Listography 2011.

In my working days, I dreaded the ice-breaker games or forms relating to personal goals, hobbies, or favorites.  As I've alluded to several times before, other than being a wife and mother, work is what I did, and what I knew.  Other than the very basic questions- and I mean basic- like "What's your favorite color?," having to categorize my life in the form of a list- my experiences, goals, favorites, my life beyond the 'office' - stressed me out. 

And in a way, it still does.  I mean it's easy to list  what I need to get done for the day, pick up from the grocery store, ... the simple stuff.  Yet when it comes to the "big stuff," it gets tough.  The past few years- especially this past year- have been a time of major reflection on all areas of life.  Blogging has served as a vehicle to not only express, but to develop a viewpoint, a style, a preference, in topics ranging from nail polish and t.v. to friendship and parenting.

But it's also served as a reminder of my incessant tendency (or flaw) to let life take over- even without a full-time job to stand in my way.  Time and time again, Busyness becomes my list, my occupation, my existence.  As much as I strive to live with purpose- with intention- the same ol' pattern resurfaces... days, weeks, months go by filled with stress, meaninglessness, busyness.  I let it take the driver seat, while I become a passenger heading towards an undetermined location, or worse- an undesired one.

Simply put- list-making and prioritizing are no longer a nice-to-do on the rare occasion that I am not busy, but a MUST.
I was so happy to find out that two of my good friends, Danielle, @ Ellinad Spir, and Emily, @ Notorious MLE are on the same wavelength.  We decided to tackle this fear, and accomplish this goal together- with the help of this made-for-us planner- Listography 2011 Weekly Calendar... both organization and reflection in one fabulous book!  At the beginning of each week, we will fill out our to-do's, along with the corresponding list, which we'll post every Wednesday.  On my sidebar is the complete list of each week's topic- ranging (as it states on the back of the book) from autobiographical, to aspirational, to holiday-specific.

Do you want to join us??  If so, check out next week's topic, make your list, post it on Wednesday, and link up!  If you're not up for every list, just pick and choose the ones you want to complete and post... and share em with us!  A perfect way to get to know more about yourself and others, to ponder your past, to consider your future, to inspire and be inspired, and best of all- new blogger friends in the process!  If you want to start this week, head over to Danielle's to read her list, and add a link to your list.  Next week- on the 5th [topic:  List books that made you cry.], the link will be over at Emily's (we're rotating)!  No link?  Just put your list in the comment section.

So, without further ado, my first list of the year...

We're in San Jose for a week of holiday celebration and relaxation.  I look forward to starting the new year in a calm, focused, and energized state of mind.  HAPPY NEW YEAR to each and every one of you!


The Christmas cards have finally been crafted and mailed... The Cranberry Orange Vodka  is bottled up & loaded into "Santa's" sleigh...
We used a gold sharpie to label the bottles, and modified this tag (inserted the beverage and mixing instructions on the back).

Since I gave the vodka out to the book club gals last year I decided to give them a different beverage that I'd clipped and saved from a 'Giada article' in Self Magazine, from a couple years back... Rosé With Fresh Sage and Lemon.  It only needs to infuse for a day, which makes it a perfect last minute homemade gift, and adds a festive touch to a beverage that is typically enjoyed during the summer.

We used a 5 gal. bucket to hold the wine, lemon, and sage.  In the meantime, we cleaned the wine bottles and removed the labels.  When ready, we poured the beverage into the bottles, garnished each bottle with a couple of fresh lemon peels and sage leaves, and topped them with the original cork.

On a rainy Monday morning, with my tree lights shining bright, Christmas Blend brewing, kids soundly sleeping on their first official day of 'Christmas vacation, and without any of these festive drinks in my hand (probably a good thing since it's 7:00 in the morning) - I say CHEERSTo a happy & productive week.

Spirit in the making.

Well, hello!  First and foremost, thank you for your lovely comments on Monday, wishing me a happy break.  Although it was only a few days, stepping back and unplugging for a bit was just what I needed this week.  I have so much to write about and share, but still have lots to do (and "lots" includes getting caught up on all of your blogs!), and not much time to write.  So, as I ease my way back into my reader, and head into a weekend of baking and wrapping, I thought I'd share a favorite holiday beverage and homemade gift.

We make a BIG batch (next to this large dutch oven is a huge stockpot, filled with another set of cranberries, sugar, and vanilla beans), let it infuse for a week in a 5 gal. bucket, bottle it up (We wait for these or these to go on sale, buy the amount needed, drink 'em up, remove the labels, and use the bottles for packaging the vodka.), and the best part of all... spread the holiday "spirit".

This takes some planning, and a few extra supplies, but I guarantee, it is well worth it- and provides your loved ones a colorful, festive treat to enjoy during the season.  On Monday, after this sits its course, I'll share the finished product, along with another homemade beverage (a perfect last-minute gift).  
As Stephanie articulated oh-so-well, "And now back to the regularly scheduled holiday rush-to-get-it-all-done-all-while-enjoying-ourselves-immensely-and-creating-lasting-memories programming."  :)


Image via
  {i have my own "ungooglable" man happily, soundly sleeping... while i google}

I've used up ALL of my self-allotted 'computer-time' (and believe me, I'm prettttty generous in my allotment) in the past few days - SHOPPING.

... Therefore, a mini blog break must pursue.

Just a little one.

But please share- how was your weekend?? 

Holiday blur.

The weekend came- and left- in a flashA shimmering of fun...

Turkey Gumbo     Christmas tree decorating          Moroccan cooking class          a bit of lounging    messages from Santa      Mulled Cider
...refusing to allow the looming cloud of to-do's from bursting into a rain-pour of STRESS.
Staying focused in what could be the holiday blur.  Yep, that's my my mantra for the week.   


Image via

Cabernet, Walden, yours truly - and this picture would be complete.

 Each morning sees some task begun, each evening sees it close; Something attempted, something done, has earned a night's repose.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
{wishing you a weekend- or @ the very least, a few moments- of lounging}

5 *star service.

December is upon us.  Hanukkah  has begun.  Advent calenders go up.  Letters to Santa go out.  And some will even get a response.  Or maybe a message from one of his little helpers.  A magical time where baking is no longer a sinful indulgence, but instead a virtuous necessity. And shopping - well, let's just say I have a few organization-related-to-do's this week, before I introduce any more objects into my home (even if those objects are in fact, for other people).

Nothing major, just 2 projects that need to be done... that will make both shopping and wrapping that much easier - 1) my computer files (endless ideas of gifts, crafts, recipes, you-name-it), and 2) my office closet (bins of candles, ribbon, wrapping paper, craft-supplies galore).

In getting started- sorting through the information abyss that is my computer files/bookmarks/inbox/reader, I realized that I had not yet shared a great find- and remarkable customer service.

Over the summer, I shared our attachment to wine country.  Since we cannot go as often as we would like, we continue to find ways to bring it to us.  I loved the idea of using old wine crates for creative storage, entertaining, and even shelving, yet they can be ridiculously priced.  So, when I saw this post, on Remodelista, featuring wine crates for $20.00, I got on the phone and placed my order.

I am not being reimbursed in any way to endorse this company, but I wanted to share the amazing level of service I received @ Wine Pine.  I was immediately told that the wine crates do not in fact look like the ones that were featured- but even better (marker/stickers removed).  I spoke with the owner directly, received additional pictures via email of the crates that he personally recommended, and was even  guided to spend less so that I could receive a better shipping rate!  Informative, down-to-earth, and friendly... top-notch service.  I realize that the holidays are in full swing, and on everyone's brain, but didn't want to miss the opportunity to share.  
And if you do purchase a crate of your own, or have one already, here's a little inspiration on how you can use it in your home - indoors and out...
Images via (left to right; top to bottom)  12-3, 45-6, 78
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