We managed to keep her up long enough last night to put up her little tree, covered with sparkling birds and colorful balls. She's sporting a nice little shiner from earlier in the day, but isn't dwelling on that at all - not with this kind of excitement going on in her room. We should call this the practice tree. The little tree where you learn to "look, not touch", before she graduates to the (still bare) living room tree. Actually, touching is allowed and encouraged. Just not grabbing and tugging until the entire tree topples over on you. It's fun to squeeze a bit of Christmas into the nightly routine this week. And the temperatures are supposed to really drop today - of course! Just in time for me to put out the greenery and lights outside. It's always driven me crazy to see people installing Christmas lights two weeks before Thanksgiving, but those are the same people that leisurely strung their fir boughs in the 70 degree sunshine, while I twist wire ties on with chapped knuckles in the 20 degree windstorm. Ahh, Christmas...
30 November 2010
29 November 2010
Man, it's good to be back.
We love seeing everyone each Thanksgiving - especially those that we only see once a year, and we love eating and eating and eating, and visiting and visiting and visiting. And we even love the piling up in one big hotel bed and binging on those food show marathons that we never see on the five channels we have at home and eating cereals that come out of plastic tubes with dispensers and make your own waffles with packaged syrup and chasing cousins down the carpeted hallways. But after 1800 miles in the car, there is hardly anything that looms larger on the gratitude scale than ones own bed in ones own house and the sound of the washing machine and dishwasher and the feel of flannel sheets and familiar mattresses and the scent of pine that fills the house. Last year the baby was such a baby that she didn't really experience the true fun of finding the perfect tree. This year, she did - up until that last moment when she gave into the extreme exhaustion of the five day travel marathon and surrendered her half-eaten custard and called it a night. She's sleeping still - thirteen hours later, and I'm off to wake her up and start the routine of daily life once again. Thank goodness for holidays where you can break from that routine and visit with those that you love, and thank goodness for the moment you return to the familiar. Pine scented familiar is even better.
25 November 2010
Spoken by all before each Feast of Thanks at E's school:
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
24 November 2010
A couple of months ago, in one of those bizarre ways that chance encounters overlap, I purchased a book at the bookstore on a complete whim - bought solely on the fact that I had nothing currently of interest in my book pile and I liked the cover illustration (a simple line drawing of a city below) and the fifteen second skim of the back cover. I failed to notice a thin black line across the top with a tiny silhouette perched upon it, focusing instead on the red line drawings of the buildings across the parchment colored paper. The book sat on my desk, untouched, for that weekend and several weeks longer. That same weekend, instead of starting in on this new paperback novel, we watched a movie instead - a documentary about a French man who walked a thin wire between the world trade towers. The movie was arresting in its depiction of the events, the collection of images captured of the feat, the retelling of the story from the mouths of those that pulled it off, and the almost painful views from above. My stomach resided midway up my esophagus through the majority of the movie, a not unpleasant sort of pain. I would watch it again and again. A few weeks later I picked up the book and began the series of stories that seemed to wind themselves around a particular event in New York - a figure high above the streets, suspended on a wire. That very event is the core of the novel, and the irony that I would choose the book and the film on the same day, with no knowledge of one or the other, has made the experience of both that much sweeter. I highly recommend both - perhaps the film, and then the book. First lose the stomach, and then yourself in this great novel.
23 November 2010
This has to be one of my favorite nursery rhyme collections. I just can't stare long enough at these pages - the details are extraordinary, and the photographs are so clear the pages seem to be dimensional. If I only had the skills and the time to put together something like this - I love the depictions of storefronts and gardens, and the artful ways multiple rhymes intertwine in the scenes on each page. I'm going to do a bit of book cleaning in the sidebar and update what we've been reading. Lots of good things going on right now, keeping us up way past bedtimes. Since the book fair was this past weekend, I think it's fair enough to spend a few days talking about books, and in between eating lots of good food. I'll post a few things and then take some time off to feast a bit... and get a few extra chapters of reading in over the holiday.
22 November 2010
I've moved computers (and desks) at work, and in the reorganizing of my space and photos, I found E's Kindergarten shot that must have been slipped into the drawer at some point. Lined up together, these three school photos spanning 24 months of time really show how quickly things change. I tried to imagine what two more years will look like - that fourth grade photo - but then stopped, and snuggled up with my seven-year-old a little longer in bed tonight. She still begs me to read one more chapter, to cuddle up with her a few minutes longer. Who can pass those moments up, that speed by at breakneck speed?
20 November 2010
Attention local readers! Stop by Left Bank Books this weekend to support E's school. We have a great book fair going on this weekend - 20% of all purchases go towards the general library fund, or you can pick out a book or two to purchase and donate directly to the school. Come get some of your Christmas shopping done, support a great library and a great local bookstore, and eat some yummy baked goods - scones are in the oven right now. E and I will be there from 10-12 today, and 1-3 tomorrow, so stop by if you have a chance.
This was one of E's homework projects - create an "artifact" to wear to the Feast of Thanks yesterday. She chose to make a bag, closed with a button, and filled it with little paper trinkets that she made. We used a sewing machine, unlike the First Settlers, but it was lots of fun. Bend the Rules Sewing is a great book for getting your feet wet on simple sewing projects. More on our sewing adventures later - I've a got a bookstore to hang out in...
Have a great weekend.
19 November 2010
This Friday we found ourselves feasting, full of gratitude for our friends, our school and our community Now we are about to find ourselves doing a little "elfing", with little photograph evidence, I'm afraid. The little one treated this feast as a dry run for next week's real feast, and the older one did a stand up job in her "first settler" role. That bag she's wearing around her waist? More on that tomorrow.
What things did you find to feast on this Friday?
17 November 2010
This assignment was from a few weeks back. We had tons of apples from the orchard, and E was to help make the grocery list for the week, estimate the costs of the items, shop for the items, and then compare the actual prices to her estimates. We decided to focus on our apple abundance, and pulled down several cookbooks that we like. E looked up apples in the index, read through the recipes, selected three that she liked, and called out the ingredients to me. If we didn't have those ingredients, or didn't have enough on hand, she wrote them on the list, and went from there. I thought her numbers were way off - but in the end, they all evened out and she was just ninety-eight cents off her total. The added bonus of this assignment? A new favorite recipe - Apple Chunk Double Gingerbread. We've made it at least a half dozen times since then, and she can't eat enough. We're making more this weekend - I'll post the recipe. It's a winner.
As for those caramel apples...I'm going to have to go with the store bought ones - or just slices of fresh apples with caramel, and leave the mess to someone else.
16 November 2010
These were for a cookie order I had this past weekend. Just a teaser for what's to come - we have one school Feast this Friday, another one the following Monday, Book Fair baking this weekend, and then the big Thanksgiving. There comes a point in mid-November when I start to chart the passage of time by the number of dishes I've done / have yet to do. More on that Book Fair later this week - hope you can stop by and see us!
E took the lion photo below. And I failed to mention she took a couple of those garden shots the other day. Someone actually commented to me that she had a really nice camera. I set them straight.
15 November 2010
This weekend I had a cookie order to fill, so E and I made a few extra cookies for one of her homework assignments. She had to make or draw groups of cookies, and then divide them evenly among a certain number of people. So while she figured out the math on her sheet, I piped the results on our extras. Next time you have five cookies sitting around, and four people who want to share them - call her. Or just quickly eat that extra one, and the math becomes much easier.
14 November 2010
But it makes a great place to pick up a birthday gift - even a belated one... pumpkin and caramel apple truffles, chocolate grilling rub, mexican hot chocolate, and my favorite...
...sea salt caramels. I picked up the card at the garden - the photo was taken by a local architect and made into a card... Hmmm. Seems like I might have a photo or two of that place.