Day 360: My Own Egg Nog Day

egg nog

Eight days ago, when I enjoyed egg nog ice cream, I made a mental note about the upcoming National Egg Nog Day, with the intention of sampling a “grown up” egg nog drink for the first time. Except my mental note was faulty and the day, which also happened to be Christmas Eve day, came and went and I forgot about it. Actually, I forgot which date it fell on, thinking it was right after Christmas. Oh well. I decided to declare today my own Egg Nog Day, and proceed with my plan to have a cup of the traditional Christmas drink.

While I was out running errands this afternoon, and taking care of both daughters’ pets, I decided to stop and pick up the ingredients for my treat, to be enjoyed later in the day. What I didn’t think about was that on the day after Christmas, I might have a hard time finding egg nog at all. Four stops later, I finally left with a grocery bag containing a carton of non alcoholic egg nog and a very small bottle of Captain Morgan rum. As a child, I enjoyed egg nog during the holidays. The taste is very distinct and has remained lodged in my memory. I have never sampled alcoholic egg nog and although I don’t often drink alcohol, truly preferring my hot tea, I wanted to experience it as a first.

egg nog ingredients

It was the perfect evening for this first. The day has been overcast, windy and rainy. With a couple of books calling my name, it was time to settle in under a warm blanket and read. I poured a cup of egg nog into my favorite mug, and sampled it to get a base line reading! Then I added a heavy splash of rum and sprinkled nutmeg on top. It looked lovely! I failed to stir my pretty drink and so the first taste was almost all rum. Wow. After a good stirring, it tasted smooth, creamy and yummy. Success.

egg nog and books

I enjoyed sipping this Christmas drink while curled up in my chair, a book on my lap and another open in my hands. What a cozy evening and a perfect end to this day. I bought the smallest container of egg nog that I could find and likewise the smallest bottle of rum, so I have maybe one more cup of egg nog to savor on another evening and then I’ll tuck this memory away as well.

I found it amusing that as I was scrolling down through Facebook posts in my newsfeed, I found a post, which I failed to save, that said: “Pirate Egg Nog….RUM”. I have only a tiny amount of rum in my egg nog, making me not much of a pirate. It also dawned on me that Captain Morgan has the initials CM….same as mine. I love how all of life is connected!

egg nog CM

Day 359: Christmas 2014

christmas 2014 logo

I love Christmas time….the magic of the season, the deeply spiritual meanings, the time spent with family…all bring joy and peace to my heart. This year, in keeping with the theme of new experiences, we had a different type of Christmas.

Oh, we gathered together as a family, and as always, we had a wonderful, cheerful time. For the first time ever, one of my children was not present. She had the opportunity to spend Christmas in Georgia, with her dear friend Nate and his family. And I’m so glad Adriel, who loves tradition, stepped out of her comfort zone, and accepted their invitation. We gathered at her house anyway, Nathanael and Megan, Elissa and Josh with sons Dayan and Jonathan, and my sister Linda. I’m pet sitting for my daughter while she is away and she gave us permission to celebrate in her home, as we have the last couple of years. We had a non-traditional Christmas dinner. Greg picked up a variety of smoked meats from Rib Crib and we had appropriate sides such as baked beans, mustard potato salad, rolls, a veggie tray with ranch dressing, deviled eggs (thanks Megan!) and a relish tray. The meal was finished off with Dutch Apple pie and pecan pie.

christmas 2014 adriel and nate

Nate and Adriel in Georgia

Just as I was missing Adriel, Elissa had the brilliant idea to Facetime her and Nate. We spent a hilarious 10 minutes talking to Adriel and Nate as they peered into the phone. We all waved and chattered and the phone got passed around so we could wish our absent family members a Merry Christmas! I love that technology can keep us closer and I’m so grateful for the ability to see people as we talk, who are miles and miles away. We missed Aubrey, Joey and Oliver, who were spending the evening with their other parents. I’m so glad I got to see them last night and spend a few minutes with them.

christmas 2014 elissa talking to adriel

Elissa on Facetime call with Adriel

After opening presents, which I won’t speak of, since Adriel and Nate have not received theirs yet, we chatted for a while, laughing over stories. Dayan’s recent hilarity at his high school musical is probably the family’s top funny story for the year. Nate shared a recent tale about Aubrey, complete with a picture to illustrate it. I love that our family laughs so much together. I love that we can be so easy and relaxed with each other. Love flows as richly as conversation and storytelling and laughter. I am deeply blessed.

christmas 2014 megan and linda christmas 2014 the guys

Megan and Linda                              Josh, Nathanael, and Dayan

Greg surprised me with special gifts that relate to my word for next year. He gave me a box of chocolate covered cherries, which I have always loved, and have nothing to do with next year. And he gave me a hand lettered sign with the word “journee” on it. He was concerned that I would think he didn’t know how to spell “journey”. I knew immediately the significance of the word. Journee is the Old French word from which we derive our word journey. It literally means “a day’s travel”. This word is from the Latin diumum meaning “daily portion”. I love that. More about my word, theme and symbol for next year on January 1, however, I am thrilled with the sign. He also gave me a gift card to Books A Million with the Dr. Seuss quote, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”  Again, an acknowledgement of my path for next year. I am grateful!

christmas 2014 jonathan e


(forgive the poor quality of my iPhone pic!)

When I was a child, the day after Christmas was the saddest day of the year for me. A whole year to wait until Christmas rolled around again. I no longer feel sad after the holidays. I keep the spirit of Christmas alive in my heart all year. Each day brings its own gifts and blessings, mine to receive. I am content with the journey, and Christmas will arrive again, at the perfect time.

christmas 2014 gifts

Oh, the places I will go, indeed!

Day 358: Christmas Eve Tea with Nutella

Christmas tea

What a beautiful Christmas Eve day! I finished my shopping, just in time, and purchased food for tomorrow evening’s Christmas dinner. After working on gifts, which turned out wonderfully I must say, and wrapping presents, it was time for a well deserved break.

I enjoyed the comforting ritual of fixing my afternoon tea. I used Mimi Leta’s Thistle pattern tea cup and saucer. Greg bought me a selection of delectable cookies that are perfect for tea time. And today, for my first, I tried a product that I’ve seen around for a very long time but have never tasted. I almost hate to admit it, because some of my friends are crazy about Nutella, but I’ve never tried it, until today.

Nutella is an Italian hazelnut-chocolate spread, similar to peanut butter, but sweeter. It was first introduced to the market back in 1964, by the Italian company Ferrero. It was an instant success and remains widely popular today. I was a kid back in 1964. I’ve heard of Nutella all my life and I’m not sure why I’m just now getting around to sampling some. It’s never too late, though, is it? I bought the Nutella & Go package, complete with little bread sticks, which made an easy and great addition to my tea time.

Christmas tea nutella

And, I like Nutella. I’m not a big fan of chocolate, so I think I still prefer peanut butter, but for tea time, it was perfect. I know there are all kinds of recipes using this hazelnut-chocolate spread and all kinds of food to spread Nutella on. I’ll have to do my research.

This year, on May 14, the Italian post office issued a 50th anniversary Nutella commemorative stamp. Ferrero celebrated the anniversary on the 17th and 18th of May. There is even a World Nutella Day, which is February 5 each year. Who knew?  I do now, and I’ll enjoy adding Nutella occasionally to afternoon tea.

I enjoyed the new treat today. Most of all, I enjoyed a quiet time of reflecting on the blessings of the day and this time of year, as I sipped my hot tea. There was more gift wrapping after my break and a happy visit to three of my grandchildren, whom I will not get to see tomorrow. Ready for bed in colorful pjs, their bright faces and warm hugs were a wonderful reminder of all that is right with the world. My visit was brief, so they could get tucked into bed. I left with their cheerful Merry Christmases ringing in my ears and their love surrounding my heart. And I returned home under a gorgeous, clear, star filled sky. Silent Night, Holy Night, All is Calm, All is Bright.

Christmas tea starry night

Day 357: A Series of Fun Firsts

spread the joy

Today was a busy day full of travel and family and fun. Rather than focus on one first, I experienced a series of firsts, and just allowed the day to unfold. This was a “roll with it” kind of day, full of joy.

I got an early start on the day by taking my daughter and her friend to the NW Arkansas Airport this morning to catch a plane…ultimate destination Georgia. After hugs goodbye and wishes for safe journeys, Greg and I used the GPS to locate the nearest Barnes & Noble Bookstore. I wanted to pick up a few gifts and I just plain enjoy browsing among the shelves and shelves of books. Joplin doesn’t have a Barnes & Noble. I have to go to Springfield if I want to shop in this amazing store. This was my first visit to the Rogers, AR, store and Greg and I spent a pleasant hour looking and shopping.

barnes and noble

After lunch with Greg’s dad and an afternoon of chatting, we headed back to Joplin. We picked up grandson Dayan and shopped for essentials at Walmart to make Christmas surprises for the family. Dayan and I used to shop together for store bought gifts, however the last four years we have created gifts together. We have fun and well, now it’s a tradition! With everyone’s busy schedules it was coming down to the wire but this evening, we made it happen. We grabbed Subway sandwiches on the way out of the store and in keeping with new experiences, I had a meatball marinara sub for the first time. Delicious.

Subway meatball sandwich

Dayan and I combined gift making with watching a couple of episodes of Dr. Who, the 9th Doctor. These stories are all new to me, and Dayan is enjoying watching the older seasons again with me. “Empty Child” was, as Dayan promised, one of the creepiest episodes. In 1941 war time London, a four year old child, wearing a gas mask, wanders the streets of the city, crying for his mum. He makes phones ring and toys turn on and radios blare just by his presence. And anyone who touches him, becomes like him, not quite dead and not quite alive. As the episode wound down I was wondering how they were going to conclude the story….and discovered it was a two part episode! Dayan is so good to watch movies or TV with….he never gives anything away! He laughed when I said, “Nooooo….”. We will catch part two very soon. I must know what happens!

dr who empty child

Dayan and I had fun creating the gifts he will give away and what we made was a first also. However, to do as well as Dayan does at not giving away surprises, I will just say, it’s a great gift and he did a fantastic job! Dayan is so thoughtful and I love working with him in creating surprises. With four younger grandchildren, this will be a tradition that I will continue with them.

The day was full of joy. Before I left the house this morning, I was reminded that the more joy I share, the more joy returns to me. Yes, these days can be hectic and stressful and overwhelming, if that’s the way I choose to see them. I don’t. It’s my choice, and since I am 100% responsible for what I am experiencing, I choose to see them as fun, interesting and full of joy. And, that’s exactly the kind of day I had. Joy to the world….and joy to me!

christmas surprise

Day 356: Have a Coke on Me

Have a coke 2

Today, three days before Christmas, Joplin streets were congested with heavy traffic and stores were filled with holiday shoppers and busy clerks. I spent a good part of the day participating in the bustle, almost completing my holiday shopping and enjoying some time with Aubrey at her favorite hang out spot, Chick Fil A on Range Line.

After Aubrey headed home, I finished up my day, making several stops. Along the way I decided today was a good day to do a first I’ve had on my list for a while, a pay it forward that offered an anonymous treat for someone, perhaps a tired shopper or a worker who needed a little break.

I dropped eight quarters into a clear plastic bag and included a note that encouraged the one who found the bag to enjoy a Coke on me. I taped the little package to a coke vending machine at a busy retail center. Because we’ve had drizzly rain all day, I chose a vending machine in a spot that offered protection from the weather and was well lit.

I loved doing this pay it forward this evening. I didn’t stay around to see how quickly the change was discovered and who the recipient was, although that might have been fun. I taped the baggie to the bright red vending machine and left, with a grin on my face. I hope someone who needed a bit of a pick me up found the quarters and used them. And I hope they opened the note card. Inside I simply printed, “Pay it Forward!”

Have a coke e


Day 334: Fresh Christmas Wreath


Today’s first was a simple one, and very much a spontaneous moment. The weather was perfect early in the day, reaching the mid 60’s before a cold front moved through, sending the temps plummeting. I decided to go get a Christmas tree while it was still warm. I won’t be decorating the tree for a couple of days, but at least it was pleasant selecting it at Lowe’s Garden Center.

Greg graciously accompanied me with his truck to load the tree in the back. Last year I bought a small Fraser Fir Pine tree and LOVED it. I’ve purchased fresh Douglas Firs for years, usually 6  – 7 feet tall. But last year, wanting to change up the tree decorations a bit, and to conserve space, which is limited in my living room, I bought a shorter, smaller,  Fraser Fir and enjoyed it so much. I embraced my new tradition today and immediately found the perfect tree. As we were headed to the check out, Greg asked me, “Do you want a fresh wreath?” I’ve never had one before. I’d been admiring them at the front of the garden center. I love a fresh Christmas tree because of the way it makes my whole house smell wonderfully woodsy. I have nothing against artificial trees….I just prefer a fresh one for my own enjoyment.

The wreaths smelled just as wonderful. They were crafted from several types of evergreens, including fir trees, and have pinecones and little blue berries on them. When Greg offered to buy one for me, I said yes! I selected a wreath and brought it home. I switched out the fall wreath hanging on the front door for the Christmas one. Every time I enter the house, I inhale the scent and sigh, happily. What a perfectly simple and beautiful first.

Before the weather turned cold, I cleared the front porch of the fall items. That covered area is now ready to be decorated for Christmas. Inside the house, I packed away some of the fall décor and began cleaning. Greg climbed a ladder and handed down boxes of Christmas decorations.

This week I intend to move slowly, from room to room, cleaning, fluffing, and decorating. I don’t want to purchase any new items, but use what I have, in different ways. This year I’ve enjoyed keeping pieces out and moving them to a new location or combining them with different items for a fresh look, as I’ve decorated for each season. So some of the spring items, rather than all going back into storage, transitioned into fall. And those will now appear in my Christmas décor. The bird cages and birds especially will feature in my decorating.

I love this time of year. Partly it is because of Christmas and the way my home looks….so many candles flicker in my house that it raises the temperature on the thermostat! I look forward to time spent with family and friends. I spend time in silent meditation, grateful for the reason for the season and my spiritual journey. Also, December is a transitional month for me and I use this time to reflect on the past year, and release it. And I begin to think about next year and all that will unfold. It is a quiet, refreshing, magical time. I will have much to reflect on, as I finish up this incredible year of firsts. And, I am so excited about the upcoming year. My word, theme and symbol are all coming together, seeking me out, drawing forward into the next adventure. All will be revealed….soon!

Day 328: Christmas Jars

Christmas jars

Today’s first was a simple, fun project. When I was debating what to do this afternoon, among several possibilities, this first was the one that took hold in my mind. I know…it’s not quite Thanksgiving. No, that doesn’t matter to me! I love fall colors and decorating. And, I really love that it transitions to the holidays. I enjoy my Christmas décor so much. The autumn items, rust and gold candles, and pumpkins give way to reds, greens, silvers and touches of blue. My Santa and snowman mug collection comes out. The 60 year old nativity set is placed carefully on a shelf. Lots of candles, mostly creams and whites, replace the spicy scented ones. And my snowmen, miniature trees, and assorted other items get unpacked.

I love the way my house looks during this precious time of year. Every room transforms. And yet, the décor is simple, whimsical. This year, I especially want it to remain simple. I look forward to creating Christmas vignettes in the same vintage pieces I’ve been creating in all year….the old suitcase, the round wooden sieve, Pop’s army trunk. I have plenty of items to decorate with. I don’t intend to buy more stuff, rather I intend to artfully use what I already have, perhaps in new ways. Although I take pictures of the holiday décor each year, in case the following year I pick up an item and think, “Where did I place THIS last year?”, the fun for me is to mix things up, display different pieces together, create something fresh.

Christmas jars dark tree

My project today was one I’ve wanted to do before. Using mason jars, which I keep on hand, I created simple yet pretty Christmas jars. Two of the jars, a large one and a small one, hold plain white votive candles nestled in Epsom salts. The salts are so inexpensive and have fine slightly glittery grains that perfectly imitate snow. Some jars hold tiny Christmas trees with little flecks of fake snow or glitter on them. I found these in the dollhouse section at Hobby Lobby, and they and the little dark tree with the star on top were the only items I purchased, spending less than $6.00. I repurposed a rectangular clear glass vase by adding Epsom Salts and two trees.

Christmas jars grouping

I love my little grouping. When I went shopping for the miniature trees, I had intended to purchase only the green trees. Then I spied the lone dark glittery tree, topped with a star, among pink and purples trees. I felt drawn to the small dark tree. It was 50% off, so I bought it. I really like the way that one looks in the jar.  I wrapped the top of each jar with natural and rust colored raffia and added silver and black jingle bells.

In less than an hour, my project was finished. I lit the candles briefly, to appreciate the effect. Beautiful. Over the next few days, the transformation will begin. I look forward to slowly, thoughtfully, moving through the house, cleaning and decorating, with an emphasis this season on repurposing. I’ll enjoy every moment, and surely find some firsts to share!

Christmas jars candles lit