Monday, December 26, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
The 18 year old has already departed with the boyfriend and his family. The 14 year old is with my visiting sister, her husband and their daughter, along with my youngest sister's 8 year old daughter (yes, it's true -- my mother had only sisters, 2, I had only sisters, 3, I have only girls, 4, and both of my sisters with children only have girls -- our 4 yr old grandson is the only boy in the family aside from spouses!) riding the trolleys downtown, checking out the ducks in the fountain at the Peabody along with the decorations, and seeing Sun Studio if it's open. I guess since niece Katie took up residence in London, she's decided she needs to see Sun Studio.
This will be the first year our #2 daughter has not been here for Christmas, since she moved to Austin last summer and came here at Thanksgiving to move the rest of her stuff. I'm sure there will be many changes to our Christmas routine in the coming years as the girls get older and even move away and as we juggle multiple holiday events with other families and schedules. With the aging of my parents, the venue of the main holiday dinner and present opening has shifted from their house to ours.
In the meantime, the roast is (hopefully) thawed, the stockings are ready to be stuffed, the presents are wrapped, the significant portions of the house are reasonably cleaned, and following my KISS program of holiday coping I have a box of crackers, a sliced brie log, and a jar of spicy tomato jam from my pantry for the potluck tonight, so I am relaxing with a cup of chai (maybe I'll have two!), and reading some mags the rest of the afternoon. Merry Christmas to all.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
I don't care for a lot of busy-ness, especially at night, and most especially during the winter and holiday season. Above you see my idea of a pleasant winter evening's occupation indeed! A visit to the village of Cranford, with a cup of decaf coconut chai tea in a proper cup with saucer.
Almost as relaxing, is the cd I have playing while I do this post: Sting's "If on a Winter Night".
Show off your Cottage Monday
A Return to Loveliness
Monday, December 12, 2011
The Dining Room is the first room we always decorate for Christmas, because the Dining Room tree is the one on which we hang the small wooden and felt ornaments from the Advent Calendar given to us by my parents when our oldest was quite young. The box itself is cardboard, but it has held up fairly well over the past 20+ years.
This tree has ornaments that are either home-made or evoke the natural world, in either their nature (apples) or their material (natural fibers, bark, wood, etc).
It has no lights, other than 4 tiny candles (one for each child) that fit in candle holders that clip on the trees. I'd love to get some small LED candles to put on the tree, but I have yet to find any. You can see one of the candles in the picture above.
One year I saved egg shell halves, spray painted the white ones gold (kept the blue and green shells from my chickens natural), hot glued some ribbon around the shell half and filled with tiny dried roses from my garden and tiny berries and pinecones from Hobby Lobby. I gave sets as gifts, but saved a few for myself.
We even put on the natural wooden baby rattle that my two youngest played with when they were babies.
The paper bird was part of a set of 12 that I made that hung from a mobile for many years, long since dismantled and now the birds hang on the tree, alongside colored and glittered butterflies glued on to sticks that the girls made in years past, and sand dollars picked up on trips to the beach (very rare to find whole ones where we go).
This was a little wooden box with three compartments that some snowflake gift toppers came in, that I covered with paper, some chipboard letters and glitter.
A quilt that my husband's grandmother made probably some time between 1920 and 1950 serves as a tree skirt. The girls used to love to play with the woodland animals below which only came out at Christmas.
Home-made Christmas cones hang from the chandelier, along with felt elves. When the girls were young the cones held treats for New Year's Day. You can glimpse the Christmas Village on the buffet.
Why are there no pictures of the dining room table? Because it's covered house refinance papers, boxes for lights, miscellaneous garland, some mail, a hat and scarf, and other things that desperately need to be put away or otherwise dealt with.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
We have a ridiculous accumulation of Christmas stuff -- boxes and boxes -- one whole box for the kitchen alone.
Snowglobes accumulated over the years and displayed on our big kitchen window.
We have 3 big picture size windows in the kitchen, and we tape all the construction paper stockings and trees and what-not that the girls made over the years to them. You can see another Rudolph drawing by Hannah, and some construction paper stockings by Loren (now 24), mostly from her girl scout Daisy and Brownie days. She went through scouts all the way through Cadets, but dropped when the meetings and activities began to conflict with her increasing soccer activities.
I have this candy garland strung around the kitchen peninsula, with some candy ornaments.
An overview looking over the peninsula towards the table.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
If I was a better photographer, and perhaps had a better camera, or knew how to enhance a picture with the IPhoto tools, then you could see what I see: even the sweepings are more magical in December. Amongst the dog and cat hair, the dust and detritus of daily living, there are sparkles and glistenings -- bits of tinsel and glitter and leaves shed from the Christmas Tree (artificial though it is, it still sheds, and all decorated with 36 years of accumulated ornaments, glows with as much spirit as any tree from a tree lot would, imo).
We woke up yesterday to some unexpected snow accumulation. Snow (which we define as "not rain" falling from the sky) is pretty rare here in December. Most of our snow, which means usually one or two snowfalls, often with little or no accumulation, happens in January and February. Every few years we might get a snow that leaves inches on the ground. December is most often in the 50's and 60's, with lows in the 40's or maybe 30's, and pretty rainy. Prior to this snow on Wednesday it had been raining since Saturday night. Today it's finally clear and sunny (but cold!).
The snow is all gone now.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Every session was highly interactive and experiential. About half the group also met about 4 times to read through Macbeth round robin style, and attended the Tennessee Shakespeare Company's production of Macbeth, which was performed in an outdoor amphitheater at a wooded park in October.
The "Playshops" were such a hit that we are planning for 10 additional sessions for January-March.
They have fit in well with how our family approaches Shakespeare -- first, as great stories and plays that are spoken and performed, and only later as literature, with analysis of character and theme. My girls started with watching the Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson video of Much Ado About Nothing when they were quite young -- around 9 or so. They would watch in increments, and often watch favorite scenes over and over and over. Then we would read a summary in story form, such as from "Shakespeare Stories" by Leon Garfield, or the "comic book" style books of Marcia Williams. When they were somewhat familiar with the story, we would meet with other families take turns reading from the play. In the meantime we would read historical novels that focused on Shakespeare or Elizabethan culture, like "The Shakespeare Stealer" trilogy of books. By the time my girls have become high school age, they are familiar with many of the plays, the language, and the customs of the era and have no fear of Shakespeare and are not intimidated at all.
Now that the Tennessee Shakespeare Company has established itself in our city, we make a point to find out what plays they will be performing for their fall and spring shows and focus on those plays. The kids have grown up with Shakespeare being accessible and not at all scary or "highbrow". And, honestly -- the language when spoken aloud is very similar to "country" and Appalachian speech patterns, not so very unfamiliar here in the south. TSC will be performing "The Tempest" in April, so in addition to the workshops, we will probably get a group up to do a read through of the play at some point.
Monday, December 5, 2011
I found some phrases from some magazines, "Between Friends" and "life happens", and tied the pages together with some butterflies cut from a napkin, and wrote "Between friends life happens when you dance together".
linking to The Graphics Fairy Brag Monday
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Linking to Masterpiece Monday at Boogieboard Cottage
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Sometimes I will make 4 dozen rolls out of my one batch, but this year I made one dozen cloverleaf rolls (for Thanksgiving), a dozen "regular" rolls, a dozen hamburger buns (I should have made 8 rather than 12, as they ended up a bit small but that's ok), and a loaf of bread from my one recipe. I use 100% winter white wheat berries for all of my baking, as it has all the nutrition of whole wheat (because it is whole wheat), but it bakes up very light and makes a good multi purpose flour.
Place in a Bosch bowl: 3 cups warm water, 2 T instant yeast, 1/3 cup oil, 1/3 cup honey, 1/4 cup gluten (optional), 3 cups whole wheat flour -- mix and let sponge 10 minutes, then add 1 1/2 t salt, 3 eggs, 3 1/2-4 1/2 cups flour to until it starts to clean the bowl. Knead for 5-6 minutes. You can of course do all of this by hand also, but you would knead for about 15 minutes I think. After kneading, oil your hands and the counter and dump the dough out -- divide into 4 sections, and then shape into 4 loaves, or each section into a dozen rolls, or 8 hamburger or hotdog buns, or a pizza base, or cinnamon rolls or whatever. For rolls, bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes. I started putting these together at about noon that day, and pulled them all out of the oven at 1:20. With instant yeast and fresh ground wheat, there is no need for rising beyond what they do while preparing and baking.
linking to Boogie Board Cottage Masterpiece Monday
Saturday, November 26, 2011
The nice thing about Thanksgiving is that it's an easy holiday.
Although one can go all out on the menu, preparing amazing dishes for appreciative company, everyone is perfectly satisfied (maybe even happier) with the tried and true never-varying menu. The triumvirate of turkey, stuffing, gravy. The supporting cast of sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and that ubiquitous Green Bean Casserole, which we only ever had at Thanksgiving and Christmas and thus took on an importance that far exceeds what one would expect from a casserole recipe from the tradition-challenged 1960's.
The recipes (minimal), grocery list, and sequence and countdown of preparation and cooking (including which of the double ovens each thing goes into and in what order) noted on a single sheet of paper inclosed in a page protector which comes and lives beside the stove from about a week before Thanksgiving.
linking to The House in the Roses Show off Your Cottage Monday .
Monday, November 21, 2011
The frothergilla on the far left has turned reddish/orange.
Here you can see the color of the frothergilla and the sumac trees, as well as the newly painted brick on the house. The shutters need to go back up, and the trim needs to be painted.
We had hoped to have the front completely finished by Thanksgiving, but we had to drive to Nashville for a fencing tournament this past Saturday, and yesterday was rainy. Today has been very rainy also, with over 2 inches in the rain gauge since yesterday. So the garden has changed substantially again since just a few days ago. Almost all the leaves are gone now from the trees and bushes, and just a few of the purple berries remain. Leaves are inches deep on the ground, the sidewalks, the gutters. Fortresses made of bagged leaves barricade our neighbors' sidewalks -- 20, 30, 50 bags of leaves in front of each house! (not us, we mulch of course!)