Monthly Archives: December 2013

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2014 ~ My To-Do List, aka … Personal Goals / New Years Resolutions

It’s New Years Eve … a day to reflect on the passing year and to think about new beginnings.

Many people make New Years Resolutions … I do too, but I like to call them Goals for the New Year. Resolution has an all or nothing feel to it … you either accomplished it or you didn’t. I tended to think in black and white (which I’m in the process of changing – one of my ongoing goals is to be more encouraging and positive), so you would think I would be in favor of resolutions. Sadly, I found myself feeling like a failure sometime around February or March.

I have learned, however, that life is lived one day at a time … and that there are lots of “gray” areas, so I’ve decided that I prefer the term Goals. With goals, you can have steps toward achievement. Improvement counts toward achieving the goal … it’s not necessarily all or nothing – pass or fail.

The planner / organizer in me loves making lists … so I make a yearly To-Do List 🙂 I actually break it down into a few lists … Business, Personal, Home and Relationships. I usually list a few areas I need improvement in with a couple of ideas to start working on them. I don’t put them in any particular order … with asterics, not numbered … no specific importance rating. I try to break things down into doable bite-sized tasks. My goal for the end of the year is to have worked on these improvements consistently enough throughout the year that they have become habits. 

I like to reflect back on my goals for the past year and see improvements, whether large or small, they are steps in the right direction 🙂  Sometimes I need to roll-over items to next year’s list, but I choose to believe that I am a work in progress (positive and encouraging), not a failure. 

2014 is a clean slate, a new beginning … we have to let go of the past and look forward to the future. Forgive ourselves, let it go, and work toward improvement in the new year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and BLESSINGS on your 2014 GOALS !! 

1960's Vintage Christmas Eve

My Memories of the Christmas Holiday Season

I have always loved the Christmas Holidays!

I lived with my Grandmother and the whole family gathered at her house for every holiday. I have wonderful memories of the house being filled with the aroma of baking cookies. I remember my uncle used to paint pretty, snowy winter scenes on the big windows in the living room. My Grandma loved to crochet, and there were often gifts of scarves and afghans … I still have a poncho she made for me (it was the sixties). I remember someone usually had to run to the corner drugstore to get more batteries or film and flashcubes (anyone remember those?).

We had an artificial Christmas tree and I have couple memories of a few choice words being uttered when the assembly didn’t always go as planned 🙂 I remember there were a few fragile ornaments from great grandparents that I wasn’t allowed to touch until I was ten. I have many of the ornaments that hung on that tree … hanging them on my tree each year always brings back cherished memories of my childhood.

I remember always having so many new toys to play with. We always had a big turkey dinner on Christmas Day and the house smelled so delicious and wonderful, all warm and cozy.

Our celebrations continued all through the week between Christmas and New Years. Both my Grandma and I have a birthday during this time. I remember toasting with 7UP after counting down to New Years. I remember loving to watch the parade while Grandma was getting the New Years dinner ready. She always gave me the extra maraschino cherries she didn’t need for the ham 🙂

I cherish these nostalgic memories of childhood ♥

Jesus is the reason Ornaments

Christmas Busyness VS. the Reason for the Season

Christmas is upon us ! For the life of me, I don’t understand how time flies by so quickly. We all lead very busy lives. Sometimes I wonder why we over commit ourselves, after all, many times, we decide what goes on our schedule. I think in part, as a woman (and a perfectionist), I’m expected to do it all … a.k.a. SuperMom. The Holidays seem to add even more commitments to our already busy days.

I love lists, as you probably know, they help me stay organized. During the year, I have many various kinds of lists … personal, household and business to-do lists. Some lists are seasonal, gardening – camping – raking – and, of course, Christmas. My Holiday to-do list is always long.

I always want the Currier and Ives feeling for my home. You know, where the loving family is gathered around a beautifully decorated tree sitting in front of a warm, cozy fire in the hearth. The well-behaved children are eating warm from the oven cookies while listening to Dad read the Christmas story, patiently waiting to open the perfectly wrapped gifts under the tree. In my dreams …

It’s totally unrealistic, I know, but in my perfectionist mind, I disappoint myself by not getting it all done. Will the world end if I don’t bake 10 varieties of cookies or the gifts don’t have matching bows?? Of course not … I know I make my own busyness (I write the lists), but I truly want to be able to slow down and enjoy the Holidays. I need to learn how to simplify my preparations. I want to concentrate on what this holiday is all about … not all the commercialism and Santa Claus.

Jesus is the reason for the season. Christmas is about the gift of love, not things. It’s about spending time with family … and if you know of someone who doesn’t have family near, adopt them into your family 🙂 It’s about celebrating traditions and reminiscing with loved ones and friends. It’s about making new memories. It’s about being grateful for all you’ve been blessed with. It’s a time for blessing others. It’s about enjoying the simple things …                                

I want to wish you and yours a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!

 

Homemade Gifts

Tips and Ideas for Homemade Christmas Gifts

 

Most everyone loves to receive a homemade gift for the Holidays … especially an edible one ♥

Speaking for myself, I appreciate the time and effort that that someone put into making the gift for me. It’s like an expression of loving care.

I like giving homemade cookies and candies as Christmas gifts. Many times, several gifts come from one batch of your recipe. This tip can save time and money …  a win–win scenrio.

In the past, I’ve made homemade Hot Cocoa Mix and paired it with a holiday theme mug. Giving mini loafs of pumpkin or banana bread has always been a hit.

This year I’m making layered mason jar mixes. I was thinking about doing the basic tollhouse chocolate chip recipe (who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies??) but then I thought, hmmn, lots of people make a New Years Resolution to eat healthy, so I decided to make some bean soup layered jars. I think it will be a great way to keep warm and be healthy during the long winter months.

I also like doing crafts, and I like giving some of my completed projects as Christmas gifts. There is a long list, but here are some of my favorites: knitted scarf, handmade cards, ornaments, or earrings 🙂

The library has tons of books for homemade gifts, as well as, Pinterest. I’m sure your family and friends will love getting your heartfelt homemade gift ♥

Burr ... Below Zero Temps

Visiting Minnesota During A Deep Freeze

My husband and I like to take weekend getaways whenever we can.  We believe its good for our relationship to get away from the regular routine of everyday life once in a while to reconnect with each other.

Granite Falls, Minnesota

Enjoying our visit to Granite Falls.

Last weekend we went to visit some friends in Granite Falls, Minnesota. It was a very long road trip … just over 9 hours each way. The weather was quite frigid, well below zero, but we managed to stay warm … think – layers, layers, layers 🙂

It was fun to spend time with old friends. They moved to Minnesota last July, and this was our first time seeing their new home. They are truly gracious hosts and great tour guides! We planned on having a relaxing, low-key visit and it really was. We enjoyed wonderful meals and long talks. We went to church and then shopped the stores in their small town . We played games and watched a movie, we saw Coach Ditka’s number be retired and saw the Bears win {gasp} on Monday Night Football. We even went bowling 🙂

Our plan is to go back next summer to visit and go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove. The cast from Little House on the Prairie will be there in July … sounds like fun 🙂

All in all, it was a wonderful getaway and we look forward to visiting again.

 

Christmas Holiday Treats

Ten of My Favorite Christmas Holiday Sweets & Treats

During the Christmas holidays, I love to indulge in seasonal sweets and treats  … I’m sure I’m not alone 🙂
  • Egg Nog –plain, without alcohol
  • Hot Cocoa – with lots of whipped cream
  • Peanut Butter Cookies – thin and crispy        
  • Ande’s Candies Chocolate Mint Pie – partially frozen  
  • Sugar Cookies – frosted but without sprinkles
  • Fudge – with walnuts 
  • Candied Nuts – I like pecans the best 
  • Trader Joe’s JoJo Cookies – dipped in white chocolate  
  • Chocolate Covered Pretzels – white chocolate with dark chocolate drizzles 
  • Peppermint Bark – and lots of it 🙂 

Many thanks to http://www.manylittleblessings.com & http://www.weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers.com/ for co-hosting List It Tuesday / Top Ten Tuesday 🙂

Pita Christmas Trees Appetizer

Tracy Helps You’s Tips for Holiday Parties

December is here and with it comes numerous invitations to Holiday parties and get-togethers. I attended one last night and have another tonight, and it’s only the beginning.

Santa Hats

Santa Hats … Fun Christmas Dessert

It’s always so much fun to spend time together with friends and indulge in delicious foods. There is usually a buffet table loaded with quite a variety of appetizers, desserts and drinks … that’s probably where you’ll find most of the guests 🙂

Which brings me to my tip for Holiday Parties … I always ask if I can bring something. Many of these parties are actually annual celebrations for various groups I belong to, like my bowling league, small group or choir. We have a Christmas party every year and all bring a dish to share.

As you know, I love lists … so I created a list (spreadsheet) for Party Food. I keep track of what dish I bring to each party, each year, so I don’t bring the same thing to the next year’s party or to another group party (some people overlap groups). I also keep a copy of the recipes with my list. Then it’s easy to send a copy to someone if they enjoyed my dish and asked for the recipe. I try to plan out what dishes I’ll be bringing after everything is cleaned up on Thanksgiving night (my official start of the Christmas season) … I just love having a plan 🙂

I really enjoy looking through magazines and cookbooks for new recipes to try out. Actually, my latest obsession is browsing on Pinterest … don’t knock it til you’ve tried it 🙂

PS … I brought the little Santa Hats last night, they were a big hit … I’m bringing the Pita Christmas Trees tonight !

Sisters In White Giveaway

My Thoughts …

 A book about two sisters who plan a double destination wedding on a tropical island in the Bahamas. What could possibly go wrong ??

Danica and Kaylie have always been close, like best friends. They relied on each other to survive their father’s affair that effectively caused their parents divorce. Children coming from a broken home sometimes have problems with trust in adulthood, but both sisters thought they had gotten past those issues.

That is, until all their guests arrived at the luxurious resort for the wedding. Fathers, mothers, stepmothers, half sisters, cousins, future in-laws … the typical blended family get together, complete with all the drama. The characters deal with so many emotions – anger, fear, hurt, confrontation, and forgiveness. Let’s not forget about love, the couples do engage in some quite descriptive “steamy” love scenes.  Throw in a tropical storm that practically destroys the ceremony on a private island … and you’ll be on the edge of your seat to find out what happens.

I think you’ll love reading this book … getting to know the characters will make them feel like new friends 🙂

I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.

NOW FOR THE AUTHOR’S GIVEAWAY

3 LUCKY WINNERS WILL EACH RECEIVE A SISTERS IN WHITE EBOOK Open Worldwide Ending on Wednesday 11th December at 11.59pm EST Enter Below and Good Luck !! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review ~ SISTERS IN WHITE

NEWLY RELEASED……..

Book #3, Snow Sisters, Love in Bloom Series
Sisters In White

Danica and Kaylie Snow are about to celebrate the biggest day of their lives—their double wedding—on an island in the Bahamas. But no wedding is complete without a little family drama. The two sisters aren’t ready to face the father they haven’t seen since he divorced their mother and moved away to marry his mistress, and live with Lacy, the half sister they’ve never met.

While Danica has exchanged letters and phone calls with Lacy, Kaylie has fervently tried to pretend she doesn’t exist. Lacy is sweet, fun, and nearly a mirror image of Kaylie. To make matters worse, not only is Lacy looking forward to meeting her sisters, but she idolizes them, too. As the countdown to the wedding date ticks on, their parents are playing a devious game of revenge, and there’s a storm brewing over the island, threatening to cancel their perfect wedding. The sisters are about to find out if the bond of sisterhood really trumps all.

SISTERS IN WHITE is part of the 9 book Love in Bloom series – a new release every 30 days. **CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

My Thoughts …

 A book about two sisters who plan a double destination wedding on a tropical island in the Bahamas. What could possibly go wrong ??

Danica and Kaylie have always been close, like best friends. They relied on each other to survive their father’s affair that effectively caused their parents divorce. Children coming from a broken home sometimes have problems with trust in adulthood, but both sisters thought they had gotten past those issues.

That is, until all their guests arrived at the luxurious resort for the wedding. Fathers, mothers, stepmothers, half sisters, cousins, future in-laws … the typical blended family get together, complete with all the drama. The characters deal with so many emotions – anger, fear, hurt, confrontation, and forgiveness. Let’s not forget about love, the couples do engage in some quite descriptive “steamy” love scenes.  Throw in a tropical storm that practically destroys the ceremony on a private island … and you’ll be on the edge of your seat to find out what happens.

I think you’ll love reading this book … getting to know the characters will make them feel like new friends 🙂

I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.

Buy the book from……

Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Barnes and Noble
KOBO

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of a number of International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Cafe. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success.

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, she’s written for Calgary’s Child Magazine and Women Business Owners Magazine, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa’s interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on The Women’s Nest or her personal website.

Follow the Author:

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, Pinterest

Book Tour Dates

Photobucket ALSO AVAILABLE Book #1, Snow Sisters, Love in Bloom Series Sisters In Love DANICA SNOW has always been the smart, practical, and appropriate sister. As a therapist, she prides herself on making reasonable, conservative choices, even if a bit boring, and as part of the Big Sister Program, she has little time for anything more in her life. BLAKE CARTER is a player. He never gets bored of conquering women, and with his sexy good looks and successful lifestyle, he has no trouble finding willing participants. When his friend and business partner dies in a tragic accident, he suddenly, desperately, wants to change his ways. The problem is, he doesn’t know how to stop doing what he does best. WHEN BLAKE walks into Danica’s office, the attraction between them is white hot, but Danica isn’t the type to give into the heat and risk her career. Danica’s desire sets her on a path of self-discovery, where she begins to question every decision she’s ever made. Just this once, Danica wants to indulge in the pleasures of life she’s been so willingly ignoring, but with her Little Sister in turmoil and her biological sister’s promiscuousness weighing heavily on her heart, she isn’t sure it’s the right time to set her desires free. Buy the book from: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, KOBO Book #2, Snow Sisters, Love in Bloom Series Sisters In Bloom You loved Danica and Kaylie in SISTERS IN LOVE, find out what happens next with SISTERS IN BLOOM Kaylie Snow has always been the fun, flirty, pretty sister. Now her burgeoning baby bump, hormone-infused emotions, and faltering singing career are sending her into an unexpected identity crisis. Watching her older sister, Danica, glide through a major career change and a new relationship with the grace of a ballerina, Kaylie’s insecurities rise to the forefront—and her relationship with fiancé Chaz Crew is caught in the crossfire. Chaz Crew has everything he’s ever wanted: a lovely fiancée, a baby on the way, and soon, the film festival he owns will host its biggest event ever. When he’s called away to woo the festival’s largest sponsor—and the lover he’s never admitted to having—secrets from his past turn his new life upside down. With her baby shower around the corner and her fiancé’s big event looming, the pressure is on for Kaylie to pull herself together—and for Chaz to right his wrongs. In a few short weeks, the couple who had it all figured out will learn things about life and love that may change their minds—and their hearts. Buy the book from: Amazon.co.uk,Amazon.com,Barnes and Noble, KOBO  

NEW RELEASE…………………..

 

 

Release Dates……

  Lovers at Heart, now released Destined to Love, November 9, 2013 Friendship on Fire, December 26, 2013 Sea of Love, December 26, 2013 Bursting with Love, January 9, 2014 Hearts at Play, January 9, 2014

NOW FOR THE AUTHOR’S GIVEAWAY 

3 LUCKY WINNERS WILL EACH RECEIVE A SISTERS IN WHITE EBOOK Open Worldwide Ending on Wednesday 11th December at 11.59pm EST Enter Below and Good Luck !! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be Thankful

5 Reasons I’m Glad I Took the 30 Days of Thanks Blogging Challenge

  •   It helped me to really focus on what is important in life

  •   It gave me a sense of accomplishment

  •   It helped me become more comfortable with blogging as a part of my normal routine

  •   It was touching to me to receive so many supportive and encouraging comments

  •   It really increased traffic to my website 

Many thanks to http://www.manylittleblessings.com & http://www.weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers.com/ for co-hosting List It Tuesday / Top Ten Tuesday 🙂

 

photo by: rustiqueart