Winter White

We had a delightfully snowy day this week. I was giddy that I got to spend the whole day at home...sewing...and watching the snow fall. My little helper seemed quite fascinated by it too and spent a lot of time looking out the window and cocking his head side to side.


Everything outside was white. And everything on my work table was white...ripples of white linen. I'm working on finishing up nine new costumes for the shop. Coming soon!


Garden Planning for Summer 2019


At some point, I'll share with you our last day in Florida (waiting for Go-Pro footage to be downloaded and made into photos...it's a process). But Sunday afternoon, I turned my attention to garden planning for this coming summer. I'm trying to keep it simple this year by not trying out anything new, keeping the layout simple, and not overwhelming my time with things that require lots of care (like winter squash that needs to be checked for beetles daily). This is the plan!

In the main garden will go:

- corn
- Roma tomatoes
- three cherry tomatoes (including Atomic Tomatoes, click here, for the first time)
- onions
- jalapeno
- zucchini
- crookneck squash
- basil
oregano
- chives
- sage

And on the trellis will go:

- cucumber
- green beans
- jack-be-little pumpkins
- sweet peas (for pretty!)


Florida - Day 2


On our second day in Florida, we drove to Tarpon Springs. It is a Greek community whose claim to fame is sponge diving! These brightly-trimmed boats take divers out to harvest sponges from the sea.





All up and down the streets near the shore are small shops selling the harvested sponges. It was amazing to see their variety in both size and shape as well as texture.





These are called finger sponges. I typically set out a small collection of shells for the grandkids to examine during the summer months. So, I bought a finger sponge to add to the display. I was told that you can get them wet, shape them into a different shape, and they will dry that way. Can't wait to try that with them!


Amongst the sponge shops, there are excellent Greek restaurants and bakeries! We had lunch at one, under the watchful eye of a bird. Delicious!



After returning to my in-laws home, Colette and I tried our hand at shuffleboard. As a child, every few summers, my family would rent a cabin in the mountains and there would be a shuffleboard court. I would ask my dad to explain to us how to play, and he would say something vague like, "Try to get it in that square, and you get 10 points...or something like that." My father-in-law gave quite a few more details than that, so now we actually understand how to play.


But it did us no good at all. We are clearly TERRIBLE at this game! I mean...it's laughable, is it not? As my most competitive child, she was at least happy that she beat my score, which was even worse than hers!


We have no plans to enter any tournaments!

Ski Lodge


Our home is being used as a ski lodge this weekend! And I couldn't be happier! Colette has a bunch of girlfriends up from Boston for a weekend of skiing, and they're using our house as a base. 

I used to ski. But I gave that up about a decade ago when fear of careening out of control and damaging myself or an unsuspecting innocent on the slope overshadowed any fun I was having. The last few years I've been thinking that, although I'm not out on the slopes, I would love to be the ski lodge mom...making warm, comfort food to welcome back the weary ski crew. So this was the menu for the hungry crowd:

- Friday Night -

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Baked Potato Soup
green salads
baguette and whole grain ciabatta

steaming cups of hot chocolate for a late night treat

- Saturday Morning -

Belgian waffles topped with fresh fruit and chocolate ganache or maple syrup
fruitwood smoked bacon
orange juice
coffee
tea

- Saturday Night - 

chicken pot pie
green salads

chocolate chip bar cookies

- Sunday Morning -

Greek yogurts
Icelandic Skyr
fresh fruit
made-to-order omelettes
English muffins
orange juice
coffee
tea

Florida: Day 1

Last weekend was our whirlwind trip to Florida. It was state #48 for me! We went to visit my in-laws, who have lived in another state for most of our marriage. And then they did the "snowbird thing" for several years. But they've been full-time Floridians for a while now, and we finally made it there for a visit. We kept plans to a calm pace...nothing too terribly ambitious.

Day #1's plans were:

- brunch at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa
- a stroll around the Don Cesar in St. Petersburg
- a sunset walk on Clearwater Beach.

The Oxford Exchange is an intriguing mix of venues...part coffee house, part tea house, part book shop, part restaurant, and more. The interior is an eclectic blend of eye-catching art and bold graphics punctuated by streams of light and cozy recesses. 



We ate in the sun-filled atrium room. Guests are seated around a burbling fountain and the energy in the room was lively!


Colette and I were thrilled to discover an extensive list of teas (freshly brewed in the tea house portion of the establishment) which could be served either hot or cold. I ordered a Limoncello-Vanilla White Iced Tea, and it was a subtle and refreshing accompaniment to my sirloin salad. Yum!



Then we moved on to strolling about the Don Cesar Hotel. It was built in 1928 and was a fixture of the Jazz Age scene in St. Petersburg. Many celebrities, most U.S. presidents (since 1928), and even Al Capone have all stayed here. It towers over the city in all its pink glory, and we enjoyed exploring it and savoring the views from its tower.







Then it was on to Clearwater Beach, one of "the prettiest beaches in the world" we were told. And I quite agree! Although the large number of people on the beach rather surprised me. Certainly there is almost no one on the beaches of New England in February. But even in southern California, there aren't very many people on their sunny beaches in February. But not so, Florida. I did manage to crop most of them out from my pictures, but they were there. We watched the sun set.



After turning our backs to the water and examining the shells for a few moments, we turned back around to find that the light had shifted. It was now bathing the water and sky with a lovely blue-gold-pale green color that was positively captivating!



More Florida pictures to come!

Presidents' Day

President's Day is less than two weeks away, and the shop is stocked with costumes! There are even a few haversacks still in stock, if you want to add an even more authentic touch to a costume. Click here to visit the shop!

Click here for the George Washington/Alexander Hamilton Costume.


Click here for a Revolutionary War Soldier Costume.


Click here for a haversack.


Heading Out

We are headed to Florida tomorrow for a quick vacation! We have very simple plans...lots of R&R, dine out, see the pink hotel, walk on the beach, and swim with the manatees. At least I think I'm doing that last one. Truth be told, I have a dreadful fear of alligators. I don't like heights. And I don't like alligators. Part of me is giving myself permission to chicken out...even at the last moment. And the other part of me is giving myself one of those pep talks about confronting your fears and doing hard things.

I read these tips tonight:

"The Florida Wildlife Commission offered these tips for reducing the likelihood of a gator attack:

- Never feed an alligator. It's illegal and causes alligators to overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food.

- Keep your distance if you see one. Alligators may look lethargic but can move quickly.

- Swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours. Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn.

- Keep pets away from the water (at least 10 feet from the water's edge)."

And I may have just read all those recommendations to everyone else. Just so everyone is thinking about this. I think I'll be watching alligators constantly. Wish me luck!

Tropical Vacation?

As previously mentioned, we are leaving on vacation on February 1st. We're headed to Florida! If you are planning a tropical vacation, you might be in need of some essentials. There are two beach bags in the shop!

Click here to visit this one with its great vintage vibe and roomy size.


Click here to visit this one, which is large enough to be a purse/beach bag combo.


And for nestling into your luggage to sweetly scent all your clothing and drive away that horrid "traveling" odor that clothes seem to acquire, there are lavender sachets in the shop. Click here.


12 Ways to Cozy Your Winter


One of the main reasons that winter is my favorite season is its coziness. I love to feel cozy and it brings me so much joy to make my family and anyone who comes to our home feel cozy too. It's a harsh world out there at times, and if there's one place people should feel wrapped in love, it's home. 

- 12 Ways to Cozy Your Winter -

1. Candles. And more candles...lit every night.

2. Down throw pillows.

3. Hot chocolate, preferably with a shot of caramel syrup and a dollop of very loosely whipped cream.

4. Duvets in every bedroom.

5. Canisters of homemade biscotti by the coffee maker.

6. All the overhead lighting on dimmer switches with the brightness dimmed at sunset.

7. Throw blankets at the ready to chase away chills. We have a big basket of them in the family room, plus they are folded and draped over couches and chairs. 

8. Seasonal, warming meals.

9. Tea time nearly every day at four o'clock.

10. A roaring fire.

11. The bathroom well-stocked with essentials for lengthy bathroom soaks.

12. Cookies freshly baked out of the oven when everyone comes home.

January Contemplations


Every January, on my personal Facebook page, I change my header image to something that looks like this one. In fact, this is the current one. When I posted it, I commented, "Sliding out of Christmas and through January. If you need me, I'll be here...reading and contemplating life."

Another year, it was this image.


Hubby queried, "Why are you using that picture? She looks dead."

I replied, "She's not dead. It's me. In January. Just resting."

He studied it again and pronounced, "She looks dead."

Sigh.

I feel like I run pretty much flat-out from February through December, with ever increasing speed as the year moves on. But January is my month. My birthday is in January. It snows. It's cold. After the busyness and indulgences of December, it's nice to quiet oneself and practice saying "no". But mostly, my body and soul crave the rest and restoration that happens by contemplating life for a whole, long, lingering month.

But January is rapidly coming to a close, and we're traveling (bam!) on February 1st. So tonight, during a long soak in the tub, I contemplated my contemplations. My mind has most been occupied with the following thoughts:

- last year's gratitude journal -
I kept a gratitude journal every single day of 2018.
It was an interesting exercise in being more cognizant of my blessings
and grateful to Him from whom they come.
It is intriguing to me that some of the things I was
most grateful for were predictable:
God
family
friends
health
And other things surprised me in how often they appeared...almost daily:
beauty
creativity
inspiration
the inspiration of strangers

- business changes - 
This has been at the forefront of all my thoughts this month.
Contemplating big, BIG changes.
Confronting all the questions: how, when, how soon, can I, am I brave enough?
Reading and studying and thinking yet more.
Gathering all my books and plan to spend the plane rides in active thought.

- Marie Kondo -
Quite frankly, I haven't even time to go there, because she lost me
at the 30 books bit. Slightly amused that this is a new craze, since it seems
to me that William Morris, back in the 19th century, said, 
"Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful,
or believe to be beautiful." See. Nothing new under the sun.
It also seems to be embraced by people who haven't lived 
long enough to need to go buy again something they got rid of in a
fit of cleaning.
Not that we all can't declutter from time to time, BUT...30 books? Done.

- podcasts -
A little late to the game of discovering them, but better late than never.
Excellent company during lunch alone or while sewing.
I'm particularly enjoying those by Josephine Brooks on mentoring
and inspiring people with a side hustle.

- intention/intentional -
Those are certainly popular words these days.
But what DO they mean?
I'm starting to feel that they are used by people to validate a
complete lack of action,
so long as there was deep and meaningful thought.
Meanwhile, people who are actually intentional are out there
getting the job done.  

- and in no particular order -
dog training, theological bravery, moral courage, Virginia Woolf, epsom salts, gluten, vintage ski attire, winter sunsets, the future of history, gardening structure, how fascinating the expression of the human mind and how unique to each individual, British pubs, gold velvet ribbon, cheese fondue, color (always color!), small town connections, aging, the new season of Victoria, the Isle of Skye, the government shutdown, and ramen.

What about you? Do you find that January is a time to reflect? What's been on your mind this month?

Winter Wonderland Walking with the Pups

We've been dogsitting this week! (You can actually follow this dog on Instagram @newenglandpoppy.) We took Carson and Poppy out for a walk along the rail trail in our town, which is one of our favorite winter destinations. It's a long, straight trail occupying the miles that used to be taken up by railroad track. It's perfect for dog walking in the winter, especially when the road are muddy and salty and walking the dog on them would require bathing a dog afterwards. The rail trail has pristine snow and the blissful solitude of the woods.




I walked Poppy, which was a relief as she is perfectly behaved. Our wild child, on the other hand, is a relentless puller on the leash. We've tried a harness. We're trying a Gentle Leader. And still, he pulls. If you have any tips, please do pass them on! 


But we enjoyed their antics, the fresh air, and the soft, crunching of the snow beneath our feet. Poppy enjoyed sticks. Look how happy she is!




Last Day

Tomorrow is the last day to save 40% off all Christmas merchandise (stockings and balsam fir sachets) in the shop! Get a jump start on next Christmas and take advantage of the sale! Click here to visit the shop.


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