December 17, 2014


 Seven days to Christmas! 
And even though we have not put up our Christmas tree yet, (yes, I know), I am full of Christmas spirit. As I am writing this note, the very talented trumpeter Chris Botti is bringing about a peaceful emotion of deep contentment to the heart with his jazzy tracks of Christmas comfort and joy. The smell of orange and cinnamon from the quietly simmering apple cider in the kitchen is filling the entire home with Christmas. A chocolate truffle is melting into a puddle of goodness in the middle of my mouth...  

December so far has brought some beautiful moments in life!
It started with a doorbell ring of the mailman delivering a complimentary copy of the winter issue of Bella Grace Magazine. This volume is truly inspiring and I am happy to be a part of it again, thanks to Stampington & Company. If you haven't read it yet, I think you lost an opportunity to enrich your soul with beautiful images and thought-provoking narratives. This publication makes a wonderful holiday gift to someone who enjoys the magic of ordinary things.

I visited Irene in the nursing home. She is an ill, immobile, eighty year old woman I am glad to know by a dear friend of mine who volunteers in the institution. Irene moved to Canada from England as a young nurse; she is single and doesn't have any relatives around. I enjoy the time I spend with her. She has such a strong spirit and, of course, that typical British sense of humour that inspires me and teaches me how to gracefully meet my own life's adversities and hardships. With her polished nails in pink, bright blue eyes and infectious smile, she is an epitome of a human being who ages as a cathedral. She reminds me of my grandma who lives an ocean away...

December also held that delightful afternoon I spent at the wreath making gathering hosted by the lovely Aviva and Jessica from Sweet Gale Gardens. Both girls created a cozy atmosphere in Aviva's house where under the tunes of A Charlie Brown Christmas, together with fellow local flower lovers, I crafted a dried flower wreath that adorns the living room. Sweet Gale Gardens is a small, urban farm in the heart of Toronto focused on sustainably grown cut flowers.  

Then came the snow - new, soft, and clean- it coveted the city for one night. The delicate beauty of a fresh untouched snow brings back a little bit of the magic we all felt as children. Sometimes such snowfall is all you need to get into the holiday spirit, it gets your bones excited about everything the season brings: like the last sequential date for this century... which happened to be my birthday. I was blessed with one truly special day-from the amazing gingerbread heart cookies my 3-year-old nephew decorated especially for me, through the cakes my sister and my mom made to celebrate the occasion, the thoughtful gift my son chose for me, "The Signature of All Things" by Elizabeth Gilbert to the unforgetable dinner with friends at one of my favourite restaurants, love was tangible and I am immensely thankful!

Today, December with its gloomy sky and the peaceful calm of its mist finally put me in a baking sort of mood. I opened an old recipe journal, but instead of the traditional snowball cookies that kick off the Holiday baking every year, I decided to embrace a new "adventure" and try something different. I rarely make bonbons, much less for Christmas, so I grabbed the idea of no-bake truffles and tried to incorporate what I found in the pantry. Chocolate, cocoa powder, chopped almond and shredded coconut, rolled into not so perfect walnut-sized balls by my humble hands. I put the candies in old glasses, covered the top with fabric and tied it with hemp yarn. I wrote the recipe on a tag and my giving gifts were ready! (find the recipe here).

There is joy, heart lifted in kindness, humility and wonder. There is beauty, love and generosity. There's a tingly Christmassy feeling in the air. And there will be more - December is not even at its end.
And if you haven't brought some of the old-fashioned holiday spirit into your life, my simple list of how to be full of it goes pretty much like this:

* Return your holiday books to the shelves and read the classic Christmas stories and poems.
* Listen to Christmas music and sing out loud the lyrics. 
* Send out Holiday cards with handwritten messages. 
* Join up with family and friends (call relatives long-distance, host a dinner)
* Make a wreath and hang it somewhere in your house (find a holiday workshop and take part).
* Cut down your own Christmas tree and decorate it with handmade or vintage ornaments. Breathe in the smell of real evergreen. 
* Decorate your home if you feel like doing it; if not- the simple prettiness of a single pine branch in a vintage bottle would be enough.  
* Watch some great Christmas movies while sipping hot chocolate or mulled wine. 
* Stare into a cracking fire so it warms your eyes and heart. 
* Prepare and give homemade/edible gifts. 
* Donate some of your time to those in need.
* Simmer potpourri of orange, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla to make your home smell warm and cozy.
* Bake cookies, scones, pies, shtolen, bread, fruit cakes and all sort of holiday recipes, old & new. 
* If there is snowfall, take a walk into the woods, make snow angels.
* Watch your dog enjoy the mounds of snow. 
* Go family skating.  
* Visit Christmas Markets - those European type of markets where Christmas renews itself by reaching into forgotten childhood memories. 
* Do a tradition that you might have. If you do not have a tradition, this year is the time to make one.
* Be a great example of enthusiasm and love to your children. 
* Be present and pay attention to miracles.
* Create your own miracle. 

Marry Christmas to you and yours! 

Sharing with Home Sweet Home


  1. Another beautiful post filled with wonderful photos and tidbits of wisdom and ideas. I wish you and yours a blessed and happy Christmas. Pamela

  2. Good morning most graceful Sylvia! I am always happy to see one of your newest posts, for like me, you have decided to post just every so often...and I particularly like it that way for myself. Your photos are most definitely worthy of now being published, and what a great list you leave us with. Yes, I have been listening to the lyrics of songs on my way to work; though I am terribly busy with work at school, this is my last week before a two-week vacation. I hope to listen to my heart, for in it dwells eternity, as it does in YOUR heart.

    Blessings to you as you pause and embrace the season within you. Anita

  3. What a wonderful holiday list and gift to your readers! These images are all wonderful, and the thoughts as well! Happy Birthday! I have a young granddaughter that shares the date. Your woodsy wreath is simply breathtaking. I have not ventured out to any retail venue lately, but I have to run out and find that issue! I enjoyed this soulful post so much! Wishing you all the joys of the season.

  4. I would like a world with the colors of your pics....

  5. How in the world did I miss your birthday, sweet Sylvia? I hope it was as beautiful as you are, my friend. :) Even though I've been slacking in visiting my blog friends lately, whenever I stop by yours, it's like coming home. Your prose and your photography is heartwarming and embracing. Wishing you and your family a blessed and merry Christmas, Sylvia!

    xoxo laurie

  6. Happy Birthday to you! I hope your celebration was just as you liked!

    I so enjoyed this post, you reinforce the quest I have to create a calm and peaceful home and mindset before Christmas. Why do we obsesses so before this day? We don't go so crazy with New Years or even Easter. And this year I really had an appreciation for our fellow man, it helped with the frustration we sometimes feel as we "bustle" about. Okay...venting!

    Lovely, lovely pictures. And your list is fabulous!

    Love to you and have a Merry Christmas!

    Jane x

  7. You always have the prettiest posts Sylvia! Wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Magical New Year!

    Madelief x

  8. Forgot to say: Congratulations on being part of the magazine!

    Madelief x

  9. Dearest Sylvia, your visits mean a great deal to me, and to see your comment this morning really made my morning. Your sensibilities and approach to capturing life really touch my heart. Thank you! Wishing you a very quiet but joyous celebration with everyone you love! THANK YOU my friend for coming over to comment! Anita

  10. A Very Merry Christmas to you, dear friend and sister!
    I hope the day was as special and beautiful as you are.
    Thank you again for your stunning lovingly packaged. Our dear Anita was the first recipient!
    I look forward to collecting more of your art in the future... :)
    And please let me wish you a Happy Belated Birthday!!! All of the most wonderful blessings to you, dear Sylvia...
    Sending you lots of love and many warm hugs,
    ~ Irina

  11. Wonderful Sylvia! As always! Love your beautiful post. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  12. Found your beautiful blog by way of Bella Grace, and I am enjoying my visit. Your posts are thoughtful and well-crafted with creatively composed photographs - wonderful inspiration! I'll return to visit again soon!

  13. Dear and wonderful Sylvia,

    I thank you for coming to visit me with such a deep friendship, expressed in sincerest words. I will continue to keep a presence in Blogland by visiting, but I can no longer devote the time it takes to find inspiring photos and music to fit my words. I will however, be focusing in on my poetry which will be a HUGE challenge for it is a lonely, harsh, thankless and difficult art to pursue. Poets have to be the wildest and craziest around!!!!!!

    Enjoy your world my friend. I certainly have, and will continue to do so as I visit. BLESSINGS, Anita

  14. So excited to see you in BG
    when I finally took the time to
    read it last weekend ~ congrats
    my friend! Love your list of the
    wonders of the Christmas season,
    as well as your photos. I hope it
    was as wonderful as you anticipated
    the season to be. Happy 2015!

    xo Suzanne


  15. Ha estado un regalo el visitar tu bloc, he encontrado cosas muy interesantes, te invito a visitar el mio y disfrutes del post de esta semana como yo disfruto haciendolo, y si te gusta me encantaria que si no eres seguidora te hicieras para seguir compartiendo nuestros blogs


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