Sabbath Rest

"Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o'er all the earth;
Ye, who sang creation's story
Now proclaim Messiah's birth.

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King."

James Montgomery (1816)

Blooming on Cue

Right on cue, the paperwhites are blooming!  Yay!  Success!  Our annual Christmas party is Saturday evening, and I was hoping for blooms from then through Christmas, and I do think it might just happen.

Christmas Playlist

Ever since I made the jump to a smart phone, one of the features I like best is having my favorite music at my fingertips all the time.  And never do I utilize that feature more than at Christmastime.

My phone follows me everywhere to play Christmas the small table where I bundle my Etsy orders, at the large table set up just for present wrapping, and always in the kitchen for baking time.  I organize my extensive collection into multiple Christmas playlists, so I can play whatever fits my mood at the time.  And every year, I try to add a few new ones.  

If you're looking for some new tunes this Christmas, here are the newest ones on my playlists.  My musical taste is eclectic, so there's a bit of everything.  You can purchase them on iTunes, or take a listen on some of the links I've provided.  Happy listening!

Straight No Chaser's - "Nutcracker"
(Must confess this is my favorite new-to-me Christmas song this year.
Has me chuckling every time I listen!  Warning: one objectionable phrase.)

Mariah Carey's - "All I Want for Christmas Is You"

English Renaissance & Michael Stoddart's - "Gloria In Excelsis Deo"
(Positively transporting!  I can just imagine this must've been how the angels sang to the awestruck shepherds the night of Christ's birth.)

Magdalen College Choir, Oxford & Bill Ives - "Wassail Song"

The Bird and The Bee - "Carol of the Bells"
(Fun, slightly discordant, hip you might hear playing in Starbucks.)

Michael Buble's - "Cold December Night"

Hearth Cooking

For many months now, I've been trying to attend a series of hearth cooking demonstrations, and finally, last Saturday my calendar was open.  So, off I went!  We do not live in an historic home, hence no cooking fireplace in our home.  However, I would really love to learn to cook well over an open fire in our fire pit, so was anxious to learn what I could.  The demonstration took place in this small, colonial house which was decorated for Christmas with boughs of fresh greenery.

My domestic and history-loving heart just adores this sort of thing!  The event was a drop-in-any-time and stay-as-long-as-you'd-like sort of affair, and for that I was grateful because I stayed quite a long time.  The scene appeals to all of my senses...the happy chatter of the docent, the timeworn softness of the wooden table, the deliciousness of all the tasty edibles I was invited to partake in, the aroma of wood smoke (my favorite smell in the whole, wide world!), and the simple beauty of it all.

It was a very bustling kitchen!  Everyone who attended was invited to sample: roast chestnuts, doughnut holes, bread with butter and blueberry jam, mulled cider, carrot soup, and mincemeat pie.

Mmm...the aroma!  There was a chicken turning on a vertically hanging spit.  The hanging pots contained (from left to right): white pot (a type of steamed pudding), and mulled cider.  The open pot on the hearth contained carrot soup.  And the pot covered with ashes contains a mincemeat pie.

I had never had mincemeat pie before, and honestly, I wasn't even sure what "mincemeat" was.  It was explained that mincemeat originally was small pieces of venison mixed with fruits (apples, raisins, etc.).  But as tastes changed over the years, the amount of venison decreased and the amount of fruit increased, until now it is nothing more than fruit.  Here it is straight from the dutch oven.  Quite tasty!

I would love to go back for more of these demonstrations!  Quite inspiring...and tasty!

Christmas Shopping in Boston

This week, Colette and I made a trip into Boston for a day of Christmas shopping and fun dining.  We did this last year too.  I think it may become an annual tradition! The first half of the day was cold and rainy, but we were undaunted.  We started the day walking the brick sidewalks of this historic area of Boston, peering in shop windows, and having lunch at Figs.

We explored affordable shops, a spectacular antique store that is devoted entirely to dining room antiques (china, crystal, silver, etc.), and a few truly beautiful the Ralph Lauren shop where even the stairway walls are a thing of beauty...

...and the Brooks Brothers shop, with its tie-inspired chandelier.

Then it was off to H & M, where the sales were great!  With tired feet and feeling a bit peckish, we stopped in at L.A. Burdick to refuel on their ultra-rich hot cocoa.

After a must-stop at The Paper Source (nothing like that in New Hampshire!), we headed back towards the parking structure, our car, and home.  I couldn't help but notice how all the lights on our walk were either Christmas lights, or red and green.  It's Christmas time in the city!

Bringing Home the Tree

Down some snow-packed dirt roads, we found a Christmas tree farm to get our tree this year.  An employee pointed out to us where to find the different varieties of trees.

The bigger trees were down the hill...way, w-a-y down the hill.

We hadn't even stopped to consider that the recent ice storms we've had would've encrusted all the trees with ice.

But after descending the hill about two-thirds of the way down, we found one we liked...mostly for its slightly quirky shape.

The tartan scarf came with me!

Loading up and heading home.

Decking the Halls

Decking the halls is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season!  Every year, the night of Thanksgiving, or the day after, Max hauls all the Christmas decoration boxes up from the basement, and Colette and I spend the next several days decorating for Christmas.  I enjoy the creativity that pulls raw materials from the boxes...books, candles and candleholders, ribbons, and more...and arranges them in a slightly different arrangement each year.

Colette wanted to be in charge of the family room mantle this year.  She had a plan and set to work with greens, pewter, beeswax candles, and pheasant and turkey feathers.

A little touch of Currier & Ives and she was satisfied.

The nativity scene was set up.

Love touches of tartan for Christmas!

The living room gets more formal touches.  The Victorian carolers take up residence on top of the piano.  And Christmas music stands ready for playing on the 1885 piano.

And hanging from a luxurious, velvet ribbon on my mahogany secretary is a mercury glass acorn, in a nod to the many oak trees on our property.

And even when everything else is in place, it never quite seems like the house is decorated before the staircase has been strung with greens.  Fresh roping was procured and then it's time to decide of the ribbons.  I have an entire plastic storage bin stuffed full of ribbons.

We opted to use the same tartan ribbons as last year, but adding in a black velvet ribbon too.

A wreath on the front door, and even the dog approves!

Another Attempt

Although I can grow a thriving kitchen garden and keep the perennials blooming, houseplants are not my thing.  To be honest, I just can't keep them alive.  I love the idea of having a potted herb growing in my kitchen windowsill, but the reality of it never quite achieves my dreams.  Currently, there's this fine rosemary plant sitting there.  I apologized to it in advance when I bought it.  I'm going to try.  I really am.  I'm not sure it believes me.

At the Ready

I wore my tartan scarf last weekend, and it's been hanging on the front door's knob ever since.  It may stay there for most of the Christmas the ready...ready to add some Christmas cheer to any outfit.

Icy Morning and Cozy Afternoon

One of the great wonders of living in New England, at least for me, is that you can go to bed one night and the world looks one way, and wake up to find the world has completely transformed overnight.  Things like that don't happen in California.  But here, you go to bed with your home surrounded by grass, and wake up to find it's surrounded by snow, without a blade of grass to be seen.  Last night we went to bed with snow softly falling outside, and awoke to find everything encased in a coating of ice.  So captivating!

Well, "when the weather outside is frightful, the fire is so delightful", so I cozied up in a comfortable chair with pen, paper, my calendar, Christmas choir music playing from my phone, a little cookbook inspiration and did some planning for this month.  The week's menus and grocery list planned.  Christmas dinner planned.  All the food gifts we're packaging for shipping planned. And the savories and sweets planned for our annual Christmas party.

Those lemon Christmas tree-shaped cookies are part of the plan!  Yum!

I hope you had a pleasant day!

Prioritizing at Christmastime

"It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you 'Be of good cheer'
It's the most wonderful time of the year 
It's the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings 
When friends come to call 
It's the hap-happiest season of all."

--Edward Pola and George Wyle (1963)

It is!  We LOVE the Christmas season in our household!  We love everything about it...decking the halls, Christmas music blasting from our playlists and carols being played on the piano, baking and feasting, sending and receiving Christmas cards, hosting our annual party, present name it, we love it all!  And, yes, like most families, we can sometimes get overwhelmed at all there is to do.  A little prioritizing is necessary to keep the household and Christmas preparations running smoothly WHILE retaining our Christmas cheer.  I've been pondering the next few weeks and how this is going to happen, and these are my thoughts and plans for this year:

Top Priority Given to the Fundamentals:

- Spend time in the Word of God daily preparing my heart for the celebration of His Incarnation.

- Keep healthy.  Fresh air and exercise in the form of a brisk walk works off those holiday calories and lifts the spirits.  (The dog likes this priority!)  Go to bed at a reasonable time and get a good night's sleep.

Do First the Things That Make for Craziness When Done Last

There are some Christmas preparations that I just REALLY love doing!  One of those is making Christmas pajama bottoms for our kids for their Christmas Eve presents.

This is a precious tradition to me, and one our kids genuinely appreciate.  But the joy goes out of it, if I'm holed up in the sewing room, by myself, late at night, on Dec. 23rd, scrambling to get them done.  Not fun.  So, I'm going to joyfully work on these in the next week.

Another preparation I take such delight in is making gifts to ship to friends on the west coast.  Coming up with the idea, creating them, and packaging them is fun.  But again, not so fun, if I'm slapping them together as fast as I can to meet the Christmas shipping deadline.

Primarily, it's those two creative endeavors that I really enjoy when I'm not feeling rushed, but my joy is zapped if I wait until the last minute.  So, those are happening first this year.

Let Everything Else Fall in Place

Shopping, wrapping, baking, Christmas card sending...all the rest always gets done, but doesn't make me feel stressed if it's happening at the last minute.  So, I'm going to focus on "peacefully going about the next thing".

Happy Christmas preparations to you!

Christmas Shopping on Etsy

As I'm sure many of you know, I have two Etsy shop, Wonderful Life Farm and Jiggety Pig.  (Etsy's a marketplace for all things handmade.)  But in addition to being a seller, I'm also an Etsy buyer!  I love supporting the shops of Etsy because I know that behind each product is a real person, sitting in their home, letting their imaginations run wild, and creating fabulously unique handmade goods.  So, today, in honor of Cyber Monday, I thought I'd spotlight some of the shops whose handmade merchandise I have had personal experience with: Northeastern Nautical, One Small Story, Turtle Doves, and Magpie Jane.  Read their stories, follow the links to their shops to see all their merchandise, and consider supporting handmade goods and small, home-based businesses this Christmas!

My own daughter has an Etsy shop, Northeastern Nautical, which features Christmas stockings with a classic New England flair.  As she says, Northeastern Nautical is "...dedicated to the quality and spirit that is American-made!"  She has divided her merchandise into three categories: the White Mountain Collection, the Off the Cape Collection, and the Harborside Collection.  She features nautical-themed stockings and stockings made from fabulous, vintage wool blankets!  I must confess to being partial to the White Mountain Collection...soooo cozy!

Red Plaid Wool Christmas Stocking, Red and Black, Lumberjack, Tartan, Holiday, Made in the USA
Click here for this stocking.
Nautical Lobster Christmas Stocking, New England, Seaside, Beach, Preppy, Holiday, Made in the USA
Click here for this stocking.
Nautical Lobster Christmas Stockings, Red, New England, Beach, Sea life, Holiday Stocking, Made in America, Made in the US
Click here for this stocking.
One of my favorite Etsy shops is One Small Story, owned by my friend, Erika.  We've been friends for about 20 years now, and over that time I've watched her amass quite the collection of vintage ephemera and antique photographs.  So, it was quite a thrill to watch her turn her passion into miniature works of art for everyone to enjoy with the opening of her Etsy shop! She forages through her collections for just the right pairings of text and photo and combines them into little pendant frames to create completely one-of-a-kind jewelry.  Here's my (ever-growing) collection of One Small Story pendants.

Each comes with a ribbon, or you can purchase an optional chain.  They make great gifts for friends, secret pals, teachers (wouldn't the one with musical notes be the perfect gift for a music teacher?), and co-workers.  AND she takes custom order requests!  Here are some of my favorites from her shop:

Pendant Decoration Winter Christmas Snowman Music Vintage Illustration
Click here for this pendant.
Pendant Baby Brother Sister Botany Edwardian Victorian
Click here for this pendant.
Summer Boy Son Pendant Grandson Music Necklace
Click here for this pendant.
In this age of emails and texts and tweets (honestly, I'm not even sure what those are), one of my greatest delights is receiving a handwritten note in my mailbox.  And I enjoy writing them just as much!  I try to set aside time on Sundays to write a handwritten note, postcard, thank you, etc., and I like to keep my writing desk stocked with pretty stationery.  When I'm in need of more stationery, I frequently turn to the work of Sam Florance of Turtle Doves.  Even though her shop is an online presence, when I visit, I feel as though I've just stepped through the doors of a really lovely stationers.  Everything is so pretty and well-appointed!  Here's a couple of her cards on my writing desk:

The notecards shown above are thank you notes to send following dinner at a friend's.  What a lovely idea!  Sam Florance and I share a passion for beauty and the works of famous authors: Jane Austen, the Brontes, Emily Dickinson, and more.  It's what draws me to her work!  I've sent her cards to friends and used them as stocking stuffers.  Here's a glimpse at some of my favorites in her shop:

Lovely Curved Fern - Single 5x7 Card - Woodland Note Card
Click here for this card.
Emily Dickinson - The Pedigree of Honey  - Single 5x7 card
Click here for this card with an Emily Dickinson quote.
Brontë - I'm Just Going to Write - Single 5x7 Note Card
Click here for this card with a quote from Charlotte Bronte.
And do please visit Magpie Jane this Christmas season!  Her primitive beeswax castings are unparalleled!  I love to hang them from a garland at Christmastime!  Their gentle and beautiful images make them a compelling and sweet addition to your holiday decor...the type that makes you lean in and take a closer look.'s in the details!  Here's one of the ones I own on a garland of greens:

She has a collection of reproduction cookie molds, tints the beeswax black, and creates a lovely natural ornament.  They'd look great hanging on the Christmas tree.  And I think they'd be fabulous tied into the bow on a package.  If anyone (oh anyone!) wants to give me a gift with one of these tied into the bow...there will be great squeals of delight!  Here are my current favorites from Jane's shop:
Primitive PINE CONE & Needles Cast BEESWAX Very Detailed Black Ornament
Click here for this ornament.
Primitive DOUBLE ACORN Cast BEESWAX Very Detailed Black Ornament
Click here for this ornament.
FEATHER TREE Cast Black BEESWAX Primitive Very Detailed Ornament
Click here for this ornament.
Happy Christmas shopping!  And thanks for supporting unique, handmade goods and small, home-based businesses this Christmas!
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