The Spirit of Yuletide Décor

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and most Joyous Yule, my dear friends.  Our household, throughout the year, tends to honor and celebrate the oldest of traditions and beliefs, long before organized religion and that feels beautiful and real to us.  We will be celebrating Yule, but since I was raised Christian and Doug was raised Jewish, we incorporate all sorts of lovely traditions into our house and celebrate with our families.  For all the celebrations are really the same, the celebration of light, love, and hope.

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Decorating for the holidays should be nothing short of fun!  Incorporating ideas, palettes, and items that bring joy are the basis for holiday décor.

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We have collected cute stockings for a long time.  The children took some of their stockings to their own homes.  We are one short this year with the arrival of Ayla Mae, so I will find an adorable one for her.  Santa is coming to Grammie and Pa’s house Christmas Eve!  (To my great delight!)  I hung the stockings with care from the curtain rods.

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This was the first tree top angel I bought when I was nineteen years old in my first home.  I, of course, chose the tallest tree I could fit in my house this year so angel sits in the window welcoming loved ones.  Find these beautiful candles for a buck and some in the religious aisle of your grocery store.  They have them without the pictures on them.  They burn for a long time and they add festivity and charm to the home.

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Incorporating things you love is easy.  This moose was one of two that Doug got me our first Christmas together.  Her head is falling off but way up on the bookshelf she has a safe place of importance.

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The tree is filled with ornaments of old and new.  Photo ornaments the children made in grade school and ones from my childhood.  Ones from Grandma’s tree and many from our travels.

Yuletide décor is in the details.  Use holiday china this time of year, even for lunch!  Put oil lamps in each room.  Light plenty of candles.  Place strings of garland and twinkly lights in each room (even the bathroom!)

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These sweet, little cloches hold seasonal treasures.  Bird’s nests and moss covered twigs, sprigs of pine and pinecones.

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We opted this year to just string lights around the front porch and set them on a timer.  I love my ristras (one day I will be in New Mexico) and I leave the chairs and tables set up all winter in case of a sunny day that can be spent on the porch.  Always add pieces of yourself in the décor.  A sterile scene from a store doesn’t create the spirit of life that your own personal touches can.

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Place tea candles on sand inside lunch bags and line your front walk.  Light an oil lamp on the front porch for visitors.  Make handmade gifts this year.  Spend time enjoying the season.  And make space in your heart for light, love, and hope.

Brigid and Joyous Imbolc

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And she awakens at the dawn of Imbolc and wanders the country side warming the earth as she goes, for the maiden has been reborn and with her the internal fire of life.  She is Brigid, the Celtic goddess who was so beloved among the people that the Catholic Church made her a saint in order to lead the people into Christianity.  But long before that she was there.  Her cross was the symbol of the directions and the sun wheel.

We place water out to greet her.

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The agricultural calendar is also called the Wheel of the Year and roughly every six weeks there is a holiday, a celebration, an event that corresponds with the natural intricacies of life and nature.  Imbolc is the whisperings of spring.  The first lambs are born.  The days warm slight.  Farmers prepare for spring planting.

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Brigid is the goddess of children and fertility.  The protector of midwives.  The promise of new life.

She is the goddess of creativity.  This time of year is when our hearts awaken and we desire to create something new, or something beautiful, or perhaps just an old fashioned valentine.  She is the maiden in the sacred trinity or maiden-mother-crone.  She is youth and vitality.

She is the goddess of healing waters known as the Lady of the Sacred Flame.  Next time you visit a hot springs think of Brigid and thank her for the healing virtues and warmth of the water.

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She is the goddess of our precious animals and of crops.  Farmers thank her for her blessing.  A bowl of honey or a bit of milk to offer her was left out the eve of Imbolc.  She is the patroness of wealth upon the land and the life she brings to crops and animals and the fire she brings to our souls after a dreary January brings gratitude and hope.

The waters we leave out for her to bless are used in sacred medicines and for healing.  Look for baby animals in your travels being born.  Smile at a child.  Get out a seed catalogue.  Make a beautiful wreath for your door.  Warm yourself in a bath.  Wash away the winter doldrums for spring is on its path.

Today light a red candle and ask for compassion for all things, including yourself.  Feel the life flame within yourself come alive.

The Third Step to Achieving Your Goals (and bring on 2018!)

20171226_192715How wonderful that we will have a full moon tomorrow night, a Super Moon at that.  Perfect for manifesting those deep seeded intentions!

By now you have looked at what you want to transpire in 2018.  You have examined fears that may hold you back.  Respected that dreams are imbedded into your path for a reason.  You see the reasons behind what you want.  You know it will make you a better person and make your life better, therefore making you a happier person and a person who has the ability to help others.  Now.  We make it happen.

Fire and full moon are a spectacular ways to use high frequency power to send your desires out to the universe.  You have many helpers beyond the screen.  Ancestors, friends, angels, the universal web of information and wisdom, plus all the information stored in your DNA, chakras, and in the spirits all around you.  You got this.

You should have your resolutions written down in a prominent place, like the first page of a journal or a daytimer so that you can see them often.  Now, write on slips of paper each desire, each intention, each dream.  Focus on them intently.

Write down the things that you wish to release on other pieces of paper.  Perhaps of a different color.

In a blazing fire, focus on the things to release first.  Then one by one throw them in the flame.  As the smoke rises it will take your notes to the skies.  Then repeat with the manifestations.  You just increased your success by 90%!  Now the rest is up to you.  If you want a new job, go apply.  If you want a strong body, start a yoga class.  Get out there and be the best person you can.  And know that your soul is perfect, therefore you are as well.  Be kind to yourself.  Speak lovingly to your body.  Love all that cross your path.

Happy New Year Everyone.

The First Step to Achieving Your Goals

MIL50095//1My goodness, the house is lovingly leveled with trimmings and paper and gifts galore.  And the gentle hum of Christmas comes to an end.  But the Season of Light continues on as Yuletide goes until New Year’s Day.  The tree, the lights, the song all come from Yule, so really, Christmas lives on.  So I may leave my tree up to shine this week, but my mind wanders to the new year and what it sings in promises and change.

New Year’s is a great symbol of death and rebirth, of transition into betterment.  As we tick off the things we want to achieve- perhaps the very things we have listed for years prior- let us think first about the process of transition.  Before you write anything on those precious slips of paper or in your journal, what do you fear?

Do you want to change your eating habits?  Your diet?  Your lifestyle?  Do you worry about not being able to eat what you want when you want?  Do you fear deprivation?  Because it will make your goal quite difficult with that fear whispering in your ear.

There are many fears that stay hidden under the surface.  Fear of wellness (more responsibilities, no excuses), fear of money (we ask for more but that too comes with more responsibility and more taxes), fear of disappointment, fear of failure, fears….oh they are prevalent, you just may not recognize them for they burrow in and become part of the landscape of your mind.

Best root them out so you can succeed at your transformations this year.  Exposing the darkness brings more light.  And that is what this time of year is all about.

Homemade Amaretto Eggnog

20171201_182058Folks, this little festive cocktail is so delicious.  Of course, you can leave out the spirits.  What I like about the amaretto is that it isn’t as potent as whiskey or rum so it doesn’t go to my head!  And the flavors of the amaretto meld marvelously with the fresh, frothy eggnog.  Leave Santa a little of this with his cookies and he’ll be nice and warm flitting around the world.

In a blender combine well:

2 1/2 cups of fresh milk

3 farm fresh eggs

1/2 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour 2 ounces of amaretto over ice in a high ball and add a 1/2 cup (or to taste) eggnog.  Best enjoyed while listening to the Andy William’s Christmas album.  (My all time favorite.  Even named my son after him!) Cheers!

 

The Storytelling Tree

Ornaments are special.  They tell stories and relive memories on the glistening tree.

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This year when we went on our family vacation and visited the North Pole I picked up an ornament that held nine names.  It helped seal the moment.  We will look back at that ornament and relive the fun we had riding the train and petting the reindeer.

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A glass doll named Sarah that my grandmother gave me when I was very young.  Ornaments from my other grandmother’s tree.  Doug’s first ornament (he grew up Jewish) and our granddaughter’s first ornament mingle on evergreen limbs.  Decades of tales whisper among branches.

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From our trip to Las Vegas with the children in 2004.
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Ornaments that were given to me by my students in the dance company I had brighten my day. That was a special time.
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A gift from Rodney and Pat some years back. We all dream of getting our own adobes.

The tree is filled with memories of our trip to Las Vegas.  Of our honeymoon cruise.  It tells of Bronco fever and the children in elementary school.  Ornaments that were given as gifts.  Quite a few from New Mexico.  Next weekend we will pick up another.  Everywhere we go, we get an ornament.

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My Andrew at seven years old.
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Shyanne at seven years old and Maryjane’s hand print Santa.
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A very sweet five year old Emily.

When we look at our tree, it clears its throat and begins its sweet reminisce and dreams up ideas for the future.  Future names written on the tree, travels yet to be, but the comfort of home and hearth will always be the theme of our humble Yule tree.

What are your favorite ornaments?

Enchanting Christmas Decor

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Decorating for the holidays is one of the great joys of the season.  Transforming your home into an even more enchanting version of itself adds to the details of Yule.

#1 Adding faux fur rugs and blankets creates a warm, cozy feel.

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Even if the children have moved out, or if you never had children, still hang the stockings.  One for each kid, or one for each dog, it matters not.  No nails or hearth?  Hang them from the curtain rod!

#2 Decorate as if your home were filled with children.  Your inner child will thank you.

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Oh yes, this year we have a fence around the tree!  You can get inexpensive, folding fencing at an agricultural store like Big R.  It keeps puppies and toddlers out, but the kitten is still in the tree!  This year we opted for a faux tree.  It is decked with ornaments from our travels and beautiful creations our children made.

#3 Choose a tree.  Faux trees are easier to put up, last many years, hold onto the ornaments better, are a little sturdier, and don’t die in a few weeks.  But I don’t know if they ever decompose.  Real trees are fun to pick out, make the home smell nice, create a woodsy feel, and can be used as firewood after the holidays.  But we always get one with a crooked trunk, have to tie it to the wall and since I love putting up a tree right after Thanksgiving, it does look pretty shabby by Christmas.

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#4 A wreath symbolizes unity and strength, family and wholeness.  It is the universal symbol of welcome.  Make sure you put one on the door!

#5 Greenery is one of the key ingredients to a festive home.  This stuff costs five dollars at the hardware store.  Once floofed and placed around it instantly becomes Victorian style decor.  The front porch with the ristras and my old grandfather clock look festive with their draping of faux swags.

The bar is set up in festive glow ready for visitors and guests.

#6 Tuck photographs of Christmases past into mirrors around the house.

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#7 Amaryllis bulbs tucked into potted plants burst forth with tropical Yule flair.

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#8 Scatter twinkly lights and tea candles everywhere.  Winter is ever lovelier with lights.  If it’s going to be dark at 4:30 the indoors ought to be inviting!

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#9 Have plenty of firewood on hand for chilly nights.  I do adore the glorious smell of wood smoke.

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#10 Make sure you get out and enjoy the holidays!  Go see the Christmas lights around town, go to the zoo and see their light show, have dinner by a roaring fire.  If you are in Pueblo make sure you see the Riverwalk, eat at The Place, see our darling zoo, and enjoy the beautiful weather.  And pop by to say hello!

5 Ways to Make Thanksgiving Perfect

glassHere are a few ideas for Thanksgiving to help keep the spirit of gratitude, family, and love involved while also helping you make it go smoothly.

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*Remember, there is always room for one more. 

I remember one particular year that I was alone and not really in a great place, I called a family member that was hosting Thanksgiving to see if I could come and was told there wasn’t any room for me.  I mean, I would have sat on the floor if necessary.  I just needed the company. So, if there are last minute people that want to come.  Borrow a folding chair!

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* Make sure you ask people to bring things. 

If you already have your traditional menu planned, request something from it.  Most of the my family and friends are coming down and staying Wednesday night so they can’t really make something.  But rolls, drinks, cranberry sauce, pies, that type of thing can be bought and brought over.  Sure, I could make all those things-in fact, the Martha Stewart in me insists that I do- but I know those little things can make a big difference between my cooking most of the big meal and enjoying the day or becoming overwhelmed with too many details.

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*Make everyone feel welcome.

Whether it be your daughter’s new boyfriend that just got out of jail or your mother-in-law who didn’t get much sleep last night.  Smile, hug, ask questions about them, really care.  We never know what any given person is going through and this is a meal to express our gratitude and be near those we love by sharing a meal.  Keep that in mind above all else.

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*Take a deep breath and laugh.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.

I will have my puppy and two crazy grand-dogs running through the house.  The turkey may not cook right.  You might drop a pie.  The dog might eat the sweet potato casserole.  Aunt Sue might break into tears over a lost love. You may run out of whiskey.  This Thanksgiving, I want you to see everything with new eyes.  Every person there is alive this year.  Memorize the moments.  Watch people laugh.  Smell the turkey cooking.  Hear the ice clink in your glass.  Pet the dogs.  Have an extra helping.  These moments are precious.

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*Decorate Simply

A huge, ornate centerpiece is going to end up in the way and you will be sad that you have to move your beautiful decorations!  Try a nice napkin with mix-matched dishes.  A votive in front of each space.  Print off papers for people to write what they are thankful for.  Most of them the guest can color.  Childish?  We should be a little more childish.  Sprinkle some leaves on the table.  Or have the kids go collect some.  Place a mini pumpkin on each plate. (I for one do not like getting up during conversation to refill my plate at a buffet.  In fact, I usually won’t.  Much easier for folks if all the food is on the table and we can just pass it around!)

Put on some nice classical or jazz music.  Something that won’t clash with the volume of laughter and conversation.

You might not be able to use your hundred year old dining room table.  I will be moving all the couches and chairs into one section of the living room so that I can line up two long folding tables.  I will be able to seat fourteen comfortably in this little house by simply rearranging a little.  Folding tables are more compact but still offer lots of room. Your house doesn’t have to look perfect.

Light tea candles all over the house.  They will burn for two hours and create an enchanting ambience.

If you are in a good mood, your guests will be too.  If you are flustered, they will be too.  It’s just a meal with loved ones.  Enjoy!

 

Redecorating for the Season (easy tricks for a beautiful home)

20171027_071224In the winter I was experimenting with how to set up our new house.  An art and writing area, a music and reading area, and a sitting area took up separate sections of the old living room.  Then my classes started and I needed to be able to seat ten people comfortably and have a bigger conversation area.  The living room was rearranged again.  Now I am looking at having my family over for Thanksgiving dinner and entertaining for the holidays.  I will need a place for the Christmas tree (I know, I know, it’s not even Halloween…) and I wanted the seating area to surround the wood stove for cozy nights with a delicious book and a cup of hot chocolate.  Add to that I wanted to display my medicines for when customers come by, and have a place for all of my plants so I tapped into my inner Martha Stewart and spent the day redecorating!

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Faux fur rugs and gold toned throw pillows cozy up the velvet futon which reclines to become a double bed for guests.
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On the other side of the wood stove the love seat sits. A colorful sofa cover and earth toned throw pillows set a comfy space to play the guitar or have a drink. Guess what is behind the cow painting? The television! Wish I would have thought of it years ago. I am always trying to hide that thing!
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I knew our life transitioned into a new stage when I agreed to buy matching recliners. To me, recliners are the ugliest things ever and I swore I’d never have them in the house. (They are awfully comfortable though…)
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There wasn’t room for the coffee table in front of the recliners so I made it into a stand for my farmer’s market kit of medicines. Games, movies, and music are stored on the bottom shelf of the coffee table.
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Books are always at the ready and Maryjane’s books are easy to reach for when she comes to visit. A set of old doors creates drama, and my lovely grandfather clock adds charm. My collection of Native art and my feathers adorn the shelves.
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The table is closer to the front door than the kitchen now but I have more space to expand the table here. I can roll the giant aloe plant to the corner and add another table in here to accommodate more guests.
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My desk is an old sewing machine table and it can be rolled into the bedroom when it’s time to add a Christmas tree after Thanksgiving.

I didn’t spend a penny on this redecorating day and it only took a few hours.  The house feels cozy and the pumpkins and colors add an autumnal spirit.  Twinkly lights are always in order for a charming home.  Wishing you a beautiful season filled with warmth and family and home.

 

 

Farmgirl’s Eggnog Revisited

I wrote this post a few years back but with the influx of fresh milk and eggs from my farmer girlfriends, I felt it was certainly worth repeating.  You can use store bought milk and eggs if you trust your eggs.  A nice addition to this recipe is 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of peppermint, orange, or almond extract.  Enjoy!

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Farmgirl’s Eggnog

In a blender combine:

3 eggs (We use farm fresh eggs from the coop.  They are raw in this recipe so use eggs you trust!)

2 1/2 cups of milk (You can use any milk but I sure love my goat’s milk.)

1/2 cup of organic raw sugar (Yup, half a cup, this is the holidays.)

2 Tablespoons of homemade vanilla extract (Or 2 teaspoons of store bought. Click here for homemade vanilla extract recipe.)

1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

Turn blender on and in a minute you will have a delicious way to start the holiday season.

Add spirits if desired but I like mine fresh and cold as is.  Cheers!