The Most Magical Time of the Year

Well, I was just done posting this and somehow deleted the whole thing! Ugghhhh! Yes, it was an accident. I was happy with my writing only to have to recreate the post in its entirety. That being said, what a wonderful theme to write  about, the holidays. 

Holidays are times for family and friends to gather and be merry. I’m nearly done with my interior decorations but we haven’t done much outside yet. I have shared some of my Christmas crafting in a previous post, and I am able to enjoy some of the fruits of my labor. I’ve also made gifts for friends this year, but I’m not quite done. does it ever seem like you are never quite done, or is that only me? 


Decorations are a big thing in our house and it’s so nice to enjoy them for those few weeks before we take them down and decorate for the next much smaller holiday of valentine’s day. With the discerning eyes of my 15 year old and myself, we have managed to whip this place into shape for Christmas but we have more plans, or rather, I have more plans. Bringing them into fruition is the next challenge. 

Our next big holiday tradition is baking cookies, or course. The 15 year old wanted to make cut out sugar cookies yesterday but alas, the 1nswer was a resounding NO! Am I a mean and cruel mom? No, but the 18 year old will be home Monday and would be so upset if we made those without her. That’s a family affair in this house! if you don’t like to war these cookies, you must have something wrong with you genetically! They are the best cookie in the world hands down. Granted, we make many other ones like Swedish spice cookies, peanut blossoms, and a variety of others. These 3 are the staples of our Christmas baking.

I can’t wait to have most of the family together. Tomorrow is the day I’ll get to pick up my baby girl from school!  She’s coming  home for a month ya’ll! My oldest girl will be in California for the holidays and my dad and brother will be in sunny Florida.  I will still have the boy and my minime. I will also have my sweet and dear father-in-law for Christmas.  He has to be the easiest guest ever! 

Being together and celebrating Christmas us such a special tradition. We celebrate the birth of Jesus by heading out to midnight mass each year. Usually, my girls are singing but this year they will not be which will be strange. With one in California and the 18 and 15 year olds at their dad’s Christmas eve, you will find me with my remaining  boys in our usual spot are the church listening to the joyous and holy music and liturgy, all the while I will be thinking of my mom and nanan who have passed from this earth to join in the heavenly celebrations with the saints. I will be thinking of my daughters, my son, my dad and my brother, praying for their joy and health. I will be thinking and praying for my friends and relatives hoping their Christmas is blessed by happiness and love. I will pray for those without home, family or friends to be with at this time of year. I will try to make a difference in someone’s life this year as a always try to do each year. I will try to be joyous and bring joy and peace to those around me and to those whose lives I’ve been blessed to touch, if only for a moment. This is my Christmas wish. What’s yours?

Christmas Crafting

What is more fun than decorating for the holidays? Creating new items to make your spaces look even more beautiful. I am a Pinterest junkie. There, I’ve said it. They say admitting it is the first step to recovery but I don’t want to recover! I LOVE Pinterest! When I can’t think of a project to do or how I want to proceed with a new project, I check out all the fun and exciting things on Pinterest and get inspired. 

I have created gobs of projects from home decor and home renovation to new recipes based on my Pinterest addiction. Yes  it most definitely is an addiction. Lately though, it’s like about the holidays. 

I love decorating for the holidays but I love creating new decorations even more! Last year we made giant lollipops for the yard from pool noodles and colorful duct tape. So cute! This year my hot glue gun and I are all about wreaths. I’ve made several and I love them. 

Such a neat idea, right? Believe me they have to be simple for me to try them. It’s a Styrofoam wreath form covered with about 100 different sized shatterproof ornaments. I especially even have the burned fingers and a blister to prove I made these. 

I absolutely adore these wreaths. I’ve made 4 so far and have at least 1 more to go. I also love hanging home creations on canvas up for something a little different for this time of year. I created a “oh holy  night” picture that didn’t turn out exactly the way I wanted it to, but I sort of rushed it. I could redo it but I think I’m just being tough on myself. The artist is always the one to see the biggest flaws in their wi r just after all. For the most part though, I like it. It’s canvas that’s painted then I used Gabriel glue to do the rest. Overall, I’m satisfied with the results and would love to do this again with another song. Maybe for Valentines day…

I’ve also been busy repainting my dresser and now painting a brick wall in my kitchen. I have way too much brick in this house and want to update my house to bring it into the 21st century. There is never a time when a project isn’t being done around here. Maybe someday though… Then what will I do with my time? Just  bake? Nah, there will always be something that needs to be painted. Of that, I’m sure. Till my next project is completed I bid you peace. 

Ciao!

Deirdre

The Sunshine and Dad

I have spent the last week and a half with my beloved dad. It’s the time of year when mom and dad become snow birds and migrate to sunny Florida. This year it is just dad though since we lost mom last November. Today would have been her birthday. She would have been a very young 87. 

Traveling with just dad has been a wonderful experience and a treasured one at that. sitting amiably in the car chatting or sitting quietly, he is a man of few words, we just get along well. We took our time and enjoyed our trip driving south through several states enjoying the changing scenery that makes up our beautiful land. We even stopped and shared a pecan waffle at the Wafflehouse in honor of mom, because no trip would be complete without a pecan waffle and a cup of tea in her humble opinion. 

Since arriving in the beautiful southwest part of the sunshine state, I’ve shopped and dad has taken care of things he needed to. I’ve helped him with all his technical issues and we have gotten him settled. We have eaten so well that when I get home, I probably shouldn’t eat for a month!  Life here is on a different pace. It’s as if everyone is on a permanent vacation where he lives. I suppose they are. It’s a slower, more relaxed pace where people have time for one another.

I’ve gone to the beach, of course, but I prefer the pool. Going to the pool each afternoon I find the same group of characters. I call it social hour. Everyone catches up with the latest goings-on in the community. It’s truly an amazing place to be and they have made me feel so welcome. Just today, I had a glass of wine by the pool with these fabulous people. Such fun. And boy was it good!

The shopping is always good here but I was hoping to find a few more things at my usual stores which I didn’t. Had I gone to my other usual stores I may have but I don’t want to spend all my money. I look for bargains only. That I found. There are loads of high end stores but I don’t want to spend everything when I don’t have to. 

There is nothing better than the sound of the waves hitting the shore, in my opinion. Stress melts away instantly while just sitting there listening to the lapping waves and the sounds of the sea birds. I went only one day this time to the beach, but my stress from the long drive instantly disappeared as I sat there enjoying the sights and sounds for an hour. It was a cloudy day so I had the beach pretty much to myself. What a joy and spectacle to behold. 

Soon it will be back to the Midwest for me. Not that it’s a bad thing to go home but I miss this place when I leave it. This is my favorite place on earth. The sun shines so brightly here and the temperature is always warm and delightful. Knowing that I’m going home is like a double edged sword. I miss my husband and kids, I miss my own bed, but I don’t miss the weather. I especially don’t look forward to the winter. But life is what it is and maybe someday I’ll get a chance to love a life down here. It is my dream. Someday. 

A Journey Back

It is that time of year again.  It’s time when the leaves are nearly off the trees aad the weather starts to get that chill in the air again. It is also time for the annual trek to the sunshine state with my parents, but this year I make this just with dad. So many times I’ve written about my mom’s death lately, but  this trip was always about time spent with both of my beloved parents. 

This year is so different, but so very much similar at the same time. Dad is my co-pilot while I do the driving. He’s amazing! he may be 86 but you would never know it. We spend some of the time chatting and yet, unlike when mom was with us, there is a lot more silence. He is a man who thinks and thinks a lot. A man of few words. Mom and I would solve all the problems of the world by the end of day one of our journey. Not so much with dad. He probably already solved them all but he’s not sharing the answers. Darn it anyway!

There is a bunch more room in the car because as dad says, mom packed everything but the kitchen sink and started a week ahead. Little does he know but that’s called being a mom. Must be prepared. I will say, however, he remembered to get bananas for our trip snack. It’s sort of a tradition. I do miss mom’s sandwiches though. 

We took the little car this trip which is strange to me, but it is brand new and really high tech. I sort of feel like I’m in a tiny space ship with all the buttons and gadgets. VErykah cool indeed to one who loves that stuff, like myself. 

I am so very blessed to have this time to spend with my dad. He is such an amazing and intelligent man. He exudes love and generosity. He takes care of his own and spent his entire life caring for others. There is no one quite like this patient, quiet man. Our trip may not be the same without mom, but it is such a special time for just the two of us. I’ve always been daddy’s little girl and I’m so glad I am because God gave me the very best father a girl could ask for. 

Decluttering Your Life

Lately I’ve been working on trying to clean out my house a little bit at a time, one room at a time, one space at a time. it amazes me how much junk we all accumulate over time. I am no exception. my problem however, is that even when I am not particularly attached to certain things, I still somehow feel like there should be a place for those things that I may need. I am ever the work in progress and so is my family.  I can honestly tell you some members need more motivation than others and some need more help to rid themselves of the clutter.

My problem has been the lack of motivation to begin the process. I then have to think whether or not I have used the items within the last year. if the answer is yes, and I still use it, it’s a keeper, if not, I have to ask why not and then either put it in the give it away or throw it away bag, whichever is appropriate. I’ve found it is really cathartic to get rid of things and simplify life. 

We all seem to hold on to clothes as well as other memorabilia but as we age, we suddenly realize that it is unnecessary to save every picture and project little Johnny made growing up. there just isn’t room in the house, no matter how great is was. If you’ve been blessed with more than one child like me, you will certainly run out of space! Sure I have saved a few things, but not enough to fill tubs full of artwork and favorite memories. 

When cleaning out kitchen cupboards,I find it extremely helpful to and skills myself how much do I really use the item. I got rid of so much unnecessary stuff. Hopefully all those items received new homes, as they were in good condition and were given away.  One person’s trash is another’s treasure!

We still have too much stuff but I continue to work on my simplification of my life. one day, when there are no more kids at home and less pets to care for, I may just have that home I’ve always dreamed of, but for now it’s a home of love that is well lived in. I can live with that and always have my eye on the prize. 

Time Goes By

Each year comes and goes unbidden yet we feel relatively the same inside. Each birthday rolls around and the years add on, but we are basically the same person we were when we were 19 or 20, just more mature and hopefully we’ve learned a few things we didn’t know in our younger years. Yet the fact remains, we are still the same kid just trapped in an older body. Well, I am.

 My body may not cooperate with me like it once did, it may not look as good as it did, but inside I am the same person I’ve always been. My heart is the same loving, caring, easily hurt heart it has always been. My mind, however, is older and hopefully a lot wiser than that one of my youth. 

My mom used to say we really only aged every 7 years. Look in the mirror every 7 years then you see a difference. You don’t see the daily changes because they are subtly happening. Why be ashamed of those changes? You earned the right by living your life and being alive.

As an adult, don’t look for the fine lines and wrinkles. They’ll be there soon enough. Think of them as battle scars. We earn them if we are lucky. Don’t think of them as anything less than something to be proud of. In this culture which prides itself on youth and beauty, only men can grow older and own those fine lines and wrinkles without being judged. It’s about time we women stood up to all the hype and  social pressures and said enough is enough. There is no magic cream that will prevent it all. No makeup can hide it forever either. 

Growing older is a privilege not all are afforded. So as you struggle with getting another year older, think of it as a privilege and realize that you have 2 choices. One is to grow older and enjoy every moment and the other is to grow older with resentment at the things you should have done. Enjoy life. Smell the roses. Don’t sweat the little things because no one remembers them in the long term anyway. Remember, each day is a privilege.

And to my dear, dear friend, who is an inspiration to me, happy birthday! You are spectacular at every age!

Coffee Time Already?

It’s a glorious fall morning on this particular Saturday. I may be a lover of the warm weather, but there is nothing like bundling up with my fleece jammies on and fuzzy socks and enjoying a hot cup of caramel brulee coffee under a blanket. It’s soul soothing in a way.

This time a year ago, I was spending my time in the hospital with my beloved mom. Yesterday was the 1st anniversary of her hemorrhagic stroke, a day that would change my life forever. When I was called by my daughter, I was told that grandma was in the ER and my husband and I went straight there. We never imagined what we would find. As I headed to the room to see her, still not sure what had happened, I was told I could not go in. I was still calm despite my fears.

My dad and brother were already there, of course. I’m the last one to be called since I have a family of my own and my brother is single. The boys, as I call them, are very close and very similar to beach other. I’m the girl, and mom and I were always close, very close. She was my best friend. 

We were shuffled off into a little room so that the doctor could talk to us about the stroke. The fact that mom was coherent when she came in and the cardiac workup was negative but that she started to lose her cognition and deteriorate rapidly finally led them to know it was a brain bleed, and unfortunately it was a big one. She was put on a ventilator and received what we referred to as a brain drain to keep the pressure down in her brain.

She amazingly started to recover slowly. I was so happy even though I knew, being a 20 veteran nurse, that she would never truly be exactly who she was before, but she was doing so well. She was sitting up and eating and talking after a long week. But then everything changed. 

Little did I know in October 21,2015 that on November 25,2015 at 12:38AM my beloved and blessed mom would leave this world. She fought and fought hard, but she had too many complications that mounted up against her. 

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. I don’t cry as often, but I do still cry. I can’t tell you how much I miss her. I miss her laugh, our long talks, her hugs, her advice wanted and unsolicited, her smell, her little cough, her hands. I miss everything about her. 

The pain is still there, but not so raw. I don’t think you ever get over the death of your mother. Not truly. Sure we move on and learn to live life again, but life will never quite be the same without her here. The good thing is, I know I have a angel watching over me because I know my mom has to be in heaven. She was the most beautiful and holy person I knew. I thank God for being blessed with such an awesome mom for all the years I had her here. If you still have your mom here, go give her a hug today. You never know when it will be the last hug you will get.

Muffins Aplenty

I’ve been in the kitchen a lot lately and I’ve been in the mood for making muffins. I really love baking from scratch and my family loves when I do. Sometimes I start with a box mix and doctor it up, but most of the time I make things from scratch.

Lately, I’ve made pumpkin crumble muffins with a cinnamon crumble in top. Yummy! These were such a big hit that next time, which may be tomorrow, I’ll make them by adding chocolate chips in some of them for the kids. They’ll gobble those right up! And they couldn’t be easier. 

Another one that got big kudos from my kids was my all time favorite muffin, Apple cinnamon strusel muffins. These are loaded with tiny chunks of apple and cinnamon. It only takes one Apple and they are so simple to make. My kids probably would like less Apple but that’s my favorite part. 

Nothing beats the homemade variety of this one, but you can also use the box of cinnamon strusel muffins and add one finely diced and peeled Apple. Depending on which recipe you use, you will have delicious muffins within 30 minutes! Fresh and hot out of the oven to go with a cup of coffee or a tall glass of milk. What could be better. 

There are so many recipes out there and do many things you can put into a basic muffin recipe. I’ve decided to simply be creative. Of course, now it’s pumpkin season and my family loves their pumpkin so we will have lots of those for a while. I love fruit in my muffins so I’ll make peach, strawberry, blueberry, zucchini, lemon, raspberry, you name it. The sky is the limit! Nothing is better than a little muffin made with love!

It’s a Birthday Coffeeshare Weekend!

I celebrated my birthday on Friday and what great friends I truly have. My friends took me out for dinner minus one of my besties who was trying to get her pool closed for the year as well as not feeling great. We had a blast! The 5 of us are out hearts out, fixed all the world’s problems over food and good wine and just had such a good time together it was hard to say goodnight when our evening was over. I am so truly and utterly blessed to have the very best friends in the world. Thanks to my T for managing to throw it all together and make it a memory that will surpass some of the other birthday memories that were not nearly so pleasant. 

Earlier in the day, I was blessed to go pick up my beautiful daughter from school and take her out for lunch at a great diner! What a truly fabulous gastronomic adventure! If you are ever in St. Louis and looking for a superior diner atmosphere to partake of, look no further than the loop. Fitz’s diner is phenomenol! The burger and the fries! Plus homemade sodas and floats that will absolutely bust a gut! We shared, and did not finish, a black forest float made with their black cherry soda and rich chocolate ice cream! Yummy! 

The best part of that was spending time with my girl! I missed her do much! Catching up on everything is so important in the grand scheme of life. A bond between a mother and her children can not be broken. Well, not in my case. My oldest sweet daughter even came home.

I didn’t get to see her until yesterday, but it’s so much fun to hug my girls. I miss them so much. She bought me the cutest clock and it matches my living room colors perfectly! 

I always say I will always love my kids even if I don’t always like what they do. I say this often to my youngest when he is driving Hubs and I crazy in the evenings over the old homework issue. Most of the time it’s been a lot better, but there are those nights when he is just so tired and we have both worked all day. When that happens, homework time leads to a screaming banshee child and it just stinks. Homework generally gets deferred to 6 am the next morning with me and then he’s like a brand new kid. This weekend he’s been terrific though. He even spent the night at his friend’s house and had a wonderful time doing so.

I have been on a baking kick lately. Its all about muffins. Cinnamon apple muffins more precisely. I make them from scratch. Although I prefer larger pieces of apple in mine, the family prefers the pieces to be diced very small. The tops are dipped into butter when the muffins come out of the oven and then into a mixture of cinnamon sugar. My 15 year old have me the greatest compliment ever. He said they were the best thing he had ever eaten. How cool is that for a mom to hear, especially when it’s not heard very often from a picky eater!

So that’s what going on in my neck of the woods. What’s going on in yours? You know I love to hear from you. Today I’ll be making homemade granola and some pumpkin muffins for the family! Family and food. What more could you ask for? Well… Maybe hockey and football…but that’s another story for another day! Take care and have a great day!

It’s About Time for Coffee

Good morning all! I’ve enjoyed a relaxing morning so far and am so glad you’ve made it here for coffee. I’ll admit, I started my coffee early this morning, as I seem to be awake very early these days. Hubs thinks I’m crazy to wake up as early as I do but he’s a VERY good sleeper in the early mornings. He doesn’t sleep well at night and needs his sleep. Me? I am out like a light these days. It’s nice for a change.

Coffee gets my motor running in the morning. I don’t need a pot. I just like my 1 or 2 cups unless I have company. Marz, my BFF neighbor, often shares coffee with me once the kids are at school. It’s wonderful. We can share the worries and joys of our world’s as well as solve all of the world’s problems all over a cup of joe. 

Whenever my oldest BFF and I go shopping, we have to have one specialty coffee somewhere. This, again, allows us time to solve all the world’s problems over our special java. Since we’ve known each other nearly 30 years (scary thought) we’ve solved a lot of problems, dried many tears and laughed over many funny stories over coffee. It never gets old.

When I lived up north, I used to share coffee by the potfull. I had a beautiful sister-in-law, Amy. We were well known for spending many hours drinking our cafe with cookies on my old porch or her basement. It was just what we did. We went to a family restaurant to escape the world and drank carafe after carafe. Amy passed away 3 years ago and I miss her still. When I see butterflies, certain flowers and hummingbirds, I think of my dear friend. I miss those hours but treasure the memories deep within my heart. 

Coffee in our American society is a social gathering. It’s a means of friendship and communication. In my Irish family, we drink tea. Many hours were spent with my mom over a cup of tea and cookies or biscuits, as it were. I’m missing my mom and will be thinking about her a great deal over the coming months. 

Thursday. The 15th, would have been mom and dad’s 56th wedding anniversary. It was the first one without her here. We all went to dinner with dad. He said he’s forgotten “that was today”. This week is his birthday and onward we go with birthdays and holidays. 

Family and friends should be cherished. Life is shorter than we think it is for we know not the time or place when this life will end. I’ve learned and relearned, assessed and reassessed things in my life over the last year and the one thing that is clearer than anything is that we truly need to love one another. Treat those people in your life gently and with care. Treasure them and tell them you love them each and every day or as often as you get a chance. Never let the opportunity go by to show them how much you care and appreciate them. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m doing my best.