Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

As I bid farewell to 2011, I am filled with gratitude - gratitude for my son and daughter, 
for my husband, for our families and for many great friends.

When I reflect on our friendships, I am incredibly grateful for the blogging community that I have been introduced to over the last several years. The sentiments from readers near and far have been wonderfully and completely embracing, and your presence in our life is felt and cherished very much. Because of your warmth, kindness, and kindred spirits, I feel as if we could meet anywhere, anytime, and I would know you as a familiar friend.

So thank you dear friends for a beautiful year!

May you be blessed with health and happiness, and with the love of your family and friends in the coming New Year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Post Scripts

I hope that everyone had the most joyful Christmas! I have to say that sharing this 
Christmas with our sweet son and daughter made it one of our most memorable ever. 

Here are a few snapshots from our holiday week. We moved our couch to the south side of the room (facing the tree) because we wanted to open up as much floor space for playing as possible. 

We usually have a very large play yard set up in the living room, so large that it takes up half the room. It's been the best purchase we've made as it provides for wonderful safe play time (no base board heaters, cupboards or other hazards to get into), especially when Mike's at work and I'm alone with the babies. With both of us home to watch over the babies, we were able to fold it up for the holidays. 

We set up our traditional cardinal Christmas tree in the dining room. This tree is especially 
meaningful to us as Mike's Mom (who passed away shortly after we were married) loved cardinals.  

I can tell you that this is the cleaned up version of this room. Usually, the high chairs are there, as well as lots and lots of books (for story time after meals and snacks), and other various and sundry items distributed about the floor - toys, sippy cups, finger snacks...

Next to the tree, we placed my Grandmother's old settee under the mirror at the east end of the room. I just love putting it in this room at Christmas time as its warm tones are so suggestive of the season. 

The settee had originally belonged to her grandparents. She upholstered it with this toile pattern 
years ago, before I was born. It is a piece I grew up with as it was in her entry way - I'd toss my 
coat on it each time I ran through her front door. 

Best wishes to you and your families for a joyous New Year! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Dear Friends. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Jam

This is the first season that we made jam from our concord grapes. I have to say that it was exciting to think of eating jam from fruit that grew on our land. I am also quite a connoisseur of jam (meaning I eat an awful lot of it!). Oh, how I looked forward to opening the refrigerator and grabbing a jar of our homemade jam, grown right outside the kitchen door. 

Well, we'll just say that we'll have to work out a few kinks and consider this year's batch to be a test run. In the end we didn't end up with so many jars. So we've reserved them for a small handful of family members (people who will think it tastes good based on the pure effort alone). 

Here are a few of the jars (there were a total of eight in all). 

Here are the grapes ready for cooking.

Taking the grapes off the stems was by far the most arduous part of the process. And when I say 'arduous' I mean that it looked like Mike was doing it for quite some time... I'm admitting here nearly at the end of this post that I hardly helped make the jam. 

Mike was the master canner and he did a wonderful job. Making jam takes patience and the 
wisdom to stick to the recipe. He possesses these qualities in abundance! 

Well, our stockings are hung, the tree is trimmed and I've officially consumed at least an entire loaf of pumpkin bread over the last several weeks. 

'Tis the season...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Kitchen

I love bringing out my Grandmother's old red transfer ware this time of year. These were her 
everyday dishes so many family meals were shared using them. When I left Los Angeles and moved to Maine to go to college, I was able to enjoy those meals much less frequently.

But when my Grandmother was alive, I never once missed a Christmas Eve dinner at her house. My father was my Grandmother's only child, so my brother and I were her only grandchildren. 

We felt very, very loved. 

Her name was Margaret. xo

Yes, more pomegranates. 

Pomegranates never stay in the fruit bowl for very long. 

These evergreen cuttings look like holly but are actually a Northwest native plant called Oregon grape. Lili used a few clippings for the photo shoot (it's visible in the magazine), and I thought it was such a wonderful idea that I've been using it all over the house lately. 

Due to my complete and utter weakness for pomegranates, we have been consuming them 
non-stop. I love them on pancakes or french toast on the weekends, but 
also crave them on my weekday morning oatmeal as well. 

This sort of consumption, as you can imagine, is logistically challenging. I am rarely 
without a baby in my arms (they too are too delicious to not want to hold them all the time), so seeding 
messy pomegranates takes some orchestration. 

But wonderful news - I've found a miracle process by which to extricate the juicy seeds - saving 
a lot of time and mess! And just who on earth could know such a secret? 
Yes, that's right, it's Martha Stewart. 

Watch her tutorial here

It does work but I would recommend doing it in the sink as 
this process, although very time-saving, is not splatter proof. 

Here is one of my quarters after using a wooden spoon. 

Here is what the work area (inside my sink) looked like afterwards.  All of the 
splatters stayed in the sink basin due to hitting the pomegranate face down. 

For once, I had not one tiny splatter on my clothes! 


Friday, December 16, 2011

December Grace

The door is dressed in garland and holly. 

The amaryllis are growing like graceful winter swans... 

that flourish into bright trumpet blossoms. 

The hint of sweet citrus from the paper whites...

melds perfectly with the fragrance of the evergreen garland. 

Holly wreaths adorn the doors and mirrors.

The holly is prickly to the touch, but so beautiful once it's in place. 

But by far, the most exciting and gracious part of our December 
has been celebrating the babies' birthdays. 

Our beautiful son and daughter turned one this past weekend. I took in an emotional breath as we celebrated our first year with the loveliest gifts we've ever known. They are perfect little miracles, and I still revel in being so blessed to be their mother.

To celebrate, we made them a birthday pie from their 
pumpkin (pumpkin birthday cake will have to wait until next year). 

Although hesitant at first, they liked their birthday pie very much! 

May the spirit of the holiday season fill your homes with love, laughter 
and the blessings of your wonderful families. 

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