Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Thoughts and Gingerbread-Pear Muffins


Hello, Dear Friends, I hope that you are finding some 
sweet and special moments at this busy time of year.
Thank you for your dear and kind visits, 
which make my days extra sweet and special, too. 

****** 

We have had a long stretch of clear skies with the 
most beautiful of sunrises, here in the foothills 
near Mt. Rainier. 


I caught this illuminating moment as the sun rose
over the mountains, just as it was framed by 
my little wreath in the glass door. 

The garden tuteur on the deck creates an exaggerated 
mimicry of the Christmas tree topper through the lace curtains. 


Here you can see it on the other side.

It's hard to believe that my white sweet allysum is still 
blooming! We've had several inches of snow in November, 
along with two weeks of cold nights in the 30's since then. 

This small area gets full sunshine all day and is elevated 
about 5 feet, so I am sure that has helped. 
I am certainly not complaining!
So thankful for the sunshine and the little flowers to
brighten my day.


The light has been lovely, but all things must pass, 
and we will be returning to our perpetually gray skies
by the weekend. 




I met up with my daughter, and her sweetheart's little girl,
for lunch and shopping last weekend in a nearby small town. 

I tried to get some shots of the beautiful store windows, 
but the sunlight caused reflections of the buildings
across the way. 


Charming, old brick buildings
 in an historic farming and railroad town are now 
antique and specialty shops, 
with a few little restaurants and cafe's. 


This little dog made us smile :)


This was painted on the side of one of the buildings. 
You can see how large it is - the blue sky shows above, 
and the sidewalk is below. 

This region is known as 'The South Sound', 
as it lies between the southern end of Puget Sound 
and the Cascade mountains of Washington State. 

Our slogan is 'Live like the mountain is out'. 

When Mt. Rainier is 'out', it can be seen for many miles
all around and means it is a beautiful, sunny day :)


Just to prove the point, this para-glider was making 
the most of our slogan, inexplicably flying 
over the major arterial on my way home. 

Just to the left of here lies open farmland, 
where I am sure it was headed for a landing. 


The mountain was certainly 'out' and framed 
beautifully by our lovely forestland. 

I drove home thinking of how fortunate I am 
to be living here, and to be spending the day 
with my beautiful daughter and a precious little girl. 

After all of the struggles that Ramblin' Man and I 
have had - starting out together so young, 
moving 3000 miles from our childhood
 homes in New England, 
and raising a family while building our own home
on raw land - we are now enjoying the results 
of all those years of hard work and perseverance. 
xoxo

It was truly difficult at times. 
But I wouldn't change a single day. 

It made us who we are, and gave us an incredible
sense of gratitude for every tender mercy of help along the way.



I found a few little treasures while I was out shopping, 
and of course this little angel had to come home with me. 





I found these glittery white pine cones
which filled my pressed glass bowls just perfectly. 


For my old cupboard - 
the sweetest little vintage box.....



It's just right for my collection of vintage post cards. 




All the decorating and shopping has put me
in the mood for a holiday treat.  

Here's the easy recipe.....


Gingerbread Pear Muffins

Makes 12

1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
*****
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup light molasses
1 egg
1 medium pear, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper baking cups

Whisk all dry ingredients together in large bowl

Whisk all wet ingredients together in medium bowl. 
Stir in pear. Add to flour mixture, stirring just 
until moistened. Spoon batter evenly into prepared cups. 

Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers
comes out clean. Immediately remove from pan
and cool on wire rack 10 minutes before serving. 




Yum! 


So good with a hot cuppa of your favorite brew. 


I love pretty seasonal napkins. 


This little frame was another shopping find. 
I was going to put it on my vanity, 
but decided to use it for my holiday table first. 


The sweet scene is cut from a Christmas card. 

You can't have too much sparkle this time of year :)

We had a little dog like that years ago, 
a border collie named Twiggy. 

Her name came from the iconic model, 
as her legs were as slender as twigs. 

I rescued her from the pound and she was 
a loving companion until the end. 

She loved fetching and could find any ball 
no matter how far into the woods it was thrown. 
She especially loved when Ramblin' Man 
practiced his golf game, and would bring 
back most every ball. 

Once in a while, one would be lost, and we 
have found them years later, wedged in rotted logs
or in the roots of stumps. I found one as recently 
as this summer - and it always brings a little tear
and warm thoughts of this sweet little pet. 
So thankful for the devoted companions
that spend their lives with us. 


As I clean up, I am enjoying the late afternoon 
sunshine out the window. 


A miniature winter scene....


I crafted this fragrant vignette
 out of clove-studded mandarins, cinnamon
stick bundles and whole allspice. 



My little bird keeps watch as I put my cup away. 

*********

This time of year can be stressful for all those who 
are the keepers and creators of the 'Holiday Spirit'. 
The unsung heroes and heroines who put in those extra 
hours to 'make spirits bright'. 
There's the decorating, the shopping, the gift wrapping, 
the gatherings, the charities, the cooking and baking - 
all extra activities on top of normally busy lives. 

If you are the primary spirit brightener, please 
remember to give yourselves a break. Look for 
ways to lighten the load and don't forget to treat yourself
while you are treating everyone else. 

And if you are one of the lucky ones who get to 
just 'show up', please remember to appreciate 
all the hard work and care that goes into
 making your holiday a special time of year. 

Sometimes we forget to personally acknowledge 
all that goes into the making of a special day. 
Be somebody's angel and let them know 
how truly wonderful they are. 

xoxo 

Today I am linking with:

Thankful Thursday

Won't you join the fun?

39 comments:

  1. Hi Karen oh i love your home ,you decorate it so beautifully.
    I also love your views and the place where you live,such beautiful pics,glad you spent a lovely day with your daughter and her little girl.
    Thankyou for sharing with us my friend xx

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  2. I love what you've written about starting out young and having a family...going through all the difficulties along the way. And then getting to this point and being so very thankful for it all. This is one of the best posts I've read this season! Holiday hugs, Diane

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  3. We lived in the Northwest for 7 years and I do remember how fabulous that sky can be when the beautiful mountains are "out". Every time I see your fabulous deck, I am so envious! You are so lucky to have that beautiful view.

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  4. Karen, I am so late in commenting and hope to catch up! I love natural light and your photos are filled with them. That cafe looks so sweet and no doubt you shared a lovely meal with your daughter and little girl. Thank you for the recipe. It sounds perfect for the season! xx

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  5. Your blog is a balm to my soul!Such beauty and kindness!Merry Christmas,sweet Lady!Nice to"meet" you!

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  6. Sounds like a fun day out with your daughter. I love the windows you captured. Thanks for linking up today. I hope you have a great weekend!

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  7. You decorate so beautifully with all you collected items! I’m still mulling over “Live like the mountain is out” I’m not sure it applies in a literal sense, around here, but there is something I really like about it!

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  8. Well I started to leave a comment and it disappeared! I love your decorating style. Simple, elegant, and serene. You have given me some ideas! And the pear muffins sound yummy. I think I need to make them. I've been in a muffin mood! That little dish you have with the santa and glittered pinecones in it....is that old or new? I have one that I THINK came from my MIL's stuff, but I'm not sure. I might have actually picked it up at a sale and forgot about it! I know...it's awful. The whole moving, living in one room while building, and storing everything...I probably would change a few things! Anyway, great post. Thanks for sharing.

    Cindy

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    1. Hi Cindy - sorry about your comment disappearing, but glad that you persisted! Thank you for your kind comments. It's always so nice when you stop by. To answer your question - the little dish is a vintage one from the 50's, I think. It is marvelously 'yellowed' from age. I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas in your lovely home with those you love. Sending hugs xo Karen

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  9. You do live in a beautiful area, always enjoy your photos. Lunch with your daughter is a treat that every Mother can appreciate. Our daughter gets here next Monday and I'm so looking forward to doing lunch with her.

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  10. Love all your treasures you found and that little dog with his hat is so adorable! :-)
    These muffins look delicious, another one I will have to try. Have a wonderful weekend!

    Blessings,
    JIll

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  11. Enjoyed your lovely post today, Karen. I'm printing out your delectable muffin recipe ... oh my, it looks amazing. // I just love your thoughts about the keepers of the Holiday Spirit and being especially nice to all those 'spirit brighteners'. // And, like you, I am most partial to having a pretty assortment of seasonal paper napkins at the ready for the holiday season. There are such pretty ones from which to choose. // Your home is looking all inviting and festive and cozy. Glad for that glimpse of loveliness as seen through your camera lens.

    Enjoyed my visit...wishing you a beautiful evening!
    Brenda xox

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  12. I enjoying the photos of your lovely Christmas decorating--its something I don't do well. Making a welcoming home is a labor of love year round and especially for holidays and family gatherings.
    I don't have pears on hand but may try the muffin recipe substituting chopped apple.

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  13. Good advice for all of us who help make the spirit bright for family and friends! We do need to take some time...

    Loved all the beautiful light on your photos. There used to be a meme called Catching the Light and I loved it because catching certain light in photos can be fascinating and beautiful! You did just that with so many of these. Love the views of Mt. Rainier. We love seeing our beautiful Mt. Jefferson, and the nearby Three Sisters as well...it was fun on our trip north a couple of weeks ago to get to enjoy Mt. Hood as well. I am loving these gorgeous Cascade mountains! They do make us happy when they are "out." Have a wonderful week, dear one!

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  14. What a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your holiday thoughts and all the lovely photos. So beautiful to look at.

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  15. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, a great post as always. x

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  16. Marvelous post dear Karen!

    with glorious view ,loved the sunshine crossing through wreath!!!

    you cupboard ,all the glittering elegant stuff and you muffins!

    above everything loved your encouraging approach to life and most precious word that "i would not change the single day" yes there were hard times but they were here to make us who we are today either i will not change a single day darling !

    glad you met with daughter and spent time with your precious grand daughter my friend!
    the mountain rising above forest looks spiritual to me !
    wishing you happy beautiful christmas ahead dear Karen!

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  17. What a wonderful, wonderful warm post. I am so glad you were able to meet your daughter and her sweetie's daughter.
    Would I change a single day? There are times I think I would if I could--those days that loom dark on my soul and give almost unbearable sadness...but, you are right, is those days that make us who we are and shape the fabric of our lives.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend. xo Diana

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  18. Hello, I always enjoy seeing your lovely home and decorations. The views of Mt Rainier and I like the sign live, like the mountain is out. Sweet doggies! Your muffins look delicious. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

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  19. The mountain is very beautiful, showing us greatness of nature. Thanks a lot. I wish you a good weekend.

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  20. Hello Karen, my dear friend! Thank you for this wonderful, lovely and warm post ! Your home is decorated with so much Love and ... I can smell the Gingerbread-Muffins through the computer ...LOL .... thank for this recipe, I am sure, I will make them during the next days!
    Wishing you a lovely 3rd advent-Weekend and, if we don't see us before Christmas, a very Happy and merry and joyful Christmaas with all your loved ones!
    Sending much Love and Hugs and Blessings, Claudia xoxo

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  21. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Karen.

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  22. I know you appreciate how all your hard work has paid off in your life, dear Karen. I always enjoy seeing the mountain and what you've been up to. Your special shopping treasures added a special warmth to your home. Before I leave, I'd love to try your muffins with a cup of tea, please. I love pretty paper napkins, too. they're such a simple pleasure, aren't they?
    I appreciate you mentioning the stress that so many of us must endure during this special time. I often wish we had another month of December, so that we could truly enjoy it.
    Happy weekend to you in your special slice of heaven! xx

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  23. What a lovely home you have and I always enjoy all your fabulous pictures and what a yummy recipe.

    Hugs Diane

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  24. You do have a lovely home and spectacular views. It is a beautifullly warm post. Christmas is a sadder time for me but I appreciate that many find it as happy times. The muffins sound delicious!

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  25. Love the soft natural light shots! I can smell the muffins here...mmmmm!

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  26. Karen, the sun shining through your wreath is beautiful, what a special picture that is. You had a fun shopping day with your daughter. The farming and railroad towns are the most charming I think. I also live in a railroad town. New England is a long way from home, and it sure is nice that you made a new home for your family there in the mountains. I like the angel treasure you brought back with you, and the white pine cones are pretty. Those gingerbread pear muffins look really good. Your frame got to me, as I am a "jewel" lady. Karen, it is gorgeous. And I can smell your mandarins with cloves and spices from here. It was so nice to hear about your days during this Christmas season, and always a pleasure to see your cozy home.

    ~Sheri

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  27. How wonderful that you were able to spend some time with your daughter and granddaughter. Love all your beautiful decorations, especially love the frosted pinecones in the glass dish and your lovely frame for the card!!
    I have actually taken time to enjoy the season with my hubby this afternoon and evening, our town has a Christmas market and we enjoyed browsing all the goodies from other countries. It was so good to get out and take a break. Wishing you all a lovely Christmas get together!!

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  28. Dearest Karen,
    Loved your Twiggy story... Yes, they reside forever in our minds and in our hearts!
    It is scary at times to love a place so much and for having put so much work, sweat and blood into it. There comes a time however where we cannot move forward the way we got used to.
    Last week we had to place the care of our huge property, 3 acres, into the hands of professionals. Not much to do now but the bringing of those pots inside the greenhouse is already a chore. So they did and we had our first frost at night. Also they did cut down a 25 year old double hibiscus tree on the corner of our home where yet another part of patio needs to be laid from tiles. As for me, it prepares me to have some help when I'm left alone... Being realistic we must prepare for that too. We have done away years ago with our wood log stove and replaced it with artificial wood logs inside, using gas. So there will not be any log splitting involved in the future.
    Pieter used to do all that in his younger years. Tilling the soil and growing a vegetable garden I did not want to do anymore since his open heart surgery 7 years ago.
    Right now, he's not supposed to do anything that causes much strain or it could kill him. Tough to do and at times it alters his mood.
    I'm so happy that I've distracted myself during this most difficult time of my life, by writing our South Africa trip. Pieter is enjoying reading the comments and seeing the photos that makes him relive the good and happy times. Busy and never easy but that' how we lived!
    Never time for ourselves, always on the move or going somewhere or doing things for others.
    It was a tough time, we just had bought the house and paid for the mortgage, paid off my Ford Escort and still paying the hefty alimony for Pieter's ex and his adopted daughter's royal academy in The Netherlands. Never a single cent of tax deduction because she studied abroad... Still we managed by being frugal and by stretching the dollar and it only makes you even more proud in the end!
    Right now I'm at peace, for whatever is coming our way! That is also what this season is all about. Catching up on so many things that I couldn't do because I was so distraught at first but the writing kept me focused on something and it proved to make Pieter happy and calm and I also focused on my sining in the choir. Those ladies have pulled me through with their warmth and prayer and support. We did perform on Thursday for our annual Christmas Revue and Pieter was so thrilled and said I'd looked happy and performed the best he'd ever seen. That was worth it! A few days to unwind and now I want to finish all my laundry and getting ready for our Christmas midnight Mass in Jacksonville, FL at the Basilica. We both take a week off from everything and relax. Well, the driving is 100% for me but from there to Ft. Lauderdale is not the far anymore and crossing to the west coast to Sarasota is about 2 hours and then home in some 7 hours. Hope the weather will be good to us!
    I'd so hoped for being able to see the Christmas lights at Calloway Gardens in west Georgia and go there biking around the 11 lakes and golf course. But it rained and rained. Sad but what can we do?! I have to drive 3 hours to go there and stay at a hotel so we did not opt for that.
    How special it must be to see the cute grands enjoying the special little things around Christmas and the special food and candy.
    Loved your muffins, sound not too sweet and loaded with sugar as other recipes often.
    Sending you hugs and thanks for your visit and comment!
    Mariette

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  29. Great photos of Mt. Rainier. You're indeed lucky your daughter lives nearby. I wish my daughter lived closer specially now that I am going to be a grandma! You are so right, it does takes a lot to make the lives of others merry and bright. Merry Christmas to you!!

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  30. As much as I would love to be one that just "shows up", I couldn't do it! I just love the doing part of decorating, planning, buying gifts and baking. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Thank you for a bright start to my day. Happy and Merry Christmas! xoxo

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  31. I love this post and can relate to several parts of it. I'm going to share the muffin recipe with my hubby who is the muffin maker in our house :) I also have some old fashioned looking Christmas cards I am going to get frames for, they are so nice to decorate with. Thanks for sharing your home decor with us and enjoy the rest of your week.

    Diana

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  32. Everything looks so pretty and cozy Karen. I love the vintage postcards and that bling-y little frame. And your slogan is great. I'm sure everyone loves to look and see that mountain. So happy that you can reap pleasure in these days after all your hard work earlier. But, as you say, the person in charge of holiday spirits (us!) still has lots to do. I need to get out of my jammies and start baking! xo Deborah

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  33. Hello sweet lady, and merry Christmas to you and yours!

    When I saw the title of this post I knew I HAD to read it because I've made these muffins too. In fact, I could swear I posted them in my blog but they're not there. I may have deleted it at some point. It was a while ago and I probably didn't like the pics when I changed my blog. They're so moist and demise and I'm sure your recipe is too as it seems very similar.

    Old cards are often so pretty and full of character, aren't they? So glad you got to spend time with your daughter shopping. It's one of life's little gifts.

    xxx

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    1. Demise?? Not sure where that came from! Lol

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  34. Dearest, precious friend of mine,
    let me wish you all my best for the Holidays coming.

    May this Christmas Time be filled with so many blessings to you and your dear ones,
    always thinking of you with all my love and gratitude

    XOXO Dany

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  35. It is so lovely to spend precious time with our loved ones ...

    Such a lovely post Karen, your home looks so welcoming and I'm sure I could almost smell those lovely Gingerbread Pear Muffins cooking.

    My good wishes to you and your loved ones.
    Have a wonderful Christmas time.

    All the best Jan

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  36. Meine liebe Karen,

    es war mal wieder sehr schön bei dir. Wie gerne wäre ich leibhaftig vorbei gekommen um einen Muffin zu probieren. Sie haben sicherlich herrlich geduftet. In die Karte mit dem Schneemannmotiv habe ich mich sofort verliebt. Allerliebst.
    Wünsche dir eine schöne Vorweihnachtswoche.

    Alles Liebe, Barbara

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  37. Try one more time, my comments don't want to post. Beautiful blog post Karen. Merry Christmas! Hope your mountain is out. :)

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Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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