Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On Thinking Warm Thoughts

"The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money."
~Thomas Jefferson
I'm surrounded by candles and covered in handmade afghans and being incubated by two warm fur children and a laptop.  Bone chilling hardly seems an accurate description for this type of freezing. 
Winds whip, causing doors to slightly open as powerful gusts find their way through tiny cracks and crevices.  The furnace chugs away, sprinting through this Antarctic marathon without stopping for rest or refueling.  My tea kettle constantly whistles, signaling another warm cup, another attempt at these 'staying toasty' antics. 
Unbeknownst to them, my fuzzy socks and fingerless gloves have intense responsibilities placed upon them today.  I hope they are prepared for such lofty, albeit unreachable expectations.
Dare I say that I am in heaven?  Is it alright to completely revel in this feeling of cozy and snugly and calm?  Because, you see dear friends... I'm loving it.  I'm completely thrilled.  I can't smile brighter.  I live for days like this.  Days when I can enjoy our home, bake bread, light candles, knit and create....
 Upon emerging from my protective blanket cocoon, I shuffled into the real world, only to find cold, cold, and more cold.  Without hesitating, I prepared  myself a perfect cuppa and quickly gathered this-and-that to add to the simmer pot. (I promise that a nifty simmer pot makes staying in and being chilly a lovely little adventure.)
"What's that?  You want to make one, too?"
Good.  I hoped so.
  Here's how.
Simmer Pot Instructions
First, boil water in a kettle or pan.
While the water heats,  slice one orange (or lemon or lime....let your imagination run wild) and gather any other ingredients that suit your fancy.
(I also added cloves, vanilla essential oil, and dried rosemary from my summer herb garden.)
Cinnamon, allspice, lemon, cranberries and pine tree sprigs are all delightful additions and options- I promise.
Add all ingredients to the simmer pot of your choice. 
(I found my copper one at a thrift store for $2.00-score!)
Gently pour the hot/boiling water over the chosen ingredients.
Lastly, turn the stove on to a low setting (I usually set mine at 2 or 3) and wait for the yummy scent to waft through the air.
*Note: I typically use the same simmer pot for a few days, adding this and that as time passes.  Also, be sure to add more warm water every few hours to keep the potion from becoming 'sludgy' or burned.
With that, I'm lighting a few more candles, heading to my craft nook, and setting off to work on some paper crafting projects that I have up my sleeve.
Stay warm, my friends.  Stay warm and enjoy this day.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Dear reader, you are invited...

"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world."
~Sarah Ben Breathnach
I've always had a sincere love of notebooks and list making.  Interestingly, I enjoy writing a list simply to allow myself the "crossing-off" pleasure of items and tasks.  "Did that," I chide at the completed chore.  "Finished," I proudly gloat to the errand gone by.  And perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that I often save these crossed offed lists.  Do I do 'cross off and save' as a way of validating my self?  As a way to feel accomplished and worthy of a few moments of high quality couch napping?  I can't say.   

However, I can tell you this.  I am currently engaged in a different type of list making, a type of jotting down that's not only cathartic, but joyful and rejuvenating and wonderful and gratifying.
But, pardon me, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Sometime in October or November, I came across a book by the title of The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story Christmas.  I knew I had to have it.  Something about it called to me, and without missing a beat my husband and I made a quick stop at Barnes and Noble.  You guessed it, the book--well the book became mine.

I fell in love.  Ann Voskamp writes in such a way that one feels she is sitting down for hot coffee with an old friend.  Allow yourself envision it....
This friend is the kind of friend who has chipped, faded, and mismatched mugs, full of good cries, hearty laughs, and meaningful conversation; a kitchen table pocked full of dings and dents, evidence of memories and shared moments and solved problems; an old braided rug, worn thin from years of friends shuffling in, children playing, and pets resting.... I kid you not, I bet Ann is that kind of person.
(My Jesse Tree and grass that serves as straw for Baby Jesus' manger)
While reading The Greatest Gift, I also participated in her study and made myself a Jesse Tree, which depicts the ancestors and family heritage of Christ.  When Christmas day came and I finished the last page of the story, I felt full, albeit empty- longing for more of Ann's words.
 "Now what?" I sat wondering.
Enter, One Thousand Gifts.  The words are gentle and beautiful and soft and kind.  The premise of this book is grace and Eucharist, and finding joy in the everyday moments of life.  Generally speaking, it's about finding God and thanking God for the little (and big!) glimpses of wonderful in daily occurrences.  It's life changing, that I can promise.
So, back to my love of notebooks and list making. 
While reading the book, it suggests that the reader keep a list of the gifts (with the intention to find one thousand) that fill and grace her life.  It's a very spiritual discipline, and I've found it highly transformational, giving deep awareness to gratitude and beauty and love and thanksgiving.
I found myself truly excited to embark on this journey of gratitude and gift listing. I searched around until I found the perfect little notebook, one that
was pretty, would fit in my bag or purse, and that simply put, made me happy. 
I'm reading and I'm listing and I'm finding myself so aware and blessed and thankful. 
Won't you join me? 
Let's read and make lists. 
Let's find the magic in the everyday and give thanks for our many gifts.
Let's do this together.
Blessings and peace for a happy new year,

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