Friday, December 31, 2010

HaPpY NeW YeAr EvErYoNe!



I hope everyone has a very Happy New Year! Goodbye 2010 and welcome 2011!!

As I reflect about my 2010, I realize 2010 wasn't a bad year overall for our family. We had some things that were not so great but overall it was pretty good! I think the not so great things were outweighed by the good things and that in itself is a good thing!

I always try on New Year's Eve to think about all the good things the New Year will be bringing and I have to say the impending birth of our grandbaby in July has to top the list!! I just cannot wait to hold my grandbaby and love it so much! I am going to be called Nana, after my paternal grandmother. That is alot of shoe to fill but I'm up to the challenge!!

I plan on reading alot more in 2011 also. I love to read and I have gotten so caught up in so many other things. I joined a reading challenge to read books off my shelves and I'm going to clear alot of them off there!!

I also plan on losing some of this unwanted weight I have gained. I need to exercise more and by gosh I will!!

John and I would also like to take a small trip somewhere, even if it for a few days or overnight-we haven't done that in so long. We have taken trips up North to my parents, but we want to get away just the two of us!

Mind you these are not resolutions. I don't make resolutions, these are just things I want to work on in the next year.

As far as reflections of the past year, I have spent some really great times with my family, I have met and made some new wonderful friends, learned to knit more detailed patterns, mastered some more things at work, created some different jewelry, learned to crochet and read some awesome books! All of these have made me grow as a person and I'm lovin' it!!

So Happy New Year to all my friends and I hope you all have a joyous and wonderful New Year!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Best Loved Books!




I was looking at the list of books I read for this year and I was remembering every one. I really think my best books for this year were The French Gardner by Santa Montefiore and The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King. For some reason these two books really stuck out in my mind. They were both very different from each other but both were in other countries. There was mystery in both of them and a touch of love. If you haven't read either one of these, you might want to put them on your list for 2011.

I haven't made a list of books I would like to read in 2011 but I did join the reading books from your shelf challenge! I have so many, many books on my shelves and I would love to read a good portion of them and pass them on to someone else!

Happy Reading in 2011 everyone!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Feeling a little under the weather today.

I feel like I'm getting a cold-ugghhhh! I just had one not too long ago. I am probably run down from the holiday. I will be working and then going home and chilling out under a nice warm blanket with my tea warming me up!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Now that Christmas has past.....

Well with Christmas now in the rear view mirror, what is everyone planning for New Years? John and I are just going to spend a quiet evening at home. I will be making a special meal (which I need to get planning) just for the two of us. We will probably play Scrabble or some other board game and then we will stay up and watch the ball drop in Times Square from the comfort of our warm home.

Years ago we went out with my middle sister, Sue and her husband Chuck (I think it was the first New Years after their marriage). We went to a local ski area that was having a lovely formal party in the ski lodge. We danced, had dinner and had a great time! But as we have gotten older and we moved away from NJ, we just seem to have quiet celebrations with each other. I actually like that the best!

What is everyone planning?

Monday, December 27, 2010

It is really cold here but I really feel for all my feathered friends!

Yesterday while it was snowing John went out and filled the bird feeders in our courtyard. There was a steady stream of birds flying in and out. The poor little things were all puffed up so they could stay warm. I have to remember to put the suet out for them too. You can really see the colors of all the birds against the snow-they are just beautiful. Here are some birds I think look exceptional pretty against the snow:


This little bluebird's coloring is so vivid in the winter sunlight! I love these little birds all year round but against the snow they are just gorgeous!


The color of the cardinal as always is a show stopper but against the snow that crimson red just stands out and is enhanced. We have alot of cardinals in Charlotte, which I love! We had 5 male cardinals in a cedar tree the other day, right before Christmas. They looked like red bows all of nature's Christmas tree!


Blue Jays are really bossy and loud birds but I have to say they are just gorgeous against the snow. You can certainly see them from far away(and hear them too!).



This is a slate-colored junco. They are not a colorful bird, but these little birds are so cute! I watch them for hours hopping along the ground,going unnoticed. They are sweet little birds, they don't bother anyone and they aren't agressive at all.

I found this picture online of a fairy with birds. I love it! I like to think this fairy takes care of all the birds in this cold weather we are having!





Everyone have a great day and stay warm!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wonderful Christmas and Winter Wonderland Surprise!

We all had a wonderful Christmas!! Everyone in our family gave and got such nice gifts! The girls and their men arrived at about 9 and we started opening gifts while drinking tea and coffee. About half way through I made the traditional Pillsbury Orange Danish (the girls still insist on this breakfast delight!). When the presents were done we took a break before we started opening the stockings. I put the roast beef in the oven and everyone got coffee/tea refills. Everyone gave very thoughtful gifts this year. It was all wonderful!!

Here are some pictures of our Christmas:


Our Christmas tree with all the presents under it!


I created this centerpiece for the Dining Room Table.


John was watching everyone open their gifts. I think he was still half asleep!


This is Megan showing off her new Kindle from her hubby, Ken. She is also wearing a capelet Jenny and Kevin gave her for Christmas.


Megan, Jenny and I on Christmas morning.


Here is Jenny wearing the shawl I made for her. I'm so glad she loved it!


Megan and Ken


Jenny and Kevin being silly!


Jenny and Kevin not wanting their pictures taken.


This morning I woke up to a winter wonderland!! The weather fibbers were finally right for a change. It is still snowing here and everything looks like a sugary confection! It is absolutely beautiful!! Teddy didn't know what to make of it when John took him out-he just wanted to play instead of taking care of business, if you know what I mean! It does look beautiful and we don't have any place we need to go to today-so it is just perfect!!!

Here are some pictures of our winter wonderland here in Charlotte, NC:


This is what it looked like when I opened the front door this morning! It is a winter wonderland for sure!! Very beautiful and quiet.


Our courtyard looked like a winter wonderland too!


Our garage is after our courtyard and when I looked at the garage roof this morning this lovely pine tree was all covered in snow and looked so beautiful! This almost looks like it was taken in a field not over our garage roof!


We have alot of cardinals here in Charlotte and they were taking advantage of the sunflower seed we put in the feeder. They have been very busy here this morning!

The past few days have been great here at our house and today will be a chillin' out kind of day. This kind of day is much needed after all the Christmas preparation. It was all well worth it though-what a wonderful Christmas! I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas too!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone and a Happy New Year!!



I probably won't be blogging for the next few days, but I wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! I hope everyone gets time to visit with family and friends! Enjoy yourself my blogger friends!! HUGS!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Final Countdown begins!

I'm sure everyone will be scurrying around this week to finish up their shopping, cookie making, wrapping, etc. I am one of those too! I have been trying this year to shop during the whole year and that worked for awhile. I got my Christmas cards out later than normal this year, my cream cheese cookies are still not made and I don't have a thing wrapped! But you know what, I am not sweating it this year. It all seems to get done and looks wonderful Christmas morning! The most important thing to keep in mind this week, that Christmas is not about buying gifts, making cookies, sending cards, etc. it is to celebrate Jesus Christs birthday! Our church had a lovely service yesterday and it hit my like an epiphany, that Christmas comes whether we are frantically running around doing all those things I mentioned and it is always wonderful!

Everyone enjoy what this season brings, enjoy being with friends and family and visiting here and there!

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My day with Jenny!

Jenny and I had a wonderful day today! For those of you who don't know Jenny is my youngest daughter. She is expecting in July! We had decided to spend the day and part of the evening together and what fun we had. I drove up to Jenny's house in Concord, NC. That is about 45 minutes away from my house. When I got there we then drove into the little town of Concord. There is a shop there called The Bead Lady. What a treasure trove of things that lady has!! I of course, bought some things. When then went to a Christmas Shop, an antique shop and another little shop which had some really cute things! We then had to go to the Chocolate Shop/Bakery and have a wonderful cannolli and tea!! We then left Concord and came back down to Charlotte. We went to another bead store called The Bead Lush (don't you just love the name!!). We didn't stay there long, just had to exchange a defective bead. We went one street over to a place called Dish and had lunch. It was good to sit and chat after so much walking! Then we came back to my house and started creating. I think I made 5 pairs of earrings for Jenny and she designed 3 necklaces that I will be making up at a later date. Then Kevin (Jenny's husband) arrived and we had dinner. I made chuck roast, mashed potatoes and corn. Jenny and Kevin love this meal.

We had such a wonderful day! Here is a picture of Jenny at my jewelry table creating away:





Jenny still creating but she took her hair down. I guess she can create better with her hair down-LOL!!


Some wooden beads and steampunk items she was putting together.

I just love days like this! Another one for the memory book!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Of Honest Fame by M. M. Bennetts



I read this book for Pump Up Your Books. Here is a little about the book from Pump Up Your Books website:

On a summer night in 1812, a boy sets fire to a house in Paris before escaping over the rooftops. Carrying vital intelligence about Napoleon’s Russian campaign, he heads for England. But landing in Kent, he is beaten almost to death. The Foreign Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, is desperate for the boy’s information. He is even more desperate, however, to track down the boy’s assailant – a sadistic French agent who knows far too much about Castlereagh’s intelligence network. Captain George Shuster is a veteran of the Peninsula, an aide-de-camp to Wellington, now recalled from the continent and struggling to adjust to civilian life. Thomas Jesuadon is a dissolute, living on the fringes of society, but with an unrivalled knowledge of the seamy underside of the capital. Setting out to trace the boy’s attacker, they journey from the slums of London to the Scottish coast, following a trail of havoc, betrayal, official incompetence and murder. It takes an unlikely encounter with a frightened young woman to give them the breakthrough that will turn the hunter into the hunted. Meanwhile, the boy travels the breadth of Europe in the wake of the Grande Armee, witnessing at first hand the ruination they leave behind and the awful price of Napoleon’s ambition. This companion to M.M. Bennetts’s brilliant debut, May 1812, is a gripping account of deception, daring and determination, of intelligence and guile pitted against brutality. Bennetts brings to vivid life the harrowing devastation wrought on the civilian populations of Europe by Napoleon’s men, and the grit, courage and tenacity of those who stood against them.

My review:

You will enjoy this historical novel set in London in 1812. Against the backdrop of Napoleon's Russian campaign we are introduced to Foreign Secretary, Lord Castlereigh and his cast of spies, trying to out guess Napoleons minions.

The author paints a vivid picture of our mind of the slums of Paris and London, the battle ravaged landscape of Europe and the brutality of espionage and counter espionage. The plot is fast moving enough to keep your interest and his descriptions of his characters, their feelings and motivation are well done.

You feel their patriotism, humor, pride, vanity and rage at the injustices of their time, as well as their rage at the enemy. The author captures the extreme patience needed in the spy game in the person of his central character, "boy", as he moves like a shadow through Paris, London and Vienna collecting information for the Foreign Secretary, and reuniting with his Maestro.

The author raises our heartbeat, bringing us to an exciting and surprising climax while leaving the door open for his next period work. I look forward to Mr. Bennett's next work.

You can purchase this book on amazon.com. I was not paid to write this review.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good Bye to a Wonderful Angel!!


Megan on the left and Cindy on the right


Some of you know this and some of you don't-my oldest daughter, Megan's friend Cindy Ray was killed on Sunday, 12/11. She was run over by a drunken driver in Massachusetts and she died. Her Mom was in the car and didn't know Cindy had been hit. She ran in the police station and told them someone had jumped the curb and struck a car. When Cindy's Mom and the police came running out they found Cindy. This tragedy is one of the most awful things I have heard in a long time and it makes it worse because we knew the person. This happened on a Sunday afternoon around 3:00 p.m. Cindy was coming out of the police station after picking up a report and was headed back to her car. The man who hit her is 50 years old and a father and now he will have to live with this for the rest of his life. What are people thinking when they have too much to drink and get behind the wheel! Was it worth it! Cindy and her husband, Brian were suppose to be watching their nieces for the next year while Brian's brother and sister-in-law were deployed. Cindy had just gotten the little girls room ready for them, found a pediatrican and daycare facility for them while she was at work. Brian will now be doing this task alone. Cindy went to college with Megan and they were the best of friends. They called each other every Monday. Cindy was so loving and kind. She had lost her father very early in her life to a heart attack while he was shoveling snow. Even though she had gone through tragedy at a very young age, she was always smiling and joking with everyone and she had a very big heart. Today will be her viewing and tomorrow the funeral. The world has lost a true angel-God Bless you Cindy Ray!! We all love you and you will be missed!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

And the winner is.....



I can't believe random.org picked #1, it hardly ever does!! The winner of my 750th Post Giveaway is Lori from Morning Glories and Moonflowers!! Congratulations Lori!! I will be e-mailing you right after I post this!

Don't forget to sign up for my giveaway!



Don't forget to sign up for my giveaway today before 5 p.m.!! The giveaway is on my December 11th post. Good Luck! I will be announcing the winner either tonight or tomorrow a.m.!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2011 Reading from my Shelves Project



If you would like to join this challenge, go here:

http://bibliophilebythesea.blogspot.com/2010/12/2011-reading-from-my-shelves-project.html

Here are the details if you are interested:

Challenge runs from January 1 - December 31, 2011.

Read books from your own shelves, and then pass the books on to someone else: a friend, relative, the library, used book store, swap them, just as long as the book leaves your house once it has been read.

Decide on your goal (12 is the minimum - no maximum). Cross over books are allowed.
Grab the button and do a post about the challenge.

Keep a running list of the books you've read and passed on.

Leave a comment with a link to your post and you are entered (no Mr. Linky).
Have Fun and GOOD LUCK!

The Christmas Chronicles by Tim Slover



I am reviewing this book for Pump Up Your Books today. Here is a product description on Amazon.com about this book:

Tim Slover crafts a marvelous, magical novel about how Santa Claus became the man he is today. After reading The Christmas Chronicles, you’ll believe all over again in the magic of the season.

Snow is falling, and the clock ticks toward midnight on Christmas Eve while countless children, too excited to sleep, anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus. But in Tim Slover’s deeply charming and utterly thrilling novel, that’s the end rather than the beginning of the story. In this richly imagined tale of Santa’s origins, the man in full finally emerges. The Christmas Chronicles is at once an action-packed adventure, an inspiring story of commitment and faith, and a moving love story.

It all starts in 1343, when the child Klaus is orphaned and adopted by a craftsmen’s guild. The boy will grow to become a master woodworker with an infectious laugh and an unparalleled gift for making toys. His talent and generosity uniquely equip him to bestow hundreds of gifts on children at Christmas—and to court the delightful Anna, who enters his life on a sleigh driven by the reindeer Dasher and becomes his beloved wife.

Still, all is not snowfall and presents. Klaus will be shadowed by the envious Rolf Eckhof, who will stop at nothing to subvert him. But in the end, Santa’s magic is at last unleashed, flying reindeer come to his aid, and an epic battle between good and evil is waged in the frosty Christmas skies.

By turns enchanting, hair-raising, and inspirational, The Christmas Chronicles is a beguiling tale destined to become a holiday favorite for the ages.

My Review:

I have to say I really enjoyed this book! It definitely put me in the Christmas spirit! The author takes you on a wonderful, magical journey through the creation of Santa Claus. This story isn't too long (only 176 pages) and it is just perfect for a Christmas read that will definitely take you through the enchanted world of Santa! Merry Christmas everyone!!

The book is available for purchase from Amazon at
http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Chronicles-Legend-Santa-Claus/dp/0553808109

Twinning Murders by Shelly Frome


I will be doing a review of this book sometime in January, but I wanted to let you know all about it now:

The Twinning Murders is a modern day classic mystery centering on the ventures of Emily Ryder, a thirty-something rambler and tour guide. The story opens just before she embarks on this year’s Twinning ritual exchange. It’s between her historic New England home and its sister village deep in Dartmoor, a wild upland area in the west of the county of Devon, England. Emily becomes personally involved in a suspicious death.. A few days later, at the Twinning itself, her main client meets the same fate. As Emily’s world continues to unravel, and though she has little help, she finds herself compelled to piece together the games being played on both sides of the Atlantic.

This book was sent to me from Pump Up Your Book. Watch for my review in January!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden with Christmas Lights!

Saturday night our oldest daughter, Megan and her husband,Ken joined John and I at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden to see the Christmas light displays. We also went to hear my friend, Robbin from knitting group play the bells with her Church. They did a great job! The lights were absolutely beautiful and it was like walking through an enchanted land! We had such a wonderful time walking through the orchid conservatory and then outside to the lovely gardens. They had carriage rides and train rides (the train was really a tram made to look like a train). We had some wonderful hot chocolate and spiced cider, which kept the chill in the air away. Here are some pictures of our lovely visit to DSBG and I can't wait to go again next year!

First off I have to apologize for my night time photography, it isn't the greatest but you will get the idea.


This is the entrance to DSBG-it was just beautiful walking up to this and then entering a holiday wonderland!!


This was one of the 4 angels that greeted us.


When you enter the main building there was this huge orchid Christmas tree! Just gorgeous-there was hundred of orchids on here!!


All throughout the building there were arrangements like this. Just so sparkly and beautiful!



All the arrangements had these beautiful jeweled butterflies in them.


Inside the room where alot of weddings are held was this gorgeous chandelier!


There are 2 arbor walkways and they had them lit up with these lovely purple flower lights and green leaves and vines!




Lovely snowflake/star lights in the tree


All throughout the ground they had red, white and blue Christmas balls hanging from the trees.

ORCHID CONSERVATORY

Walking to the entrance of the conservatory were these wonderful lit palm trees.


These red Christmas balls were hanging from the ceiling of the orchid conservatory-just beautiful!


There is a pool which has been dyed black and these 2 poinsettia arrangements were "floating" in the pool.


All throughout the conservatory were beautiful poinsettia arrangements like this. I love the color combination.


This is one of the pretty orchids they had growing at the beginning of the conservatory. Just absolutely gorgeous, this picture doesn't do it justice!


What holiday season wouldn't be complete without a "kissing" ball! This one is made from air ferns!


Here is something you don't see every day-a Christmas tree made out of Bromelaids!


There was a train set up and going around the track in the conservatory too. It was a really big hit with all the children visiting DSBG.

Here are the lights all throughout the grounds:


Hummingbird on a flower


This lovely dove flying past the trees and you can see the Orchid Conservatory in the background.


Christmas Bells outlined on a hedge.


These lovely blue arches through one section of the gardens.


Poinsettia outline.


A walkway was lined with these cute toy soldiers.


This is one of the small fountains.


There is a fountain that sprays over the path and it was lit up beautifully! Of course, they have a path that goes around each side too so you don't get wet!


This is the largest fountain at DSBG. It looked like it was on fire that night.


Another lovely fountain with doves flying.


There were groups of these lovely white "snowball" lights in the trees.


There is a white garden at DSBG, which is just gorgeous when all the flowers are blooming. This is what it looked like Saturday night!


This beautiful oversized silver ornament was hanging in the back arbor of the white garden.


This lovely group of oversized silver ornaments was hanging in the trellis you walked through to get into the white garden. I would love to have this in my yard!!


There was a gate with these beautiful wreaths hanging on them as you left the white garden. I would love to have this gate at my house!


As we were leaving just outside the door was this beautiful Christmas tree all deck out in gold!


This little angel sent us on our way!

I know there were alot of pictures, but I really could have taken so many more! If you are ever in North Carolina, please check out the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden no matter what time of year it is-it is well worth you time!

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Don't forget to enter my 750th post giveaway on my December 11, 2010 post!!

Ring of Kerry, Ireland
My husband, John and I went to Ireland for our 25th Wedding Anniversary in 2004. We had an awesome trip and we will never forget it. We actually got to visit our friends who live in Northern Ireland. We spent 3 wonderful days with them! The picture above was taken when we visited The Ring of Kerry. The beauty of Ireland is just spectacular! If you ever get a chance visit there.
Megan is my oldest daughter. She and Ken were married on April 12, 2008. It was a wonderful ceremony and reception!
Jenny and Kevin at their wedding 8/30/08. The wedding was at our home and turned out wonderful! Everyone had such a good time!