Cabin Cozy Time

The long quiet of Christmas spilled over into the New Year. While I normally find January rather invigorating, this year has been different – a long slow cozy. I had a long slow re-reading of last year’s discovery, The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge. One of the features of the country house is the conservatory. I have a small unintended collection of house plants, they could use such luxury!  What they get is some light from the dining room windows. Being real here.

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The pinky stem violet blooms magenta, the pale one, white. The Christmas cactus dropped all its bloom this year – I was using the dining room at night – too much light for bloom. The aloe was beautiful and now is suffering through winter. The amaryllis — who knows! And then there is the pot in the corner of ‘things’ that are ancient and love me in spite of my neglect.

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Yes, I’m a very accidental window gardener. The thing that drives me is Winter. Drab, long, usually cold, winter. So, when I was offered a bulb vase, I said yes. How difficult could it be to buy a bulb and sit it over some water?

At the garden center, I couldn’t decide on color or bulb from the few remaining offerings. Hyacinths are more popular than I knew. I was reluctant to invest in another vase, and surely I could create something useful… so I bought two. I did some research and set my expectations on a shelf in the garage and promptly forgot them. Out of sight… and the fact that in my research I missed some key instructions, something about changing the water…

In spite of my ignorance of their needs, the great desire locked in their heart was to grow ‘at the scent of water’, and so they did. When I saw some foliage, I moved them to my “window garden” which proved a happy place for them to bloom.

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Whether bulb or container, I cannot know, but the growth in the bulb vase was much better than my jar creation.  The leaves remained short  and the blooms rather stem-less but these are minor defects. See for yourself!  IMG_7242

How I wish you could inhale the heady fragrance! Lush and full of the promise of spring, it became my favorite place to linger with tea.

20160113_124706They have about given their all for my happiness. I’ve fallen in love with them and I’m making plans for next winter:

  1. Obtain more vases.
  2. Shop early for pre-chilled bulbs.
  3. Make a plan – 3 weeks till the blooms appear.
  4. On schedule, Set the bulbs in the vases over lukewarm water and plan to change it out about twice a week.
  5. Put the vases in a cool, dark place (garage shelf for me) and monitor the water levels, root and foliage growth.
  6. When the roots are developed and the foliage is growing, move the vases to the “window garden”.
  7. Prepare the space with a cozy chair, pillow, throw and books.
  8. When the day comes for first fragrance, prepare tea* and settle in for deep breathing. Forget to open the books.
  • Personally, I found Chai to be a good companion.

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Yes, I added water to the top of the neck of the vase just after taking the photo.

Epiphany

January 6, 12th Day of Christmas, Epiphany

It makes me sad to see Christmas trees on the roadside December 26. It seems that folks are missing the best part of Christmastide. Resting in the beauty of Christmas and the lights and decorations. Yes, our tree is still up and at least for tonight, the lights will continue to brighten the long evening of rest and enjoyment.

2016-01-06The journey of the Magi through the nights and days seems to take a lot of conferencing and convincing – at least that is my imagination story – because it would probably have been my story had I been privileged to see the star and make the journey.

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In fact, I probably would have wanted to bring along a whole menagerie and everyone I knew so no one would miss out, all the while the time would grow later and later for the journey. Distractions.

Epiphany – revealing – my life is a constant revelation of God to me. I would like to see that revelation, the directions, written in the sky. I think it would keep me from distractions. But skywriting looks like this …

20160106_073420 or this  20160106_080221 or even 20160106_082815

All mystery, and like the books and scrolls that appear in my dreams, unreadable…

After my last post on Father Time, I set some time apart to again consider last year and to ponder whether or not to engage with the One Word concept this year. This time I thought about “well” as a thing – a hole dug in the ground to access water. I’ve read of wells that dried up and became trash bins full of broken things, garbage and such. Wells in which weapons or treasures were hidden. Abandoned wells, unmarked and a serious hazard to those who might stumble into them.

I remembered the story in Genesis in which Isaac had to re-dig the wells of his father so that he would have water for his flocks. They had been stopped up with earth by their enemies. I began to see that my cleaning out had been a process that could be like a cleaning out of my own wells clogged with earth stuff so that fresh water can now flow. I found a lightness to my spirit as I thought about this.

Bonnie Gray has been an online friend and mentor for quite some time now. Her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, was really a guide to clearing my wells even though I may not have been conscious of it as I went about my season of de-stashing. Bonnie is hosting a new feature this year and would love for you to join her and the others who will link their hearts and words of encouragement at #OneWordCoffee on Wednesdays on her web site, FB or Instagram. OneWordCoffee_Badge2Her word, her theme, is “beloved”. I’ve been hearing that this is my word for 2016. Since the well of my life is being restored, I’m ready to believe.

Do you choose a word for the year?

 

Father Time

watch

Old Father Time – I blame him for the odd passage of time these last weeks and, in fact, this last year. My watch began to run fast, the bathroom clock refused to run, its replacement ran too fast. Now I have a new watch and a new bathroom clock – one with a fake tick-tock.

Back to last January. Do you make resolutions, choose a word for the year, or just wait and see? I chose a word – or it chose me. I set up a notebook, wrote out my plans, started to make something of it. Then a strange bit of old conversation pressed into my consciousness – and I listened to it. So began the strange unfolding of my word.

I started with plans and purpose and the first project led to a serious clean out of my needle crafting supplies and that led to being able to sow them into the lives of young women with teachers wise to help them explore art and craft in many forms. boxes  Father time had gotten involved with the bittersweet realization that years of life are limited but creative ideas are not. Expecting to be energized, I found myself exhausted, slowed to a crawl even. Where was the energy that was supposed to come with ‘de-cluttering’?

In August, I needed something from the cellar. Easily distracted, I faced into the storage boxes of journals and notebooks. Looking between the covers made me ponder the fact that some words bind us to the past in unhealthy ways. August 26 - November 26go onDetermined to forget those things which need to be forgotten in the grace of God, I glanced through them, saved some treasures and recycled 15 years of time, releasing and simplifying spaces of the past.  The process went on as I looked into the guest room which from the doorway looked quite tidy… Opening the closet reminded me to photography and scrapbooking projects unfinished…

That word for the year – well, well-being. This cleaning of the attic and basement of my soul has happened as the fabric and books and paper have been cleared away. While the work has been emotionally exhausting and wearing on the body as well, it is creating well-being in my soul. The stack of empty storage boxes, the deliveries, recycling, gifting, are all evidence of the work out, long needed for my health.

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All along, of course, life goes on with sunrises, sunsets and quiet, wonderful things, nurturing me. Like this hyacinth bulb, the first I’ve grown in the house. Wonderful, quiet growth unfolding.

Farewell, 2015!

I pray for all a wondrous, joyful New Year, 2016.

 

Memories of molasses and ginger

I come from a Christmas Cookie baking family – on my mother’s side.

I can never remember a year of Mom’s life when there were not crisp, thin, cut out sugar cookies – “plain” and with variations of flavor: coconut, black walnut or anise. It was her mother’s recipe, passed around that large family.

I do remember my Grandmother Amelia with plates of cookies. Hers were thicker and cut with very old fashioned cutters but the lovely taste was the same. One Christmas, her platter included brown cut out cookies. I expected a treat – perhaps chocolate… Oh my. So bitter. So very nasty.

oak leaves

Whenever I find the leaves of the Chestnut oak with their rounded lobes, so like that cookie cutter, I remember those brown leaf-shaped Ginger cookies! A survey of my siblings revealed we all remember them, and we all thought they were terrible!

My husband’s Aunt Dolly once returned from a visit to a cousin’s and brought this ginger cookie recipe to our home for a baking session. I’ve made this recipe for many years now; these cookies are delicious with fruit and I make them year round.

ginger cookie recipe

When I make them, I use Grandma’s® Original Molasses. Their Gingerbread is another favorite with family and guests. One Christmas, my niece made these cute little houses for dessert. Gingerbread houseWe were inspired by some at  King Arthur Flour, another pantry staple for me.

It is fun to have memories of a distant time and place triggered by something as simple as a pile of leaves from the park! I’m sure you have some small memory triggers too.IMG_7048

Adventuring

We didn’t go to the river park as much as we had hoped this fall. When the weather turned spring-like, we knew we must go right then. So we did! We stopped for sandwiches on the way for our lunch.

Our favorite table was out of the question with Mr. Wind raining leaves and acorns with great abandon. So we chose a lone table under a maple tree still holding on to a few leaves. After lunch and a bit of reading, the tree caught my interest. maple  I realized what a sheltering presence it is, hosting a sapling deeply rooted between the two trunks.  IMG_7028  Further up there were deep folds that might shelter a small bird in wind or rain or cold. Then even higher, a hole, probably made by a woodpecker which will surely be used by a squirrel or birds as a winter night bedroom. IMG_7031   Then, down at the ground, almost hidden by the leaves, I saw an entrance to a space… perhaps used by small creatures or perhaps by fairies…  IMG_7034   We lingered through the afternoon finally leaving to enjoy the setting sun coloring the tree tops on our drive home.

A Pondering: Did you ever hear songbirds at night in the fall? I learned that most song birds that migrate, do so at night. Amazing! Navigation by sun and stars to places the newly fledged birds have never seen – and they go without a guide or map. Amazing!

Making Connections

For me, one of the wonderful things about this time of internet communication is meeting people around the world. I want to mention two lovely Australian ladies whose blogs share creativity and kindness so generously.

Kerryanne English blogs at Shabby Art Boutique. This month she has started her 6th year of Simply Christmas entries. In the first post she introduced her beautiful 2015 Christmas Planner – free to download, which I was happy to do. In the next post, she wrote her thoughts on planning. Christmas Planner   I’ve been a planner, but somehow in the last couple of years, I forgot how essential this ingredient is for relaxed celebration. I find that planning – anticipating – can really add so much joy.

I used to keep wonderful records of menus and cookie baking marathons and gifting. I’m starting again to keep this record of joy sharing. Kerryanne is posting ideas for gifts and décor as well as continuing her Friday link-up parties full of inspiration.

Then, I would like to introduce Jennifer Reynolds – Jenny of ELEFANTZ. Jenny is always so generous in sharing her lovely talent in stitchery. She has also been gathering creative ideas for gift giving from other bloggers and kindly sharing the links.

While embroidery is an old and mostly abandoned interest of mine, I was inspired by her holiday table runner last year to create one of my own with fabrics available here.

design   And, I almost forgot – food – you will find tempting recipes at both sites! Have a look?

October’s passing

IMG_7000 Morning fog and the plaintive cry of the lone goat down by the pond – he’s the white spot down there. I think he mourns loneliness these days. I haven’t seen his buddy for about a year.

IMG_6998We have leaf lawns like old brown/gold shag carpets in every view.

IMG_7003 The deer are almost invisible now except for white tails as they bound across the yard. This one paused for quite a while before slowly going over the hill and down through the sluggish morning traffic.

IMG_7007  And then, all is glorious!

I found another poem by George Copper that speaks of the season. Here are the first two verses:

“Come, little leaves,”

Said the wind one day,

“Come over the meadows

With me, and play;

Put on your dresses

Of red and gold;

Summer is gone,

And the days grow cold.”

Soon as the leaves

Heard the wind’s loud call,

Down they came fluttering,

One and all;

Over the meadows

They danced and flew,

Singing the soft

Little songs they knew.

Since I first encountered Barbara Mahany’s lyrical writing in Slowing Time , I’ve been a visitor to her table. Her current post on the coming darkness of the long nights of winter ends with this thought: to “… wrap ourselves in the whole of the long night’s offering, the invitation to burrow deep inside our souls. and bring on the night candles, the flame, and the blankets.”  She writes of the long winter cozy that I do love with more candles, more soup and stew, more blankets and comforters, more reading and yes, more time outside. In the dark.

I’m moving a jacket up to the kitchen so I’m more agreeable to respond to the drawing to step outside to watch the dawn create silhouettes of my tree friends. Stars and planets visible without the canopy of leaves.

You’re invited out into the wonder! IMG_6993

October Sheltering

Our bluebird friends are visiting their old nest box again. Other birds are invisible to me as they chatter and investigate trees for holes and shrubs for cozy places for winter nights.

The squirrels are frantic, running here and there with acorns and black walnuts from across the street, burying them, then futilely patting leaves on top.

The deer are dressed for hunting season in deep, drab coats. They wander the yard aimlessly having eaten all the apples and pears they could reach or their squirrel friends tossed down to them.

Overhead the geese fly and chat about moving south or staying in place.

I imagine that you, dear reader, are adding cozy touches to your home and securing it against the winter to come. I’ve dressed the beds in layers of blankets and comforters, added afghans and quilts and pillows to couches and chairs and made a number of batches of applesauce – my wintry comfort food! This week I also pulled out my old potpourri crock pot to warm up the house with cozy scent.

2015-10-22 Spices, apple peels and core, water and time = delicious scent.

A scent I didn’t know I missed came to me the other evening as I opened the door – wood smoke. Someone had a fire going in their home. Now I miss the scent of burning leaves and wood from old fashioned barrels and pits and stoves as I venture out in the cool of the day. Our long ago neighbor cooked and heated her home with wood.  I remember there was always a curl of smoke from the chimney and the scent of hearth on the air.

One of my long term projects is finally finished and adding a cozy touch in the guest room and a smile to my face whenever I look in.  yo-yos   My years long project of scrappy yo-yos is finally sewn together! It was my birthday gift to myself to complete it. I remember when I was very young that we had a yo-yo coverlet.  The fun of it and the weaving in and out of little fingers stayed hidden in memory until I saw this style had a revival of sorts. Mine is only bed warmer or foot cozy size although my sister pointed out that I can always add to it!  560 little circles gathered and stitched together. yo-yos  I rather enjoy the repetitive hand sewing as a winter activity. The nostalgia of it drew me to the book shelf and my favorite childhood story book. story book   It is certainly the worse for wear having entertained quite a few children since I received it as a gift and lived for a while in a dark attic before coming back to me. I don’t have many things from my childhood so I am delighted to have this book. The illustrations are wonderful.

Take a peek.    story book   Yes, the naughty Gingerbread Boy. There are many classic stories in it but my all time favorite is a mysterious, creative and delicious adventure which is probably totally responsible for my need to always have butter on my pancakes. I loved this little family!   IMG_6869