Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Old and New

2013, what can I say, you were such a bittersweet year.  You were filled with accomplishment, joy and great upheaval.  I suppose that is just the yin and yang of life.  The natural balance that occurs to keep us on our toes and thankful.  

The year was filled with great food * better friends * I became a godmother * a long girls weekend away * a more abbreviated yet productive garden * lots handmade * our best canning year yet * winemaking * introducing the kids to the Alisal * expanding to four hives * becoming more active in our community * running the kids around * a tractor * crazy weather * decisions made * and dreams for the future envisioned, to name a few.

Years ago, I began to pick a word, something that would be the guiding mantra of the year.  This years word was pace.  As the year began I kept my pace, what was natural for me, keeping busy, getting involved, maybe beginning to move at a faster cadence than I had originally intended.  Then on March 29th, I was reminded that I need to slow down a bit and enjoy each moment.  When you see your husbands life flash before your eyes it has a way of resetting your priorities.  My word for the remainder of the year changed to heal.  Healing of body and mind continues as perspectives and priorities ebb, flow and mold into what will be our future goals.

Earlier this week, I came across this quote.  I think instead of one word this year, maybe I will look to one phrase:

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness.  I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art--write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.  And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." Neil Gaiman

A very Happy New Year to you, and may you find magic and dreams in 2014.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Random 5 Friday

Yes, yes, I know, it's Saturday. But after a 12 hour marathon car ride Thursday, we are enjoing a mini family reunion in Kansas.  It is the first time in 4 years that all of the siblings have been together.  So this last random five of 2013 is a day delayed but only due to the mass chaos that ensues when 10 people converge in one place, all talking at once and living under one roof for the first time in many moons.

1.  While perusing flipboard I came across a recommendation for paprika.  This recipe ap is the best that I have tried and I love it!  

2.  It is 50 degrees here in Kansas, which after the last six weeks in Wisconsin feels like summer break.  No jackets for us, oh no, just faces turned toward the sun basking in the light.

3.  Though we spent the better part of yesterday trying to see The Hobbit, it just was not meant to happen.  The first theatre that we walked into we were shocked by the 60" screen on what looked like painted plywood on the wall, not how we were planning to see this cinematic spectacle.  After hurriedly removing ourselves from that situation we headed 35 minutes away to a larger theatre which when we arrived, 25 minutes before show time, was completely sold out.  Sheesh talk about differing experiences!  We will re-group and try again tomorrow.   

4.  We seem to have a solid offer on the house that we have been trying to sell for six and a half years.  Please send good thoughts our way that it successfully closes at the end of January.  I can think of no better way to start 2014 than without this burden.

5.  When traveling, blogging is an adventure from my blogger for iPad ap.  I have no idea how the formatting will look, where the photos will end up, and I can not seem to hyperlink.  Do you have any tried and true methods for blogging on the fly?

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

All is Calm, All is Bright

Wishing you and yours a magical Christmas 
full of love, peace, family, friends, great food, flowing drink
and the ability to see the season with the wide eyed splendor of a child.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice

 The Winter Solstice is a time for....

Letting go.
Releasing old patterns.
Rekindling hope.
Welcoming the light.
Seeking new inspiration.
Beginning a new cycle.

May the Solstice bring the warmth of family and cherished friends, providing you and yours much peace and happiness.

quote credit to: *Blue Moon Shamanic Reiki

Friday, December 20, 2013

Random 5 Friday

Nothing but anticipation in the week prior to Christmas, but I've tried my best and I think been much more organized this season than last.  What does one do this final week before the kids are on Christmas break?

1.  Treat making:  We got our Christmas cookies made, 10 dozen dusted snowballs and chocolate dipped pecan shortbread.  Some for gift giving, and far too many for us!  I used some caramels that I made with a friend and melted them down to make caramel coated pears.  As a last minute thing I tried a simple recipe for Gingerbread Spiced Nuts.  They are so good, I may just have to make a batch to bring with us to KS next week (along with another batch of peppermint marshmallows as promised for my BIL Mark :)

2.  Winter White:  maybe because we will be gone through New Years, or maybe because our weather has been so very cold, but I have made real progress making seasonal decor for the house to replace the festive holiday items.  I am obsessed with the beauty of winter whites to help bring some rustic and bright cheer to the post Christmas house.  It also has such a clean feel which feeds into my annual new year deep cleaning (which I started early with our travel schedule).

3.  Poor Kiddo:  Sid came home from school on Monday with a horrible sore throat and fever.  As it turned out a first time case of strep.  Yuck, never seen a kid get so sick so fast.  I'm happy to say that with 1750 mg of Amoxicillin a day she is feeling much better!  Now I am just praying that the belligerent hand washing, laundry and dish cleaning, and vitamin taking will protect the rest of my clan before the holiday.

4.  Crazy Active Weather:  We have run the gamut of weather already this season.  Overnight we began with freezing rain that is predicted to last most of the day and then we are readying for what may be a decent winter storm for Sunday!  The bright side, the second Christmas morning in 13 years that we will be at home in Wisconsin, will prove to be white!

5.  5 Things Left To Do Before Christmas & Staying Zen:  friend visits and cheer, family games and movies, menu plans, year end wrap up at work, read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  

Linking up with Nancy at A Rural Journal, what have you been up to this week?  Please join in!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Food is Sexy

Last week a friend an I got together to do a little candy making.  Salty Bourbon Caramel to be exact.  They have tremendous flavor but just did not set to my liking.  They are a very soft caramel, and I need to keep them refrigerated or they start to melt.  A little goes a long way, and as I found, I am not a creative wrapper, but I filled a container with only half of the candy.  So what is a person to do?  I am all about re-purposing, so I turned this

Into this.  Caramel coated Harry and David (thanks dad) Pears rolled in Maldon smoked sea salt. 

Two lessons here: 
Never give up on food, 
food is sexy.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Something in the Air

 I do not know what it was, but yesterday when I was driving the kids home we encountered quite an event.  It lasted for about 30 minutes and then disappeared as quickly as it had begun.  The sky filled with geese.  The pictures do not begin to do it justice. 

This was much more than the typical nightly heading into the roosting grounds.  This was my early carpool, so mid afternoon.  Hundreds upon hundreds of geese filled the entire sky overhead and were flying frantically with no organization, and in every which direction.  As they would circle in clouds, the deafening sound of their honking would fade in and out.

At the same time, when I dropped off our carpool, one of the trees in front of his house filled with robins.  Odd this late in the season and being so cold out.  There was easily two dozen of them hopping around trying to gain footing on the frozen branches. 

The sky was crystal clear and the moon was just rising in the East.  There must have been something in the air, maybe a warning of today's coming snows.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ole' Man Winter's Identity Crisis

Poor ole' man winter, I guess he was just jealous of the glorious fall and decided to start a month early.  In the almost thirteen years that we have lived here, this is the earliest winter.  We have complained in the last couple of years about the sparse snow, but it seems that the early results are in and winter may just pack us a punch this year.

The talk for the last several days, after the chaos of Sunday's light snows, has been of the cold.  In the forecasts over the past week, last night supposed to be the coldest, then moderating to more seasonal 31-32 degrees over the weekend.  That has changed just a bit.  The coldest air will actually be today.  We are waking up to a balmy 13 degrees, and should top out around noon closing in on zero.  Then the winds pick up giving us an evening and overnight of 25 below zero windchills, some forecasters have even mentioned 30 below...pishaw!  We will recover some from the desperate cold, making it back into the twenties in time for some lake effect snow Friday and Saturday.  No longer are we expecting those 'seasonal' temps.  

 But truly, what is seasonal when ole' man winter has an identity crisis and decides to take over?   Stay safe!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside

The weekend brought with it our Christmas party for work, bitter cold and snow.  With our big party over, and virtually all of the Christmas shopping complete, I feel like I can settle in and enjoy the season.

 Dangerous roads and the extreme cold on Sunday kept me indoors, and put me in the mood for baking.  I found this recipe for Spicy Ginger Twigs on pinterest and tried it out.  I was expecting a light crisp cookie and they are more like mini biscotti's.  Though I was initially disappointed in that, once I had adjusted my expectation, I really enjoyed them.  They have a touch of cayenne in addition to typical gingerbread spices, which gives them a nice heat.  A perfect little treat with a cup of coffee or tea.  It is the second dessert recipe that I have tried in the last week that called for using a pizza cutter.  I love finding new uses for things! 

We were able to try out the tractors snow blower yesterday, and what a difference!  We are so thankful that we have this in what seems to be an early and active winter season.  With light snow in the forecast most of the rest of the week, and mid-afternoon temperatures today hitting about zero, I think that I may just have to find some more tasty treats to keep me busy in the warmth of the kitchen as the week progresses.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Inspiration, Motivation & Green Mossy Spheres

Is it inspiration or motivation, or maybe a little bit of both.  I pin, bookmark, and dog ear many a page of great ideas that I want to do.  Sometimes, more than others, I get a surge of energy to get it done and it is completely stress free.  Maybe because the weather is changing, and we are focusing indoors, or the fact that we had a great rejuvenating vacation or possibly because my focus is on making the house inviting for the monotone gray months.  Regardless of the motivator, I am getting stuff done. 

I loved the moss spheres that were in the most recent Martha Stewart magazine.  Not only a statement piece on the dining room table behind our Nuremberg angel, but it will be a perfect bout of winter color come January.  It is a relativity easy project, almost meditative piecing on the bits of moss, and I am going through hot glue like it is going out of style.  I think that I am going to try to pound out a handful more to give as gifts.  What types of things are inspiring you right now?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Confections

I decided to try my hand at candy making for a cookie exchange that I am going to tonight.  I know, I am a rebel, right?  I have never made bark before, so thought that I would give it a whirl.  It was surprisingly easy and there are endless goodies that you add to it.

For my first batch I used both Ghiradelli dark chocolate (2/3) and white melting chocolate(1/3).  I poured the melted dark chocolate on a parchment lined baking sheet and spread it to about 1/4".  Then I dolloped the white chocolate over top and used a wooden skewer to swirl it in.  Once done, I sprinkled crushed candy canes over the top and let it cool and harden for about 2 hours.  What next?  Just start to break it up into pieces.  My second batch I just used the dark chocolate and added chopped macadamia nuts, candied ginger and coconut.  I did three batches in all and my tasters, the family, are all big fans!  I think my next confection foray will be to make some peppermint marshmallows to package with my homemade cocoa mix.  What are your favorite Christmas confections??

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December's White Rose

A white rose

 Taken during our trip to California, it is perfect for stepping off into the giving season of December.  



 Full of promise

Several years ago I gave myself a challenge, doing an entirely handmade holiday.  This year, I am reaching back to that sentiment.  I am mostly done with Christmas shopping or at least the planning.  Most gifts this year will either be homemade, sourced from local/regional artisans, or may be tools to aide others in doing more for themselves. 

The month is off like a flash with sports, meetings, holiday events and appointments filling each day this week.  I hope to enjoy every bit of this month and head into the new year feeling that I accomplished all that I needed to this year and start again with a clean slate.  Pure, crisp, and full of promise. 


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