Monday, December 31, 2012

Little Miracles

"Out of difficulties grow miracles." - Jean de La BruyAre

This time of year reminds me that even on the coldest, darkest, most dreary days, there is plenty of warmth, light and beauty all around. Little miracles are everywhere when we need them most. Among them I count all your kind comments, encouraging emails, thoughts and prayers for my family -- they've meant so much to me.

Another little miracle? I'm ringing in the New Year at my childhood home where I'm staying to help my Mom while my Dad gets stronger in a rehabilitation center nearby. I count this time with both of them as an extraordinary gift. I'm fortunate to have the flexibility in my life that allows me to be here for them without any questions or complications. And every cup of tea I share with my Mom at our old kitchen table, every visit to my Dad when I get to see him smile, are treasures that I wouldn't trade for anything.

And even in those moments when my hope fades a bit, when I worry and fret about what's around the corner, little miracles find me. Like this lovely post from Heather at Lost In Arles that artfully reminded me of the countless things my parents did that shaped me into the person I am today. Or this beautiful reflection in Maureen Dowd's column last week that helped me remember that unconditional love is a gift we all can give in the face of suffering. 

And even when grace and hope are almost gone, there is always gratitude. As 2013 begins I'm grateful for so much, including all of you. Thanks for stopping by, for all the conversations and connections. I'm not sure when I'll be back to a regular posting schedule, but hope it will be soon. I miss our chats!

Until then, I'm sending you wishes for a Happy New Year. I hope that your 2013 is full of so many little miracles.  XO

Monday, December 17, 2012

This Little Light

Hi everyone, I wanted to let you know that I'm going to be taking a few weeks away. My father is ill and in the hospital, and my mother needs some care, as well. My focus right now is being there for them and giving them all the support I can.

I'm feeling a shadow of sadness during what is one of the most bright and beautiful times of the year. My parents' health, and also the events last week in Connecticut, make me feel like the days are indeed dark right now as we near the longest night of the year.

And yet. I am determined to find my light. To be bright and live with love and gratitude for each little miracle. To bring hope and strength and comfort, and to lift the spirits of those around me.

And I send you all my best wishes for a bright holiday. Love your families. Celebrate all that is wonderful in life. Be joyful in togetherness.

I hope that I'll be able to chat with you soon again come the New Year.

With love, Jeanne

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Have A Cup Of Cheer

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea." --Henry James

Our Tea Party Illustration

Happy Wednesday, everyone. Hope you're having a holly-jolly week! I'm just popping in for a quick hello. A friend and I co-hosted a holiday tea for the neighborhood ladies yesterday. I meant to snap a bunch of pictures to share with you but got so caught up in the fun and festivities that I didn't get chance. 

This week is full of holiday hustle and bustle, so I think I'm going to put my feet up for a bit and relax with tea in a pretty china cup. Hope you get to take a few moments for yourself today, too. XO

Monday, December 10, 2012

Candy Stripes

Happy Monday, all. Did you have a fun weekend? The holidays sure are cooking at our house. I'm in the midst of a little party prepping and spent last night mixing up these Candy Cane Cookies from Traditional Home:

I think these pretty candy cane chips could inspire a little peppermint twist on holiday decorating!

Our home has taken on some candy cane hues:

So what's cooking at your house? Hope your week is off to a sweet start! XO

Photos: 1) Traditional Home, 2) My photo, 3) Martha Stewart, 4) Elle Decor, 5) Elle Decor, 6) Martha Stewart, 7) Vakre Hjem & Interiors, 8) British Homes and Gardens, 9) Martha Stewart, 10) Vakre Hjem & Interiors, 11) My photo 12) My photo 13) My photo 14) My photo

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pretty Pine Boughs

"When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things give off the greatest glow of happiness." -- Bob Hope

The simple pleasures of the season are the best, I think. Like our wreaths this year, handmade from just a few branches of pine. Nothing added but the the red ribbon that holds them to our doors and windows. Perfectly imperfect, each one a little different. My favorite thing about them are the little pine cones scattered throughout the needles where they grew naturally - not glued symmetrically into place.

They offer a sweet and warm welcome to everyone who visits our home.

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope that you can find some time for the simple pleasures of the season this weekend. XO

Thursday, December 6, 2012

More Enchantment: Gift Giving Ideas

Have you gotten very far on your Christmas shopping? I've done a little, but am still working on my list. You can find some of my ideas today over at The Enchanted Home where the lovely Tina has been asking fellow bloggers for their gift-giving ideas. I'm great company with some of my favorite people in blogland, too.

Pop on over to see my suggestions:

For the Party Girl 

  For the Would-be French Queen  

For the Chef

Happy shopping! XO

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ho, Ho, Hostess Gift!

'Tis the season for all kinds of merriment - which means lots of hostess gifts! I think giving homemade treats seems a little sweeter. So when I saw Traditional Home's "Coco Bliss" story with a recipe for a "master blend" of chocolate that makes the perfect cup of coco and other holiday treats, I was inspired to whip some up.

And what's hot coco without marshmallows? The Barefoot Contessa has a simple, yummy recipe.

Package them up pretty with a recipe gift tag, add some cheery ribbon and an ornament or two, and you have a sweet little treat for your favorite hostess!

What's your favorite gift to bring to a party?

Photos: 1) Traditional Home, 2) My photo, 3) My photo

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Smells Like Christmas

Hi, all! How was your weekend? We spent ours in a flurry of decorating and celebrating, dividing our time between "to be jolly" - enjoying holiday cheer with dear friends - and "deck the halls" - getting our home dressed up in it's holiday best. 

One decorating flourish I absolutely love is draping the open staircase in our entry hall with garlands galore. Its a bit of a pain (like wrestling a giant python at times), but the results are glorious, and the fresh green scent of Christmas hits you the moment you step through our door.

Here's  a little inspiration:

Simple cedar or draped with sparkle and glitter, just a few yards of greenery adds so much to a room. I'd like to frame our windows as well as the staircase, but fear Mr. H. would go on strike (he does most of the garland wrangling at our house).

But isn't this kitchen gorgeous?

You can find a great tutorial from the wonderful Eddie Ross on his blog. We reference it every year to make sure we don't damage our banisters. And Martha Stewart has her tips for keeping greens their greenest through the season.

Here's the final result at our house:

I can't imagine Christmas without the greens and their marvelous scent. How about you? Do you bring the outdoors in during the holidays? What smell do you most associate with Christmas?

Photos: 1) Martha Stewart, 2) Canadian House and Home 3) Country Living 4) Better Homes & Gardens 5) HGTV 6) British Homes and Gardens 7) HGTV 8) Eddie Ross 9) My photo


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