Christmas Tea Feed

Holiday Tea at Dawn's: Merry Christmas!

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Hello my friends and Happy Christmas Eve! I'm taking a little break from all the wrapping and baking to share a spot of tea with you all and to wish you the happiest of holidays! Blessings to all of you and your loved ones ... I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful day. You probably can't tell from the picture above, but it's snowing so very lightly here ... just a little Christmas snow to set the stage! Tomorrow's forecast is for sunshine and 30 degrees. 🌞

My tea today is an old favorite - Bigelow's "Constant Comment," a spiced orange tea that tastes just like Christmas, to my mind. It's still steeping in this pic, but I am now sipping it in my grandmother's lovely Royal Albert "Yuletide" teacup. It's an annual ritual for me, to savor a cup of Christmas tea in this teacup ... and to think of Gram and how special she made our holidays every year. ❤️

Now, before I go - because I have a cheesecake to bake with my oldest son in a few! - I wanted to share my family's holiday card with you all:

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Can you believe how big our big boys are getting?? This picture was taken on the 4th of July at my cousin's annual party. Such a fun day and a very special memory. Here's a peek at the back of the card, too:

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Our littlest man ... already five and a half years old! How time flies when you're having fun ... and goodness are these boys a lot of fun!

Well I'm off now, but I will see you all back here for Tea again "next year!" The winter season stretches ahead of us and we'll have much to talk about and lots of tea to explore and enjoy together! 

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ...

MERRY CHRISTMAS and see you again soon!


Holiday Tea at Dawn's: O Christmas Tree!

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Hello my friends, and Happy Monday! Welcome to our third week of Holiday Tea - and today I'd like to talk about Christmas trees! First though, a quick word about my beverage-of-choice this week ...

As you can see, my mug is pretty big - and also, very pretty! I bought this last year at HomeGoods (for all of $5!) and loved it immediately for its generous size as well as the lovely seasonal images. It has a big sturdy handle, too!

Inside my mug today is a wonderful hot tea I "discovered" this year, made by Twinings:

 

 

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This delicious Christmas Tea has a smooth and lightly spiced flavor - and for me, "lightly" is a very good thing, when it comes to spices - because I get heartburn very easily! And sometimes, as much as I like the idea of a spiced tea, the flavor can be too reminiscent of cinnamon gum. Like I've steeped my tea with a stick of gum, lol! Weird, I know ... but once I had that impression from a previous tea, it just stuck with me! So clearly I'm a bit persnickety when it comes to flavored teas, but happily this one is smooth and subtle. :)

Now, I'm afraid I don't have any goodies to share today - the past few day have been busy and I just didn't have time - though honestly, if you were coming to visit, I'd be sure to have a few tempting things to offer! In case you were wondering, here's what's on my baking to-do list this week ...

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Do you have any special baking planned this week?

Well, how we talk about Christmas trees now? Here is ours ...

Our christmas tree 2018

This is the first year we've had a tree in our family room and I must say I love it here! This is an 8-foot Frasier Fir and I think it fits the room nicely. Would you care for a quick tour?

We use all white lights, two different garlands - one made of red wooden beads and another made from a golden ribbon festooned with festive red squirrels - and a red punched tin star as a topper. Many of our ornaments are "woodland inspired" and lots of them were made by my kids through the years.

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The glittery pinecone was made by one of the boys - the softly shaded maple leaf was hand-painted by my mum. She gave us a collection of them last year, and I just love them! They remind me of my favorite season (fall), my favorite state (Vermont), my favorite colors (soft orange and gold) AND of course, my love for nature.

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I'd wager many of us have popsicle stick crafts on our Christmas trees!

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Another leaf and a cute little pinecone-y hedgehog.

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The star was made for me by a sweet girl in our homeschool co-op years ago, while the moon was something I made myself. There's a little verse on the back, and a matching (or contrasting, I should say) ornament just around the corner ...

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I don't do handcrafts nearly as often as I'd like to, but I'm thinking of making that a goal for the New Year - to indulge more of my favorite hobbies.

We have LOTS Of cardinals all over our tree, one of our favorite winter songbirds.

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Birds in general enjoy a strong presence on our tree!

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This is one of the few "fragile" ornaments we have on the tree - made of porcelain, it's a bit "clinky" (as Little Bear calls it). 

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This is a very special ornament - a gift from Crackerjack's girlfriend, Jen, to our Little Bear who just this year discovered the excitement of "Minecraft."

Last year it was this guy ...

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Little Bear's never even seen Star Wars, but somehow - youngest of four boys that he is - he just "gets" it! "That's BB8 Mama! He's a good guy robot!"

We have name ornaments here and there and as uncommon as my name is, my mother-in-law found this one for me last year:

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And one last ornament which I just treasure, a gift from my boys:

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I'm sure many of you mamas can relate! (p.s. That's a hand-painted sand dollar in the back ground. Well, painted with glue and then sprinkled with glitter! I made that one several years ago when we were celebrating National Poinsettia Day.)

And here's the cozy corner where I'm enjoying my tea today ...

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We have no snow to speak of here in New England, but the skies seem to hold promise - thick gray clouds, a chill in the air. That said however, the forecast is not looking promising for a white Christmas! (It always pains me when we miss snow at Christmas ... and then spend the next three winter months absolutely inundated!) But boy do the days get so dark now, and so early!

And yet - we must take heart, my light-loving friends - the sun makes its triumphant return this Friday! In teeny-tiny increments perhaps, but each day going forward we'll have  just a little more light than dark each day. So, Happy Winter Solstice, everyone!🌞

Right now I'm all curled up on the family room couch, admiring the tree lights, enjoying a moment of quiet (while the boys are all occupied elsewhere in the house) and on my tv screen ...

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Show of hands now - who loves The Great British Baking Show??

Our local PBS station ran a marathon this weekend of TGBBS's Holiday Masterclass series. This is not the same as the ABC special airing each Thursday night this month - this is not a contest, but rather a cheerful and cozy hour's worth of holiday home baking with show hosts, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. It is so much fun to watch Mary and Paul recreate their own family favorites! If you're looking to get in the "holiday baking mood," look no further than this program ... I especially recommended it for Anglophiles like me. :)

You know what else I'm doing right now as I enjoy my tea? I am looking through old December journals, remembering past Christmases and holiday ideas I've gathered over the years. Journal-keeping is another hobby I'd like to make time for in the new year ... it's something I've done since I was a young girl, but have seemed to let drop recently. 

Here's a peek at a few page spreads ...

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As you can see, I fill my journals with clippings from magazines and random notes about our home, our family, craft ideas, recipes and just about anything that comes to mind! It's such a pleasure to look back over these journals - the plainest little spiral-bound notebooks but they serve their purpose! - and reconnect with my self and my thoughts on various things. I especially love seeing things like this ...

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This journal was from December, 2012 - the year I was pregnant with Little Bear. I remember that ultrasound on New Year's Eve, vividly. A particular blood test had come back elevated and we were having a level two ultrasound to check on our little guy's development. They were going to do it after the holidays but we insisted on being seen as early as possible. We had to drive into the city mid-afternoon on New Year's Eve ... and oh, the nerves! Thankfully, everything was just fine with our wee one and we found out that night that our fourth born would be a fourth BOY! We gave him his name that night and celebrated the new year feeling immense gratitude for our blessings, most especially the health and well-being of all our children.

(And all that came rushing back from those brief cryptic notes!)

Well, my friends - that is all I have for today but as always, I thank you for joining me and wish you all the very best! I hope this next week is one of peace and joy for you and your loved ones ... I will see you again NEXT Monday, December 24th, for a cup of Christmas Eve cheer!


Holiday Tea at Dawn's ~ Cozy Nests (Pt.2)

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Hello my friends, and Happy Monday! Welcome to part two of last week's Tea post! (Yes, I am a  bit "off-schedule" here - but that's the way of things lately! Please see my updated Tea schedule at the bottom of this post.)

Now, to continue with our conversation on "cozy winter nests," I thought I'd share some pictures of my own special spot as well as some thoughts on how to go about creating your own! I'll get to the nest photos in a moment, but to begin with, a quick word about the tea set shown above ...

Some of you might remember this pinecone tea set from the days when my older boys were little. I came across these darling dishes at the Christmas Tree Shoppe for a song and just knew immediately they were perfect for our nature-loving, woodland-based homeschool! My boys and I had "seasonal tea" regularly throughout their childhood and this basically involved milky tea or cocoa (or maybe hot cider) and something yummy (and hopefully homebaked) as well as read-aloud or puppet story. This sweet set began with bowls and plates, but those are long gone! I still have a small set of mugs, the charming tea pot and one little bowl which I use to hold tea bags. Happily nowadays both my younger boys love tea, too - and so the homeschooling tradition continues!

In the above photo we were enjoying a special "candy cane" cocoa for St. Nicholas's Day, our traditional treat on this feast day. I usually hook candy canes on the mugs of hot chocolate (aka bishop staffs), but had forgotten to pick up some natural ones at Whole Foods. (You may recall we have EB on a special diet free of artificial colors and flavors.) So instead, I just added some organic/natural peppermint extract to the simmering milk and mixed it with our homemade hot cocoa blend.

I've been keeping this pretty tea set on a high shelf in my kitchen but have decided to bring it down and keep it handy - it won't get used otherwise! And so our pinecone set has found a home in my "cozy winter nest ... I'm keeping it on a tray so it can be moved about as needed. 

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(Notice the little Lego on the corner of that table? That would be a Minecraft pick-ax, in case you didn't know.)

Ok, now back to our NEST discussion!

I'd like to first talk about a list I made for myself when I began setting up my nest. I first asked myself some questions about the concept of "keeping cozy" and then brainstormed some general ideas. My first list just appeared rather randomly in my doodle notebook ...

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This is my brain dump, and as you can see it's a bit of a mess! I use it for writing out weekend plans and shopping lists ... and lots of odd bits and bobs, too!

I then refined my list to be clearer and more "presentable," lol ...

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I'll keep this list in my December planning pages. :)

Here's my own Cozy Winter Nest breakdown. I would encourage you to ask yourself the same questions!

Why? Because there's a long cold winter ahead and instead of dreading it, let's make the best of it. Why not feather a cozy little "nest" for ourselves - a spot exclusively for comfort and joy - where we can hunker and hibernate till spring?

Where? This will be a space where we can rest and replenish our winter "stores" - ideally out of the way of the general household hubbub.

What? What will make this spot comforting? What items will bring joy? This list will be different for everyone!

When? How often can we actually BE in our nest? Will we roost here daily or will it serve as an occasional retreat?

Now, I think I've probably addressed the "Why" question pretty thoroughly by now so let's skip to the "Where." It is my firm belief that your nest can be ANYWHERE ... from a whole separate room to the end of a couch and/or bookcase ... even a dedicated window space can serve to enhance your level of winter coziness.

(I think it's helpful to start by brainstorming WHAT your ideal nest looks like and then look around your home for a fitting spot.)

Personally, my nest needs to be somewhere a little apart from family "traffic," but still close enough that I feel I'm handy to my kids if they need me. So I've claimed a portion of our living room for my nest, and here are some pictures I took the other day ...

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This is the epi-center of my nest - Mama's Reading Chair!

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It's a bit old, it's a bit squishy - but I love it! I keep a small table next to it for my tea mug (etc.) and I use an ottoman on the other side for planners. There are also plenty of baskets about for books!

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(The basket beneath the ottoman holds catalogs and coupons.)

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Cats are a nest must-have - even when they're being naughty!

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A birdfeeder outside the window is another must ...

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And plenty of natural light plus cozy lighting!

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Library loans are kept nearby - it's handy to keep them all together.

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I like to fill the coffee table with seasonal reading materials ...

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And there needs to be special spots for the cats to snuggle in, natch.

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Cats are natural-born nesters ... :-)

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And blankets are always a draw!

Nesting kitties

And they too love sunny spots ... in the winter, a south-facing window provides soul-soothing warmth and light.

Other essential nest items not shown include:

journal-keeping supplies: notebooks/binders, pens, scissors, tape, clippings to add

children's storybooks: my nest is a GREAT spot for read-alouds!

music: I like the Pandora app; currently I'm listening to old English Christmas carols.

video: I use my computer for watching DVDs - now showing, "Take Peace: A Corgi Cottage Christmas."

correspondence: notecards, stamps, address book, etc. I'm working on Christmas cards at the moment!

candles: I have scented candles here and there but I like battery-lit ones for every day use.

hand lotion: I keep Curel at my kitchen and bathroom sinks but a tube of lovely rose-scented cream in my nest!

What would you add to my list? :)

As for the "When" question ... well, for myself, I enjoy "nesting" every day. Because I'm up so early, I start my day here (I'm talking 4 a.m.), and I also sit here at least once a day to read with Little Bear and/or Earlybird. On the weekends I try to have a block of time devoted to keeping "office hours," and here is where I like to work. If you're used to being in your nesting space you will naturally gravitate there, but if it's a new idea to you, you may have to create an actual nesting schedule! At least to begin with. Begin by feathering this space as you like, and then consider how often you can indulge in a little nesting behavior. Let your loved ones know this is important to you, and if you have to write it on the family calendar then do just that!

Because a nest of our own is a help as much as it is a haven. It's a place where we might battle winter's darkness and soothe our world-weary spirits. It's a place to cultivate creativity and bask in the comforts of home. Even if all the space you have is a kitchen window-sill, arrange a few special things there (a pot of herbs, a picture frame, a nourishing lotion, a scented candle) and let that be a place you go for a moment of mindfulness each day.

There's so much more to say about the benefits of "nesting" but I will wrap up for now. That said, I would love to revisit this theme after the holidays - say mid-January. The next month is busy for most of us, with Christmas coming and all, but once Epiphany's come and gone, I will take a fresh look at my nest and see how I can spruce it up for the "deep winter" months. I think for many of us there is a sense of melancholy when the festive season has passed and the pretty decor of the holidays has been packed away. But let's not let that happen! We'll come up with a wonderful winter plan and see ourselves through the long cold weeks ahead ... 

Now, about my Tea schedule going forward! I have to be honest with you all and myself - I had hoped to sneak in another Tea post mid-week, but instead I will stick to my original schedule and be back on Monday with our next Holiday Tea. Our theme will be "O Christmas Tree" and I will share pictures of our home's holiday decorations, plus we'll talk about the upcoming Winter Solstice.

For now I will say goodbye and thank you all for joining me ... I'd love to hear your thoughts on Cozy Winter Nests so please drop a comment if you have the time! I'd also love to see YOUR Christmas trees, so please consider sending me a picture if you are able: drhanigan AT gmail DOT com.

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


❤️Looking Ahead: Tea & Christmas Planning!

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Hello again, my friends!

Well, it's a rather dreary November afternoon here - sleety, cold, and DARK - so I'm taking a break from our Thanksgiving prep to sit down for a cup of tea and to share a couple of quick things with you all. The first thing is what you see above ... this year's Christmas Planner is ready to go!

🎄 Dawn's Christmas Planner for 2018 🎄

Now, I'm really excited to dive into holiday planning - but I do like to live in season, and be mindful of our present blessings - so this week is all about thankfulness - and preparing turkey for 25! I also, however, like to get my ducks in a row asap, so I printed out a fresh copy - updated for the new year with a new, pretty cover (and back) page - and added it to my planning binder. There it will wait for me until Friday morning when I'll be raring to go! (Over a cup of mulled cider and leftovers!)

Okhere is a little sneak peek at the inside pages ...

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I hope this 16-page booklet will be helpful to you as you plan out your holiday season, but more than that - I hope it helps you think about HOW you want the season to feel. Christmas is about so much more than just the nitty gritty details - not that there's not a lot of things to do and keep on top of in order to make everyone's holiday  happy - but it's really about creating an atmosphere, crafting a vision, cultivating and carrying on with traditions that make the season so special for everyone. It is also, if I may be so bold as to suggest, a time for making time for ourselves. A time to connect with the true spirit of the season - whatever that may mean for YOU - touching base with the memories and values you hold dear. These weeks go by so fast, let's give this special time some real forethought and plan a Christmastide that will bring not only happiness, but harmony - inside and out.

Well ... more on all that in posts to come, but on that note ... the other thing I wanted to tell you all today is that I've decided to bring back my WEEKLY WINTER TEAS!

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And so ...

Tea at Dawn's will commence next Monday, November 26th and continue (fingers crossed) every week throughout what I like to call, "nesting" season.

I am still hammering out my thoughts on this special project, as well as my weekly Tea themes, but come next Monday we can start by sharing a little of our Thanksgivings as well as our hopes for the season ahead - not to mention, of course, a lovely cup of late autumn tea!

Guests are always welcome at Teatime - to simply read, or share thoughts, or to participate with pictures - so I hope you'll consider joining me! Grab that Teacup image above if you'd care to spread the word, and if you'd like to send me a picture, please email me:

drhanigan AT gmail DOT com

Our 1st post:

November 26th: "Thanksgiving Memories and Holiday Hopes."

Well friends, I will be off now as dinnertime has approached and I am actually now typing these last words with a five year old in my arms who is complaining of a bellyache! So for now ...

Thanks so much for stopping by, have a nice evening, and I'll hope to see you here again very soon!


Tea & Mitten Strings: A Pause & a Plan!

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Hello my friends and Happy Sunday! I hope you are all doing well.  I'm popping in today to share a cup of Advent tea, and announce a little change to my December blogging schedule ...

Now, I know had promised to pick up where we left off in our Mitten Strings for God book study, and to continue on with our weekly tea schedule as well, but - and I know you all saw this coming - I think what I really need is to keep things simple this month. I have a lot going on at the moment - there's a season to savor, my concussion to coddle, and college applications to finish for my son!

So what I would like to do for now is to hit "pause" on my blogging for the rest of the month. In early January we'll gather here again for a cup of Winter's tea and hit "play" on our MSfG book study. I'm thinking there may even be a little giveaway involved ... 

But to touch on our current chapter, "Wants and Needs," I would like to say a few quick things before getting on with today's tea ... Here is a link to my post on this chapter from 2008 which I just re-read last week, and in doing so I thought:

You know what? I really like what I had to say back then!

So here's a little excerpt:

I think helping our children find and feel contentment, is vital to their happiness later in life. We grown-ups know, in our hearts, that contentment doesn't come from things, but rather, from having our needs met consistently. Because once those needs are met, we feel comfort, and comfort provides plenty of space for joy. (Did I just talk in a circle? Possibly, but please bear with me.)

There are so many places this post could go, but in the interest of time (mine and yours) I'll just offer up a few notes I jotted down for myself re this particular endeavor (and as always, these are just things I am trying - I don't presume to know what would work for your family):

  1. Expose the kids to less media/commercialism.
  2. Shop as infrequently as possible and be more thrifty with our spending.
  3. Make giving thanks a bigger part of our everyday life. Hone in on our non-material blessings.
  4. Volunteer more as a family.

Now, I think I had good intentions back then, but I know my family could definitely use a little refresher! So as we approach the new year I'll be brainstorming ways to work these four goals (back) into our life. In particular, I'd love to spend less time shopping - and make the shopping we do do more meaningful and focused. I'm pretty sure Bill would love the idea of less spending, too!

But for today, let's share some Advent tea and revel in this season of twinkling lights and sparkling snow ... and first, I am so pleased to share my friend Gill's lovely pics with you all. I can always count on Gill to share a cozy cup of tea and a peek into her life across the pond!

From Gill:

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"We are just beginning to put a few things out for Advent, and I was given this little tablescape decoration yesterday. It had rather a Scottish feel to it, so I have had a little St Andrew’s day tea beside it this afternoon ...

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"Whilst I was doing that, my menfolk were cutting down a Christmas tree for our front yard! They had a lot of fun and we now have a tree to rival the one in Trafalgar Square!"

Thank you, Gill, for sharing your warm and welcoming tea here with us! Your views are so pretty ... and I have to say, I was a little jealous of your snow when I first opened your message. ;) (We've since gotten some of our own.) But that tree - wow, it's a beauty! I especially love those large lights - so pretty! And who's that sweet little doggie posing in front? What a love!

Speaking of loves, here's my Oliver, whose favorite haunt is the library ... 

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Isn't he handsome? Archie finds his way into more of the pictures because he gets into more trouble he's always wherever we are ... whereas Oliver tends to snuggle up and sleep in quiet corners when he can find them. His favorite spot? Behind the loveseat, sidled up next to the heating register ... where I keep his preferred pet bed, natch. :)

But speaking of Archie?

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Yes, he's just LOVING the Advent season as you can see ... with all the little knicknacks to bat around and fresh greenery to nosh on ...

#andthisiswhywecanthavenicethings 😂 

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As part of our Advent storytelling, I made this peg doll St. Nick and, as an extra surprise, purchased that sweet little cat, one of a few new wooden figures from Bella Luna Toys. The story I told had to do with a lost cat finding a new home at the Farm, in thanks to a kind stranger in the woods (St. Nicholas/Father Christmas). I was inspired by the book seen below, one of my favorite Christmas stories of all time ...

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The Christmas Cat by Efner Tudor Holmes (and illustrated by the beloved Tasha Tudor) is such a beautiful story - especially for those of us with a soft spot for animals. What is extra sweet about this photo is that BOTH of my younger boys were sitting at this table, listening to me read aloud. (While sipping their traditional St. Nicholas Day treat, candy cane cocoa!) Earlybird is usually very uncomfortable being read to, but he was really calm and content to hear the story! Such progress he has made ... it makes this mama so happy. :)

And here's another festive spread, one I arranged a few days later, when I expected a dear friend for morning tea ...

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This is my favorite Christmas china, a set I started collecting several years ago. "Winter Greetings Everyday" it's called, and I love it most of all for the birds! Several species are represented on these dishes ... cardinals, chickadees, titmice, goldfinches ... downy woodpeckers even!

Here's another shot of my tea table last Friday ...

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This was *before* we got our first snow of the season!

Speaking of ... here I am with Little Bear on our way home from Whole Foods Saturday morning. We made a quick run to get bread, milk and a few other sundries before the storm set in!

Shopping

This chapter sprung to mind several times as we shopped ...

"Hey, can I have that?"

"Mama, I want that!"

"Wait! Mama go back, I want to look at that again!"

And me: "Honey, we don't need to buy that today, but it IS a really neat [insert desired item here]."

The snow was light as we left the store, but within a few hours, it was falling in earnest ...

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With all of two inches on the ground, Little Bear said: "This all has to go. Let’s get to work.” 

(This boy has the strongest work ethic I've ever seen in a 4 year old!)

Next morning ...

Snowy window

All was calm, all was bright ... 

I do love a December snow. An old-fashioned Christmas just isn't complete without at least a dusting of snow! (We had about 6 inches and are expecting more in the next week or so!)

And finally, here is our Christmas tree ...

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I'm quite fond of our tree this year ... and as you can see, so is Archie. :)

Well everyone, thank you very much for stopping by and taking the time to read. I hope you are all having a nice December! And Mitten Strings friends - I hope you will excuse this little break from our study and join me back here again next month!

Now, that's not to say I might not pop in again before January ... and I'll definitely be around on Facebook and Instagram! But for now, I will say ...

Blessed Advent, my friends. I wish each of you a love-filled, perfectly peaceful and happy holiday season. God bless you all and thank you so much for your friendship, kindness and care!

See you here again very soon ...


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! 🌞

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. 

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 ...
 
IMG_2123
 
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!