The After-Holiday Holiday

I know the southern snow will not last. It will be gone soon and only the memory will remain. If you live in an area not normally affected by large snowfalls, what did you do? My guess is you hunkered down, put warm clothes on, and made something special to eat or drink. Maybe you made a good cup of coffee or cocoa. Maybe you lit a fire.

My blogger friend Michelle took a long walk in the woods with her lucky dog. She turned a beautiful snowfall into a good reason to get some exercise. We should all do the same thing. I was so impressed with this. If I was ten years younger I’d get my boots on. 😉

I am used to snow in January and February. Two years ago I wrote on how I tried to embrace winter and just accept it. I wanted to find joy in it instead of feeling depressed over shorter days and less light. It worked. I changed my attitude and there was a definite shift in how I feel about winter.

When I worked full time, I wished for days when I did not have to clean the snow off my car at 6 am on January mornings. The long drive into Pittsburgh wore on me as I got older. I didn’t mind it in the younger days but my mind and heart were not into it as I got older. Now, without that commute, I am free to relish snowy mornings. To look out the window at them and revel in their beauty- the sunlight on the snow, the colorful birds at my feeder, the deer in my back yard munching on the hard corn that Jim has sprinkled for them.

This is the time of year when I get some rest. After the holidays, this is my holiday. I enjoy this quiet after Christmas down time. My tree is still up, the twinkle lights and red/white ornament colors a glowing contrast to the darker days. I’ve put most of my other decor away, but the tree is the last to go. The twelve days of Christmas were just over; let me enjoy the feeling as long as I can.

Winter Beauty- My Christmas Cactus’ are still blooming!
Join me on my graceful journey.
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The Saturday “Not So” Blizzard

Olivia Marie and her favorite doll
Olivia Marie and her favorite doll

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
Coco Chanel

The day started off pretty simple. I had signed up for a cupcake class from my friend Brandi. She’s a Wilton instructor and the owner of her own cake business, Event Cakes PGH. During the winter, it pays to look for something creative to do and one of Brandi’s classes was just the ticket.

This was too much fun!
This was too much fun!

My daughter Michelene was due to meet me right after class. We were headed to our cousin Nick and (his wife) Kristen’s house. Kristen had offered Michelene some professional clothes, as Michelene has a special work conference coming up in April.

I had checked the weather that morning. I knew there was some snow predicted but ultimately, I left it up to Michelene to decide. She said let’s go.

The ride to Nick and Kristen’s was smooth. No problems. A snowflake here or there but overall a pleasant drive. We arrived and Olivia Marie (their three year old daughter) was there to greet us in her Valentine’s Day red dress and silver tights.

I hung out with Olivia while Michelene and Kristen looked over the clothes. Kristen’s house was warm and pretty, with fresh tulips and roses on the counter. Nick arrived soon after, with more flowers, and we settled in for a nice catch up conversation.

Around 1pm I looked at Michelene and said we should go. She agreed, so we said our good byes and headed out. All was fine until we went off of 70 West, onto 79 North. It was like suddenly crossing an imaginary line. The weather went from nothing to a big something. Snow came down so hard I could barely see to drive.

The view from my windshield
The view from my windshield

So I did something I don’t believe I’ve ever done before. I pulled over. I said to Michelene, we’re going to wait this out just a bit. I went onto the berm of the road and put my flashers on. Soon, a few others did the same and we were like a mini line of flashing red cars.

Michelene checked the weather map on her phone and then apologized for getting us in the middle of the storm. I wasn’t worried. I knew the original forecast was for one to three and already one inch had fallen before we even left that morning. I told her not to worry.

And sure enough, about fifteen minutes later, the visibility improved. The scraping road truck went by and we pulled out shortly afterwards. We took our time and probably didn’t go above thirty miles an hour (like every one else) until we got off the interstate. The roads were better then and the snow had stopped.

When I told my mom this story, she asked me if I was scared. I said No. I knew what the forecast was and that the snow was predicted to be intermittent. I felt confident that we were not in danger. It was not so much a blizzard as a bit of a blizzard.

And I’ll tell you, it was worth it all to spend some quality time with Olivia Marie. She is the sweetest little girl and we had a good time together drawing on the artist board she got for Christmas. And I am thankful for Kristen, who was so giving of herself to share her beautiful clothes with Michelene.

Just too sweet
She’s the best Valentine
Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Being Ok with Winter

Winter White Pines by my House
Winter White Pines by my House

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

If you know me, you know that I am not the best winter person.

In the past, I have mostly complained about the winter. Too cold, I hate driving in snowy conditions, blah blah blah. But lately things have changed. Or maybe I have changed.

Used to be I lumped winter with Christmas. I thought of winter as Christmas and when Christmas was over, I was depressed at the thought of two more months of snowy weather. How unfair. Why couldn’t Christmas just be a little bit longer?

So I always extended the holiday on my own. I’d leave my decorated tree up longer than most people I know. (last year, it was up waaaay long). But sooner or later, even I have to face the weather.

View From My Window
View From My Window

This year I’m trying something new. I’m making an effort to embrace winter. Currently it has snowed about seven inches here in my neck of the woods. I was in the house most the day Sunday; I made homemade chicken soup. The smell was delicious and made me smile. I filled my bird feeder with sunflower seeds and watched the cardinals, blue jays, and the chickadees compete for best positioning. The birds are probably my favorite part of winter.

Jim was a good sport yesterday and cleared the driveway (thank you to his brother Chuck for use of the plow). I was beginning to worry I wouldn’t get my car down the driveway.

So I’m making the best of it. For years, I commuted fifty miles round trip to work in all kinds of weather. I dreaded those snowy mornings and that stressful drive. We had a terrible snowstorm in Pittsburgh about five years ago and I drove to work the very next day! I still can’t believe I did that. Locals called the storm “Snowmageddon.”

Maybe that makes it all the easier now to relish my pajama filled mornings and endless cups of coffee. 🙂

Lest I gather too much guilt over my current home bound status, I continue to work on my wedding business. I got on Instagram yesterday and boy, that was challenging. I am teaching a wedding planning class next month so plenty to do there. I continue to make optimistic appointments, despite the uncertainty of February weather. I preface each appointment request with the words “weather permitting” and I mean it. We can always reschedule if the roads look a bit too slippery.

So winter, here I am. I embrace thee. And I make another pot of coffee…..

 

Just beautiful
Just beautiful

 

How are you dealing with winter? I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Moments of Pure Joy

DSC_0042“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

I bought myself the most beautiful bouquet of roses the other day.

It was shortly after Valentine’s Day when I happened to drop by to see my favorite florist. His shop can literally take my breath away. There is always so much to look at, beautifully displayed and seasonally inspirational. There were buckets of flowers everywhere, mainly roses, in many gorgeous colors and they were perfectly open.

Jim, the owner, is an old friend of mine. I asked him to make me a bouquet and it was a blend of white and pale pink roses. They were stunning and as soon as I got home, I searched for the perfect vase. A crystal decanter did the trick. The flowers changed my whole house and lifted it up a notch in cheeriness.

A few days later, it snowed like a blizzard and I began to wonder again, if winter would ever be over. But then the snow stopped, the sun came out and everything began to melt. The roses kept smiling at me from the table.

I can feel spring coming closer. The temperature is warming and I chuckle as I find Jordan’s hair in little clumps around the rug. She is shedding her winter coat- another sure sign of approaching spring. The heavy snow is melting in my yard and there are slippery spots. But thank goodness, it is melting.

I am feeling moments of pure joy. It is in the warmth of the sun and the smile on my husband’s face. It is in the smell of my morning coffee and the anticipation of the trip I am going on with some dear friends. It is in the emails from my west coast friend who by the way, sent me the most delicious fudge sauce I have ever tasted. I peeled a banana and spooned a little fudge on every bite. Yes, it was decadent.

I’m working on a June wedding and Cindy, my client met me today at the very same floral shop where I bought the roses. We were inspired by Jim’s ideas and his expertise was evident in the things he proposed. Afterwards, Cindy and I rode together to select linens to finish the tables. It was an amazing day!

I feel beautifully unencumbered tonight, as if the heaviness of this winter is slowly melting away, to reveal a new layer right below the surface. I can craft that layer anyway I want and as wonderful as I wish.

White roses

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1015

Winter Comforts

Faith Tree

“My old grandmother always used to say, Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Feast for Crows

How is it possible to find comfort in a winter that seems to never end?

Here in the Northeast, as in other parts of the country, we have been bombarded by snow, snow, snow and freezing temperatures. We woke up to freezing rain and snow this morning yet again, and it’s only the beginning of February!

As optimistic as I try to be, I can get down in the dumps about all this cold weather. But I do have some secret weapons that help me through a long winter. Here are some of my best strategies:

First, I use pops of color to keep me motivated. I have a set of bright beaded bracelets I bought from a sweet bunch of young girls who were selling them to raise money. I think it was the Girl Scouts. So I bought a handful of them and sport them on bleak dreary days. I also have some bright sweaters- red!- and cheery scarves just perfect for a pick me up.

A Crystal Dove on my Winter Tree!
A Crystal Dove on my Winter Tree!

Second, I made an indoor winter tree. Since I didn’t have the heart to completely dismantle my holiday tree, I adapted it. I put away the obvious Christmas ornaments and left the winter ones on. I have a small pair of mittens, a miniature ice skate, frosted cranberry branches and other red and white decorations amid golden twinkle lights. I admit to lighting this glowing tree every morning while I drink my first coffee of the day and do my spiritual readings. I love the glow and the light infuses hope into my heart and soul.

Third, I spend time with my friends. We go to lunch, hit the mall or my favorite consignment shop. I put on my warmest boots and coat and push myself to get out, as long as the roads are good. Lunch with Amy is one of my favorite things and we went to a place recently with a crackling fire. I love fires!

Fourth, I drink a lot of hot cocoa! I bought some candy cane cocoa at holiday’s end and I’ve been enjoying a mug almost daily. Yes, it is indulgent but tough times call for strategic measures! Cocoa is a must in winter weather and marshmallows make it all the better.

Finally, I try new recipes. I made a delicious navy bean soup twice in the last few weeks. Making my own chicken broth and using a leftover holiday ham bone cranked up the volume on this heart warming soup! Check out the recipe HERE if you’re a bean soup fan!

Don’t you feel warmer and cozier already? Please share your winter weather strategy measures. I’d love to hear from you and I’m sure others would as well!

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Adventures in Sled Riding

My grandson Gavin and nephew Colin
My grandson Gavin and nephew Colin

When I was a young girl, I lived in a neighborhood that had lots of kids to play with. I had two younger sisters and we were always outside. In the winter my friends, sisters and I loved to sled ride. We had those beautiful old wooden sleds with the steering mechanisms in front that you moved with your feet. We would bundle up in many layers and continued to sled even when our feet and fingers were stone cold. 

Once we were at Suzi’s house and she had a steep drop off at the edge of her lawn. I was always careful but Suzi was a bit of a daredevil. One day she was flying down her hill and launched right off that edge and disappeared. It was a tense moment. I don’t remember fire engines or anything like that; I think everything was ok but whew, that was a scary moment.

Jim and I have a great hill next to our house that is a beauty for sled riding. When my kids were little they loved to grab their saucer shaped plastic riding gear and start at the top. Once, I went outside to check on them and see how it was going. They were flying down the hill as my husband and brother in law watched close by. I think my jaw dropped when I saw the sheer speed with which they flew by. I began to object and here is what Jim said: Honey, go back in the house.

Gavin in the big snow a few years ago!
Gavin in the big snow a few years ago!

So now my grandson, his cousins and my niece are the next generation of sled riders. The equipment is alittle faster and quite fabulous. Great big plastic sleds with handles on the sides, snow boards, and still those brightly colored saucers. It’s all great fun for them.

At my age, I’m into the hot chocolate. When I can tell the kids are getting tired, I will whip them up a batch of hot milk and Hershey’s syrup with mini marshmallows. I have it simmering on the stove when they walk in. There is just something special about a mug of cocoa after a cold bout of sled riding.

Any snowy sled riding memories you want to share?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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