Christmas Hampers, Gift Baskets, & Stocking ideas for 2018

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I know, I know, it’s still October. But this year–let’s get a jump on Christmas. If you are like me you’ve already been thinking about the holidays. Sometime around mid-summer, a lot of people begin to think about the months at the end of the year.  My family starts budgeting in the summer for Christmas and our Christmas travel.  People throughout the world plan November and December travel mid-summer.

Custom made gift orders–well, there is a lot of things that need the full two months time before they’re ready. Those that make custom orders have lines of customers too. My husband and I buy a lot of things from small businesses and food artisans. We buy homemade jellies, knits, blankets, wool socks, some years handmade mittens, and furniture. The wait time on all of that kind of stuff is eight weeks. We booked a winter stay in a busy hotel back in July. Due to time constraints, I’m an accountant and this is the beginning of our busiest season, our Christmas gifts for friends and family have already been purchased.  I wholeheartedly think one of the reasons people don’t want to talk about Christmas until the last minute is because of the enormous stress they feel about all it encompasses. And, I get that, I truly do. So let’s take a sneak peek at what’s out there for Christmas 2018–essentially get our toes wet and see if we can’t make Christmas of 2018 more joyful and less hectic.

First up this year my husband and I are going to do a Christmas hamper. Essentially it’s one big stocking for each in a big basket and it’s pretty popular/traditional in the UK. I love the idea and this way we can buy last minute cute gifts and treats for one another to open on Christmas Eve.

You can get extremely creative with your Christmas hamper or stockings this year by custom creating them–you can create hampers/stockings with keto items (cookbooks, drinks, protein snacks), baby themed, newlywed themed, animal stockings (toys, biscuits, chews), media themed (kindle, DVDs, earbuds), candy/chocolate themed and so much more. A special consideration, that we keep in mind to help us focus on what to put in our Christmas hamper, is what are we doing Christmas Eve? Most years after church we are coming home and eating a traditional meal of ribs, scalloped potatoes, and corn and then getting into pj’s and watching an old Christmas classic. So we buy soft flannel pj’s, popcorn, chocolate, a Christmas themed movie (if we see a new one in the store), and a new book to read throughout the holiday season.

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Small Business Saturday is Saturday, November 24, 2018

Christmas Eve is on a Monday this year and Christmas is on a Tuesday.

Writing this post I am reminded that not everyone celebrates Christmas, and of course, Christmas celebrations are different throughout the world. I grew up in a small town, attending a Lutheran church, and celebrating Christmas as a Christian. Gifts were secondary to the church functions at this time and family gatherings.  As an adult, I have celebrated Christmas in much the same way.

I’m reminded also that not only do a lot of people take offense at shopping and planning early but they also take offense at any decorations for Christmas until AFTER Black Friday takes place. Even then I know a few people who don’t participate in Christmas very well or at all–mainly co-workers. I respect their choices. I respect when someone puts their tree up before Thanksgiving because many times I have heard and seen of people celebrating early due to some very heartwarming, personal reasons such as– a family member is passing away and this is their last Christmas, family members home from their tour of duty or on leave prior to Christmas, scheduled surgery during Christmas so Christmas held early, and family members all in one place + so many more very personal, individual choices associated with decorating and celebrating. I respect their choices. I also try and remind people close to me that not everyone in the universe celebrates Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving originated as a harvest festival–to give many thanks for what we have. But it is better known in America as First Thanksgiving celebrated by the pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620.

I was born and raised in Canada until I was eight and our Thanksgiving was in October and considered a harvest festival to give thanks. Once we moved to the Midwest we began celebrating like everyone else in November. My husband grew up in The Netherlands and though some in his home country do celebrate Thanksgiving his family did not. When they moved to the Midwest they did not begin celebrating Thanksgiving in November like everyone else.  In our household, I make a turkey every year and we eat early and then proceed to volunteer the rest of our day serving meals in a local shelter. Once home we put our Christmas tree up because I’m an accountant that is very busy this time of year, and we devote a lot of free time to volunteering during the months of November and December. As people who lead busy lives and have lots of stresses we, all of us,  shouldn’t have to explain to people, some who are strangers to us, why we plan or shop early, or decorate and celebrate early.

I seriously think that is part of the reason people get stressed. And money, people get stressed about money, and family get-togethers, and their own expectations and thus dealing ultimately with some disappointment. A little bit at a time, focusing on the spirit of and allowing yourself some grace and this Christmas season can be your best season yet!  Until next time–

“Be positive. Be true. Be kind.”
Roy Bennett
 

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Simple Gifts

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

By Joseph Brackett 1792
Shaker Dancing Song

Wellness + Comfort + 3 Cozy things for Fall 2018

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Kim’s Photo

What is Wellness? Wellness is a measure of your health and well being. Ask yourself–“Am I well?” What is my optimal or quality health? When you are above the wellness line–you’re living a higher quality of life. When it is below the wellness line the quality of your life is poor.

Here is a quiz to see where you’re at-  wellness quiz

Having taken several wellness quizzes before creating this post I would say if you–

  1. drink 8 glasses of water a day (experts say 1/2 your body weight) you’re good.
  2. sleep a minimum of 8 hours every night.
  3. eat 5 servings of veggies and 2-3 servings of fruits each day
  4. sit still and have at least 30 minutes of quiet time a day
  5. genuinely feel good about yourself, where you’re at, your community, and well-being

Comfort is defined as a state of physical ease and freedom from pain and constraint.

What comforts you? How do you provide comfort to your family? Where is your quiet space? Where do you go to think? put your mind at ease?

Here’s where I find comfort and how I provide comfort to my family. #1 I’ve made our bedroom the coziest room in our home. A few years back we started by getting the best bed we could afford and then the highest quality sheets and comforters we could afford. The colors in our bedroom are neutral mixed with nature. So– cream, brown, light green, light blue, and gray. Here and there is a touch of copper/orange/rust with dresser scarves and pictures and figurines of animals found in nature. Our bedroom is truly a sanctuary of comfort and cozy. In it, you will find peace, quiet, and a place to be still. Because sitting still, being still, is very important to the human mind/spirit. Take time to listen to all the sounds around you during a time in your day where there are sounds of birds, trees, and perhaps running water. Have a clear plan of how your day is going to go and when life throws you off course remember that moment of still and redirect yourself back on task. Doing so will help keep your mind at ease.

Beautiful linens, cozy comforters, and soothing lighting can be found at outlets, January white sales, even online at sites like Overstock and Amazon. Comfort & cozy doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Here are 20 cozy bedroom ideas from Apartment Therapy sure to help inspire your cozy bedroom.

When I want to add a bit of warmth and coziness to a room the first thing I do is pull out one of my many treasured sheepskin (faux) rugs. You can buy them on Amazon for as little as $18.00.  The second thing I use in my home to add a warm touch is candles, but not the kind that you light. Instead, I buy battery operated candles on Amazon and set them around my home. The third thing I add to my cozy decor is some of my cute ceramic houses with tea lights as an extra cozy touch. You can find these little ceramic houses at Crate and Barrel–here is an example of one–ceramic houses.

I’ll be sharing my post on the lovely blog Love of Home for Sundays at Home.

P.S.Watch out for the color trend spotted for fall–amber!

I purchased two amber apothecary jars from the Hearth and Hand collection at Target (9.99 and 3.99) and then found Ball Jars in Amber–package of 4 for 9.95. So I’m set.

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**none of the links I’ve provided are affiliate links** It’s just me being helpful:)

Have a happy cozy fall 2018!

Just Breathe

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Why is the beginning of the new school year stressful? Here’s Why–

Students are stressing about returning to school–fitting in, peer pressure, grade stress, relationship stress, activities stress, and keeping to a schedule stress.

Parents/Teachers are stressing about keeping to a schedule, teaching, finances, new activities, illness, scheduling conflicts between work and school, their kid’s stress, and meal planning.

There is no one way for people to deal with stress. Everyone is different when it comes to stress. One thing that can help everyone cope with stress is to talk about it. Parents with other parents, kids with other kids and with their parents, and teachers with teachers, and teachers with parents. Often times just sitting down and getting it all out there helps alleviate your anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed as well as explain things to those around you, giving them the opportunity to perhaps help you to alleviate your stress and anxiety.

Here are some fabulous resources to help you start the new school year!

 

Happy August!

 

You or Your Representative?

This post was inspired by a real-life experience I had almost three weeks ago. I met someone that I have been “friends” with online for nearly ten years. A couple hours into our meeting I realized that her real-life self was almost unrecognizable to the person I’d “known” online. And not just kinda but really, really different from what had been presented online. In retrospect, even though the two versions are quite different from one another, I feel like I could be friends with both. My only issue with the two versions was my confusion, maybe disappointment? that I felt after meeting her. Maybe I felt hurt or betrayed at first that she hadn’t been her true self online. I’m not sure, really. Even now I’m still not sure how I feel about any of it, but I do know that most of us at one time or another have been guilty of doing the same or similar–whether online or in real life. The experience left me wondering if we ever really know the people we think we are “friends” with online or are we just a part of their well-executed narrative.

One thing that I think may contribute to this issue is that there are so many people nowadays making a living online. You may chat with them, watch their YouTube channel, read a blog post of theirs, or buy something from them and they may show you a side of themselves you don’t often see in person. This post isn’t about that. This post is about who you are sending out into the world on a regular basis as your representative for various reasons. Your representative may or may not be a true facet of your real self. So, my question is–are you, you or are you your representative?

Having watched a good many people make their living online– I can tell you one thing I notice right away about almost all of them. And that is they’re exhausted. Exhausted from the many different facets, some themselves and some others, that they have created to send out into the world on their behalf. People really believe that their real, genuine self just isn’t good enough anymore for the masses.

This post is not meant to shame anyone, nor is it intended to fix you or your representative(if you have one). This post will hopefully make you aware and remind you that the self you need to be putting “out there” more needs to be you. Because anything else is just plain exhausting. I say this from a place of experience. In my not so distant past, I’ve sent my representative out into the world for various reasons. Probably the most used reason was that I didn’t have enough confidence in the real me to pull off interviews, or presentations, or meet-ups, or social events. Instead of working on the real me, I had adopted another version of me– I called this one the people pleaser. This version smiled often even when sad. The word no wasn’t in her vocabulary (sure I’m free on Saturday), and lastly, she was everyone’s upbeat and go to gal. This representative of mine truly exhausted me and after a while it was hard to even know out where she left off and I took back over. If you’ve been through this it’s like after a while you’re just kind of out there living a life that’s not really you. If this goes on too long, say years, it’s hard to know just who is the real you and who is the representative.

Putting on a happy face is something different than sending in your representative– we tend to do this for our family and friends. It’s still you, just you trying hard to get through a moment, a day, a situation.

Often times the only way to recognize that someone you know has been sending a representative is to meet them in person. With friends and co-workers, it’s usually pretty easy to see when someone is acting unlike themselves, or different from the self you know out of work, or just plain fake.

When you are dealing with someone that is genuine, authentic, and comfortable in their own skin –you will know it, feel it, and truly believe it.  I don’t believe there is anything more beautiful than being in the presence of someone who is wholly sharing their real self with everyone around them.  Their demeanor is calm, they express themselves well, they exude warmth and care, and are truly someone you want to spend time with.

Whereas a representative of you isn’t 100% invested in anything. Remember she is just a facet of you and not you entirely. She doesn’t care if you’re overwhelmed or exhausted because she is the representative you sent out into the world to be successful–sell, sell and make money. She will make all kinds of commitments for you because she can’t say no. She doesn’t value your friends, she isn’t truly interested in your friends, and she doesn’t really engage/connect with your friend’s.  Her role is superficial at best.

I would guess that the person I met has had many different representatives. Over the course of almost ten years online she has used quite a few. The latest one is one I would affectionately call the fixer representative. There are a lot of fixers online nowadays. There are people who want to fix you, fix your finances, fix your problems, fix your weight, fix your mood, fix your wardrobe, even fix your health. Some of these people truly are experts and some of these people are trying to fix other people because it distracts them. It distracts them from fixing themselves. Sometimes fixing people can make you a lot of money, but money or not, it can’t fix you. The person I met in real life mentions often that she is tired, overwhelmed, crying all the time, and unhappy. That is indeed what can and often does come from fixing others before we fix ourselves. It’s exhausting.

Be you. Nobody in the world does it better than you. Don’t be afraid. Don’t hide. Be vulnerable–it’s hard, but it’s worth it. Show the world you are who you are and don’t make apologies for it. Practice being you. Get used to being you. Try you on and introduce you to all the people around you. Show your people and show your audience your true authentic self and I promise you –you’ll have no regrets. And another thing–you won’t be so darn exhausted anymore, instead, you will feel refreshed–more like you.

All my best,

Kim

How to prevent one’s self from falling down the rabbit hole

What does falling down the rabbit hole really mean? Well, in Alice in Wonderland it meant falling down into a bizarre world of wonderland. A strange and different reality for Alice. Today it can also mean being so distracted by something, to the point of obsessing about it, that our “real work” is left undone.

So then what is our real work? Part of our real work is what we do on a daily basis in order to pay our bills or help pay our bills. The other part of our real work lies in who we are and what we define as our purpose in life.

For instance, I work as an accountant. My real job deals with numbers, balance sheets, and clients. Being an accountant isn’t necessarily what I saw myself doing for a career, but becoming an accountant was a decision that I made and worked very hard to fully realize. It helps to pay the bills. The part I like most about my job is my clients. I like being able to help people that want and need my help. The other part of my real work lies in how I see myself and what purpose I serve in my life, and in other people’s lives.  Over time I think a person’s true purpose becomes clearer to them. I did not always know what I was meant to do with my life. Even if I didn’t exactly get the career part perfect, I feel I am pretty close to knowing exactly what my true purpose is.

Part of my purpose is to be a wife. Now I know that will not sit well for some and I want you to know that’s o.k. It’s my purpose, not a purpose.  I enjoy being a wife on so many levels. Being a wife didn’t come easily to me. I didn’t get married until I was almost 30. I loved being single. Marriage to me means monogamy and it was hard for me to believe one person could make me happy forever. I also didn’t like having to consider another person for every decision and choice that I made. Because I had experienced making poor choices in previous relationships, I was scared I wouldn’t get it right when choosing a marital partner. And then, of course, I was scared if I did make a poor choice what divorce would do to me. In a sense every time I thought of marriage I fell down the proverbial rabbit hole. Eventually, I made the decision to get married to someone that I’d fallen in love with and soon we will be together twenty-five years. Being someone’s wife has been one of the best things to happen to me. I’ve learned how to consider another, sacrifice for another, be satisfied and patient with another, and I’ve learned to stay–not run away when things get hard. Things I never did as a girlfriend. I’ve worked out how to be a best friend, how to be faithful in all things, how to say I’m sorry, and how to be humbled by someone. Living as my husband’s true partner, friend, love, and lifetime mate is truly part of my purpose in life.

Another purpose of mine is writing. I’ve been writing since I was about twelve years old. I started by writing poems and by fifteen I’d had a couple of my poems published. Writing is almost a need for me. If it wasn’t for my fear of grammatical errors I would write all the time. Alas, I don’t always feel comfortable with what I’ve written due to punctuation and grammar–sentence structure and everything good writing requires. I write for a number of reasons with need being the biggest reason. A secondary reason for my writing has always been to help someone. I like being useful to people. I feel better if I’ve shared something with someone rather than keep something that may be helpful to myself. Along with how I see myself and the purposes in life I feel are mine –there is how the people in my circle see me and what purpose I serve them. As a friend, I am non-judgmental, supportive, and open-minded.  As an accountant, I am a hard worker who pays close attention to detail and her client’s wishes and requests. As a complete stranger in the street, you will find I’m courteous, friendly, and polite.  I say “thank you”, “please”, “excuse me” and I hold doors open for young, old, male and female.

But who am I when I am distracted? I am none of these things. I get distracted by the news, my daily newspaper, IG, FB, and Pinterest. I have been known to sit for several hours and veg out on my IG feed. Beautiful things soothe me, I cannot lie. And if I am soothed aren’t I a better person?  Maybe? I do know this–when I am distracted I’m not involved in any activity that represents any of my true purposes. Sometimes distraction can lead one down the rabbit hole. Suddenly nothing looks or feels the same way anymore. Living a bizarre, and totally distracted life become the new norm. I love IG but does anyone else feel like a total failure after about an hour of scrolling through their feed? What can be done about that? Well, a good dose of reality is a good start. I have to remind myself that what I am seeing is their purpose, and is their purpose also my purpose? See above–no. My purpose is being a wife, accountant, friend, and writer. So, I reel in the envy because I don’t have time to fall down any rabbit holes.

The worst part of distraction is getting lost. Losing yourself completely to something or someone that isn’t in your circle or in any part, part of your purposes. Once lost, and without the bearings of your true purpose, it is hard to make your way back.  Over the past several months the news has turned me into a cynical, angry, often times irrational person. That is not who I am. And personally, I don’t like that person at all. Should I not watch the news? Well, I’m too curious to not watch the news. What should I do? Most of the time what I do is simply pray. I also sit back and listen. I listen to my husband, friends, and co-workers as they try to work the news out. It’s all I can do right now. When something comes up that I can participate in, I take action. Complacency is not my friend.

You know Alice fell down the rabbit hole because in her mind her life was ho-hum, nothing too remarkable– her young life seemed to lack purpose. Though there isn’t a moral to her story, Alice upon falling down the rabbit hole did begin to look for a way back home. Perhaps feeling that her life wasn’t so bad after all. There is nothing wrong with looking at pretty pictures on IG or getting angry with the news. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting off track for a period of time as long as you get back on track. Delays and interruptions are a part of our lives. Our purposes may be the same but they’re also very different. Don’t lose yourself in someone else’s life, don’t lose yourself by becoming so filled with envy, or anger that you don’t recognize yourself.

Realize your true purpose and live your true intent. If you can– add in a bit of humility, kindness, and grace. Hold on to who you are but also allow some of the world’s harsh realities to take hold and empower you to do what is right.

Purpose

Noun- the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

Verb- have as one’s intention or objective.

Until next time–all my best!

Flowers and why they’re so important to me 🌷🌹🌸

Maybe it was the black spider-like stamens on the red tulip, or perhaps the honey filled tips of the columbine. At eight years old there was one thing that made me happy, almost as much as kittens did, and that was flowers. I discovered iris’s that reminded me of ruffled satin slippers and lily of the valley with its fairy-like bell-shaped flowers and fragrance that still today remains a favorite. My childhood home, thanks to my grandma, was a virtual paradise of beautiful gardens. A recurrent dream of mine even now is to have a large field of flowers, filled with the flowers my grandmother grew, and in every room of my home–a vase of fresh cut flowers.

Eventually, as I grew up, I found my way to the lovely peony bushes where I hastily shook all the ants away. Only to receive a harsh scolding from my grandma about the peony needing the ants to help open its petals.

Around twenty I realized that I  loved to be surrounded by beautiful things.  Everywhere I’ve lived in the last twenty-five years, I’ve tried to recreate some of my grandmother’s gardens. I’ve planted many iris’s, and lily of the valley, antique roses, cosmos, and columbine.  In our last home, my husband and I got cuttings from seven different lilac bushes in hopes of growing many shades of the beautiful lilac. When we left this home eleven years ago and moved temporarily into a small apartment, I found myself for the first time unable to grow a garden (space and location).  I missed having flowers for our home and I surely missed the challenge of growing beautiful things. So, once a week when we’d go grocery shopping I would pick up a cheap and cheerful bouquet of flowers. And so the “habit” of having fresh flowers in our home every week was born. After about six months I noticed that deciding which bouquets to buy, preparing them for the vase, and then finding a place in our apartment that displayed them at their best, became a new interest of mine. The entire process slowly had become a part of me. I realized that studying flowers, dreaming of owning a cut flower farm, buying bouquets, and decorating with them made me happy. Flowers and gardening have become an integral part of my PTSD therapy.  The challenges of gardening, believe it or not, have helped me immensely in dealing with anxiety.

My container garden this year–where my focus is to grow tomatoes to perfection! Along with the tomatoes, I am currently growing Spanish lavender, French lavender, a lime coleus, red geraniums, prairie grass, a fuschia, hens and chicks, and rosemary.

Another project I’ve taken on in the past ten years has been traveling to, photographing, and identifying meadow/prairie flowers.  Doing this has really been a past time of mine for more than thirty years, but just recently I have begun to photograph my finds. My husband and I routinely visit a nature refuge that has many wildflower meadows. I’m able to find and photograph many native flowers and plants like the wild blue lupine, wild yellow asters, coreopsis, and the wild rose.

As for ever having a cut flower farm–well, maybe someday. Until then I live vicariously through Erin Benzakein of Floret Farms (WA),  Farmgirl Flowers CA), Sunborn Gardens in Mt. Horeb WI (local to me) and Cathy in Iowa–also known as Miss Effie @Miss Effie’s Diary.

I’ll leave you with a favorite poem of mine–

Robert Frost- Flower Gathering

I left you in the morning,
And in the morning glow
You walked a way beside me
To make me sad to go.
Do you know me in the gloaming,
Gaunt and dusty gray with roaming?
Are you dumb because you know me not,
Or dumb because you know?
All for me? And not a question
For the faded flowers gay
That could take me from beside you
For the ages of a day?
They are yours, and be the measure
Of their worth for you to treasure,
The measure of the little while
That I’ve been long away.