snow each year, for the cold crisp air, the magical flakes to appear.  On Sunday, that's just what happened.  The flakes came down and continued all afternoon.
My spruce tops in an old tool carrier.

 We are so fortunate to live just across the road from beautiful forest preserve.  It is where the Canada geese hang out.  We were alone and slowly drove through, admiring the beauty of nature.
 It looked like a winter dream.
 In the summer cars go in and out all day and through the evening.  Time for these natural spaces to get a winter's rest.
 All the paths were empty...
except for the geese.
 There is  no place like home, and as much as I love to be outside during the snow, inside is pretty cozy.
 I set the table using stuff from around the house.  After looking at the photo, everything except the silverware and dinner plates are thrifted.  (The dinner plates, with a hobnail trim are Pottery Barn look a likes from the dollar store)  My dearest fell asleep and when he woke up there were more decorations up and more lights hung. .
That's a storybook view out of our living room windows.  

With less than 20 days till Christmas, I have work to do.  Sitting quietly at home for the snowy afternoon was just what we needed.  Now to start a busy week.

On Friday, our Guild is being honored with a luncheon by the mental health center
 that we help support.
Together, the women of Guild One work throughout the year on many service projects, but being recognized in this manner is very humbling.  We just had our own Christmas party that included a small auction.  All the money we raise goes back into the community.  It is because of our own Service Project Coordinator Jean, that we are able to help so many.  Jean's work behind the scenes, along with her husband Tom,  make it possible for us to do so many good things throughout the community. Jean is my dear friend and is an example of kindness personified.  Thank you Jean and Tom for all you do.  I am so proud to be part of this wonderful group of women,
 and to share this honor with my sisters.  

Unlike our party, when I didn't take a photo, I will be sure to have a story with photos next week of our fancy luncheon.
Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your friendship.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Merry December

 I love December.  I love cozy nights at home.  Decorating and fussing about the house.  I love seeing how other people decorate.  Lights, I love lights.  Just 23 short days to get it all together.  I never think everything will get done, but it always does.  I think that's really the holiday magic;-)
 This is at our local nursery.  We came by to get some spruce tips and inspiration.
 They never fail to impress.
 Everything is beautifully done and perfectly arranged.
 A model railroad group set up a awesome display back in the greenhouse.
 Cozy homes next to the tracks.
 Here is the Ladybug train.
 Even a yellow dog!
 Isn't it beautiful?
 The farm...
 and the circus came to town.
 The next day we visited The Grove with our baby grand.  She is part gazelle, and loves to RUN.
 At a craft show there, she loved everything.  Here she is tucking in all the sock monkeys with a kiss.  She is the sweetest girl.

 Growing like a weed, our girl, and she is so much fun.
We had to take her to the nursery to see the trains and she loved them.
Just a short story that made me laugh...
When I was seven I was hit by a car.  I was running to our local playground with my brother and our friend, and bolted out of the alley and across the street.  I was knocked to the ground, but got so scared that I wet my pants and ran home...the poor man that hit me right behind.  I told my grand daughter about it as a cautionary tale...and she laughed because I wet my pants.  
So we were hanging around this weekend and Penny tells me that at the playground she was standing "in the tower" with her friends, and told them all about how her grandma got hit by a car and wet her pants!  They all had a good laugh and enjoyed it so much they asked for Penny to tell the story again. I asked how many kids she told this story to, she said just a few...maybe seven.  Time+ grand daughter, makes grandmother's trauma, comedy. I love that girl.
 Here is the mantle that Penny helped me paint, decorated for Christmas.  
 Pottery Barn sells the signs.  I bought them last year and love the way they look, classy!
 I didn't buy a thing, I had all the paint for the wall and tile...and I shopped the house for anything silver for the mantle.
 pine cones...
Mercury glass... More holiday magic if I may say so myself.

Two posts in a week?  I know, it's a miracle.
Thanks for stopping by and enjoy this beautiful day.

Love, Penny