when snow is a good thing…

December 29, 2012 § 6 Comments

DSC_0498 It snowed last night. We all came out of a restaurant and into a transformation of the trees, the holiday lights, the shop windows and the ground underfoot! Nor took off her shoes to get to the car but HM hurried ahead and charged through the lot to get the car to rescue all of us from the slippery slopes that normally would be nothing more than easy pavement.

With no camera at hand, there was nothing more than memory to capture the moments of the snow: the delight as though we were in a huge carriage; the gladness for a warm coat; the reflections from fogged home-y windows sporting wreaths and lit garlands; the silence of the snow as tho’ all were paused, listening for the sound of snowflake on  trees; the quick memory of snow as a child and the wish to rush off and find a sled; the way laughter sounds in the thick white air; the “hush” that comes with holiday giving us time, giving us some sort of shelter in which to ponder all that is good and all that can be good.

This picture, taken from our front porch, doesn’t capture the tiny flakes and  swirl. Imagine.

Chiming in with warm holiday wishes…

December 21, 2012 § 13 Comments

DSC_0184 DSC_0182 DSC_0176 DSC_0177 DSC_0155 DSC_0156 DSC_0169 DSC_0166 DSC_0153 DSC_0150We attended our annual wreath-making class (where ARE those pictures?) at the Missouri Botanical Garden and then wandered through the Gallery to look at this year’s professionally done wreath-donations, always a delight.

Which ones make you say “ah?”


Christmas rocks on…

December 29, 2011 § 12 Comments

Kids returned to their respective homes:  Jack the Dog went home with Nor and D, of course and Snarl headed back to his studio miles away. Mom is back at her house. The sun is out.

Christmas is still everywhere.
I have even thought this morning that there are some corners in some of the rooms that even now, even still could use some Christmas decoration. But I stay my hand.

There is never too much Christmas spirit.
Time to pause and walk around the house, something I rarely get to do this time of day. (on vacay this week.)

Thinking of all of you with whom I share comments and creativity and stories and wishing you a continuing joyous season and Happy New Year…and also that you could be here for some coffee and pie.

Pictured below, the DR and the large mossy wreath is the one HM “won” at auction at the Botanical Garden.

traditional holiday fave…

December 17, 2011 § 9 Comments

More favorite things…

Annual wreathmaking class:
We made it to our annual wreath making class at the Botanical Garden this year!  and HM was not the only guy there! One other, we didn’t recognize him, had joined the ranks and in fact the class was twice its usual size. We were all giddy and yet productive (high on the scent of the fir and balsalm we were working with. It was wonderful and too busy and talk-y to take a lot of pictures! 

Not quite finished; HM holding up our wreaths is always an “interim” activity to see what we want to do with them next – trim, add, insert accessories, etc. And there’s plenty of help and encouragement from all those around us.

Holiday Gardenland Express:
And then, after HM stashed our wreaths in the car, we were  off to the Gardenland Express…the annual Christmas train exhibit just down the hall. We made it before the press of the crowd, and I wondered how many of us were really “seeing” it since we were hauling our cameras in there and aiming our lenses at every nook and cranny for pictures. So I stopped shooting and took the kid approach and we did the “treasure hunt” looking for all the little details, including trains with cars carrying succulents, one train loaded with nothing but gifts, another zipping along with very ’50s looking passengers, etc.
A Dozen Gorgeous Wreaths:
And then upstairs, after the trains, to the annual wreath exhibit. I loved them all. But did not tell HM. Tried to be quiet. Didn’t want him bidding on them!  Last year he surprised me with winning the silent auction on one of the wreaths with which I had fallen in love. It is now hanging on the wall in the dining room now. It takes up the entire wall! (picture to follow later). I keep it in my office the rest of the year and it rules the room in the loveliest way.

Herein some pictures, all jumbled and stuck together, due to some weird techie quirk I’m having this morning!

another favorite thing….

December 7, 2011 § 16 Comments

(photo courtesy of Google images)

oh yes, this “favorite things” thing can go on and on.
And shouldn’t be hurried, tho’ I confess, I’ve much to do after posting…because…

It seems the Grinch of Xmas nights
Has feasted on a string of lights
and I know that it’s not the misdeed of a mouse!
Fix it? or nix it? That shall be decided.
Having holiday lights “off” just can’t be abided.

Stay calm; have some dinner, methinks to meself.
Stress won’t make me thinner; how ’bout wine from the shelf?
Then when we’re warmer and grinning our grins, 
we’ll venture outside, fix the lights and come in.

and have some chocolate.
and write Christmas cards. 

Hmmm…ok, this is, in fact, more about an unfavorite thing:  Christmas lights that don’t work!
What is it with those strings?  Rather than just ignoring the loser light that causes the problem, the entire half-string goes out, as though to lend the little non-light-up  some sort of malfunction support. Grrr….
Humph. Should have chosen the ones that light no matter if one bulb or several choose to go out.
Are the commercial grade lights really better?

favorite things…

December 6, 2011 § 7 Comments

At last, to catch up with a workable holiday theme, to bring a little of this, a little of that to the holiday buffet of favorite things!

Herein, a journal. It’s a tiny little gipper, brought to me by dear friend Linda of Haute Loire, when she took a cooking tour in Tuscany. This is actually a little journal, about 4×5″ and with a long thin leather strap to wrap it all ’round. Nope, this one remains untouched to date. And it doesn’t play well on the shelf (due to its leather string.) But it’s the real ‘ting, all lovely paper inside begging beggging begging for some written words – no matter what they are, to dress it up and make in sing (which it would likely do with a marvelous Italian accent!)

Why so compelled to journal?
It’s an old art, if not an ancient one. The history of the practice will zip you right back to 10th century Japan (ah, those ladies of the royal court…who wrote).
Journaling endures. Not just because people have time on their hands (like the Bennett sisters) but are, moreover, driven by a need to record things, about the world, about themselves, about what they see and don’t see…about fiction. 
It’s notable in the two different  journaling classes I attend that the attendees are always asking what they should write in a journal, in fact, what IS a journal? Others don’t say anything. They might read what they’ve written…or not. They might ask questions and have done no writing. They might come clutching a notebook of some sort and hope for….other people to talk with about writing? I don’t know. I go to for inspiration. I am fascinated by the teachers and their very disparate approaches. I am fascinated by those who attend. And such stories come out!
 Sometimes I write while I’m there. (This is allowed and accepted.)

I would say a journal, frightening or not in its blank blanc-ness, is the ultimate gift, to be explored, to draw the adventures out and onto the page for the writer to then re-enjoy.

The gift that keeps on giving.

holiday writing non-whirl…

December 3, 2011 § 12 Comments

It’s reading season. It’s writing season.
This is the next journal (above)…having just finished filling a custom-rendered beauty that Jeanie made for me (below).

Yet, if one were to gage journaling success on pages filled from Dec 1 to now, ah, well, then, I’ve a ways to go. And that includes travel time and you know very well that a great deal of inner thoughts can be accomplished on a plane. But I did not write. I read a bit, wrapped my scarf like an Englishman because the piped air wouldn’t respond to the “off” position, and I smiled, not insanely, just enough so people would know I was pleasant although I did not want to talk. (I’m not a plane talker.)

Yet the most writing accomplished in these three December days is lists!  Xmas gift lists. Then I forget where I put them. I write them again. I switch purses, bags, wallets. I write lists yet again. I jot lists in journals. Which one? the one I always always carry? (tiny, and from Etsy) or the ‘overall’ one (the likes of which are pictured above)?

While I may have intended to get someone on the list a collection of Billy Collins poetry, that person might now, in the list’s fifth or sixth or senventh incarnation, be relegated to getting a souvenir album of the Cardinals World Series win. And yet I have forsworn getting all nervous and jumpy about the gift part.

So as I write and sip at the dawn of this weekend morning and gaze at the boxes of Christmas lights that will somehow spring to order and stage themselves for outdoor and indoor decor, and wonder about getting out there into the holiday fray, a great deal of which I really do enjoy, but moments in Blogland are  holiday-precious and full of friends and friends-that-would-be if actually here. 

So, as a writing “dabble,” the following notes from holiday wanderings during lunch yesterday and then last evening with HM:
1) It is possible to read HUGO CABRET while sipping coffee at B&N. Then…plan to see the movie which is compelling simply because of Scorcese’s work and personal take on it.
2) The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree available at various stores (this is not an ad!)  is really rather charming and not too in-your-face to have sitting on your desk at work. (Needs batteries; the ones supplied didn’t work. I will therefore guess the song it plays is the one from the Peanuts TV special of yore.)
3) Stray cats this time of year are to be fed and watered,  not shooed away. Same with the rotund bluejays and redheaded woodpeckers who suddenly prefer the black oil sunflower seed to the lovely suet that HM bought for them and their big old beaks.
4) Coffee gets a makeover every year during the holiday season with scents and flavors and creams and bits of things like peppermint and salt and pumpking and sprinkles. I think the barristas are a tad disappointed when I ask for a mere “tall coffee.”
5) Is anyone else getting all kinds of decorating ideas and then wondering when and how said ideas will actually be accomplished?  I have an idea for a garland that does not involve going out to chop down or shop for live branches….hmmmmm….more to follow!

Happy Day 3 of Advent!

Book art…clean and simple

November 27, 2011 § 4 Comments

 (photo courtesy of Google images)

Browsing the bookshop’s magazines, I found this site on the back of a magazine. It’s simple, clean, and just might strike your fancy, for literal or just-for-fun shopping….   www.owlsquarepress.com.

Who doesn’t enjoy an artful “bookish” thing?

Listing…from page to page

November 4, 2011 § 6 Comments

(photos courtesy of Google images)

Catalogs come in the mail every day, catalogs as thick as bricks and braggery, cajoling, poeticizing, pimping all manner of things, from soft scarves (even the pashmina is no longer new) to big dice to hang from your rearview mirror. Oh, the chockful blockhead-ery of so many treasures and such items to delight, cause  a chuckle, cause a sigh, a second look or a circling with a ready pen, the penholder eager to satisfy the gift list. Yes, the gift list! It is already underway. 

And then, there it was in a catalog – an advent calendar showing its pefeclty lovely unique face (above).  It has 24 little drawers – see the knobs? An engaging idea right there – and apparently, within each drawer is a fingerpainted image. As an adult, I’m intrigued. As a kid, I’d be nuts for it, those little drawers, each different, and of course the  frame with its artistic detail, the size of it and the Highland cattle and backdrop, rather 3d-ish for effect – and the magic of it, the breadth of it, the beauty of it. Seriously. Ah, but the price ($4,950).  Egads.

Which immediately hearkens me to perhaps creating my own advent calendars for the kids (and adults) instead. Because there is and always will be some kind of hushed magic in opening little advent doors and drawers.

what’s cookin’?

December 30, 2010 § 14 Comments

(I meant to photograph the onion casserole but had it  popped in the oven before I could find my camera. Anyway, this was the cook’s playground this afternoon, with a SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS book open to the onion page and the Martha’s Dec issue also open to some impossible recipe. I believe it was Bella Rum who warned me about Martha’s complicado recipes and she was correct!!!!)

The kitchen smelled like armpits.
It couldn’t be helped.
It was the onions that I had to slice, thinly.
The recipe called for 16 of ’em (2 red, 2 white and 12 green ones).
And two kinds of cheese, a ton of each, bleu and havarti.
And dry white wine.
And precious butter.

Bake for an hour.
About half way into bake time, mmmm, the scent started to turn  around and there was the onions and butter and the wine, all showing off their best aromas.

And then there was the pea soup, just coming to burble in its pot, into which a very small amount of onions and a lovely two handsful of tiny chopped bits of carrots and yes, my precious butter, and the hambone from the Xmas honey ham had been ceremoniously dumped. Lid plopped on top. Lovely.

Now this was a kitchen.
And people started drifting in, to see what was going on.
Give a girl a vacation and look what she’ll do.

(FYI: the onion casserole came out lovely, with everyone digging in for a taste and swearing they’d wait ’til formal dinnertime to have more with their burgers. And they did. Meanwhile, the soup went along slowly, thickening and sweetening. It will be lovely tomorrow with cornbread.)

Haven’t got one in particular. Still plowing through nearly a dozen New Yorker magazines to catch up. And while it has nothing to do whatsoever with cooking, I am enjoying, to the point of laughing out loud, Bill Bryson’s A WALK IN THE WOODS. It’s my first Bryson. Yeah, I’m a Bryson virgin and just tickled to pieces with his writing. Especially since it’s about my beloved East Coast moutains. And I’m inspired to tackle something challenging, inspired by Bryson. Hmmmm….off  I go to ponder my personal challenge. Seems to go with the New Year.

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