Thursday, December 29, 2022

A Christmas Challenge

Christmas is over and even without snow, it was a merry weekend of family events. There was a trip to Santa's workshop, Christmas Eve dinner pajama night, and the central event, the extended family Christmas dinner with a gender reveal. The gifts were beautifully presented under the tree. There was an assortment of boxed, bagged, and beautifully wrapped presents, along with a boy/girl pinata for the gender reveal. Needless to say, it was a blessed weekend.


While preparing for Poetry Friday, I decided to accept the Poetry Sisters' December challenge. We were asked to think outside of the BOX or into the BOX for a poem on a box. A 4×4 poem was suggested with 4 syllables in each of the 4 lines of each stanza and a refrain line in each stanza (line 1 in the first stanza, line 2 in the second stanza, line 3 in the third stanza, and line 4 in the fourth stanza). I added a 4-syllable title-the bonus step. In a 4x4 poem, there are no restrictions on subject, rhyme, or meter. Thanks to the Poetry Sisters, Laura, Tanita, Mary Lee, Kelly, Tricia, Sara, and Andi for welcoming others to join their challenge. Check out their poems at the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Christmas Boxes


Santa Baby,
you jolly man,
any boxes?
I am a fan.

Mine are ready.
Santa Baby,
check out my list-
diamonds maybe-

Perhaps, some clothes,
anything works.
Santa Baby,
a kiss will perk!


Christmas arrived, 
boxed with good cheer.
You are a dear,
Santa Baby!
©CVarsalona, 2022

Boxed Christmas Thoughts

Christmastime thoughts
under our trees
snuggling in love
like little bees

Christmastime thoughts
wrapped in boxes
family sought

gilded boxes
hold all the love
Christmastime thoughts
from God above

new year coming
one word will do
just for you, boxed
sweet Christmas thoughts
©CVarsalona, 2022

Next week, I will share the wonderful news from Bridget Magee's newest poetry anthology, Two Truths and a Fib. Check out the new video advertisement here.

Join me at children's author/poet and my once poetry swap partner, Patricia Franz's blog, Reverie, to read her lovely thoughts. Patricia is our host of Poetry Friday this week and presents oodles of boxed poetic goodness from a variety of writers. 

Friday, December 23, 2022

Christmas In My Heart

The days prior to Christmas remain in my heart as family-sacred time.

Take a peek.

The house smells of cookies and pies baking.


The lights on various indoor trees glisten. 

Christmas music surrounds the great room and kitchen areas. 

There are hectic moments as the house readies for twelve o'clock when a child is born in a manger and Santa rushes in to proclaim the good news. 

Life is still a green wonderland here in Virginia but there are memories of snow-blanketed landscapes in Central New York and Long Island. 


The elves are still busy in Mrs. Klaus' (Varsalona) kitchen.

Christmas elves wait
Santa's shop is still open
ho-ho-ho wishes
©CVarsalona, 2022

Charles Dickens wrote in a Christmas Carol, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” This is a simple wish that I choose to honor. Author/poet, Helen Rice Steiner, concurred with Dickens' statement: “Peace on earth will come to stay when we live Christmas every day.” 

Christmas In My Heart
 newborn joy,
a baby in a manger
a beautiful little boy.

memories fill the house
some hidden
like a little mouse.

Thoughts of family
here and passed,
find prayerful ways 
to holdfast.

In truth, Christmas
lays within my heart
I plan to celebrate
and do my part.
©CVarsalona, 2022, quick write

May your holidays be filled with joy, peace, and love!

Due to family festivities starting today, I jump quickly to author/poet Irene Latham's blog because Irene is hosting Poetry Friday. She invites all to share in the poetic goodness being offered. Irene begins with a look at a young poet's new book, thoughts on poetry writing, and a new ArtSpeak poem. Thanks, Irene, for always keeping the candle lit with inspiration: Writing poetry is an act of self-care, a way to grow and deepen all the days of our lives.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Christmas Magic Is

I sit quietly after a busy morning. Most of the indoor and outdoor decorations are complete. The house smells of the fresh scent of cleanliness. A new batch of fresh pumpkin chocolate chip cookies is baked and each cookie dipped in chocolate with green and red sprinkles. The spirit and smells of Christmas are in the air. What's next after the frantic pace of last week? Silence seems to be an appropriate gift for this moment-no movement, no tasks, just being in the moment. 

"Christmas magic is silent. You don't hear it–you feel it. You know it. You believe it."
 Kevin Alan Milne 

Christmas Magic
in nature's soft
stillness, holiday colors
sparkling against darkness,
jingling sounds of bells ringing, 
joyful, merry holiday tunes singing,
past recollections, memories, old photos,
and children's happy sounds of laughter and glee-
the gift of silence against the noise of the outside world
breaks through racing movements allowing immersion in peace
Christmas magic is a reality-
rest in the stillness of joy

©CVarsalona, 2022

Sunshine is turning to dusk. I spot a layer of a pinkish sunset. A neighbor's deck is lit in beautiful swags. I decide to turn on the fireplace. The silence is refreshing and I am enjoying the stillness. May you enjoy silent moments as you prepare for your holiday season.


After my relaxing time in still moments, I now join the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by writer Karen Edmisten who offers us poetry on being kind. We certainly can use more kindness in this world, especially now during the holiday season. Also, enjoy reading  the wealth of poetic goodness from the poetry community that Karen shares.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Holiday Greetings

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.    -Norman Vincent Peal                    

Holiday magic,
What does it mean?
Can wishes be wrapped
In dreams unseen? 

Can thoughts twinkle
Like Christmas stars
Or might they jingle
Jangle from afar?

Can December be filled
With fanciful thoughts
Of dreams fulfilled
And wintery spots?

Can holiday magic
Dust my abode
With abracadabra
To decorated-mode?
©CVarsalona, 2022 

Dear Santa,
If you can send some elves to my house to help me clear a path for holiday magic to happen, I would be grateful. Don't peek at the mess right now. There are only a few days left to turn my house into a holiday house worthy of the season. With luck and a few magical elves, I just might get the house fully decorated this weekend and the yards ready for your sleigh to visit. Thanks for listening to my plea. I do want to greet you with glee.
Yours Truly, A Frantic Grandma


Join me at Michelle Kogan's blog here to read her tribute to Ukraine artists who remain brave amidst wartime situations. She offers a beautiful piece of art and poem, Morning Song Gift as well. Thanks to Michelle, the host of Poetry Friday this week, you will find more poetic goodness from a variety of writers. 

From my house to yours, may the magic of the holidays bring you good tidings!

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Baking with the Grands

What are the holidays without cookies and other assorted treats? In my family, baking is a ritual that brings good cheer and aromatic scents. Over the years, it became a holiday tradition passed on from one generation to another. 

The art of baking started in my Nonnie's kitchen. She was who must have taught my mother although I never asked when that happened. My mother, in turn, shared her passion for baking apple turnovers, pies, and other treats and decorating cakes with my sister and me. My own children learned how to bake from their grandmother and me. Now, my daughter and I have passed on the family baking tradition and stories from the past to our sweet little girls. 

As I continue the ritual of baking this December, I stand in my grand kitchen in Virginia ready to bring back the spirit of Christmas love. I remember Nonnie's loving hands kneading dough in her small white kitchen with an old-fashioned gas stove in Rome, New York. This is where my baking journey started and continued in my mother's kitchen in Syracuse, New York. When I married, I moved to Long Island to my husband's apartment on the beach. My desire to bake was rekindled when we bought our first home. My children learned in my remodeled kitchen and now my little grandgirls are learning in my large kitchen stocked with  my Nonnie's and mother's tools. 

For a moment, I pause and remember my journey that started many years ago. Nonnie's kitchen always had a huge breadboard and a large rolling pin waiting on the table for me when I stayed with her each summer. Flour was nearby so Nonnie could sprinkle the board with flour that fell like fairy dust from her capable hands. On winter days, the powdered sugar looked like fresh snow dancing in the air. I watched and learned from Nonnie as little mounds of dough plopped onto the board and into the gas oven. Staring with wide eyes, I waited patiently for the spatula to be passed to me for a delicious lick. Honey dolls, chocolate mounds, and sweet icing were crafted with loving hands before my eyes on that breadboard. 

Last Saturday while at my daughter's house, I shared a similar experience with my little grandgirls. It started with a welcoming invitation from my daughter. "Who wants to bake with Grandma?" While the ingredients for chocolate cupcakes were being set up, Sierra and Aurora rushed to bring their stepstools close to the kitchen counter. It was their turn to become involved with the ritual of baking. The eggs were dipped in warm water, waiting to be gently cracked by my five-year-old grandgirl. The procedure was seamless; each one politely turn their turn. The magic began. Unfortunately, we had to leave before the cupcakes were placed in the oven. I left with a smile hoping the little grands would tell stories of the times they learned how to bake in Grandma's and their mother's kitchens.


This afternoon I prepared a treat for a ladies-only holiday gift exchange. After a long, community meeting and a quick nap, I wake to the memory of baking with the women in the family, I smile and create a tricube poem. Perhaps, one day my little girls will remember our baking days.

bake a tin
of cookie
treats to eat

add sprinkles
Christmas cheer

my journey
-baking joy-
©CVarsalona, 2022


While I fell asleep once again before finishing my slice, I enjoyed remembering where I learned to bake. I am now joining Two Writing Teachers with a short snippet on my Slice of Life memory.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Tis the Season to Wonder!

Thanksgiving ushers in December. I move quickly from one family holiday to another, as do others. Am I ready for the wonder of Christmas? Yes and No! My mind is full of ideas but there is not enough time to complete everything I would like to do. The best plan is to slow down, breathe, and wish upon the Christmas star. In the midst of wishing, I feel the need to consider a thought from Spirituality Practice by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat.

"Wonder begins in the senses, comes alive in the imagination, and flourishes in adoration of the Divine." 

How do I awaken my senses, stop ruminating over unreconciled issues, and focus on what is before me? Pause again and turn to the prompt  that this month's Spiritual Journey Thursday's host, Bob Hamera, offers: Accept and Change. Part of the dynamic sequence of creating mantras involves a dash of wonder, imagination, positivity, and belief in Divine intervention. Bob reminded me of a simple prayer from my youth on accepting and changing..

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference…"  

I admit that I have been awed by nature this year. In appreciation of God's lovely creations, some ordinary in stature, others grand, I will continue my practice of finding quiet time to write and share the wonder.

by the power
of wonderment
I sink into the quiet
of a bright December day-
nature's silence surrounds while
fir trees gently sway in morning light- 
I indulge in nature's peace and presence!
©CV, 2022, draft

Blessed is the Great Artist who fills our very being with wonder.
-Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

The donation of a Christmas tree to Rockefeller Center for its lighting ceremony is an annual tradition bringing joy to millions who visit or watch the broadcast on TV.

grand, glistening tree
gifted from nature's rich soil
holiday wonder
©CV, 2022 

Thank you also to Catherine Flynn for hosting Poetry Friday this week and offering a wonderful writing prompt from The Inklings. Please travel over to Catherine's blog post with me to enjoy the poetic goodness.

created by Linda Mitchell

Don't forget to visit the Spiritual Journey Thursday community's responses to Bob Hamera's prompt here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

My Hallmark Moment

As an adult, I have always enjoyed a memorable birthday weekend. After all, I was born on Thanksgiving. I remember one birthday during my toddler years. We were at my Nonnie's house and I was allowed to stand on the dining room chair to get a better look at the yummy cake with candles before I blew them out. I don't remember if that cake was my favorite type, an Italian rum cake also called a Cassatta cake, but I do remember how happy I was. Somewhere, there is a photo of me commemorating my birthday. That was probably my first Hallmark-moment. 

This year we celebrated my birthday the day after Thanksgiving and I felt happy being with my family for two days. As a  dedicated Hallmark channel fan, I recognize the signs of Hallmark-moments. Your Dictionary describes this as a memorial moment or event, one which would make a poignant greeting card. 

During the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I prepared by baking with freshly roasted pumpkin, creating maple roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, and cookies... {I think you deduced from this that I love roasting fresh pumpkin for baking.} If you look at my blog post, you will read about the goodies I created for family and friends. Thanksgiving was a wonderful day with the little grandgirls at their house.

The next day was my birthday and we were invited by my daughter to join them at the Reston Town Center for a morning parade and evening tree-lighting ceremony with Santa. The town center was decorated like one of the scenes in the Hallmark Christmas movies. Illuminated trees lit every street; the ice skating rink was a grand spectacle of skaters of all ages, and the little children paraded around shaking large silver bells given to them by the town. Santa and Mrs. Klaus entered the square on a large old-fashioned carriage. On the count of three, the tree was lit. Onlookers were in total amazement watching the tree turn various colors as the snow machine spread beautiful white flakes throughout the area. Music played in the background and both children and adults clapped to thank Santa. If you are a watcher of Hallmark movies, you know what this magical event looks like,

There was a sharing of smiles throughout the day.
the dark sky lights up
joyful holiday glee spreads 
santa whisks away 
©CV, 2022

May Thanksgiving become one of your blessed Hallmark-moments.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for their weekly open meeting space for a growing community of writers.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Recipe for a Mindful Work-In

Thanksgiving is always a busy holiday but such a wonderful time with family. While my Poetry Friday post is late in coming, I wanted to join in to celebrate poetic goodness. My traveling poet/teacher/friend, Ruth Hersey, is hosting today from her new residence in Uganda. She shares odes about a kitchen table with lines that illuminate the significance of daily life and family. Please travel to her blog here for a feast of poetic goodness not to be missed.

During this week, my thoughts centered on new baking recipes to dazzle the Thanksgiving table: freshly pureed pumpkin pie with an oreo crust and chocolate pecan pie with hints of whiskey. I also contemplated the Poetry Sisters' challenge to create a recipe poem with a new twist: be creative with form, length, meter, or topic using an assemblage of elements with recipe text/cooking instructions. I used the language of my recipes to create a self-care recipe poem for post-Thanksgiving. 

Back Story: This month has been filled with many events and downtime has taken a back seat. During yoga, I listened carefully to my yoga teacher's thoughts. Inspired by her inspirational thoughts, my topic evolved.  

May my recipe for a Mindful Work-In bring a plate full of zen and peace. As I write, I relax and begin a work-in practice that allows the mind to let go. The body relaxes and the soul finds inspiration in the silence of the room. 

"Silence is the eloquent expression of the inexpressible." Sri Chinmoy, poet

Recipe for a Mindful Work-In

1 quiet place to ponder
1 cup of brewed herbal tea
1 tablespoon of honey
a pinch of peace
liquid awesome
1 yoga mat

Preheat your space to relax the muscles, mind, and spirit.
Start off with a full playlist of quieting music.
Gently add a flow of soft breath.
Mix in praise-worthy raised arm movements.
Scoop up generous amounts of drishti.
Slowly whisk in bending bows.
Add 1 cup of refined liquid awesome.
Gently smooth out the process.
Pour your body onto the mat in svanasana.
After 5 minutes, release the pose.
Cool down your mind, body, and spirit in gratitude.

©CV, 2022, draft

Within silence
the mind understands what is
involved in the
quieting of senses. Eloquent
ways of expression
evolve in awareness of
what is the
©CV, 2022, draft

Thank you Poetry Sisters, Laura,  Tanita,  Mary Lee,  Liz,  Kelly,  Tricia,  Sara,  and Andi for the November Challenge to write a recipe poem. 
Thanks to Tanita for the above ad. #PoetryPals