Monday, December 11, 2017

More Christmas Decorating and a Flood of Memories


         "Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life."  Anne Rophe

We have 2 large trees in our home each year, this one is in our sunroom and we decorated it this Sunday. Each and every ornament was given to me by my mom from her Victorian tree a few years back. As I was standing there with Jerry and my girls I tried so very hard to hold back my tears.... but I couldn't and I just let them flow... the pain still so very fresh.... the loss of such an amazing woman.... the grief overtaking me and my family by my side...understanding. She is in every aspect of my life. I miss her every single day.



While this tree represents her in so many ways, the memories all good are helping me to get through... not easy, but she would want me to carry on and live for her and my girls and I do each day.


                                                 More outside light pictures coming soon!


We have another tree decorated in our family room that holds ornaments representing so many memories. First Christmases and so much more. In fact, we rotate each year because we have so many good memories from special moments we can't fit them all on the tree. We are blessed by the gift of strong family and it's something I will always treasure.

The little house down in front of the tree plays the story of the night before Christmas. My mom also gave me that years ago for the girls and we all love it. it's a tradition to play it each year.



Our Elf on the Shelf Bobalina came back this year and then Kathleen wanted to add Bobith and he can be a little trouble maker! ;-)



                      Poor Bobalina! I'm pretty sure Bobith had something to do with this, lol!


                                                                       Meet Bobith.....


                   Our mantle this year and Kathleen decorated the bottom half for the elves :-)


                           Kathleen also wanted to set up our Christmas village in the window :-)


               Love the softness of the light and peacefulness of our favorite candles burning.....



Each year we set out this candy dish given to us by the Weiss family, good friends of ours from Pennsylvania when we lived there. We miss them so much! We think of them all the time and remember them at the holidays too each time this piece comes out. :-) Hershey kisses are one of our favorites so we keep it filled for our guests this time of year.


                                                   Some decorating in my dining room....


We entertained friends the other evening so the Christmas setting was made, my girls setting the table this year to await our friend's arrival.


  Kathleen spent time creating hand made name cards for everyone. Each card had something on it that the person liked. :-)


When shopping at Lowes the other day they had this display still up from Santa's visit so we were sure to get pictures. :-)


I had to laugh at Kathleen..... lol after we came out of the restaurant after eating lunch she was holding these mini umbrellas over her head as the snow was falling down.... Love this girl... she always makes me smile!


And last for now.... I ordered a planning kit on black Friday and it arrived the other day from this Etsy shop called Thread Heads Design. She makes the most adorable items! It's a cute set of items I will be using for my planners and scrapbooking :-) A little Christmas treat for me :-)   :-)   :-)


                        How is your Christmas planning coming along? Ready? Any big plans??
               Thanks for stopping by today... always a pleasure reading your comments and emails.

                                                                              Blessings,
                                                                                   Jill

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Welcoming Our Bird Friends, Jerry's New Projects, and Christmas Decorating

"To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter... to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring- these are some of the rewards of a simple life"   John Burroughs

Feeding birds is another favorite thing of mine to do. I love seeing them come to the feeders and there are so many different kinds to enjoy. Such a peaceful sight to see. Although the weather has still been fairly warm here, we've had a few temperature dips, so I set up the feeders for them. Sunflower seeds to start as that is one of their favorites, especially bluejays and also suet to attract several other varieties.


The biggest challenge of feeding the birds is trying to keep all the squirrels away! They sure a persistent! ;-)





My sister sent me this beautiful tea pot bird feeder. I was so hesitant to put it outside because it is so pretty! :-)

I always make sure they have fresh water in the bird baths too. They enjoy it so very much, the fresh water to drink and they have a blast taking baths in them throughout the year. This bird bath I've had for many years. Jerry bought it for me when we got our first house in NC about 19-20 years ago! We've painted it a few times then just gave up and let it go towards natural weathering....


This one we bought last year and I just love the hummingbird designs on it. They are one of my favorites and were always a favorite of my moms.


These bushes were planted by the previous homeowners and I believe they are a type of Nandina plant. Which if so I need to get rid of them even though they are pretty because they are poisonous to the birds. Anyone have any experience with these?


Jerry has been working on a lot of projects around the house. He recently build this pier over our pond. Sadly the water in our pond has been very low, we need rain so badly. The only good thing was the water was low enough for him to build this ;-) He plans to make a memorial bench for his brother Patrick who we lost in 2011 and is deeply missed every day.

We have also been enjoying the fire pit he put in. We've had one at almost every house we've lived in. We love sitting around a cozy fire and just relaxing and catching up with friends and each other.


The hammock we found at a yard sale for $15.00! :-) The spool we use right now as a table for drinks, etc. until we get something to replace it. In the background on the right you can see my gazebo he built for me and to the left is the recent swing set he built for us. We plan to add a tire swing to it too.


Three swings to the left and a porch swing added to the right :-) So relaxing to come out and sit and overlook the pond.


The other day it was so beautiful I took some time to sit out there and enjoy my new book I'm reading called The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan. It is really good so far I'm a few chapters in. :-)


                                         Despite the odds my little hyacinth is growing!


Here are a few more pictures of the new pier. Just big enough to sit and relax on and for him to fish with Kathleen by his side.


You can see better in this pictures below how low the water level is. A neighbor said they have lived in this neighborhood for 60 years and have never seen it get that low. We need a few days straight of just good, solid rain.


                                       It's sad and I worry for the wildlife that lives in there....



The Christmas decorating has begun and as soon as Kathleen added this table runner and the snowmen Mirabelle climbed up to take a nap, lol. You see that look... apparently I was disturbing her :-)


I will have to do an updated picture here as I forgot to take a picture AFTER I hung up the wreath... lol. This is our front porch and the wooden signs Jerry made for me last year as a gift.




I have more holiday decorations to show soon, but for now I will leave you with one of my favorite recipes for banana cake that I made into muffins for Jerry's work. :-) Here is a link to a prior blog post from when we lived in Ohio and at the end of the post is the recipe. Enjoy!!


                                                               Have a wonderful weekend!!

                                                                                Blessings,
                                                                                     Jill

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thanksgiving and Kathleen's 12th Birthday

"Never regret a day in your life: good days give happiness, bad days give experience, worst days give lessons, and best days give memories"  Author Unknown

This year we celebrated Thanksgiving at my parent's new home. They moved in at the end of June 2017 after spending their whole life in MD. to be closer to us as we have lived far apart for many years. We had so many plans.... then at the end of July is when mom passed away suddenly. The unfairness still sits on me.... she was really excited about having Thanksgiving in her new home so we wanted to honor that. My sister, her husband and my niece came to celebrate the day with us.  We kept the celebration small this year as we knew we'd be dealing with our grief. Although very grateful they were here, the day was not the same without my mom and all her special touches. There were lots of tears.... I know it takes time but there is a huge hole in my heart from her loss. I do my best to focus on the good things and the good memories.

This photo shows how involved mom and dad's dogs were with the menu, lol. Stella was keeping a close eye on Jerry in the kitchen throughout the day.


This is Stella again and Henry is to the right. My mom sure loved those dogs and I know they miss her too.


Our good friend Lynn gave me this pie stand and Kathleen made the pumpkin pies this year. They were delicious!


The girls got to hang out a few days as Hayley and Kathleen spent the night there to spend time with Neve. They don't get to see each other very often. They all enjoy doing arts and crafts :-)


We also celebrated Christmas with them on Thanksgiving. It's become a tradition since we don't see them much due to distance.



Neve was very happy to receive this painted picture of her friend Vinnie that does plays for the school. Hayley painted a portrait of them from a photograph.


My dad and Neve after we were done all the festivities, he was pretty tired :-) Love this picture of them. I know the day was very hard on him as well.


This was Jerry's gift, he was pretty happy about it, lol. He's not really a drinker only when we have company he likes to sit and enjoy a beer or two. :-)


             This is a close up of Henry. I love him so much, he has quite a unique personality!


This picture my sister actually took of my niece Neve and I love it! She's so beautiful :-)


Another gift Hayley made for an early birthday present for my sister her (birthday is in January) was inspired by the artist Eevian Tan. Below is a picture called Sleepless from Eevian, the style is what inspired Hayley to do her picture for my sister.

                                              (Sleepless by Eevian Tan image from Google)

This is a painted picture Hayley did of my mom and my sister. We all cried when she revealed it. She really captured them and is so talented. I've always loved art too but haven't sat down to draw in a long time.... I need to do that sometime soon....My mom was an amazing artist and I think Hayley has inherited a lot of her talents. My mom would be so very proud...


Love these three so much! In the background over the fireplace is another portrait Hayley did of my mom for her memorial service.


My sister sent this photo to me of the girls in the car enjoying the light show near us. My sister and her husband took them this year. :-) I'm so glad they were able to spend some time together and do something special.


This year we didn't have a party for Kathleen for her birthday since last year she had a big one and next year is her 13th! So this year we had presents for her and she wanted to go shopping and to the arcade to celebrate. :-) These presents are from us and Hayley.


           This is actually a little lamp that changes colors and she loves it! Hayley got it for her.


She was quite excited about this gift we got her. You can make bracelets and add names, sayings, etc by weaving them in.



If you've never had a Scentsy buddy you don't know what you're missing, lol. The smell in these last forever!


One of Kathleen's favorite things is hot cocoa so when we saw this shirt in Justice we just had to get it for her!


She is totally my mini me. lol. Love her so very much! I treasure every moment I get to spend with her.


Both these girls are my whole world and I couldn't be more proud of them and the young ladies they are becoming.


This man.... he's my whole world too.... we've been through so much together, love him with all my heart. :-)


My dad and Kathleen as we were heading out to celebrate her birthday! Kim, Brent and Neve came too.


When we got to the arcade it was set up for someone else's birthday party, but I took a picture of her in front of the banner, it worked out perfectly ;-)


                                           Arcades always put a big smile on her face :-)



                                      Jerry enjoys going and playing the games too, lol. :-)


                              She hit a lot of jackpots throughout the time she was in there.



She had so many tickets she was able to get 2 minions and gave her extra tickets away to 2 little boys that were there. She has always been very giving. One minion went home with her cousin Neve. :-)


Of course we had to get a treat and do some shopping in the stores before we left. Books a Million was one of her requests to go in. :-) She loves to read as much a s I do!



Later we came back home, ordered some dinner from one of our favorite local restaurants and then celebrated with cake and ice cream!


                   Her final request to wrap up her special birthday was a campfire and smores :-)


   Something so peaceful and calming about a campfire..... I've always enjoyed sitting around them.


       
        Happy, happy 12th birthday Kathleen and many, many more!!! Love you so very much!!!!!


                                                                         Blessings,
                                                                               Jill