Dear friends

Friday, December 31, 2010 | | 8 comments
Wishing you all health and happiness in the New Year!

{A goofy picture of us taken while out with friends this week}

We are spending the evening with a few good friends here in our home. In keeping with our low key holiday season, we opted to have a nice dinner safe at home. Kevin is making {most of } dinner and the other husbands are bring appetizers and sides. The new year is already off to a good start in opinion :)

Happy 2011 to all!

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What goes up ...

Thursday, December 30, 2010 | | 14 comments
must come down.

I spent the better part of the day putting away our Christmas decorations.

My heart really wasn't in all the hoopla of the holidays this year. There really isn't a reason that I can put my finger on. I just couldn't keep the spirit going for very long.

I was ready to take it all down the day after {actually before if I'm being honest with ya} Christmas but I talked myself into trying to enjoy it a for a few more days now that  all the hype is over.

Nope, didn't work. It was becoming a source of major stress.








So, bright and early, I began the laborious process of dismantling the displays, pulling out the bins, wrapping the ornaments and tucking away the ever growing amount of holiday decorations. Whew!

After the roads were travel ready, from the blizzard, my hubby and I went tree shipping. We found a beautiful artificial {fake} Christmas tree. For various reasons ~ allergies being the biggest ~ we decided this would be the year to purchase an alternative decoration {my friend's description of fake trees} for next Christmas.


I offered to save this in a zip lock as a special reminder for my husband :)

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A few of my favorites

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 | | 10 comments

This is one of the many traditions my family has for Christmas. It's been passed down many generations. I have some on my tree that my great grandmother gave to me. Each year in our stockings,  Santa leaves a special ornament. I look forward to unwrapping this special gift every Christmas morning. This is only a small sampling of our collection.

One day when my son has a home of his own, with bittersweet emotions, I will pack up his hand selected ornament collection to decorate his Christmas tree.

Each ornament has a story, a memory or some significance.

Humpty Dumpty ~ When Nicholas was just a little guy I made him a humpty dumpty costume for Halloween. He was adorable if I do say so :)

Ice Skates ~When I was younger I took skaking lessons for many years. I even got to skate with the MSU hockey team ~ what a thrill!

Santa at the grill ~ Our yearly Oktoberfest with my husband manning the sausage on the grill.

Suitcase ~ My husbands never ending {or it seems} travel.

Bull dogs ~ Our bullies Max, Bozley and little Bentley.

Reindeer ~ My mother made him when I was a little girl and loved Rudolph.

Mitten ~ I have many as reminders that I'm from Michigan. They are very thoughtful gifts from friends and family.

Naval officer ~ My husband's college and career memories

Cupcake person~ Sweet gifts for those I'm always making and sharing cupcakes with throughout the year.

Santa mug ~ My parents gave my brother and I Santa mugs when we were very young. We drank hot cocoa from them and when they weren't in use, they displayed our candy canes.

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Let it snow ...

Sunday, December 26, 2010 | | 16 comments
          let it snow,  let it snow

We've had blizzard warnings here in Connecticut since last night for our area. There was a light dusting on the ground Christmas night but nothing to really get excited about.




We are singing a different tune now. The wind is picking up, the snow is falling a little faster and the roads are really slick. Kevin and I went out this morning and on our way home we saw 3 accidents along with numerous sliding and one very impressive spin out by a small truck. He handled it well and no one got hit or hurt. That's all it took for us to head straight home.

There is a cozy fire being tended by my husband, I'm making a pot chili for supper and most importantly ...

We are stocked for the blizzard of 2010 with plenty of red wine and chocolate! :)
{milk and bread are so overrated ~ ha!}

Stay warm and cozy.

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Joyeux Noel

Saturday, December 25, 2010 | | 7 comments
                                        Joyeux Noel


              Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed Christmas filled with love, peace and joy!

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'Twas the night before Christmas ...

Friday, December 24, 2010 | | 5 comments
not a creature was stirring in our house


because they were sick on the couch!

The stockings were newly made {this very afternoon} with Tessa in mind


and hung, just in time, by the chimney with care {whew!}in hopes
that the NyQuil would soon kick in with the desired relief!

Our Christmas Eve plans went down the road less traveled this year. My husband informed me this morning that he wasn't feeling all that well. I loaded him up with over the counter, under the counter and anything in between medications that we had on hand. 

He did a stellar job of holding his own for as long as he could before he waved the white flag. Poor guy knew how much I wanted to attend Christmas Eve service {such a beautiful welcome to Christmas}. A quick glance in his direction before dinner told me that we would be spending a quiet evening at home.

I'm all about the gift of giving unless it's germs!

So, Merry Christmas Eve to all, and to all a restful nights sleep! :)

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Christmas quality time

My husband has been away for the month of December. As a result, we haven't spent any quality holiday cheer together. He arrived home this week and I wanted to share a little holiday festiveness with him.

What says romantic Christmas more than a carriage ride on a crisp
December evening with a light snow falling? The newly renovated
Ocean House was hosting a carriage ride complete with a glass of champagne and hot chocolate. We snuggled in the carriage seat together for warmth against the biting ocean breeze. Our conversation was lulled by the pull of Silver our beautiful carriage horse as we talked and shared quiet moments while enjoying the beautiful scenery all aglow for Christmas.

It was a prefect night.

Carriage ride

Afterwards, we went to one of our favorite restaurants close to home. The Daniel Packer Inn is a very quaint New England restaurant on the two main floors and a cozy pub in the basement. We know the owners and always enjoy when Allie stops by our table to catch up with us. There was a fire blazing in the big stone fireplace and everyone was filled with Christmas cheer. A table of ladies behind us were exchanging Christmas gifts. I must say they had great taste and I added a few things to my list as the gifts were unwrapped. I even had my husband turn around a few times so that he could see :)

One of my personal treats for the season is all the baking. It is really relaxing to me for some reason. Odd, I know :) I made several different varieties of cookies aside from my cookies that I made for my cookie exchange.

Our evening ended with the delivery of the cookie boxes. I've been told by friends that they look forward to their "special delivery" every year just before the big day.


Those simple words warm my heart all year long!

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Cookie Exchange

Saturday, December 18, 2010 | | 17 comments
Each holiday season I look forward to this day. It's just for us ladies and I try to go all out for our gathering. We get one afternoon in the crazy busy month of December to eat, drink and be merry. The husbands and children don't mind a bit as the women walk out their front doors. They all know there will be a tray of goodness arriving a few hours later.

We were a little smaller in number this year due to illnesses and holiday obligations. When finding a date, I always try to pick a Sunday afternoon in the middle of the month and it's always at 3pm. This works well for my friends with small children, dinner hours and other commitments of the season.


The amazing cookies on display. I've been hosting my Cookie Exchange for many years. Never once, have we had duplicate cookies. Each year we try a new recipe for our event. It's actually a lot of fun trying to top what you've done the year before.


This year I offered two festive beverages. The first was a pomegranate sparkler and an eggnog martini. I borrowed this idea from a sweet blogger. Thanks, it was a huge hit. I tweaked it just a tad to fit my taste.


My neighbor took this photo. She has recently started a photography business. She has a much more artistic flair to her photos than do I.


A small corner of the appetizers table. My friends have learned to skip lunch on this day and to come hungry.


It's time to get down to business!

We each bake 6 dozen cookies. The number of attendees dictates the number of cookies we each take. Yes, we also take some of the cookies we brought as well. This is just how we do it but there are various "rules" to the exchange.




Our delicious selection of homemade goodness. It takes all my restraint not to lick my fingers!


These are the cookies I made this year. Chunky Chocolate Gobs from Southern Living. The name isn't all that appealing but they are delicious!


The trays are filling up and mouths are watering.



Ellen shared with me that her boys sit by the window awaiting her arrival home. Well, maybe not her so much as the cookies :) Each year her boys ask, as the season approaches, when she is going to the cookie day.


Mine are safely tucked away in the deep freezer. Let's be honest. If they were out in plain site I'd be 10 pounds heavier! Since we're being honest here, I might as well share with you that I have been known to sneak down and eat a frozen cookie from time to time ;)

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Holiday cheer

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | | 16 comments

This weekend I hosted my annual Cookie Exchange. I wanted to serve a fun and festive cocktail full of holiday cheer.

When my guests arrived, they were offered a pomegranate sparkler. I placed a scattering of pomegranate seeds in the bottom of each champagne glass. The effect was just what I was wishing!

The silver tray was my mother's and one that I use daily in our home. Not only is it functional, it offers years of wonderful memories from my childhood.


Take a peek at thelongroadtochina for more inspiration

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Cute and Cozy

Monday, December 13, 2010 | | 19 comments

The weather is turning and we are in for some really cold weather this week. After the hideous rain {coming down in all directions} for most of the day yesterday our home had a damp and cold welcoming this evening. I started a fire and began my nightly routine. Within minutes our home was warming up and I was beginning to relax.

Because Bentley is still a puppy and ever so fond of our Christmas tree and decorations, I have to keep a close eye on him. At one point this evening he disappeared and I couldn't find him. He has a knack of becoming invisible. I looked every where for his wrinkly little body. He has learned how to climb stairs so I scoured all the bedrooms and baths on the second floor. No Bentley. When I was descending the stairs, I caught a movement from the corner of my eye. Our little fur ball climbed up onto the hearth and was lounging by the warmth of the fire. Once he saw the camera, he sat up to "pose" for a few shots. I really wanted to get him laying down. Too funny!

Hope you're keeping toasty warm on these chilly nights.

* My cookie exchange went smoothly and was enjoyed by all. I'll be posting those photos this week.

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Holiday funk

Thursday, December 9, 2010 | | 23 comments

Just when I think I'm in the game ... wham!

I'm feel stressed, running in all directions, and getting little accomplished. I feel like one of those hamsters on an exercise wheel going around and around and around but never getting anywhere. Christmas is only two weeks away and I'm beginning to fear {still have loads of shopping, wrapping and baking} its arrival.

Our home is dressed in its holiday finest. Most of the decorations are out, the tree is up and looks lovely, the candles are in the windows, the wreath on the door but I just can't seem to really get into the spirit this year. I'm on auto pilot and my hearts not really in it.

I'm waking up earlier to try and get a few things checked off my list before heading to my classroom and I'm going to bed later in hopes of being more prepared for the day ahead. It's not working. I constantly feel like I'm running and rushing and not really enjoying all that this season promises to offer.

I'm slowing drowning in holiday cheer. My calendar is packed with fun but it's stressing me out. If I didn't have to worry about laundry, cleaning, meals and work I'd be all set. Speaking of my job, that's a whole load of additional cheer to be spread. I'm in charge of the Mitten and Hat tree and the staff Christmas breakfast. Again, I enjoy these projects but I'm missing something this year. It more of an effort than joy.

This weekend is my annual Cookie Exchange. I look forward to it every year. It's a fabulous afternoon with my girlfriends and we all enjoy our trays of Christmas cookies. We eat, drink and enjoy some merry girl time. Guess what ... I'm stressing over this one too! I have appetizers to make, six dozen cookies to bake, the house to clean, gift bags to assemble. I need to rent an elf to help!

Perhaps I need a holly jolly attitude adjustment.

Am I the only one feeling this way?
Please tell me I'm not alone.

I'm done whining :)

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Celebrating for a Charity

Monday, December 6, 2010 | | 11 comments
This is my favorite part of the holidays. It involves bringing smiles to children. Many of them are in great need. Some are too young to understand this and others struggle with the pressure of knowing the financial needs of their family and all that it involves.


{Photo is from my phone. It was very crowded and I caught the shoulder of a bidder in the process}
A few years ago, I was asked to join the Child and Family Agency. I was already heavily involved with other organizations and felt, at the time,  I couldn't take on any addition commitments. Something, within, pulled me to do a little research into the organization. I am SO glad I did this as it is a perfect fit to my outlooks and personality.

This weekend we had our yearly auxiliary Christmas celebration. There were basket raffles, cookie and candy, poinsettia, and book sales. The turnout was a record high and the sales outdid our wildest expectations.

Above is the baking basket I put together. It was filled to the rim with goodies to create family memories and delicious items for all to enjoy.

At the end of the night I was the lucky recipient of an incredible basket. Unfortunately, I can't share it with you as it will be part of my husband's Christmas gift. Every now and then he peeks in on my blog so I don't want to ruin his surprise.

What makes you smile this Christmas season?

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Getting into the spirit

Sunday, November 28, 2010 | | 15 comments
I wanted something new for our front door this Christmas season. This year I want to keep it simple and classic.While shopping over the weekend I picked up a few goodies. This afternoon I laid them all out on the dinning room table to create a wreath for my front door, swag for the mantel and accent pieces for on top of the entertainment center.

When all was done and said, I was very pleased with the outcome.


This is my sad attempt at a tutorial {you've been warned} ...

Begin with a basis plain evergreen wreath.

Add a wreath that has potential but looks a little sad all by its lonesome.

Secure it to the evergreen wreath with wire. Whatever you have on hand will do just fine.


Select a few holiday picks. This was one that I turned into three individual holly. I used wire cutters to separate the flowers.


I thought a little more dressing up for the big day was in order.

These picks remind me of tiny ice crystals and sparkle rather nicely when the light hits them. They are really silver and clear but the flash added the additional colors.


I love it when a project turns out even better than envisioned. I can't wait to hang it from our front door to welcome our guest during the holiday season.


The mantel swag is waiting for the paint to dry. In the process of selecting colors and a designing my holiday sway, I decided that the mantel was due for a fresh coat and new color of paint. Much to my husband's chagrin, I dedicated a portion of my afternoon to painting. I love the new color and can't wait to dress it up for the holidays!

Are you getting in the spirit?

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Sunday, November 21, 2010 | | 27 comments
Annual Oktoberfest

I'm still trying to play catch up {compliments of Bentley} so please be understanding while you sit back and enjoy the very long string of photos :)

It was a crazy busy few weeks but in the end, it was totally worth it and all the hard paid off. The smiles and laughter of our friends and neighbors was the greatest reward.

There is nothing better than decorating with natural decor from our yard and the surrounding wooded area.


I love white pumpkins. They were very hard to find this year. Apparently the pumpkin crop wasn't successful this year due to all the rain.

Glowing candles dress up just about anything. These were placed on the stairs to provide just the right amount of light in the hall.

My hurricane lamp wrapped in Indian corn on the wine table.


This is one of the two soups that I made. The other was a tuscan white bean. I put them in crock pots on the patio. These hearty warm soups warm you up on a chilly autumn evening.


I purchased this tub at Target over the summer. In its former life it was white. It needed a little dressing up for the party. I spray painted it copper and then added our monogram with my Cricut machine.

It was the perfect size {and disguise} for the keg which was placed on the second level of our patio.

Our fun neighbors and my husband's golfing buddy.


Nothing makes me happier as a hostess than people who hadn't met prior to the party, laughing and having fun as if they'd know each other for years.

Notice the shirt Kathy? :)


Another fabulous and fun neighbor.


Lots of good friends.



My dear friend and confidant and me. When I grow up I want to be just as sweet and kind as her!


A welcoming banner in our family room.

I've been dreaming of this since I was laying on the beach this past summer! It's a Smores bar ~ oh so yummy. I took this photo later in the evening so there are a few ingredients missing but you can get the overall idea. I printed up a few "recipes" but our guests were welcome to create there own masterpieces. I got a ton of compliments on this and several requests for its return next year.

I pulled out the copper spray paint for a repeat performance. The foam pumpkin {from Michaels} just wasn't the right color so I gave it a quick cover then used an ail to make the holes. I secured the marshmallows, then placed the ends in the pumpkin. It was grab and go from there. The patio fireplace was right next to the table.

My favorite: chocolate graham crackers, white chocolate square, raspberry jam and marshmallow. Amazing! You must try.


As our guests departed, they were sent home with a bottle of water and pumpkin whoopie pies.

I made the bottle wraps myself ~ not difficult at all and really added a special touch.



Until next year ...
Autumn blessings

*Thank you Fran for taking a few shots of the evening.

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