Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Into the Woods

After the comforts of home for the holidays, it was a beautiful day to get outside and enjoy the fresh, crisp winter air. The climb up the north slope was somewhat precarious, with an icy layer on top of the snow. We carefully stepped around the well tread path and made it just fine. Jasper's legs flopped and slid like a rag baby, so my friends and I carried him most of the way. We stopped at the Christmas tree deep in the forest, where we left our gifts to the animals. A handful of carrots, apples and beautiful bird seed ornaments, made by Ines, from squash rings coated in peanut butter and seeds. There were little hand made beeswax ornaments, a little bell, and pine cones hanging from the tree. It reminded me of the scene in Efner and Tasha Tudor's The Christmas Cat, when the animals in the forest are fed. By the time we reached the tree on the South slope, the sun was bright and happy, and we sipped hot cocoa before the end of the loop. My little camera malfunctioned and I got very few photos but such a lovely hike will surely live in our memories for a long time.

Grandma Karin, Mia and our Collie friend, Stewart

Happy Winter!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Glorious Snow! What a beautiful gift for the December days as they draw closer to Christmas. Despite the fact that I could not mail my packages and run my errands today, it was so pleasing to be home bound. Rather than bustle around, I wrapped presents and baked, and walked in the silent white landscape that only somewhat resembles my neighborhood. Happy passers-by bundled to the tip of their noses pass by, waving cheerfully, walk their dogs and pull children on sleds. Vivienne is most eager for the baked apples we will enjoy, a family ritual for the first snow of the season.

Yummy treats from Martha Stewart - Peppermint bark and chocolate gingerbread bars

Happy Winter, everyone! Time to throw some logs on the fire and enjoy a cup of cocoa with Grammy and Granddaddy, who are visiting for the weekend.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Little Gnome Tutorial

The days are growing shorter, bringing us indoors a bit longer each day. All things woolen and comforting call my name. This is the time of year that I especially enjoy crafty projects and good books, alongside a cup of hot tea to sip. One project that Mia, Jasper and I enjoyed yesterday was a wonderful ornament shared by my dear friend, Ines. Many thanks for letting me share this charming project! It reminds me so much of little gnomes that I remember from my Grandma's Christmas Tree. They are such cute little characters, we can't stop making them.

Step one: Gather materials. Need wool roving for head, wool felt for caps (cut into little triangles), white wool for beards, little pine cones (we used hemlock), cotton thread, needle and glue (we use a glue gun)
Step two:The little round heads can be water felted or needle felted. Heads and beards are glued to the pine cone body.

Step three: caps are sewn with a doubled thread, from bottom of cap to tip, leaving extra length for hanging. Cap an then be glued to head.

Now you have a cheery little gnome to dance on your Christmas tree!

Thanks again to Ines for sharing this cute little project! Vielen Dank!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Glow of candlelight

This afternoon we had high winds and our electricity went out. The day went on, and it was clear that the lines were still being repaired. Dusk fell quickly as we gathered our candles and started to light lanterns. The kids enjoyed the last minutes of light outdoors, while I made dinner in a mostly dark kitchen. I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect with the "true" rhythm of the day. I realized what it meant in days past for dusk to fall, and how it limited what was to be accomplished. It is a challenge to clean dishes by candle light! But it changed how I felt about resting time, and the atmosphere was so reverent and cozy. We ate dinner and then read books together by candle light. We read stories of Saint Nicholas. The kids were excited about living in an old fashioned way. I was reminded of the suggestion to turn off lights and electrical appliances consciously one night a week, and would like to try this. Just think of the energy savings. And how well rested one would feel to get to bed early in the evening. Of course, I am also grateful to have heat, hot water out of the tap, telephone service and so on. I laughed at myself for the number of times I would, by way of habit, try to turn on the light, or pick up the phone, despite the outage. Our power is back now, but it was like having a short retreat, and a real way to slow the pace of life, even if it was for just one evening.

cooking by candlelight

Reminds me of a favorite beautiful song of an old irish blessing.

Christmas Crafting

Vivienne's Christmas angel

It is always astonishing for me to see the impulse of the season in the work of my children. The elements of the season, the materials at hand, and the inner feeling come through their art. While I try to have a variety of materials on hand, like fabrics, felt, wool roving, needles, and thread, etc., seldom do I initiate their projects. I love to see what comes naturally to them.

Vivienne came up with this fun stocking stuffer idea, pine needle pencils. The pencils are wrapped in floral tape and finished with a fresh spring of needles.

Christmas pencil

Vivienne's yarn animal (added to the nativity procession)

Jasper tells me that he is drawing in the dirt

the lovliest crown (a gift for our neighbor, Heather)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Magical Season (reflections)

I am beginning to feel the shift in myself, the inner spark that lights the way into the darkness of the season of shorter days. I feel the magic of Christmas begin to lift my heart in the most wonderful way. I feel it in the warmth among others, the knowing smiles, the openness and love. It is the season of gifts and miracles. I strive to "think" with my heart, to be present and open to finding that spark in my interactions with others. I hope for moments which slow the pace and keep me from falling into the urgent tug of time. I wish to witness the magic, savor the richness of this human experience in the cycle of the seasons which unites us with all that ever was and ever will be.

I am sharing some images of a beautiful Christmas festival. Around a small community lake, 325 paper lanterns light the half mile trail around the water and the community comes together for hay rides, carolling, and hot cocoa. We joined our friends on this beautiful night stroll, warmed ourselves with hot soup, german stollen, and roasted chestnuts over a sparkling bonfire, under the bright stars. The kids sledded down a grassy hill and star gazed into the night's sky. What a wonderous night it was. Thank you, Ines and Brad!

My thoughts are filled with what I can do for others, what I can offer. Today we watched a wonderful local production of A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens. Such a powerful tale of redeeming one's ability to do good in the world. One fellow blogger who has inspired me is Nicole and her beautful blog in loving support of a mama with breast cancer. She is collecting homemade ornaments to honor Kelly's healing journey. To find out more about this project, visit the wellness tree blog. I would love to know how others share the gift of compassion . What acts of kindness do you strive to bring into the world? Please share your thoughts and ideas with me.

Happy St. Nicholas day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Imaginative Days

One of my favorite things is to see my children engaged in imaginative play. And it inspires me greatly! (And now you can see Mia's new haircut, too.) In this moment I can see how home education is working beautifully to free the social constraints that pressure kids to grow up in a hurry.

Vivi wears her finger knitted creations and Jasper is so very happy to have discovered a new favorite treat - frozen wild blueberries atop a crisp waffle. He has been really into making food lately, especially deviled eggs, apple pies and anything that he can top with Old Bay seasoning.

How I love to see the dolls getting out for a walk on a mild late autumn day!

There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again. ~Elizabeth Lawrence