has it been that long, or is it just Christmas?

Christmas lights

Wow. I’ve never gone this long without posting.  One thing I know for sure, if you’re female and you’re reading this, you’re not wondering why it’s been so long,  you’re wondering how I’m finding time to post a little over two weeks out from Christmas!

I’ve been busy. No, past busy. We were at my daughter’s for four days. We had a wonderful, carefree Thanksgiving. Couldn’t have enjoyed it more.  Between taking care of my mom, shopping, making presents, trying to decorate the house, AND deal with constant pain, it’s been a whirlwind. Seems like Thanksgiving was months ago.

But I’ve enjoyed all of it,. (not the pain, of course but nothing I can do about that)

I love making gifts. I love decorating the house. I love the hustle and bustle. I would enjoy it even more but when every step hurts, it puts a damper on things. But then I think, “Hey, at least I’m still walking.”

So what have I been making? Well, the pictures will remain unpublished till have Christmas as some of my followers are recipients of said gifts. But I’m liking how things are turning out.

This morning during my “quiet time with God” I asked that He continually  remind me about what this season is all about. I want to experience the “peace that came to earth”. I don’t want to cheapen the cost of that gift by getting so caught up in the busyness of the season that I forget to  unwrap it.

I’m not one of those who take the concept of commercialism and lay a guilt trip on anyone, including me.   Commercialism doesn’t just exist at Christmas time. It’s just more concentrated. Sure, some people, (those crazy ones you see on the news shows grabbing items out of someone else’s hands) go over board.  But most people I know are simply trying to show their love for the people in their life the best way they know how.  They’re enjoying the process.  They’re enjoying  searching for just the right gift, They’re enjoying creating that perfect gift.

Today my hubby and I are baking dozens of cookies. Anzac cookies. They are an Australian cookie we fell in love with when in, you guessed it, Australia.. Everyone loves them which is why so many. If you want to make them be sure to look for the original recipe from Australia.  The others are OK but the original is the best. They’re a cruncy cookie so don’t over bake them. It’s very easy to do.

So if you’re feeling swamped, enjoy it. Enjoy the process not just the end result. We’ll get ‘er done. Remind yourself that you’ve felt this way every Christmas and every Christmas you’ve manged to pull it off. And even if you can’t convince  yourself, speak the words anyway. it will help. Speaking words of encouragement always helps and we should speak them to ourselves as well.

Hope to be back before Christmas.

a quiet journey

christmas 2007

christmas 2007 (Photo credit: paparutzi)

 a quiet journey

Ugh. The flu bug has struck our home.  I hate being sick but being sick at this time of year-OMG. 

I was already behind due to the renovation and my mom’s care. I’m trying to convince myself I’ve been this far behind before during the Christmas season but I know it’s never been this bad. The truth is I’m one of those annoying people who’ve always been able to brag about being done with my shopping and wrapping by Thanksgiving.  Seriously. By this time I’ve made and froze what cookie dough can be prepared this way in preparation for an all-day baking marathon later in the month. All the Christmas decorations would have been artfully displayed the week after Thanksgiving.

This year, the tree sits unadorned. The boxes and boxes of Christmas ornaments are still tucked away in their beds apparently for a long winter’s nap. Many gifts are yet to be purchased and those I have bought are yet to be wrapped. I haven’t even made out my master list of who is getting what and how much I’ve spent. Oh, and I forgot to mention all the homemade gifts I like to make. I should be panicking but I’m not. I tell myself that I always get it all done. I’m not so sure this year though.

I was just starting to get my footing when the flu bug bit. I remember little of it as I spiked a high temp and slept away a whole day. So now I’m even further behind. But here’s the thing. It’s o.k. It really is.  (Maybe I’ve been too sick to panic. J)

I think not though. I think maybe I’ve finally realized that Christmas is not only a time to give gifts, it IS a gift.  The season itself, I mean. It is the gift of serenity. The serenity that comes from knowing there is another story being played out in the “heavenlies”, a story that is so much bigger than me and my flu and obsessing about how I don’t have twenty-four hours to spare to be sick. But now I’m reminded that I don’t have the control over things I think I have. Things happen. The Christmas season can get interrupted for all kinds of reasons-some of our own making, some outside our control. Like the flu.

I’ve been thinking about how “quite” was the journey that Mary and Joseph took to Bethlehem. The whispered conversations they must have had as they snuggled under the stars with the gentle breeze cooling them at night and the sounds of the night singing them to sleep. This trip could well have been the first time they even had a chance to really get to know each other. Something tells me that in the years ahead they often looked back at this journey as the most peaceful time of their lives.

Maybe in the next couple of weeks I can have my own tranquil journey. Maybe this is the year I won’t get it all done. Maybe this is the year I’ll throw off the burden of perfection and learn to live with compromise. Maybe my own journey to Christmas will prove as “quiet” as the one traveled so many years ago. Maybe the gift awaiting me will prove as wondrous.




Vanilla ice cream cone I bought at Camp Manito...
Vanilla ice cream cone I bought at Camp Manitou-Lin for a $1 donation. I was sort of icey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

thankfulness/V (the caption under the picture is not mine)

Vacation, valleys, valor, vanilla, variety, vases, vegetables, vehicles, velvet, veins, very, veterans, vibrant, victory, vigilant, vigorous, vilify, vindicate, visualization, vitamins, void, vows, vulnerability.

 It’s the Holiday season and I can think of no other flavoring that is used more than vanilla. I have always loved the flavoring and smell of vanilla so today I’m very thankful today for “vanilla”. The flavoring and the scent.  Did you know that women In Victorian times used to use vanilla as perfume?  (And Bath and Body Works thought they were original? Huh.)

I like vanilla in warm milk. I like vanilla ice cream.  I like vanilla pudding. While I like chocolate, vanilla is my favorite. A touch of vanilla in almost any cake, cookie or dessert recipe adds to the taste. It’s also great in tart recipes as it “softens” the tartness.  I love the scent of it so much that anytime I’m in Bath and Body Works, I buy Warm Vanilla Sugar in every product they carrya. Every woman I know loves it.

Maybe it reminds us of when we were little girls and we smelled cookies baking in the oven. Maybe it makes us feel “mothered”, especially if we never were. Did you know that smells can actually soothe us, energize us, makes us more mentally acute? What do you think is behind the success of the aforementioned Bath and Body Works? They have tapped into the psychology of smell and we’ve bought it hook, line and sinker. That’s not meant as an insult. Quite the contrary. I think it’s great. I love going in and smelling all the new “flavors”.

I’m copying this article directly from the Internet. It’s a really good explanation of what I’ve been saying and might even explain the “mothering” theory. What do you think?

The psychology of design: How to create an environment in which you will thrive

by Sally Augustin, Ph.D.


The Smell Is Right – Using Scents to Enhance Life (Part 2)

Scents influence us in predictable ways.

Published on January 13, 2010 by Sally Augustin, Ph.D. in People, Places, and Things.

The scents that surround us have a significant influence on how we live our lives. Specific smells have predictable psychological effects, as discussed in part 1 of this article – lemon improves our performance on cognitive tasks while peppermint has the same result when we are doing physical work, for example.

Researchers have also found that scents each of us individually classify as pleasant influence us in foreseeable ways:

  • When we smell a scent that we think is pleasant while we’re waiting somewhere, it seems to us that we’ve been waiting for a shorter time than if a pleasant smell is absent. If you know that you, or others, will be spending a lot of time on hold or in a linge, add a pleasant smell to your environment. 
  • We’re apt to linger in spaces that smell good – so scent is a way that you can encourage people to gather in particular sections of your home during a party.
  • Smelling pleasant scents also puts us into a generally good mood, which means we’re apt to be more creative and more interested in resolving disagreements genially as opposed to confrontationally.
  • Gamblers bet more money when they’re in a good smelling place, so, if you often lose at cards, don’t add potpourri to the den when the poker game’s at your house.
  • When we smell pleasant scents, we’re more apt to recall pleasant memories, which is good if you’re not feeling well or under stress – and you’ll generally report that you feel less pain when you smell a pleasant smell than you will when you’re not doing so.
  • We’re more confident when we are smelling a pleasant scent – so wearing that perfume or cologne you like is a good idea when you’re taking the law boards or defending your dissertation.
  • Scented spaces seem larger than unscented ones, and, as a bonus, those larger seeming scented spaces also seem cleaner and brighter than unscented ones – even if we don’t consciously register that scent – conscious registration is not necessary for the repercussions of pleasant smells noted above, either.

Smelling the same smell in two different places where you’ll be working on a project puts you in the same mood as in both spaces and calls the same memories to mind. If your home office and a workplace share an odor, it will help you work more effectively in both places.

What about unpleasant smells? They mobilize us to action – particularly to leave spaces. So, if your guests just don’t get the hint . . .




Vincent van Gogh: Blick auf Arles. April 1889 ...

Vincent van Gogh: Blick auf Arles. April 1889 Öl auf Leinwand, 72 x 92 cm, Neue Pinakothek, München Sammlung Mr. und Mrs. Paul Mellon, Upperville/Virginia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ukulele, umbrellas, unchanging, underestimate, understanding, unity, unique, unspoken, unusual, upbeat, uplifting.

I almost picked unity. But that sounded like what a beauty pageant contestant would pick to expound on for the judges were she given a choice. I can hear it now, “I just what unity in the world.” I don’t want to be predictable so I guess it really makes sense that I pick “unique”.  I’m thankful for the “unique”.  I like unique.

As we’ve gone through this renovation, I’ve learned that the pieces I still love are the ones that were never mass-produced. They are the ones that I don’t see in anyone else’s home. I’ve got some pieces I’ve had for many years and they still “work” in my home, precisely because they’ve stood the test of time. Like the big copper bowl that sits on the lower shelf of a table. Like the chamber pot I use in a bathroom for my wastebasket. The old sewing machine table that has a top that didn’t come with it which has been painted lots of different ways. Like the crocks that sit on each one my steps going upstairs. The pieces I’ve given away or are going to give away are pieces I’ve bought in department stores where there have been a dozen of them on the shelf. That must have been a period in my life when I was foolish enough to want my home to look like everyone else’s.  I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m glad I’ve found myself again.

I like unique people, too. Not necessarily eccentric although I’m learning to appreciate them as well. By unique, I mean people who aren’t afraid to be who they are. They don’t explain themselves. They don’t justify themselves.  They have no qualms about voicing their opinion when appropriate because they know how they feel about many issues. They aren’t worried about fitting in.

I like art that is unique, for sure. I would not have any art in my home that I could buy in a department store. I don’t like art that reeks of the predictable, like blue skies, green grass, etc.  Give me pink, purple, orange skies.  Give me purple or blue grass. Maybe that why Vincent Van Gogh. Not only is his art unique. He was unique. Well, no maybe he was eccentric.  I guess eccentric people are always unique but not the other way around.

I didn’t use to be this way. I used to like the predictable and ordinary. Maybe I was predictable and ordinary.  Who know? I just know I like unique and I’m thankful every time I find it.

(FYI: I don’t know why I had two posts published the same day. One of them should have been on the 25th. Or why “S” showed up before “T”. I do know the alphabet. J Anyway, hopefully everything is back on track. I’m glad I’m almost to the end of the alphabet. It’s getting awfully close to Christmas. We’re headed to Chicago on Monday. Husband working and I’m tagging along. What could be better than Chicago at Christmas? )