Happy 2013: The Year of Living C

     How is it 2013 already?  Annually I inevitably ask,  “Why does the end of year have to come at the same time as Christmas?”  There’s just too much to do and plan in such a short amount of time.

     I do have some big plans for 2013, and the resolutions that go with them all happen to begin with the letter C.  Hence “The Year of Living C”.  By posting these resolutions, I am now accountable to you for putting them into action.  Please help me to remember them.


     This is the healthy living portion of my annual “Lighten Up” resolution.  This year I want to focus on condensing (a/k/a reducing) my consumption and my stuff.  We all know that too much of anything (except love) is not good.  I hope that the word “Condense” can become my mantra


for shrinking this 50-something belly fat (thank you, menopause) and leading me to a more organized life with less clutter in my home and in my brain.


     I really want to “Consider” all others whom I meet.  Years ago, I was part of a DOCC (Disciple of Christ in Community) group at my church.  One of the many wonderful results of it was the renewed conscience awareness of Christ’s presence in every human being.  The awakening of what should not have been a revelation helped me begin to really try to make a connection with each person whom I encountered.  Over time since that year-long course, I have gotten lazy in my efforts, but the recent wave of “Random Acts of Kindness” have reminded me that it is time to start refocusing on others.

Free Printable from Thumba-Lea

Free Printable Random Act of Kindness cards from Thumba-Lea

Free printable cards from Justina's Random Acts of Kindness blog

Free printable RAOK cards from Justina’s Random Acts of Kindness blog

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness form MOMumental Savings

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness from MOMumental Savings

More RAK'ed printables from Make Them Wonder

More RAK’ed printables from Make Them Wonder

     Ironically, this wave of kindness, sometimes accompanied by a cute little card like the ones above that I spotted on Pinterest, has arisen from the ashes of the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook and has reminded me that the light of God dwells in each one of us.  How then can I not be considerate of each person whom I encounter?  I also need to remember that consideration starts at home, and then I can carry this practice out into the world.


     My son’s school has been telling us that the buzz word for education in the 2010s is “Collaboration”.  Without collaboration, our children will not be able to navigate the global economy that they will face as adults.


2013 is the year that I embrace collaboration.  Much more news on that will be coming soon, so please stay tuned.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

     In the meantime, what have you got planned for 2013?  I look forward to seeing it all unfold.

     The happiest of New Years to you and your loved ones!


Christmas Holiday Project: Make Snowflakes for the Sandy Hook School

NB: See Comment below regarding closing of Sandy Hook Snowflake Project due to overwhelming response and consider the idea of creating a local wonderland as a sign of support.

     A friend passed along an email from the Newtown PTA/PTSA about a project that we can all work on when the kids are out of school for the Christmas holidays:

Dearest Newtown Families & Newtown School Staff,

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of you today. 

We know that our town is looking for a way to support Sandy Hook School and
all of Newtown in this hour of need. Your local PTA/PTSAs met on Sunday with
representatives from Connecticut PTSA with that goal in mind and this is the

“Let’s Give Sandy Hook School a Winter Wonderland”  
Snowflake Drive – Like our children, no two snowflakes are alike. We invite
you to create snowflakes to decorate Sandy Hook School’s new home. Be
creative! All colors and designs are welcome.  We know that children will
enjoy creating art that can adorn the walls of SHS’s new elementary school.
CT PTSA has been contacted from schools across the state and this is a
project we can all share. “Snowflake” drop boxes will be available at all
schools or can be mailed to: Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building
12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514, by January 12, 2013.

“Newtown Teachers & Staff, We Love You”
Teacher & Staff Appreciation Luncheons – Newtown public schools will host
potluck lunches district-wide on Friday as a sign of appreciation for our
teachers and staff.  We will also provide a catered lunch for the staff at
Central Office. Stay tuned for details from your individual schools.

“What Else Can We do?”

Sandy Hook School Fund — Many people are looking to help by making a
donation. Please be cautious before contributing money and make sure the
fund is legitimate. With the help of CT PTSA, we have created the “Sandy
Hook School Fund” and donations will be accepted through CTPTA.ORG. You can
pay online or send a check to Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway,
Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514 (if online contributing is made
available, we will let you know).  No fees are charged and all monies raised
will go directly to help Sandy Hook School and Newtown. The beauty of this
fund is that we can designate its use farther down the road, when we can
determine where it will do the most good for the families of SHS and our

Newtown PTA/PTSAs thank both the CT PTSA and National PTA for their support
at this time. Soon the media attention will fade and we will continue to
support each other in private. We love Newtown and our wonderful families.
Don’t hesitate to contact your local PTA/PTSA officers with any of your
concerns; we are here for you and each other.

Newtown PTA/PTSAs

With snowflake inspiration all over the internet, this project seems like the perfect way for all of us who want to do something for this devastated community and let them know how much we love and care for them.  Just click on the pictures to link to the how-tos.

And from the queen of crafts, Martha Stewart:

Spending time with our children on this project might help heal us all a bit, as well.

Updated information regarding the Sandy Hook Snowflake Project via Peanut Butter Fingers:  the snowflakes should not have any writing on them, but please include a note explaining their origin (school, class, town, state) to display along with your snowflakes.

Lucky 12!

Once in a Lifetime Happy Birthday

     My niece is one special girl.  eDe turns 12 today, 12-12-12.  This darling and delightful girl is a spiritual gift to our whole family, so I had to find the perfect gift to mark this profound occasion.

     With 12 on my mind, I turned to EleganceLetters, the etsy shop that created the wooden monogram for my daughter’s dorm room decor.

The shop owner behind this site eagerly accommodated my special request with three different design choices, and within a couple of weeks, I was working on this.

     Since my Paintbrush and Pearls workshop, I am much more aware of how a painted piece can be improved so much with a bit of fine sanding in between coats.  After a bit of wood putty, light sanding, primer, fine sanding and a couple of coats of high gloss white paint, I am so excited for eDe to receive her 20″ Lucky 12.

Happy 12th Birthday, eDe!!!

Sure hope that this will always remind her of this unique day and how remarkable she is.

All photos by Avad Fan.

Happy Birthday K(ake)

     Happy Birthday to my dear friend, K!  She is so much younger than I but such an inspiration to me, especially in the baking department.  K has a real knack for creating the most divine confections.

     In honor of her skills and her special day, I would like to share some images of stunning birthday cakes that I have collected on Pinterest and only wish that I could create for K and her fabulous family.

Tiffany blue with pink

The colors of K’s breakfast room.

Multicolored ribbon cake

Wonder what is inside?

Pink and orange box cake


For grown-up girls.

Purple and white ribbons, swirls and dots


Purple is K’s favorite color.

Floral hat cake


K has fun teaching kids to cook.

chocolate swirls top hat with gold candles


Chocolate elegance

white with pink ribbons


Pretty in Pink Details

white fondant with purple, pink and green ribbons and swirls


Where would you put all 40-some candles on this stunner?

gold topped pink cake with sparklers


A sparkling good time is in store with this glamour cake!

     Hope that you enjoyed a visual taste of these cakes without the calories.  Have an awesome day, K!

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Ellegram

     My dear friend eBf took the plunge this week and sent her first post for Ellegram out into the online universe.  Her thoughtful remarks in “Tis the Season for Thank You Notes” immediately inspired me to dig out my stationery, make my list and start writing my long-overdue words of holiday gratitude.  Any blogger who can get me out of my “stationary” position in front of the computer at 5 a.m. surely is on to something.

(Spotted yesterday at

the Shops at 5807.)

      I have known eBf for over 30 years after we met on a double date in college.  The beaus didn’t pan out, but that fraternity party marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship.  A remarkable woman of beauty, grace and practicality, eBf never ceases to impress me with her loving and spiritual substance.  I am so looking forward to her future posts on Ellegram, which will no doubt be full of sensible and creative ideas for all.

      In the meantime, let me send out this universal 

(etsy.com via Claire on Pinterest)

to each person who has read any of my sporadic posts on Avad Fan.  I get such a charge every time you click on one of them.  While I work on my New Year’s resolution to Lighten Up, I hope to bring you more fabulous finds this year that will provide just the spark you need much like Ellegram’s first post has motivated me.

Five Gifts of Christmas for Family & Friends: Part 5

Perfectly Easy and Adaptable Scones

     For my 5th gift of Christmas suggestion, I had a hard time making a decision.  A couple of books, including a great audio version, came to mind, but in the end the choice was easy.  I had to include a homemade gift of food.  My new favorite baked goodie, which is also pretty quick and easy, is Christmas Morning Scones.

     I have always been reluctant to try to make scones.  Most of the recipes seem to require cutting in butter, a tedious chore that often leaves my wrists sore.  Then I spotted this scone recipe a couple of weeks ago in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  I was intrigued, especially with the idea of using heavy cream and sour cream as the liquid.  There aren’t even any eggs in it.

     The beauty of this recipe is that it can be modified to your heart’s delight.  Since I tested the original version, I have been experimenting all week.  I have tried it with blueberries, partial whole wheat flour, dried cranberries, and I even made up some almond flour.  The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

     Another great thing about this recipe is that you freeze the scones before baking them.  You can make them up a month in advance if you are one to plan ahead that far.  Then they go straight from your freezer into the oven.  I haven’t figured out why this works, but it just does.

     Whether you deliver your scones baked or frozen, they will be a welcome Christmas gift.  Maybe you could put a bag of them in something like this.

More to come on this source next year.

     In the meantime, Happy Baking and Merry Gifting!

Five Gifts of Christmas for Family & Friends: Part 4

On the 4th day of my Christmas gifting guide, I have the perfect idea for the hard-to-buy-for woman in your life.  You know whom I am talking about:  the woman who has everything and needs nothing or the dear relative whom you just don’t get to see enough to know what she might really like.  No matter which, La Mer’s Lip Balm will truly delight her.

     After Real Simple recommended this lip balm last January, I was intrigued and had to try it.  While it was a bit of a splurge, ten months later, I still have a tiny bit left, and I use it at least twice a day.  It is a bit addicting, and I cannot go to sleep without a smear on my lips.

    As LaMer describes its popular product available at upscale retailers like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue,

Thinner-skinned than any other area of the face, the lips are virtually defenseless against subtle changes in wind, temperature, dryness, even diet—requiring special attention. The Lip Balm infuses a potent concentration of the original Miracle Broth™ with marine extracts, botanicals and vitamins to regenerate the delicate lip skin. This luxurious emulsion works on contact to soften roughness, relieve dryness and flaking, and help heal seriously dry lips.

A patented Lipid Complex is the first line of defense. It delivers moisture, strengthening the lips’ minimal moisture barrier and helping to prevent further damage. An essential protein found in the Arctic helps insulate vulnerable lip skin from extreme conditions of heat and cold. Mint comforts the lips and enhances the balm with a cool, refreshing flavor. Like Crème de la Mer, the results are immediate—lips look and feel smoother, softer, plumper—yet long-lasting.

     Since I began using this wonder balm, I have gifted it to a couple of friends, and they love it as much as I do.  Now that I am an Avad Fan, it was an easy Christmas choice for a few ladies in the extended family, as well as a very special family friend.  As we said in her note, “the best for the best!”

Hope these holidays are shaping up to be your best ever!