Friday, December 31, 2021

new year's eve 2021

How was your Christmas? Ours was good. Had some family over on Christmas Eve for an array of appetizers, Christmas goodies and mulled wine.

Christmas morning was just us and the kitties. We took an afternoon walk (it was an unseasonably warm Christmas for us), then video-chatted with Tim while opening our presents. I loved the days when the boys were little and they were so excited that Santa had left them gifts under the tree...waking us up way too early and running into the living room in their footed pajamas. Now Tim lives 2200 miles away and Phil has been deceased since 2009. Christmas just isn't the same anymore.

As I do every Christmas, I made a breakfast casserole. This year I deviated from my norm and made a new recipe. This one used English muffins on the bottom. The dish tasted good, but the English muffins were too soggy. Lesson learned: next year I go back to my tried-and-true recipe.

One of the lovely gifts I received from Brian were these brass earrings. Since he's sometimes stumped what to get me for Christmas, I help him out a bit. Last month, we visited a local shop and I pointed out a few things that I liked; giving him hints. I left the store and Brian shopped. πŸ˜‰

On Christmas evening, we went to a friend's house and were treated to a prime rib roast dinner. 

Those who know me won't be surprised to hear I took down all the Christmas decorations the day after Christmas and had it all packed up and put away by the 27th. To me, Christmas is over. Plus, I'm tired of looking at Christmas decor by then. Christmas decor is beautiful, but I love the clean, more uncluttered look.

New Year's Eve is just another day for us. We met up with a friend for lunch, went back to her house to play our new Boomer board game, and got some groceries on the way home.

Tonight? Take-out pizza, a glass of wine for me, a beer for Brian. We'll be in bed before midnight. 

We're hoping to take our annual hike in the State Park tomorrow morning ~ always a good start to the New Year ~ before a big snowstorm hits. Here's wishing us all good health (especially during this pandemic), supportive and loving relationships, and peace for the hard days. Thank you all for your friendship and support.


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

winter solstice 2021

Happy winter solstice! 

I used to reject the dark and cold, the start of winter. I found it depressing. But the past couple of years, especially this year, I'm learning to embrace it and even welcome the darkness as we move towards the light. I'm learning that the dark and cold are important because we need to slow down and rest. We need this time of hibernation in order to bring forth our light and growth as the sun returns. 

Gathering at my friend's beautiful, warm, cozy home with a small group of women to celebrate the winter solstice was a balm for my soul.

"It's no surprise many cultures and religions celebrate a holiday - whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or pagan festivals - that coincides with the return of longer days.

Ancient peoples whose survival depended on a precise knowledge of seasonal cycles marked this first day of winter with elaborate ceremonies and celebrations. Spiritually, these celebrations symbolize the opportunity for renewal, a shedding of bad habits and negative feelings and an embracing of hope amid darkness as the days once again begin to grow longer.

Many of the ancient symbols and ceremonies of the winter solstice live on today or have been incorporated into newer traditions."
(Winter Solstice - CNN Travel)

We lit candles, said a prayer; an elder did a lovely reading about the solstice. We journaled about what what no longer served us that we needed to release, and the positive things we wanted to bring in. 

We then went outside one by one, to walk around the fire and reflect upon what we wrote...

It was peaceful and magical by the light of the full moon. 

We then gathered in a group around the fire and did a round of laughter yoga, which triggered real laughter to the point where we were positive the neighbors thought we were crazy.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with joyful moments, many blessings, laughter, peace and matter how you choose to celebrate.

(Display inside the store, Vintage Art & Findings)

I'm grateful for all of you.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

christmas in the kitchen

It's now a mad dash to Christmas day. As usual, I haven't wrapped any presents yet (I hate wrapping, so I procrastinate) and I'm just beginning my baking. I'm not too concerned about that though, because I'm only making two types of Christmas cookies this year. I make cookie gift boxes for three neighbors, and the rest of the cookies will be put out on Christmas Eve when we have some people over.

I'm behind in basically everything right now, not just Christmas stuff. I had a medical problem come out of the blue last weekend and I ended up in the ER. It was scary and very painful...but I'm on the mend now. On one of the days where I couldn't do anything due to being in so much pain, I said to Brian, "I just want my boring regular life back!" Oh, how we take our little lives, such as they are, for granted. Until we're sidelined. 

Enough of that. Onto Christmas decor in my kitchen.

Yes, please! And I'll even take some snow on Christmas.

A collection of Christmas glasses and a Marshall Field's crock in the cubby, and a trio of Santa mugs above the stove...

Pretty red glasses that glow in the sunshine alongside a grouping of Christmas plates...

One of the views in my kitchen...

Didn't do much to my china cabinet...a few pieces of decor here and there.

Collection of Christmas mugs. The two red and white King Arthur mugs are new. I took advantage of a sale plus free shipping while I had a chance. The mugs came with a container of their hot chocolate, which I haven't tried yet.

Another view in my kitchen, looking into the living room. That's Clementine on the heat vent.

This medley of vintage wood Santa bells is one of my Christmas favorites. I found these in a vintage shop several years ago. The Bailey's cups were found at Goodwill many years back.

Are you all done with Christmas prep? 
Would you like to join me in a glass of Merlot? πŸ˜‰πŸ’“

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

on to christmas

Hard to believe Thanksgiving was less than two weeks ago. It's like we go from Thanksgiving to Christmas overnight and Thanksgiving is immediately forgotten. I think part of that is because a great deal of people start decorating before Thanksgiving. Way before Thanksgiving. I'm not one of them. However, each to their own. Whatever makes you happy!

Our Thanksgiving was lovely. My mom hosted, made tons of food, and the rest of us brought side dishes and desserts. We were grateful to gather in person again, after spending last Thanksgiving at our own homes due to the pandemic. Of course, holidays make me miss my boys even more...Phil's been gone for 12 years now and Tim moved to California two years ago.

 Here's my mom and Brian tending to the turkey, while my mom's pup, Marley is hoping that they accidentally drop some scraps. This was the first year we tried a free-range non-GMO turkey from a local farm. It was definitely different from the mass-produced store-bought turkeys. It had a stronger, more distinct turkey taste. I didn't care for it, but I'm not a turkey fan anyway. Bring on the stuffing!

Mom always sets a beautiful table, but I forgot to take a photo until after we were done eating.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, the annual ritual of dragging the Christmas totes from the basement upstairs began. As usual, Clementine and Monkey were in the thick of it.

Forget the blankets, tissue paper makes great bedding!

Thought I'd start by showing you the decor in my living room today. It already looks different from this photo. I'm always tweaking!

Here's a tweaked difference...I changed up the decor on the shelves and put lighted branches in the wall cut-out, exchanging it for the wooden bowl of vintage wooden beads.

After looking for well over a year for a new chair for the living room, I finally found one: a mid-century modern leather chair that's quite comfortable. It feels good on my back when I sit in it; firm but not too firm. I discovered a warehouse outlet place in a nearby suburb that sells surplus furniture and appliances from Wayfair, All Modern, and Overstock. We really got a deal on this chair!

We don't put up a big tree, just a tabletop one. The ornaments are ones from the boy's childhoods. It's not all the ornaments...I'd definitely need a standard sized tree for that.

Can you make out the trio of singing angels on top of the shelf?

Those are a new purchase ~ from our favorite vintage store, Secret Treasures. They're Goebel, made in Germany. We don't need anymore Christmas anything, but we're both attracted to quality vintage pieces and couldn't resist.

Love the detail!

Our one other Christmas decor purchase this year was this vintage Merry Christmas light-up garland. This came from one of my favorite local shops, Vintage Art & Findings. In true tweaking form, I've now added the vintage wooden bead garland as an added layer hanging underneath the letters.

 Mantel decor...

How are you doing on your holiday decorating? All done, or just getting started?

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

a long overdue hello

Hey there, friends! I've missed the blogging community and writing and sharing photos, but sometimes life gets a little hectic and blogging falls to the back burner.

After being gone so long, it's hard to know where to start. I've been uploading photos and writing, but the post was too long. The delete key has been my friend and so I'm sticking with a generalization for now.

Clementine and Monkey news: Clem is still hanging in there with her CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease). You'd never know she's sick, as energetic and feisty as she still is. She eats well, too, especially for a tiny girl. I finally got brave enough to learn how to do her subcutaneous IV fluids at home, which I now do every other day. Brian and I make a good team: he sets everything up, and I'm the one who does the injection. We had a few mishaps the first few weeks; it was definitely a learning process. But so worth it in order not to be having to run to the vet all the time, not to mention the expense!

Unfortunately, Clem still has chronic skin chewing/barbering issues and they've gotten worse over time. She now has missing fur on her belly, legs and sides where she constantly chews. We have tried every medication possible for her, including ones from a vet dermatologist. We've changed her food, too. Nothing has helped. The vet is trying one last medication and then we're through with our options. 

In the meantime, I had Monkey at the vet this morning. He was born with the herpes virus and to-date, it's only shown up in his eyes...he gets eye "gunk" which flares up from time to time. About five days ago, I noticed he was congested and his purring sounds were coming from the sides of his mouth. The vet said even though my cats are indoor cats, Monkey can still get a cold since he has the herpes virus. So he's now on Amoxicillin and a probiotic. I'm telling you, sometimes having pets is like having little kids all over again!

This introvert has been quite social this summer and fall...seems I'm spending more time doing things with friends and family, and Brian and I have taken a few day trips. One positive thing about living in northeast Illinois is that we experience all four seasons. I know I complain about winter; it's my least-favorite season. And fall always makes me melancholy, though I try to find the beauty in the season through the beautiful colors and moody sky. Hope you don't mind a fall photo dump! This is what happens when I haven't talked to you all in a long time. 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we'll gather at my mom's house. It's sounding like we'll have enough food to feed an army, but there's nothing better than Thanksgiving leftovers! Wishing you all a happy and blessed holiday and thanking you for your friendship and hanging in there with me. πŸ’“