Thursday, December 29, 2016

Happy Birthday, Sista

Today is my sister's birthday. She's 40 something.
She's really good at a lot of things. Like, for instance, pouring!

I'm the big sister. Yes, that means I'm older than her. By more than a few years, I might add.  SIGH.

I always thought she got the short end of the stick  having a birthday so close to Christmas. It kind of stinks,actually. But she makes the best of it. Today we are celebrating her day.
She wants to go here. 
We may be sisters, but we are totally different when it comes to shopping.  That's her thing. Not mine. (I'm going, by the way!) I'm such a great sister!

Another thing she likes to do is run. I only run if something is chasing me!

She got all the brains in the family. (Sorry Bro!)  She's the dean of students in a private school. Yep. Smart.

Years ago now, she had a brain aneurysm. I didn't even know what that was, let alone try to spell it. It's still hard to think about. We almost lost her. It was an extremely stressful time.

Birthdays are made to celebrate.  A few days ago, I was reading about birthdays in my Simple Abundance book.   I highly recommend purchasing this great read. Sarah Ban Breathnach writes..."Today isn't my birthday, but it might be yours. If it is, I hope you're having a wonderful day--a day of authentic indulgences, joyful simplicities, contemplation, closure, and celebration...I do need to distinguish the birth day of my life in special ways from the rest of the calendar."

I thought those were wise words. I plan on taking the day off work for my birthday this next year. We all should. After all, it's the day we were born. Life. It's a beautiful thing.

I hope you have the most splendid day celebrating the gift of you, my sister. I love you.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Happy Boxing Day

Today in the UK and other Commonwealth countries, it is Boxing Day.
A national holiday, Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas. Many spend the day shopping or attending sporting events. I've read this day originated many centuries ago when servants of the wealthy spent Christmas Day looking after their wealthy masters. Servants were then allowed the next day off to be with family.  Most were given a Christmas box, which would equal a Christmas present here in America.

On Christmas Day, Queen Elizabeth delivered her annual speech. So full of wisdom, she didn't disappoint. So eloquently spoken.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Double Dose

Crowded stores trying your patience? Slow drivers maybe?
How about the dude who stole your parking spot?

This time of year can bring its own set of stress triggers. I get it. Trust me.

A few days ago, I was doing dishes. Shocker, I know. I actually did the dishes! Anyway...
Didn't take long and POOF! The water stopped running. Not good. Not good at all. No water meant no toilet. UGH. This was very bad! Long story short. I called my brother in law (hubby wasn't home.) He assessed the situation and determined a switch was bad and fixed it. Just like that. (I just snapped my finger!) In an instant, I had water again.
Was it stressful? Yep. I could have been looking at thousands of dollars to fix our well. But, even if we had to, all would have been okay. You see, I have my family. I also have marvelous friends, a job, a home, a warm bed. WATER. I have everything I need.

I'm hearing story after story this holiday season of deep distress. Epic suffering. This time of year it's not always a wonderful life.

Take a look at this video. It will help keep things in perspective. This story  takes on  whole new meaning as these people happen to be loved ones of a friend.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas in the UK

My dear friends are flying across the pond today to spend Christmas with loved ones in England.
Jealous? Me? (I'm shaking my head no, trying to convince myself!)

Okay, maybe just a little. Don't worry about me though. I'll just 'Keep Calm and Carry On.'
This video made me smile. Hope it brings a smile to your day too.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The significance of dates

December 15, 2008

The day my mother died.

I've spent a lot of energy this week wondering what could have been. What should have been.

"We all come from a dysfunctional family because there are people in them. Whatever my upbringing was, it is now my baggage. Get help, get rid of it, or it becomes bitterness."
                                                                                           - Dave Ramsey

I've looked through old journals amazed at some of my insights throughout the years.

" journals tell a long and dreary story of never ending bitterness and ugly emotion..."

My word for 2017 is TRANSFORMATION. As I read through my journals, a phrase I wrote years ago gave me pause.

"My mother did the best she could with what she knew how." 

I can't begin to explain the significance of these 12 words. Transformation is a heavy word.

Remember the significance of dates in the lives of those around you. Is someone quiet or edgy on a particular day? Give grace. You never know if that certain day is their notable one.
It's not always about you.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Holiday movies

What's your favorite Christmas movie?

 the Holiday is one of my favorites for several reasons.

To begin, it's partially filmed in England. That in itself ranks above most.

Cameron Diaz plays 'Amanda' and Kate Winslet plays 'Iris.' Each desire to take a break from their every day lives for the holidays.  The two "meet" online and decide to exchange houses .  Iris gets a trip to California, while Amanda flies across the pond to England. (Lucky her!)

I love the sub plot in which Iris meets the next door neighbor, Arthur Abbott. He's a screenwriter. Or should I say, used to be. He brings much flavor to the movie. I love elderly people. So full of wisdom. He charms in this film.

Another reason I love the Holiday is because I was able to go where the movie was filmed.  Shere, Surrey, England. I got to walk down the lane where Amanda had to drag her suitcase!

This is where Rosehill Cottage once stood. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the cottage was built for the movie. There was no going into the charming country house to check out the small tub! Nestling in front of the fireplace only happened in my dreams. Shoot!
In the start of the movie, a centuries old church rolls across the screen. This is that church. Very English.

You can bet I will be viewing this movie once again this Christmas season.

What's your go to holiday movie?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Cherished Gift

Two years ago, my wallet got stolen. One week before Christmas. Bummer.

I was a wreck. Before I realized my purple Vera Bradley wallet was gone, someone had shopped 'til they dropped at my expense! Thousands (yes, thousands) of dollars were racked up on my credit cards. Of course, all my cash was gone too!
Sure, closing all our accounts was a major pain. Thankfully, I didn't have to pay a cent toward the stolen purchases. Whew!

I had to get a new driver's license and a new library card. (Can't be without one of those!) My insurance card was in it, along with my CPR registration!  All these things were time consuming to replace and a bit unnerving knowing whoever took my wallet had my home address. Yep. It all was a pain in the butt!

All that was troubling, but what bothered me most of all was this.  Whoever snagged my wallet, took my dad.

I kept a much loved photo of him tucked inside.  Whenever I needed a peek at him, I would just grab my wallet and pull out the worn photo. His black hair flapping in the California breeze, he smiled as he posed with his sister Marilyn, in front of the Queen Mary. The picture was taken long before the invention of digital cameras, so there was no way of replacing it.

I cried. My dad died seventeen years ago. I want that priceless photo back. I still hope to one day maybe get a phone call that someone found my wallet in a field somewhere. Wishful thinking, I know.

In the meantime, I needed a new wallet! My children were very thoughtful that year for Christmas.
What did I get? Hmmmmm, I think you can guess!
Not only did I get a new one, but the exact same wallet I had before. A purple Vera Bradley.   I still am not sure how they pulled it off. The purple petals were a discontinued line.
I was so surprised and it warmed my heart to know it mattered to me, so it mattered to them.
Do you have a cherished Christmas gift?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Never Gets Old

This weekend, I hosted eight lovely women here in my home for afternoon tea.  What a privilege to prepare food for each one.

The ritual of afternoon tea began many years ago when Anna, Duchess of Bedford, grew hungry in the late afternoon. She needed a snack!  Tea, along with perhaps a biscuit, have become a daily routine for empty stomachs ever since.

 As soon as guests entered my home, their senses kicked in to high gear.
Their eyes immediately were drawn to the scrumptious delicacies placed in the middle of the table.
I can't take credit for these. Hubby did the honors!

Candles flickered in my fireplace. The smell of pine wafted through the air. Christmas carols piped through my stereo.
We spread real Devon cream over warm scones, feasted on pear salad, and devoured chicken salad sandwiches.  How thankful we are for our taste buds.
Afternoon tea is the perfect time to bring out the china. I loved setting the table.
Any ideas on what this is?
Well, it's a cracker. No, not one you eat! A festive cracker. Many citizens in the UK decorate their Christmas tables with them. They really do "crack." They make a popping noise. Inside, surprises await.
Such fun twisting our arms, helping each other pop open the crackers!
Each one had a paper crown. We were queen for the day!  There were jokes, puzzlers, and note pads. We laughed until we cried!

I am still smiling.

Afternoon tea and friends. It never gets old.  

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Unexpected Joys

Don't you just love it when in the middle of an ordinary week, something extraordinary happens?

So this happened . . .
My beautiful, talented (and pregnant-wink!wink!We're so excited) niece Beth, sent me this handmade card this week. I love sending snail mail. Such a sweet joy to receive one in the mail all for me!

Then, the next day, I was double blessed again.
My lovely writer friend Erica MADE and sent me this book bag, along with this really fun note of encouragement. I'm still smiling. WOW. What a joy to come home and find this package waiting for me. She made it for me. Me. I am in awe when I receive a gift that was made by hand. So much time and energy goes into such priceless gifts.  My dear friend Yvonne made me a quilt not long ago. That too, still makes me tear up when I think of all those hours put into making something that priceless for me. I will keep these gifts close to my heart, always.

The same day I received my book bag, my sweet friend Vickie sent me a lovely note.
Encouragement is such a gift. Hand made notes mean more than one could ever know. I am just so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family.  

I hope you are having such a lovely week as I.