Beautiful from Beginning to End

Last night we had the oddest storm.  It started out as rain.  And then it turned over to wet, heavy, slushy snow that fell from the sky with the force of rain, but in white clumps.  Very strange to watch.  It stopped sometime in the night, and when we awakened…what a beautiful world we had!  That snow had clumped and stuck on every little branch and surface in sight!




And as beautiful as our day began, it was surpassed by the beautiful sunset God provided.


Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Future Projects

Looking at the stack of books I received for Christmas, I think there will be a lot of fun in the kitchen this next year!


Order

Today was all about bringing some order to the sewing room.  Order always feels good after a month of busyness and a couple of days of relaxing indulgence.
The stack of freshly laundered tablecloths were given a good steam pressing.


Then I moved on to doing inventory for my shops.  Neat rows of numbers.  Very orderly.


Doing inventory is a long and tedious process.  But the best part of it is touching each and every piece of fabric in the room and planning out projects for the coming year.


Everything was put back on the shelves in neatly folded stacks.  But not the velvet ribbons.  There’s just something about their beauty when they are casually intertwined that I find so beguiling.


Moving on to clearing out my email inbox now.  Most areas of my life are fairly organized.  The email inbox is w-a-y down on my priority list.  I’ve already cut it in half.  Just 1,100 more to go!

Our Christmas

This year our Christmas celebration was spread out over two days.  Christmas Eve we celebrated with Walter, Felicity, and the kids at their house.  Presents were loaded and ready to go!


So much fun watching the kids open their presents!  Each time, Theo exclaimed, “It’s a box!”


And this one!  Ahhh…melts my heart!


In the evening, we met up again at church for candlelight service.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.


Then it was home for our Christmas Eve tradition of the kids opening their “Christmas Eve presents”, which are always new pajamas and a book.  Our tree, just before we headed to bed that night.


I took almost no photos Christmas morning.  Happy dogs with new toys though!


Colette, with some of her gifts (including the much-longed for llama sweater) and some of her stocking stuffers.


A chilly (19 degree) walk with Technohubby and Bailey just before fixing dinner.  It was cold, but I love getting some fresh air and exercise on a day filled with lounging and food.


Christmas dinner: brown-sugar coated ham, green beans with onions (both from our summer garden), Colette’s whole-grain sourdough bread, mashed potatoes and gravy, and salad with raspberries.


We hope all of you had a lovely Christmas too!


Freezing Rain

“Oh the weather outside is frightful…”  Freezing rain fell for hours and hours at our house today.  We were thankful to be able to spend most of the day inside, quietly working on this and that.




Sabbath Rest


"Who is this so weak and helpless,
Child of lowly Hebrew maid,
Rudely in a stable sheltered,
Coldly in a manger laid?
'Tis the Lord of all creation,
Who this wondrous path hath trod;
He is God from everlasting,
And to everlasting God."

- William Walsham, 1867


The Gift Kitchen

Our kitchen was a bustling place this week!  I absolutely love giving gifts of food!  I love the process of planning what I’m going to make.  I love the actual making of it.  And I really love the packaging and making everything look nicely presentable.  This year, we gave gifts of four different types of jams: Blueberry Spoon Fruit, Apple Thyme Butter, Pomegranate Raspberry Thyme Jam, and Winter Spice Jelly.  (Just click on any of those names to go to the recipes.  I used an online converter to convert metric measurements to English.  And I eliminated the star anise from the Winter Spice Jelly recipe.)  This year, I really wanted to give people a little taste of New Hampshire, so to the greatest extent possible, I used ingredients found locally…blueberries I picked myself, raspberries Max and I picked, apples from a local farm, maple syrup from our town’s award-winning syrup producer, and thyme we grew ourselves.  I also did a lot of experimenting with making jams without pectin this year, in order to achieve a fresher and more flavorful jam, and I was really pleased with most of the results.
The kitchen island was completely taken over by the packaging process.  Each jar was covered with a scrap of linen, tied round with twine, and a homemade tag was attached.


I love how the Winter Spice Jelly sparkled in the late afternoon sunshine.


Small Town Christmas Shopping

I absolutely love doing a little shopping at Christmastime in the small New England towns!  It truly is a Norman Rockwell experience!  Some of my favorite town centers to explore are: Portsmouth, Peterborough, or Hanover in New Hampshire, and Concord and Newburyport in Massachusetts.  With most of our Christmas preparations complete, we have a little time for fun and frolicking!  So, today, Colette and I headed off to Newburyport, while the guys went off on their own to complete their Christmas shopping.
The town center of Newburyport is graced by several old, steepled churches, this being the largest of the three.


The surrounding shops are in old brick buildings, with all the storefronts decorated for Christmas.  The brick sidewalks were heaped with snow, which was rapidly melting in the balmy (40-50 degree) weather.





Naturally, we explored every bakery!  This one smelled soooo good inside!


I thought this table setting, displayed in the Stonewall Kitchen store, was so beautiful…in a unconventional Christmas way.  I love the mix of taupes, browns, and steely blues to create a tranquil lodge-like table setting.


My favorite shop that we visited was this one!


It was stocked with: Hunter boots, teas, umbrellas, Aero bars (yum!), wool blankets of amazing quality, and Emma Bridgewater pottery.  One of our favorites of the Emma Bridgewater pieces was this fox mug in the front window display.


Mostly, we did window shopping.  But I did come home with an assortment of three chocolate sauces from Stonewall Kitchen, and plans for them on New Year’s Day.  Yum!


Addiction

I must confess to having a slight addiction to…wrapping paper.  It’s followed closely by an addiction to gift tags.  And let’s not even talk about ribbon.  There are two wrapping papers under our tree right now that are my particular favorites this year.
The first is this birch bark paper that I found at HomeGoods over the summer.  It’s not really meant to be a Christmas wrapping paper, but pair it with the right gift tag, and voila!


And the second is this cheery, bold, modern plaid from Crate & Barrel.


And those fabulous woodland gift tags?  Well, they came from this Etsy shop, Brandywine Designs.  I opted to build my own set of 12 from among their choices, so I also chose owl tags and a few non-Christmas tags.  Absolutely LOVE them!
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