The most real things…


Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.

The Conductor, Polar Express


“What do you think of Christmas?”
“I like it,” she said. “I think we should have it every year.”

Liz Flaherty

Wishing everyone a holiday full of light, magic and wonder. May your hearts be filled with love and joy, however you celebrate this special time of year.

And may the New Year bring you many opportunities to celebrate the mystery and depth of presence that is within us and around us always.



Eat, drink and be merry…

santa and lights-cover

The fondest memories are made gathered around the table.

For those of us who have a bountiful table, may this season remind us how blessed it is to give and share with others. And may we all be guided and surrounded by light and love now and always.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I’ll be taking a bit of a blogging break as I move from one place to another. Thank you for spending time with me in 2015 here on the blog — and for offering the gifts of your encouragement and support. I am very grateful.

Til we meet again…



Homemade holidays…

“Homemade. Handmade. Healthy. Helpful. From Here.

The goal is to ensure that my gifts meet at least one of these criteria, and hopefully several. It’s not hard to do, and in fact, is a lot more fun in the process!”

Elena Galey-Pride, Founder, 5H Giving

Sign up to 5H Giving for lots of great ideas to add more meaning to your holiday giving…

Light impressions…

light impressions

However you may celebrate, or not celebrate, may this season bring you a deeper connection to the people you love and the experiences that give you the most meaning. These are the true gifts of the season.

Wishing all of you much peace, joy and love.



Making the season of giving even more meaningful…

ElenaIt’s that time of the year when my sister goes a bit crazy — crazy for Christmas, that is. It’s her very favorite time of year.

Why? Very simply, because she loves giving…In fact, her picture should be in the dictionary under the word “generosity”!

For as long as I can remember she has delighted in searching out unique and beautiful gifts that speak to the passions and interests of her family and friends. She started attending craft shows to support artists and artisans more than 20 years ago, and over the years I’ve been the lucky recipient of many of her stunning handmade finds.

As a naturally crafty person, she has also made many wonderful gifts with her own hands and creativity. To me, these kinds of gifts are meaningful, personal and stand the test of time. I treasure anything handmade or homemade because there is so much effort, thought and skill embedded in it — on other words, so much soul!

Knowing all this, I wasn’t a bit surprised when Elena shared with me her latest brainstorm: the 5H Code of Holiday Giving.

Here’s what she says on her blog:

“I realized that I’ve been slowly but steadily moving towards streamlining my gift-giving around a certain set of values. And this morning, in a twinkling, I came up with a really easy, and memorable, way to express it. I call it my 5H Code of Holiday (and year-round) Giving.”

Homemade. “I made it myself.”

Handmade. “Someone else made it themselves.”

Healthy. “Benefits physical/mental health – personal or the environment.”

Helpful. “Someone else will benefit from this.”

From Here. “Grown or made locally, or from locally owned companies.”

Get your gift labels here!
handmadehealthy helpful

from hereHer goal is to ensure that her gifts meet at least one of these criteria, and hopefully several. She argues that it’s not that hard to do, and thoroughly enjoyable.

I’ve also found myself moving in this direction in recent years — albeit more unconsciously. I love making homemade treats, spiced nuts and other goodies and sharing them with neighbours and loved ones.

As I’ve gotten into photography I’ve made more gifts using my own images — sometimes it’s postcards, or note cards or photobooks, or photo-adorned Christmas ornaments or framed photos or calendars. All so much fun to make and give.

One of my friends produces a gift selection of wonderful jams and jellies from her own kitchen every year. Her collection is always highly anticipated. And my aunt’s special chili sauce is a huge favorite around my house. My cousin is famous for coming up with cool and crafty ideas that she pours a lot of herself into.

I love going to local craft shows and church bazaars, where you can often pick up lovingly made and unique gifts just right for someone you care about. You can often cover off “homemade” “handmade” “helpful” and “from here” all at the same time.

Like many of you, at this time of year I become even more acutely aware of — and uncomfortable about — the disparities between those of us who have so much and those who, by accident of birth, have so little. Do we really need to buy and give more things that we don’t really need, just because we can have them?

I have long been drawn to gifts that help someone in addition to the giftee. For the person who has everything and does not want more stuff, I will often make a donation to a local or international charity. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders is one of the causes I currently support. These men and women are all true heroes to me — their courage and commitment to help people in the most challenging of health situations (Ebola is just one example) simply astounds me.

And then there is the environment…Buying products from local businesses can go a long way to reducing the carbon emissions involved in shipping goods long distances.

As a communications consultant in the Ontario wine industry, my sister is a strong advocate of buying VQA wine to help both the economy and the environment. And what wine lover doesn’t appreciate being introduced to a delicious new bottle of wine at Christmas? But wherever you are, the idea is to seek out local food and drink and other locally produced fare. It’s fun to get in the habit of looking at labels.

Here’s an idea. Put together a 5H basket of goodies and label each part with the appropriate “H”.

This basket was as much a joy to make as it was to receive!


Elena has set up a 5H Giving Facebook page. One of her friends, Laura Wills, a talented graphic designer, came up with the adorable illustrations.

What about you? Do you spend time thinking about where your gifts come from and who and what they benefit?

If any of this speaks to you, you may want to have a look and “like” her page. I’m excited to see so many new supporters signing on every day. It’s an idea that’s really taking off.

Simple sailboat fare…No. 26

We all love seafood and Christmas Eve dinner started with Beirong sauteeing some fresh shrimp with onion and garlic as appetizers.

David and Beirong prepared a fabulous Thai shrimp curry for Christmas Eve dinner. Beirong’s iphone shot shows David and me about to dig in.

For Christmas dinner we barbecued fresh mahi mahi and veggie packets. We added some saffron rice topped with green onions.

Christmas trifle was a tropical take on the old favorite with fresh pineapple and strawberries along with the traditional cake, custard, rum and whipped cream. Oh yes, I added Key Lime curd because after all, we are in Florida.

Our tree may be tiny but it casts a magical light…


A Simple Sailboat Christmas…No.22

tiny tree2-

What could be simpler than a two-foot Christmas tree hung with six decorations? It’s tiny, but that’s what you need on a sailboat.

We’ve talked for many years about getting back to basics with Christmas — and this year we are closer than ever…

It’s winter solstice today — the longest night of the year in this hemisphere and we are reminded that the Christmas tradition of evergreen trees can be traced back to the Druids — the priests of the ancient Celts — who worshipped the earth as sacred. Something we could stand to emulate more here and now…

Here are some lovely apt verses for this time of year from Lord of the Dance…

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun;
I was called from the darkness by the song of the earth,
I joined in the singing and she gave me birth.

The sun is in the south and the days lengthen fast,
And soon we’ll sing for the winter that is past,
Now we light the candles and rejoice as they burn,
and dance the dance of the sun’s return.

The moon in her phases and the tides of the sea,
the movement of Earth, and the seasons that will be
Are rhythm for the dancing and a promise through the years —
The dance goes on through joy and tears.

Happy solstice to one and all!

The Simplicity Project, Nos. 17 and 18

Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.

 Janice Maeditere

snake lights

We have a very simple Christmas here on the sailboat. Our little tree is up (and I mean little!) and our small candles are out (thanks, Elena and Stan) and we’re about to put our twinkle lights on the lifelines…


So in the spirit of using what you have, I created this Christmas image with one of the candles and some Photoshop brushes that Kim Klassen kindly shared with her friends. Hope you are all approaching the “BIG DAY” with a heart full of joy and peace.



Simplicity has been a theme for us throughout the lead-up to the holidays…and now on Christmas day. Simple gifts, simple food, and simply wonderful times together…

What could be more simple than black and white photos? The huge snowfall that we’ve had recently has gifted us with simple scenes that lend themselves to black and white treatment.




Linking with Adrienne at Black and White Wednesdays.

A little treat for you…Simple Gifts…it’s short and wordless, but it conveys most lyrically the meaning of this season to me.