Thursday, December 17, 2015

Blogging It Forward with Wayfair

#blogitforward

For the month of December, Wayfair.com is challenging bloggers to spread holiday cheer by doing a good deed. Deeds can include any act of kindness, no matter how big or small. For every blog that participates and includes the badge, Wayfair will donate $50 to Habitat for Humanity! What a fantastic organization to assist!

When my friend, Benita, of Chasing Quaintness invited me to participate in this philanthropic project, I was honored and thrilled to be a part of it! Allow me to pause for a quick moment to encourage you to visit Benita's blog...she is amazing, funny, generous, and kind...you won't be disappointed!

Now, on to the "challenge". Wayfair is urging as many bloggers as possible to spread kindness. I have shopped with Wayfair in the past and have loved my experiences, but let me say that now I love Wayfair even more! I don't think we can ever do enough acts of kindness...our world certainly needs every little bit of goodwill available these days.

One of my personal favorite ways to give back is by doing a special little project. For the past 3 years, I've created and sold handmade items at a local holiday craft fair. Then, by dividing the profits, I give each of my family members a signed check for Christmas and ask them to donate it to an organization that is close to their hearts. This way, the money aids multiple charities and gives each of us that warm feeling of helping out.

Wayfair also offers these suggestions for ways to pay it forward:

Surprise a stranger by buying them a cup of coffee
Pay the tolls for a car behind you in line
Offer a spare umbrella to someone in a rainstorm
Surprise a neighbor with freshly-baked treats
Bring a donation to a cause you support
Leave a gas gift card at a pump
Surprise a service worker with an extra big tip
Offer to do grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor
Rake your neighbor's yard or snowblow their driveway when they are at work
Send flowers to the office staff at your child's school

#blogitforward

And in the spirit of giving, I'd like to invite Sally of Cottage Fix and Rita of Panoply to consider participating in the Blog It Forward challenge. I hope you ladies will enjoy spreading cheer with Wayfair :)

Thanks Wayfair, and hugs to my friend, Benita!

Julie

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Meditations



My Grown-Up Christmas List
composed by David Foster (music) and Linda Thompson-Jenner (lyrics)

Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee.
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies.
Well, I'm all grown up now,
But still need help somehow.
I'm not a child but my heart still can dream.

So here's my lifelong wish,
My grown-up Christmas list,
Not for myself, but for a world in need:

No more lives torn apart,
Then wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And every one would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list.


As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely wrapped beneath the tree.
Well, heaven surely knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal a hurting human soul.

No more lives torn apart,
And wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And every one would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list.


What is this illusion called, the innocence of youth?
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth!

No more lives torn apart,
Then wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And every one would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list.
This is my only lifelong wish,

This is my grown-up Christmas list!



Sharing with: Simple Details, French Country Cottage, Shabby Art Boutique, Rustic & Refined, Between Naps on the Porch, Dwellings the Heart of Your Home, Cozy Little House, A Stroll Thru Life, Domestically Speaking, Lamberts Lately

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Mice Cookies

Baking and cooking are not on the list of my talents...Martha Stewart of the kitchen I am not! In fact, my husband does almost all of the holiday cooking. I do the house-fluffing, tree-trimming, gift-buying and wrapping...basically everything EXCEPT the cooking.

Years ago, though, I came across a recipe for "Night Before Christmas Mice" cookies in a magazine. Our kids weren't young at that point, but these cookies really appealed to me because my daughter danced annually in The Nutcracker ballet. If you are familiar with the story line, you know that the Prince battles the Mouse King, along with his corps of mice. So, in my daughter's and my mind, the "Night Before Christmas" mice quickly became Nutcracker mice...and a tradition began.


These cookies are not only fun to make, but also delicious! Here is the recipe if you'd like to add them to your holiday festivities. (Actually, they'd be fun to make any time throughout the year.)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
1/4 tsp salt
Decorations: sliced almonds, shoestring licorice, cinnamon red-hot candies, prepared icing

1. Preheat oven to 325F. In medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, cream first 3 ingredients. In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa and salt; sift over butter mixture. Reduce speed to low; beat until incorporated.
2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; form balls into elongated egg shapes. Pinch 1 end of each into a slight point for mice heads. Place on ungreased baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Carefully insert 2 sliced almonds per mouse in the pointy end for ears. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until just set. Do not overbake.
3. While cookies bake, cut licorice into desired length for tails. Immediately after baking, insert tails at the rounded ends of mice. Remove to wire racks to cool. Then attach red-hot candies with icing for noses and pipe dots of icing for eyes.


My daughter is 26 and married now, but that hasn't stopped her from wanting to make these cookies. In fact, this year I put together a gift of mouse cookie ingredients and the recipe so that she can carry this fun tradition into her new family. Maybe someday my (hoped-for) grandchildren will help their mom in the kitchen...while nibbling on mouse ears and tails :)

Happy baking!
Julie


Sharing with: Cozy Little House, StoneGable, A Stroll Thru Life, Domestically Speaking, Ivy and Elephants, French Country Cottage, Shabby Art Boutique, Rustic & Refined, Between Naps on the Porch, Dwellings the Heart of Your Home, Lamberts Lately

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Decking the Halls

It will be a quiet Christmas season here...our favorite newlyweds will be spending the holidays in Cuba, where our son-in-law was born and raised. For that reason, I'm going simple with d├ęcor again this year.

On the front door is a wreath I made from some faux greenery that was left over after our daughter's wedding last December. This natural, unadorned piece can welcome guests throughout the winter.


Also, simple faux greenery, a wreath, lights, and metallic-toned ornaments dress the mantel.


Here are some of the Christmas tree pictures I love to make using vintage and repurposed baubles. I'm especially fond of the green jewelry...



And finally, this nativity set is one that was actually sold as a kids' craft kit years ago. Maybe I'm just a kid at heart, but I painted the figures myself (no kids involved) and really find beauty in its simplicity.


There will be a bit more decking of the halls happening in the dining room, incorporating my very favorite holiday symbol...snowflakes!

See you soon,
Julie

Sharing with: French Country Cottage, The Charm of Home, Shabby Art Boutique, Pieced Pastimes, Between Naps on the Porch, Cozy Little House, Tea Time with Trina, A Very Thrifty Christmas