Friday, December 28, 2012

My Quirky Little Pink Tree~It's Me!

I've never been known to be a real conservative person or one to follow along with trends and fads just for the sake of following. I tend to be a bit free-spirited and while I can be professional and traditional when need be, I am somewhat of an individual, not only marching to the beat of my own drum at times, but usually dragging the entire percussion section with me! Me and my own parade. Crazy? Not really. I think it's just that both sides of my brain work harmoniously. I can analyze something and paint a cow purple. I'm not left-brained or right-brained. What would that make me, dual-brained? LOL! Maybe it comes from being a Gemini. Two people, one uses the right side and one uses the left. No, I'm not schizophrenic, just different. Kind of like Einstein meets Lucille Ball or something, but not that smart and not that snappy a dresser LOL! I do have the Einstein hair in the morning though!

Anyway, all of this was actually leading somewhere. It was to explain my affection and attraction to my unconventional pink Christmas tree. I spotted it right before Christmas last year at Michaels and it gave me the best case of the giggles! I thought about it, walked away, came back, walked away again and then, I just couldn't get it out of my mind and it was making me smile so much, that the next time I went over to where it was, it was mine! It's a little tree, only 3.5 feet tall and kind of skinny and perfect! It really appeals to the quirky side of me!
I didn't have time to set it up last year so it made its debut a few weeks ago. I got all kinds of suggestions as to where I should put it and what I should decorate it with, but I already had all of that in mind and went about with my own plan. Sometimes you just have to do that; take something on as your own and not let others tell you what to do with it. Don't I sound rebellious? I don't mean to really. It's just been a long year of taking care of a lot of people and a lot of things and I was ready for something of my own, something that was "me".
 
I set my little cutie up in the corner of the dining room on top of a little table that I draped with a burgundy velvet drapery panel I bought at a yard sale. Then, I adorned it with a sweet sea shell angel ornament and beautiful hand-made ornaments I purchased last year from aJoy2beHeld . She has the most creative, original and sweet ornaments! I also hung clear opalescent stars, three tiny glittered birds, a larger glittery lavender bird near the top, an ornament I made from a print out of Old Saint Nick, a French print I received in a give away from Villabarnes and a hand-stamped muslin ribbon garland I made by alternating Fleur de lis and my Noel rubber stamps. I love how it turned out! The tree was pre-lit with white lights so she was all set! The finishing touch was a beautiful silver star that my daughter found for me. After all the decorating was completed, I placed my two little light-up pink roofed houses from Target and my fantastic crown I purchased from Katie's Rose Cottage Designs during the summer on the table. Later on, the little houses would become part of the table centerpiece which I still have to post about. I stepped back to admire my work and, well, I was tickled pink!
 

 
 
Here's the beauty that you don't see. We all have things in our lives, responsibilities, that we have to take ownership of. That's just the way life is. We don't always get the authority to say exactly how they turn out, but they are still our responsibility to handle, no matter what. I'm a giver. I give and give and give some more and I don't mind, until I become exhausted and have to finally "just say no". Then, I feel guilty. Ridiculous? Yes! Can I help myself? No! I push on. I accommodate. I step aside. I GIVE. I have had to really think about this lately and have come to the conclusion that, while I won't change who I am, I need to change how I am. I can still be a giver, I just need to include myself on the list of recipients!

And thus, the pink tree. Is it for everybody? No. Does that bother me? Nope, not one bit! It's mine, it's me, it's where I want it, how I want it, it isn't hurting anybody and really, nobody in the family really seems to be bothered by it (they've even decided that it's kind of cute!). It's my own little whimsical, silly mark on the world at this moment and I like that. It's my gift to myself and it makes me giggle and smile and very happy. Isn't that what we all need?

Thank you so much for listening to my rambling today. I so appreciate you being here. I'll have more Christmas posts up soon! Take care and have a wonderful weekend! Hugs, Leena

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all a very Merry Christmas! May the coming year bless you and your families with joy, love and laughter!
Thank you all for brightening my days with your kindness and friendship! Hugs, Leena

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Breakfast

Hi all! I hope that you are enjoying your Saturday and finishing up your holiday preparations without much stress! I have been pondering a menu for Christmas breakfast and have come up with what I think will be a good meal. Usually, I don't do a lot because we are so rushed to open gifts, get everybody showered and dressed and out the door for the hour-long drive to my sister's house for dinner. She likes us to be there around 2:00 and serves dinner at 3:00. If you're late, you eat alone because when she says 3:00, she means it! This year, however, I've decided that somehow, we're going to sit down to a nice breakfast so that we aren't starving by the time we eat dinner, then starving again around 7:00 with no leftovers to nosh on and nothing open but McDonald's and 7-11! I've often heard that people are expected to eat three meals a day and that includes holidays as well.
 
I think that the best game plan is to prepare the dishes the day before. This will save on time and keep my kitchen clean. My menu idea is:
 
Breakfast Strata
Assorted breakfast breads (cranberry, pumpkin)
Fruit Salad
Juice, Coffee, Hot Cocoa, Tea (Milk for the little ones)
 
The strata and fruit salad can be assembled and put into the frig, then I can bake the strata in the morning. The breads can be baked and wrapped in foil, then warmed in the oven. I can also set the table the night before so everything will be ready to roll! My oldest daughter and her boyfriend will be here, so there will be seven of us. Perfect size for our small dining room.
 
Here's the strata recipe I've picked out:
 
Breakfast Strata

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 loaf (1 pound) herb or cheese bakery bread, cubed
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard

Directions

  • In a large skillet, cook the sausage, pepper and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
  • Place bread in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Top with sausage; sprinkle with cheese. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and mustard. Pour over the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings.
So, what do you think? Do you have any special recipes that you like to use for Christmas breakfast? I'd love to collect more recipes!
Thank you for dropping by during this busy time of year! Hugs, Leena

Naughty or Nice?

The kids were having a Christmas party at daycare/school the other day, so wore their comical holiday shirts. Abigail's says, "My Brother Did It!" and Jamison's has "Dear Santa, I Was Framed!" on his. Talk about finger pointing! LOL!
Have a great day! Hugs, Leena

Visiting Santa

My daughter and I took Jamison and Abigail to see Santa at the mall last week. We were smart - we got the VIP pass online so we didn't have to wait in line. Good thing too. The line was HUGE! The kids got all dressed up in their Thanksgiving/Christmas outfits and were so excited! When it was their turn, they both ran over and gave Santa big hugs. Then Jamison sat next to him while Abigail sat on his lap, and they discussed their gift lists. Jamison said he wanted Legos and Lego Ninjagos and Abigail wanted a castle and a walking baby doll. They then had a nice little conversation, had their picture taken and received a peppermint lollipop.
I took a few pictures too before we went on an exciting ride on the elevator! Funny the little things that kids find fun.
We drove home listening to Christmas carols on the radio and admiring all of the lights displayed on homes along the way. It was a nice little outing and one that I enjoy every year.
Abigial, Mommy, Jamison, all coordinated in purple outfits!
More Christmas posts on the way - stay tuned! 4 more days 'til Christmas! Can I panic now???

Thanks for stopping by!  Hugs, Leena

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday With Matthew Mead Give Away!

Holiday...With Matthew Mead is having a fantastic give away! Matthew is generously giving away two sets of jelly glasses:

AND

A gorgeous cake stand!

How great is that? Click on the link above to enter and good luck!

Hugs, Leena

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town!

One of my favorite times of year is when Santa Claus arrives at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. I usually don't watch the entire parade, but I always make sure I have a front row seat by the television for Santa. I cheer and wave just like a little kid! It's the beginning of the holiday season! Yay!

My other favorite Santa arrival is when he visits our neighborhood. In fact, Santa visits the entire town in one night. Does he depend upon his trusty reindeer to deliver him to the multitude of communities in a timely manner? Oh no. Everybody knows that the reindeer don't leave the North Pole before Christmas Eve. They have to rest and practice their flying skills, right? When Santa comes here, he is on top of our big town hook and ladder truck!
It's always obvious when he's coming; you can hear the sirens for about an hour before he gets to our house. The kids get all excited and continuously race to the door, then the window, then the door again, all the while asking when he'll be here. Not to worry. Santa's no technology slacker. He has a web site where you can track his travels. When the time is right, we head up the street. Soon we see the flashing lights, the siren gets louder and then, around the bend, there he is! All of the children start yelling "Santa! It's Santa!" Little Abigail, who will be 3 in February, is really into Christmas this year and she could hardly contain herself. She was jumping up and down and squealing, waving her little arms in the air. Jamison and his "girlfriend" Audrey both shouted and waved with joy, while Hannah, Audrey's little sister (3) cried at the site and loud sound. That's OK. Dad was there to scoop her up and she soon realized it was OK and began waving too. Even little Lucy, our neighbor doggie, seemed excited over seeing the Jolly Old Elf! Santa is always accompanied by Rudolph and Frosty and a few of Leesburg's finest firemen and the truck is all decorated in garlands, wreaths and lights. They only stay for a brief moment, as they have many more visits to make before heading back to the North Pole, but it's always enjoyed by all.
 
Our town has a lot of wonderful little things to do at this time of year. There's the town Christmas tree lighting, concerts, home tours, charity runs, live nativities and a parade. While we have a large population and geographic area, the actual town limits are small and still hold their 1700's charm. This weekend, there will be horse-drawn carriage rides and Victorian-dressed carolers along the Historic district. Every street lamp is strung with fresh greens and all of the old buildings, most of which are now shops and office suites, are decorated with lights, trees, nativity scenes and other beautiful adornments. I enjoy driving this route just to see it all and to admire the huge Victorian homes with their festive decorations. I'll be taking photos of the area and posting them soon!
Christmas Tree at the Courthouse

 
Thank you so much for visiting! I always enjoy you being here and love your sweet comments! I hope that you and your family enjoy a wonderful weekend! Hugs, Leena

Post Road Vintage 'Homebound" Subscription Give Away!

Sweet, darling Heather at Post Road Vintage is generously giving away a Full Year Subscription to her wonderful magazine "Homebound". This is a real treat and a great read that you'll enjoy over and over with your subscription! Just click the link above for details on how to enter. While you're there, read Heather's latest blog post featuring her sweet Christmas decor and darling children and watch her video on how to make a fresh greens garland!

Thanks for stopping by and good luck! Hugs, Leena

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cameo Cottage Designs Give-away

My wonderful and dear friend Debi is having a great give away on her new blog, Cameo Cottage Designs! You can enter to win a pair of her gorgeous, hand-made angel wings to celebrate her opening! Be sure to click on the link above for all the details and good luck! I'm so excited for her and this new venture and I know it will become a fast favorite to many - including me!
Thanks for stopping by - Hugs, Leena

Monday, December 10, 2012

New Page - Lots of Goodies!

Hi all! I just wanted to let you know that I've made a new page here on my blog for items I currently have listed on Craig's List. As many of you know, my husband has been dealing with a lot of medical issues, was hospitalized in April 2011 and had two surgeries, one in February 2012 and one in July 2012. He has been on long-term disability through work at only 60% of his salary. This coupled with the enormous hospital, medical and medicine bills have left us in a bit of a financial bind. While I don't usually burden others with my problems, I thought I would turn to the wonderful blogging and social communities for possible assistance. All I ask is that you take a look at my page and the items listed and make a purchase if anything suits your fancy. You can also see other items I have listed on my Etsy page (a link is on my left sidebar). No pressure or obligation meant, please understand. I'm just trying to do what I can for my family. "God helps those who help themselves" keeps running through my mind, as I believe in doing what you can for yourself, in working hard and honestly. I'll be continuing to list items on a regular basis, so please check back often!

Thank you so much! Please let me know if you have any questions. Y'all are the best!
Hugs, Leena

Friday, December 7, 2012

Shabby-licious Give-Away at Shabbyfufu!

You simply have to read about it to believe it! This is a phenominal give away from the wonderful, sweet and extremely talented Janet Coon of Shabbyfufu and some of her friends. The prizes are worth $1000.00! They are just mind-blowing! I am still going WOW! Be sure to click the link above or the button on my sidebar and enter this once in a lifetime, so SO generous give away! Ends at midnight December 16th so hurry on over! Thanks! Hugs, Leena

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Creating Vintage Charm Give Away!

Tis the season to be jolly! I know what would make me jolly - winning this fabulous give away from Creating Vintage Charm! Wonderful, dear Sonia is offering:

TWO copies of Nina Hartmann's new book, VintagebyNina Christmas.
~~~PLUS~~~
ONE copy of Homebound Magazine, Winter issue published by Heather Anderson.

Hurry and click on the link above to enter before December 9th! Good Luck!

 
 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cookie Time!

Hi all! I don't know about you, but I do most of my baking during the month of December! I love making Christmas cookies and sharing them with family and friends (and, unfortunately, my hips) and always enjoy trying new recipes. Of course, I have my old favorites, but it never hurts to try new things, right? I've heard that learning new things makes wrinkles in your brain. Apparently wrinkles in brains are a good thing. Maybe I can get my brain to take some of my face's lines LOL!

This recipe came from Food Network and sounds yummy! I love chocolate. I love cranberries. Let's put them together and bake some goodies!


White chocolate, walnut, cranberry cookie
1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (185 mL) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (185 mL) dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
2-1/4 cup (685 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1 cup (250 mL) each chopped: walnuts, dried cranberries, white chocolate
In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
In another bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Beat into sugar mixture, in several batches. Using wooden spoon, stir in walnuts, cranberries and chocolate.
Scoop dough by tablespoon onto parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Flatten with fork or palms into disks. Bake in preheated 350F (180C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
Cool 5 minutes on baking sheets. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.
Makes about 60 cookies
Sharing with: Alderberry Hill~Make The Scene Monday
 

 

December, Here We Come!

Happy December! Wishing all a month filled with fun, love, laughter and all the joys and blessings of the season! Hugs and Kissies Leena

Saturday, December 1, 2012

30 Days of Giving Thanks-November 25-30-Catching Up

Wow! I have really fallen behind with these posts and I apologize! I think about posting every day, I just don't always get to do it! I'm sure many of you know what that's like. So now, before the month runs out, I'm going to post some brief thankfulnesses LOL! Thankfuls? Thankses LOL! OK, enough making up words.

November 25 - Today I am thankful for butterflies! These harbingers of spring and summer are a favorite of mine and I love when I first see them visit our yard. It means that warm weather is on the way, along with flowers and blooming bushes and trees! I really enjoy watching them flit around. They always appear to be so happy!
November 26 - Today I am thankful for scented candles. Not only do I love candles for the lovely light they provide, but when scented, they make me extra happy! The scents I enjoy often depend upon the time of year. In the warmer months, I enjoy light fragrances like vanilla and lilac. They seem to go along with the relaxed mood of summer months, the longer days and the refreshed feeling I get when I can open the windows and enjoy the breeze. In fall, spiced pumpkin is always a favorite. This lovely scent evokes thoughts of snuggling underneath a woolly blanket, the feel of the season's first chilly evening and the fun of harvest events. For winter and Christmas, my favorites are cinnamon and cranberry. These warm, comforting scents bring on thoughts of curling up by a fire while cookies bake, watching the snow fall. I use a lot of candles in pretty glass, mercury glass and silver holders for winter vignettes and for safety around the little ones, I have flameless candles in various sizes. They actually flicker like the real thing! I really love candle light!
November 27 - Today I am thankful that I know more now than I used to. I wish that I had this knowledge when I was younger, but I guess that learning is a life experience and we gain knowledge as we live it. Still, it would have been helpful to know some things earlier on in life, but I won't complain. That may have taken away all of the surprises. I can safely say that now, while I haven't quite figured out all of the answers, I do seem to know what most of the questions are.
 November 28 - Today I am thankful for naps. I'm usually not a nap person - it always seems like a waste of time to be sleeping during the day when I could be doing something else, but there are days when a little extra sleep is required. Once I let go of my resistance to the idea, I discovered the joy of turning on the fan to provide background noise and to provide a pleasant breeze, while slipping underneath the covers in the early afternoon and dozing off. It almost makes me feel guilty but then again, how many guilty pleasures do we get to enjoy that can make us feel so rejuvenated after only an hour or two? OK, maybe eating chocolate, but other than that, I can't think of any LOL! Right now, anything that will lower my stress level is a good thing, so for that, I'm thankful!
 
November 29 - So, as Christmas is fast approaching (gasp!) today I am thankful for all of the holiday memories I have from my childhood. My mom was a holiday queen! She made everything from Christmas to birthdays so special! She baked cookies and cakes, made fudge, divinity and taffy, Chex mix, spiced popcorn with nuts, all kinds of goodies. Everything got decorated for Christmas; she even put little bows on the lamp shades. The mantel was always a special place for her decorating talents. She'd go out back and cut greens and holly and lay them creatively along the mantel with candles and holiday figurines, then hang all of our stockings along the edge. She loved doing the mantel! I think that next to the tree, it was her favorite thing to decorate. She also made table centerpieces from fresh greens and glass hurricanes filled with candles. Our tree was always a big, beautiful live one that my dad would bring home. We would cover it in those wonderful old ornaments, shiny, silver tinsel and glass-beaded garlands in an array of colors. My dad used C-9 lights, those huge bulbs that came in red, blue, orange, and green. They got so hot that one year, when my dad and brother laid them on the carpet to string them along the tree, they burned big bulb-shaped holes in it! That was when my mom convinced Dad to use the newer small lights that didn't get hot. Dad then used the C-9s outside, until one year, when somebody stole them off of our two gigantic evergreens! Can you imagine somebody coming along and unwinding all those lights from your trees and taking off with them? How rude!
One of my favorite Christmas memories is of the big neighborhood party my parents threw when I was probably around 6 years old. All of the area parents and their children were there and we were having a blast, singing carols, playing games and enjoying all of Mom's wonderful treats. Suddenly, the doorbell rang, and Scott, a friend from down the street who was probably about 4, ran to open our door. He did, gasped and backed up with the most comical look on his face, for in walked Santa and Mrs. Claus! We were all in shock as he "ho ho ho'd" and took a seat, so we could each tell him our Christmas wishes. Mrs. Claus gave us all candy canes, we sang "Jingle Bells" and then they announced that they had to leave and get ready for Christmas Eve. One of the funniest parts happened as we were all lined up in the big bay window, watching for the reindeer and sled. My brother blurted out "Hey! Santa drives a Cadillac! Where's the sleigh?" It still makes me laugh to this day!
 And that brings us to - da da da da! November 30th!
 
Today, as we close another month, I am so very thankful that I have so many things to be thankful for! I could have easily gone beyond 30 days! I guess it's not possible to limit our blessings to a certain number of days and I've been trying to really think outside of the box on this one. Of course, I'm thankful for my family, my friends, our home, our freedoms and opportunities, health, happiness - what we usually think of, but there are also those little things that slip our minds sometimes, but mean so much. Places, experiences, smells, sights; every day, we are provided with such wonderful things to be thankful for. So, when we are having a bad day, when we are wondering "why me?", we need to remember to look around and find blessings in even the most minuscule items, for these are often the most precious.
Thank you so much for stopping by, for supporting my daily Thanksgiving and for leaving your sweet comments and emails. I truly am thankful for you and for the opportunity to share what's on my mind. Hugs, Leena
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