Don't hurry past Christmas

Monday, December 28, 2015

We spend so much time getting ready for Christmas. There's the shopping, and wrapping, and mailing. The decorating, the baking, the cleaning. Cards to write and stockings to fill. Parties and concerts and plays to attend. Out-of-town family and friends to welcome. Church services. Feasting and present-opening.

Decorated bags filled with cookies for my book club friends.
And then, suddenly, it's over.

I think it's always so sad when I see Christmas trees out by the curb the day after Christmas. Or ads for exercise equipment and diets and home organization tools, bludgeoning us even before we've finished our Christmas dinner dessert.

I'm all for new beginnings and fresh starts. 

But let's press pause for a week, or more, and enjoy the fruits of our labor, and the gift of Christmas-time.

The old church calendar marked 12 days of Christmas. That really takes us to January 6. 

Now, some do need to go back to work. Chores need to be done. But we can try to prolong the season for at least a week or so.

Resist the temptation to take down the tree, or start that diet just yet.

Sit by the fire, read that new book. Take time to bask in the warmth of the season, to think over the past year, and be dreaming of the new one. For those of you do-ers, know that quiet time can be very fertile time. It's not a waste. You may be reading or knitting or napping, but the mind is still sorting and filing and working. Keep a pad of paper nearby, and jot down ideas and dreams, hopes and prayers, regrets and resolutions as they come to you.

You'll be surprised at how much more "productive" you'll be later, having had some time to rest and contemplate. 

We know that our phones and computers work better when we shut them down and then press restart.

How much more do we need to turn off, and "reboot?"

Just so you know, I'm preaching to myself here, too. I've been feeling a little like I'm not accomplishing enough, or doing enough "important" things, and that I've got to whip myself into shape, and DO STUFF. Right now. 

I'm feeling sad because our youngest son has headed back home today, and I already miss him. Getting busy would help me "move on."

But, you know, it's okay to feel sad. It's a reminder of what a wonderful time we had, and how much I love him. I don't need to cover that up with busyness.

And a new year to do new things in is still a week away.


We are expecting a big winter storm this afternoon. A fire is all laid, and ready to light. We have food and books and tea. The Christmas lights are twinkling.

Ah, peace. I'm going to try and sink deep into it.

Wishing that for you all, as well.

Glad tidings

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy news in our family this Christmas season: our daughter is engaged!

We are rejoicing together, and so thankful for the man who is to be our son-in-law.

And you better believe I will be blogging about plans for the upcoming wedding in 2016. And the search for the perfect dress (including mine!). And all the other fun and happy festivities that surround the joining of two hearts.


Of course, there are other glad tidings right now. Whether the news in our life is happy or sad, whether we are rejoicing or grieving, whether good times or bad, the news that Christ came into our world, broke through the darkness and gave us hope, will always be true.

Have a very Merry Christmas, dear friends. I'll be visiting in between the cooking and feasting, gift-giving and thanks-giving.

Taking moments to breathe and be grateful

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

It's been a busy couple of weeks. I've had a nagging feeling around the edges, telling me to slow down, get some quiet time, pray, and really have a contemplative Advent.

Christmas cards in the works . . . 
It's not happening, at least not in the way I'd like.

But then I think about Brother Lawrence, the 17th century monk who worked in a monastery kitchen in France.

He used the moments when he was scouring pots and pans to pray, to continually "practice the presence of God." I can do the same thing as I decorate, shop, wrap, and keep up with my regular chores. An Advent in the heart.

For instance, today in the mall, trying to quickly run in, make a return, and pick up one thing, I ran into lines and delays. Rather than fret about how much I had to do, and how much I'd like to get home and experience some of that contemplative time I'm dreaming about, I decided to notice the people around me. To smile at them, speak kindly, do an act of service (such as open a door), or pay a genuine compliment. And to notice and thank those who did the same for me. Such as the nice man who opened a couple doors for me at the Post Office, as I came across the parking lot looking like Gus the mouse in Cinderella (packages, like cheese, carried in my arms all the way up to my chin!).

The advice, "be in the moment," is good. To be still on the inside, even when I'm busy on the outside.


This morning I was telling my daughter I really needed to do a blog post (it's been a week!), but that I didn't feel inspired about anything in particular. (These fabulous blog home tours can sometimes make me feel a little intimidated as I look around at my slow-to-come-together decorating.) She suggested a couple topics. No, no, no . . . they didn't really speak to me.

"I have to be excited or inspired about whatever I blog about," I said.

"Well," she said. "You'll come up with something. That's one thing I admire about you, Mom. You're always really interested in learning new things and you're always getting excited about things."

What a nice compliment. I used to brush compliments off, but I decided some time ago to receive them graciously, as the genuine gifts that they are. 

So, with that as a springboard, I'll just list a few happy things that I've been excited about lately:

A lovely CD of Christmas carols gifted to us by friends

Christmas Tea by Twinings, with real cream and sugar, sipped while enjoying a mincemeat tart

Our youngest coming home for Christmas

The twinkling lights on the three trees we have up, and on the stairwell (yes, I decorate a lot)

Tiny little battery-operated twinkle lights scattered about the kitchen table and hutch

Lots of softly glowing candles

Money to buy gifts and food

Good health

Loads of books to read, crafts to do, crossword puzzles to work on, puzzles to put together, games to play

Plenty of wood for a nice, cozy fire every day

Dumb You-tube videos and Facebook quizzes which I always say I'm not going to waste my time on, but do anyway

A cozy bathrobe and warm winter coat

Handmade earrings gifted to me

The real reason for Christmas -- Jesus -- and that no amount of banning Him from the public square can take Him from my heart

I could list 100 more things that I'm thankful for and get excited about -- from the cheerful little chickadees at my feeder to my new raspberry-colored lipstick -- and still not run out of things.

The news is so depressing, and there are things in my life that are painful, but there's always something to be happy about. There's always something new and interesting to learn.

So, this turned into a little rambling post . . . Actually, the real reason I'm having trouble blogging right now, besides being busy, is that I'm still trying to figure out a new way to back up my photos. I've run out of space. So I can't share photos. It will take about 10 minutes to figure it out, I'm sure. When I do, it will be one more thing to be excited about.

Linking with No Place Like Home.

In which I discover the Hallmark Channel

Monday, December 7, 2015

The last time I watched daytime TV was when I was pregnant and on bed rest, years and years ago. I watched some of the same soap operas my girlfriends and I used to watch in high school. Funny thing, it turns out that the same characters were hashing out the same conflicts, 12 or so years later. (And I think Victor from The Young and The Restless is still around, 40 years later, if the supermarket tabloids are correct. Anyone know?)

Anyhow, the TV hasn't been on during the day since those days of bed rest. Too much to do, nothing of interest on, and besides all that, I'd feel guilty sitting in front of it in the middle of the day. So I actually had to call my husband at work the other day to ask him how to turn it on. (He manages the remote at night; you know, it's a man thing.)

Why now, you ask?

I am trying to finish up some knitting projects for Christmas, last minute. Stuff I've had all year to do. And I thought I could use some company.

And that's when I discovered the Hallmark Channel.

Sappy, sentimental, predictable movies . . . so much alike that they're starting to run together in my mind. But, G-rated, feel-good, and always with a happy ending. I couldn't take a steady diet of this, but my . . . such a nice break from the horrific news that we watch every night.

There's lots of Christmas decor, mistletoe, falling in love, Christmas carols . . . all the good stuff.

Although this pic is from last year, my Christmas decorating is done. Love all the sparkly pretties at night by the firelight.

I figure I have to watch about six more movies to finish the knitting. I can do that. I like having the excuse.

How about you? Do you watch daytime TV? Any suggestions? 

Linking with No Place Like Home.

Does your color season change when your hair does?

Friday, December 4, 2015

I've had an almost empty closet for most of 2015. A year ago, I got on board with Project 333, and drastically reduced the size of my wardrobe. I picked five colors (navy, gray, white, pink, and lavender) to form the basis of a small mix-and-match collection of about 33 pieces.

Then I decided to get healthy and lose 30 pounds, and had to get rid of even more clothes.

Then I decided to ditch the blonde dye and let my natural (silver-gray) hair grow out. I had very little to wear at that point. I had reached my weight loss goal, and could have bought new clothes, but now I was holding off to see if my colors were still going to work with my new hair.

Good thing I waited. The pinks and lavenders and whites aren't going to work anymore. They just wash me out now.

I read somewhere that you'll look better in a cheap t-shirt in the right color than an expensive cashmere sweater in the wrong color. So what are the right colors?

 Brighter? Darker? Jewel tones? 

Has my "color season" changed now that my hair has?

Well, the short answer to this question is that I don't know.

There is tons of information online about seasonal color analysis. It's evolved from the simple four seasons of the Color Me Beautiful system of the 80s (remember that?) to three or four subsets (light, true, soft, shaded) of the four seasons. There are tests to take, color swatches to view, Pinterest pages for inspiration, and more. 

What's not online, however, is any information regarding if or how your season changes when you go from a bleached blonde to a natural silver, as I have done this year.

I did find an article in which one expert contended that your season never changes; she believes that your eye color and basic skin tone determine your season, not your hair color. The opposing view was that when you go gray, you always go cooler.

So, as a soft summer (summers and winters are already the "cool" seasons), do I move to a true summer, which is cooler than the soft summer? Or do I move into winter?

And is the point somewhat moot? If you study the color charts, you'll see that it would be very difficult to get exactly the same shades as pictured. If you want a coat or a shirt or a sweater, you're lucky to find it available in a half dozen shades. Half of those may not work at all; the other half, well . . . you just do the best you can.

I do know that the pinks and lavenders I love aren't working anymore. Deeper shades (rose, raspberry, plum) look better with my silver-y gray hair. Those are still in the summer palettes. Winter shades might include fuchsia and cobalt, but those feel too bright and loud on me. So, intuitively, I'm staying with soft summer, favoring the deeper hues in the palette.

from LL Bean

And if I see anything in periwinkle, I'm getting it. 

from LL Bean

Also from LL Bean  This color, called purple slate, is much better on me than a pastel lavender.

So it is fun to be shopping again, and slowly adding to my closet.

Have your "colors" changed over time, or with a different hair color?

No pics, no glitz

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I see everyone is posting beautiful Christmas decorations, teas, and recipes these days. Have to get on the bandwagon soon.

But today, I am (almost) picture-less, partly because Dropbox is full, and I haven't had time to empty the photos onto a flash drive for storage. But mostly because I have no sparkly holiday pictures to share.

An artificial tree "trunk" is standing naked in the family room, awaiting someone (me!) to attach its branches. Several boxes of decorations have been brought up from the basement, and are patiently waiting to be opened.

I did gather up the autumn tea towels and potholders from the kitchen, and they are waiting to be washed. The towel racks are bare, though, because the Christmas linens are still downstairs.

It will happen this week. I hope.

Meanwhile, I'm still basking in the glow of Thanksgiving. We traveled to Virginia to a mountain house owned by our daughter-in-law's family. First time we've ever spent Thanksgiving away from home, and two of our children. But we were able to see our son and his wife and her parents. My daughter-in-law's mother and I are great friends and have vacationed together a couple times. Unusual, I know, and I'm very grateful for that relationship.

What a gorgeous place this was. Situated on 120 acres of mountain, lake, and stream, the older part of the house dates back a hundred years, and is charming with its wood floors, beams, and upstairs lofts accessed by wooden ladders. With candles gleaming and a fire crackling in one of its three fireplaces, it is snug and cozy. Modern conveniences, like a dishwasher and updated bathrooms, make it very comfortable.

I got to ride an ATV (a first) over the stream and through the woods (and up a mountain), and shoot a revolver (another first) during some target practice.  Discovered a different side of this city girl! 

There was no cell phone service or internet connection, so we were literally off the grid. Well, not literally. We did have electricity. But it really was wonderful to unplug for a few days. And when we got home to Michigan on Sunday, we discovered we were without power. Out came the candles. A nice way to ease back into civilization, as we sat in front of the fire, grateful for a special Thanksgiving weekend.

I am now woefully behind on my blog visits. Miss you all, and will be by soon.

Linking with No Place Like Home
Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs