Thursday, December 31, 2009

The year in review

I hope you enjoy these collages and some of my favorite pictures from the past year. As with each one that passes, this year was better than the last and I can only hope the trend continues. Thank you for looking, reading and coming along with me, those of you that do, I wish you all a happy new year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

She thinks she's Ina Garten

I'm not a cooking show freak, nor do I think I'm Martha Stewart, but I have always liked to bake, and Christmastime provides a great incentive to do so and a great excuse to give the goods away. Of course I like to eat what I make but there's something about the baking and giving away, baking and giving away that makes it more fun somehow.

I love to watch Ina Garten cook on her show the Barefoot Contessa which may sound crazy to some of you but for those of you who like her, then you know what I'm talking about. She makes everything look so big and yummy and simple and good that she has me hooked. If it hadn't been for having mono two years ago I probably would have never known about her. There's a silver lining in every cloud.

So in honor of Ina I decided to make these little jam thumbprints from a recipe in this month's Country Living Magazine and they're a new family favorite. Whoever wrote that recipe is a genius becuase they've come out perfect every time.

And the peppermint bark is an absolute must. I can't get enough of it. So simple, so good,

and then Ina showed me this:

simple, easy, happy, Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Then it snowed

Just in time for Christmas and more snow than I've seen in all my 17 years living here. I thought the blizzard we had last March was atypical for central VA and I was right, but this on top of it? In the same year? Very, very strange and it's still coming down. We may have 18" when it's all said and done and there are some people in this house who are beside themselves.

As a child I wouldn't have known what to do with myself. But as an adult I know my job when it snows consists of layering tons of clothing on 3 kids and then peeling it all off as they come in one by one, watching the ice balls fly through the house as I do. I am on snow patrol, snow cleanup, the one to corral the wet winter gear in front of the fire. I'm the hot chocolate maker extraordinaire, and all around feeder and cleaner upper. Pretty much like every day now that I think of it. But I whine.

I'll admit I love watching the action, the dog as she bounds and leaps through the white stuff so deep it's up to her chest in most places, the kids as they walk and fall and run and fall and slide and fall, and how they're big enough now to pull each other on their sleds.

Have no doubt about Sunny, she loves it too.

Do not feel sorry, or have pity.

I can assure you,

She's in heaven.

And in a little bit, when she's done playing with her children, she'll go curl up on her heated bed, in her cozy cedar-filled house, and take a long snooze until they come back out.

But for now, we are stocked and ready, the fire is mellow and warm, the snow clothes are gathered around it warming and drying and everyone is getting ready for round two, and three, and four and....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And a little of this

A little tree decorated this year with bits of the vintage button collection, a head start on the gift wrapping,

simple wreaths,

and the letters I have yet to mail,

the old ladder from the dairy barn providing another spot to hang a wreath,

and the simple nativity, positioned differently every day by the children.

A subtle and understated Christmas is what we're creating, definitely one of our own making. The collection of reminders growing each year, slowly and in stark contrast to what I find just past the doorstep.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What Christmas looks like

On any given day you'll find half-eaten gingerbread houses, stripy tights curled up on the rug,

gift bags for teachers waiting to be filled and lined up in a row,

the tree standing, looking the best it can in an unfinished office as we slowly expand into our new space. We like how the lights look in the big window as we come up the drive, and think we've found the right place for it.

There are the rocks Allie gathered on an impromptu expedition outside yesterday after days and weeks full of too much rain,

just below the grumpy cat, pretending to be miserable though we know otherwise.

The ever-important knitting bag and Legos, both of which figure prominently in the house and can usually be found here, in front of the fire.

Homework, always, homework.

Some jewelry making after a long hiatus,

and bags of clothes lined up and ready to be given away, if I don't put them here it could be months before I take them in.

In short, we are lived in, comfortable, expanding into new space, messy, real, spread out, together, sick, well, hungry, tired, ordinary and content, all waiting, excited and very much enjoying the season.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Looking for the good

If you've been reading for any length of time or know me personally then you know full well that I'm not a big fan of the cold weather. In fact, as my life continues and if I should ever move, I'll do my best to do so in a progressively southern direction if at all possible, toward the heat, the warm water, the sun and more days spent barefoot. But while I'm here, already in the South, which was an adjustment in and of itself I assure you, I'll be happy with what the cold brings. Or at least that's what I'll tell myself.

Living with the space to see the weather roll in, and allowing myself to be drawn outdoors or to a window at a moments notice as the sky would pull me, I see that the winter sky is clearly different. I track the position of the sun on the horizon throughout the year and see it start on one side of the barn at sunrise and end up far on the other side in the dead of winter. An elementary school lesson that I'm just now appreciating at this later phase in life.

But I have few regrets becuase as I age I know more and more that they are pointless, and looking forward is really the only way to keep going and growing and to nurture a positive attitude, a necessity for survival. So I look ahead, day after day, for what the cold brings, I just bundle up more than most while I'm doing it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Into thin air

Somebody, please, somebody...tell me how she went and turned into a six-year-old.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


When it's 35 degrees and rainingsleetingsnowing, the personalities are easily exposed.

We have grumpy,

followed by distracted photographer,

wild and wilder,

and the perpetual daydreamer.

A heavy dose of inside time in front of the fire,

where we'll find lazy,

or sleepy, one of the two.

The only thing missing was the hot chocolate, a promise I never made good on. I think I've agreed to make some for breakfast tomorrow, we'll see how that turns out.