Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Christmas Kitchen

Here's what was made in my holiday kitchen this year...


Peanut butter s'mores balls
Peppermint kisses pretzel sandwiches
Pretzel Turtles
Pretzels and M and Ms
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Monday, December 30, 2013

Challenge 30: This Time Next Year

First, I completed the 30 Days of Lists Challenge for December! 

Check out the source of the photo!  Too cute!

Thinking about what I would like to see at this time next year, I think of these things:

Be a healthier version of myself.
Travel to Alaska
Earning a paycheck from a new place.
Enjoying a completed backyard, including hot tub and deck.

These are all big ticket items that I believe are worthy goals for  2014.  Looking forward to looking at this post in 2014 and seeing how I did.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Challenge 29: Things I am Letting Go of...

I am retiring at the end of this school year and already I am facing some difficult decisions about things to let go of.  Such as, on a reduced income, what are the things I really don't need?  What are things I can do without?  Others are, letting go of being the authority at school.  Being the principal has always meant I made decisions for the building.  Now, I will be saying things like, let's let the new principal decide that, or lets hold off on that decision until they name the new principal.  Not an easy thing to do.

So for now, I will look at what I will let go of financially.

1.  Clothing budget to be cut by 25% for now.
2.  Gasoline by 25%.
3.  Eating out for dinner by 50%.
4.  Housecleaning?

I can see I am not quite ready to face the reality of retiring quite yet!  Good thing I started thinking about it now!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Challenge 28: Memories Made this Year.

I always love to look back and see how things went... from teaching a lesson in class, or how a staff meeting went, and now, back on the year to see what memories have been made.

Reflection in the pond outside our apartment in 2012

I asked this question of each of my family members the same question. 

Daughter:  Going to New York with Eric, going to Paris for the first time

Son-in-law:  Going to New York with Ashley, my summer internship

Husband:  Building a house, my wife's retirement, my new job as a director at a local college

Me:  Graduating with my doctorate in May, building a house and getting moved in, and announcing my retirement from public education!

2014 will be another good year for our family.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

Challenge 27: Ways to Unwind

This is an easy challenge for me.  Since my cancer diagnosis and treatment, I have learned how to use my time to destress.  In the last four years, this is the list I have generated that works for me.

1. Reading books for pleasure.
2. Swimming
3. Decorating my new home.
4. Concentrating on a movie.
5. Counting my blessings.
6. Talking on my phone with my daughter, mother, or sister.
7. Blogging.
8. Chatting online with friends.
9. Planning for retirement.
10. Going over the clothes in my closet.
11.  Organizing my desk.
12.  Watching Big Bang Theory and hugging Soft Kitty.
13. Cooking or baking something.
14. Dusting.
15. Sitting on my porch watching the ducks or geese.
16.  Writing letters or notes.
17.  Playing with my dogs.
18.  Walking.
19.  Sipping on hot chocolate.
20.  Getting a facial or massage.
21.  Praying.
22.  Telling or hearing jokes.
23.  Watching cute animal videos.
24.  Traveling to a beach, perferably Hawaii.
25.  Breathing.
26.  Singing or listening to music.
27.  Reading scriptures.
28.  Talking to old friends.
29.  Taking a drive in a convertible.
30.  Getting a manicure or a pedicure.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Challenge 26: I am Grateful For..

What a wonderful day to reflect back on the things that went well during this season.

I am grateful for

...safe travels for my family and my friends' families
...the signs of love that are given between our families
...the gift of time that is being shared with each other
...the passion for Jesus that still exists within me.

My husband, Bob, who loves the holidays almost as much as I do.
My mom and sister, who live their lives serving others.

Having five Christmas trees this first year in our home!!  What will next year bring?

This photo is made up of all the Christmas photos I saved!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Challenge 25: Can't Get Enough Of...

It's here!  Christmas Day is here!  After the planning, the rush, the decorations...all the season points to, is here! 

Today I can't get enough of...

Christmas Carols
Christmas movies
Christmas cookies
Christmas lights
Christmas jammies
Christmas presents
Christmas meals!

I am having the most wonderful day ever!

Our 2013 Christmas tree

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Challenge 24: Things I Heard Today

Things I Heard Today:

Christmas Carols on the Radio
Sounds of silvery ice on the moving grass
Gentle talk between Bob and Eric while Ashley and I napped in the back seat
Stirring of cocoa in a ceramic mug.

Santa's sleigh bells before drifting off to sleep!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Challenge 23: Who Do I Consider Family

I have always taken a broad outlook to the word, "family."   Of course it is those people that I was born to, the group who shares my DNA and accepted me from the moment I was born.

1.  The Oliver/Dorrell/Holt/Wilson family.

There is the family that accepted me on June 18, 1977 when I married Bob.

2.  The Steffes/Niemeier/Fessler families.

There is the family that surrounded Bob and I as we entered the work world after college.

3.  The Adams/Sergent/VanDover/Hamilton/and many others who made up Jeff Jr. and West Jr. and Lee School.

Then there were the people who accepted a Columbia person into the world of the Jefferson City Jays.

4.  The Richardson/Dudenhoeffer/Tomlinson/Schebaum/Angle/Eisinger/Lyle/Beta Sigma Phi/PEO/DAR and Lewis and Clark families who welcomed us into their circles.

The women who braved the internet in the 1990s, recognizing that it would be a way to connect to others far away.

5.  The Chickberry and GLU families.

Our church families.

6.  Our Lady of Lourdes, The Cathedral and now Saint Charles of Borromeo.

Now my New Town family.  Thank you for welcoming us into the fold.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Challenge 22: Things That Can Wait Until Tomorrow

Whatever waits until tomorrow will not get done!  We are heading to Marceline on Sunday, right after breakfast.  Ashley and Eric are cooking, so I am really looking forward to it!

1.  Packing the car.
2.  Packing the suitcase.
3.  Deciding to see the Magic Tree.
4.  Making up the meat and cheese tray.
5.  Whether to bring soda or not.

These things can wait.  They will wait.  I am going to bed.  Good night all!

Ice coated the trees, grasses and bushes of northern Missouri and I was so fearful that the roads would be bad.  The roads were clear, a direct answer to my prayers for safe travels.  God is good!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Challenge 21: Positive Things from this Week

The week before Christmas at a school is always interesting.  Tempers are short, even with the holiday right around the corner.  This week was exceptional, though.  Our staff really worked hard to make sure we were keeping the spirit of Christmas even at work.

1.  Our colleague, Linda, came to visit us at school.  Her son was killed in a hunting accident over Thanksgiving.  It was good to touch base with her and see her.

2.  Our staff carry in was well participated.  In the past some people have chosen not to participate.  It is kind of a downer.

3.  The Keurig that I gave the staff as a gift was a big hit!  Woo hoo!!

4.  I announced my retirement and I think some people were really sad!

5.  Our students were very well behaved at our holiday movie.  God bless each and every one of them!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Challenge 20: With a Day to Myself, I Would...

With a day to myself at this time of the year, you would find me....

1.  Sleeping in.
2.  Checking my list twice to make sure everyone has a gift.
3.  Read my favorite Christmas blogs.
4.  Read Facebook.
5.  Read a Christmas novel.
6.  Drink eggnog.
7.  Make some cookies.
8.  Wrap some presents.

Stay in my Christmas jammies all day long!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Challenge 19: Projects I Finished.

This year I focused on two major projects and I finished both, but both were due to a lot of outside help.

1.  Finishing my dissertation and graduation from Saint Louis University:

2.  Finished the house!

A pretty impressive checklist, if I do say so myself!  :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Challenge 18: On My Shopping List

I have a fairly lengthy shopping list as of now... I am finalizing so many Christmas and holiday plans at the moment.  Last night I finished wrapping our stocking stuffers and counting each of them.  We like to have the same number of stocking stuffers for each of us.

So on my list, as of now...

Five more stocking stuffers for Bob
One more stocking stuffer for Ashley
Taco soup ingredients
Appetizer ingredients
Plaid wrapping paper
Pretty bows and ribbon
Gift for my sister
Gift for my mom

This rounds out the shopping and gets us prepared for the entire holiday season!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Challenge 17: I Wish I had Done More _____

As I reflect back on the year, there are always things I wish I had done but I am not one to have regrets.  So this list is something that I would do differently if I had the chance to replay a day or two this year.

Reading.  Books of a nonfiction nature.
Swimming.  I love the water.
Walking. I need to move more.
Volunteering.  I have a lot of skills to offer.

Challenge 16: Favorite Things to Eat

In December!  I love, love, love sugar cookies!  My mother, who is 75, stopped baking a lot of treats over Christmas and over time, each of the kids have taken over their favorites to make sure they still are on the holiday table. 

Favorite things:

Sugar Cookies
Vegetable Soup
Potato Soup
Pretzel Rods
Candy canes
Hot chocolate!
Momma's holiday table, complete with homemade eggnog!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Challenge 15: I like to avoid

This is getting a little deep for me... I try to avoid thinking about what I am trying to avoid...

Wrapping Christmas presents
Taking down Christmas decorations

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Challenge 14: I am stocking up on...

It is my favorite time of the year to stock up on supplies to make soup! 

White navy beans
Canned diced tomatoes
Chicken stock
Vegetable stock
Half and Half

What else do you like to have on hand to make soup?

We were asked to bring Sarah's Taco Soup to Christmas at my mom's.  The recipe is here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Challenge 13: I get excited when...

Love the opportunities of this list!  How many of you make lists, and check them twice?  I am participating in a 30 day challenge where each day is a different list.  I decided to write them through the lens of December, trying to keep each list centered around Christmas and the holiday season.

I get excited when....

A Christmas movie I haven't seen is on TV.
I get a cup of hot chocolate that is wonderful.
I see presents under the tree!
My husband and I plan the meals for Christmas Day.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Challenge 12: Places to Go in December

The holiday season isn't complete without parties, trips and events.  This December, my husband and I have packed in a lot of fun places to go.  I hope the weather stays good and the places to go later in the month will still be possible!

1. Christmas Kickoff Celebration in Foristell, Missouri
2. St. Louis Symphony in St. Louis, Missouri
3. New Town Christmas Tree Lighting in Saint Charles, Missouri
4. Cooking class in Saint Charles, Missouri
5. Open House in New Town, Saint Charles, Missouri
6. Manheim Steamroller Concert, St. Louis, Missouri
7. Lennon Sisters Concert, St. Louis, Missouri
8. Dr. appointment in Jefferson City, Missouri
9. Oliver Christmas in Marceline, Missouri
10. Steffes Christmas in Nixa, Missouri
11. Steffes Christmas in Saint Charles, Missouri
12. Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas

I think this is plenty of fun things to do in one single month!  However, it does not include looking at holiday lights in other small towns in the Saint Louis area.  If I added those in, my list might run off the page! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Challenge 11: Without _____, I would probably ________.

In terms of making a list, this seems to be a bit more difficult, especially keeping it related to the holidays.  I am not one to weaken at a challenge, though, so here are my thoughts:

Without Christmas, I would probably suffer from winter-onset depression.

Without candy canes, I would probably would try to find a way to hang circle peppermints from my tree.

Without ornaments, I would probably burn the house down trying to attach candles to the tree.

Without presents, I would still find some way to make sure the special people in my life knew how much I love them!

Without presents, I would probably buy a lot less clothing for my family members!

Without Christmas cards, I would probably miss catching up on some of my nonFacebook friends.

I don't do Christmas letters anymore... I do holiday blogs!   Check out our latest one here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Challenge 10: I was a Friend this Year By...

Making a list of ways that I have been a friend is an uncomfortable feeling for me.  I do things for my friends without a lot of thought to the matter, if something needs done, I just do it. 

1.  Donated to a friend's charity.

2.  Celebrated with a friend at her daughter's baby shower.

3.  Visited a friend's house while she was building it. 

4.  Supporting fundraisers.

5.  Volunteering to help in various situations.

I just do what I think I can do to help in a situation. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Challenge 9: My favorite accessories/outfits

I am fashion-challenged, which is interesting, since our daughter is a professor of textile and apparel at Indiana University.  I have a sense of what looks good on others, but not on myself.   I also don't like to spend a lot of money on clothing.  I tend to buy from the mass marketers instead of fashion industries.

My favorite outfits and accessories this month are:

1.  a nice black sweat suit.  It is warm and cozy, deep black and looks awesome with my silver snowflake pin and earrings.

2.  a black velvet dress with black leggings.  I like to wear my red poinsettia earrings with it and red shoes with little gold beads on them.

3.  my Christmas pajamas.  I found some I love at Macy's (I was looking there for my daughter) and found some for myself!  It is a flannel nightdress in a lovely Christmas plaid.  My accessories are clean teeth and a great lotion!

4.  I collect Christmas jewelry and have some pieces that I really love.  One is a pair of holly earrings that dangle a bit and are gold.  Another is a brooch, cameo style, of a Christmas tree.  I have an old Hallmark candy cane pin that is shaped into a heart and a pair of candy cane earrings, too.

5.  blue jeans, a Christmas top, fuzzy socks with mules, a warm winter coat and colorful scarves and gloves.

Nothing I have is very costly, and everything I described is over two years old except for the nightdress.  When I find something I love, I make sure to take care of it!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Challenge 8: On My Movie Watching List

Our family loves movies.  We attend a documentary film fest every March and see 15+ movies in three days.  Discovered a film fest in Frontenac that we will take part in next year.  We also really dig the mainstream, pop culture movies as well!

I keep a running list of movies on the sidebar of my blog.  That's how much I love holiday movies!  I constantly like reminding myself how much I love holiday movies.

However, there is a short of list of those that I must watch.  My husband will tell you of the year I cried because I missed the Charlie Brown Christmas on TV.  He ran out and bought the DVDs so that would never happen again!

1.  A Charlie Brown Christmas
2.  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
3.  It's a Wonderful Life
4.  Miracle on 34th Street
5.  and every Lifetime Christmas movie I can jam in between now and New Year's Eve!

Our daughter comes home for the holidays on the 21st of December.  I know we will spend some time going to films while she is here!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Challenge 7: What I will remember about today

I read about our list this morning and was so glad I did.  I spent the day thinking carefully about what I wanted to remember about today.

1.  It was bitter cold outside.
2.  Mizzou lost the SEC championship to Auburn.
3.  The Christmas Tree was lit up by Town Hall for the Christmas season.  It was fun to be with ohter people waiting to see the tree lit up with beautiful colored lights.
4.  The office party for my husband's work was fun and got a darling snowman wax burner.  Now the house smells like cinnamon!

The Lighting of New Town's Christmas Tree

Friday, December 6, 2013

Challenge 6: On My Library Shelf

I am one of those people who like to read about places and actually be there at the same time.  Gives me goosebumps just to think about it.  Naturally, that also means that I love to read holiday books during the holiday season.  It is one of the few times I allow myself the pleasure of reading books that really aren't that literary but satisfying in the description of Christmas traditions, foods, dress and whatever else might be a part of the holiday season.

Here is what is on my library shelf for the Christmas season:

The Christmas Cottage:  a young interior designer meets up with her childhood sweetheart as she is designing the perfect honeymoon for her best friend. 

Mistletoe Mischief:  A returning soldier meets up with a local woman and her daughter during a Christmas parade.  His daughter suggests they eat lunch together and the story goes from there!

1225 Christmas Tree Lane:  A Debbie Macomber book that I just had to read because of the title.

The Christmas Letters:

Mistletoe in Maine:

A Redbird Christmas:

The last three haven't been read as of yet, so you'll have to wait for a summary! 

One day I want to make a tree like this! 
The Richard A. Gleeson Library in San Francisco displays a
Christmas tree made out of the National Union Catalog.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Challenge 5: Traditions

I am now in the middle of my 50s and I am finding that the traditions my husband and I have made over the years are changing with our changing family.  My daughter needs to spend time with her husband's family as well as ours.  This year, for the first time in her life, she will be spending Christmas Eve with someone other than her mom and dad.  It's sad, but part of the natural progression as our lives change.  Soon she will want to spend Christmas at her own house, with her own (hopefully) children.

So, the traditions I list below are ones that I loved, that I feel were what made our Christmases extra special. 

1.  New pjs on Christmas Eve.
2.  Watching It's a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve.
3.  Attending Midnight Mass.
4.  Trying out new Christmas cocktails.
5.  Having my mom's eggnog.
6.  Making a gourmet breakfast after we open gifts on Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve snacks, 2011. 
Santa and Mrs. Claus were painted by my mother in the 1970s.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Challenge 4: I am happy to report...

I am happy to report...

1.  That this has been a happy school year.
2.  That living in our new home is every bit as wonderful as I hoped.
3.  That we will see more of Ashley and Eric at Christmas than we did at Thanksgiving.
4.  That I am no longer in college!
5.  My back and heels are no longer in much pain.
6.  I am a bit less homesick this year than last.
7.  That our new neighborhood loves Christmas as much as I do!
The Beach District in New Town, Saint Charles

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Challenge 3: This is the only time of year that I...

This is the only time of year that I...

1. Lay on the sofa with only the Christmas lights on.
2. Listen to Christmas music in my car.
3. Stock up on different types of hot chocolate and marshmallows.
4. Will watch hour after hour of Lifetime TV (Christmas movies!)

See my slender Christmas tree in my living room?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Challenge 2: Around My Home

I love my house at Christmas and this year is extra special since it is our first year in our new home.  You will see our old favorites in new spaces! 

1.  A new Christmas tree for our tiny living room! 
2.  A Santa and his sleigh above our entry door.
3.  Real garland around the columns of our wrap around porch.
4.  Hidden presents ready to wrap.
5.  A new wreath and trees for our front porch.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Challenge 1: Before the End of Year

I have joined a challenge called 30 Days of Lists.  If you would like to join, go here and sign up!  This particular challenge has us creating lists to spark our creativity.  There is also a Facebook page, you can hashtag it on Twitter (#30daysoflists) and they are on Instagram, too!

Before the End of the Year....

Catch up on my reading from my book clubs in Jefferson City
Plan my trip to Alaska
Cheer the Mizzou Tigers on to a National Championship
Plan and get a mental mindset for changing my eating habits

And decorate my new house for Christmas!  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The 2013 Holiday Season Commences!

Labor Day Weekend is the perfect time to sit down and look at the upcoming Holiday Season and begin making plans for all the activities you want to do and the time you have to do them!  We are moving into a new house in October, so I am needing to plan as much as I can now, while I am not tooooo busy!

I like using paper and pencil first to plan.  I like to see it written down before I add it to my electronic calendar.  I can see the whole month at a glance and can see if I am overplanning any one particular week.

As I plan, I love to have Christmas music playing.  It helps me concentrate fully and I find myself happily in the process of planning away!  I like to use my good pens and quality paper, and use my best handwriting while I plan away.  Eventually I will make a critical mistake and all the neatness goes right out the window, but it was sure fun while it lasted!

I found this darling clip on You Tube.  Many people have seen it, but it was new to me, so in the off chance that you haven't seen it either, enjoy the link below.  It's a little over two minutes long, but worth
 every second of it!

The Christmas Scale

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Christmas in July 2013

I participated with a group of lovely women in a Christmas in July Swap and we had to wait until today to open our boxes!  O!  The anticipation!!  What a fun activity!

We kept our partners a secret.  We found out who they were when they received our boxes.  My partner is Liz, who had a baby a month ago and still found the time to participate!!  What a girl!!

Liz packs an efficient box. She had a seven inch cube box. Somehow inside this small box was a lot of gifts!

Here's the low down:  a red and black necklace, a plug in fragrance warmer, several wine corks, packages of Christmas note cards, Christmas tags,  a candle, pencils, a ME pen, cute snowflake clips, a game, stickers , a snowman ornament and a cute snowman bag.  I feel like I won the Christmas in July jackpot!

Christmas in July jackpot!!
Thank you sweet Liz, for this exceptional swap box.  I am in love with each and every item!  Thank you for sponsoring this neat swap, Thoughts from the Porch!  I will participate again!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Christmas In July!

I am so excited for this week's Hallmark Channel Line Up of Christmas shows!  I am publishing them here, for you, from the Hallmark Channel website.  What will you be doing this week?  I am making the ornaments for the ornament swap I am in.  This will be our seventh annual one, I believe.  I am so lucky to be a part of this group who loves Christmas as much as I do!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June Rudolph Day

A galaxy ago, I was a member of a community of Christmas lovers who celebrated the 25th of each month as Rudolph Day.  Somehow, over the years, I have lost contact with them, although from time to time I get an email from someone who is celebrating Rudolph Days!  I hope someday to reconnect with those who love Christmas as much as I do!

Last year I was lamenting that I no longer had my home of 12 years to decorate and just had my tiny apartment.  Well, this year, I will have another new space to decorate.  My husband and I are building a house and hopefully will be in it in time to decorate for the holidays!!

This is an artist's rendition of our house.  The house will be medium gray, white trim and a yellow door!  I love the yellow door, but I am going to need some help figuring out how to make the door look Christmasy when the time comes!!

I can see lights on the gable, along the guttering, around each pole.  I will need a Christmas tree on the wraparound, too, don't you think?

I welcome any and all suggestions!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I am on Pinterest!!

Can't believe I hadn't thought of it before!  If you choose, you can follow me here:  http://pinterest.com/ChrTreeLane/

I love this pin!  You will find an entire board just on doors and porches.  What a fun place to decorate for the holidays!!

I am working on other boards as well, Christmas Cocktails, Stockings, Breakfast, and many more!  Go and check it out!