It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

It was raining this afternoon and it seemed like so many people decided to get out to the mall. The lines to find a parking spot were long and it was challenging to secure a spot.  It gave me a feeling of what’s to come.  

Are you ready?

I’d like to get my family to boycot presents and to have a shared experience instead. Do you think it’s possible to change tradition? Hmmm…

Merry Christmas Spirit to You, BeLoveRs!!


Our Christmas Tree Gifts

We had so much fun making and decorating our Thanksgiving Tree this year with leaves of thankfulness. We decided that we would make a Christmas tree next and decorate it with ornaments that described the gifts we all bring to this family.  We each took time to think about each other and what we like about one another and our family as a whole.  We joked about the negative stuff too and decided we’d leave those off, but that one could be really funny!

This was a really cool project, especially reading all the ornaments and stringing them on our family tree.


If you’d like to make your own family christmas tree, here is how we made ours:

– We first looked on Pinterest for Christmas Wall Trees but couldn’t find something we liked. Juliana had seen something on Buzzfeed that used tape and we liked this idea.

– We went to Michael’s craft store and purchased green printed masking tape with a pattern that won’t hurt the paint.

– We also bought precut snowflakes that actually had holes we could use to string them together on purchased twine. We bought craft paper and patterns to copy and cut, but when we found the precut ones, we decided to save time and go with the easy ones.

– I made a free-form Christmas tree with the masking tape. You could make it with just a triangle for the tree, and a small rectangle for the trunk, if you feel this might be easier. Then I cut twine to drape across the branches and taped them onto the tape from side to side, as we created the snowflake ornaments. Once the ornaments were done, I strung them onto the strings and taped them up again.

– The star on top was made by Charlie with pipe cleaners.

– I made a card and put this on the trunk that says, “2014 Hartley Family Gifts” and added more tape lines to tape up the card and to decorate the trunk.

Pretty simple and fun!  If you make one, I wonder if you can share your pictures in the comments??  That would be cool.

Merry Christmas!!  xo Adriana

Today is Christmas


It’s just after 10 pm and I just sat down to rest and reflect on the day. I typically sit for awhile and check Facebook, email, Instagram, and the news while I think about what to write. Charlie came up to kiss me good night and I wanted to stop and be present and really see him and wish him a Merry Christmas one more time before he went off to bed.

This moment captures the meaning of Christmas to me. Being loved and being loving. And isn’t it great that we can share this gift every holy-day, 365 days a year and it doesn’t cost a penny?

We had a full day of celebrations, with family and friends and enjoyed unstructured and unscheduled time, being thankful.

We continued trying something new today by going to the movies on Christmas, which I don’t think we’ve ever done before. Man, the parking lot was so crowded and the lines for the movies incredibly long. We had to sit in the front rows to be able to sit as a big group with our friends.  I enjoyed this relaxing family time together, as everyone was content and quiet, with no interruptions!  Gotta love it.  It’s the little things. We saw Frozen, a wonderful Disney movie that portrays strong, brave, women characters with a message of true love.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and recommend it for everyone.

I hope you enjoyed your day and shared some love and light with those near and far.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.




Where do you find joy?

I find it everyday in many places and seek it out and celebrate it out loud. My daughter thinks I’m crazy. I think I’m just joyful.

I wish you joy every day in little and big ways, by yourself, with friends, at work, at play and with your family. I wish you enough. How did you experience joy today?

My joy came from finishing wrapping all our gifts.

It came watching my mom and Charlie play war together.


It came again when working out and taking the bakfiets out for a ride to the park to check on the boys. I felt joyful that the sun was shining and I was wearing a tank top in December.

I felt joy preparing gifts and food to share at a party tonight with friends.

I love this life right now and am still thankful for all the joy that surrounds me and you.

Get your joy on!


3 More Days until Christmas

I love Christmas. I felt anxiety at the beginning of the week but decided to let that go right away. It wasn’t easy, but was worth it.

Tonight we had an early Christmas dinner with our friends any my parents. Everyone worked together and it was a fabulous day.

The boys watched football, the kids played outside, the turkey cooked on the smoker for several hours while Mom and I played cards. It doesn’t get much better than that. Juliana baked a pecan pie that we enjoyed with homemade cookies and pumpkin pie for dessert before opening presents together.



Life is good. Wishing you joy and peace and love. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Anxiety

I get anxiety whenever I have too many different things to do. I have trouble prioritizing and balancing all the additional to do’s, especially when I want to stay present and not be stressed by all the activity that is swirling around me.

The stress still creeps in.

My husband tells me I should cancel everything.

My mother thinks anti-depressants might be a good idea.

I think playing tennis outside in the middle of the afternoon is the best solution. Check out the sky tonight!! Just gorgeous, and a perfect remedy!


Life is good.

I love Christmas and the rushing swirl.

I wish you enough. xo

Christmas Cards – Obsolete ?

Are Christmas cards obsolete?

I have to say that today as I was writing out our Christmas cards, I felt like maybe I should reconsider this tradition. 

But I love Christmas cards. I love receiving them in the mail. I love opening them and admiring the photos of friends and family and am always curious how many pictures they took to get the one or two or three in the collection they chose to share. I love reading the annual stories and seeing the personal hand-writing, although several cards come as is, without any personalization, which I send sometimes too just because we run out of time, which is what made me wonder if this process is going to go the way of the rotary phone now that we have Facebook and Instagram and SnapChat and all the other social platforms to share our personal lives.

Do we need the physical receipt to hold on to and touch?  

I still think so.

I love to share them all on my real wall for everyone to see.


When I write out a card, I am mindful of the family receiving our correspondence and I feel a sense of connection and wonder.  Some friends we share cards with are from friendships we shared long ago and with whom we don’t share our daily lives with anymore. The card is a way to stop and think about those memories again.

I like the process of picking out a photo and layout and choosing which words to write on the card.  I don’t like the taste of the stamps, though. This I could do without.

So even though I’m ruining the environment by printing more paper and buying more stamps, I still enjoy this one, simple, old-fashioned holiday tradition because it makes me slow down and be mindful of those we love.

Merry Christmas!


Christmas Spirit

Today we enjoyed preparing for Christmas in several ways.

Juliana and Charlie baked sugar cookies, while I sorted and prepared gifts for shipping on Monday.

Afterwards, Jeff took Juliana shopping for secret Santa presents and got a haircut. I’m sure they enjoyed their father daughter time alone.

We all met up again to enjoy watching Chuck Hunter sing and perform with the Voices in Harmony chorus at the San Jose City College Theater. Chuck has been singing for 40+ years and today we finally got the chance to enjoy his gifts and talents. Thank you, Chuck for inviting us to your show. We enjoyed seeing you.



We came home again to wrap the secret Santa gifts and to prepare an appetizer and dessert for the two big kids to take to a party. We dropped them off and then Jeff and I went with Charlie to explore the German Community Christmas Market in Mountain View. It was a lot warmer than the one we visited in Dusseldorf last year, but definitely not quite as authentic and we missed Ben being with us. We ran into friends, which made it fun, but the crowds made it challenging to navigate and Jeff’s favorite Brats were sold out.



Instead, we strolled down Castro street, and ended up trying a new Indian restaurant that was pretty good, since the Steins Beer Garden place we wanted to visit was crowded and had a half hour wait.

Charlie wanted to go driving around town, looking at Christmas lights, so that’s how we ended the evening, with me falling asleep in the car!!

Sweet dreams, and to all, a good night!