Monday, December 08, 2014

Merry Christmas!

…. I know I'm about 17 days early; but life away from the computer beckons as relatives arrive from the States today and we embark on days filled with school concerts, travels, Christmas crafts, baking, and, in general, getting our "merry" on :) ….  I'll be posting my usual daily inspiration on Instagram (aka mostly pics of my kids :) ); but likely won't be back around here until the new year.  In the meantime, wishing everyone a Christmas filled with love, laughter, and hope from our family to yours….

Rejoice!  Jesus is Born! 

Friday, December 05, 2014

Meet me in the Lodge...

There was so much wonderful visual stimulation in London last weekend between Selfridge's glamorous arcade; Liberty's extravagant windows; and the thousands of lights setting the streets aglow; but my absolute favorite inspiration was the Fortnum & Mason pop-up Lodge cafe at Somerset House…. simple, yet…. oh, so inviting with bowls of clementines and walnuts waiting to be cracked; offerings of mulled cider and fondue to warm you up from the cold (with pieces of bread served up in one of those great little 'hampers' I was lusting after); and charming decorations creating the coziest of settings….

… if you had given us some books or a board game the girls and I may have spent the day there!  Good news is we might get the chance as I'm on a mission to replicate these easy ideas at home… with a roaring fire, comfy throws and a 'pajamas preferred' dress code to boot. :)

Anything inspiring you lately?

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Gift Giving: The Little Ones

When it comes to choosing gifts for the little ones in my house (and life); I love to opt for things that might spark or foster a passion in a certain area…. be it belting out the latest Taylor Swift song or in the case of my 9 year old…. origami. :)  Here are a few things catching my eye this Christmas for...

the future pop star - child's guitar
the snow baby - snow tube
the Star Wars fanatic - Star Wars origami
the little chef - child's apron
the nature lover - binoculars
the budding Picasso - Drawing Book 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

London Calling….

Well, I'm happy to report that while nothing can quite take the place of sharing Thanksgiving with family; we were able to find a very good traditional American turkey and dressing kind of meal (minus the green bean casserole of course) with our British ancestors in London.  :)

Visiting London this time of year is like literally stepping into a Dickens novel…. soft, warm lights glowing thru decorated shop windows; Christmas music being played by street musicians, folks hustling about the streets in scarves and hats…. the whole effect is very magical (except for that pesky exchange rate) :) … and the weekend held a little bit of something for everyone:  a visit to Hampton Court Palace for me; ice skating at Somerset House for the oldest girls; our first high tea (Marlowe's favorite memory of the weekend); shopping on Regent Street for my teen; a Charlie & the Chocolate Factory show for the family; and even a barbecue dinner for my guy...

inside the world's oldest surviving hedge maze (1/2 mile long!)

dreaming of Downton

you can have the inside of the palace; I'll just take the gardens…

I tried my best to get one of those Fortnum & Mason wicker baskets; but, alas, they would only sell them full of goodies. :(

Ashtyn and I agreed we could happily spend a month just going from quaint cafe to quaint cafe...

Quintessential…. but, ewwww… try not to touch. :)

Going on a bear hunt…. for the Paddingtons all over the city

yes, that's them

well, we made it thru about a 1/3 of this...

yes… and yes...

A big highlight was meeting my first 'virtu-real' (phrase coined by JCWebb) friend! :)  We followed one another's blogs in the States and became expats at the same time in 2012…. she to London and us to Geneva where we've kept in contact via Instagram and such…. and it was such a joy to finally get together face to face… the 21st century version of long time pen pals… fantastic!

Jennifer and Patricia…. I hope you'll be next! :)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


Happy December folks!  It takes a lot of planning and conscious effort (along with Christmas music and hot cocoa) not to let the busyness of this month steal my holiday joy.  As life goes... at a time when my daily 'to do' list is overflowing with Christmas time extras; I'm also entertaining more than ever.  As you know, I'm a big proponent of keeping it simple…. so this month will involve a lot of one dish + salad +baguette + wine + store bought dessert type of gatherings which will hopefully have me soaking up the time with friends and family instead of sweating over the kitchen stove.

Thought I'd share three easy dishes that I've made in the last couple of weeks that were big hits for both the kids and adults alike...

Penne alla Vecchia Bettola
Autumn Chopped Salad
Linguini with Shrimp Scampi

… and if the schedule just doesn't allow…. there's always a pizza to be ordered or a rotisserie chicken to be bought…. joy to the world! :)

Anything help you keep your sanity this time of year?