Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Have you experienced the stress that can accompany the festive season?
Getting everything ready when working full time can be a challenge.
I learned how to cope with what I could control and let go of the rest...

For the things that can be controlled I say "minimize getting frazzled" by starting early and making lists.
I am a fan of lists...they can be handwritten or entered into "Notes" on your IPhone.

Lists of the people whom you exchange or give gifts to with ideas and a budget amount that is realistic.
Another list of things to do to get ready...the tree, order the turkey, buy the Christmas crackers, etc.
Food items that you might need to buy for homemade Hostess gifts, food and spirits for any events you are planning to host, the annual Christmas feast recipes and ingredients so there is no last minute panic.

I am an advocate of shopping early in small shops.
I also like to make homemade gifts like marmalade, chocolate dipped fruit and shortbread.
I find these are especially nice as Hostess gifts.

My other favourites are beeswax candles wrapped in linen tea towels, scented candles, and exotic teas.

I wrap presents as I bring them home.
The gift wrap is purchased on Boxing Day of the previous year at 50% off.
Tags are often recycled Christmas cards cut into shapes using pinking shears.
Beautiful ribbons are saved and then reused.

If you do not have the time to wrap you might opt for one of the gift wrap kiosks that local charities run at this time of year and for a donation they will do the job for you.

I make a "two dinner meal" so that I cook one night and reheat it the next.

Baking happens a week to 10 days ahead of Christmas.
Lots of pretty tins are lined with doilies and I store the baked goods downstairs in a colder spot.

Weight Watchers website published a cranberry chutney recipe this week and I made two jars for our family feast.
It keeps in the fridge for a month.

Finding balance during this busy festive season is essential for my well being.
I take extra care of my health and pay attention and slow down when I feel that I am too busy.
I drink lots of Perrier to keep hydrated and I go to bed early.

 I take Mother out more often as with the holidays she seems to feel the loss of my father more profoundly.
We go to The Fairmont Empress to look at the decorated trees and wander along The Esplanade in Oak Bay.
We'll grab a nourishing bowl of soup at Pure Vanilla Cafe.

This year she is hosting a wine and cheese!
She has invited all the residents of her condominium to drop in for the afternoon.
She is so excited that the response has been so positive but now she is feeling a little overwhelmed.
I am going to help her prepare and serve the food after all she is 86!

She continues to be an inspiration to me...
I've learned so much from her all these years.

I've got a few things yet to accomplish, the biggest of which will be cleaning The Humble Bungalow.
Our cleaning gal is in The Philippines lending her capable hands to action some much needed "missionary work." 
Knowing her as I do, I am certain she is helping the victims and putting a much needed smile on their faces.
Giving them hope and help.
She has put her jobs on hold and to do so in these busy times is so generous.

A reminder that we all need to be mindful of our fellow man.
Not just at this time of year but all year long.

I know that I need to do more to help those in need.

I'm curious, 
do you volunteer in your community?
Will you share with us how you help.


  1. That Cranberry Chutney sounds delicious! I would love to try it.
    I do volunteer in my community. I have been seeing a senior for the last 2+ years. She was 99-years-old when I met her and now she is a healthy 101!
    We meet every week at her home for about an hour and just chat. We both look forward to our visits. It's a way for me to feel more centered and get out of my own head.
    I used to think it was a sacrifice of time and effort on my part to benefit her but now I feel like I am the one getting the benefits. She has become a very dear friend to me. I am so glad I decided to start volunteering a few years ago.

  2. Hostess, I applaud your organized and balanced approach. I hope someday I have more time for baking and making goodies like that chutney. I love the glittery pine cones! Sometimes the simplest decorations are best.

  3. What a lovely calming post. I may not be able to do what you do but I enjoy hearing about it. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  4. You are truly lucky to have your mother, and to have her able to entertain and be part of the festivities. There is no greater gift, to me, than the love of one's family.

    1. You are so very right, Duchesse. Leslie's post made me miss my own mother. She lived to be 92, stayed trim and chic, and was lots of fun and a wonderful hostess.

    2. You are so very right, Duchesse. Leslie's post made me miss my own mother. She lived to be 92, stayed trim and chic, and was lots of fun and a wonderful hostess.

  5. What a good idea for you mother to host a wine and cheese party. My mum is having her first Christmas as a widow living in an apartment and is having a sushi party. This year, we have decided to donate to charities rather than to buy unneeded gifts. My mother is volunteering at the food bank but I am away too much to be a reliable volunteer.

  6. I volunteer as a member of Soroptimist, an international organization for women who work to raise funds to benefit women and children in their club areas. I volunteer as a literacy tutor but I currently do not have a student. I have volunteered for years at food banks but am taking a break from that for awhile. I enjoy community involvement and wish more people could find time, even a few hours a month, to help others.

  7. Hostess, My husband and I honeymooned at the Empress Hotel 37 years ago. It was very special.

    You give such good advice for handling the stress of the holidays. After exhausting myself at Thanksgiving, I'm slowing down for Christmas. This will include a commercially smoked turkey (from my hometown) instead of roasting one, a festive meal on Christmas Eve, and then availing ourselves of the Christmas feast offered by my mother's retirement community. This year we are concentrating our "doing for others" on my 90 year old mother and my sister who has come to visit from across the country. I'm hosting her at our house for two of the weeks she is visiting. The idea was to make her feel loved and appreciated, but, as sometimes happens, she has made me feel this way instead.

  8. You inspire me, Hostess. Your preparations are filled with personal touches and joy. I have tried to downsize our overwhelming Christmas celebration, but still have a long way to go. As hard as I've tried, they still seem a bit frantic.

  9. I volunteer to foster for a couple of cat rescue organizations in Toronto. I had four kittens who left last night on the next step in their journey to a permanent home. The house felt empty this morning but there's another little guy at the vet's who I hope can come home tonight. There's a huge problem with abandoned and feral cats in Toronto, but the kittens from feral mothers can be tamed from about six weeks to four months of age if they have human contact.

    When I retire from full time work I'd like to do more, perhaps help at the food bank or spay neuter clinics. Or visit shut-ins as Adrienne does; that sounds very worth while too.