Saturday, December 31, 2011

Blank Pages


 My word for 2011 was Cultivate.  A word that has many diverse meanings and reflects much about my life.  It is something that I have done, and will continue to do.  It is inspiring to read so many words of affirmation and hope as we close the old and anticipate the new.  I was reading Miss Buckles's post this morning, that she closed with a Norwegian saying,  Blank Pages.

I picture entering the new year with a fresh moleskin, opening it up for the first time tomorrow to fill with dreams and accomplishments.  It will sketch the steps toward a new business. We will plot the growth of our homestead. It will be peppered with snap shots of light capturing the growth and laughter of our children. B & I will chart our way through a year of hard work and focus, coupled with love and joy.

Yet the pages are still blank, itching with anticipation to be filled with illustrations of the growth, risk, challenge, uncertainty and reward that will come from jumping in wholeheartedly to the next chapter of our book.  

A very happy 2012 to you, may your blank pages be filled with new adventures!

The Coupon Book

 Just before we left town, Charles could hardly contain his excitement as he gave us the Christmas present he made for us at school. Looking forward to opening the annual ornament, we were surprised by a little coupon book! Such a cute idea! There are ten coupons:

Feed the kitten 
Clean my room 
Set the table 
Spend time with my parents, for 1 hr.
Be nice to my sister, for 1 hr. 
Do the dishes 
Vacuum 
Make my bed, for 1 week 
Mow the lawn 
Don't complain about food

His eyes lit up as we read them, but he jostled a little from foot to foot and mentioned that each coupon was only good for one use. We loved how thoughtful the illustrated book was. It wasn't just ideas that every kid wrote down. There were two that are favorites of mine. Mow the lawn, with a picture of himself driving the tractor. Obviously he feels he is old enough now to be responsible for that task. The second is 'don't complain about food.' This showed me that he was being thoughtful to include things that we would especially appreciate.

When we returned from vacation and walked into the house he noticed the little book right away where we left it on the window sill. "mom", he said quite seriously, "remember when you use a coupon, you have to give it too me so that I can shred it." This struck me as hilarious! He is such a conscientious kid, and for the most part doesn't need a coupon book. I think he just wants to be sure that we don't pull the 'be nice to my sister' card more than once!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Swan Song

After a week in balmy sunny weather, we have returned home to a steady, yet surprisingly warm rain (is it really December 30)?  Adjusting to the time change and the general quiet monotony of the driving rain is just what we needed today. A time to quiet ourselves and relish being lazy peaceful.

 I fell in love with swans when I lived in England.  There was something so wise and elegant about them.  Swans are one of the oldest and most powerful totems in folk lore.  "They reflect the power and longevity that is possible as we awaken to the beauty and power within ourselves. The swan is the totem of the child, the poet, the mystic, and the dreamer."  A perfect picture to have in my head while reflecting on the past year and preparing for the new. Wishing that your 2011 ends in a swan song and you all a safe and Happy New Year!
*quote found at tribe.net

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Solstice

  When I awoke at five this morning, it was pure darkness.  Then this afternoon I stopped for just a moment to look up and this is what I saw at 4:15 pm.  It took me a moment in my blur of the week to remember that this is the longest day of the year.  I posted a poem on my facebook wall yesterday and I thought it was perfect for reflecting upon and celebrating the solstice.

"From December to March, there are for many of us three gardens -
the garden outdoors,
the garden of pots and bowls in the house,
and the garden of the mind's eye."
- Katherine S. White

Indeed beginning tomorrow, the light will once again slowly be in our favor.   Where ever you are on this darkest day of the year, may you find peace and warmth in the season!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blur

It is only Monday, and the week has begun to go by in a blur.
Christmas gift exchanges, markets and parties at school.
Wrapping up year end at work,
contemplating packing,
mentally reflecting on this year and planning for the new.
Nothing better than a cold evening, family and the house lit only by the light of the tree.  
Oh what a lovely blur!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

First Snow

 What a surprise when I woke up this morning to snow on the ground.
It seems that I have finally succumbed to the virus B and the kiddos have
dealt with since Thanksgiving.  Thankfully, it's before we leave for California!
 Nothing stops our little barn kitty from staying close to us,
not even what I'm sure was the unexpected sensation of a first exposure to snow.
Wishing you a weekend full of firsts!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Where Am I?

Rain or moon surface?

It is surreal that it is December 14, Christmas cheer is everywhere.
I am humming winter wonderland and wondering where our's is?? 
We woke up this morning 43 degrees and a rain storm!
"It is going to be a real soaker", they say.  "If this were snow it would be many of inches!"
I thought this picture that I took this morning, said it perfectly.....
am I in Wisconsin or on another planet?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Taken a Hit

Fungi
As I was catching up with my Postcards to Blog Camp group on flickr this morning, I thought to myself  What?? It's the 13th of December and I haven't posted a single photo this month!  That is a first for me in the last two years.  So as I was sipping coffee and getting the kids ready for school, I opened iPhoto so that I could upload photos.  I was shocked to see that I've taken precious few shots in the last two weeks.  The vast majority were either barn kitty, gnomey or before and after Norwex shots that I could use at shows.  Obviously my photography has taken a hit as I find a new balance getting my business up and running.  I feel pretty good now after the first 6 weeks and I think that as we head into holiday travel I will be focusing more on my lens. After all, it is an amazing way to look at the world, capturing life as it sits in each moment. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Little Visitor (a gnome story)

Last Saturday, I received Gnomey. He's been traveling far and wide this year on his sabbatical from his home garden.  After a long day when I reached the mail box and saw the package postmarked from Denmark, it put a smile on my face!  Oh we will have such a busy week, before he heads on his way to his next adventure!  Here is a glimpse of what his week looked like.
He was instrumental in picking out the family Christmas tree.
He was quite helpful to me at my Norwex show on Sunday, doing his best to entertain the kiddos in the room while I talked to the moms.
He didn't get the least bit woozy when he observed B in surgery on Monday.  I was quite proud of him!
 Finally, this morning we went on a short car ride to see Lake Michigan.  Gnomey had really gotten into the spirit while here, and sported his own souvenir cheese head to show his spirit for the Packers 12-0 season.  I think he liked a few moments on a frosty morning to clear his head by the lake and prepare for the next leg of the journey.  It was great having him!


If you would like to get a glimpse of all of Gnomey's adventures this year, please check out Karen's blog The Roaming Gnome.  Such fun!

Cyndy, he's headed your way next! ;-)


Seconds and Thirds Please

Cookie Exchange 1
When I was wracking my brain for holiday cookies to bring to last weeks cookie exchange, I decided that I wanted to tackle something new.  I love our traditional cookies, but was just feeling like a challenge.  I came across two recipes one from Martha Stewart called Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps, and the other from the kitchn for Chewy Molasses Cookies.  I linked the chocolate ones above, but made a key change with the molasses ones so am sharing it here.

I will say they were both very easy, and quite decadent!  I also really liked that they both were deliciously chewy and stayed that way.  The doughs can be easily made ahead and chilled or frozen and then baked off when you have time.

Cookie Exchange 2 Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

1/2 C unsalted butter
1/4 C orange infused olive oil ( I had a blood orange olive oil that I got as a gift from a friend and it     was to die for!  I was stunned at what a huge difference it made in the flavor of the cookie)!
1/4 C molasses
1 C brown sugar
1 egg
A good chunk of fresh ginger ~ 3 inches, grated
2 1/4 C flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
granulated sugar for rolling

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter, olive oil, molasses, and brown sugar together. Then add the egg and whip until smooth and add grated ginger with any juices.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, salt, powdered ginger, Cinnamon and black pepper.  Add to wet ingredients until completely incorporated.  This will produce a soft dough.  Place in refrigerator for 1- hour. (I made the dough the night before I baked them, so just chilled it overnight).  

Take small 1 inch chunks of dough, roll them into balls, then roll them in granulated sugar.  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes.  Once cool you can choose to ice them or keep them plain.  The flavors are strong enough that it doesn't need the icing.  If you ice them a simple glaze made from a mixture of powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and lemon juice is a nice touch!

We are a big chocolate family and the kids loved both cookies, but when they went back for seconds and thirds, it was the ginger molasses that they went after first!

Monday, December 5, 2011

This Little Gentlemen


The last four days seem to have just flown by!  It was a cookie exchanging,  back to back Norwex partying, Christmas tree finding weekend!  We once again loved the fact that we have a truck when we could pick our Christmas tree, toss it in the back and head home. 

Early last week we asked a dear friend if she could contact her mom to let us into her father's antique store.  He passed away three years ago and since the store has been closed.  For years and years we had loved to peruse the store and over time had purchased a number of cherished items.  B always coveted a glass ornament and Christmas light collection and wanted so to make them part of our home.  Graciously they opened the doors to us and as a result, this year we have a vintage ornament tree, with all of the ornaments from his shop.  The one pictured above is our centerpiece and this little gentlemen we placed last.  I'm keeping the tags on all of these, because they are in my friend's father's hand.  This particular tag says Santa Ornament CZ 1850. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November in Review

A little summary of what November was like in my corner of the world through my lens.  The holiday season is officially under way, and I'm headed off to a cookie exchange with a group of wonderful ladies this evening.  As icing on the cookie,  it's being held at a friend's fantastic creative space where she has her photography business.  A great way to get those creative juices flowing!  Happy December!

November in Review

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