Happy New Year-2017

“What will this year bring? I wonder…”

New Year’s Day in our house marked the end of another Christmas season. Much of the day was spent packing away the decorations, lights, garlands, linens and dinnerware. totes-1As these tasks were dealt with, we took time to reflect on the highlights and lowlights of the past year. Using  a large white cardboard and markers, we drew up  a 2016 balloon chart with various categories as a challenge to our memories.  This chart was placed on the dining room table and added to as memories came flooding back.  It’s a fun activity that brought with it moments of sadness as we recalled those who are no longer with us; lots of joy as we recalled funny things, friend and family events, and travels. The categories of weather and current events had an extraordinarily large number of memories!

Now that Christmas has been packed away, both of us are preparing to indulge in “binge reading”.


book_stack-1                              Hubby’s stack of books to read is 2 feet (60cm) tall!

I have been saving Patrick Taylor’s latest book “An Irish Country Love Story” just for this time when I can savour every word. If you are not familiar with the Irish Country Novel Series, I highly recommend it for a joyous escape. It is also a good teaser for my upcoming trip to Ireland!





On the Table

Christmas morning, after the stockings were opened, the kitchen table was set for breakfast with Pfaltzgraff “Winterberry” patterned dinnerware.  I began my obsessive, too- extensive collection of this pattern in the late 1980’s. My late mother-in-law, who appreciated the table setting more that the food served, fuelled this obsession with annual Christmas cash.

At the beginning, Pfaltzgraff was manufactured in America and most of my collection comes from there. In later years it has been made offshore, and I have noticed the quality isn’t quite the same, some of the colours are off. Likely this is the reason I didn’t experience withdrawal symptoms when I didn’t add to my collection this year. christmas-breakfast-1

The Christmas breakfast menu was all prepared ahead of time making it easy to share with our neighbours:

Fruit cocktail (Hubby’s recipe)

Turkey Sausage and Egg Casserolechristmas-breakfast-2

Irish Whiskey Cured Salmon

Mincemeat Muffins

Apple pie




The Halls are Decked …a little


It is fun to decorate the house for Christmas. Some years every nook and cranny is filled with trees, garlands, candles, ornaments, wreaths, ribbons,  plants and other items that reflect the “spirit of the season”. 2015 was one of those years. This year I restrained myself from putting out every Christmas item we have. To me, the house still looks festive.


A silver bowl filled with glittery grapevine balls, topped with a plaid ribbon, sits on the coffee table. The tree provides all the light that’s needed to brighten the early evening dark of winter.


The fireplace mantle is decked out with our collection of reindeer, most of which have been made and given to us by dear friends. Family photos, stockings, and garland complete the mantle display.


A collection of tiny birdhouses sit on a shelf above the sideboard in the dining room.

The bathroom gets a festive touch with an LED candle placed on the toilet tank and hand towels that reflect the season.


To me, the halls are decked enough!

But I’m not as sure that my furry child agrees!


Beautiful, but…

They can be the “bane of my existence”, slight exaggeration, there. Their beauty brightens the dull December days leading up to the 25th, if I can keep them alive that long!  I am referring to the classic flower of Christmas: the poinsettia.


Every year, as far back as I remember, we have ordered three or four poinsettias from a local service club to support their fundraising efforts. The plants are delivered a few weeks later, wrapped in clear plastic sleeves, often on the coldest day of the season. Every year we admire their beauty and quality and colour. Usually, I place them on the floor in front of the Christmas tree to disguise the fact that the tree has no skirt. They really look lovely. Daily, I mist them and check if they need to be watered.

Today, I saw leaves were shrivelling and drying up and dropping; their beauty quickly fading! I really just want them to make it through the season, to December 31st! Did they get frost bitten? Poinsettias definitely don’t like the cold.


They can also be annoying. There is always one that straggles through the winter, continually needing to be watered and misted, long after the others have been relegated to the compost bin!



A Nostalgic Fragrance

A few days ago, as I approached the doors of a local grocery store, I became aware of a delightful fragrance ! (No, it wasn’t the aroma of freshly baked bread, or cinnamon buns). It was the  lovely scent of freshly cut fir trees, coming from the rows upon rows lined up by the entrance.

By having an artificial tree, I missed that fragrance in my home. That is, until I bought a safe, easy to use product called “Scentsicles”. I love them. They are hung discreetly among the branches of our tree, emitting the most wonderful tree aroma. (No more sooty, perfumed, and potentially, dangerous candles for me.)

I bought my “Scentsicles” at Michaels when they offered a 2-for-1 deal, but I have seen them at Canadian Tire as well. They are available in several fragrances, but I like the “White Winter Fir” scent best of all.