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A simple timer to switch on twinkle lights coiled up inside a heavy, green glass jar provides a gentle glow, casting subtle shadows and turns a darkened room into something almost magical. Whenever I sit in this room, quietly reading in my comfy chair, sipping a hot cup of chai and I hear that click, I look up and smile. Its warmth and blush of glimmering light always makes me happy.

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The eating season is upon us.

Purists, myself included, might argue that Thanksgiving is NOT the true starting point of holiday gluttony. It’s Halloween, instead, that really kicks off the Season of Eatin’ in my mind. Sure, the kiddos are scarfing down sugar at an alarming rate on All Saints Day; however, only the most disciplined among us fail to hold back our favorite candies from the Trick or Treat Trough for our own enjoyment later, leaving little ghosts, witches and goblins a paltry mix of Dots, Butterfingers and hard candies instead of the really good stuff – Tootsie Rolls, Milky Ways and Hershey bars.

And so it’s Halloween when our caloric intakes begins its steep ascent. By the time we’ve eaten our way through our private stashes of chocolate (and let’s face it – that’s the stuff we tell ourselves we’re buying for the children but we all know we buy those bags of miniatures for US, not the neighbor kids), we’re only a few weeks away from Turkey Day with the named main course, hard to resist side dishes, buns, rolls and pies, pies, PIES!

As we scramble to locate needle and thread to refasten all the buttons that have popped from stuffing ourselves silly at Thanksgiving, our eating thresholds now risen a few notches, the pièce de résistance – the countdown to Christmas! – begins. Endless potlucks, company luncheons, goodies showing up at work every other day, holiday get-togethers and the Big Day itself with ham and potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole and platters brimming with sausages, cheese and crackers. And that’s just the warm-up. The real business is yet to come – Christmas cookies, bars, more pies, decadent desserts of every kind. To wash it all down are soft drinks, eggnog, wine, steaming hot cocoa and apple cider and other choice beverages, several of which are alcoholic in nature.

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The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without the warmly traditional yet rich, calorie-laden, sugary, fattening, gloriously delicious foods of our childhoods. Come January, we’ll pay the price but for most of us, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of the things I treasure most about where we live is the view from the picture window in our living room or while standing on our deck. We are fortunate to have some incredible sky shots and with our north by northwest vantage point, we are front and center to the whims of Mother Nature, fickle and ever changing as is her prerogative. Whether the skies are sunny blue or angry gray, I am always in awe of the power and majesty of this world just above us.

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The incredible beauty of the Rocky Mountains on a crisp fall day, hiking with my best friend, surrounded by landscape shots at every turn that were both mesmerizing and irresistible – my camera was forever in front of my face! – and the peace, calm and stillness of this amazing place has implanted a powerful urge to return there again and again, to experience ever more of this magnificent natural arena.

I am forever changed by what I encountered there.