Oh, baby, it’s getting cold outside…a bit of winter has arrived!

CHRISTMAS time…our hearts are soaring and our great spirit prevails during the glorious holiday season. Invite friends and family into the warmth of your home…there is nothing quite so elemental as a log fire in the hearth, nothing that excites the passions and imagination like its flames. A wood fire radiates the pure energy of nature.


The glowing warmth of a log fire captures the often forgotten spirit of down-home hospitality…If you’re bewildered and bothered by the holidays knocking on the door, take a while to sit by the fireplace with a glass of wine…or herb tea…Enjoy the glowing warmth, spicy fragrance of flickering candles, fresh from the oven cookies, and simply relax. NOW  truly is one of the most wonderful times of the year. It’s important to take time out to enjoy moments of an ordinary day, take time to be closer to family and friends, to find in each day a challenge to be lived and  in the process try to add joy to lives of others. And, at Christmas, more than ever…

The joyful spirit of giving and sharing often gets lost in the holiday season hustle and bustle. Giving can be more fulfilling if we remember that often the best gift of all is the one that creates something special between you and another person. The simple handmade heart shown here is one of several I have made for friends over the years. I use a variety of fabrics and trims and usually stuff the little hearts with lavender buds. A few other favorite “gifts” to consider giving…potted herbs and the promise to help with planting later, a certificate for precious time to spend together working in a friend’s garden, a basket of organic coffee beans and homemade cookies, a sleep pillow filled with lavender, jars of rose petal jam, an old-fashioned crock of vin d’ orange, an herbal wreath made from your own fresh cut, dried herbs for cooking in an antique crock, a collection of old hand tools…A garden gift will last for years and will be a perennial reminder of a friendship. What makes giving truly special is taking the extra step and finding what personal thing you can make or do to delight someone you care about. Remember the reason for the season…

A simple holiday arrangement…sprigs of juniper, cedar, holly and ivy with red berries and pine cones form a wreath-like centerpiece highlighted with fragrant candles resting in old jars. These same jars can be used as little lanterns hanging in the garden, candles lighting the way…simply wrap copper wire around the rims…simple.


The Christmas kitchen is a whirlwind of fragrant activity…a comforting stew simmers happily away on the stove, gingerbread in the oven…something bubbling, roasting or baking. Scents of citrus and spice fill the air…photo(90)

Warm thoughts for winter...Birds appreciate the riches of decorations on your outdoor Christmas tree. Spread pine cones with suet and seeds and hang on the tree…they will flock to enjoy the fats and proteins!!

All this work makes me hungry!!  Time for a great ham and cheese, or as called in Paris…jambon-fromage…one of those completely special treats. When you bite into the baguette the brittle crust shatters, yielding thinly sliced country ham and thick pieces of Comte’ cheese, and a heavy smear of pure butter. That’s it, no mustard, no mayo, or lettuce, or tomato nonsense. The French solved the sandwich problem long ago. It’s the simplicity and quality of ingredients that make the sandwich satisfying. Salivating now…

Raison d’etre…or reason for living.  For me…my family, my friends, my home & garden, my cooking, my good wine and my books…What is yours?

As we approach the close of another year, let us celebrate the potential to create for ourselves, our families and everyone around us, a peaceful, safe and healthier environment.

From Holly and me, we wish you Happy Holidays and especially… a very Merry Christmas !!