Day 1: Create a Winter Playlist

Who creates a winter playlist at 11:30 at night, and then starts on blog posts? I do! I do because I made a commitment to myself, five years ago, to write and post daily. Plus I intended to launch a 7 Day Winter Hygge Challenge today, on the first day of winter.

These are my rules. I can choose to break them, or not. And I confess that I nearly chose to start the hygge challenge tomorrow. A long and full day focusing on other people who are dear to me took precedent today. No one would fault me for skipping a day of writing. It matters to me though.

Twice I stared into my jar with 15 folded slips of paper tucked within, feeling the minutes ticking by. Various activities awaited me. Finally I reached in and selected one. I made the right decision.

Day 1: Create a Winter Playlist

Winter Playlist

Of the 15 possibilities, this activity…Create a Winter Playlist…was the most doable in a limited amount of time. A playlist is simply a selection of songs grouped together. I have more than 300 songs on my iPhone to choose from.

Which songs inspire me as I head into a new year? Which ones create a cozy warmth around my heart?

In a few minutes I named my new playlist, added a photo I took recently of our one and only snowfall so far, and selected 19 songs.

Day 1: Create a Winter Playlist

An Eclectic Playlist

With the theme of winter guiding me, I pulled together an eclectic mix of songs. It’s the end of the year. A bright, shiny new year beckons, promising exciting adventures. Music accompanies me as I journey through this in between time.

I felt inspired to add a few Christmas songs, such as Winter Wonderland and Mary Did You Know? Music from the movie Frozen seems perfect for a winter playlist. Auld Lang Syne, by the bagpipe band Red Hot Chilli Pipers, gets the year off to a great start. My list is completed with additional movie soundtrack favorites, and a couple of Queen songs.

I’m grateful for this delightful hygge activity. And tomorrow I’m excitedto try out the winter playlist, as I embrace this new season.

Day 1: Create a Winter Playlist

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

I was honored to attend a Christmas tour this evening, in one of the most beautiful old homes in the area. My mother and sister Linda accompanied me. Don and Becky Freeman, the current owners of the Elijah Thomas Webb House in Webb City, graciously invited us to take a peek inside this grand home, decorated for the holidays.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

The Webbs of Webb City

Elijah (1851 – 1936) was the son of John C. Webb, the founder of the city that bears his name. John came to Missouri from Tennessee in 1856, settling on 200 acres. Eventually he acquired an additional 120 acres, part of which would later become the community of Webb City.

While plowing in a cornfield in 1873, John discovered lead. He quickly turned mining operations over to a partner, while he built a community. Webb platted the town of Webb City in July 1875. The following year, the Center Creek Mining Company began operations on Webb’s land. Miners flocked to the area. Most of them lived in nearby Joplin, which, at the time, was filled with gambling halls, saloons, and brothels.

However, the mine owners chose to make their homes in Webb City. The town was incorporated in December 1876 with a population of about 700. As the town grew, shops, hotels, saloons and businesses sprang up. In 1882 John and his son Elijah opened the Webb City Bank. John died the following year. Elijah continued to operate the bank and manage the family’s land and mineral interests, which were leased to numerous operators.

Having become a very wealthy man, Elijah built a magnificent Queen Anne style home during the last decade of the 19th Century. The house featured two stories with an attic and cupola, 12-foot ceilings, inlaid wood floors, three fireplaces, oak trim, and all the trimmings of a successful man of the time. This beautiful home continues to stand in the city today, a historic treasure that has been lovingly restored.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb HousePhoto from Victorian Elijah Thomas Webb Home Facebook Page.

Faithfully Restored

Mom, Linda and I arrived a few minutes early at the Webb home, so I could take photos before most of the guests arrived. Even in the dark, the exterior of the home is enchanting. Lights in the windows and on the front porch invited us in.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Don and Becky greeted us, and then encouraged us to wander through the house. We happily accepted the invitation.

Every room is faithfully restored, and filled with furnishing from the 1860s and 70s. Don shared with us that Elijah was allergic to carpet fibers. He created gorgeous wood floors instead. The detailing and the wood trim is exquisite. Themes inside the house, such as the carved fan shapes on the staircase, are carried outside onto the front porch.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

The wallpaper is hand printed, and while not original to the house, it is a perfect representation of the time period. Hot water radiators still provide heat. And air conditioning is rarely needed. The design of the house, with its high ceilings and transom windows above doors, allows for the circulation of air.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House I loved the wallpapered ceiling in the guest bath on the main floor!

Christmas Tour

Every room in the Webb Home sparkled with Christmas cheer. A variety of decorated trees graced rooms and nooks. In older homes the rooms are more intimate, more cozy, and doorways connect the spaces. That architectural detail allowed guests to circle through rooms this evening and ohhh and ahhh over the décor.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Fireplaces originally contributed to heating a home. They still can. Whether there’s a fire crackling within them or not, they add warm ambiance and draw the eyes when entering a room. Webb House has several such eye catchers.

Dressed for Christmas, the house features an impressive collection of large scale seasonal décor. Santa appears in one room. Carolers surround a lamppost in another. It was fun to wander through the rooms and be delighted and surprised.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Christmas Tour Continues Upstairs

How fun to tour the main floor and the upstairs. Up those magnificent stairs we went, to see what awaited us on the second floor. Trees shine in each bedroom, and a vintage silver aluminum tree occupies a corner of the wide landing. I laughed when I saw the leg lamp and BB gun, from the 1983 film, A Christmas Story, in a bedroom.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

The biggest surprise upstairs is the Nightmare Before Christmas room! This space, which is part of an extended bedroom suite, was originally a sleeping porch. It now serves as a family room, complete with a large screen tv.

Characters from the quirky Tim Burton animation fill this room. My family appreciates Halloween and this film, which is a blending of the two holidays. We loved this playful room.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Merry Christmas

We so enjoyed the Elijah Thomas Webb House Christmas Tour. I’m grateful that Don and Becky invited us to their home. Shortly after we arrived the rooms filled with happy people and the sounds of laughter and conversations drifted through the big old house.

What a labor of love. Historical homes require a great deal of research, work and time to restore them to their glory. They are so worth the effort. Every home has value. These old homes, however, are an important part of the area’s history. Their stories merge with those of towns and cities and the people who founded them.

Thank you, Don and Becky, for loving this home and caring for it. Truly, it is spectacular. And thank you for opening wide your doors and allowing others to appreciate the Webb Home as well, in all its Christmas finery. Merry, merry Christmas.

Christmas Tour at the Elijah Thomas Webb House

Drawn to the Light

Light is an important theme for me, during the month of December. During this season of the year, the days are short and the nights are long. Pushing back the darkness is accomplished in my home with strings of white lights and almost 100 candles.

Beyond those beacons of light, I am aware of being light to others. I’m conscious of sending out a beam of my own, that can light the way along life’s path.

Having spent a great deal of quality time with my grandchildren this month, I am acutely aware that I am also drawn. I am drawn to the light that their shining hearts and souls broadcast out into the world.

Drawn to the Light

Christmas Shopping

In the past 10 days, I’ve enjoyed spending time with my four grandsons and one granddaughter.

I take each grandchild out to dinner and Christmas shopping for their immediate family members. We practice this custom for their birthdays too although the emphasis shifts for Christmas.

Rather than spending money on themselves, like they do on their birthdays, the children spend money on others. I love watching them reason out what to buy, for whom. Their excitement after they’ve bought and wrapped their selections shines forth from bright faces and sparkling eyes.

Beacons of Light

These outings with the kids give us precious one on one time, when I can focus all my attention on one child. We talk and laugh. I encourage the kids to make decisions that are in alignment with what they want to do and who they are.

I like to think I’m showing them what living in joy and compassion looks and feels like. In reality, they are showing me what freedom looks and feels like, the freedom to express genuine delight in life. They remind me how important it is to play and to be creative.

I am drawn to the light of truth in them, to the ways they are learning to be who they are.

Drawn to the Light

Light of Truth

In the past weeks I’ve appreciated watching the kids shine.

One grandson is expanding his horizons as he continually takes the next right step for his life. He has a specific destination in mind and he inspires me with his unwavering determination to get where he wants to go. I love his fierce and inclusive heart.

Another grandson is mindful of his circle of friends. When I took him Christmas shopping he bought gifts for them as well. He did so not because he expected anything in return but because he wanted to surprise them and encourage them. I love his expansive and generous heart.

Grandson number three is showing first born tendencies by shouldering responsibilities and working to discover his strengths. He’s the child who cleans up and picks up before his mom gets home from work, cares for the pets, and checks in with his siblings to see if they’ve done their chores. I love his reliable and tender heart.

My youngest grandson teeters between childhood and the teen years. I’ve watched him grow in compassion and in the desire to succeed at whatever he does. His birthday happens to fall in December so we’ve enjoyed two Yaya and grandchild outings this month. He used $20 of his birthday money to buy canned goods for people who need help during the holidays. I love his entrepreneurial and compassionate heart.

My granddaughter is becoming her own unique person. She embraces the truth of who she is with courage and steely conviction…and a great sense of humor. Already she’s found her voice and she uses it to tell her story. Kindness is important to her, both receiving it and expressing it. I love her brave and creative heart.

Drawn to the Light

Drawn to the Light

During dinner tonight, Oliver and I discussed the winter solstice that occurs this Friday. We looked up what time sunset would occur…5:04 PM.

On that shortest day and longest night of the year, I’ll click on Christmas lights and light candles throughout the house. I’ll send Light out into the world, along with peace, hope and quiet joy.

In honor of my grandchildren I’ll light a candle for each of them and ask the Divine to bless them and guide them and surround them with the white light of love and protection.

And I’ll express deep gratitude for them. I am drawn to the light that shines brightly from Dayan, Jonathan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey. May I reflect those brilliant beams out into the world.

Drawn to the Light

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

How many times have you seen the classic holiday story, A Christmas Carol? Written by Charles Dickens and published in 1843, this timeless story is available in many different live action and animated versions.

Daughter Adriel and I have an annual tradition. We watch the 1984 George C. Scott adaptation together, something we’ve done since her birth the same year. Other family members join us some years. At other times, like this evening, it’s just the two of us.

You can catch thoughts from previous viewings here and also here. After watching this particular movie 34 times, is there anything left to share about this transformative journey type of story? Yes there is!

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

The 1984 film stars George C. Scott, Frank Finlay, Edward Woodward, Angela Pleasence, Roger Rees, David Warner and Susannah York. It was directed by Clive Donner and has a run time of 1 hour and 40 minutes.

A Christmas Carol is the story of a miserly, hard-hearted businessman, Ebenezar Scrooge, whose life is changed as he learns about compassion from three spirits who visit one Christmas Eve.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

Our Observations after 34 Years

We’ve seen this movie many times, and yet new insights pop up because we are different versions of ourselves each year. And some scenes continue to delight us, no matter how many times we watch them.

Here are our thoughts this year:

Pain Built a Wall

George C. Scott plays Ebenezer beautifully, capturing his intelligence, rigid yet regal bearing, and the pain he’s used over the years to build an impenetrable barrier around his heart. He holds people at arm’s length because at his core, he doesn’t trust anyone. Money making is his business and he’s very adept at acquiring wealth.

Adriel remarked that the older she gets, the more she appreciates the complexity of Scrooge’s character. “After all,” she quipped, “he isn’t entirely wrong.” That’s what I love about the character too. He possesses wisdom even when he lacks compassion. His words have the bite of truth, even if they are harsh.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

Love Still Gets Through that Wall

I noticed something new during the scene with Fred, near the beginning of the film. Scrooge taunts his nephew about Christmas, calling it a humbug for the first time. He even gets in a poke about Fred’s wife, who did not bring financial gain to the marriage.

Scrooge spars effectively with words. However when Fred mentions that he and his wife love each other, and implies that’s more important than wealth, the fight goes out of Scrooge. His eyes shift away and he abruptly ends the conversation.

As we later see in Scrooge’s past, he loved a woman once. Speaking of, thinking of love disarms him and ushers in regret.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

Fred is Adorable

Scrooge’s nephew Fred, played by Roger Rees, initially made us giggle during his scenes. He’s just so positive, in an almost goofy way, and extremely excitable. Playing party games at home with his guests he gushes so enthusiastically that he trips over his words.

Through the years, Fred has endeared himself to us. His curly hair threatens to overpower his slender face, however his good heart does shine forth brilliantly. He never stops believing in the power of love and acceptance and he’s confident his uncle will come around someday. We love Fred.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

Mrs. Dilber Will Always Make Us Cackle

This earthy character, played by Liz Smith, steals the scene in which she is selling Scrooge’s bed linens in a future scenario. Her sly expressions and the way she words her sentiments makes us laugh every…single…time. We don’t even fight it any longer. We simply enjoy her few minutes in the film.

This dear woman has been a part of our Christmas celebrations for many, many years. I looked her up as I wrote this section and discovered the actress died two years ago on Christmas Eve, at the age of 95. Somehow that date seems fitting for her exit from this world into glory. Bless her.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

The Ghost of Christmas Future

The Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House, affected our viewing of A Christmas Carol tonight. The creepy ghosts lurking about in Hill House made me peer into the shadows deep within Scrooge’s old mansion. If you’ve seen Hill House, you know what I mean. Barely detectable ghosts fill the dark places behind the main action in the story. Once you see them in an episode, you noticed them everywhere.

I peered harder into the backgrounds in A Christmas Carol. Although I didn’t see additional ghosts, I noticed how spooky that old house really is.

And the Ghost of Christmas Present, who has always bothered Adriel, made us think of Bent Neck Lady in Hill House. His creepiness rose considerably with that comparison.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

Honoring Christmas All the Year

I’m grateful for our 34th viewing of A Christmas Carol. I’m thankful as well that Adriel shares my love for this story. We look forward to our tradition each year.

Dickens’ characters and words inspire me, so much so that I had a shirt made with a quote from the movie.

MiliLou Styles created a long sleeved t shirt for me, with Scrooge’s tearful declaration toward the end of the story.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”

His words signaled a change in his heart, which opened wide again. He became a joyful and compassionate man, the person he was always meant to be. I applaud his transformation every December.

The shirt will serve as a reminder of Scrooge’s journey. I think I’ll wear it throughout the year.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

Love is All Around Actually

One of my favorite Christmas movies is the relationship film, Love, Actually. I watch it at least once every year. The movie follows various stories interwoven among characters that are connected in a variety of ways. Some enjoy family relationships while others explore fresh romantic encounters and still others deal with loss.

One of the stories involves an aging singer who attempts a “Christmas miracle” comeback. His song, Love is All Around, climbs in popularity as he promotes it in humorous ways. The song is the heartbeat of film.

What I discovered today, in ordinary circumstances and one humorous moment, is that love is all around, actually.

Love is All Around Actually

Eyes to See

This is a simple post tonight, about a simple truth. I see what I expect to see. If I’m anticipating problems or disappointments, that’s what I’ll encounter throughout my day. And if I expect beauty or joy, that’s what flows into my life, to validate my beliefs.

It’s not that I’m never surprised or taken back or dismayed by the actions of another or a great wrong in the world. However, my belief system dictates how I respond, overall. And when my heart is full, and desiring to see good, good is what I encounter most.

This is one of those basic but profound truths that perplexes us, when we have not yet seen the connection between our thoughts and reality.

Love is All Around Actually

Love is All Around

I looked for the good today. It was important for me to see love expressed in expansive yet concrete ways. And looking for it, I find it.

• It’s there in Greg’s actions, as he takes off work to care for his family.

• Quiet love is present in a beautifully serene setting in northwest Arkansas. And it is expressed by servers in a fun restaurant who make sure I am presented with a vegan meal.

• Staff and teachers at a school demonstrate high levels of love and care to one of my grandchildren.

• I have the opportunity to give love to and receive love from all five of my grandkids today. How precious is the love of a child.

• Love flows mingled with music tonight, at a grandson’s winter band concert. My heart is touched by a young man with special needs who performs with the eighth grade band. His love for music is evident. And his band mates and director love him, creating a place for him among them and in their hearts.

• Love is all around, actually…present in conversations, snuggles, smiles, actions, attitudes and hugs…present in large and small ways.

Love is All Around Actually

Love is Everywhere I Go

I thought of the lyrics to the song from Love, Actually throughout the day. These lines especially played in my head:

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes.

The love that’s all around me. And so the feeling grows.

It’s written on the wind. It’s everywhere I go.

So if you really love me, Come on and let it show.

Come on and let it show became my invitation throughout the busy day. Show up it did. This evening my heart spills over with love and gratitude…and mirth.

This afternoon love even showed up in an amusing way. In a public restroom, I happened to glance down at the floor. In such places it’s very common to see trash on the floor or bits of toilet paper torn off the roll and dropped.

The tile floor in this restroom was fairly clean. However, a lone piece of toilet paper lay on the floor and it caught my eye. Examining it further, I smiled, and sent out a ripple of gratitude.

That bit of torn paper resembled a heart.

I see what I expect to see. Look for love and I find it, in myriad ways. Love is all around, actually. It’s everywhere I go. Everywhere.

Love is All Around Actually

Note to Self…

Can you feel it yet? As the sands of time run out for 2018, and Christmas approaches, we can dip a bit, energy wise. This time of year is stressful for many people. Emotions can range from sadness to weariness to ecstatic joy…and everything in between.

I was reminded this evening, for this Sunday Short/Self Care Sunday post, to really care for myself during this busy season. I made a Note to Self.

Note to Self

Note to Self – Body Care

  1. Eat healthy foods and nourish my body.
  2. Get outside and walk in nature.
  3. Get plenty of rest. Go to bed at a decent time. Naps are okay!

Note to Self

Note to Self

Note to Self – Creativity in Action

  1. Play every day. Use my imagination.
  2. Write my stories and journal through my questions and challenges.
  3. See and appreciate the beauty in everyday things.

Note to Self

Note to Self

Note to Self – Soul Care

  1. Express gratitude daily…for everything.
  2. Say kind words to myself and to others.
  3. Keep my heart open…and full of love and joy.
  4. Do more of what makes me happy.

Note to Self

Note to Self

Note to Yourself

Are you caring for yourself, as you would a small child? We can get so busy with everyone and everything else that we allow our energy levels to plummet. If we are running on empty it’s difficult to offer to others. We have nothing left to give.

As we enter the last half of December, and the last full week before Christmas, may you be aware of yourself in tender and compassionate ways. I’m being very mindful of my energy levels.

Note to self…take care of me. Take care of others.

Note to Self

The Richest Place on Earth

The richest place on earth is not a bank vault or a gold mine or a collector’s stash of priceless art. I found it today, in an unexpected place.

When Greg and I needed to make a trip south into Arkansas, we seized the opportunity to return to Joplin on country roads. There was a reason we headed into the “boonies”. I wanted to stop at an old cemetery, and walk among the gravestones.

Some people are creeped out by cemeteries. They are, after all, the final resting place for the bodies of loved ones. Their souls are free however and not attached to these places. I find cemeteries fascinating, full of information and stories.

Myles Munroe shares a great perspective about graveyards. He wrote:

“The graveyard is the richest place on the surface of the earth because there you will see the books that were not published, ideas that were not harnessed, songs that were not sung and drama pieces that were never acted.”

The Richest Place on Earth

Concord Cemetery

I’ve been working on my family tree this past year, alternating back and forth between my paternal and maternal lines. Greg has been doing the same. I have the advantage of ancestors buried in cemeteries within 90 minutes of Joplin.

We altered our trip home slightly this afternoon so that I could visit Concord Cemetery in Barry County. This isolated spot is deep in the country, located on top of a hill surrounded by woods. I visited Concord in 1994 with an aunt, or I would never have known about this remote cemetery. Greg and I returned to this small graveyard the next year with two of our kids. On the way home we were involved in a serious car accident that altered my life.

Thankfully I have at last healed from the injuries and chronic pain that the accident caused. However, perhaps because of the negative association with the accident, I never returned to Concord Cemetery, until today.

It appears as it did in 1995…beautiful and lonely, with a restless wind that makes the surrounding trees sway and sigh. Sounds and movements beneath the trees draw my eyes repeatedly but I never see anyone or anything there.

The Richest Place on Earth

Finding Ancestors

My knowledge about my family has broadened since my last trip to Concord. I remembered where my family members are buried, however I wanted to search for gravestones with other surnames connected to my paternal lines. We decided to walk the entire cemetery, row by row.

With temperatures in the 50s and late afternoon sunshine slanting through the trees, walk it we did.

As it turned out, all my ancestors lay grouped together in the oldest part of the cemetery. It was interesting, however, to walk among the stones, reading names and birth/death dates. I remembered the quote about life being lived in the dash between those two dates. So many stories, celebrations, challenges and sorrows represented by a small horizontal line. Rather than feeling sad or morbid about that symbolic – , it made me thoughtful.

I found my people…Lauderdales, Antles and Joneses. In this old resting place I have great-great and great-great-great grandparents. Standing before their tombstones I recall fragments of their stories and long to know more. What brought them to Barry and McDonald Counties in Missouri? Why did they say “Here we will build our lives”? Did their spirits sense my presence and my questions, drawing them to surround me?

The Richest Place on Earth

Fulfilled Lives

We had time to stop by a second family cemetery near the tiny town of Rocky Comfort, in McDonald County. There we walked about a third of this larger graveyard. I quickly located my Lauderdale grandparents, Aunt Roxie, Aunt Glenda and cousin Jeffrey. My dad’s baby sister is buried near her parents. Little Margaret‘s tombstone reminded me that although her life was brief, it had a lasting impact on my father’s family.

Using information from my genealogy research, I located Hills, Kirks, Johnsons and Stipps. These are connected to my family lines. I know the Montgomery branch has a place on my tree as well. I’m still researching that line, which originated from Scotland.

As the shadows grew longer and the wind colder, we slowly moved back to the car. I thought about the words of Myles Munroe. Did any of my ancestors die with their songs still within them? Did they have ideas that they never developed? Dreams that did not materialize?

Beyond the richness of the cemetery, the land of unrealized potential, came a chorus of voices borne on the wind. Hundreds joined my family members, encouraging me onward.

“Enjoy it all. Seize this day…and the next one…and the next one. Don’t fritter life away, caught in regrets or should haves. Go for it.”

What a great cloud of witnesses. And what a powerful reminder to live life, that dash, to the fullest. This is the richest place on earth, indeed. My family, I will be back, to learn more.

The Richest Place on Earth

Rock Star? Oh Yeah!

Forgive me for a very brief post tonight, as this day ticks down to its final minutes. It’s been a very full day. And this is blog post number two tonight.

Due to the lateness of the hour, I scrubbed my original idea in favor of getting to bed an hour and a half earlier. As I finished a post for Journey With Healthy Me, I sent up the equivalent of an SOS to the Divine.

“Another idea, please?”

God, El-le to me, is exceedingly kind and gracious. Another idea was given.

Rock Star Oh Yeah

Rock Star?

I flipped through my photos, looking for inspiration, asking for a short story to create and post. My original post can be fleshed out over the weekend.

I looked through photos on my phone because that’s where I save quotes, memes, recipes, ideas, and interesting tidbits. Why? Because I never know when I might need inspirational motivation.

I found something that grabbed my attention, made me smile and then stirred my heart. El-le said “Ta da…there you go Dear Heart. From me to you.”

From Notes from the Universe:

Two of the most important questions, Cindy, for an aspiring Rock Star are:

1. How big do you want to be?

2. What are you now doing about it?

“Rock Star” being metaphoric for “travel around the world exploring and writing.” I just didn’t want to immediately flip you out.

See you at the stadium.

Rock Star Oh Yeah

Oh Yeah!

I needed that smile and the warm glow that encircled my heart, as I read those words.

They were beautifully presented, timing wise. I almost quit reading at the words “Rock Star”. Music is part of my life but I’m not rock star material.

Or am I?

I’m glad I kept reading. The metaphoric part, the “travel around the world exploring and writing” part, undid me. Oh yeah. Oh please.

How big do I want to be? Big. As in, I want to live a big life, not on a stage but in terms of embracing this magical life with gusto, grace and gratitude…and the freedom to move about.

What am I now doing about it? I’m taking baby steps, learning new technology, writing my heart out, listening to the Divine. The steps may seem small but they are consistently in the direction I want to go. Those baby steps are growing me in big ways and bringing me the results I seek.

Travel around the world, exploring and writing.

Yes. That’s it. I’ll gladly rock it! Listen for my music…

Rock Star Oh Yeah

Winter Hygge Ideas

Last spring I set into motion an intention to bring more coziness into my life, through the Danish custom of hygge. My desire sparked the idea of welcoming each season throughout the year with a week of hygge activities.

I met that intention by practicing hygge in the spring, summer and fall. With a seasonal change occurring next week, it’s time to gather winter hygge ideas, in preparation for a seven days of coziness.

Winter Hygge IdeasmHygge is Perfect for Winter

With its focus on living in the moment, finding beauty in simplicity and nurturing yourself and others with coziness, hygge is perfectly suited for winter.

It’s thought the word hygge comes from a Danish word meaning “to give courage, comfort, joy”. That definition inspires warmth and comfort, just reading the words. It is also speculated that hygge might originate from the word hug. Hug comes from the 1560s word hugge, which means “to embrace”.

I like both meanings, which combined would mean “to embrace the tradition that gives courage, comfort and joy.” That seems to sum up the practice of hygge well.

Winter Hygge Ideas

Winter Hygge Ideas

In keeping with the tradition I began in the spring, tonight I came up with 15 winter hygge ideas. I have a cat snuggled up on my lap, that I hate to disturb. So this evening I created a list. Tomorrow I’ll cut 15 slips of paper and write an activity on each one. Folded, those pieces of paper will go into a container.

I’ll reach in and draw out a slip of paper each day, for seven days, beginning December 21…the first day of winter. This type of seemingly random game is fun for me and grows my faith. I’m well aware that Christmas falls within that seven day span. It will be interesting to see how the activities play out.

As I considered a container for the folded papers, the vintage German biscuit jar came to mind. I love the idea of using the jar to hold activities that inspire coziness.

Winter Hygge Ideas

15 Activities

I will select from the following winter hygge activities;

1. Visit a local art gallery.

2. Create a vegan hot chocolate.

3. Build a bonfire.

4. Take a walk in nature, no matter the temperature, and take winter photos.

5. Try a new soup recipe.

6. Watch a favorite movie from my childhood.

7. Put together a fun, fresh layered look, using clothes I already own.

8. Have a cozy evening with warm pjs, a pile of blankets, a hot drink, a book and candlelight.

9. Create a winter playlist of songs.

10. Pick up a new pair of cozy socks.

11. Invite family to a game night with healthy snacks.

12. Write out intentions for 2019. Dream big and record thoughts in my journal.

13. Attend a winter festival, performance, play or concert.

14. Plan changes and additions to garden.

15. Learn something new, via an online course, book or in person class.

Winter Hygge Ideas

Living the Hygge Lifestyle

This year has flown by it seems. And yet when I take a look back, I see how much I’ve accomplished and how far I’ve come.

Wrapping up the year with a week of hygge activities ends 2018 in the best possible way, nurturing myself and creating coziness around me. It feels like a comforting hug, a warm embrace, to myself. Play along with me, creating your own list of winter hygge ideas.

Let’s welcome winter.

Winter Hygge Ideas

German Eglantine Biscuit Jar

There are a few weeks left in the year, to share two or three more stories behind vintage items I own. I rescued the German Eglantine Biscuit Jar. Greg’s grandparents had stopped using it and tucked it away in their storage shed. I had no idea what it was, I just thought it was uniquely pretty. As a newlywed, I displayed the jar for a while and then I too quit using it and stored it away.

After many moves and the passage of years, I recently uncovered the biscuit jar again. Thanks to Google, I now have the ability to learn more about this vintage treasure.

German Eglantine Biscuit Jar

Eglantine Biscuit Jar

The mark on the bottom of the jar has a crown over a stylized O and H, with the words “Germany” and “Eglantine” printed beneath.

Eglantine is a type of rose. This piece has dainty roses painted around the jar, and the handles and top of the lid are made from porcelain roses. The glaze finish is clear and gold details adorn the edges.

When Americans hear the word biscuits we imagine small fluffy rounds of bread, dripping with butter or smothered in gravy. However, in Europe a biscuit is what we’d call a cookie. This small exquisite beauty is a cookie jar!

German Eglantine Biscuit Jar

German Porcelain

The Eglantine Biscuit Jar is German in origin. The mark with the fancy O and H indicates Hermann Ohme manufactured it between 1920 and 1930.

The factory was located in the town of Nieder-Salzbrunn (today Sczawienko). Ohme mainly produced full dinner sets and accessories which were available in two types of finishes. Clear Glaze and Old Ivory wares were both made from the same quality of porcelain but the Old Ivory type received an additional light ivory colored matte glaze. The Clear Glaze, decorated with a wide variety of floral and geometric patterns, was produced for the European and US market.

In 1913 Hermann Ohme, E.M. Bauer and Hermann Ohme Jr owned the company. Together they increased production for the export market, which proved to be a fatal decision. While pushing those exports, they missed the beginning signs that indicated a financial crises was coming. When the bottom dropped out of the export business, shortly after the collapse of the stock market in October 1929, a world wide economic collapse began. The company filed for bankruptcy in 1930.

German Eglantine Biscuit Jar

German Ancestry

The significance of the biscuit jar, with its origins, is that Bill and Ruby Kygar Moore both had German ancestry. The Siegfrieds and the Kygars, whether they shared connections in Germany or not, definitely tracked together in America. Greg continues to research his family roots through Bill Moore’s mother was a Siegfried. And Ruby’s father, a Kygar. Several items passed down to us came through those family lines.

I am honored to be the keeper of the German porcelain pieces that include a Hertwig china doll, the biscuit jar and a Bavarian china bread tray, seen in the picture. Traditional cookies aren’t part of my diet any longer. However, I have several healthy, plant based cookie recipes. Perhaps that biscuit jar will enjoy a new life, holding a different kind of treat.

Tonight, the jar cradles a tea light candle. I’m on Pinterest though, searching for healthy versions of traditional German cookies. How fun will baking those be?

German Eglantine Biscuit Jar