Posts Tagged ‘Christmas Ideas’

A Cuppa Cozy: Cocoa-and-Cookie Station

Hello Dear Friends!

I’ve been away but am back just in time to share the holiday season with you! Thanks for your emails and comments checking in on me. It has been a very busy year and I’ve already been immersed in holiday decorating, albeit for fundraising for breast cancer research, as you can see from this recent photo in a local newspaper! Some days, you just never know where you’ll end up. lol  I’ve really missed my friends in blog land. So, let’s get to it! The kettle’s already on and I hope you can stay for awhile…


IMG_1414In nod to the season, simple gestures of sweet holiday homemaking are starting to emerge at our house.

When it’s cold outside, I like to warm my toes and insides with a casual and convenient cocoa-and-cookie station.  It’s easy to do and a lovely little way to bring some big-hearted hospitality to the holidays.  I thought I’d share some photos of my hot chocolate bar from last season…IMG_1244A kitchen island, countertop, sideboard/dresser, or a tabletop tucked into a corner are all perfect places for a hot chocolate bar.IMG_1251The  hot chocolate bar in our house is set out on an antique table with a marble top and white cast iron pedestal base – it came from a favourite downtown cafe that was located within a well-loved gift shop.  When the owner decided to close the doors, she called me and asked  if I would like one of her tables – I ended up with two! YAY!  IMG_1238I start by gathering all the Christmassy “essentials”.  A large oval basket, or sometimes a tray or even a wooden crate, is used to neatly house all the things for the bar:  homemade marshmallows, peppermint stir sticks, cinnamon sugar, cookies under a glass cloche, linen napkins, spoons, candles and special cups.IMG_1324Pretty cups and mugs always make a beautiful statement. This one’s a favourite. It came from a cute design shop, By Sharpe Design, in the heart of the city.IMG_1242The toy soldier cookies were made by my friend Maria at Petite Sweet.IMG_1274

IMG_1288The pretty homemade marshmallows came from Sugar Mama’s bakery just around the corner.IMG_1249And, of course, don’t forget delicious cocoa mix and a bottle of fresh milk….IMG_1320Candles and greens add to the warm, comforting ambience.
IMG_1318Little people and big people love festive Oreo cookies dipped in white chocolate with crushed candy cane sprinkles!


IMG_1276The glass cloche helps to keep the freshness in, although cookies never last long anyway.IMG_1275“Son of a Nutcracker!” That looks cute!IMG_1236When I’m hosting a hot chocolate bar for an open house or a brunch, I like to have bowls of mini marshmallows, chocolate curls and whipped cream at the ready.  A bottle of Baileys or Frangelico is available for those who like a curious kick to their hot chocolate.IMG_1259A touch of black anywhere always boosts things up a notch, don’t you think!IMG_1260Cozy pillows, a mix of heirloom needlepoint and with a touch of sparkle, on the chairs bring even more warmth to the vignette.IMG_1261A cup of cocoa is like a giant hug!
IMG_1262Napkins sewn from red-and-white ticking and a cozy rug under foot = a warm heart!  I also like to top jars with holiday stickers that say, “Welcome. You’re special!” It’s a sweet touch.IMG_1285I do love this time of year, although the damp cold that we often get, being on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, does get deep in the bones and I enjoy a hot cup of something to warm me up after a day out and about.

My goal this year is to bring it outside! On the porch or deck is a great spot to welcome family and friends home from outdoor activities, and you can add to the romantic holiday theme with a vintage sled, skates, buckets of apples, planters filled greens…you get the picture. If you have snow, build a for-real snowman nearby and gussie him up with mittens and a mug hanging from his twig arm! To further boost the spirits, pile up warm blankets on a bench and play Christmas music on the ghetto blaster!  Stay tuned…

Inspired.  Simple.  Beautiful.

Wishing you a warm and joyful holiday season,

Linda at Beautiful Ideas

IMG_1362Thank you to my Pink Days In Bloom garden fairy “Invincibelle” whose mom, Ann Marie, made this gorgeous cross-stitched heart for me last Christmas!IMG_1273PRAYERS FOR PEACE AND LOVE TO ALL

For those of you who live near, I hope you will join us for the next Pink Days In Bloom coming up…

0001kFJoining the party at:  Make It Pretty, Amaze Me Monday, Teatime Tuesday, Tweak It Tuesday, Inspire Me TuesdayHome Sweet Home, Feathered Nest Friday, Show and Tell, Simple and Sweet Fridays, WhatToDo Weekends, Share Your Cup Thursday, Creative Mondays, The Scoop, Wake Up Wednesday, Share Your Cup Thursday, A Return to Loveliness

The Gift of Christmas! Sanselig Jul…

Sanselig Jul:  A Christmas For All The Senses

by Franciska Munck-Johansen

Dearest Friends,

Something very special sits on my desk this evening. A glorious feast – for the eyes! An exquisite holiday idea book has arrived all the way from Norway.  A true ‘Work of Heart’ by talented Norwegian Franciska Munck-Johansen – author/stylist/photographer!  Bubbling with excitement, like a child on Christmas morning, I can barely contain myself as I turn each smooth, glossy perfect page.

My cup of amber tea has long gone cold.  My husband took it away to pour me another.  :-) I barely noticed…I am happily preoccupied. Mesmerized. My eyes pour over each and every lustrous sheet of gorgeous photos.  I am wearing a big grin on my face.  Searching for something which is very thrilling to me.   Photos of  the exterior of our own home dressed for the holidays  in simple, natural cedar garlands and balsam fir wreaths.  Pages 44-45.  I can hardly believe my eyes!

Isn’t this an outstanding cover photo (below) that Franciska has chosen for her new book? (My friend Jean made the Santa – isn’t he handsome in his Nordic style ski wear?)



Franciska’s book is written in Norwegian, but a picture does speaks a thousand words and the language of photos is certainly universal.  Beautiful and inspiring!  The photo on the left is of our garden gate (although it is not red anymore) and here is what the caption under it reads:

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
It’s almost so you can hear Christmas carols and expect to see Rudolph and
the rest of the gang behind this garden gate. Canadian Linda Ryan, author of  the blog “Beautiful Ideas”, loves Christmas and has photographed these lovely images in her garden. She uses evergreens to decorate around the garden in flower boxes, on doors, around the outside lights… The front door of her home is a wonderful portal decorated with fresh cedar and long ribbons.

It does not surprise me that my dear friend Carolyn from the enchanting ‘Island of Anne’ is in the book, too. Carolyn is amassing a library of publications featuring her stunning home and gardens.  Here she writes about being featured in Franciska’s “Sanselig Jul”:  Aiken Home and Garden


A third North American featured in the book is Sandy Foster, author of the blog ‘My Shabby Streamside Studio’.  Sandy lives in New York (my husband and I are not long home from eight glorious days in NYC, something that has been on my bucket list for a very long time – more about that soon)….You’ll love Sandy’s dreamy, marshmallowy photos.  Sandy has been a guest on the Nate Berkus Show and is included in his newest book.  You can visit Sandy at her blog here:  My Shabby Streamside Studio.  Here are some pictures of Sandy’s feature in Sanselig Jul.


Franciska’s book is a magical Christmas treasury.    The stuff  of dreams.  I am thrilled to have it in my special collection of beautiful holiday books.  Even more so to be included in it!  Surreal.  Franciska  is a beauty  – inside and out.  Her first-class work is featured in many interiors magazines in Europe and beyond. Swoonworthy, indeed.  Her passion for all that she does shines through in her every one of  her photos.  Her warmth and charm of personality emanates from the pages of “Sanselig Jul”.  Here is beautiful photo of Franciska.


You can purchase Francsika’s book (here) .

My first ‘meeting’ with Franciska was in summer 2011.  She shared my blog post (Waiting for Springtime) on her own blog .  It touched her heart and made me glad that she felt my story  was worth sharing, that it might inspire others to do something nice for someone in need.   We all can use a supportive ‘hug’ sometimes, can’t we…

Last year, Franciska sent me as a gift a copy of her first book, “Sanselig Sommer”, which translated into English means “Summer for All the Senses”.  It, too, is jam-packed with wonderful photos and ideas that can be easily adapted for the home, garden and inspired living. It’s such quality that I am honoured to be included in anything that Franciska does!

Can I tell you a secret? I have always dreamed of writing my own Christmas book one day.  Shhh….But I never dreamed for a single moment, that I would be included in a book by such a recognized European artist as Franciska!   How life sometimes presents the unexpected!  Blogland has been a portal to so many opportunities this past year that would not have been possible otherwise.

Each year, in the month leading up to Christmas, I gather up all my holiday books in a basket and look through one or two every day for inspiration. It’s exciting to think that Sanselig Jul, in which our own home is featured, will become part of that collection and tradition!  My deepest gratitude, Franciska, for your warm embrace.   It is an incredible honour for me…What a wonderful Gift of Christmas!  Happy Holidays to you and yours, dear friend.

Thank you everyone for visiting today.  I hope you will come back soon for some holiday photos of my first adventure in New York City…

Wishing you a beautiful week ahead,


I am delighted to be joining Show and Tell Friday, Open House, Home Sweet Home, Vintage Inspiration, Teatime Tuesday, Wow Us Wednesday, Feathered Nest Friday, Holiday Home Tour, Jennifer at Traditions and Cottage Magpie.

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