Merry Christmas/happy holidays to everyone, and safe travels to those who are on the road, making their way to family members’ or friends’ homes! John and I just returned from a 12-day trip that took us through Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana to visit relatives. During that period, we experienced ice and snow, heavy rain (the kind that results in flash flood warnings), and car troubles.


The folks in Wisconsin, especially in north central Wisconsin, are enjoying lots of snow this December. I think we got dusted with at least an inch of snow each day we visited John’s mother in Rib Mountain.


We were glad to be able to spend time with family members, but it’s always good to come home again. While we were gone, Urbandale suffered through freezing rain, followed by an old-fashion blizzard. It’s winter, in a word! This is our back yard, where woods are sandwiched between the back of our property and a creek. Deer tracks criss-cross the snow.


Traveling for half the month of December left little time to put up our normal Christmas tree, so this tabletop tree, hung with wooden ornaments passed down from my mother, works nicely. My apologies for the lack of sharpness in the photo; late afternoon light is not optimal for photography.


I have decided that when you don’t have time to decorate for the holidays, garland can be your best friend.


We are particularly appreciative of all the help we got during the last couple of weeks. Our next door neighbors cleared our driveway of snow after a six-inch snowfall, enabling us to pull into our driveway and park in our garage. A big thanks goes to Bergstrom Chevrolet of Germantown, Wisconsin that diagnosed a completely failed car engine and replaced it within 48 hours, arranging a free rental car for us.


Another thank you goes to Yemm Chevrolet-Buick-GMC of Galesurg, Illinois that squeezed us into their schedule yesterday (they closed at noon on New Year’s Eve) and replaced a faulty thermostat and flushed our radiator when the car overheated on our way home. And of course we are grateful to gracious hosts who provided us with affection and cheer, good food and above all their company during this holiday period. We have no relatives in Iowa, so we are always appreciative of any time we can spend with them.

While I’m on the subject of gratitude, I want to thank my Secret Santa, Deb Baroff of Stroll Through Storyland, who is a fellow member of Blogging Business Artisans. When we came home last night, I opened her package that included all kinds of thoughtful surprises. Deb knows that I like to embellish my handmade books with flowers, so she included some paper flowers, as well as some handmade flowers, that will come in handy.


Deb also indulged my love of birds with a selection of bird-themed illustrations that can be used in mixed media work, as well as a beautiful note card designed by Phil Marriott Artworks. Notice the wooden bird-themed pendant off to the left? It could of course be used as part of a necklace, but I am thinking about finding a way to use it for a book cover.


Other goodies in my Secret Santa package included a cute stuffed bird, sitting on a washi tape “nest,” along with some foam leaf stickers. I can’t help thinking these could be used for mono printing. There are also some botanical acrylic stamps that can be used in exactly the same way to make some unique paper.


If this wasn’t enough, Deb also appealed to my reading and writing side with a handmade stack of matchbook-style note pads and a lovely woven bookmark. Thank you, Deb, for taking the time to make my Christmas extra special!

I began writing this post mid-afternoon, and it is now evening of Christmas Day. John has put on a log in the fireplace, and we are now going to exchange our gifts to each other. I hope your own holiday is filled with family, fun, and festivities—and much for which to be thankful. Merry Christmas!


© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “A holiday attitude of gratitude”

  1. Glad you made it home safely!! I had car trouble last Christmas. Not fun. Hoping for a safe trip as I travel north to SD tomorrow to spend a late Christmas at my brother’s with my two youngest adult kids. I have a near-vintage car, and because the old gray Taurus ain’t what she used to be, I always get a bit nervous setting out alone on a long road trip.

    What a wonderful package full of surprises from your Secret Santa!! You’ll have lots of fun with all those goodies.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Splendid Little Stars

    aaahhh….the fire seems so cozy after a long trip of visiting and car troubles.
    What a wonderful gift Deb gave you! all those great new “toys!”
    Hubby and I got home late on Christmas Eve as well, after being gone for a week. so wonderful to be home!

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