Saturday, December 29, 2018


Madelyn  (photo credit: Emily)

I guess this will be my last post of the year.  I get so disappointed  with myself when I see how I've slid down the side of the mountain in blogging.  This will make my 17th post for the year.  In 2011, I published 101.  Hmmmmm...I did achieve my goal and dream to write professionally by practice, discipline, and most of all, the sweet and encouraging comments from you, my readers.  

My long term goal was to write for the newspapers and ultimately syndicate.  And an even loftier plan was to freelance with magazines.  Things were shelved temporarily when I had my surgery in April.  I have to sit down and really make a plan, break it down into steps.  And I need to keep connecting with all of you; shorter and more frequent posts.  I read a blog post today written by La Table De Nana and she mentioned that she doesn't make resolutions or focus on goals for the coming year (not a direct quote), but she simply tries to do her best.  Isn't that perfect?  Isn't that all we really need?

Christmas 2018

I was really thrilled with the Christmas tree I hunted down this year.  First, I do this on my own.  I'll see a tree I like, The Husband will find his.  I usually win but in the last ten years or so I just go to our nursery alone and he stays home nice and warm.  ^^.  I became infatuated with those tall skinny trees that are so darn cute and the perfect size for my tiny little home.  The Noble fir isn't native to our area but can be shipped for a pretty penny from the PNW.  I went as far (and this is a huge far) in looking for an artificial tree, and perhaps white lights.  Again, very expensive.  I found this guy and even though it's a Douglas Fir, it is tall and skinny and even before the branches fell, it looked like it was surely from The Land of the Misfits.  Everyone that walks in the door comments on the Grinch tree and agrees it is very cool.  

I was overspending at Hobby Lobby one day and came upon white lights.  They weren't a fortune and  while I noticed they could be used indoors or out, I failed to comprehend what icicle lights are.  As I wrapped them around the tree, I untangled dangling lights every 14 inches or so and they fell nicely, draping over the lower and inner branches.  Alas, I ran out so I made a quick trip to Home Depot.  They only had one box left and the lights were on white coated wire so it would not look nice at all.  In asking two employees if they had anymore hidden in the stockroom, I told them how important it was as I had more than half the tree done.  The tree?  The Treeeeeeeee?!  Those are for outdoors, Missy.  I stood my ground and told them how gorgeous my tree was looking.  They looked at each other for a minute, and then the man said, "Wow, maybe we have a new thing going here."  Anywho, the white lights came off and the colored ones went on.  And I'm in love again.  Next year absolutely no artificial tree and possibly, no white lights.  

Master bedroom

I'm not one who rushes to take the tree down and pack everything away in a New York minute after the holidays, and that's only because I'm too lazy.  I have to smile, every year bloggers and Instagrammers discuss the socially permissible time to start holiday decorating, usually the weekend after Thanksgiving.  And then everyone gives their say as to when they take it all down.  Some say they hate the clutter.  Maybe they should have a little restraint the day after Thanksgiving.  ;-D

I tried my hand at a hot cocoa bar.  It was cute but not very much used.  Turns out little Madelyn doesn't like it although she was loving stirring the marshmallows around until they disappeared.  She is however, crazy about sweets and I have to hide my candy dishes and cookie jar when she comes over.  

Meg and Declan's, Christmas Day

As always, it was family celebrations in the days leading up to Christmas.  They are absolutely festive and fun and unwaveringly traditional.  Drinks, food, and a crazy grab bags where gifts can be stolen, sometimes several times.  The party at my son's house is absolutely nuts.  In this swap, playing cards are used to pick a gift in a particular order according to the card pulled, then the gifts are passed to the right or left or five persons down...mad.  The Husband's brother leads the game.  As a retired college professor, there is nothing he loves more than standing in front of a roomful of confused people making something once fun very complex.

Karen and Marty's, December 23

The girls are happy with a simple game of Spoons although throwing them is frowned upon.

At each party the food was incredible.  Marty and Karen served pulled pork and barbecued ribs.  My son hosted Christmas Eve and had Chicken Vesuvio, and on Christmas Day we went to Megan and Declan's for a crown roast of pork.  Everything was excellent.  My Christmas morning brunch was an absolute great time, but my egg casserole was a flop again.  It was undercooked as it was last year and I had to keep putting it back into the oven.  By then everyone had eaten Emily's cinnamon rolls and I had plenty leftovers from my epic failure that finally set after an hour and a half.  Anybody have a sure fire overnight egg casserole recipe?

Christmas 2018

We were so happy and grateful that we get that annual picture of Papa with his grand and great grandchildren.  Front row: Emily, Madelyn, Conor, Papa.  Middle: Maureen (Mo Mo), Elsie, Grace, Brooks.  Back row: Kevin, Patsy, Eileen, Abby, Jeff, Maggie, Liam, Tricia, Lizzie.

A shout out to my niece, Lizzie.  She's a senior at Villanova University in Philly, and has been a football cheerleader all four years.  If you've heard of the Wildcats, you'll know their outstanding record and how rousing the games are.  She recently cheered at Madison Square Garden.  Oh, the places you'll go!

Miss Mad

As another year nears it's end, I'm feeling as contemplative as Madelyn here.  Hmmmmm...what trouble can I get into?  What mishaps or broken bones will I face?  Will I lose my mind as Abby and Tom's wedding date approaches?  Will The Husband and I finally start to travel again?  Where will go?  He's retiring this summer---don't want to think about that now.

I had been trying to decide if I should go back to the gym.  I've signed up, paid my membership and parking fee three times and never lasted more than three months.  I so have to get in shape, especially in time for Abby's wedding in July.  I'll be happy with 25 pounds and slim arms.  I finally checked out the fitness programs on the premium networks and hit on one I really like.  The one I've tried is the 21 Day Transformation.  Please don't scoff at the title, I'm not settling for just 21 days.  There are many, many different videos from fat burning cardio to yoga.  I've been doing the cardio now for three days and I'm feeling pretty good that I'm stretching and twisting in a way I never thought I would after the back surgery six months ago.  I do it before lunch, in my pj's and in the comfort of my living room.  No getting dressed, warming up the car, working out in a class, so I'm optimistic.  And as you can see,  I did not wait for the New Year.  

I subscribed to Amazon Prime Network to get the fitness channels free, but you can rent them until you decide if you like the method.  If you have Netflix or HBO or whatever, they probably have fitness videos, too.  But I've been wanting to start watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which has such rave reviews, and a few episodes in I'm just loving it.  Any recommendations for other series on any of these networks?

This is the book I've been immersed in.  Ann Hood is the writer of The Obituary Writer, which I read years ago.  Excellent book.  She has two previous fictional novels that look really good.  Kitchen Yarns reminds me of the writings of the late Laurie Colwin and her stories of dipping her toes into the world of cooking and entertaining.  My link will take you to Amazon where you can read more about it.  Be ready to get hungry, recipes included!

So that's all for now.  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and cheers to a Happy New Year!

Jane x


Lorrie said...

A lovely post, Jane. You write such interesting anecdotes. Sounds like Christmas was a blast that went on for days. Ours was busy, too, and I had a quiet day doing very little today. So glad that your back is much better since your surgery. Have a wonderful start to 2019.


Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Sounds like a fun Christmas with all the family. So glad you are feeling better now. Happy New Year

Vicki @ lifeinmyemptynest said...

I'm down to blogging once or twice a week and it's all good. Write when you have something to say and we will read. I will never give up blogging for Instagram, because I need to write all the words, but quality over quantity is the way to go. P.S. I'm considering contacting my local Florida newspaper about writing something based on my blog for all the empty nesters and retirees here. You have inspired me!

A Whole Lotta Magic said...

Blogging was the 'shiny new thing' back in 2011. Now it's vlogging and YouTube (which I LOVE). I wrote Beach Bungalow back then and it was so much fun! Many of the bloggers from that time are no longer writing but a few still remain.
I enjoyed this post, Jane.
Happy New Year!

Vee said...

You covered all the bases. ☺️ I am glad that you have realized your dream of writing professionally. That is huge. So glad that we all like different things. The world is very dull otherwise. You have a beautiful family! (Don’t spend too much time fretting over what could happen in the new year. One thing is certain: plenty will.) Happy 2019!

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

It sounds like your holiday was wonderful. I love your sweet tree! Wishing you the best in 2019.

Mary said...

Jane dear - loved catching with all the news of your ever growing family, but most of all am thrilled your back is so much better now and that you can resume exercise. . . . . . . and of course, shopping, haha! Good luck with the wedding prep - that can be time-consuming and hair raising I'm sure - but you've had practice and seem to be so good at it all.

Good luck for the coming year regarding your writing/publishing - and of course wishing A all the luck in the world for a healthy, happy retirement. . . . . . .hope to see you in 2019 somewhere on the planet!

Happy New Year from us both XX

Susie said...

Beautiful Blondie, I have not gotten enough time to read all of the 17 posts you did this year. I always love your writings. I enjoyed seeing all the wonderful pictures of your family...especially those sweet little ones. I know you must be having lots of fun times with them. Since, Ted has been sick, I am not blogging as much. Once in awhile I get enough time to visit a few blog friends. I want to wish you and yours the best New Year ever. Blessings to you, xoxo, Susie

CJ said...

How lovely to see a post from you. Your Christmas sounds wonderful, and you've got some beautiful photos there. You've been doing so well with your writing for the paper, so don't worry about the blogging, so long as you are headed in the direction you want, that's really good. I need to do some yoga or something physical I think. I'm interested to hear about your programme, and so glad that you're able to do it after your back surgery, that's brilliant news. I'm wishing you and yours every happiness for 2019. CJ xx

Unknown said...

I love your Christmas tree, very sweet and of course Miss Mad picture, adorable:). That's what Christmas is all about, faith, family and food.
I'm happy your back is feeling much better.
The New Year will bring a wedding and a retirement, new beginnings:).
Keep on Journaling, I'll be reading,
Kathleen in Az

Junkchiccottage said...

Sounds like you had a very busy but fun Christmas. Family is what it is all about. I cannot believe how big Mady has gotten. Such a cutie. Wishing lots of good health, happiness and finding joy in your writing for the new year.

Scribbler said...

It is always like a visit with a dear old friend when I see your post pop up in my email. If Madelyn gets any cuter I can't stand it! About that egg casserole: try Southern Living 's website with "breakfast casserole" and see if anything pops up. Maybe a different recipe is in order.
You just told me something I didn't know: that Amazon Prime has workout videos! I plan to look (tomorrow). I dearly loved The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and hate that I have to wait a whole year for more! Look at "Derry Girls" for a feel-good series. It is not very long and ends on sort of a downer, but maybe it will come back again. (Either Netflix or Amazon, I forget)
I am trying to keep up with exercise since my physical therapy sessions ended. Doing pretty well, but sometimes I forget I am not 21 anymore. ��

Doreen@foxdenrd said...

Maddy is so precious, she could definitely be a child model. She also seems to have the personality for it which is super important.

LOVE Mrs. Maizel. I watched the entire last season recently and I think it was the best one yet.

Happy New Year Jane!


Lynne said...

I have said it before.
Reading your posts, whether once a week or two, three, four
is like sitting in a room with you, having a grand conversation.
Oh I like IG but a written post is much more personal, intimate . . .
Keep on, I love following.

Your tree is inspiring . . .
As I close the door on 2018, I find myself
filled to the brim with ideas for
something different for next year.
Such a personality your tree has ...
Love, love it.
Thank you, thank you . ..
I would save that tree, let the needles fall
and save it for next year.
Now that would be really different.

Happy heart as you open the days of 2019 . . .
It is going to be an exceptional year!

What fun little Maddie must be ...
So adorable . . .

Theresa said...

I am happy to see you whenever you post:) It looks like you all had a wonderful time together, lots of fun family time. I love your tree, mine is still up too and I am not in a hurry to take it down. I enjoy the glow of the lights! Have a blessed day dear friend, Happy New Year. I pray it is a great one for all of us! HUGS!

Jeanie said...

You said Laurie Colwin, so I'm in. If Ann Hood is like Laurie C., I love her already.

Your holiday looks beautiful, filled with fun. Wish we had more to do games with! And your family is lovely, the home so warm and inviting. Like you, I'm in no rush to take it down; I'll leave my stuff up till Twelfth Night (maybe get a small neighbor gathering in there this week!) and then still probably leave up two winter trees that aren't big but bring in that light. I love colored lights. I have some trees with white and it's ok for a chance but the colors are the best for me!

I don't think I want to go back to the gym but I have to do something so I think it will be back to Richard Simmons for me! I have a funny story about that but I'll have to blog about it -- too long for a comment! Cheers and a lovely new year!

Kim said...

Happy New Year, Jane! It's always fun catching up. The year has a way of taking us down paths we never saw coming, some good, some I love the "just do our best" mindset. After all, that's all we'd expect of others, I don't know why it's so hard to accept when it comes to ourselves. I need to exercise, too. Thanks for the tips and Miss Mad is adorable! Super sweet...enjoy her!

It's me said...

Wowww Jane ...What a big Family you have...always good to celabrete with them...🥂Happy new year 🥂 Ria 💕

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Your family Christmas sounds busy but oh so fun. I love all the photos of Madelyn but the first one is priceless. You can certainly tell that she was happy and surprised with the gift she was opening. I'm very happy to know that you back has healed enough to start exercising, just be careful. Wishing you a Healthy and Happy New Year.

Kit said...

Happy New Year! What a lovely holiday. Thanks for sharing all your pics. You have such a lovely family. :) Kit

Mereknits said...

Sounds like you have had a wonderful holiday. Happy 2019!

Debbie - Mountain Mama said...

Sounds like the most wonderful Christmas week, sweet friend!!! Your family is just gorgeous....and I hear ya about the 25 lbs and slim arms, yikes!! I need to get off my butt and start getting back into shape...the thought of it is terrifying, sigh. Happy New Year!

Jill said...

Love that first photo.... so precious! That is a wonderful series on Amazon... I'm just started season 2! I hope you have a wonderful new year with lots of good health, happiness and success!


handmade by amalia said...

What a beautiful family you have, Jane. I hope 2019 is wonderful to you all.

La Table De Nana said...

Had no idea you had such a big family! Beautiful!!
Happy New Year!
Thank you for the book recommendation..:)
I just don't get taking the tree down Boxing Day.LOL
So many baubles are put up..why so soon?I need those fairy lights;)

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

Jane, you sound like you had a wonderful and busy Christmas. Little Madelyn is not only cute, she is a gorgeous little girl and you really have a good looking family all the way round. Your tree is adorable. Reminds me of ones my grandmother used to put up. I do love faux but sometimes they are too perfect. Sounds you are onto a Happy New Year and keep up your good writing. Always enjoyable to hear from you..Happy New Year..Judy

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Debra@CommonGround said...

Your holiday get togethers sound like so much fun. I always love hearing about what you're up to. Glad you've made so much progress after your back surgery. Have a wonderful New Year, Jane. take care, sending a big hug your way. xo Deb

Decor To Adore said...

It sounds like a wonderful perfect year indeed! I don't make any resolutions, choose a word of the year, etc. Instead, I encourage myself and family to set enjoyable goals. My son made a list of classic movies he wants us to watch. I am working on trying to sew one classic dress a month. We'll see. The worst that happens is I maybe will have just one new dress versus 12. Happy New Year my friend!

Karen said...

Glad you're feeling better! Love your "christmas" post, beautiful pictures, and time spent together. Your tree is the perfect size, and I really do miss a real one. I think next year I'll go back to that.

Happy, Healthy New Year!

Jill said...

Happy New Year Jane!! Your brother in law complicating the game made me literally laugh out loud. I can imagine it! And your tree is fabulous. We haven't had a real tree in a lot of years because the artificial one I bought on clearance is so much cheaper and the needles plugged up the vacuum. But, someday I think we will again.

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

Finally catching up on some blog reading. As always, your posts are chock full of things to comment on, but first....the picture of Miss Madelyn - oh my! So cute! All of your celebrations sound wonderful - glad you had a happy Christmas season! As for Amazon - I'm loving Mrs. Maisel, but also binging The Americans -- it's fantastic. On Netflix, I'm watching Schitt's Creek - so funny. And on HBO (where I used to work for 32 years), My Brilliant Friend. (By the way, no exercise videos on HBO). And now I'm off to your next post! Happy New Year, Jane!

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

I hope you are feeling much better now, Jane! The antiquing day looks like a lot of fun! I love finding vintage Christmas at good prices. I store my smaller vintage ornaments in egg cartons...they stack well in boxes. I'm sorry to hear what you are going through with's just so hard. xoxo

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