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Cherish Relationships

Proper English Tea: The Perfect Downton Abbey Watch Party

Hospitality and Entertaining
proper english tea

Taking an afternoon break to enjoy a soothing cup of hot tea has long been a part of my workday. But my recent trip to England and a visit to Highclere Castle have renewed my appreciation for serving and enjoying that most satisfying and civilized of snacking rituals, A Proper English Tea.

(Grammar snobs: please don’t write to me about the incorrect usage of capital letters here. I’m just trying to indicate that a truly proper tea is something of an occasion. I’m also trying to be funny. Thank you.)

Even if you’re the only guest, and perhaps especially then, hosting and enjoying a proper tea is a wonderful way to add touch of elegance and tranquility to your life. It’s also a lot easier to accomplish than you might suppose.

Yes, a proper tea may involve multiple courses and a full-blown decorating scheme with accompanying floral arrangements but simpler variations on the theme can be just as proper and just as enjoyable. The point of a proper tea is to make space in your day to nourish your body, renew your energy, and refresh your spirit.

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A Breakup Letter…For My Phone

Cherish Relationships
cut screen time

Dear readers: Today, I’m sharing a letter I wrote last week that seemed especially relevant considering my impending international travel. I saved it to post on the blog this week, at the very beginning of my trip, in hopes of reminding even myself that yes, you can put the phone away. 


Dear LG V30,

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to say it; I’m breaking up with you. I just think we need to give each other some space, you know? It’s not that you haven’t been or done everything I asked. Because you have. Sometimes you’re actually too good, too compelling. In fact, you’re irresistible. And that’s the problem.

It’s not you, LG. It’s me.

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Book Club Appetizers: Fast & Fun

Books, Hospitality and Entertaining
book club appetizer

I know a number of people who go to book club meetings just for the food and wine. They never, or almost never, actually read the book. They just like the idea of having a party with smart, bookish buddies every month.

I’m certainly not recommending or promoting this attitude. In fact, if you are that girl I want you to picture me right now, pointing my finger and tsk-ing my tongue at you. Life sometimes gets in the way of our reading schedule but this should not be a regular thing! If you aren’t carving out time to read the book, you’re not holding up your end during the discussion and that’s not fair to the group. You’re also missing out on the fun, which is even worse.

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Patriotic Party Platter In Time For July 4th

Hospitality and Entertaining
fruit patriotic platter cheese board

Last week was the summer solstice, which across the Northern Hemisphere means the longest day of the year. Which technically means every day between now and December 21 has a littttle less sunlight. But it also means that the days we are having right now are some of the loooongest of the year. And yes, the days are probably kind of hot. But it’s that beginning of the summer hot that still feels novel. And we still have clothes in our closet that aren’t drenched in sweat.

Remember being a kid, when we were out of school for the summer and how much possibility and opportunity lay in those long days? We might build a tree fort. We might invent a whole new game and teach it to the other neighborhood kids. We might turn on the sprinkler and run through the spray for hours in our swimsuits, laughing and giggling with no regard for time. After all, there was no homework nor other responsibilities that required watching a clock.

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A Homemade Slime Recipe, Plus Practical Life Lessons

Creativity and Crafts, Family

Last week, I had my entire family in town: my three sons, three daughters-in-love, and six very, very advanced grandkids (I’m obviously not partial). It was a constant whirl of activity. The whole crew made a homemade slime recipe together. We visited the fire station. We paddled down a river. Some of us rode horses. We ate loads of ice cream. It was such fun and I’m still soaking up the sounds of their laughter and little voices.

Having the family around one table just made my heart so happy. But now, they’ve all travelled back home and we will have to rely on the fun photos to keep the memories fresh. continue reading

The Best Father’s Day Gift Idea: Books For The Dads In Your Life

Books, Family
father's day books

Are you prepared for Father’s Day this Sunday or are you frantically looking for last-minute ideas that don’t seem so last minute? It might be too late to pull off some of the great ideas I included in the Fierce Father’s Day Gift Guide, but don’t fret. I have a solution. (You can thank me later).

As your resident author friend, I’m obligated to share book ideas on all subjects. (It’s in the universal author contract. Right below the clause that says I can helpfully correct grammar and spelling. Hah!)

Back to sharing books. I read. A lot. Some might say too much. They would be wrong. But I certainly do a big chunk of reading.

So let’s have all the time I spend reading serve a purpose for you, my Fierce Friends. Whether it’s a gift for your husband, son, or your own father or grandfather, books are always the answer.

Books: The Best Father’s Day Gift Idea

Without further ado, a few suggestions for Father’s Day books (aka the best Father’s Day gift idea, in my unbiased opinion):

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Best Father’s Day Gift Ideas From My Family

father's day dad

Now, I’m not going to assume that you’re keeping up with the events in my life, but if you follow me on social media, then you know this week all my darlings and grand-darlings are in town for a visit. All 12 of them.

Which means I’m extremely busy loving on (equally, of course) six wonderful little bundles of joy. Honestly, I was thinking I might take a break from blogging this week as I knew my week would be packed. Somehow though, every time I think I might take a break, part of my brain gets triggered and I end up stuck there until I just sit down and get my thoughts out. The kids are all napping and here I am, excitedly typing out my thoughts on the subject of: buying gifts for men vs. buying gifts for women.

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Hospitality 101: How to be a Fierce Host

Hospitality and Entertaining
hospitality 101

This blog is going to be on the short and sweet side because I’m a little busy today.

I’ve got to finish packing for my upcoming glamping trip with my mom (we’re leaving tomorrow morning), plant my porch pot flowers, answer the backlogged email, finish the laundry, run to the market, and make a batch of Fiesta Miracle Muffins for my husband to share with some of his old high school friends who are coming to visit while I’m away camping this weekend.

Oh, and when I ran into a couple of friends at my quilt guild meeting yesterday, I invited them to come over for dinner tonight. They’ll be here in 5 hours.

That’s right. Even though I knew I had a very busy day ahead of me, I went ahead and invited a couple of friends over on the spur of the moment.

Now, some of you completely get this but a lot of you are saying, “That’s crazy! Why would you suddenly invite people over on such short notice? And for dinner, no less. That just sounds so stressful!”

You have a point. Entertaining can be stressful – for you as well as your guests.  But it doesn’t have to be. Not if you keep a few simple principles that will make get togethers a pleasure for you as well as your guests.

Are you ready? Here’s my crash course on Hospitality 101.

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide: Experienced Mom Edition

Cherish Relationships
mothers day gift guide

As I told you back in January, every year I spend a lot of time thinking through and writing down my goals for the coming year.

This year, one of my highest priority goals, involves my mom.

When I was a kid, she would come home from work on Friday, we’d load up the car with tents, sleeping bags, a cookstove, and the dog, and drive to one of many state parks. We usually arrived after dark and had to set up the tent by flashlight.  Since we were residents of the Pacific Northwest, we frequently found ourselves trying to build campfires with wet wood and or spending the weekend playing cards inside the tent as water dripped from the rainfly.

But rain or shine, off we went. And rain or shine, we always had a great time. Many of my very best memories with my mom were made on those camping trips. My mom’s enthusiasm for camping and love of the great outdoors was infectious, a love she passed on to me.

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