Sabbath Rest

"For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him
should not perish,
but have everlasting life." 

-John 3:16

Getaway to the Mount Washington Hotel

Hubby and I got away for a couple of nights earlier this week to the stately and historic Mount Washington Hotel in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We have an ongoing passion for these grand dames of the hotel heydays of the late-19th century to early-20th century, and we have stayed at quite a few over the years. But the Mount Washington is definitely one of our favorites!

We arrived under stormy skies and rain, which is a bit unusual for February in New Hampshire.

We checked in and immediately caught the history tour that was already in progress.

We learned that the hotel was built in 1902. Entire families would come here for the summer. Among one of its noted moments was to host the meeting, near the end of WWII, that set up the International Monetary Fund. We learned the small chandeliers are original to the building and were personally designed by Thomas Edison. The large chandeliers were installed in the 1920's...good call! The Windsor chairs are original to the building, and the carpets were custom made for it.

Hubby is a night owl, and I am a morning person. Hotel stays can be problematic, because I'm wide awake by six, and he'd like to sleep until nine. Does anyone else have this problem? How do you negotiate around it? This time, I busied myself with a long, hot shower and photographing the exquisite period details in the bathroom...marble floor tiles and aged brass doorknobs on the original mahogany doors. Details like this make me so happy!

And then room service was delivered. Yes! Chamomile tea and orange juice to accompany my journaling and reading is such a gentle way to start the day. Bliss.

Headed down to start the day! 

It was a beautiful day, and we visited the nordic center and set off on our snowshoes for about four miles worth of trekking on the resort's cross country/snowshoe trails. The snow was more like packed ice due to the rain the day before. But we enjoyed the meandering trails and the almost near solitude of our trek.

After a tasty lunch, he settled into a comfortable chair to read. And I spent a few hours at the spa. The spa at the Mount Washington is sooo relaxing! Can't say enough good things about it...positively rejuvenating!

And late that evening, we decided to bravely try the outdoor pool. The air temperature was 18 degrees. And the pool is heated to 92 degrees. May I just say that 92 degrees does not feel like 92 degrees when the air temperature is that cold! Brrrr. And then there's that little bit about having to get out. Cold. Just SO cold. We recovered ourselves by jumping in the indoor pool as soon as we were back inside. The indoor pool at the Mount Washington was the first ever pool in a hotel in the United States.

The next morning, we had breakfast in the main dining room.

Breakfast out is such a rare, rare treat for me. And in all honesty, I'd rather have breakfast out than dinner. This breakfast buffet included: made to order omelettes, made to order Belgian waffles, cranberry-almond pancakes, French toast, oatmeal, cereals, eggs, fingerling potatoes with onions and herbs, bagels, toast, bacon, three different types of sausage (including blueberry sausage, which was delicious!), a choice of three different types of salsa, three different types of butter (goat butter, cultured butter, and "Presidential butter", which Hubby says, "Tastes like...butter."), three choices of honey, and so much more! 

After thoroughly enjoying this feast and several cups of chamomile tea, it was time to check out. It was delightful to get away for a couple of days and really relax! Until next time, Mount Washington, it was great!

Valentine's Breakfast

Schedules were packed yesterday, so the only time we could all be together was for breakfast. How to make breakfast super special? The morning fire beckons me every morning, but I don't always have time to cozy up in front of it. Valentine's Day seemed like the perfect occasion! I pulled the gate leg table over close to the fire, and set everything up with roses and candlelight. Little stacks of Valentines and chocolate treats were placed at each person's seat. The menu was: scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh berries, homemade cinnamon rolls, and orange juice. But most importantly, we got to spend time with each other!

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is tomorrow! Have you mailed valentines to all the sweeties in your life? Mine have all gone out. It was a perfect excuse to practice my novice hand lettering skills and my very amateurish brush calligraphy skills. And aren't those Oscar de la Renta stamps perfect for the romance and fun of the occasion? Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Food for the Olympics

The Winter Olympics are happening in South Korea, and for another week we'll all be glued to our televisions every night cheering on the home team. If you're looking for a little menu inspiration appropriate for the occasion, may I highly recommend Half Baked Harvest!

Tieghan Gerard is a young (just 24) and talented chef and cookbook author. I received her cookbook for Christmas, but have been following her on Instagram and her blog (click on link above) for some time, and her recipes are THE BEST! Each one is a flavor explosion...a little party in your mouth!

She also happens to be the older sister of Red Gerard, who just took the gold in slope style snowboarding last night! Woohoo! 

She has several Korean recipes on her website, but I have made two since the Olympics started. The first was Korean Bulgogi BBQ Steak Bowls (click here for recipe, and you really should, because her photos are so much better than mine!), and we were WILD about it. That's probably an understatement. No words. Just make it! (I omitted the egg and the kimchi, but pretty much did everything else by the book. Marinated the meat 24 hours.) Delicious!

And last night, we enjoyed Instant Pot Sticky Korean Chicken (click here for recipe). Also delicious! Easier to prepare, because it all goes in the crockpot (or Instant Pot), but the one above was definitely our favorite of the two.

Bon Appetit! And go team USA!

George Washington Costume

Presidents' Day is just around the corner! If your child is in need of a George Washington costume for a school or community program, I've just completed and listed two in the shop! Click here to see!

Hot Toddy for the Common Cold

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a head cold recently. Typically, when I get a cold, it lingers for a couple of weeks, turns into a sinus infection, and I wind up at the doctor's office for a dose of antibiotics. Ugh.

This time, I decided to try treating it with a hot toddy. Surprisingly, I felt better after only drinking about a third of it. And I probably felt 60% better by the time I was finished drinking it! It made me neither drowsy nor tipsy. And I awoke the next morning feeling even better! It turns out that there is actually some science to it. (You can read an article here.)

To make one for yourself: to a large mug, add one black tea bag, 1 T. honey, 1 t. lemon juice, and 2 oz. whiskey. Pour in 1 c. boiling water and let tea steep for a few minutes. Remove tea bag. Add a slice of lemon, if desired. Drink while warm. Feel better!

Snuggled in for a Movie

Long winter nights are our favorites for snuggling in with cups of Colette's really decadent hot chocolate and enjoying a good movie. Only after compiling the list, did I realize that it is completely British. We do love our British cinema! Here are some of our favorites that we've been enjoying in the last few months. 

The Durrels in Corfu

Photo credit here.
We adore this quirky comedy of a struggling widow who moves her family of challenging children from England to the Greek island of Corfu. Their attempts to adapt to their new surroundings, deal with the inevitable growing pains of childhood/adolescence/young adulthood, and try to keep food on the table on a shoestring budget result in hilarious mishaps. Just when you are as frustrated with the children as she is, they show their touching side and you fall in love with the family all over again. We loved Season 1, but Season 2 is even better! (Made for TV series.)

The Crown 

Photo credit here.
Incomparable! The Crown (both seasons) just can't be beat! A fascinating look at the private and public lives of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip, and the whole royal family. Sets, costumes, locales...all just stellar! It has helped us survive the end of Downton Abbey. (If you haven't seen Season 2 yet, a word of warning that there is one particularly steamy episode that you'll want to skip for family viewing.) (Made for TV series.)


Photo credit here.
The second season is currently airing, and we can be found enjoying it every Sunday night. The series tells the tale of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. You get a glimpse at the challenges of being a young AND female monarch. The love story between the two of them is so sweet! Costuming is gorgeous! (Made for TV series.)

The Promise

Photo credit here.

This movie came out in theaters last year, and is available from Netflix now. It's set in Turkey in the beginning days of WWI. An aspiring doctor is caught between his loyalty to the woman he is betrothed to and an unexpected romance. All this is against the backdrop of impending war and the religious tensions leading to the genocide of the Armenian Turks, which is being bravely recorded by an American reporter. A heavy subject, but well-acted, and a captivating story. 

Darkest Hour

Photo credit here.

Currently playing in theaters and nominated for multiple Academy Awards, is this riveting portrayal of Winston Churchill. You will be mesmerized! We really did feel as though we were watching Churchill up there on the screen. It gives you an excellent glimpse inside the challenges of leading a country and the heavy weight of leadership in troubling times. I hope it wins lots of awards, because it deserves it!

Phantom Thread

Photo credit here.

Daniel Day-Lewis is one of my favorite actors, so I was not about to pass up the opportunity to see him in his last film, even if it did mean I had to drive to Boston to find a theater in which it was playing. And I'm SO glad I did! A powerful and spellbinding study on a creative genius who struggles with his own phantoms. I would describe it as a drama/psychological thriller, which I wasn't quite expecting. And it earns BIG bonus points in my book for lots of fabric, sewing, and gorgeous costumes! (That wrap in the above picture was my favorite piece in the whole show.)

And a round of applause to the British for producing such fine cinema!

What movies have you been enjoying lately?

Why We Left California for New Hampshire

Ten years ago today, we moved from southern California to New Hampshire! It's been a whole decade! We can hardly believe it. Time has certainly flown. We often get asked questions about why we decided to move. In fact, a blog reader asked me to tell our story once, and I haven't done it yet. So, the anniversary of our arrival seemed like a good time! Here is our story, in question and answer form, because these are the questions we are most frequently asked.

Where did you live in California?
We lived in Orange County...Placentia, specifically. It's right in the heart of a spreading metropolis where one city runs into another for miles and miles. We lived about 20 minutes from Disneyland. (For most people, Disneyland is a good reference point.) We lived about 1 1/2 hours from the mountains, and about 30 minutes from the beach.

Did you live there your whole life?
Yes. Our children and I are native Californians. I'm a "southern California girl", who has never, EVER felt like one. Hubby grew up in many places before moving to California for a job after college.

Did you like living in California?
Yes, and no. We had a wonderful life in California! We were greatly blessed with family in close proximity, really fabulous friends, a great homeschool group, and a church where the full-counsel of God was preached. We had blessings in abundance!

But I always felt like a duck out of water in the southern California culture. Never hip enough. Too far-skinned to be a beach girl. (Honestly, I don't much like the beach.) I liked quiet and cozy and rain and cold weather and tradition and history...and California isn't any of those things. In addition, we were tired of planning our life around the traffic patterns. Tired of the hustle and bustle. Tired of the entertainment culture. Our hearts yearned for more simplicity...more space...clean air.

Had you ever been to New England before you moved?
Yes. When our 10th wedding anniversary came around (in 1998), Hubby had accumulated enough frequent flyer miles through business travel to purchase two, first-class plane tickets anywhere in the U.S. He asked me where I wanted to go. Having not traveled much myself, I said, "Well, lets' not go somewhere we could drive to. Let's go somewhere far away that we've never seen. I've always wanted to go to Nantucket!" So, off we went to Nantucket for a week. And we both fell in love with New England!

But he was happy with his job, and family and friends were in California, so we stayed. My heart yearned to move to New England, but God wanted us where he had us longer.

In 2006(?), he had a business trip to New the the cold. I came along and loved it! We marveled at the 6-ft. long icicles and enjoyed taking walks in the 20 degree icy weather. We would later joke, "If you love New Hampshire in January, you'll love it at any time!"

What made you finally decide to move to New England?
Hubby had worked himself higher and higher up in the company he worked for until he was in a management position that he was really not enjoying. He felt it was time for a job change. And since working backwards in a company is just really not done, it seemed time for a job change. And we began to question if the timing was right for a job change, and the job had mostly kept us in California, then maybe we should consider moving out of California too?

He began researching jobs online and applied for one in New Hampshire. He almost immediately got a phone interview. And before the phone interview was over, they offered to fly the two of us out for a weekend visit and to interview him in person. And a couple of weeks later, he had a job offer. He accepted in mid-November. We left California in late January. We arrived in New Hampshire, just ahead of an ice storm, on February 1, 2008.

Do you miss California?
We miss certain things about California, but we do not miss living there. My list of things we miss has not changed since we left. 

I miss:
- family and friends
- In-n-Out Burger
- real Mexican food (although I've taught myself to make pretty good salsa!)
- the L.A. Fabric District
- the aroma of orange blossoms
- the fresh-pressed cider at Rileys at Los Rios Rancho in Oak Glen, CA

Other than that, there's really not anything we miss. We certainly do NOT miss the traffic or the heat!

Is your house here like your house in California?
Our house here is about 500-sq. feet bigger, but we had about the same number of rooms. In California, we lived on a city block on a plot of land of about 8,000 sq. ft. Here, in New Hampshire, we have a little over three acres. 

What's your favorite season?
The answer to that might depend on which member of our family you ask! Hubby would say autumn. Felicity would say spring. Colette leans towards autumn, but really likes them all. Max...I'm not sure. And I would soundly say winter! Love, love, love winter!

So, that's our story! Every year, when the anniversary of our arrival rolls around, I silently snicker about a conversation that happened within the first few months of living here. Someone, upon finding out we had moved from California, said skeptically, "From California? Hmm. I've known people who have moved from California before. They don't last. They go home after a few months. They can't take the cold." The look on her face plainly told me that she fully expected we would do the same. 

Ten years, and more in love with New England than ever!

Problem or Passion?

Is there such a thing as too many tartan scarves? Sometimes, I am asking myself how to differentiate a problem from a passion. But...but...they're all SO different!

Planning & Organizing for the Year

Every few years, my organizational method...the to-do list...the daily calendar...what ever you call it...needs a little shake up in my life. Last year, I felt as though I was either sewing for the shop non-stop, or I was putting the shop completely aside to do homemaking and life. What I needed to find this year was some balance. Maybe a new planner was just the thing? Inspired by photos posted on the Instagram of my dear cyber-friend, Nancy's, planner and how beautiful it was (find her on Instagram @nancymeansgrace), and by the organizational methods detailed by Anna at Pleasant View Schoohouse (read postings here and here), I set my mind to what would work for me and went shopping for a new planner.

Ideally, one would do this before the start of the new year. But the second week of January found me searching for one at Home Goods, where they still had quite a good selection in the "home office" portion of the store. After looking through about 40 (I kid you not!) different ones, I chose this one...a LifePlanner by Erin Condren. (Although I could not find the exact same one on her website, you can by very similar ones, or you can order one fully customized!)

The cover is way too flashy for me, but it didn't matter because it lies open on my desk. I bought it because it fit the bill in every other way: hardbound, lies flat, visually appealing (pretty pages, nice colors, etc.), had pages for goal planning, had a space to write goals for every week, had space on each day for the dinner menu, and so much more.

I started out in the back of the planner, where there are some blank, doted, and lined pages. There I listed out all my goals for the year, divided into the following categories:

(Bible reading, devotions, etc.)

(fitness goals, weight loss goal, etc.)

(the list of the books I want to read this year)

(birthdays, weddings, showers, parties, and more)

(cleaning goals, organizing goals, DIY projects, new purchases)

(outdoor projects to tackle as a family, seasonal clean-up and plantings)

(financial aims for the year, new product plans, promotion goals)

(brainstorming, frequency goals, style, etc.)

(church, community)

Then I moved to the front of the planner where there is a box for each month. I took the yearly goals and plans that I just listed in the back and assigned them each to a month. Most things fall easily into that format, for instance bulb planting happens in October, hubby's birthday is in April, etc. I assigned books to a month. I spread cleaning tasks out over the year. You get the idea. And I decided to be kind to myself and write these goals in pencil, because life! Sometimes you just have to flex and give yourself a bit of grace, so you don't feel defeated if things have to be rearranged. And even though the page where everything for the year was listed out seemed overwhelming, it seemed quite manageable once it was broken down into months. One bite at a time.

Then I move onto the two-page calendar spread provided for each month (not pictured). There I write down everything that is happening in the day squares. And in the sidebar, I transfer all the goals (as seen above) for that month. Each month is a different color!

Then I move on to the week. Sunday evenings, I sit down with the planner and transfer everything from the month spread to that week. I use the sidebar for breaking down the monthly goals into weekly goals. And each day (running vertically) is divided into four sections. I use the top section for tasks happening before noon. The second section for noon until five o'clock. The third section for evening. And the few lines at the very bottom for noting the dinner menu for the day. Again, I like it that the color changes with the month (as you can see this green is even changing over from one shade to another with the change of the month).

A glimpse at this week's goals in the sidebar.

The days beginning to fill in...

I'm hoping this help me find more balance this year. Additionally, I think it will be motivating to look back and see what has really been accomplished. 

How about you? What method do you use for keeping track of your life?

Clean Slate

This is it. This is as clean as it gets. It's my sewing room at the start of the year.

It's wonderfully freeing to have the tables empty. A clean slate. It fires my creative juices to start dreaming up ideas for the shop for 2018. And...whew!...does it need it. My poor shop is just picked nearly clean after Christmas. Sewing starts Monday!

Anything But Black

When we moved from southern California, with its mild winters, to New England, where the winters are anything but, we all lacked in sufficient cold weather clothing. Sensibly, I made my wardrobe stretch further by centering it around the mix-and-match color scheme of black, gray, and wine. But now we've been here nearly ten years, and although I can't quite completely abandon my black turtleneck, crew neck, and cardigan, the thought of another winter wearing the same three colors made me nuts. The motto this winter is: anything but black! 

Fun prints and colors are putting a little zing in the gray and starkness of winter, and I like it!
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