More December – a literal translation

Instead of making New Year Resolutions for the year 2022, I chose a WOTY (word of the year). The idea of a WOTY is to stay focused on the word and let it provide guidance toward whatever it is you wish to accomplish during the new year. My word of the year was More.

Life was good, although a bit upside down for much of last year due to selling our home and living with my MIL for a while. Back in January 2022, I needed more in many ways – stability, security, independence, and inner peace, to name a few. Finding a comfortable rental apartment, establishing a healthy routine, and making new friends are just a few of the things that my word led me to during the year. I feel like I have settled into our ‘temporary’ circumstances and can honestly say that I am no longer anxious about the future.

I haven’t decided if I will choose a WOTY for 2023, but I do have a few words of advice for those of you who are considering it. After the rush of the holidays, find some quiet time to sit and enjoy silence. Let your mind drift into all the dark and light spaces within and your word will come to you. It may not happen right away, but if you are honest with your thoughts and feelings, your word will find you. Remaining mindful throughout the year will bring the change you seek.

December posed a more literal translation of the word as our calendar was filled with wonderful things to do and people to see. So, for the very last time….. MORE December, literally.

December Recap

This was our first Christmas in the rental apartment and while we made a few physical changes to how we celebrate, the spirit of the season prevailed, and once again I realized that less can lead to MORE. I missed having space to display many of my decorations, but I also think I could get used to a scaled-back version. I enjoyed the fullness of the month and avoided having a stress-related meltdown by paying attention, pacing myself, and asking for help when I needed it.

Deck the Halls

I used to decorate four and sometimes even five Christmas trees for our previous home. This year, I only have room for one, so I decided to go with a slim tree, decorated in gold and cream-colored ornaments that I have collected over the years. That tree stood in the dining room of our previous home at Christmas for the past twenty years. We call it the ‘Peace, Love, Joy’ tree as it is filled with hearts and angels. It fits the new space well, and it blends with the softness of the dining table decorations. Our cherished family tree decorations will remain packed, and in storage until another day. Making our space festive was the first step in creating a beautiful December. After a while, I forgot about what used to be and embraced what is.

Gettin’ Crafty

Creative pursuits calm and refocus my mind and what better time than Christmas to get crafty? Hosting ten of my Mahjongg girlfriends for lunch and a game provided several creative opportunities including designing invitations, making gift bags, and creating fresh floral centerpieces. The simple centerpieces below took less than one hour to make. Three packs of Dollar Tree candy canes, 2 vegetable cans, a few floral pics that I already had, and a dozen carnations kept the cost to less than $5 each.

I bought these little canvas bags at Hobby Lobby and added the Mahjongg quotes. If you play, you will understand all of them. Designing in Microsoft Word was the easy part. But, it took a while to figure out how to flip text so that it could be printed on transfer paper and ironed onto the bags – I converted the Word file to a PDF, then to a JPeg image, which I then flipped in Paint. Whew! Call me ‘old school’, but I got the job done and the Mahjongg card/money bags were a big hit with my friends.

The photographer for our daughter’s September wedding finally delivered digital images of the wedding photos – all 350 of them. I spent several hours uploading them to Shutterfly and creating a keepsake book for Malcolm and me and one to give my MIL for Christmas. Sorting through 350 photos was work, but it was joyful work as it gave me a chance to relive our magical week in Tuscany. One hundred fifty photos and fifty-one pages later, I created two beautiful 12 x 12 memory books that were delivered before Christmas!

Selecting my favorites and organizing them onto pages presented impossible choices so, in addition to the books, I ordered 4×6 prints of all the photos.

Holiday Cheer Around Town

Giving

Thoughtful giving makes my heart feel good. My list is short – a few friends, immediate family, some people who provide services to us, and a couple of local charities. Gifts aren’t always wrapped in pretty paper; sometimes they are just a simple kindness, with the intent of brightening someone’s day or easing their burden. Mostly, I think people want to feel acknowledged and appreciated and that doesn’t cost anything at all.

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back”. Maya Anagelou

I purchased tickets for myself and a friend to attend the 14th annual Holiday Home Tour, hosted by our local Women’s Club. The charity, which supports educational scholarships for deserving young women enlisted five hostesses to decorate their homes for the holidays and open them to the public. The friend I chose to receive this gift is a talented artist and designer, and I knew she would appreciate the outing. We were inspired by the many creative displays of collectibles, table settings, and Christmas tree decorations.

I attended a craft fair where a portion of the proceeds from each sale went to a local charity. My small purchase of the day was this beautifully painted sea shell. I started a conversation with the artist, who brightened my day with her tales of early morning sea shell hunting and her love of the ocean. Our conversation was so animated, we attracted the attention of another vendor who joined in as we shared sunrise and sunset photos from the beach. Soon, there was a small group gathering to look at her shells. Community is the best gift, don’t you think? It looks pretty with my Christmas table setting.

Malcolm and I spent a day cooking and packaging dinners in freezer containers for his mom. It is our way of making it easy for her to have home-cooked, nutritious meals. We do this about once a month. It is a satisfying project for us, and a big help to her, so win/win for everyone. Making spirits bright….

Malcolm baked a tray of pumpkin muffins which I packaged and handed out to a few staff people in our community. It was just a little thing, but we wanted them to feel appreciated.

Entertaining and Being Entertained

The Christmas Mahjongg luncheon went off without a hiccup. Having a good plan in place and pacing my preparations throughout the week leading up to the event kept me from being overloaded. Accepting help from my friends was a wise decision and one that I have just recently come to embrace. Aging has taught me that it is okay to lower my expectations, set aside pride, and accept help graciously when it is offered.

We joined a couple of friends for dinner and they surprised us by picking up the check at the end of the meal – ‘an early Christmas present’, they said. Being on the receiving end of kindness always makes me want to pay it forward. As the saying goes, ‘what goes around comes around.’

This festive choral group entertained with Christmas carols at our community clubhouse. There were sing-along parts; I pretended to sing to protect the innocent.

Voices of Valencia

Holiday Baking and food making

As everyone knows, Malcolm is the baker in our house. I simply enjoy the fruits of his labor. This month he made a ricotta cheese pound cake (recipe here) for us to enjoy and shared some with his coffee buddy. The cake was still a little soft when the timer went off, so he added 5 minutes. It was moist and delicious on the inside with a crunchy crust on the outside.

Ricotta Cheese Pound Cake

I offered to provide a dessert for a neighborhood party and then appealed to Malcolm for help, so of course, he stepped up to keep me from being shamed. Just so you know, I didn’t try to take credit! He baked a beautiful caramel flan for the party and a second one to take to a friend’s house.

He also baked another pumpkin loaf and a batch of Christmas biscotti for us to have around the house and to share with friends. December is all about indulgence at our house. It is the one month of the year that anything goes.

I used the leftover pistachios and cranberries from Malcolm’s biscotti to make these little cheese balls for our tennis team cocktail party. They are quick to make and look festive on the plate. You can’t go wrong with cranberries at Christmas. Recipe here. I altered it slightly by using half cream cheese and half goat cheese in the mixture. I also made individual small balls instead of one big one. The pretzel stick makes it easy to pick up and eliminates the messy plate. I don’t know about you, but I think that a cheese ball plate that has been dipped into a few times is just gross.

Family Time

Binge-watching favorite shows, (Emily in Paris) eating, drinking, and couch lounging in our PJ’s topped off a month of complete overindulgence as the kids joined us for the main event. The weather turned cold, (38F in So. Florida is COLD) and although it didn’t last long enough to require heating, it added quite a wintery feeling to our holiday celebration.

Everything Else

Physical activity is the best stress reliever I know, so I tried… Tennis and Pickle Ball dates and a few trips to the gym were the best I could do this month. I will worry about the number on the scale in January. I had a health checkup and annual mammogram screening, which confirmed my good health status for another year – at least in my mind.

There were a few mishaps this month. Malcolm suffered another ‘sports injury’ playing Pickle Ball and I developed a painful toe infection (don’t ask), so we both hobbled along for a few days and then got better. Malcolm fried his computer when he tipped a soda can and spent many hours recreating files and adding programs to his new computer. He also got a speeding ticket, likely a result of being distracted by too many things on his mind. ‘My Surrender Experiment’ by Kathy Gottberg (link below) is a good reminder to trust the universe and relinquish control by practicing the art of surrender. Life happens – a positive attitude helps.

During our downtime, we planned our Christmas meals and organized recipes on Pinterest. Later, we compiled a shopping list and made a timetable for preparing the meal; dividing the tasks sufficiently to avoid overloading us or the little kitchen.

We started to think about travel in 2023 and booked a ten-day cruise for March. We also booked flights and a couple of hotels for a trip with the kids in July. We are just beginning to sketch out the particulars of that trip, which will include France and Germany. I am sure there will be a few road trips to not-so-far-away places throughout the year.

We talked to friends near and far as we opted to not send cards this year. We didn’t receive a lot of cards either – a sign of the times, I guess.

Inspiring Words

While I didn’t have much to say on the blog this month, I did read a few inspiring posts from fellow bloggers. Their words provided comfort, inspiration, and encouragement as they calmed the chaos of the month and kept my days balanced. I hope you will take a minute to read what these beautiful people had to say.

My Surrender Experiment – Kathy at Smart Living 365

Action for Happiness in December – Sue at Women Living Well After Fifty

Anticipation – Ann at Muddling Through My Middle Age

He’s Good People – Barb at The River Blogger

Friends are the Best Gift – Joe at Easin’ Along

Unraveling Beliefs That no Longer Fit Well – Leanne at Cresting the Hill

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention” Kahlil Gibran

Wishing you and yours love and laughter as we end the year and look forward to the next. Many blessings….

Sharing

WOTY Wrap up with Deb, Donna, Sue, and Jo

Marsha’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday

Cee’s Photo Challenge – Holiday colors

54 thoughts on “More December – a literal translation

  1. Suzanne, this post was more than just fun! It is inspiring to see all that you do and how you are adapting to your new life. You are so busy and have so many friends and do so much with your community. I admire your husband’s baking prowess. Wow! I’d weigh 300 pounds if I was married to him, pickleball or not! 🙂 I dinked a few balls in an indoor court this week. My over-protective husband about had a heart attack for fear that I would fall. It felt sooooo good, though. Thanks for connecting to WQW with this great post. It was way MORE than I expected! Just lovely!

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    1. Hi Marsha, dinking is good. But, like your overprotective husband says, ‘don’t overdo it.’ Malcolm is about ready to try again after his most recent injury. Hopefully, he learned his lesson and will slow down! December was fun, but I am ready to get back to my ‘normal’ routine – with a lot less food. Thanks again for hosting WQW. I do enjoy this challenge. Happy New Year.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Suzanne – You have definitely rocked your WOTY – especially this past month. I love how full yet mindful your December was. You have found a terrific balance.
    Wishing you and Malcolm a wonderful end to 2022 and a happy and healthy year ahead!

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  3. My husband also likes to cook but boy can he make a mess. Sometimes takes days to clean up! My December was full of doctor’s visits and so I’m looking forward to being a lot more careful next year! Cheers!

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  4. WOW! This is such a great wrap-up, and a terrific reminder to slow down and appreciate the season. It’s okay not to do EVERYTHING, and definitely okay to ask for help. Your tree and place settings are gorgeous… you could give Martha a run for her money 🙂

    Best wishes to you and Malcolm for a terrific New Year!

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    1. Hi Janis, thanks for the compliment. I do love Martha! December was fun and festive and filled with everything I love about the season. But, it was surprisingly manageable. I hope you had a great holiday and are looking forward to a wonderful new year.

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  5. A fabulous wrap-up full of joy and the spirit of Christmas. Love your creativity, generosity and the feeling of community coming through these words. I just ducked over too to read about The Surrender Project, so thanks for that tip. Here’s wishing you both a happy and healthy 2023.

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  6. What a beautiful and festive December you had! You obviously put a lot of energy into making the holiday special, but it seems as though you didn’t feel at all burdened. Sounds like a perfect balance.

    Love the photo book of the wedding, Malcom’s flan (and poundcake and biscotti!), your lovely painted shell, and of course, your oyster shell Christmas tree. That’s the only tree we can have because one of our family members (the little furry one) just can’t keep her paws off of a tree with ornaments, LOL. Wishing you a joyous New Year, filled with wonderful adventures! Sounds like you’ve already got fun plans in the works.

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    1. Hi Laurel, that oyster shell tree reminded me of the ones I saw in the shops in Apalachicola and the one you have in your house. Leaving the Christmas tree decision to Magnolia was probably wise! One more celebration to go, and then it will be back to our usual routine. This week we will get serious about fine-tuning the details of our July trip as that will be upon us in no time at all. I hope all is going well with you guys and you will have good news to share soon. Happy New Year!

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  7. Talk about a super busy December – and year – Suzanne. I think you’ve accomplished everything you could with your word of the year, and more! 🙂

    Happy New Year to you and Malcolm and may 2023 bring you at least as much creativity, precious time with family, exercise, and a good (food) splurge once in a while as this past year! Xxx

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    1. Liesbet, my word served its purpose well and although it won’t be my focus in 2023 I do hope the new year will look even better. I know that encompasses a lot of variables, (many of which I have no control), so we will see where we go from here.

      There will most definitely be good food splurges throughout the new year. Those times make all the months of moderation worthwhile.

      Happy New Year to you guys. I hope 2023 is filled with many blessings and wonderful adventures.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think you certainly took your word to heart in the month of December. Your decorations were absolutely lovely, the food looked delicious, and the family and wedding photos are wonderful. I’m sure all of your gifts including the lovely photo albums were greatly appreciated. You are two very busy people but show that it can all be done if you’re organized. 🙂

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    1. Hi Judy, my MIL loved the photo album and gushingly expressed her appreciation all Christmas Eve. I was very relieved when it arrived on time for Christmas. December certainly brought out the literal translation of more, but it also reminded me that there is a big difference between more and hectic. As someone wise once said, ‘don’t bite off more than you can chew.’

      Wishing you a wonderful new year with many blessings.

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  9. Hi Suzanne – that was QUITE the wrap up! You certainly blew December out of the water! I love that you’re feeling settled and your Christmas decor was beautiful. In Australia we only ever do one tree and mine went from little when we first married, to bigger and bigger, and then back to smaller last year. I like a pared back Christmas these days.

    It’s also funny what you said in your advice about choosing a WOTY – I had one all set to go and then another settled onto me when I finally stopped to listen to what my mind and body needed. So out with number 1 and in with number 2 – I’ll be sharing it on Monday.

    Anyway, Happy New Year to you both and see you on the other side. x

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    1. Leanne, I will pack away the Christmas decorations tomorrow and it feels very good to know that the task will be light. I haven’t been quiet long enough this month to choose a WOTY but I know something will pop into my head eventually. My fallback word is always Balance, which has guided me since I figured out the components of my contentment many years ago. I look forward to reading about your #2 word and how it chose you. Happy New Year!

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  10. It looks like you had a very good month of December and I love your statement about how less leads to more. So true! More is an interesting word of the year and I can imagine it can lead to a lot of learning about life! Happy 2023!

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  11. Hi Susanne, after downsizing our home and being displaced (intentionally) for much of 2021, I needed to feel settled and reestablish healthy routines in 2022. Focusing on the word More actually led me to a place of comfort and resolve and I did learn a lot about wants vs. needs. We all know that happiness is an inside job, but I firmly believe that there are external factors that cannot be overlooked as well. Those are unique to each of us. Thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year!

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  12. I loved reading about your month – the baking, the decorations (we have a small home too so I know what you mean about not trying to cram in too much), the gifting. Here’s to a wonderful 2023!

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  13. Hi Suzanne what an uplifting post to read as I start my New Year. You’ve certainly had some changes in 2022 and I’m pleased that your WOTY helped you to focus and realise what is important in life. Sometimes LESS is MORE. Thank you for linking up and I hope that next year you will join us for our broader What’s Been On Your Calendar? link up. I love your advice on taking time to think quietly about your WOTY. It isn’t for everyone but sometimes it can be so valuable. Best wishes to you and your husband for 2023 and I look forward to staying connected throughout the year. x

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  14. Wow, Suzanne, you did all this in December? “More” should be “most!” I love your decor and I’m gradually taking mine all down. Your craft projects look amazing. I love your Shutterfly book from your daughter’s wedding. My youngest is getting married April 1st (yes, really), so this is a great idea! I’ve read several end-of-2022 posts already and have linked them to tomorrow’s Sunday Stills post! Have a wonderful start to your new year and may 2023 be gracious to you and yours!

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  15. Hi Terri, an April 1st wedding. I like their sense of humor, but I hope they are not pranking you guys! Yes, we did all that and more. But, it was surprisingly manageable. We have just had our last indulgence (champagne and turtle ice cream) of the season and will get back on track tomorrow. Wishing you a happy, healthy new year with endless possibilities.

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  16. Sounds to me as if you had a wonderful December and Christmas season! Paring down the decorations is something I see in my future too, but I’m not quite ready to do that yet. (It helps that I haven’t moved, so still have room for it all…but packing it all up at the end of the season is a lot of work.) I loved what you said about most people just wanted to be acknowledged and appreciated, as I think that is so true. Just paying sincere attention to people really is a gift! Finally, thank you so much for providing a link to my post in your blog. That was very nice of you…I’ll check out the other links, too. Happy New Year!!! And keep on blogging!!!

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  17. What a great update. I love Majhong (spelling?) I played with my aunt when I went to visit her in florida a few years ago. We played a very loose version since neither of us had played much, but it was fun.I would love to get a set but I don’t think anyone here would want to play with me. Your daughters wedding photos look amazing. So much goodness in this post.

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    1. Hi Kirstin, I wish you had some people to play Mahjong with. It is a fun and challenging game. When I first moved into the apartment only one other lady who lives here played. We put a notice on the bulletin board for teaching and got several students. Now we have a standing Monday game that anyone can drop into. I’m glad the post reflects our joyful December. Wishing you the very best for the new year.

      Like

  18. Nancy Dobbins

    Hi. Suzanne
    Still reading favorite blogs (including yours!) even though I’ve let mine go…looks like the holidays were lovely for you, if just a different scale than in past years. This year we are in a slightly larger home in the same community so I was able to decorate a bit more than in the past 5 snowbird seasons…your tree looks remarkably like mine did-before packing it away again yesterday.
    Best wishes to you and Malcolm for 2023.
    Nancy Dobbins

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    1. Hi Nancy, so good to hear from you. Still snowbirding I see. And, you’ve traded up. Good for you! It is a shame that you gave up your blog. But, I definitely understand the time and effort it takes to keep it going. I post less and less with the passing years, but I’m not ready to call it quits. I think I would miss the interaction too much.

      The gold ornaments were the ‘easy’ choice for the tree this year. (closest to the front in the storage unit!) Maybe next year I’ll dive into the big box at the back and pull out the family tree ornaments. Or maybe, just maybe we will be in a new home. Who knows?

      Take care and thanks for keeping in touch. Wishing you guys the very best for the new year.

      Maybe you could send me an email address through my Contact Me page so I can catch up with you once in a while. Or, you could start a new blog!!!

      Like

  19. I loved everything about this Suzanne, the activities, the food, the craft, the photos and the friendships. Your WOTY has certainly been MORE than enough and December was huge! Thanks for joining us for our final WOTY linkup, it’s always good to see your posts 🙂

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  20. Suzanne,
    This post was a great read and very inspiring. You are a very busy bee, and your efforts paid off handsomely with beautiful decorations and fun times with friends. Indulgence is an excellent word for December. My WOTY was health in all aspects. I did “OK.” My mental health was good, and I continued an exercise regimen, but my weight entered the forbidden zone. I started Nutrisystem in December and will continue this month, along with a dry January. Helen is keeping her distance–LOL. Thanks for the mention, and we send best wishes for a blessed 2023. Joe

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  21. Hi Joe, I feel a little sluggish after the holidays and I know that a good detox (dry January) plus a return to healthy eating will do the trick. I wish I was one of those folks that could remain steady throughout the year, but that just isn’t in my DNA. Sounds like you are a similar being. I personally think it is healthier to enjoy a few indulgences rather than deny all the good stuff. Nutrisystem works, so stick with it and you’ll be back to yourself in no time. Happy New Year to you and Helen. May it be filled with many joyful moments.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Pingback: WQ #1: RESOLUTIONS v WORD OF THE YEAR/LOGO REVEAL – Marsha Ingrao – Always Write

  23. There is so much to love in this post, Suzanne. I was inspired by your gifts of time and service. Also, this comment really jumped out at me: “After a while, I forgot about what used to be and embraced what is.” Here’s to 2023 offering more of exactly what you need!

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  24. Suzanne, your posts are so uplifting and fun! I love your attitude. I will be posting my one word of the year next week. I can’t believe how busy your December was! Mine was uneventful except for shoveling a lot of snow! But you definitely took your “more” theme and ran with it! I look forward to reading all your future posts. Thank you so much for sharing my post on a fallen Navy shipmate. Happy New Year to you and your husband! Oh, and I have to say, I also love watching Emily in Paris! lol!

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    1. Hi Barb, your story was touching and beautifully written. It was my pleasure to share. Christmastime in the sunshine state takes on a whole different meaning than in the snow belt. So many opportunities to be out and about enjoying life, minus the humidity. I read in your last post that you have made your way south for the winter. Hope you enjoy a little sunshine where ever you landed. I’ll look forward to reading about your WOTY. Thanks for stopping by. I love chatting!

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  25. As you realize I am not doing the word of the year thing this year. It always seems like such a good idea on January 1st but over the years I’ve found that it has tripped me up more than guided me. I love your centerpiece on the holiday table. Gorgeous. I’m intrigued by the idea of making individual cheese balls on a pretzel stick. That’s ingenious. And as for actual kindness trumping good intentions, I’m there for it.

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  26. Pingback: Best of 2022 – Our Year In Pictures – Picture Retirement

  27. Suzanne, I love the way that you put energy into creating beauty and celebration in your life. And your many short trips throughout the year are inspiring. Now that we’re no long traveling full-time and are simplifying our lives and moving to NC, I’m looking forward to making shorter trips throughout the year. I’m already looking at Airbnb’s in Florida for next winter, LOL. Wishing you much joy in the New Year and plenty of reasons to celebrate!

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    1. Laurel, thank you for that first sentence. I do have a tendency to pour energy into the very things that give it back to me.

      Good luck with finding a Airbnb for next winter and exploring the greater neighborhood through short trips. Hopefully, we will get to do even more of that this year.

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  28. Scrolling down through the comments to leave my own, I see the names of so many of the bloggers I already ‘know’ and follow. I discovered your blog just now when you ‘liked’ a comment I left on Pat’s recent post about transitions in life as she moves her mom into assisted living. Thank you for liking my comment which led me to find your blog.
    What a marvelous celebration you had. Good food, fun, family time. The Mahjongg bags are so cute. Love the oyster shell Christmas tree and the painted shell table setting. I am a beach-lover who is somehow living in the desert of El Paso, Texas. Was learning to play pickleball when Covid hid. The club where I was playing has closed and I don’t play well enough to just show up at courts and play. I need lessons. Hope your husband’s pickleball injury has healed and your toe, too.
    Going to add your blog to my Feedly feed. I have the best of intentions to visit all the blogs I follow regularly but LIFE keeps biting me in the butt. I have a good feeling about 2023, though.

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  29. Hi Leslie, the subject of Pat’s post is something I can personally relate to, and reading the comments was helpful to my own situation. Your comment in particular was heart-warming. It is funny how we of a certain age gravitate to each other in this unique arena. I truly love some of the ladies I follow and I see you do as well. I don’t have a regular schedule for posting, but I try to write something at least two times per month. I generally post those on a Sunday.

    I am sure you are good enough at Pickleball to join a pick-up game. That is how I learned to play. People are mostly kind and willing to teach what they know. Sometimes you just have to make the first move. Malcolm and I are both mended and back on the courts. Today I have a tennis game and am looking forward to that.

    I can’t promise regular visits to your blog either, but I will spend some time reading a few posts and getting to know more about you. I already know you have a kind heart and keep good company! Thanks for stopping by to say hello.

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