Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011

And so it was...
Christmas 2011.
No small children here anymore, so we all watch Peanut rip into the tissue paper.
Many things change through the years, but ...
alot remains the same ~ family, food, fun.
Hope your Christmas brought joy to you and yours.

It's pouring rain here today and I have nowhere I have to be except ...
the chair with a good book,
the couch to watch an old movie (& try to stay awake ;),
or the computer to catch up on blog reading.

As you can see, I have a tough decision to make.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thoughts at Christmastime

The baking is done.  It was nice to get up early this morning before anybody else was up.  After a rainy day yesterday, I was greeted with blue skies and the sun shining into the kitchen. No chance of a white Christmas for us, but I will gladly accept the bright, cheerful day that lies ahead.  I worked hard all day yesterday baking and scrubbing floors, but what a great feeling to wake up to a counter full of baked goods ready for gifting and sampling ;).  This year I added a new one called Pecan Tassies.  See them there in the round container.  They are like a petite pecan pie with a bit of cream cheese in the crust.  My mom used to make them every year, but I think this is the first time I've made them.  Won't be the last though as they are quite delightful and as I was baking them I felt my mom's presence in the kitchen, which was nice. 

Speaking of feeling my mom's presence, I'd like to share a little thought with you, particularly if you are feeling the loss of a loved one this holiday season.
Shortly after my mom passed away 2 years ago, I was given this frame with a sentiment I found to be comforting.  It reads:

** Perhaps they are not stars in the sky but rather openings in Heaven where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy **

Isn't that lovely?  It can be so hard to keep on smiling and doing what's expected of us when we are dealing with an empty chair at our table.  My dad passed away ten years ago on December 15th and  I remember just going through the motions that year. 
I certainly don't claim to be an expert, but if you are facing a recent loss, I hope you will be kind to yourself this holiday season and know that it's okay to cry if you need to or maybe step outside for a breath of fresh air and a short walk and, of course, look up and count the stars while you are out there. 

Since the sun returned and I was enjoying a few peaceful moments this morning, I snapped a few pictures around the house.  This little candle holder was a GW find.  It has little holes in it which I think are to put little flowers or bits of greenery into.  This afternoon I am planning to head into the garden with clippers in hand to snip some holly and other greens to bring in and add to vases and arrangements.

Like many of you, I have a fondness for the vintage Christmas decorations.  This little angel is from Germany and used to belong to my aunt.  She has been gone for many years, but she will never be forgotten as warm memories return every time I glance at the angel.

Old Christmas cards = charming graphics = vintage Love.

A well worn child's chair sits next to the fireplace in the living room reminding me to stop and enjoy the many Christmas books I have collected through the years.  A cup of tea and a bit of reading is a refreshing way to face the next job on the never ending list.

It won't be long now until friends and loved ones will be seated around the table.  There are still things to do so, I'd better get doing.

But, before I go, I want to extend warm wishes for a very Merry Christmas from my Happy Home to yours.




Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Little Holiday Humor

While sipping my coffee this morning, it dawned on me why this mug was a freebie.  While it is true that I do LOVE Christmas, I'm not likely  to marry it.

Ho Ho Ho!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Sleigh Ride Together With You

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the busyness of the Christmas season?  Wish you could get away from it all for a little while?
If so, then I invite you to hop into the sleigh as we go for a quick trip to the mountains of North Carolina.

We'll leave the to do list behind as we make our way to the DuPont State Forest where we can soak up the beauty of nature as our stresses slowly melt away.  The never ending list of things to be accomplished at home will be a distant memory as we momentarily replace the Christmas carols with the sounds of birdsong and waterfalls. 

There will be plenty of time to reflect ...
to put it all into perspective ...
decide what really matters at Christmastime ...
to appreciate our families, our health ... today ~ this beautiful day that has been given to us. 

After we have had time to unwind and reflect, we'll dash through the mountains to the Grove Park Inn to see the National Gingerbread House Competition in full swing.  Perhaps we will pick up a few ideas for holiday baking.

See anything you'd like to try at home?
Amazing aren't they?
As a matter of fact, this sleigh we're riding in is also made of gingerbread!  No worries though, it's built to last.

Before heading back home, we'll make one last stop at Lake Junaluska where we can stretch our legs by taking a walk around the lake.  It's about 2-1/2 miles of lovely sights.  Ready??  Here we go ...

Thank you for joining me on my sleigh ride today.
May the weeks leading to Christmas find you feeling refreshed and content.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

From Where I Sit

In the last few months, I have moved my laptop to a spot at the kitchen table.  From here I look to my left and see the birds at the feeder.  We eat breakfast together every morning, even though they are outside and I'm cozy inside.  Right now I can hear one banging his beak on something.  I think he's dropping a hint that the feeder could stand to be filled.  He'll have to wait until I stop banging my fingers on this keyboard.  :-).
Anyhow, I'm also enjoying an occasional glance up from the keyboard.  I've just put the last ornament on the tree in the family room.  The furniture is dusted, the floor is vacuumed ... heck, the furniture even got a once-over with the vacuum and now this room is done.  Don't you love when that happens??

No doubt about it, this Christmas decorating is a lot of work.
But once it's done  ... we sit back and realize it was all worth it.
Bring on the hot chocolate, good books, old movies, beautiful music, flickering candles, crackling fires ... the memories of Christmas 2011 are getting started.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Every Tree Tells a Story

While I love the beauty of themed Christmas trees, there is something about the tree containing all of the ornaments collected through the years that makes my heart sing.  For within the branches of that tree a story is told. 

Each year as the ornaments are hung, the story is visited once again and new chapters are added.  Ornaments from childhood are lovingly placed with a distant memory of a young girl who spent a lot of time playing with Raggedy Ann.

until Ann was set aside and a young man named Brett took center stage.

Perhaps the most precious ornaments of all ~ those handmade by our children.  I pause and thank God for teachers who take the time to work with their students on these treasures.  For as time marches on, they grow more valuable every year.

Special interests and hobbies are there among the branches reminding us of who we are and what we value.

Loved ones across the miles are thought of as the tree is decorated.
Good times are remembered.  Those facing hard times are prayed for. 

And those who are no longer with us are missed ... a lot.

Trips taken are remembered once again.  Perhaps thoughts of future vacations begin to take shape.

The furry family members are represented here.
Whether they are still with us or not, they hold a special place in our hearts and memories. 

This year I am adding a new chapter to the tree representing life at my Happy Home.  As the lucky winner of a recent giveaway I was
thrilled ecstatic when this adorably sweet little cottage showed up in my mailbox.  I sat and studied every cute little detail.  It was made by the very talented Becky of ...

In the years to come, as I hang this special little cottage on my tree, I will be reminded of Becky's kindness.  Thank You, Becky. 

" From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another
The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other."
~ Emily Matthews

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cheerful Christmas Decorating

Around here the Christmas decorating begins shortly after the last dish of the Thanksgiving meal has been put away.  Brett's job is to bring the multitude of storage boxes down from the attic and my job is to create Christmasland from the contents of said boxes.
I will admit that I Love Christmas decorations.  Always have and I guess , at this point, it's safe to say I always will.  At least I hope so.  I just think it's so fun to see all of the different ways people festoon their homes for this glorious season.  In fact, I remember once as a teenager I was invited to a "keg party" at the house of one of the people I worked with.  It was around Christmastime and most of the kids, having recently reached the age of legal drinking , were making a beeline for the keg.  Me, I was more interested in making a beeline for the Christmas tree.  Even then I loved to see the ornaments on other people's trees.  I find it so interesting to hear the stories of the family memories attached to the various ornaments.  Now, I'm not saying I never got to the keg, but that's another story for another time. Ho Ho Ho.

Anyhow, on Friday morning Brett stuck to his end of the bargain carrying box after box down from the attic.  When it came time for my part, I took a look at all of those boxes and felt like going back to bed.  It seemed a bit overwhelming. I daresay I felt a bit of the dreaded "bah humbug" trying to take hold.  At this point I was hoping a gaggle of elves would ring the doorbell offering to deck the halls for me.

It was time for a big ole cuppa GOOD CHEER.
This cuppa came in two forms.
One ~ I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down to enjoy it as I gave my attitude an adjustment and ...
Two ~ this mug pictured above.  It was my favorite find at a recent fun day of thrifting.  This year our local Habitat Restore advertised that they would be putting their Christmas decor out On November 1st.  My sister-in-law and I met there that morning and had so much fun thrifting for vintage Christmas things (our very favorite kind).  Afterwards we enjoyed having lunch out.
Happy memories and a 50 cent mug that makes me smile every time I look at it.

While drinking my coffee and adjusting my attitude, I reminded myself that the best way to get the job done is to get started and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
This year I decided to change things up a bit in the kitchen.  Instead of filling the kitchen shelves with a gingerbread theme, I decided to aim for a bit of whimsy  ... cheerful, nostalgic whimsy. 

Sometimes the worst part is getting started.
I find that if I can get one area finished, it gives me inspiration to keep going.  So, now I'd better get back to it before I need another cuppa cheer.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Greeting the Season With Organized Seasonings

It won't be long now until the turkey will be nicely roasted and sitting on the platter tempting us with it's delicious aroma.  I love that smell and can hardly wait to sit down to enjoy the tastes of Thanksgiving... roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, ribbon jello, butternut squash ...  mmmmm ~ I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.  Something about only having this meal once a year makes it extra special and eagerly anticipated.

And then, of course, there are the pies.
Can't have Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, can you?
Well,  I suppose if you're not a fan of it you could ;-).
Either way this is the time of year when my kitchen becomes a busy place.  Once the Thanksgiving pies are gone, it will soon be time to make the Christmas cookies and the soups to keep us warm on chilly days and the hot chocolate to enjoy while watching the holiday movies and we won't even think about the Christmas dinner just yet.
But something I have been thinking about is getting my kitchen cleaned and organized so that I will be all ready to face the season in a cheerful way.
Recently I have been going through all of my kitchen cupboards and drawers.  Let's just say some of them had gotten a bit hard to close thus making my cheerful kitchen disposition a bit hard to maintain.

One of the drawers that needed some attention was my spice drawer.  This drawer is right next to the stove which makes it very convenient to grab what I need as I'm cooking.  I try to keep it organized alphabetically so that I can find what I'm looking for easier.

I also write the name of the spice on the top of the jar so that I can see it at a glance.  This way I don't have to dig around pulling them all out to find one.  My system usually works well, but recently it had gotten  kinda messy in there and I couldn't find what I was looking for and ended up buying spices that I already had.  I do use herbs and spices on a daily basis, but some of them I can never finish before they have to be discarded so I don't want to double up on them.
Anyhow, the other day I took everything out of the drawer, washed out the drawer and re-organized it all once again and this time I went a step further ...

I made a list of everything in the drawer.
This way if I'm wondering whether I have a certain spice, I can consult the list (which is also kept in the drawer) instead of rummaging around looking for it.

And there you have it ... one of my simple ways to keep the holiday kitchen better organized.

We had our first frost last night and it's beginning to feel winterish around here.

Have a wonderful weekend!!!