Saturday, December 13
Friday, December 12
It must be Christmas. This week has been full of surprises. Some came in the mail and one via hubby. It all started last Sunday morning when a knock came at the door. Lo and behold, there was the Canada Post delivery driver and in his hand was a parcel. Canada Post never delivers on weekends and I certainly didn't expect them to deliver on Sunday. The driver explained that in the month of December they always work weekends.
I brought the parcel into the house. The box was pretty battered and I hoped that whatever was inside was safe.
Seems this parcel had been in the mail since November 17th The only thing I can figure out is that it was held up in Customs for some reason.
This is what was inside. The beautiful scarecrow lady that Sandy, from Flip Flop Floozie, had told me she would send me. I had commented on how much I liked her and Sandy sent her to live with me. I was delighted. Thank you, Sandy, for your generosity. I love her and promise that she will have a good home here. Imagine! She traveled all the way from Georgia to southern Ontario. I wonder what tales she could tell about her journey?
The second surprise arrived at my door on Wednesday. About 1 pm, a knock came at the door and once again it was the Canada Post delivery truck driver. I will call him D. In his hand he held this box:
I knew right away that it had come from the US. I can tell by the box. I signed for it, brought it in and opened it. I'm expecting a few swap parcels and this one was all the way from North Carolina. Peggy of Hidden Haven Homestead had joined in my book swap and she was one of my partners. (I ended up with two partners because an odd number of people signed up. I loved it!) I carefully opened the parcel and was delighted to find some extra goodies inside.
Peggy included a beautiful book titled, A Quiet Knowing Christmas by Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham. Included along with the book was a card with one of Peggy's adorable goats on it, a cake of homemade Hidden Haven goat's milk soap and Hidden Haven homemade milk's goat hand lotion. My hands have been dry and rough the last couple of weeks and none of the hand lotions that I have were working. As soon as I took this photo, I opened the lotion and put just a dab on my hands and then worked it in. Such a small amount and my hands are no longer dry. This is a great product. I would recommend it to anyone who is suffering from dry skin. The goat's milk soap was Holiday Crunch fragrance and it is heavenly. I love the fragrance. Thank you so much, Peggy. Everything you chose was perfect. I will be sure to do a book review once I've read the book. Peggy makes and sells her own goat milk products and she does a terrific job. Be sure to take time to visit Hidden Haven Homestead and also Peggy's Etsy Shop. I know I will be buying a few gifts from Peggy for the special people in my life in the future.
So, this has been quite the week for surprises, which is not something I'm used to. It was such a nice treat to get so many unexpected gifts. I do appreciate my hubby and all of my blogging friends. Remember the people who provide you with service this Christmas - the person who delivers your newspaper, the person who delivers your mail and anyone else who gives good service. You don't have to give a large tip or an expensive present. Cookies, candies or a card with a gift card or a small bill will let them know how much you appreciate their hard work. ~Blessings, Mary~
This morning when I got up, there on the table was a Tim Horton's coffee mug. I'd seen these advertised on TV and mentioned that I really liked them. Tim Horton puts out a line of collector items each year and this is for 2008. It looks exactly like their take-out cups except it has a handle. For those who are familiar with Tim Horton's products, there is even a rim on the top of the cup. Hubby bought this for me on his way home from work. I love it!
Thursday, December 11
This year I have done the following:
* Dropped my change into the Salvation Army kettle on the way out of the grocery store.
* Sent books to a little girl I know who may not get anything from Santa.
* Given books for both adults and children to the Christmas Basket Exchange.
* Put out a Baking Challenge to my friends and readers here in blogland. Some families will receive baked goods through this challenge.
If you would like to do something for those less fortunate this Christmas, you can do any of the things listed above or you can:
* Volunteer to help deliver Christmas baskets.
* Take a tag off a Christmas tree and buy for the child whose name is listed on the tag. Many stores, including Wal*mart have trees with the names of children who aren't going to find a gift under the tree this year.
* Volunteer in a church kitchen and help with the annual Christmas dinner that they provide to those who don't have money for food.
* Take some goodies to a nursing home, or call ahead to find out the name of a senior who does not have family to visit. These people will cherish the gift of your company, if only for a half hour. Many of them are lonely and would love to be spoken to in a kind manner or given a hug.
* Seek out a homeless person and buy him/her lunch. Money isn't a good idea but a nice lunch and your company would be very much appreciated.
* Buy a blanket or sleeping bag for a street person if you are able, or even take them a blanket that you no longer use. Warm coats are also appreciated by people who live on the streets. Check in your city for an organization that will accept donations of blankets and coats for street people.
* Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
* Take a child who is lonely to a movie or out for lunch. Kids who are less fortunate would look forward to any type of outing.
* Give a single mother an IOU for babysitting services. Even a couple of hours will give her a much needed break.
* Become a Big Brother or Big Sister and give a child the gift of your time.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada
There are so many ways to help the less fortunate. If every person would just do one of these things, the world would be a much different place. Give of yourself this Christmas. It is the greatest gift you could give. ~Blessings, Mary~
Wednesday, December 10
Tuesday, December 9
Monday, December 8
I've always loved holly. The beautiful red berries against the dark, shiny green leaves bring a splash of colour to our homes in the Yuletide season.
English holly has been used as a symbol of Christmas in European countries for centuries. The spiky leaves represent the crown of thorns worn by Christ as He hung on the cross. The berries, the droplets of blood that he shed and the green leaves in harsh, frigid climates represented everlasting life.
When Europeans came to America, they didn't bring English holly but found that there was holly growing in the New World. This is the holly that they used each year to decorate their homes and it's been a tradition ever since.
Early in the 20th century, holly was very popular. People began stealing it from the forests on private property and there were times when holly trees were cut down for the precious green leaves and berries that were produced. At that time Delaware and Maryland passed a law that forbid the sale of fresh holly in order to prevent the vandalism that was taking place.
Before Europeans arrived in America, Native Americans used holly leaves to brew tea for coughs. They sometimes used the berries for buttons for clothing but the majority of berries were left for winter food for the birds. Holly berries are poison to humans but birds love them and they are a great source of nutrition for our feathered friends.
I've always wanted two holly bushes for the front of our property. I've never been able to find them, but one of these days I will. If you want holly to produce berries, you have to have both a male and female plant. In late spring both bushes will produce creamy, white flowers, but only the female produces berries. A single male holly bush can pollinate up to eight female bushes.
Holly bushes like full sun and acidic soil. They can be grown in partial shade but will probably develop leaf spot. Some kinds of holly produce yellow berries and to me these are not as pretty, but it is a personal preference. Traditional holly has red leaves and if this is your goal, be sure to read the label or ask staff at the garden center. Another option is to buy holly when it has berries on it to be sure of what you are purchasing.
Do not prune holly after it flowers in early spring or there will be few berries produced. The best time of year to prune your holly bush is December, though holly doesn't really need to be pruned. Left to its own devices, holly will grow naturally in a pyramid shape.
When we see pictures of holly, we automatically think of Christmas. It has become known as a symbol of the holiday season. It can be used in centerpieces, swags, wreaths and other decorations to make your home more festive.
It's going to be busy around here. I have a lot to do before Christmas. The boys came over for the afternoon and we got the Christmas village up. Then we headed out to a farm that sells Christmas trees. They also have a Christmas store. It was terribly cold and the wind had quite a bite to it. By the time we walked to the store from the parking lot, we were freezing. We looked around in the store, which had some unique Christmas ornaments. They even had a western section with cowboy Santas. Some were on horses and some were wearing cowboy hats and boots. No, Anni, they didn't have a stagecoach, but I did think of you and looked for one. We didn't buy anything but had a good time looking around. Then we headed out to look for a tree. However, we had a change of heart when we saw they were asking anywhere from $50 to $70 for a tree.
I wish all of my friends and readers a great week. For the next three weeks we are going to be busy. Make sure you take time for yourself so as not to get an overload of stress. After all, Christmas is a time of joy and giving. Be kind to yourself and do an random act of kindness for someone less fortunate. You'll be surprised at the great feeling you will have knowing you've done something to make others happy. ~Blessings, Mary~