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Archive for Holidays

The perfect Christmas Gift

There’s no denying it now people … its a slippery slope ’til Christmas, only one month to go!

Last Christmas I received I gift that blew me away! I’m no Martha Stewart, but I’m a fairly “crafty” person myself and have made, sewed, knitted and baked my fair share of Christmas gifts over the years. But this one takes the cake!

My brother John and his wife Tina are the owners of Morr-McNaughton Stables in Caistorville and they breed Canadian Horses. In addition to their herd, they keep other animals on their farm including some sheep. The sheep are fun to have around but serve a purpose too. These Shetlands are from Flock One – the first Shetland sheep brought to North America. Each year they have their wool shorn and it is taken away to be spun into knitting yarn – pure, organic, hand spun – you get it!  The colour of  each skein is dependent on which sheep it came from. John and Tina have four different sheep, so there are four different colours.

Tina (who also teaches skating and has a day job)  likes to knit and crochet in her spare (!) time. For Christmas last year she whipped up some delightful headbands for some of the girls in our family. Mine is a cream colour (Lindsay provided my wool) and looks great with my Quartz Nature red parka. To complete her creation and hold the headband together all Tina needed was a button.

When you live in the country and you don’t have a button you improvise!

John was charged with finding a button. On their property were many fallen trees and branches from the ice storm we experienced just before Christmas in 2013. John got a brilliant idea,  took a saw to one of the branches, cut some slices, drilled two holes and voila! Buttons!


Clockwise from top left Jackie, Mary,Bo and Lindsay



Thanks Lindsay , bottom left for my wool!



Needless to say, it was a beautiful gift and the wooden button was the finishing touch, n’est ce pas? I’d love some mittens this year … hint, hint!

For more information on John and Tina’s farm or to buy a horse visit





Born in the USA

It was introduced “with great fanfare” in 1936 at the Pittsburg China and Glass Show in five colours and was an immediate hit!  After 37 years of production it was retired in 1972. In 1986 it was resurrected by Bloomingdale’s and made tougher, lead free and better than ever. Chances are your mother or grandmother collected it. It is still a top choice among brides today and a leading brand in casual dinnerware. What am I referring to? Why, FIESTA, of course!

Manufactured as always by the Homer Laughlin China Company of West Virginia, this American company has produced over one half billion pieces of dinnerware since its inception 78 years ago during the Great Depression. As the leading producer of restaurant china,  Homer Laughlin uses the same ceramic glazes and durable materials for their domestic housewares as they do for the restaurant trade. In fact, the dishes are guaranteed chip-proof for five years and have proven to be reliably durable for families. You will see them in diners and restaurants or in the movies. Currently available in 16 colours, the sets of dishes are designed to be mixed and matched. And that is where the fun is! Some people like to collect one place setting of each colour for a rainbow effect. Others like to mix 3 or 4  or more colours. It is enjoyable to combine different colours according to holiday, occasion or mood.

Finally it was time for me to purchase some new dishes. The last complete set of dishes I had was from Eaton’s and they’ve been gone now for fifteen years! After some online research I ordered eight sets of Fiesta from Macy’s. Macy’s was featuring a buy one, get one free sale, with an additional 15%off. Even with duty, taxes & shipping I was pleased with the price. The eight sets arrived (only one plate broken) and I’m having a blast combining the dishes with each other and with my linens.

I chose scarlet, marigold and cobalt (the three primary colours) as my base colours. I’m collecting additional pieces in colours that coordinate with these. So far I have pieces in white, flamingo, periwinkle and sea mist. Vintage Fiesta can also be mixed with modern pieces as the sizes are consistent. Homer Laughlin has pledged to introduce one new colour each year and to retire colours. Flamingo is currently being retired and poppy is the newest addition.

When I invited my mother to see my new dishes, she laughed when she saw them! During her engagement, she collected Fiesta from the local grocery store. If you spent a certain amount on groceries you earned a stamp. Collect enough stamps and you could  trade it for dinnerware. My parents used it during the early years of their marriage.  I don’t  I probably ate off them as a baby, but don’t have a memory of them. Thanks to my friend Cindy for giving me my first FIESTA  pieces – two vintage sea mist bread and butter plates.

By the way, Lemongrass is the colour of the month!

Author’s note: Thanks to the Homer Laughlin China Company official website and Bruce Springsteen.

Getting organized for the holidays

Holiday season is just beginning, but the sooner you start, the easier it will be! I’m a firm believer in breaking big tasks down into smaller pieces. You can use these 12 strategies at Christmas to make it a little easier for yourself.

  1. Mark all family member’s social events on your paper or electronic calendar.
  2. Make note of the events you that require you to bring food. Plan your grocery shopping and baking in advance.
  3. Plan your wardrobe choices around your social events and try on outfits in advance.
  4. Make a list of all the people you need to shop for. As you get ideas, fill in the list. Then you will never be at the mall wondering what to get. Its much easier when you know what you’re after.
  5. Buy Christmas stamps now at the post office before they run out.
  6. If you didn’t get them on sale last year, try to purchase Christmas cards, wrapping paper and napkins on sale. You can always tuck them away for next  year.
  7. Schedule beauty and hair appointments if you didn’t already do so in September!
  8. Keep your regular schedule of gym and exercise. Its a great stress reliever.
  9. Volunteer, donate or help others – that’s what this season is about!
  10. Delegate – ask family members to help with decorating, card writing, cookie baking and enjoy some time together.
  11. Indulge in moderation – you deserve to enjoy yourself too.
  12. Revel in imperfection – sometimes the burnt turkey, mismatched slippers and forgotten presents are the best part!

Its early, but let me be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas!