Wrapping Up the Christmas/Holiday Season 2011-12

As I put away the decorations and slowly return my home to it’s normal state of being, I ask you this:

Is there a gift you received from which you know you’ll get major mileage? Does it have special significance?

I did:

Hubby got me this incredible necklace–totally my taste.

The crazy part? Read this:

“A heart-shaped locket fell into her lap. Tiny, glittering silver-black marquasite encrusted it, surrounding an oval amethyst on an intricate silver chain.”

My hero gave this to his heroine in No Matter Why. Hubby never read the book yet I end up with this necklace that is so ridiculously close to the one I wrote about it’s scary. AND it’s an estate piece. My heroine’s was an antique–go figure.

Your turn–what was your favorite gift or memory this past holiday season?

See you later this week,


Sharing Unique and Special Holiday Traditions!

Twas the week before Christmas and all over my blog, we’re slowing down long enough to talk holiday traditions unique to us!

   I goofed with size (my brain fritzed out and had me convinced my ceilings were seven feet instead of eight. My kids and their friends swooped down on it–kind of like at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas–and did a great job making it a respectable representative of the season (or so I think). Thanks guys!

Back to traditions. Mine started out twenty-four years ago, Christmas 1987. One of my two brothers had passed away in May of that year. Leukemia won out after nine months of him being sick more off than on, beginning the August prior and kicking up its efforts the following March. My mom, being a rather old-school Italian immigrant, wouldn’t allow any type of Christmas decorations that year.

Guess I really wanted a tree. I bought a small real one, took it to the cemetery and decorated it. Every year since then I’ve brought my brother a tree; it’s my family’s gift to him. As time passed my mom became part of the decorating team—nothing spectacular: just dollar-store decorations that wind up spending the rest of the year in her car’s trunk. (Her Italian ways dictate that nothing from the cemetery ever enters one’s home.)

Once I got married, hubby and my stepsons became part of the tradition and today, my boys and I put up the perfect little Charlie-Browner yet. (Should have had my son, Ace-Joe-I-Phone Photographer–who gets credit for the above shot–snap a shot to post here.)

Your turn, friends: I’d love to read about the special thing you do that sets apart as yours one of the current holidays. And I’ll check in later this week with…whatever I can come up with that’s fun! (Maybe a simple but yummy recipe that would serve as nice but different appetizer at get-togethers? Hmm. That might just work! :))

Have a wonderful day,


De-Stressing During the Holiday Season–Diane Lang Style!

Hope everyone had a great weekend and that no one is too stressed out thinking about cooking turkeys, stuffing and all that goes along with that. Chances are, I’m good until Wednesday night, when I have to let that big ol’ bird take up my sink for a few hours. Then I have to bleach-clean everything–the part I hate the most. I love having my family over–nieces, nephews; my brother and sister-in-law. My mom and hubby’s and probably some drop-in friends of my son’s. We shall see. 😉
I now turn you over to my good friend, counselor, life coach and real-life working mom, Diane Lang. She’ll get the busiest time underway with tips on keeping it a more enjoyable time by keeping those stress levels down. 
I can’t believe it but it’s almost that time of year again. Thanksgiving in a few weeks and then Christmas. It comes so quickly. When it’s the holidays, we tend to get stressed out. I wanted to give a few tips on being positive to keep us all smiling during this holiday season and there is a lot to be happy and grateful for.
1. Remember what the holidays are really about – spending quality time with family, friends and loved ones. It’s about giving love and joy to others. Watch your expectations – make sure they are realistic. We try for perfection at the holidays and we tend to forget what the holidays are really about. Remind yourself that the holidays are about being close to your loved ones everything else come second.
2. Take care of you – during the busy holiday season we forget about ourselves. We worry so much about setting a nice table, buying and cooking the food, decorating the house, buying the presents, etc. We forget to take a time out and spend some quiet time alone. Make sure to put yourself on your priority list and put yourself high up on the list. If we aren’t feeling mentally, physically and emotional healthy, how we will be able to have a good holiday. The more time you put aside for you the healthier and happier you will feel this holiday season.
3. Seasonal disorder – this is just another issue that can affect people during this stressful time. If you know that the cold weather and shorter days affects you and causes you to have negative moods then do some preventive work. Talk to your doctor about options, seek counseling before the change of weather and holidays start, set up a support system to help when your feeling down, invest in light boxes and plan a vacation to a warm destination ( this will give you something to look forward to).
4. Start early – before the holidays season is in full swing start making your things to do lists, start your holiday shopping early this way when the holidays approach your not scrambling for presents. Start early – buy  wrapping paper, holidays cards, etc. Be preventive.
5. Ask for help. There is no reason why you have to do everything on your own.  Delegate this holiday season.
   Check out Diane’s book for more tips on balance and peace. Visit her website for more details or pick up a copy at Amazon!
Diane Lang, MA
Positive Living Expert/Educator
Hope you’ve found these wonderful tips helpful. I know I have. Off to count my blessings and knowing I’ll never reach numbers of that magnitude! May all of you be blessed and know every one of you is key when I name the things for which I am grateful.
(Image courtesy of events.tru.ca)
Happy Thanksgiving, friends! 
Joanna Aislinn

Happy Second Day After Christmas!


Hope all of you who celebrated had a wonderful time whether you spent Christmas with family, at the movies or simply having a quiet day. And while it’s on my mind, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year, too. May 2010, new year and new decade opener bless all of you and yours with peace, health, happiness, joy (and an abundance of time to read and/or write)!

Lots of catching up to do at this end and a whole lot more to be done during the school break. I’m not grumping—just grateful I have the time but not in the mood to tackle a few of the MUST-DO’s over the next few days, among them home insurance woes, health insurance changes, a couple of short reports for my day job, get a house back together after Christmas and prepare for the release of my debut novel! (I’ll admit it: I’m getting a little nervous.) 

Anyway, since we’re officially making our way through the twelve days of Christmas, let’s have some fun. I’ll keep it simple at my end—just looking to share the moments that stood out most. I have two. Both made me belly laugh—will do what I can to bring you into the moment. 

First: my youngest niece—dark-haired Italian-girl, just past the two-year-six-month mark who loves to walk while looking back at you with these huge dark brown eyes. I happened to comment on this particular behavior while her six-year-old brother sat next to me, supposedly engrossed in his food. “She falls down the stairs a lot,” he said, casual as can be, never lifting his gaze from his plate. And here I was thinking he wasn’t even paying attention.

 We also have a beloved family member who, unfortunately, struggles with macular degeneration. Recently, said person accidentally started a room fire when she dumped cigarette ashes  into the trash. Long story short, someone gave her a charred birdhouse as a gag gift. Not only did she think it was a manger, she thought the burned paper inside was ‘Baby Jesus.’ While the rest of us stood there no longer able to contain our laughter, she decided that piece of paper was a chicken. The entire process was filmed by my son (with the digital camcorder he received the day before)—we had even more fun telling her we’d post it to YouTube :)!

 Okay, so you had to be there. A few photos (disregard dates please; I’m lame with technology), then your turn to share! Doesn’t have to be Christmas either–all December holiday memories welcome!                   


Nineteen (eighteen?) more days until No Matter Why debuts! So excited, I can’t count!

Next week look for author Keena Kincaid to take the spotlight (www.keenakincaid.com) !

Until next time, peace and a little down time for all,