Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cake, Anyone?

I have had the honor of celebrating several family birthdays this week. My Vivi girl turned six years old, and my sweet hubby also had a birthday (nope, not saying how old!) It has been a week of baking for me. First cupcakes for the school party. I found a yummy banana cake with cinnamon-honey frosting recipe here.

And then there was my classic party cake, which I have made several years in a row. It is called the Strawberry Basket Cake. It is very yummy. I don't bother to make the fancy basket weave design with the frosting, though. Here it is as I am adding the layers. yummy strawberries and preserves are nestled in the center. Despite the fact that I can't get local berries now, I found some beautiful organic ones at the market. It is a real decadence in mid-winter.

And then I made a Glazed Lime Cake. Not as pretty, but I wanted something simple and different. Mmmmmm. I love cakes of all sorts. I have two more birthdays in my family in the next month! So plenty more baking to do. Thank goodness I love making sweet things.

The girls amaze me with their industriousness. It puts me to shame! I am always thinking up an excuse of why it is not a good time, while they are joyfully plowing through project after project. I really do admire their fearless ambition to create! Vivi has been into sewing lately. She sneaks into my craft/mess zone in the playroom and emerges with a new creation every day. Here is the adorable bird she made from felted sweater scraps (and a silk velvet bit for the beak)

She also made her daddy a cute birthday crown, and a number of artful gifts. She repaired the first waldorf doll that I made for Mia many years ago. It had some stiches that came loose on the shoulder, and she patched it up ( with purple thread, to Mia's dismay!) That poor baby is well loved to say the least.

Both girls have been drawing like crazy. They are into making horses and unicorns, as well as picture-stories about people. I love to see their ideas and I actually feel so inspired by them!

Mia loves to needle felt. Here is the peace symbol she made. We are all so happy to know that Obama is now our president! I have never had such optimism for the direction of our country as I have today. Check out this link for some amazing photos of the inauguration. We had a grand day of celebration at our friends' house. Jen hosted a Barack Menu Open House with meals from all the places in his history. We got to enjoy an Indonesian lunch. Since we don't have television, It was fun to watch this amazing historical event taped live. Three Cheers for Obama!!!

Despite the fact that we have had a day and a half of snow-day, home from school, it has amounted to rather little. The kids are feeling bummed about the lack of white winter. It would be nice to get a real snow before the winter has ended. Certainly, there is still some time. Here is our little bit of snow. Vivi was hopeful...

Another inspiring event was a show we saw recently, The Mizero Children from Rwanda. They are on a fund-raising mission, called the Forgiveness Tour. It was amazing to see these young people, with lives so deeply touched by tragedy, and yet holding such peacefulness and joy in their smiles and soulful rhythms.

~May peace be with you~

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Dream

Okay, indulge me while I share something of a recent dream. I cannot recall the details but what stayed with me in my waking was a profound truth. Basically, it was the statement "Love is Everything." And I really felt it within me as I came out of my dream. It brought the thought, "whomever loves most lives best!" Sort of the bumper sticker version of the same idea. But I really think that if I were to gauge the real value of my existence, it has everything to do with loving , be it people, plants or animals... loving as a way of living. Just think of the human evolution potential if we could all completely embrace this concept. I think that there are so many ways to manifest one's love, and I can really recognize and appreciate it in the work of others. Just think of the love that goes into art, into service for others, into gardening, raising children, cooking, etc. As you can tell, I really embrace this idea. My wish is to manifest this reverence and inner focus in everything I do, as best that I can. I see it as a way to be truely present in the world.

~ In gratitude to the beauty of the rose~

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A New Tradition

This is the first year that my family celebrated Three Kings Days. Really, this is the first time as an adult that I have taken closer notice of the twelve days of Christmas and really took them into my whole self, and learned more about what they represent. It is interesting how a holiday that I have celebrated all my life, can continue to deepen in meaning. We lit our Christmas candles and set the holiday table once more, enjoying the special, celebratory space. I roasted a chicken and vegetables for dinner, my mom made a fresh cranberry relish, and then I baked a Three Kings Cake. It was more of a sweet yeasted bread, really. It had citrus peel and currants in it, and was a satisfying treat. Inside the cake, I baked a fresh cranberry into the dough. Often it is traditionally a bean or a small trinket. The person to receive the piece of cake with the object becomes the King for the evening and wears a golden crown. My cranberry rose to the surface when it baked, so instead of crowning one king, I decided to crown all three children. After all, there are three kings! It was a nice opportunity to pull out their special birthday crowns, and they enjoyed the evening very much.
I read a tale from The Christmas Story Book, titled New Year's Eve by Dan Lindholm. It was a beautiful story about a boy named Hans who meets twelve men in white cloaks and crowns and wreathes ,"who rather looked like kings". He recognizes that they represent each of the months of the year, by their varied garb. He sees them gathered round a bonfire, as he travels through the dark night to his Grandparents' house for New Year's Eve. When Hans is asked if he recognizes the men, his reply comes in this verse that his Grandfather has taught him. Here it is ~ something nice to put to memory!

January send the ice and frost
In the snow-drifts don't get lost.
February's light is growing
Even though it is still snowing.
March is bringing in the thaw
And the wind is cold and raw.
April brings the rain and sun,
Sometimes both and sometimes one.
May brings in the cuckoo's call
And the sun light over all.
June is full of lovely posies
Fills the air with scent of roses.
July is bountiful and good,
Cool and leafy is the wood.
August bends down ears of corn,
Soon the fields will all be shorn.
September gives the ripening apple
While the leaves begin to dapple.
October makes the barn-yard full
Now the housewife spins her wool.
November's storms set trees a-shaking
While indoors we're present making.
December's days are short and cold,
Advent candles gleam with gold.
In the story, Hans' own Three Kings' candle lights the flame for the New Year, as the old flame wanes. It was a tale filled with lovely imagery, one we will likely revisit year after year.

May sweetness and noble thoughts be yours!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Day in the Life

I woke up this morning with enthusiasm for the day ahead, all the possibilities and freedom. And then my mood turned more melancholy, and I realized why. Today is the last quiet "home" day for the family, before the girls are back to school and life is back the usual hustle and bustle. I savor the days when we can wake up and meander downstairs, enjoying a late breakfast and several cups of tea, before moving on to the tasks at hand. I am simply not a morning person and never have been. In addition, I love my home and between home and garden, would happily never leave the confines of my personal space. Of course, I love to have friends and family visit! I love the idea of new adventures, but I have to admit that I am more comfortably an armchair traveller than a real explorer. So these last couple of weeks, with everyone on holiday, it has been amazing. And tomorrow it is time to readjust to our usual routine. I think the girls are eager to see their teachers and classmates, go to Chinese class, and make play dates. After feeling mopey for a while, I began to appreciate this day of enjoying my wonderful, sweet family and here is what we've been up to...

Building a fire~

~our well loved dining table, covered in an artful mess. The first photo in this post is the result - a colorful snowflake. It is made from this Magic Cabin kit.

~The girls reading a new Elsa Beskow book, Annika with Grandma. I couldn't resist a good deal on this book, with it's beautiful illustrations.It is written in German so we are grateful to have her here to translate for us. It looks as if the titled will soon be released in English under the title Emily and Daisy. And notice the mild weather! Not a typical winter's day.

~Self portrait, doing what I enjoy most, observing through the lens of my camera! Notice my lovely new camera strap slip cover, purchased from fellow blogger, Molly, at A Foothill Companion.
~Mia wondered what I was doing, and joined the fun.
~ I can't leave out the usual load of chores that are begging for my attention! Here is my bed buried in laundry. At least it's clean laundry.

~I decided to bake cookies for some de-stress therapy. Nothing like sugar and chocolate (for the grown-up oatmeal cookies that is...shhhh...)

~Here is Vivienne's invented dessert recipe. She called it oatmeal sugar cake. It actually turned out quite good, the kids gobbled it up in an instant!

~Papa got to spend a bit of time working from home today. He was lucky to arrive just in time for the cookies to come out of the oven.

~The girls were very eager to show Grandma how to needle felt. Vivienne proudly showed me her very own creation, done under supervision of Grandma, but with absolutely no assistance!

And here are some of the various project that the kids have been working on in recent days. This is the pretty little doll that Vivienne made from various bits in the Recycle bin, and gave to me. Her dress is from cupcake paper, her body is a wood popsicle stick, her hair is made of a trimming from my hemp twine. She is so darling.

~This is a needles-and-pins felt mitten book that Mia made and surprised me with for Christmas. It was inspired by one that Grandma got from a girl many years ago, which she described to Mia over the phone. I love it.

~Mia's starry night illustration

~Good-bye to our lovely Christmas tree and all the other decorations. Tomorrow is the 12th day of Christmas, and soon it will be coming down.

~a gift from my mom that finally arrived from Canada. I am so excited to be collecting these beautiful pieces from the Ostheimer nativity scene.

In joy and peace...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year!

~launching the walnut boats for new year's eve~

What a lot of hope and joy it brings to think of the year ahead! 2008 was so filled to the brim, so rich with the everyday goodness that I love so much. And here we are on the cusp of a fresh, new circle of seasons. More birthdays, book club gatherings, snowfalls, first blossoms, sunrises and sunsets, quiet hours, busy days, crafty fun, camping trips, yoga classes, family reunions, gardening, hiking, berry picking, swimming in the ocean, riding bikes, helping others, sharing joys, taking photos, baking treats, making art, learning new things, enjoying family and friends, being still, being thankful... ever so thankful. Cheers to the new year ahead,

hooray for 2009!