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News from the Nest, December 18

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

Robert Burns from To a Mouse

The line actually is “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley”. But Mr. Burns wrote in his native Scottish and so that line has been anglicized for the rest of us.

In any event, no truer words were spoken. When we spoke last week we had just returned from our phenomenal cruise down the Rhine, visiting Christmas Markets along the way.

I had nine days to unpack, do laundry, grocery shop, plan meals for eleven of us for a week, finish Christmas shopping, bake cookies, get together with friends, do a wee bit of Christmas decorating, and, in general, prepare to leave for one week to spend Christmas with my entire family for the first time in twenty-six years. I closed last week’s newsletter with these words, “Well, my friends, my list is so long and I just don’t know where to start. So, my first order of business will be to start a list.”

What wasn’t on that list, but quickly made its way to number one was (you know where this is going, don’t you?)

  1. Test positive for COVID and spend the better part of three days sleeping.

Which brought to mind my favorite quote of all time:



But, it was also a good reminder of that lesson that the Grinch learned so long ago,

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came wihout ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Dr. Seuss

So, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that we are all healthy enough to spend Christmas together. Luckily, I tested negative yesterday, but Terry is still positive. So, the most important thing on my radar is that he be able to join us on Wednesday. If not, he will come when he can. We still have time before Christmas day.

For all the reasons, our home is not decorated for Christmas, for the first time in forever! We have one little pencil tree up in the den and my Santa painting over the fireplace, but that’s it! I’m at peace with it, but it was nice to stroll this post showing how we typically decorate for the holidays. But, not only is the exterior of our home a different color now, but my sweet Flora left us several months ago. What a difference a year makes!

From the Kitchen

  • I’m going to pack the ingredients to make this Gingerbread Bundt Cake down at the beach for everyone. It is so moist and delicious.
Gingerbread Scones on a plate.
  • As soon as finish this newsletter, I’ll be figuring out how many pies we will be making so I can get a headstart on the pie crusts. This is my go-to recipe and is chockful of tips for successful, tasty, and flaky pie crusts.

Last Minute Gift Idea

Roasted Walnuts with Rosemary in a bowl and in jars with tags
  • Give the gift of time! Give a gift card for yard work, teaching a skill, babysitting, or more.
  • Mulling Spices are another quick and much-appreciated gift from your kitchen.
Mulling Spices in Jars
Three bottles of wine with Christmas wine bottle tags, on a hutch with small lights.
Christmas Money Gift Envelopes on a tree

All of My Gift Posts

I’ve been sharing these over the weeks, but here they are, all in one place!

Scissors and Stitch Markers some of the Best Gifts for Knitters.
A variety of craft knits for creatives.
Image of Zoo sign, cloth napkins and popcorn and movie night as examples of gift ideas that save the recipient money.
Locket, Sweatshirt and sticker are gift ideas for book lovers.
Red wine pouring into glass
Image showing 9 Foodie Gifts for Men, including a knife sharpening stone, a sous vide, gloves, a stovtop smoker, a wireless timer, a cast iron skillet, a container for sous vide, tongs and an instant read thermometer.
Cast Iron scrub and seasoning, garlic peeler, cookie scoops and garlic rocker are great gifts for cooks.
an assortment of useful gifts for men

Start the New Year Off Right!

Finally, if, like me, you want to start the new year off fresh and organized, sign up for our 2024 Declutter Challenge. We’ve added items to the checklists and added a week to the challenge. We will focus on ridding ourselves of mental clutter for the seventh week! You can read about the challenge here. Remember, you can start the challenge at any point during 2024. If you want to start at the beginning of the year, go ahead and sign up, and you’ll receive the first email during the second week of January 2023.

Some Fun Finds and Few Favorites

Some of these links may be Amazon affiliate links and I may earn a small commission from the sale of these products to help defray the costs of operating this site, but the price you are charged is not affected. You can see my full disclosure policy here.

  • This Mini Label Maker would be a great stocking stuffer for just about anyone, but especially someone who plans to get organized in the new year.
  • I have had these Losei Ear Buds for several years and have zero complaints. They are an economical earbud option that works great…on sale at this writing!
  • This Universal Socket Tool is a great stocking stuffer for the handyperson on your gift list.
  • If you are looking for attachments for your Kitchenaid mixer, many are on sale right now.
  • Need a gift for that person who has everything? Ancestry DNA kits are more than 50% off.
  • I used this portable battery charger several times on our recent vacation. I could tuck it in my purse with my phone and it saved my bacon!

I’ll see you in 2024!

Well, my friends, I am signing off for the last time in 2023.

But before I head out, I wanted to wish each of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate this time of year!

As you are reading this in Cincinnati or Iowa, someone else may be reading it in Israel or South Africa at the same exact time. And that’s a really cool thing about this blog world…the interconnectedness of us all. 

In the words of some of my favorite little mechanical people, ‘it’s a small world after all,’ and our digital devices have made it even smaller. So, I send all my friends from around the globe special greetings this time of year.

As much as I cherish this season for the religious significance it holds for me, I also treasure it for the time we set aside to just be with those we love, to relish in our traditions, to reflect on our blessings, and to welcome in a new year…oh, and let’s not forget…to consume all sorts of home-baked goodies with abandon. So, my wish for you is to soak in whatever this time of year makes special to you and your family.

Watercolor ornament.

Many, many hugs to you and yours!

Signature of Lynn

Thanks for making my day by SHARING!!

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    1. Happy New Year, Michele,

      I am so sorry I didn’t see your lovely message earlier! I think you sent it right as I recovered from Covid and was packing up to head out of town again!

      And what a truly beautiful message! I wish for you the same…for you to be healthy, happy and receive a great deal of love!


  1. Oh, I am so sorry you got ill after your cruise. We know lots of people who have come home ill after a cruise. One couple, 2 out of 3 cruises this fall they got sick. Something I guess we all will have to get used to. It sounds like your Christmas celebration will still be wonderful, and the decorations don’t matter so much this year. It is always something we learn in this life, certain years, certain challenges, but life goes on and some things are more important than any of that. I still miss Flora, and still get sad for you…it is so hard to lose those darlings. I pray that you will have a wonderful family celebration, and enjoy the get-together the most. Merry Christmas to you and those you love. Looking forward to starting a New Year!

    1. Hi Joan

      First of all, I’m so sorry for the late response. We recovered from Covid just in time to pack up and head out, and then I didn’t open my computer for a good 10 days! Played games, worked puzzles, cooked and just hung out with my family. It was sheer bliss!

      You are so kind to remember my sweet Flora! We miss her every day. I need to share something with you though; we did a gift exchange with our family members this year and my brother drew my name. He is a novice wood worker and made me a box light with a picture of Flora in it. I need to take a picture to share…I’ll get that done to put it in the newsletter this week.

      Anyway, when I opened it up, I started to cry…which made everyone else cry! She was the best girl and will always be missed.

      Thanks for the most lovely note! Today is my first day ‘back at work’ but hope to hit the ground running.

      Wishing you a wonderful weekend and a fantastic start to your New Year!

      Hugs, Lynn

  2. Merry Christmas Lynn! Paul and I will be heading off to South Carolina to see our daughter and her family! Last year I made the rosemary walnuts for the road trip and they were so yummy! I’m thinking of making the gingerbread Bundt cake this year when we get there. Thanks for all the ideas. They are so much fun to read about!


    1. HI Laura,

      We were in South Carolina for the holidays too…Isle of Palms. Had a wonderful week, which is why I am just getting back to work now!

      Did you make the Bundt cake? Funny you say that because I took all the ingredients with us to make it as well, but never got around to it.

      Happy New Year!


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