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Favorite Holiday Recipes from the Sander Family Kitchen

Favorite Holiday Recipes from the Sander Family Kitchen

Holiday Recipes from the Sander Family’s Kitchen



fudge recipe




Each year my sister sends us delicious pecans from Virginia. So, every year I make this simple treat and a southern tradition!

Glazed pecans

Sweet Potato Cranberry Scones

compliments of Southern Living

I love scones and I can’t wait to make these! I’ll let you know how they go.


sweet potato cranberry scones

More recipes coming soon! Including Scott’s famous Eggs Benedict!

Navigating Holiday Stress & Loneliness

Navigating Holiday Stress & Loneliness

Stress and/or loneliness can drain the joy from our holidays. I’ve experienced both, in spades, in my lifetime. I don’t ever do anything half way! 😊 Wisdom, however, can teach us a different path if we are willing to listen and learn, to open our minds to a new way of thinking and being.

As a young mom, nothing was more important to me during the holiday season than to create magic for my children.  Driven by my over active imagination, I worked night and day to make everything “just right”.  I pushed myself to my limits, physically, emotionally and financially.  Christmas morning, I woke up exhausted. At the end of the day, I was worn out and distraught.  How could I know whether or not my children had captured the magic I had worked so hard to create? I couldn’t.

Like many mothers and fathers, I fell into the parent-trap of trying to give my children what I never had. I was living out my own childhood fantasy, not theirs. They didn’t even have one yet! Wisdom reminds us that the joy of the holiday season arises from the time we spend with the people we love, and celebrating the universal values of love, generosity, gratitude and wonder. It isn’t about material things or fantasy. It’s about living, loving and being together in the midst of all of our imperfections.

Fast forward to the present. My children are adults, living 1,000 miles away and creating their own holiday traditions as they should. My parents and in-laws are all gone and our extended family is spread across the globe. Like you perhaps, I face a new set of circumstances, another challenge to navigate.

Finding ourselves quite suddenly, and sometimes unexpectedly, alone during the holidays, isn’t an easy experience to navigate. Our home rattles with the ghosts of the past and feels disturbingly quiet, even as the rest of the world is amping up and giddy with expectation. The skies even turn gray, heavy with rain or snow, and SAD moves in big time to usher us through this “magical” season. We dare not even turn on the TV for company, for fear of being overrun with unwelcome news and sound bites that will only haunt our sleepless nights.

Change has arrived on our doorstep once again.


Change. It’s the one constant in life and an invitation not to despair, but to adjust our sails. “Happily ever after” is just a Disney created fantasy and there are other more important and valuable paths to travel. Acknowledging this truth intellectually is one thing, but eradicating well-worn patterns of thought and behavior is a lifelong process. Fortunately, discomfort is here to help us do just that. Discomfort presents us with an opportunity to dive in and co-create a different ending to our story. The Universe is inviting us to walk a different path.

A couple of days ago I was reminded how a tiny change in perspective can re-color one’s entire internal landscape. Sometimes it’s the smallest of kindnesses from a friend, a conversation with a stranger, or in my case an anonymous gesture.

On Monday I woke up to a gloomy, gray day. I was feeling just about as gray as the sky when I happened to glance out of the front window and I lifted the blinds. What I saw brought tears to my eyes. Someone had placed a red Santa hat on our mailbox post. As I looked closer I saw that our Secret Santa had donned every mailbox on our street similarly. Goodness and the giving spirit still dwells in our midst, despite what we see and hear everywhere in these divisive times.


What a gift. Not only did it lift my spirits but it generated festive energy throughout the neighborhood. It opened us all to a tiny bit more of the spirit of Christmas, whether we celebrate the season or not, and it was a reminder that we each have the capacity to offer our giving spirit to others, whether to family members or strangers. We can show our love and concern, offer our interest and attention to whomever we meet as we go through our days. If we are not around people, we can do so in other ways. Write a note to a friend, send an email to an acquaintance, take a minute to speak to the mail-person, wave at the delivery people frantically driving through the neighborhood delivering packages as we walk our dog.  When we spread the spirit of the season it multiplies and comes back to us.

The spirit of the holidays exists throughout the year, across gender, cultural or language barriers. It’s a universal language, captured in a smile or a kind word or a helping hand. Not to mention it’s free and readily available. It is, however, a choice. When we choose to dip into our own well of kindness, we are gifted with more. It’s the law of the Universe and the true gift of the season.


DON’T BE LONELY THIS HOLIDAY SEASON. JOIN the Aging Abundantly Circle Meet Up. Open to all through January 3, 2018. Join us for engaging conversation, laughter, games, support and friendship.



Yesterday, as I carted home yet another piece of my mother’s furniture. I had to admit to myself that I am not doing very well in Simplifyingthe simplifying department!  When the calendar turned over, and 2017 began, I placed the intention to begin downsizing and simplifying front and center in my mind.  I had begun to feel the weight of the stuff I still carried with me, and I knew it was time.  Now, with only 3 short months until the next turn of the calendar year,  I am keenly aware that I’ve fallen short of my own expectations.

Reflecting on this situation today, I am reminded that while progress may not be evident on the outside, the intentions we hold work behind the scenes in our unconscious even when we are not working in the world. In truth, this is an essential part of the process of real and lasting change. An idea arises. We grab it, take a look at it, consider its merits and then decide whether to hold on to it or toss it aside. If we hold on to it, then we must either begin preparations to act or act. If we do not, the idea will keep reappearing until we let go of it or do it. Stating our intention is only the first step in a very long process that brings about the final outcome. This is the nature of change or transformation.


To effect change we must let our ideas sink down and become anchored within us. Then the wheels of progress will be set in motion. An idea in the mind must find support in the heart in order for the will to push it forward.  When we stall out it is because we are unconsciously blocking our forward motion. We are, in essence, sabotaging our own success.  Unless we become aware of the block and work through it, we will remain stuck. We will not be able to bring our ideas and intentions into the concrete world.

SimplifyMy intention was and still is a good one.  I did not bring it into the physical world, however, because unconsciously I was avoiding the pain of letting go. In order to shed the excess in my world, I must face layers and layers of loss. Simplifying is often more about our willingness to grieve and let go than it is the time and effort to psychically sort and toss.

In my home, I am surrounded by things of the past; my children’s belongings still buried in closets, unfinished projects awaiting my attention, boxes of my mother’s belongings, and so much more. It’s so much easier to push ahead into the future than to bury the past.  But, when we avoid letting go, we end up carrying weighty baggage that clutters our interior landscape as much as our exterior one. In time, life begins to feel overwhelming, frantic and/or unmanageable.


The past year has not been wasted. Holding the intention allowed me and my psyche to lay the groundwork, to prepare myself for the grieving process. There is no value in beating ourselves up over unaccomplished intentions. It’s not only a diversion from the real issue, but a waste of time and energy.  Instead, I choose to bring the attention into my awareness more and more frequently. As I hold it loosely and turn toward it, my unconscious continues to set the stage for action.

This may sound like a whole lot of unnecessary psycho-babble to you, but it is important to understand that there is much going on within us that is outside of our conscious awareness. When we use it to our advantage, instead of our destruction, we step into the flow of life rather than fighting against it, or ourselves.

Has an idea come into your mind, perhaps again and again,
calling for your attention and intention?

© Dorothy Sander 2017

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Finding Hope


Symbols of Transformation ~ A Total Eclipse & A Luna Moth

Symbols of Transformation ~ A Total Eclipse & A Luna Moth

TransformationThis beautiful creature fell upon my path last night while I was out walking. On the eve of a total eclipse, it was a poignant reminder that darkness does not last forever and that transformation is the very gift of life itself.  I received this beauty as a gift and a sign, both for myself in my suffering heart and the world.

The Luna Moth is a symbol of transformation. She is attracted to the light of the moon, and therefore is seen most often in the evenings before dark. Symbolically she speaks to us of the Divine Feminine — the value of the inner spirit — and the importance of trusting our senses and intuition during dark periods in our lives.


The Luna Moth is born, transforms and dies.  She lives only a few weeks in the adult stage and does not eat during her adult phase, as in this stage she has no mouth. Her presence in the growing darkness is a reminder to seek the light, even in the darkness. Her journey is our journey and is the seeking of balance between light and dark, between the seen and the unseen, and walking the medial way even when we’re not sure where we’re going.

Our journey is the process of healing itself, both of ourselves and the world. It is the giving and receiving of love.  Like the Luna Moth, we were born for this journey. It is our birthright and our destiny to play a part, however small, in healing the world and birthing of the soul. We we heal ourselves we contribute to the healing of the whole and the birth of a more balanced world.

“Though her soul requires seeing, the culture around her requires sightlessness. Though her soul wishes to speak its truth, she is pressured to be silent.”  ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 We are living in a period of darkness as a nation, echoed in the personal lives of many.  Luna reminds us to hold fast to the light, even when we can’t see it. Like the Luna Moth, our transforming hearts are attracted to light and hear the call of unconditional love. We must simply continue to follow the light and trust the message of transformation.

Darkness and dark times will always be with us, but so too is the abiding presence of light and love. It appears to us in the unfolding of time. Hold on to the symbol of the Luna Moth as a reminder to seek transformation and to trust the process.

66 Things I’m Grateful for on My 66th Birthday

66 Things I’m Grateful for on My 66th Birthday

Today is the perfect opportunity for me to shine a little light on some of the good things in life. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, helpless and hopeless during these chaotic times. For that reason it’s important for each of us to make an effort to look away from the darkness and remind ourselves of all the beauty and goodness that still exists, even when we’re not paying attention to it. I can’t help but to think of the words of Buddha:

Quote by Buddha

This year I’d like to feel and attract more of the things in this list, not in what I see and take in every day in the news.


I am grateful for:

  1. Another birthday to celebrate.
  2. 66 years of learning, growing, struggling and becoming. What a gift!
  3. My husband, who shines a light on my heart every single day. He’s my rock.
  4. My first-born son. A gift. He gifts me with heady conversation and deep reflection.
  5. My second born son. A treasure. His gift to me is compassion and intuition.
  6. My daughter-in-law. A gem. She gifts me with laughter and enthusiasm for life and love.
  7. My soon-to-be-D-I-L. A sparkling star. Her gift to my life is joy and curiosity.
  8. My siblings. Each one brings something unique to my life and is a thread in the tapestry of my life.
  9. My female friends. Each one has taught me something important about myself and what it means to truly love and care about another human being.
  10. The love of furry friends who offer comfort and an opportunity to practice patience.
  11. My many teachers who have open doors I never even knew existed.
  12. A comfortable home and the many blessings it holds.
  13. The opportunity to live in a country that is rich beyond imaging for a majority of the world and one that cherishes higher values at its core.
  14. The opportunity to stretch our boundaries and grow as a nation in the midst of strife.
  15. The many men and women who fought, suffered and died in an effort to birth what we now have in the US.
  16. The women  in all walks of life who have stood up for equality and paved the road for the women today.
  17. And the women who continue to do battle in their own personal lives today to ensure a better future for tomorrow’s women.
  18. Poets, writers, musicians and artists of all types who show us our soul.
  19. The gift off creativity and inspiration that drives me every day to push my edges.
  20. Technology that brings people together and exposes us to our shadow.
  21. To live in a time of discovery.
  22. Comfort – ruining water and electricity that provide warmth in winter and cool air in summer.
  23. Glorious flowers, shrubs and trees that beautiful the landscape.
  24. Rugged mountains symbolizing strength and endurance and invoke the same in me.
  25. The sweet smell of ocean tides that refresh my spirit.
  26. The rhythmic sound of waves crashing on the beach nudging me toward a meditative mind.
  27. Mystery and mysticism – the gift of the unknown that calls to each of us.
  28. The enduring power of love in all of its manifestations.
  29. For rivers, streams, and spring waters.NC Waterfalls
  30. The healing power body work professionals, whose training and spirit provides comfort and renewal to
  31. Farmers who till the soil and care for livestock day in and day out to put food on our table.
  32. For the conservation minded who have pushed us to be responsible citizens in the care of Mother Earth.
  33. And the kind-hearted souls who look after wounded animals, stray and neglected pets.
  34. For doctors and modern medicine that give hope to the sick.
  35. Modern equipment that has provided medical treatments not available before.
  36. For scientists and researchers who work tirelessly to find answers to unanswered questions.
  37. Philosophers, theologians, psychologists, sociologists and historians who look for understanding to life’s big questions.
  38. Games, movies, and entertainment.
  39. The freedom to travel.
  40. Snow, sleet, rain and sun that enliven the human spirit and make things grow.
  41. The gift of darkness so we can appreciate light.
  42. Hard times that lead us toward transformation.
  43. Words that help me express my gratitude and all the thoughts that live in my head.
  44. A comfortable bed with soft sheets and fluffy pillows.
  45. Clocks. They help me live in a world that requires I know time.
  46. Naps.
  47. Coffee, wine and ice cream!
  48. Restaurants that provide me with an opportunity to taste foods I would not otherwise taste!
  49. The French Bakery and the charming baker himself!
  50. Universities, colleges and schools that have and continue to enlighten generations of children and young adults.
  51. People who invest in the arts and help to create great venues like Lincoln Center and The Kennedy Center.
  52. For museums that help us hold onto our history.
  53. For green grass and butterflies.
  54. Bees and birds that delight while they pollinate and transport seeds!
  55. The deer who trim my shrubs and keep the rabbits and mice company.
  56. Personal computers that have made it possible for me to become a writer.
  57. Washers, dryers, dishwashers, toasters, blenders, coffee makers and so many other appliances that have made our lives so much easier.
  58. For essential oils and products of the earth that our bringing what’s natural back into our lives.
  59. Rocks, stones and gems; their beauty, strength and grounding ability.
  60. Rock bands, orchestras, choruses and all who gather together to create music
  61. Instruments that inspire and assist them
  62. The frontier – there is always a frontier.
  63. Churches, cathedrals, temples erected to glorify something greater than ourselves for their ability to provide comfort and shelter to those who suffer.
  64. Chocolate. 🙂
  65. Traditions, holidays and time set aside for family and celebration
  66. Campfires, tents and s’mores.

That’s it!

© Dorothy Sander 2017



Birthday FreebiesDo You Know About Birthday Freebies? I didn’t, but sure do now!

First, I want to say that my heart is with family and friends and all who are mourning today in Charlottesville and beyond. I began a post a few hours with the intention of addressing the dire state of our country as reflected in recent events.  We are all in a state off shock and disbelief at the speed at which our country has unraveled. We are hanging on for dear life.

Charlottesville is a second home to me. We lived there for several years in the late ’80s and it is the birthplace of my youngest son.  My parents, now deceased, called it home for twenty years and my two sisters and their families live there still.  The streets on which the death and destruction took place are very familiar to me. I walked them almost every day on my way to and from my shop on the downtown mall. The carnage is very personal to me. Still, I decided not to write about it just yet. There are enough words of bitterness, anger and angst being spread across the airways today.

Instead, I’m going to share my 66 Gratitudes in honor of my 66th birthday today. I had so much fun doing this last year I thought I’d make it a tradition. In addition, I’ve discovered that freebies abound on our birthdays and my gift to you is passing them along!

66 Gratitudes on My 66th Birthday


There are so many birthday freebies available, but they are always changing. I will list a few here and several sites that have complete lists. Some require that you register and become a member of a rewards program. There isn’t usually a charge, but you must sign up before your birthday to receive your freebie.

StarbucksJoin their rewards club for a free drink or treat on your birthday.

DSW: Join DSW’s rewards program and receive a $5 gift certificate on your birthday.

ACE Hardware: Sign up for ACE Rewards and get a $5 off coupon on your birthday.

Bare Minerals: Become a Friends and Benefits member and get a gift customized to your personal profile on your birthday.

Sephora: Sign up for Beauty Insiders and receive a complimentary gift during your birthday month.

CVS: Register for a CVS ExtraCare Card and get $3 in ExtraCare Bucks every year on your birthday.

Applebees: Free treat on your birthday

AMC Birthday Freebie – Free Popcorn on your birthday!

Baskin Robbins: Free Ice Cream Cone

Cold Stone Creamery: BOGO


AARP: Birthday Freebies & Discounts

Birthday Freebie List by Lauren Greutman

101 Freebies by The Frugal Girls

59 Birthday Freebies