Winter Fruits

It is true that to many winter means cookies, pies breads and stews. I love all of these things but I also love fruit and to me, winter means that there are fruits showing up in the grocery store that I don’t normally see during the rest of the year.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. 

Grapefruit is delicious and with winter comes fresh produce from Florida. I love grapefruit in the morning. Delicious.

Photo courtesy of

Clementines are dangerous. They are sweet. They are small and at 34 calories per fruit you can go through a bag in about two days (I’m not saying I’ve ever done this…)

Photo courtesy of

I discovered pomegranates* last winter. Honestly, I don’t know how it took me so long to try pomegranates. They are delicious and also a little bit messy, so if you slice into one, make sure to have plenty of paper towels handy.

Photo courtesy of Wikpedia.

What would Christmas be without oranges? Oranges remind me of the holidays because my grandparents always sent big boxes of citrus from Florida.

*It is worth noting that with pomegranates, you only eat the seeds.

DYI Christmas Gifts

This is my prototype. 

I’m a big fan of making Christmas gifts. Last year, I made letter writing kits for some of my family and friends and this year I decided to make mason jar oil lamps. There are a variety of tutorials out there on the web, but the pictures below are what I ended up with. Hopefully, the recipients of these gifts enjoy them.

I also made salt dough ornaments for the tags you see on the bags at the bottom of the screen. These are super easy to make and I kept mine pretty simple, but the possibilities are endless. Again, instructions are how to make salt dough ornaments are on Pinterest or you can do a good old fashioned Google search.

Tags for the lamps.
This is the top of the lamp with the wick attached. 
Finished gift bags with salt dough ornaments.

The Beauty of Fir

This past Sunday we braved the rain and went out to buy our Christmas tree. We do not cut our own tree because a). my husband hates nature and b). we like to support the local guys who typically set up in parking lots near places like Gold’s Gym. After prowling around the tent for about 10 minutes, we selected our Douglass Fir and after some chainsawing and twining (two real live Christmas tree terms) we had our tree safely back at our house. Here is what followed:

Isn’t it beautiful? It also smells divine. Now all that is left to decorate is front porch…

Christmas in Indy

I’ve lived in Indianapolis since 2006 (I had to take a minute to figure that out in my head) and in that time I have developed a few Christmas traditions.

Photo courtesy of

If you live in Indianapolis and have not been to this little gem of a chocolate shop, you are missing out. My personal favorites include the Lemon Chiffon truffle, the Key Lime truffle,  and the Sun King Weemac truffle (named after one of our local breweries). My husband is partial to the chocolate covered Oreo cookies, my mother loves the Kanga bars and my sister likes their peanut butter crunch. During the holiday season if you visit the store, they will give you free samples of gelato and/or hot chocolate. Have I convinced you yet?

Photo courtesy of moi.

Picture courtesy of the Indianapolis Star

The Lilly House is part of the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) and these two place should definitely be on the holiday to do list if you live in Indy. The Museum is free and contains three floors of art the covers everything from Impressionist to African Art. The gift shop is out of this world (a great place to pick up a Christmas gift or two) and the Nourish Cafe is a delicious place to grab a sandwich or salad for lunch. Also included on the grounds of the IMA are the Lilly House and the greenhouse. Guests can tour the Lilly House free of charge and ogle at the beautiful decorations then you can visit the greenhouse and purchase a poinsettia.

Photo courtesy of moi.

Monument Circle is a cool place to walk around during the holidays. They have the lights up on the monument itself and other decorations lining the streets. You can take a carriage ride through the city and see some of the other monuments and the canal.

Photo courtesy of Nuvo

Photo courtesy of Handmade Promenade

White Dog. Photo courtesy of Show Room Finder

Photo courtesy of Irvington Vintage

I love shopping local and the holidays are no exception. These are just a few of favorite places to go for Christmas gifts. Handmade Promenade is a pop up store that only hangs around during the holidays, but the rest of these places are open year round. Check em’ out.

One of the benefits of living in a city is that there are a lot of cool things to do around the holiday season. Some of these events include: Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo. 

Photos courtesy of moi.

The Christmas Carol at The IRT

Photo courtesy of the IRT

The Nutcracker at Clowes Memorial Hall on the campus of Butler College

Photo courtesy of Around Indy via Butler College

Have I mentioned I love the holidays?

Letter Writing Kits

This Christmas my family put a spending limit on gifts. I was in full support of this plan because I already had brilliant ideas for Christmas for several members of my family. This idea came to me awhile ago when I was thinking about how I used to write letters as a kid. This particular memory of letter writing happened to coincide with meeting a new friend from Chicago who is involved in something called The Letter Writers Alliance. This all occurred a few years ago and it got me to thinking that I should start writing letters again. However, as usual, life got in the way until a few weeks ago when I could finally start putting my plan into action.

I wanted to write letters again, but I also wanted to people to write letters to, so that’s when the letter writing kits came into being. I thought they would make perfect gifts for my sister, my mother & my best friend for Christmas this year. I would assemble the kits and postmark their first letter on December 22, 2011  so they would receive them in the mail shortly after Christmas. Then they could pen their response to me using their new kit.

What goes in a letter writing kit? Well, this is where the creative side of my brain begins to have fun.  Here I give you a list of what I included:

1. Stamps

I bought these little boxes at Michael’s. Digging in the bins to find the right initials was fun.

2. Gold Seals.

The shopping gods were with me. I found all the right initials. Again.

3. Whimsical note cards (whimsical is such a great word).

Who doesn’t like wine or clocks?

4. A membership to the Letter Writers Alliance & a starter kit

Courtesy of The Letter Writers Alliance.

5. Good pens.

6. A beautiful box to house all of these fun items in.

These are the letters I wrote to my sister, mom & best friend

I did the stamping to make envelopes look prettier. I forgot how much I loved stamps. Those are gingko leaves on my sisters envelope. By the time this post goes up, they will have received their letters and hopefully will be writing one back to me.

Christmas Back East

Pike family Christmas tree.

Kit Kat is 17 years old.

One of my favorite decorations at my parent’s house.

A giant amaryllis bulb. I cannot wait till it opens.

Presque Isle.

The is the first time in five years that we have not had a white Christmas in Erie.
We took their bed…

How my husband feels about walks.

A windy day in Pittsburgh.

Beautiful homes in Virgina Manor.

We don’t have these in Indiana. Boo!

Holiday Greetings from 22 N. Bosart

We’re heading back east today to visit family for the holidays, so I leave you with a photo montage from our home this Christmas. My next blog post will most likely come to you from Erie or Pittsburgh. Stay tuned & save travels to all!

My friend from work made me a snowflake on a particularly gloomy day last week. She rocks.

Zombies love Christmas too. See whose name is on the ornament?

Paperwhites from our wedding.

Fir boughs from our Christmas tree.

This year I kept the outside decorations simple.

Candles and evergreens.

This would look better with some snow…

We did colored lights this year. Again, snow is needed.

Holiday Mail

I bypassed sending holiday cards to the masses this year for a simple reason: I got married. Between my save the date cards, wedding invitations and the the thank you notes (that just went out less than a month ago) I figured that everyone had heard enough from me. However, I did take part in a Holiday Card Swap for fun and this weekend I received my first letter from my pen pal.

Last week I received this in my mailbox:


I sat down right away and penned a letter to my new pal.

A few days later this appeared:

I love Tiger Lilies.

So this weekend, I wrote to my second pen pal. I was full of holiday spirit having just finished a batch of grading, so in addition to to a letter, my second pal received a paper snowflake and a scented pencil that smells like a candy cane.

After receiving my first letter in the mail, I have to say I am completely thrilled with the feeling I get when I get to open a real live letter.

In other news, cards from my Holiday Card Swap have been rolling in:

A sheer bounty of cleverness.

I love receiving mail over the holidays. Support the post office and send letters!