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December 2016

And the Giveaway Winner is ... ❤

LISA!

Congratulations, Lisa - you've won my "Winter Comforts Basket!" I hope you'll enjoy it! I will be in touch this week to organize all the mailing details. :)

And a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who participated in our Advent Teas and Christmas Teas this year! (Including those who left kind comments on all those posts, too!) I had such fun with this series, and I hope you all did as well!

More teas - and comforts and joys - and all kinds of homey happy stuff to come in the new year! I hope you will join me here in the months ahead for a little company and conversation. My word of the year is "Radiant" and I aim to look for the light in the world - and to shine my own light where it is needed! ðŸŒž

Wishing everyone here a very Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year! Blessings to all ... 

See you in 2017!

❤


Christmas Tea with Friends ... ❤

IMG_2144 (1) copyHappy New Year's Eve, my friends!

Our giveaway is just about at its end, but I have two more lovely tea moments to share! Below we have a submission from dear friend and longtime reader Gill - who was actually the very first person to send me a tea picture! But it somehow got lost in the shuffle of pictures and posts! Just came across it this morning as I was looking back over my emails. I apologize Gill, for my oversight - I remember how excited I was to receive my very first tea cup! And Mason was my very last entry - having heard from her just yesterday ... and she was hoping she was not too late to be part of our project. And Mason, you're not! :)

As I mentioned before I will include anyone in the giveaway who sends me their cup up until 6 p.m. tonight. Then I will be doing a drawing (randomly) to see who will win that "Winter Comforts Basket!" (Announcement to come shortly thereafter ...)

So let's pop in at Gill's and Mason's. Wishing you both a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Gill: This is a photo of the corner of my kitchen, where I stand to make tea or coffee, cook and bake, or turn 90' to wash up! I spend many contented hours exactly here working or dreaming or gazing out of my window to the front yard, where the dog, cats, hens and wild birds all interact!

In the summer the troughs against the yard wall are overflowing with flowers, now they are stuffed full of daffodil, crocus and narcissus bulbs, covered over with pine branches. The tree is the one we went into the forest to cut down last weekend. The bird feeders are usually busy. It is the funniest thing that the wild birds throw down seed to the hens beneath, and the hens keep the cats away!

You can just see that I have hung my Christmas curtains and that they are swathed with fairy lights. I have my breakfast ready: Norwegian brown goats cheese on bread and a cafe latte in my favorite Emma Bridgewater JOY mug. The board I have my bread on says " A friendly word can work wonders" which is so very true. I had just poured my coffee when your post pinged in, so I snapped the photo and hope you won't mind an Advent breakfast instead of tea!

Tea gill

Wishing you a very peaceful Advent...

(I remember when you sent this, Gill and thinking - that is just about the coziest Advent breakfast I can imagine! Tea is a special moment - whatever we might be drinking and wherever we might be drinking it!)

*❤*

Mason: I love what you said below, Dawn . . . It's how I feel about tea! Any tea, all tea, hot or cold!

"It's much more than a beverage - it's a mindset!"

My favorite tea cup is one of a set of two that I purchased last Easter. I bought the tea pot, two cups, sugar bowl, creamer and a plate for tea cakes. I love that the cups are LARGE - lots of room for milk and tea.  
 
My favorite tea is Earl Grey, by Twinings. But I love everything else, too.
 
My favorite way to drink tea is with friends ...
 
Tea mason
 
Happy New Year!

*❤*

Thank you, ladies! I'm happy to post this final "Tea with Friends" post today while I'm sipping my own mug on a cloudy and cool December afternoon. What I love about your pictures (and all the photos sent in throughout the series) is how we have each composed a moment of peace and enjoyment. Whether we're treating ourselves or sharing with friends. What a lovely way to move forward in the new year ...

Well, stay tuned my friends ... I'll be back tonight to announce that basket winner! Until then, enjoy the rest of your LAST day of the year. Stay safe and have fun!


Christmas Tea with Friends ... December 30th ❤

IMG_2144 (1) copyHello my friends, and Merry Christmas! Thank you so much for joining me for another teatime. :)

All throughout December I've been sharing readers' favorite cups and mugs, in my "Tea with Friends" series, returning on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Advent and Christmas Tea has been such fun! Thanks to all for joining me, whether you shared a peek at your cup or simply stopped by to check in and share your kind thoughts. It's been a lovely cozy project ... but I can hardly believe it's coming to a close!

But December IS at its end ... and so too is my giveaway contest! Tomorrow evening I will be announcing the winner of my "Winter Comforts Basket" (randomly drawn from all entries) and then I will follow up on Sunday with my own New Year's Tea post. :) (You might notice I'm skipping my last Friday Christmas Tea ... back issues are keeping me from working at the computer as much as I'd like today so I'm shooting for Sunday instead!)

Anyhoo ... today I am very happy to share with you three final readers' teatimes. Let's visit with Michelle, Darla and Raven ... Merry Christmas, ladies!

Michelle: Hi Dawn. I'm adding a photo of this morning's tea. We got hammered with the tail end of that nor'easter and I'm currently sitting on about 6" of fresh powder snow. My ducks, shown in the photo, are less than thrilled, but are out. My chooks, however, won't even leave the hen house. I enjoyed some Sleepy Time tea while I fed them this morning, in a funny mug I bought my husband last year. The chamomile and mint soothes my irritable stomach ...

Tea shell

Hope the holidays were good to you. 
Blessed be.
 
*❤*

Darla: I'm just beginning my mug collection so I don't have many favorites, but this is one of them:

Tea darla
 
 
Best wishes ...

*❤*

And now, let's pop over to Raven's Instagram page where she is sharing three of her favorite mugs - hooray for snowmen and kitty cats! Such cozy comforts and joys ... :)

*❤*

Thanks so much, ladies! It was so fun sharing tea with you ... I loved seeing your mugs and hearing about the kinds of teas you prefer. I love that there are so many of us who share a love of tea! (Or cocoa or coffee or cider ... or whatever we prefer to drink in our own special cups. It's all about the mindset, I think. Creating a familiar ritual for connection, calm, creativity and coziness. Making a little space in our day for ourselves. â¤

Well, thanks to all for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed our Teatimes! I've just loved hearing from you all and seeing your mugs ... imagining we're truly sitting down together, chatting over a cup of something warm and comforting. This has been such a nice time, and I'd love to do it again ... maybe we'll do a Winter Tea series later in the season? Or Lenten Teas in the spring? And I'm already making plans for a "Garden Tea" project this summer ...

But for now, please stay tuned for tomorrow's exciting announcement! (If I receive anymore submissions I will add the names to the drawing and perhaps share the cups after the holiday.) And I will have my own New Year's Tea post coming very soon ... I am ALMOST finished updating my weekly planning sheets for the new year and would love to make them available to you all. I will get them posted just as soon as I can ...
 
Enjoy your evening my friends, and Happy Friday!
 
See you here again very soon ...

Christmas Tea with Friends ... December 29th ❤

IMG_2144 (1) copyHello my friends, and Merry Christmas! Thank you so much for joining me for another teatime. :)

All throughout Advent I shared readers' favorite cups and mugs, every weekday at 4 p.m. ... and returned on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Advent has come to an end, but our teatimes will continue ... so now we are celebrating Christmas Tea together! Anyone who participates in our teatime - by sending me a picture of their favorite cup or mug - will be entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway ...

And on New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

p.s. Each Friday throughout Advent I gave a little peek at something that will be tucked inside that basket. There was soap, body butter, a pocket calendar and a pretty mug as well as a tin of cocoa and a small blue notebook ... and finally, a package of notecards and a favorite magazine! :)

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but today I am honored to have Grace and Lisa welcoming us into their homes! Merry Christmas, ladies! :)

Grace: Today I am term-planning. All four children are with their papa, so it is a good time for a (still) picture! My tea mug is a Mikasa from their French Countryside line. We received a pair of these 18 years ago, as a wedding gift. Today my cup is filled with strong chai tea and a bit of raw honey ...

Tea grace

Blessings to you and your family.

*❤*

Lisa: Well, I'm running late as is usual for this year, (though I'm determined to get ahead in 2017 and make it shine!). But I have been enjoying your teatimes this Christmas season, and wanted to send you some pics of my favorite mugs, well - my favorites right now at least. ;)

This first one is a longtime favorite - one I take out at Christmastime, and (usually), put away for safekeeping till next year. Next to it are a couple of lovely and delicious cookies (store bought of course - I wish I could make such pretty pastries!). 

Tea lisa 1

I drink hot tea year round - all kinds. We have a large collection of teas (and cocoas) at our house, even more so in the last year as one of my sons worked at Starbucks over the summer where employees receive a free box of tea (or bag of coffee, which I don't care for though my older sons and husband enjoy it), every week. 

I can usually be found sipping black tea with just a bit of sugar, *or* black tea with a dollop of Italian Creamer, *or* peppermint tea (with perhaps a chunk of peppermint in it for extra kick and sweetness). I also love Earl Grey, Chai, English Breakfast Tea, & lemony, citrus teas. 

Next is a new mug - given to me by Son #3 (I have four), just this Christmas. It's a nice size for my hand, and is lovely and sparkly! (Goes right along with my plans for 2017 to Shine!) Here it's sitting on my 'family room desk' alongside my favorite saltrock lamp (also a gift), and my 'Christmas Tide Bird' who arrives to hang out with me each Christmas!

Tea lisa 2

Finally, (yes I know three's a lot - but I have literally 100's of mugs, many boxed awaiting the day when our basement may be finished and they're given their own place to live), here's the "trailer mug" - you may have seen this one at Target this year? Because that's where I bought it! Then wrapped it up, tagged it to myself, and added it to the Family Christmas Box, (though honestly it's more often been a basket these past years), a traditional present we gather to open each year on whichever evening we choose. There's always a little something in it for everyone, as well as something for all - such as some "food treat" (Japanese candy, baked goods from the local Indian restaurant, one year a coconut for my youngest who was intrigued with them for some reason!). Maybe a movie, and always a book!

I was so drawn to this mug. Due to its Christmas theme of course, and it's odd shape. Plus I think it'd be lovely to have a "Christmas Trailer" to travel around in all year long. 

Tea lisa 3

Wishing you and your family a bright, healthy 2017 ...

*❤*

Well, ladies - thanks so much for welcoming us into your homes and sharing your teatime with us! What fun and pretty mugs! Everything looks so cozy and warm. I think that's part of the tea allure for me ... because like Lisa, I too drink hot tea all year long. It's much more than a beverage - it's a mindset! :)

And thanks to all for stopping by today. I hope you enjoyed our teatime - and I hope you are all enjoying your Christmas! I just love hearing from you all and seeing your mugs ... imagining we're truly sitting down together, chatting over a cup of something warm and comforting. And I'd love to have you join us! Please drop a note if you have a moment and send me your own favorite cup when you have a chance ...

 
(drhanigan AT gmail DOT com)
 
I'll look forward to hearing from you ... :)
 
We might have one more day of "Tea with Friends" this week - if I have more submissions I'll fit them in somehow! - but tomorrow (Friday) I will host my own Christmas Tea ... and then on Saturday (New Year's Eve) ... dun dun dun ... I will announce the winner of that basket!
 
So please stay tuned and enjoy your evening, my friends ... I will see you all here again very soon!

Christmas Tea with Friends ... December 28th ❤

IMG_2144 (1) copyHello my friends, and Merry Christmas! Thank you so much for joining me for another teatime. :)

All throughout Advent I shared readers' favorite cups and mugs, every weekday at 4 p.m. ... and returned on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Advent has come to an end, but our teatimes will continue ... so now we are celebrating Christmas Tea together! Anyone who participates in our teatime - by sending me a picture of their favorite cup or mug - will be entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway ...

And on New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

p.s. Each Friday throughout Advent I gave a little peek at something that will be tucked inside that basket. There was soap, body butter, a pocket calendar and a pretty mug as well as a tin of cocoa and a small blue notebook ... and finally, a package of notecards and a favorite magazine! :)

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but for today I am very pleased to welcome Libby Jane, Barbara and Sherrylynne to our teatime. Merry Christmas, ladies!

Libby Jane: This tea cup and saucer I was just given from my grandmother's house as she moved recently. I have a little collection of the loveliest teacups and saucers. Some gifts, some thrifted, all cherished. So if you stop by, I will lay a tablecloth and pull out the china!
 
Tea libby

I like oolongs, and a good English Breakfast, unsweetened. Even more, though, I love to make teas with lemon or bee balms, peppermint or rose petal, from the garden. I also love cedar and balsam fir tips. Bee balm cheers me up and balsam fir tea is the best winter tonic for all that ails!

I like yellow for cheer in these dark days of winter.
 
You can also see some of my favorite Christmas books, much loved - the Christmas Nutshell Library. Nearly loved to death, in fact!
 
"Winters come and winters go, summers come and summers go; soon the swallows will be here." (The Tomten, by Astrid Lindgren)

The merriest of Christmases to you!
*❤*
Barbara: I have three favorite mugs and three favorite teas! The first mug is a recent purchase from Goodwill! I couldn't resist the old-fashioned winter scene from Currier & Ives. I use it every morning with my Yogi Green Tea Kombucha Decaf. 
 
Tea barbara 1
 
The next mug was a gift from a friend who knows my Dutch heritage. It's Delft and as you can see from the photos, it has the front of a Dutch girl on one side, and the back of her on the other!
 
Tea barbara 2
 
Tea barbara 3
 
The last mug is another favorite due to the lovely scene which looks like an Impressionist painting.
 
Tea barbara 4

The two other teas I regularly enjoy are Bigelow Constant Comment and Twinings Chai.
 
Happy New Year to you and your family!
*❤* 
Sherrylynne (who shared her beautiful picture at her IG page): Here's a little shout out to Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight for helping the rest of us relish each season ...
 
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Happy Winter!

*❤*

Oh, how fun and kind, Sherrylynne! I am not quite as IG savvy as I could be but I saw your post and boy did it make me smile! And I love so much about your tea spot - the cup, the candle, the books - and that jaunty British robin in the background! Barbara, I also love Constant Comment - especially at this time of year! And your Currier & Ives mug brings back memories of a lamp my grandparents had in their den - it had a lampshade featuring the four seasons by C&I. Boy do I wish we still had that lamp! And Libby, how lovely that you assemble your own teas! I might have to pick your brain on that a little bit ... I am a budding herb grower and would love to try my hand at tea crafting sometime. Maybe I'll host another tea series in the summer ... Garden Tea with Friends? :)

And I agree with you that yellow is perfectly cheerful, and especially so in the wintertime ... it's been my favorite color since I was a little girl and my birthday arrives in the cold, dark days of January!

p.s. I adore the Tomten books ... two of them are tucked in our winter book basket right this very moment! :)

Well, ladies - thanks so much for welcoming us into your homes and sharing your teatime with us! And thanks to all for stopping by today. I hope you enjoyed our teatime - and I hope you are all enjoying your Christmas! I just love hearing from you all and seeing your mugs ... imagining we're truly sitting down together, chatting over a cup of something warm and comforting. And I'd love to have you join us! Please drop a note if you have a moment and send me your own favorite cup when you have a chance ...
 
(drhanigan AT gmail DOT com)
 
I'll look forward to hearing from you ... :)
 
There will be more "Tea with Friends" posts this week - roundabouts 4 p.m. And this Friday I will host my own Christmas Tea ... and then the next day ... dun dun dun ... I will announce the winner of that basket!
 
So please stay tuned and enjoy your evening, my friends ... I will see you all here again very soon!

Christmas Tea with Friends ... December 27th ❤

IMG_2144 (1) copyHello my friends, and Merry Christmas! Thank you so much for joining me for another teatime. :)

All throughout Advent I shared readers' favorite cups and mugs, every weekday at 4 p.m. ... and returned on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Advent has come to an end, but our teatimes will continue ... so now we are celebrating Christmas Tea together! Anyone who participates in our teatime - by sending me a picture of their favorite cup or mug - will be entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway ...

And on New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

p.s. Each Friday throughout Advent I gave a little peek at something that will be tucked inside that basket. There was soap, body butter, a pocket calendar and a pretty mug as well as a tin of cocoa and a small blue notebook ... and finally, a package of notecards and a favorite magazine! :)

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but today we're visiting with Andrea and Greta! Welcome ladies, and Merry Christmas ... 

Andrea: Hi Dawn, I wanted to pop in with our tea time. My 8 year old daughter has her snoopy mug with her "honey tea" which is just honey and water. I am taking my tea in my little honey bee cup given to me by my sweet sister-in-law. The candles are an early Christmas present from my 14 year old son ...

Tea andrea

We love our tea time. It's daily for me and my daughter joins me often.

Merry Christmas to you all!

*❤*
Greta: Hi Dawn - I'm not a tea or coffee drinker (even after living in Brazil for a year!), but I do love a good mug of hot chocolate. This glass Santa mug is one of my favorites. We inherited it from my mother-in-law, so I always remember her when I use it ...

Tea greta
 
Thanks for the opportunity to share. Merry Christmas! 
 
*❤*
 
Thank you so much, Andrea and Greta! Your teatimes are lovely ... the marshmallow floating in that mug of cocoa looks so inviting and that honey "tea" sounds yummy! I will have to try that with my Little Bear sometime (though he does love a warm cup of tea!). Everything looks so cozy and warm ... I hope you both are enjoying this beautiful new season!
 
And thanks to all for stopping by today. I hope you enjoyed our teatime - and I hope you are all enjoying your Christmas! I just love hearing from you all and seeing your mugs ... imagining we're truly sitting down together, chatting over a cup of something warm and comforting. And I'd love to have you join us! Please drop a note if you have a moment and send me your own favorite cup when you have a chance ...
 
(drhanigan AT gmail DOT com)
 
I'll look forward to hearing from you ... :)
 
There will be more "Tea with Friends" posts this week - roundabouts 4 p.m. And this Friday I will host my own Christmas Tea ... and then the next day ... dun dun dun ... I will announce the winner of that basket!
 
So please stay tuned and enjoy your evening, my friends ... I will see you all here again very soon!

Christmas Tea with Friends ... December 26th ❤

IMG_2144 (1) copyHello my friends, Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day! Thank you so much for joining me for another teatime. :)

All throughout Advent I shared readers' favorite cups and mugs, every weekday at 4 p.m. ... and returned on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Advent has come to an end, but our teatimes will continue ... so now we are celebrating Christmas Tea together! Anyone who participates in our teatime - by sending me a picture of their favorite cup or mug - will be entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway. On New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

p.s. Each Friday throughout Advent I gave a little peek at something that will be tucked inside that basket. There was soap, body butter, a pocket calendar and a pretty mug as well as a tin of cocoa and a small blue notebook ... and finally, a package of notecards and a favorite magazine! :)

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but today we are popping in at Helena's and Tanya's. Merry Christmas, ladies! Thanks so much for having us in ... :)

Helena: 

I finally got around to snapping photos of my two favorite mugs - I couldn't decide. :) The Jane Austen mug was a Christmas gift from my husband last year, and I use it every morning to drink my only caffeinated tea of the day - 95% of the time it's Tasha Tudor's Welsh Breakfast Tea, with milk and sugar.
 
Tea helena 2
 
The turquoise "Mama" mug was a gift from my sister - she knew I'd love it because it's my favorite color and that's what my kids call me. :) I use it in the evenings because it holds heat longer than any of my other mugs, and my hands are often cold at night, so I tend to cuddle my tea a little. :) Tonight I'm drinking Harney and Sons Vanilla Comoro (the decaf version) with milk and a smidge of sugar - so delicious!
 
Tea helena 1
 
Thanks for sharing everyone's photos - I love seeing the variety of mugs and teacups (and reading about all the teas everyone's drinking!). Wishing you and your family a lovely Christmas and all the best in the new year!
 
*❤*
 
Tanya: Here (at long last!) is my tea time picture ...

Tea tanya

This is my very favourite tea mug in my favourite tea time place. It's filled with strong Yorkshire Tea and this picture was from a few moments stolen to drink my tea, sit in quiet and read my Advent devotional. Our household is so busy and loud that finding a few minutes here and there to recharge my batteries is absolutely essential. I just absolutely love this tea mug. It is an *enormous* David's Tea mug and I love the beautiful Christmassy design on the outside! Being able to sit with a cuppa and watch the skies darken in the late afternoon is something that truly refreshes me for the busy evening ahead. Thank you so much for the inspiration to make tea time a part of my day!

Many blessings on you all ...
 
*❤*
 
Thank you so much, Helena and Tanya! You are both long-time readers and friends, and it's just lovely to hear from you both ... and see your mugs! I love them all. Now, I've had Yorkshire Tea before, as well as Harney & Sons Vanilla Comoro - and both are delicious. But I've never had the Tasha Tudor Tea, Helena! I've always wondered about it though (since I love pretty much all things Tasha Tudor, lol) and now you've got me thinking I might order a tin for my birthday next month! (I also think these beeswax candles are lovely.)
 
Well thanks so much to all for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed our teatime - and I hope you are all enjoying your Christmas! I just love hearing from you all and seeing your mugs ... imagining we're truly sitting down together, chatting over a cup of something warm and comforting. And I'd love to have you join us! Please drop a note if you have a moment and send me your own favorite cup when you have a chance ...
 
(drhanigan AT gmail DOT com)
 
I'll look forward to hearing from you ... :)
 
There will be more "Tea with Friends" posts this week - roundabouts 4 p.m. Sorry this one was a little late today ... I must admit, though our weekend was wonderful, we are a little behind on cleanup today! Ah well, it's a slow week ahead and there is time to "put things to rights" as they say. This Friday I will host my own Christmas Tea and then the next day ... dun dun dun ... I will announce the winner of that basket!
 
So please stay tuned and enjoy your evening, my friends ... I will see you all here again very soon!

Advent Tea, Week 4: Happy Hearts at Home

IMG_2030

Hello my friends and Happy Friday ~ Merry Christmas Eve! As I feared might happen this week, things just got too busy, and I didn't have time to finalize my post yesterday. But I'm here today - on this rainy and mild Christmas eve - to share with you one last cup of Advent Tea. For tonight we begin a most beautiful and blessed new season ...

"Blessed is the season that engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love." ~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

❤

In our final week of Advent my family continued our celebration of God's amazing creation. We had previously explored the wonder of earth and sky, the peacefulness of plants, the joys of wild (and not so wild) creatures and now, we aim closer to home. This week it's all about God's greatest creation - humankind - and the love He has for us - that we have for each other! So this week we relished our family being together and rejoiced in our beloved home ... while remembering the holiest family, their humble first home, and the noble journey that started it all ...

Let's start with a look at our Advent Garden. This was a really fun project and I am sure we will do this again next year ... remember how it started?

IMG_0338

In week one (earth & sky) we added pebbles (and later soil) and surrounded our garden (a shallow glass terrarium) with beeswax tealights. Well here is how it looks now as Advent comes to a close ...

IMG_2156

Soil was topped with moss from which frosted tiny trees soon sprouted ... then a pretty spotted deer appeared. And this week, up rose a cozy little neighborhood. â¤

(Note: I bought the trees, deer and houses at my local Michael's craft store. They were fairly inexpensive. The houses were plain but I spread the rooftops with a little white paint and added a few shakes of white glitter. The moss and pebbles came from our yard and the earth was found in a bag of potting soil parked in the garage. The candles I ordered through Amazon.)

Today I moved the Garden off the kitchen table (which will soon be set up for a Christmas buffet!) and into a small nearby alcove ...

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Above it I hung a pretty wooden ornament also embellished this week ...

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This was a very inexpensive wooden craft, one of several I've picked up this season ...

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I actually really love the look of unfinished wood, but the addition of a little white paint and glitter lends a soft and simple touch ...

A few more nativity scenes around the house ...

Love tea 28

This is a new lawn decoration this year! Bill and the boys "gave" me this as a gift last Christmas - but it took me till this fall to find one I really liked. We have this nestled beneath - appropriately enough - our family room windows. :)

Let's pop on out to the library and take a peek at the tree for a moment ... 

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Isn't this ornament gorgeous? You'll probably tire of hearing me say this but this is another treasure I found at Michael's. This was discovered in one of the boys' Advent pockets this past week.

And how about this one? :)

IMG_2129

I found this picture frame ornament up by the registers for a couple of dollars. So very pretty and perfect for a small family photo. I think I'd like to make this a tradition - add a new family picture ornament each year.

Speaking of ornaments, one of our crafts this past week celebrated our family members and what Mama loves most about each of them.  

IMG_1912

I started with a plain plastic ornament ball ... wrote our family names on small heart stickers and placed them all over the ball's surface ... and then filled the ball with colorful strips of construction paper. Each slip of paper was curled up tight, with a hidden message inside.

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I think this might also become a new family tradition ... :)

One more peek at the tree, a few new ornaments were added this week ...

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I found these pretty red glass initial ornaments at Target, and bought one for each of my boys. (The "H" is actually made out of cardboard or some such material.)

And since we're talking about my boys, here's a peek at our Christmas card this year!

IMG_2142 

It's the first time we've done a collage and I rather like it! It was such fun to look back over all the photos from last year ... though it proved a shocking reminder just how quickly time has flown. We even added a couple of photos to the back - one of the chickens and one of the cats!

I absolutely adore Christmas cards, don't you? We display ours here on this door leading into the library ...

IMG_2143

Bill sets up the ribbons and then I attach the cards with tiny clothespins. I love to see this doorframe fill up! Visually, it's a wonderfully decorative spot - but also a lovely reminder of the friends and family we have been blessed with over the years.

And though we've been doing "photo cards" for years, I still love traditional Christmas cards. We always bought ours from a company called LANG, and when I spied some boxes of Lang cards at Joann's Arts & Crafts recently (marked down 60%!) I just could not help myself. I bought a few varieties for next year ...

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❤ 

Switching gears now - because we haven't even talked about tea yet! Now, if you scroll way back up to the top of this post I showed you my teatime spread this week ... or, here it is again ... :)

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As you can see, I was in my glories at Tea this week, surrounded by all my boys. They were supposed to be helping me with neatening the tree - I bribed them with cookies! - while I sat down to look over my holiday notes. In my "Blessed" mug (a new favorite) I had a large serving of my preferred black tea with a lot of milk and a bit of sugar. The cookies are store bought, but were still gobbled up quickly! I had hoped to make Bill's grandmother's much-loved gingerbread recipe this week but that just did not pan out. (I'm going to try again at Epiphany.) So a box of "Gingerbread Family" cookies had to do. Thank you, Pepperidge Farms!

Yes, it is wonderful having our Bookworm home! I never sleep as well as I do when all my sons are home. The older boys do love to sleep in though if they are allowed ... but this morning we needed to get an early start so I made up a platter of cinnamon-sugar toast in hopes that the fond and familiar aroma would get them out of bed!

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Cinnamon-sugar is without a doubt, one of the best things in my kitchen. (Along with my fresh coffee beans and a large bottle of vanilla.) I grew up eating cinnamon-sugar toast made by my mum or grandma and its scent still says "cozy, home, comfort" to me. :)

It's little things like this that make a home feel warm and welcoming. Because a home is so much more than just walls and windows and a (hopefully) sturdy roof. Home is where our loves live ... it's where we come together to share our journey, our thoughts and our memories. We are nurtured and encouraged and accepted here. We are allowed to crave comforts and seek solace ... it's the place we can relax and rejuvenate and gather our strength when we once again face the world outside that front door ...

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Jane Austen had it right. Home is where it's at ... and that's that. :)

❤

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Oh, and how could I forget? Here's another "Giveaway" sneak peek! January is a perfect month for letter writing - in fact, 1/23 is National Handwriting Day! So here are some pretty notecards to help you catch up on all those holiday thank-yous. :) And once the busy-ness of Christmas has past, time frees up again (in theory!) for leisurely pastimes like reading for pleasure ... how about a nice issue of Mary Jane's Farm? Both of these things will be tucked into that Winter Comforts Basket! :)

I am having such fun putting together this basket, and although only one reader will win it, I really wish I could send a little wintertime "comfort and joy" to each and every one of you. I am so grateful for you all - for all your support and kindness and encouragement over the years. I know most of us have never actually "met" in "real life" but I count each of you as my friends. I always look forward to hearing from you and I keep every one of you in my prayers. My wish for you on this beautiful Christmas eve morning is that your coming days are filled with the blessings of family and home, that you know friendship and love, good health and happiness, and that your new year will be an AMAZING one. I look forward to sharing 2017 with you all!

Now, before I go - I am still accepting teacup (mug) submissions! And I have several more friend posts stockpiled to share next week ... if you'd like to join the Giveaway contest, please send me a picture of your favorite mug - whatever you most enjoy drinking your tea (or coffee, cocoa, cider, etc.) from ... and you are entered. I will announce a winner on New Year's Eve - a week from today!

You can reach me at: drhanigan AT gmail DOT com.

Next Friday I'll have a Christmas Tea of my own, but in the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful weekend. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and see you all here again very soon ...

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Advent Tea with Friends ... December 22nd ❤

Advent tea with friendsHello my friends, and Happy Thursday! Thank you so much for joining me for another teatime. :)

All throughout Advent I am sharing readers' favorite cups and mugs, every weekday at 4 p.m. ... and returning on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Anyone who participates will be entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway ... and on New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

p.s. Each Friday I give a little peek at something that will be tucked inside that basket! So far there's been soap, body butter, a pocket calendar and a pretty mug as well as a tin of cocoa and a small blue notebook ... wonder what tomorrow's post will bring? :)

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but today we are popping in at Karen's and Adie's! Two friends who shared a few pictures each ... :)

Karen: My favorite mug? I have three! :)

Tea karen 1

Tea karen 2

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Blessings to you and your beautiful family!

*❤*

Adie: My daughter and I were way overdue for a tea party - so today was the day! We had a few hours without the boys.  =-) So that means we did not get interrupted! This is our tea party set - I know it is not very wintery - but we don't have a lot of room for extras here ... 

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So we had very hot, strong black tea, with foamed milk and lots of sugar ...  

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We were also hungry so we had a mini lunch to go with it! The teens made Christmas cookies - and we each had one of those too! I made gluten-free ones this year, and they were pretty good ...
 
Tea adie 1
 
Now that we are done with our tea party - we are on to our hour of planning. My daughter and I do this together each week with our planners!
 
*❤*
 
Just lovely, ladies! Karen, I love all three of your mugs - they are each beautiful in their own way! (Introverts unite! No one ever believes me when I say I'm an introvert, but it's true!) And Adie, I just adore that pale yellow honeycomb china! And those cookies look scrumptious and festive. How special to enjoy a tea party with your daughter - followed by a weekly planning hour! Thanks so much to you both for sharing your favorite mugs ... I hope these final days of Advent are filled with much peace and contentment. :)
 
And thanks to all for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed our teatime. I just love hearing from you all and seeing your mugs ... imagining we're truly sitting down together, chatting over a cup of something warm and comforting. And I'd love to have you join us! Please drop a note if you have a moment and send me your own favorite cup when you have a chance ...
 
(drhanigan AT gmail DOT com)
 
I'll look forward to hearing from you ... :)
 
There will be more "Tea with Friends" posts next week, each day at 4 p.m. - but tomorrow I will be back with my final Advent Tea Post ("Happy Hearts at Home"). I'll take a break over the weekend (natch) and then we'll continue our teas right up until the day before New Year's Eve ... just before I announce the winner of that basket!
 
Enjoy your evening, my friends, and I will see you all here again very soon!

Advent Tea with Friends ... December 21st

Advent tea with friendsHello my friends, I'm wishing you all a happy Wednesday ... AND a Happy Winter Solstice! Thank you so much for joining me for another teatime. :)

All throughout Advent I'll be sharing readers' favorite cups and mugs, every weekday at 4 p.m. ... and returning on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Anyone who participates will be entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway ... and on New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

p.s. Each Friday I give a little peek at something that will be tucked inside that basket! So far there's been soap, body butter, a pocket calendar and a pretty mug as well as a tin of cocoa and a small blue notebook ... wonder what this Friday's post will bring? :)

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but today we have the opportunity to join FOUR of my readers for tea. Let's pop in at Tammie's, Shelly's, Mary's and Andrea's, shall we? :)

 

Tammie: Here is a mug that is not particularly Christmas-y, but I wanted to share it with you anyway because of your affinity for all things British! My husband surprised me with this mug earlier this year and I just love everything about it! It is obviously a lovely mug to look at. The coat of arms is very formal and majestic. But the blue roses and sweeping ribbons gives it a friendly air. And the tiny little gold flowers are just so sweet!

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If you look closely, you will see that they are the flowers that represent the United Kingdom. But my favorite part of the mug are the words inscribed on the back.  These are from a speech that the Queen gave on her 21st birthday. They are particularly touching to read, now that she recently turned 90 years old and is still honorably serving the Commonwealth! And I find these words to be very inspirational ... although I'm not a queen (!), I am devoted to my family and want to serve them as best I can. As for the tea that is contained in the mug, it is Newman's Own Royal Tea, which is a nice strong black tea.
 
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Thanks again, Dawn, for inviting us to share tea with you! May God bless you and your family.
*❤*
Shelly: Here is a photo of my new favorite mug! I recently got it from a friend and I love it because it is much larger than a standard mug! More room for hot cocoa! I am not a coffee drinker, but I love cocoa and tea ... 
 
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Merry Christmas to you and your family!
*❤*
Mary: About my favorite mug: It is a Spode “Christmas Tree” design mug, made in England; one of a set of six given to my family and me by my parents. We get them out each year right after Thanksgiving, and they remain within easy reach on our kitchen island for a couple of months. So, they are very special mugs that we look forward to using seasonally. The children use them for hot cocoa or apple cider; mine is usually filled with blackberry cobbler flavored coffee or caramel cream flavored coffee.
 
Tea Mary V
Peace to you during this final week of Advent, and blessings to you and your family for a very merry Christmas! 
*❤*
Andrea: I wanted to pop in with our tea time. My 8 year old daughter has her snoopy mug with her "honey tea" which is just honey and water. I am taking my tea in my little honey bee cup given to me by my sweet sister-in-law. The candles are an early Christmas present from my 14 year old son. We love our tea time. It's daily for me and my daughter joins me often ...

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Merry Christmas to you all!
 *❤*
 
Oh ladies, thank you SO much for all your happy pictures and lovely thoughts! It was wonderful to visit with each of you and I hope the rest of your Advent unfolds with much peace and joy. :)
 
And thanks to all for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed our teatime. I just love hearing from you all and seeing your mugs ... imagining we're truly sitting down together, chatting over a cup of something warm and comforting. And I'd love to have you join us! Please drop a note if you have a moment and send me your own favorite cup when you have a chance ...
 
(drhanigan AT gmail DOT com)
 
I'll look forward to hearing from you ... â¤
 
There will be more "Tea with Friends" posts this week, each day at 4 p.m. And then on Friday I will be back with my final Advent Tea Post ("Happy Hearts at Home") ... only to pick right up again the following week for a series of Christmas teas! We'll continue right up until the day before New Year's Eve ... just before I announce the winner of that basket!
 
Enjoy your evening, my friends, and I will see you all here again very soon!

Advent Tea with Friends ... December 20th ❤

Advent tea with friendsHello my friends, and Happy Tuesday! Thank you so much for joining me for another 4:00 teatime. :)

All throughout Advent I'll be sharing readers' favorite cups and mugs, every weekday at 4 p.m. ... and returning on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Anyone who participates will be entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway ... and on New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

p.s. Each Friday I give a little peek at something that will be tucked inside that basket! So far there's been soap, body butter, a pocket calendar and a pretty mug as well as a tin of cocoa and a small blue notebook ... wonder what this Friday's post will bring? :)

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but for today, it's Charlotte's turn to host Tea! And happily, she's sharing not just one mug ... but four!

(A girl after my own heart! â¤ )

 I am loving your daily Teatime Posts! I thought I would share my favorite mug(s) with you. :) I know it's a bit of an overload, but I truly love a fun mug to drink from!

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I use this through the year - it says it all!!

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My daughter bought this for me two years ago from NY...

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This is my winter mug - cold, snowy days will find this guy filled with yummy hot chocolate piled high with cream!!!

AND ...

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My Christmas mug!! I have had this for many years and I have so much fun using it during the Christmas Season.

Thank you for allowing me to share!

Blessings to you + 

 *❤*

Thank you so much for sharing your mugs, Charlotte! They are all lovely. :) One of the things I love about collecting mugs is that they don't have to be very expensive. They're a fun indulgence and what delight that small purchase brings over time! Because if you're like me (and I know many of us are on the same page here!) those mugs get used a lot! I start my day with my coffee mug then switch up for tea in the afternoon. It's a treat to have several (ok, dozens) to choose from. Just a tip - if you have a Home Goods store near you (I'm not sure if they're regional?) they sell wonderful mugs for generally under $5. There's a HG next to my Stop N Shop and I have a very hard time NOT popping in every week to see what's new!
 
Well, thank you all for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed our teatime. I just love hearing from you all and seeing your mugs ... imagining we're truly sitting down together, chatting over a cup of something warm and comforting. I fear I fell a bit behind these last several (busy) days with my replies so if you've sent me a submission and haven't heard back, I apologize! I will be catching up this week ... :)
 
Dear friends, I'd love to have you join us ... please drop a note if you have a moment and send me your own favorite cup when you have a chance!
 
(drhanigan AT gmail DOT com)
 
I'll look forward to hearing from you ... â¤
 
There will be more "Tea with Friends" posts this week, each day at 4 p.m. And then on Friday I will be back with my final Advent Tea Post ("Happy Hearts at Home") ... only to pick right up again the following week for a series of Christmas teas! We'll continue right up until the day before New Year's Eve ... just before I announce the winner of that basket!
 
Well, thanks so much for stopping by, everyone. Enjoy your evening and I will see you all here again very soon!

Advent Tea with Friends ... December 19th ❤

Advent tea with friendsHello my friends, and Happy Monday! Thank you so much for joining me for another 4:00 teatime. :)

All throughout Advent I'll be sharing readers' favorite cups and mugs, every weekday at 4 p.m. ... and returning on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Anyone who participates will be entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway ... and on New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

p.s. Each Friday I give a little peek at something that will be tucked inside that basket! So far there's been soap, body butter, a pocket calendar and a pretty mug as well as a tin of cocoa and a small blue notebook ... wonder what this Friday's post will bring? :)

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but for today, let's push the pause button on our day and enjoy a little refreshment together. Happily, today we have not just one friend to visit ... but three! Let's pop in at Melyssa's, Shaquanna's and Kelly's ... :)

Melyssa: I just wanted to thank you for inspiring me to dig out my old teapot and put it to use with a monthly tea subscription I signed up for recently ...

Tea melyssa

I am making a daily ritual of it and really enjoying it!

*❤*

Shaquanna: I have so many favorite mugs, many being pop culture. Here is my newest one, not necessarily pop culture, but if you look carefully there is an Easter egg in this photo. This is a smaller frame of my larger set up when I was watching the last episode in the new Gilmore Girls series. 

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I LOVE this polka dot mug. It's so heavy and thick and just makes me happy. I was drinking sparkling apple cider, which when I noticed it was almost empty in the photo poured some more.

Cheers!

*❤*

Kelly: I really wanted to pretty up my picture but it is more real to let it be plain and simple because that is just how things are right now. The Christmas mug is from my 11yo son who purchased it for me a few weeks ago at a white elephant sale - he said it was for our tea times! And the blue mug belonged to my grandma (who just passed away right before Thanksgiving) and I have been enjoying drinking from it ...
 
Tea kelly

I also inherited three lovely tea cups from her as well (maybe I can share those some other time). The good news is that after trying for a long time, I have finally learned to like tea! (As long as there is enough honey in it!). As someone who loves British literature and enjoyed Downton Abbey, I simply *had* to figure out a way! :) It has become a nightly ritual lately that I fix a cup for my husband and for myself.  

*❤* 

Thank you so much for sharing your tea (and cider!) with us ladies. Your cups are lovely as are your thoughts on the ritual of tea. I hope you each of you are enjoying your Advent. :)
 
And thanks to everyone for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed our teatime. I just love hearing from you all and seeing your mugs ... imagining we're truly sitting down together, chatting over a cup of something warm and comforting. I fear I fell a bit behind these last several (busy) days with my replies so if you've sent me a submission and haven't heard back, I apologize! I will be catching up this week ... :)
 
Dear friends, I'd love to have you join us ... please drop a note if you have a moment and send me your own favorite cup when you have a chance!
 
(drhanigan AT gmail DOT com)
 
I'll look forward to hearing from you ... â¤
 
There will be more "Tea with Friends" posts this week, each day at 4 p.m. And then on Friday I will be back with my final Advent Tea Post ("Happy Hearts at Home") ... only to pick right up again the following week for a series of Christmas teas! We'll continue right up until the day before New Year's Eve ... just before I announce the winner of that basket!
 
(Hard to believe we're now talking New Year's! But goodness, it's not far away ...)
 
Well, thanks so much for stopping by, everyone. Enjoy your evening and I will see you all here again very soon!
 

Advent Tea, Week 3 ~ Finding Joy in Creation ❤

Animals advent 39

Hello and happy weekend, my friends! Welcome to another Advent Tea ... may I pour you a cup of something tasty and warm? :)

Well, our third week of Advent has arrived and the pink candle has been lit ... Oh Joy! And you know how they say "all good things come to those who wait?" Well, that old adage is perhaps never more true than during the season of Advent, because in these special weeks we are a people who wait and wonder ... enjoying the here and now, yet knowing there is a greater joy that lies ahead ... â¤

Which is why this mug seemed perfect for today's Tea ...

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:)

Now, I am not a patient person by nature, but like most moms I've had plenty of opportunities to work on developing this particular habit. I've learned that life is easier when patience is a daily practice, not just an admirable (if abstract) idea or something left to people with loftier ambitions and/or holier lives than mine. Patience is perhaps the greatest of all virtues when one is a parent ... and if I may so, especially when one is a special needs parent. (Progress can be slow ... perfection is overrated ... patience is essential.)

But whether we're born with a patient nature or not, the world-at-large rushes us all right along, urging us onward with its message of now-now-nowInstant, immediate, super fast results ... no waiting necessary!

If we're aware of this influence we can recognize when it is affecting us falsely or adversely. It's good to pause and ask, whose time clock are we following anyway? Sometimes time is of the essence, but it's important, I think, to remind ourselves to appreciate the here and now ... to savor the wait if you will. Learning to be patient is an excellent exercise in humanity - and humility - and I think one of the greatest teachers of patience (aside from our children!) is nature. As you all know I love nature! I respect its cleverness and consistency. It doesn't rush ... it always has a plan. A plan that has worked for ... well, eons. It glories in every turn of every season, knowing everything happens in its own time ...

"Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Case in point - yesterday was brutally cold with temps barely in the teens, and this morning it's snowing! It's the Saturday before Christmas ... and the weather is just not getting on board with my to-do list! But admittedly, it is doing my spirit a world of good. Because it's been a long - and, frankly tiring - week. We've all been running here, there and everywhere, getting our busy-ness accomplished. But now nature is advising me to sit back and take it slow. Leave the errands for later. Breathe in, breathe out ... maybe let Amazon Prime do the leg work today.

Even my page-a-day calendar is sending me a message ...

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So, ok. Balance is necessary. We can't always rush and we can't always lag ... managing my time and energy accounts is an-going #lifegoal for me! 

But ... that's a topic to explore further, in the new year perhaps. For now, let's get back to the here and now. We're deep in Advent, halfway through December, and it's snowing ... I'm happy in a well-insulated snow globe today. :)

Here's a look outside my window this morning ...

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So glad we made sure to fill our feeders yesterday!

As I've been describing, our family's Advent is a celebration of God's beautiful creation ... because the whole world waits together for the miracle of life (and light) to return! Just as the earth goes quiet and dark at this time of year, we too slow down and turn inward, looking for ways to light the path before us. So in our first week of Advent we explored the wonder of earth and sky, and in the second week it was the serenity of plants and trees ... and this week we are finding joy in the beautiful wildlife with which God has graced our earth ...

And as we've ambled along our journey, our Advent Garden has slowly been coming to life ...

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Stones and soil were topped with moss and trees ... and now we spy a pretty deer in this tiny forest. Meanwhile, outside there is much evidence of creation all around!

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We've been enjoying a snowy December here in New England and the boys have fun checking for tracks left behind by the creatures who call our habitat home. Mostly it's the usual suspects, but you never know ... sometimes there's something new to investigate!

Now from my pictures you can probably guess we live in a woodsy area, and that's true. We live next to a state forest and our town, while suburban, has old agricultural roots. Our own property is not quite a farm per se - though we are sort of heading that way! This past spring we began keeping hens and I must tell you - they just bring us such joy! The fresh eggs are wonderful, but our girls are such dears ...

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I do relish my "farm chores" such as they area ... walking out to the hen pen to bring them food and checking their water. 

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Good morning, pretty girls!

And how fun to gather eggs with my fellas ... we're still getting several eggs a day even though we were warned they would stop for the winter. Not sure what our girls' game plan is but we're thrilled with our daily harvest!

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I love to tour the corners of our yard and I especially love the mornings when the sun is just rising in the east ...

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Those are my neighbor's horses - aren't they lovely? They also own three goats, six dogs, a flock of ducks and lots of chickens! They are the very nicest people, too. I took this picture yesterday morning as I was visiting the hens. I was channeling a little bit of Tasha Tudor here, walking about my own homestead and tending to my critters, the domestic and the wild. (Only I was in a parka and pajama pants ... not quite Tasha's pretty red cloak!)

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We regularly set out several types of food - black oil seed, suet cakes and nyjer seed for the finches. We use a variety of feeder designs - both tubes and trays - and I throw out seed on the deck every day ...

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Yes, my beloved squirrels get fed right alongside their feathered friends - I don't play favorites! (Well, except when it comes to predators like hawks, owls and foxes. Those creatures I shoo off as best I can.)

But speaking of Tasha Tudor, this is a page from the beautiful book, Forever Christmas, the chapter called, "The Animals' Christmas" ...

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This is a wonderful book, full of old-fashioned goodness and gentle reminders to slow down and let nature be our guide. Tonight we're watching the video Take Peace, which is a tour of Tasha's Corgi Cottage at Christmas. And then perhaps we'll catch the latest episode of "The Great American Baking Show." (Anyone else watching that?) 
 
So yes, there is much joy in creation to be found, all around us and even right in our own backyards - but it's awfully bitter today so let's head back inside! I'm greeting you in the kitchen, wearing my favorite winter apron, a gift from my parents ...

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I find such joy in cooking for my family, especially in preparing seasonal foods! And though I love baking from scratch, sometimes you just have to cut a few corners, right? For example ...

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Last Tuesday was the feast of St. Lucia and once again I did not make the traditional saffron buns as I'd hoped to - BUT! I did throw some cinnamon rolls into a tube pan, baked them, glazed them, decorated them, and then set them aflame. Voila - feast day morning joy!

More joy in our week ... Earlybird celebrated his 15th birthday on Wednesday! Yes, this little boy is now FIFTEEN years old ...

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(That was a book about trains, his FAVORITE subject. He was very happy to receive a couple of books about the planets as well.) And I thought this birthday card was rather fitting - true in every word but also, such a lovely woodland design!

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Ok, since I'm keeping you so long, how about another cup of something hot?

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Snow days call for cocoa, don't you think? Tea soothes me, coffee revives me ... and cocoa brings me joy! And ding-ding-ding ... this is another one of those giveaway gifts! Yes, there will be a tin of this "Warm Me Up Chocolate & Cream Cocoa" in my Winter Comforts Basket! (More giveaway details at the bottom of this post.)

Oh, and that pretty blue notebook sitting beneath the tin?

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There will also be one of these in that giveaway basket! I have strong opinions on notebooks, and this is a notebook I just love! It's so nice to write in - smooth paper, soft lines - with a solid spiral-binding. I also have a pink one (that says, "Create a little magic everyday") that I'll use for a new diary project, but I use this particular blue notebook for my "to-dos, weekend plans and projects." I know I've been asked to post a little more about how I use this notebook and I will ... soon. :)

But since we're talking about notebooks and planners for a moment, let me give you a quick glimpse at a new planner I picked up recently ...

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(If you're thinking I might have a bit of a planner problem ... well, you might be right.)

I found this Woodland Tales planner at Barnes & Noble - it was the last one on the shelf, but I've also seen it online. I liked the layout and just could not resist the charming design! It's a smaller size - nice for the pocketbook - and it's specifically for week-at-a-glance planning. This will be used in addition to my Day Designer and my master planning binder ... and all that too, will be blogged about after the holidays!

Now, getting back to Advent, how about a look around our Christmas room (aka the library) where a woodland theme reigns ...

Starting with the children's nativity set where "all creation waits ... "

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You can just imagine the kinds of stories that get played out in this corner!

This display is set up on a table behind our loveseat and stretched out along the wall behind that is one of my favorite Christmas books, Woodland Christmas ...

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A lovely (and long) fold-out book that tells the tale of the animals preparing for Christmas. It is an Advent countdown too - with flaps on one side and labels for all the creatures on the other. I highly recommend this book if your children love animals! The drawings are soft and pretty but quite realistic.

Now our Christmas tree has a woodland theme going as well ...

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A ribbon of gold encircles the whole tree - featuring a holly-bedecked red squirrel! - as well as several strands of wooden cranberries. We've collected woodland ornaments since we were first married and some of these ornaments we've had for many years. (The birds above are from when I was little!) The reindeer lantern was new this year, though - the boys found it in one of their Advent pockets last week. :)

Even my daily Advent reading has a nature theme this year ...

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All Creation Waits - the very theme of our Advent! - has been a wonderful read so far. Every chapter (25 in all) presents a short meditation on one of God's creatures as it adapts for the long cold winter ahead - never fearing the darkness, knowing there is a new beginning ahead. Accompanied by gorgeous woodcut illustrations ... these reflections are certainly a new take on Advent, but they resonate deeply with me. 

And while we're speaking of books - I am so thrilled for this one! I stumbled across it at B&N yesterday ...

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Yes, a little early Christmas present to myself! Earth Psalms is a weekly devotional reflecting on how God speaks to us through nature. I am beyond excited to read it this year and I don't even feel badly I splurged on myself! (It was 50% off!) Now, I did offer to wrap it up and place it under the tree, but Bill let it slide ... ;)

Another early gift, this one from my husband who knows how much St. Francis means to me ... 

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Such a lovely wooden rosary bracelet. Something comfortable - and comforting - to wear every day. :)

Now, before I go (and yes I am planning to wrap this huge post up!) I'd like to share pictures of my very favorite animals of all - our cats, Archie and Oliver. It gives me such satisfaction and true joy to care for these two sweet boys ...

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Oliver by the heating element, tucked behind the loveseat in the library ...

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And Archie, snuggled up next to the chimney in the dining room. :)

*❤*

Well my friends, as always I thank you for stopping by and I leave you with my wish that each of you are filled with joy, wherever you might find it. I hope your weekend brings you the rest and relaxation you need ... snow or shine, whatever challenges you might face, whatever comforts you crave ... may your time be full of the things that mean most. :)

I'll be back again on Monday - we've a week more of Advent Teatimes to go! I may even double up some of our friends as more readers share their cups with me ...

But oh, yes! So about that giveaway ...

At the start of the year I will be sending out a "Winter Comforts Basket" to one lucky reader. This basket will be filled with little random seasonal comforts and joys. I've been giving you "sneak peeks" each week during my Friday tea posts, and there will be one or two other surprises, as well. To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is send me a picture of your favorite cup or mug - whatever you use to drink your beverage of choice in the cold winter months. Please email me your picture(s) with description here ...

drhanigan AT gmail DOT com

I will share your submission in one of my daily teatime posts and then on New Year's Eve I will announce a winner!

I hope to hear from you! In the meantime, take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I will see you all here again very soon!


Feline Friday ~ Keeping Warm!

Happy (Feline) Friday, everyone! Here's our Oliver keeping warm in his special spot behind the loveseat, snuggled up next the to heater ...

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Just a note - my Advent Tea post will be delayed until the weekend. Impending snow has switched our plans around - we're celebrating Earlybird's and my Dad's birthday tonight instead of tomorrow - so I'm off to bake a chocolate cake!

But I'll see you all here again very soon ... â¤


Advent Tea with Friends ... December 15th

Advent tea with friendsHello my friends, and Happy Thursday! Thank you so much for joining me for 4:00 teatime. I can hardly believe we're nearing the end of another week! :)

All throughout Advent I'll be sharing readers' favorite cups and mugs, every weekday at 4 p.m. ... and returning on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Anyone who participates will be entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway ... and on New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

p.s. Each Friday I give a little peek at something that will be tucked inside that basket! So far there's been soap, body butter, a pocket calendar and a pretty mug ... wonder what tomorrow's post will bring? :)

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but for today, let's pop in at Elizabeth's and see what she has brewing on this blustery afternoon ... â˜•ï¸ 

Here is my 13-year-old son's favorite tea mug! 99 cents from Goodwill ... :)

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And this mug, as you can see, holds a lot of tea! Trader Joe's Spiced Chai is Aaron's favorite. :)

*❤*

Oh, I love this mug! Earlier in Advent we talked about the simple pleasure of a glass mug - it's such a nice way to enjoy one's tea doubly! (Seeing and tasting all that goodness!) I like the measurements on the side, especially - that's a clever design. And that Trader Joe's tea sounds yummy! (I find TJ's has the best kinds of seasonal beverages - both hot and cold.) My own boys enjoy tea, too - especially my youngest who basically will drain my (decaffeinated) tea mug if I let him. I learned my love of tea alongside my grandparents - Grama took hers in a fine Irish teacup, while Grampa drank his in a tall sturdy mug. Irish Breakfast blend was their drink of choice!
 
Thank you so much for sharing tea with us Elizabeth - and Aaron! I hope you are enjoying your Advent. :) And friends, thanks to all for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed our teatime. Please drop a note if you have a moment and remember to send me your own favorite cup when you have a chance! (drhanigan AT gmail DOT com) I'll look forward to hearing from you ... â¤
 
See you all tomorrow at teatime! Our theme this week is "Joy in the Woodland: Animals at Advent."

Advent Tea with Friends ... December 14th ❤

Advent tea with friendsHello my friends, and Happy Wednesday! Thank you so much for joining me for another teatime. :)

All throughout Advent I'll be sharing readers' favorite cups and mugs, every weekday at 4 p.m. ... and returning on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Anyone who participates will be entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway ... and on New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

(p.s. Each Friday I give a little peek at something that will be tucked inside that basket!)

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but for today it's time to make ourselves comfortable at Kimberly's ... â˜•ï¸

It is a cool, rainy Saturday afternoon here in Texas, perfect for enjoying a few reflective moments over the Country Living Christmas Edition (UK) with a cup of my favorite Harney & Sons Holiday Spice tea and some yummy cookies ...

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I love taking moments like these during the holidays to unwind from all the going and making and planning. The coffee cup is one of a set of four with matching dessert plates, a Christmas present from my step-daughter a few years back. I save this set specifically for this time of year and special moments like these. It's always nice to have these simple personal traditions to look forward to this time of year! 

*❤*

I agree completely, Kimberly! This picture is just everything I love about this special season ... December days can be so dark, but our inner lights keep things bright and cozy. There might be something warm to drink, something special to eat, something to inspire and refresh our tired minds ... "simple personal traditions," as you say, Kimberly, that bring such comfort and joy. I love your china and that particular tea is a favorite of mine, too! And I think everyone who reads here regularly knows my feelings on British Country Living! :)

Now because I know Kimberly and I share a love of "vintage" things, and because I'm a little bit nosy, I poked around a bit and came upon this lovely display ...

Kimberly's victorian cards

Isn't that gorgeous? I absolutely love to collect greeting cards (especially vintage and seasonal ones) and this would be a great way to enjoy them! I'd love to know where you find yours, Kimberly - I know of one nice resource, the Victorian Trading Company. Readers, do you have any other "vintage" paper suggestions?

Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your Advent with us, Kimberly! And friends, thanks to all of you for joining us here at teatime ... I hope these posts are a little bright spot in your day. â¤ 

I'll be back tomorrow to share another friend's Tea and then on Friday, it will be time for my own weekly post, the "Animals' Advent" Tea ... :)
 
Have yourselves a wonderful Wednesday and ... see you here again very soon!

Advent Tea with Friends ... December 13th ❤

Advent tea with friendsHello my friends, and Happy Tuesday! Thank you so much for joining me for another teatime. :)

All throughout Advent I'll be sharing readers' favorite cups and mugs, every weekday at 4 p.m. ... and returning on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Anyone who participates will be entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway ... and on New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but for today, let's stop in at Mic's and see how she's enjoying her Advent ... â˜•ï¸

Here's a photo of one of my favorite holiday mugs. It's part of a "12 days of Christmas" pattern. How can it be December 8 already? I'm enjoying tillelul and mint tea since it's the evening here in Moscow ...
 
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In the background you can see my advent spiral, with Mary and Joseph and the donkey making their way to Bethlehem. We light a new candle each night in December and read from our advent story book. It's so nice to curl up on the couch after the dishes are washed and the kids have gone to bed and enjoy a few quiet moments ...
 
Wishing you and all your blog readers peace and joy this Advent and Christmas season!
 
*❤*
 
Mic, this is such a warm and cozy picture! I just want to jump in and curl up on that couch, too! I love the Advent spiral ... I've had my eye on those for years. I think it's a lovely tradition. And is that a Christmas candle carousel I spy on the silver tray? Those too have always fascinated me! But your mug ... oh, to have one for each day of the season! I love the pattern ... and that shape and size is just perfect for a nice warm cup of ... well, anything! Your tea sounds interesting too ... :)
 
Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your Advent with us, Mic! And friends, thanks to all of you for joining us here at teatime ... I hope these posts are a little bright spot in your day. â¤
 
Have yourselves a wonderful Tuesday and ... see you here again very soon!

Advent Tea with Friends ... December 12th ❤

Advent tea with friendsHello and Happy Monday, my friends! Thank you so much for joining me for another 4:00 teatime. :)

All throughout Advent I'll be sharing readers' favorite cups and mugs, every weekday at 4 p.m. ... and returning on Fridays with my own special Tea post. Anyone who participates will be entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway ... and on New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but for today, let's pop in at Leslie's and see what she has brewing by the fire ... â˜•ï¸

Hello Dawn! Last night I texted some neighborhood friends and said "tomorrow morning I will put on a large pot of coffee and place a log in the fireplace. Will you join me after you drop the children off from school?" I took out our fanciest cups and saucers (including the cream and sugar bowl passed down from my grandmother) but everything else was quiet and casual ...

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A great way to start the day!

*❤*

Oh my goodness, what a lovely setting, Leslie - and such a gracious gesture, to invite friends in for morning coffee and conversation by the fire. Thank you for taking the time to share a little of your Advent with all of us ...

Dear readers, isn't this a nice idea - to begin a cold December day with the warmth of fresh coffee and friendship? What a wonderful example of sweet and sincere hospitality. I must say I was especially pleased to stop in at Leslie's today - not just because it's all so inviting! - but also because ... Leslie is family! She is my husband's cousin and we met for the first time at a family reunion a couple of years ago ... in the backyard under the "train table tent" with our little ones all around. :)

It was so nice to hear from you Leslie, and I'm wishing you and your beautiful family a very happy holiday season! â¤

And friends, thanks to all of you for joining us at teatime ... I hope these posts are a little bright spot in your day. Have yourselves a wonderful Monday and ... see you here again very soon!


Advent Tea, Week 2: Plants & Peace

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Hello my friends, and Happy Friday!

And what a fine Friday this is - beautifully bright if perhaps a little colder than is seasonably acceptable in these parts. ***brrrrr*** Still, it's one of those days that make being cozy at home seem all the more wonderful. Well, whatever the weather, I'm so glad to be here and share a cup of something hot and happy with you all ... to slow down for just a moment and catch up. ❤ It's hard to believe, but we're making our way through our second week of Advent now, and I hope the season is unfolding in a way that feels right and good for you and your family. I also hope you've all been enjoying our daily "tea with friends" posts! I am very grateful to all who have shared their cups (and thoughts) with us so far this month ... and so pleased there are many more to come!

So this week in my own family's Advent journey we are finding peace in the natural world around us - in trees, plants, and the spices and herbs that are special to this sacred season. We began on Sunday, St. Barbara's Day, with an easy little craft, preparing a small vase to hold our feast day branches. (Legend says that branches snipped on December 4th will bloom come Christmas morning ... this has never failed us before!)

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The vase is an inexpensive terra cotta pot I purchased at the craft store. I spread glue on the sides and wrapped the bottom section with twine and then, using a hot glue gun, covered the upper rim with cloth floral stickers. (Bill sealed the little hole in the bottom of the pot with hot glue so it would hold water.) Next we added forsythia branches from the yard and a few pretty (craft) pine cones just to anchor those branches (and add visual interest). I think it came out very pretty! We'll be making a few more of these for teacher gifts this year ...

But now, about today's Tea ... :)

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Actually, today we're enjoying a hot winter wassail instead of my usual tea. It's easy enough to make your own, but this bottled blend from Trader Joe's is very yummy and quick to prepare. Just heat it up and - voila! - a hot cup of Christmas cheer at the ready! I floated an apple slice on top for an extra bit of fun ...

Would you care to join me in a cup? A little something sweet and spicy to warm us as we walk through my frosty gardens?

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The above photos were taken after an overnight snow, when everything was crunchy icy. Yes, I think we might be in for a white Christmas if this cold and active weather pattern holds over the next couple of weeks! We still have our "mild" days though, and so after yesterday's thaw, we harvested some moss from the stone wall ...

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... to add to our indoor Advent Garden. :)

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As I described in this post, we are rejoicing in God's glorious earth throughout Advent. One of our rituals is the tending of an indoor Advent Garden and we're reveling in the anticipation, slowly building up our tabletop terrarium with a new layer of life each week. Last week we added stones and soil, while this week we added some plants (the aforementioned moss) ...

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Oliver thought this was a GREAT idea.

And the boys found things in their Advent pockets this week that also reflected our theme ... a poinsettia, peppermint candy, fresh mint and evergreen sprigs. Each item symbolized a simple activity or treat or outing ... something to channel some of that wonderful Advent energy!

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Oh, also here in the kitchen - a new bottle of hand soap on the counter. This is such a little thing but I just love changing up the sink soap with the season. :)

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In New England, a touch of frost, a sprinkling of snow and the hint of spices in the air ... these are all hallmarks of the Advent season! Clove, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, citrus, apple and cranberry ... these are the "inside plants" we're exploring this week. As you see below, I brought out the mortar and pestle so the kids could try grinding some whole spices ...

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I'll be perfectly honest, this activity lasted all of two minutes. Not that it didn't appeal wildly to the younger boys, but the whole "hitting things with a marble wand" was getting a little out of hand. (Straying from the bowl to the table, fingers, etc.) Still, it was a fun activity and the kitchen smelled really good. :)

Soon I'll be starting fruitcakes ...

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... and we'll be filling small muslin bags with a mulling spice blend I purchased. These will be given as gifts along with fresh apples and pretty mugs. And speaking of pretty mugs ...

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Isn't this cup lovely? It is a very generous size and the golden letters spell out PEACE ... with snowdrops and winter greenery all around. I can see myself using this all season ...

AND .... if you enter my Winter Comforts Basket giveaway ... you might be enjoying it too! This mug will be one of the goodies tucked inside that basket. :)

Before we go, let's talk books and planners for a moment ... two favorite subjects of mine! Here are some of the reads we're enjoying this week ... 

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The bottom two are for the boys (still waiting on a few library requests to come in) and the rest are for me! :)

I'm taking some time this week to revisit one of my favorite author/illustrators, Tasha Tudor. I find such comfort and inspiration in her work - her children's books are family favorites - but I especially admire the way she lived her life. Not that we could all live quite as "off grid" as she did, but there is a lot to be said for "unplugging and slowing down" ... not just at Advent, but in any season. Forever Christmas was a gift from my dad many years ago, who bought this book in Tasha's home state of Vermont. I also absolutely love losing myself in the video, Take Peace: A Corgi Cottage Christmas. In this pile there is also a book of Christmas poems (a wonderful rec from my friend, Gill), my daily Advent read, and a fascinating little book about the folklore and tradition of Christmas plants.

I keep this pile of books stacked in a hopeful fashion beside my favorite reading chair ... I've been determined to find a little reading (and resting) time every day. :)

Late in the afternoon, with the sun heading for bed quite early, I took my cup of wassail to the library, so I might sit at my writing desk and get to work on our Christmas cards ...

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Yes, I am just that selfish enough that I need not one, but two desks, lol! The one in the family room (where I am sitting at this very moment) is for my computer and file crate and bill basket, etc. The white window writing desk you see above I keep for ... well, writing! It feels just a little bit "Jane Austen" to sit down at this desk and pen a chatty bit of correspondence to a friend. In January I will share a more thorough post on this happy writing corner ... as I get my holiday thank-you notes in order!

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Now in this "aerial" photo I spy two more small items that will pop up in that Winter Comforts Basket! A small tin of Trader Joe's body butter - just lovely for dry winter skin - and a small monthly purse planner (though in a different print than the one shown here). Fun little things to bring a smile to your winter days ...

Speaking of planners - parked here is my Day Designer and as I mentioned on Instagram last night, I don't usually do much with stickers and whatnot, but I found some very pretty ones at Paper Source this past week and I had to indulge. That washi tape especially is just SO so pretty. 

*❤*

Well my friends, I will wrap up for now, but I hope you enjoyed our time together, sharing another cup of Advent Tea! I have several friends lined up to share tea with you all again next week (every day at 4:00!) and then I will return again on Friday with another longer post. Next week our family's Advent theme is "Joy in the Woodland."

Remember, if you'd like to join us for Advent Tea please send me a picture (or pictures) of your favorite cup by email: drhanigan AT gmail DOT com. I'd love to hear about your cup and any other Advent thoughts you'd like to share! Your pictures will be featured in a daily teatime post and you will be entered in my Winter Comforts Basket giveaway. I'll announce a winner on New Year's Eve and send the basket out shortly after the new year begins. :)

For now though, I will wish you all a wonderful weekend and as always, I thank you sincerely for stopping by. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

See you here again very soon!


Advent Tea with Friends ... December 8th

Advent tea with friendsAs discussed in Monday's post, I'll be sharing readers' favorite cups and mugs here every day (or so) throughout Advent, and returning on Fridays with my own Advent Tea post. Everyone who participates is entered in my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway (a random collection of little wintertime comforts & joys to be mailed out after the new year) ...

On New Year's Eve I will announce the basket winner!

If you'd like to join us, please read more giveaway details in this post - but for today, let's stop in at Erin's ... â˜•ï¸

This is my very favorite mug. I gave it to my mother, who was a fan of Polish pottery, as a Christmas gift in 2011. Shortly afterward, in January 2012, she passed away after fighting leukemia for 17 long years. So the cup fell back into my hands. I use it every single day for tea and coffee and always think of my mother.

Erin's mug

Warm wishes to your and yours this Christmas.

*❤*

Dear Erin, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful mug and memories of your mother. I am very sorry to hear of her passing. My grandfather died 19 years ago of acute leukemia ... it is such an awful disease. Tomorrow is his birthday and I will remember both of our loved ones in my prayers. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your Advent with us ... that basketweave angel is just gorgeous. And I have a special fondness for Polish pottery myself. It is lovely to behold *and* lovely to hold! It just seems to fit so well in one's hand. :)

Well friends, thanks once again for joining us at teatime! I'll be back tomorrow with another reader's lovely cup and thoughts to share ... hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday evening!

See you here again very soon ...