Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Thoughtful Gesture Is Not Soon Forgotten

A coincidence happened to me last night that I'm sure wasn't really a coincidence.  God tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me that he is always here, and he did this through the kindness of a friend.  My father is scheduled to have open heart surgery tomorrow morning to replace a leaking valve.  Needless to say, our family has had this on our minds (and in our prayers) all through the holidays.

Last night, my son and husband were busy in the basement when our phone rang. I started not to answer because I was tired and didn't really feel like talking.  But I did answer, and it was my friend who lives in Arizona that I haven't talked with in about six months.  Her husband and son had gone skiing, and since she doesn't ski, she was home by herself and feeling a bit lonely.

This friendship goes way back; she was a bridesmaid in our wedding, and we worked together for two years at what I consider to be my first real, "grownup" job.  There were actually three of us "girls" from work who hung out together, and we became very close friends.  The other friend still lives nearby, but after Alisa married, she and her husband moved around a lot.  They lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Phoenix, Arizona; Dallas, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; and now, Arizona again.

I'm sorry to say we lost touch for several years, except for the occasional Christmas card or phone call.  But then, she called me this past summer, and we reconnected.  Last night, we talked for over an hour, about lots of things, and I was really glad she called.  As we were winding up our conversation, I told her that my dad is having open heart surgery tomorrow.  She was very kind and asked if she could call me Thursday night to see how he's doing.  It meant a lot to me.

This morning, I was having a late cup of coffee, and I heard a car in our driveway.  I looked out the window and saw someone heading towards our front door with a flower arrangement.  I put the dog up, and told my husband they probably had the wrong house number; we never get flowers.  It wasn't the wrong address; the flowers were for me.  I really couldn't imagine who they were from, and when I opened the card, I discovered they were from my friend in Arizona.  We just talked last night, and she sent these the very next day...

My heart is filled with gratitude.

Thank You, Alisa!

 I hope you are all still enjoying this Christmas season.  Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, December 24, 2011


I hope you are all making preparations to spend tomorrow (or tonight) with dearest friends and loved ones.  Among the many blessings I count this Christmas, I consider myself blessed to have shared with all of you through my blog, and to have enjoyed all the many things you have shared about yourselves, your families, and your homes this year.  Thanks to all of you who have taken time to visit my blog.

I'm sure it sounds funny to people who don't blog to hear us talk about our "friends" in blog land.  Nevertheless, I want to wish my friends whom I've gotten to know this past year, a Very Merry and Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.  This is by no means everyone, but these are the people who first spring to mind when I think about blogging, so "Merry Christmas" to Mary, a North Carolina blogger like me :)  (Home Is Where The Boat Is), Debbie (Words On Wheels) and Susan at Between Naps on the Porch, both in Georgia; Barbara (Two Birdies and a B.) in Staten Island; Kathleen (Cuisine Kathleen) and The Tablescaper, both on Long Island; Maggie in Normandy (Normandy Life); Laura in London, England, (Happy Homemaker UK); Marlis in Texas (Creative Journeys); Fabby in Ecuador (Fabby's Living); Alycia Nichols in Missouri (Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One); Sherry in Illinois (The Charm of Home); Cherry Kay In Oklahoma  (Entertaining Women); Bonnie in Alabama (Living With Thanksgiving); and Kathryn Ross in New Jersey (A Writer's Reverie), to name just a few.  Merry Christmas From Our House to Yours!!

And to all my Friends and Family, Merry Christmas and God Bless Us Everyone. 


Linking to Seasonal Sundays, hosted by The Tablescaper, for this very special Sunday --Christmas Day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Reading

I know everyone is crazy busy during this season, but we all need a few minutes here and there to wind down, even if it's not until bedtime.  Do you have a favorite book or short story that you like to read (or re-read) at Christmastime?  I have a few favorites that I never seem to grow tired of reading during the holidays.  Maybe you've read some of them too?

I think I've read almost all of Rosamunde Pilcher's books and short stories, and this is one of my very favorites.  I usually like to start reading it in the early part of December.  It's what I call a cozy read; the kind where you can curl up with a cup of hot tea or hot chocolate at the end of the day.

If you're a Jan Karon fan and you've read the other books in her Mitford series, but somehow managed to miss this one, you really need to read it.  Preferably at Christmastime.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

One of my very favorites since childhood, Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol".  I like the movie versions with George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart as Scrooge.  I also got to see the play at our local theater years ago performed by the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival -- loved it.  :)

These last two books are a bit of a departure from classic Christmas stories, but if you've managed to read all the classics and are looking for something different to read, here are two murder mysteries that take place at Christmas.  I know -- murder mysteries during the holidays.  But these aren't gruesome, psychotic crime thrillers.  They're actually English murder mysteries (written by an American author) and she does a bang-up job too, I might add.  I would recommend all of her mysteries in the "Inspector Jury" series, but I mention these two because, again, the stories take place at Christmas.

All of her titles are named for English pubs, by the way.  These books have a combination I find hard to resist; the mysteries are hard to figure out, they're full of quick, clever British humor, and just enough melancholy to keep them from being too "light".  If you didn't know better, you'd swear Martha Grimes was British.  She has mastered the accents and idioms of the Brits, and for me, that's a big part of what makes these books entertaining to read.

I'd love to hear about what you like to read during the holidays.  I'm always glad to add new favorites to my collection.

Have a great evening, and thanks for visiting the House at Forest Manor.


Christmas 2011 -- Still Decorating

I've been away (for the most part) from blog land all week.  I appreciate so much your visits and kind comments from last Sunday and Monday!  Please be patient, and I will be returning all your visits. :)  It never takes me this long to get back to people, but we are still trying to finish our shopping and decorating.

I thought I would share some more of our decorations for this Advent and Christmas season.  According to the Advent calendar, Christmas Eve is less than a week away.  Did I mention I'm still shopping and decorating?  Addressing cards and decorating? :)

This is the Nativity set that adorns our foyer every Christmas.  It was a gift from my husband's grandmother.  It just seems like it was made for this spot.

...such a pretty crescent moon pattern on this wise man's robe.

A view from the opposite angle.

This next nativity set was made by my mom in her ceramics class over 30 years ago.  She generously gave it to me when we lived in Greensboro.  Our home had a fireplace with a white mantel, and she said it would show up much better there than on her mantel.  We have a stained mantel in our current home, so I moved the nativity set to the dining room.  This is the first year I've displayed it on the plaid runner, and I love the way it turned out.

I love the way you can see the expressions on their faces so clearly.

Also in the dining room is a small, Old Salem Advent wreath with a Moravian star on top.  You can read about historic Old Salem here and here.

A treasured ornament Mr. Forest Manor bought me for Christmas one year.  I love all the details -- the snow-flecked, bottle-brush Christmas tree on his back, the stars on his tunic, and the soft fur on his robe and hat.

I'm sharing some ornaments from the Christmas tree in our den this evening.  I'll show the tree in the living room later this week.  Like most of you, I have a sentimental attachment to all the ornaments on our trees.  I remember where each and every one of them came from, and they all hold such sweet memories.

I can't resist the German wooden ornaments.  Home Goods had a wonderful selection this year and last at great prices.

Our son's very first Christmas ornaments from both sets of Grandparents.

Precious gifts from our parents' travels...

to Italy,

and Ireland...

...the "Big Apple"

Disney World...

Rock City, Georgia...   :)

...and an angel ornament from my mother-in-law's mission trip to Puerto Rico over 20 years ago.

This tree has most of the ornaments that our son has received from us and from his grandparents over the years.

"Percy" from our Thomas the Tank Engine Years.  :)

The tree also reflects our love of music...

...and birds,

Thanks for visiting the House at Forest Manor and for sharing some Christmas memories with me.  I'm joining Seasonal Sundays, hosted by the Tablescaper.  Please stop by The Tablescaper's blog to see some wonderful Christmas pictures!  I hope you'll come back for some more Christmas posts later this week.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Our Christmas Mantel

I love to decorate for Christmas; I think I always have, even as a child.  I used to get so excited when my Mom got out our Nativity set every Christmas.  When my sister and I were in college, my parents would wait until we finished our exams and were home for Christmas break before decorating the tree.  They knew we'd want to help.

This is the first year I've had a blog, and therefore my first time to participate in the Christmas Blogger Block Party.  This evening, I'm linking to Holiday Mantels, hosted by Kristin at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia.  I have fairly traditional tastes in decorating, and that holds true for Christmas, as well.  My mother-in-law has several wonderful nutcrackers, and I got my inspiration for this mantel from her.  My in-laws have a fireplace much like ours in their den, and in their living room, they have a more formal fireplace.  It has a white mantel and molding and uses gas logs.  She fills her den mantel with nutcrackers and greenery, and the living room mantel she dresses more formally.

Our first home was a 1924 Craftsman bungalow.  The fireplace bricks were painted white, and it had a lovely white mantel.  I still miss that mantel (sigh).  But for now, I'm trying to make the most of the one we have.  Here is our Christmas mantel for 2011.

The Nutcracker Prince (made in Germany) on the far right was a Christmas gift from my husband the first year we were married.  The Santa Claus next to him was a gift from my husband's parents.  They went to Germany for the Christkindl Market when our son was just a baby, and brought us this Santa smoker.  I don't burn the incense because I'm afraid I'll burn his beard up.  :)

The woodcutter with the Christmas tree in his hand was made in Germany, also.  I found him at Home Goods for a real bargain.  I do love Home Goods.  :)  The greenery and Nandina berries on the mantel are faux, but I love their realistic appearance.  I got them at a local gift shop discounted after Christmas several years ago.

The berries above the picture are real; they came from the Nandina bush in our backyard.  The red candle in the center is an LED.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

In hopes that St. Nicholas...

...soon would be there. 

My husband's mother knitted these stockings for us when our son was born.  They're a treasured keepsake.

This handsome fellow was a doorstop in another life.  Now he adorns our hearth.  We are owned by are the proud owners of a Scottish Terrorist Terrier, who really keeps us on our toes. :)

Love the tree lights reflected in the glass of this print.

Thank you for hosting Holiday Mantels, Kristin, and Happy Decorating everyone!

...and to all, a good night.

Thanks for stopping by the House at Forest Manor.  I so appreciate your visits and love reading your comments.

On Wednesday, December 7th, I'll be linking to Merry Mantels, hosted by Rhoda at Southern Hospitality.  Merry Mantels is part of the Holiday Home Link Parties, and on Sunday, I'll be linking to Seasonal Sundays, hosted by the Tablescaper, who does such a wonderful job of hosting this party every week.

Also linking to Rene's Room By Room Christmas Tour at Cottage and Vine.  Thanks so much for hosting this, Rene! 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

My Blog Designer