Hello, Dear Friends! I hope that you are finding
simple ways to bring light and joy into your hearts,
and the hearts of all you know and love
as we celebrate this Christmas season.
Not an easy task during this difficult time,
but so important to keep hope, faith and charity
alive and spread it around whenever and wherever we can.
I love angels and this little one has been
overseeing all of our Christmas celebrations
since the first year of our marriage.
She represents faith, enduring love, family,
resilience and now, at this stage of our lives, wisdom.
With wisdom comes serenity.
My favorite Irish Proverb.....
God grant me the Serenity to accept
the things I cannot change,
the Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference.
Serenity can sometimes be elusive, but worth
cultivating. One of the ways in which I find
serenity is to make my home as cozy as I can - filled
with the sentimental things that I love.
Comfortable pillows and beautiful books are two things that I love.
I don't think you can have too many of either.
They do go hand in hand, I think.
I especially love illustrated children's books.
This one by Tasha Tudor was my own children's
book, a much-loved gift from my Mother and Father
many years ago.
The illustrations are magical.
Illustrated cookbooks are another love of mine.
Susan Branch is a favorite.
A first edition Christmas cookbook - 1990.
I love browsing through them whenever I am planning
My Hoover 'Kitchen Queen' cupboard has
a few cheery updates for Christmas.
An elf on a shelf. My sister sewed this version,
and I sewed the toad-stools. They're pin-cushions.
Some pie-baking supplies and my favorite mixing bowl.
My collection of cookie-cutters.
My daughter presented me with the green plaid
dish filled with delicious cookies
on my birthday.
Jars filled with baking sprinkles.
Cooking in a cheerful kitchen is one
of the sweet joys of life.
The Mr. came home with the silver 'percolator' coffee pot
the other day, just in case we lose our electricity
during our stormy winters.
We can make coffee on the woodstove with it.
The 'gingerbread' houses are actually made with graham crackers!
I made them a few years ago and carefully wrap
them in parchment and store them in a large tin from year to year.
My 'scrapbook paper' frame.
I change out the theme for every holiday.
It's been very gray and gloomy the last few
days and my photos are reflecting that lack of light.
I crocheted the 'flower' dish cloths but can't bring
myself to use them for clean-up so I use them
as hot-pads :)
The butcher string and gingham dish-towels are in
a 3-tier hanging basket that's hard to see in the gloom.
A small child-themed tree by the glass door.
Vintage pony lights, candy garlands and tiny apples.
My collection of vintage Santa's.
The ceramic one on the right was the last Christmas gift
my Mom gave to me. It opens at the waist to hold a little surprise.
I made the Victorian 'Father Christmas' years ago from cotton batting.
His face is a sticker and his 'fur' hood and bag is simply
batting colored with a brown marker!
I didn't feel like baking this year, so I put together
a cookie mix in a jar for my children and their families.
I think they came out rather pretty,
with green and red M&M candies on top. I put the
baking instructions on a recipe card attached to the back.
I also made up some peppermint bark candy.
This is a favorite of my Hubby.
I have to hide it until it is all bagged up,
but I made an extra large bag just for his stocking.
I also tried my hand at creating a charcuterie board.
Sliced summer sausage, pepperoni, pepper jack cheese,
crackers, bread, tiny pumpkin pies (from the bakery dept.),
peach-mango jam and stone ground mustard, olives and nuts.
It makes a nice indoor picnic!
And for dessert.....
Slow-Cooker Cherry Pie Crisp
Ideal size slow-cooker; 3-4 quarts
Cook on low 3-4 hours
21 oz can Cherry Pie filling
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup cold butter
Grease slow-cooker. Pour cherry pie filling in and spread to edges.
In separate bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, oats and vanilla.
Cut in butter until crumbly.
Sprinkle over cherries.
Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.
Place paper toweling under lid to help absorb excess moisture.
Now let's sit in front of the fire and warm the body and soul.
I'll tell you a little story about a special log cabin from my childhood :)
My Father worked for a man named, Mr. Butler.
This was many years ago before it became a famous ski resort.
My Father was his foreman, a Machinist and tool and die maker by trade,
and Mr. Butler thought so much of him
that he let us use his cabin any time we wanted.
The cabin was a four-hour drive away, but once we entered the little
town of Jackson, our road-weary spirits lifted.
I remember traveling through the red, covered bridge, stopping at the old general store,
driving past the family-owned dairy farms tucked into the rolling hills,
the ghostly birch trees lining the way, and the little stone house at the turn of the road.
Up and up we would go, along the rushing creek tumbling beside
the winding road - a hand-built bridge on every farm driveway along that side.
Finally, after our long drive, we would arrive, tired but excited, my sisters and I
eager to claim one of the four, quilt-covered feather beds tucked under the eaves
in the long, narrow loft bedroom. Two tiny, pained windows
let in light on either side - the rays illuminating the dust
we stirred by flopping on the beds.
The scent of pine, wood-smoke, and fresh mountain air filled
the room when we opened the windows, and we could hear
the chickadees and jays, the only sounds in the peaceful quiet.
My Father would light the gas furnace, and prime the old-fashioned water pump
over the old soap-stone sink, which drew its supply
from the little brook that ran beside the cabin.
While my Mom unpacked and tended to my little sisters,
my Dad and I would take the big, glass, 5 gallon 'car-boy' water jugs
back down the winding road to the general store where
we would fill them at the town spring, for drinking and cooking.
Then we would go into the store and buy the perishables that
my Mother didn't pack - milk, eggs, bacon, bread and butter,
a newspaper for my Dad, and rock candy on a stick for my sisters and me.
The cabin had one, large, main room with a massive stone fireplace,
a small kitchen with pine paneled walls and red-checked curtains,
and a tiny bathroom off to the side.
A large 'Picture' window looked out over a mountain meadow
filled with doe-eyed Jersey cows,
and apple trees that bordered the slope of Black mountain.
A rock wall and barbed-wire fence separated these from the cabin.
Chipmunks lived in the wall and the cows from the farm next door
would come to the fence - curious to see if we would climb the trees
and throw them some apples.
One day, my sister and I did just that, and attracted the whole herd
who surrounded our tree and wouldn't let us climb down.
My Father had to rescue us and I remember thinking
how strong and brave he was, pushing the cows away,
and carrying us in each arm to safety.
One time we visited in the beautiful, late autumn, and woke up to a surprise
snow-fall that was so deep that I had to climb out
the high kitchen window over the sink, and
shovel the snow so we could open the door. I was just small enough
to fit through the window that my Father couldn't.
He and I had to hike through the snow to the farm next-door
and ask the farmer to plow us out. He had a snow-plow
attached to his tractor and he plowed the mountain road
down to the main road, so that we could leave.
We were so sorry to have to cut
our trip short, but we were afraid that more snow was on the way.
My Dad tried to give him some money, but he wouldn't
take any, so the next time we went to the cabin, my Dad helped
him repair his barn, and that is how he returned the favor.
Over the years my Dad and the farmer became good friends.
I have so many wonderful memories of our trips
to Butler's Cabin.
Our own home was also a log cabin by a large lake.
We lived there through-out my early childhood.
Log cabins are very special to me.
Happy memories are such a nice way to find serenity
in these tumultuous times.
Especially memories of loved ones that are no longer
here with us, but live on in our hearts.
Merry Christmas, Dear Ones.
I wish you peace, serenity, comfort and joy
as we celebrate this special day and look
forward to a better year ahead.