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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…

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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!

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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

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Pink Trees and Cherry Tea!

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Happy Spring,

Dear Friends!

Today, I am steeping one of my favourite teas – Kyoto Cherry Rose scented with natural cherry and rose flavours.  It is pale yellow in colour with a heavenly aroma and sweet taste.

Would you like a cuppa in my prized vintage China pattern? “Apple Blossom” is a stunning profusion of pink-petaled apple trees.  I LOVE this pattern!  I found it when I wasn’t looking at a roadside antiques barn while vacationing on Prince Edward Island a few summers ago! It was such a thrilling and unexpected find. Isn’t that always the way! I think I must have danced right out the door with my newspaper-wrapped bundles of joy! I hope one day to stumble across a matching teapot to complete the set.  I will just have to keep on treasure hunting…

I LOVE this pattern’s history in that it was insightfully commissioned in the early 1960’s by the Chair of Nova Scotia’s Apple Blossom Festival, then in just its second year. This enduring pattern is an artist’s rendition of springtime in Annapolis Valley when the apple blossoms are exploding all over the countryside. All these years later, the festival remains a much-loved annual tradition there.

I LOVE, too, pink-flowering trees! But you probably could have guessed that already? Each spring, I make a special pilgrimage to a particular street in the heart of our city that is lined with gracious century-old homes on handsome, mature lots.  One home on the street stands out from the rest.  Along its perimeter marches a legion of stately Japanese Cherry trees.  Their entangled branches, thickly laden with exquisite fluffy pink blooms, reach way out over the hefty black fence that rings the property, and bend down to the street like low-hanging frothy clouds of cotton candy!  Delicious, pure pink abundance!  My feet and heart always dance together at the sight.  It makes my day every time!

P1070224Wherever these frothy pink specimens grow in abundance, there is an intense ‘Bloom Watch’ and visitors queue by the hundreds to see the magic of the cherry trees unfurl in a fleeting spectacular show of renewal. Their pink vapour of nature’s perfection fill the landscapes with intense beauty, wonderment and emotion.

To the Japanese, the fallen petals of the cherry blossom symbolize a soldier who has died in battle long before his time. But Spring blooms also represent strength, rebirth and hope for the future…

Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow!” She was so right about that. To plant pink trees is to beautify our communities and to help grow a future without breast cancer…I believe! The seeds of Pink Days In Bloom’s “The Pink Tree Project” in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Atlantic Region are just beginning to be sowed…

Those of you who have been following my blog for some time already may know that I am a breast cancer “Thriver” and that when I was on medical leave a few years ago recovering from treatments, I decided to combine my love of gardening with the overwhelming need to do something, anything, to help fight this disease in some way…

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0001GpHere are several links to some of the articles about Pink Days In Bloom in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Atlantic Region that appeared in our local newspaper last year. It’s a bit of a story and I think these next few articles probably best summarize how the seed was first planted and how it has continued to grow and flourish with the support of an amazing group of like-minded, dedicated volunteers and a caring business community:
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PHOTO:  Pink Days In Bloom’s Signature Garden Faeries ‘Hope’ and ‘Invincibelle’ with O’Brien’s Boat Tours‘ mermaid mascot, Miss Shell, during ‘Pink Days In Bloom On the Sea!’ in the Town of Bay Bulls last summer…
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The Empress Hotel’s world- famous Tea Lobby is a glorious place to enjoy a spot of tea!  You can see some photos of this grand lady in my previous post, THE ELEGANT EMPRESS.
During “Pink Tree Day in the Park” and “Tea Sea-to-Sea” on June 8, at the same hour that we will be planting a pink-flowering tree in Bowring Park, one of our city’s most cherished parks, here St. John’s, Newfoundland on Canada’s East Coast, our dear friends at The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia on the Country’s West Coast will also plant a pink “sister” tree on their hotel grounds.
And, while we are celebrating and FUNdRaising over tea and champagne at The Bungalow, The Empress team will host a Pink Days In Bloom Tea of their own and “Sip in Support”. Isn’t that AWESOME!  
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On June 8th, you, too, can pick up your cup in support, whether on your iPad, in the office, at the kitchen table, by the pool or wherever you happen to be via a Virtual Tea!  I would love it if you could join us. Simply brew your favourite cuppa and click:  cbcf.org/GetInvolved/Donate.  Ask your family, friends and co-workers to join in, too. It’s that easy!
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For TWITTER LOVERS:  On June 8th, Tweet about your tea experience at #PinkDaysInBloom and your Tweets can be seen by guests of The Empress on a screen near their world-famous Tea Lobby, bringing us all even closer together in ‘growing’ a future without breast cancer!
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I am so excited about this next beautiful event! THANK YOU to our dear friends at The Empress for sharing in the cause! Please show them your LOVE! ‘Like’ The Empress on Facebook. Or, visit them at Fairmont.com/Empress-Victoria to discover their fabulous get-away packages and legendary afternoon teas…If you haven’t visited The Empress and Victoria yet, it’s a must to add to your bucket list!
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Read all about this exciting and meaningful event below! I hope it will help explain why I have been away from my blog these past few months!
I have met so many beautiful people on this journey. Thank you Proven Winners for the ‘Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea’ – a tough plant that is working hard to find a cure, to all the committed volunteers and amazing supporters.  Without you, it would not be possible.  It means so very much to me and so many others. XO  I hope you will join us wherever you are on June 8th for pink trees and cherry tea and for HOPE, AWARENESS AND SUPPORT!
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I hope you enjoy the photos of pretty china and the pink tree cookies made by my sweet friend Maria of Petite Sweet! Thank you so much for taking precious time out of your day to visit with me. Please leave your beautiful footprint to let me know that yo were here, and so I can visit you in return!  XO
Wishing you a beautiful day and Happy Mother’s Day weekend,

Linda

 Please ‘Like’ Pink Days In Bloom on Facebook.

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P1070144P1070147P1070151P1070163P1070153A true warrior, like tea, shows his strength in hot water. – Ancient Chinese proverb

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Hope yours is a blue-sky kind of day…

I’m happy to be sharing today in honour of Mother’s Day at Inspiration Monday, Make It Pretty Monday, Tea Time Tuesday, Return to LovelinessMartha’s Favourite, The Scoop, Inspire Me Tuesday, Nifty Thrifty Tuesday, Do Tell Tuesday, What’s It Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, Wake UpWednesdayWhat We Accomplished Wednesday, Before and After WednesdayHope in Every SeasonCottage Style Party, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Simple and Sweet FridayFeathered Nest Friday,  Show and Tell Friday, Fabulously Creative Friday, Shabbilicious Friday, Saturday Show OffWhat To Do WeekendsPink SaturdayThe Charm of Home, Bouquet of Talent!

I’ve Missed You!

Welcome, Dear Friends!

I’ve been away far too long!  Work, fundraising projects for breast cancer research (primarily Pink Days In Bloom and The Pink Tree Project), and life in general, have kept me from my blog. It’s all good but things are finally winding down and I am now able to breathe again, finally.  I am very happy to be back here in my little corner of Blogland, catching up and connecting with you! I’ve missed so much! I love being here with you and visiting your blogs. And, just in time for the holidays – my favourite time of the year! I can’t wait to see what you share in the weeks ahead leading up to the Yuletide! Yay!

So much has happened during these past months, I hardly know where to begin.  So, I think I’ll just start with the end and work my way back! Here’s a little peek into what has been consuming so much of my ‘spare’ time…Incredibly, the first article (at the link below) was featured on the front page of “The Telegram” newspaper in July and the second article appeared in September. These writings pretty much tell ‘the story’ in a nutshell! 🙂

She’s Determined to Win! (July 2013)

Year-ender for Pink Days In Bloom (September 2013)

0001GpThanks for stopping in! I look forward to your visits and visiting you in return. Please leave your fabulous footprint so that I’ll know you came by! Wishing you a beautiful day,

Linda

I’m thrilled to be once again sharing at Return to Loveliness, Teatime Tuesday, What’s It Wednesday, Be Inspired.

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