Monday, December 31, 2012

Dolly watches The Woodwright's Shop

with the utmost attention.

Roy Underhill is a fascinating figure, don't you know.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

God rest you merry

One last quote from Gladys:

"As I let the dogs back in, I smell the snow. The walk is silver, the picket fence wears pointed caps. Night herself is luminous with the falling snow. A flurry comes in with the dogs and melts on the wide floor boards. No two snowflakes, I am told, are exactly alike and this is a mystery. Now the intricate shapes are gone, and only a spot of water remains. It is not very practical to stand in the open door at midnight and let the snow blow in. But it has been my habit for years to close Christmas Day just so, sending my blessing out to all the people in the world, those I know well and love greatly, and those I shall never see. And as I close the door, I repeat again my Christmas blessing. 'God rest you merry, gentlemen'."

                                            -   Gladys Taber,   Stillmeadow Sampler

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas leftovers

(We tend to like to leave some gifts and wrappings hanging around for a while.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

plump squirrels

Are the squirrels looking well-fed where you live?  I haven't seen a slim one in months.  There is one in particular who's quite chubby.

Isn't he?

I'm concerned about what this might mean.  Do they know when it's going to be a hard winter?  I wish I hadn't noticed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Christmas is only seasonal in the heart"

"We always think of Christmas as a time of snow and icicles hanging from an old well and snow over the valley. But I had a friend who was newly married and went to live in the tropics. She felt sorry for herself as Christmas drew near. She wept. And then her husband brought in some tropical flowers...And it came to her suddenly that Christmas was not a place, nor was it weather, it was a state of mind. After all, she thought, Christ was not born in the North, he was born in a stable in Bethlehem. ..

It is certainly true that Christmas is only seasonal in the heart. The snow may be clean and deep outside, or you may be in a dingy apartment or you may be in a steaming tropical country. But it is still Christmas. Whether you serve the plump crispy turkey, or something exotic wrapped in pandanus leaves, the feeling of Christmas is there. It is in the mind and in the heart. The faith we have in the good rises like a tide and wherever we are, we feel it. Christmas graces any board and gives a new lift to our life, and as we hear once more the familiar carols, we thank God for the birth of His son. 'O Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie - Above thy deep and dreamless streets the silent stars go by'."

                                                   -   Gladys Taber,    Stillmeadow Sampler

the peace of Christmas

the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid  - Isaiah 11:6

Monday, December 24, 2012


for the Baby.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
and light triumphant breaks;
When beauty gilds the eastern hills,
and life to joy awakes.

O brighter than that glorious morn
shall this fair morning be,
When Christ, our King, in beauty comes,
and we his face shall see.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
and earth's dark night is past;
O haste the rising of that morn,
the day that aye shall last.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
and light and beauty brings:
Hail, Christ the Lord! Thy people pray,
Come quickly, King of kings.

-  from Magnificat,   December 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

fourth Sunday of Advent

"We beseech thee, Almighty God,
       to purify our consciences by thy daily visitation,
that when thy Son our Lord cometh
       he may find in us a mansion prepared for himself;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
       who liveth and reigneth with thee,
        in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen."

                               -  Book of Common Prayer, 1789

Saturday, December 22, 2012

preparing the way

It was in the past week that I got out most of the Christmas decorations

detail on a Christmas card

at the library - the patrons were coming in and exclaiming over it

prophetic view beyond a Christmas tree

Joining Leila this week 

round button chicken

Friday, December 21, 2012

3 gifts lit

The tree lit up in the entryway

Dolly in a patch of sun near the Christmas tree

Double rainbow over the church across from the library, please ignore the power lines.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

3 gifts angelic song

"no room for them in the inn"

"And while they were there [in Bethlehem], the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

This should cause us to reflect - it points toward the reversal of values found in the figure of Jesus Christ and his message. From the moment of his birth, he belongs outside the realm of what is important and powerful in worldly terms. Yet it is this unimportant and powerless child that proves to be the truly powerful one, the one on whom ultimately everything depends. So one aspect of becoming a Christian is having to leave behind what everyone else thinks and wants, the prevailing standards, in order to enter the light of the truth of our being, and aided by that light to find the right path."

                                    - Pope Benedict XVI,   Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

recipe: Totos Italian cookies

If you're part Italian, these cookies may bring back memories for you.

I used to have them at Auntie Adeline's, but I always thought Uncle Charlie got them at the Italian bakery. And I never knew what they were called.

Years later at the library, I got into conversation with a woman - I hardly remember it, really - but I ended up with a recipe for cookies called "Totos". And they are the ones!

A few years ago we had a post holiday get-together - my Italian cousins - and I made them. Oh, the teasing I got - "just like Auntie Adeline's"!  So - she had baked them herself.  My half-Sicilian cousins pronounce them something like "duh DAWS". Well, so much for "toe toes" (and your little dog, too).  I don't know how they are really pronounced or which region they come from; they're not in any Italian cookbook we have at the library.  I've seen a few versions of the recipe online but they contain Crisco - mine has oil.  I'll keep mine, thank you!

I thought I would share it -


Mix dry ingredients together first -

4 c. flour
1 c. cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves

Set aside.

Mix up:

1 egg
1 cup cold coffee
2/3 c. oil
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. orange zest
2 tsp. lemon zest

Now mix in the dry, a few tablespoons at a time. (You can actually just throw everything into the bowl together, but I find it easier to do it this way - it's more orderly.)

The recipe calls for 1 1/2 c. of chopped nuts and 1 c. raisins. I tend to leave out the nuts, so more raisins than a cup would be good. Mix them in, whatever they are. The dough is sticky.

With well-oiled hands, roll balls of about a soup spoon size and put them on a greased sheet. You'll get four or five dozen. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes - yes, they take a while!   Start checking them at 20 mins; that might be enough.

They don't spread, which is nice, and come off the cookie sheets very neatly. When they're cool, mix up an icing with the juice of a lemon and about 2 c. of xxx sugar. 

Buon Appetito!

Monday, December 17, 2012

3 gifts frosted

Totos - an Italian cookie I baked today. Nothing frosted to be found outdoors; it's been above freezing.

cherry red felted hand warmers

Yesterday on the spur of the moment, I cut up a thrifted sweater that I'd felted a year or two ago and made myself some festive hand warmers.

Much easier to make than to photograph  -  and way faster than knitting them myself.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

foiled again

Just as soon as I laid the black flannel down to cut it out -

she just had to get in on the act.  Of course, I let her be.

But she had the sense to stay on the pattern piece!

(I did eventually get it cut out.)

third Sunday of Advent

"Stir up thy power, O Lord,
       and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
       let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
       to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
       be honor and glory,
       world without end. Amen."

                                - Book of Common Prayer, 1789

Saturday, December 15, 2012

a gift gold, scented, bent low

A gold design on a Christmas card,

the scent of a slow cooking cassoulet,

the One who bent lower than anyone

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

two gifts striped

Two stripey goodies brought home by my brother -

Couldn't come up with a third.

Branch-ing out

First, I got a Susan Branch cookbook from Val.  Now, I've received a Susan Branch calendar from Nellie. She had a giveaway, and I won!

A funny but pleasant coincidence. You can always rely on Susan Branch to cheer you and take you away to pleasant places.  I really appreciate these, ladies!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

a gift ice cold

A cold cloth on my headache last night.

Headache gone, along with the heavy, foggy weather. Thanks be to God.

Monday, December 10, 2012

3 gifts unframed art

feathery milkweed in glass ornament

lights on an untrimmed tree

neighbor cat framed by reflections of Christmas lights on the window

Sunday, December 9, 2012

second Sunday of Advent

"Merciful God
      who didst send thy messengers the prophets
              to preach repentance
              and prepare the way for our salvation:
Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer;
Who liveth and reigneth with thee
      and the Holy Spirit,
      one God, now and for ever. Amen."

                            -  Book of Common Prayer, 1789


Saturday, December 8, 2012

a gift held

I've got it -

this was one of my birthday gifts the other day; a pretty little suitcase - see the silver handle? But I couldn't hold it AND take the picture.

a gift hung, a gift heard

A wonderful vintage wreath in our family for years

hung in the bathroom - why not? It's tinsel.

Perfect music for decorating (and rearranging!) the living room.

A gift held? - I could not think of anything. This is a challenge, to be sure.

Friday, December 7, 2012

anatomy of a Vera Wang collar

In some online shopping I'd found myself at Kohl's looking at scarves and there to my wondering eyes should appear a furry collar, which I knew instantly should be for Cyndi, who loves the different and unusual. It was a Vera Wang, and a good sale - I ordered it.

When it came I wanted to look at it of course, and took it out of the bag. I was very surprised at what I found.

I thought it would be shaped. It was a long rectangle. You can see the inside - it's a soft thin fleece material, or maybe that stuff they call minky. (is that fleece?). There is grosgrain ribbon at each end.

Here you can see the furry material it's made of.  Well, that was it; I had to keep it. (sorry, Cyndi) But how easy it would be to make a collar like this.  I took the dimensions, if you're interested.

It's twenty five and a half inches in length, and five inches wide. The five eighths inch wide ribbons are fourteen inches long, with a little hem on the ends.

Here I am in it

Isn't it cute? (and very warm!) Hope Vera doesn't mind my sharing a bit of information, but anyone who sews even a little could easily make something similar for a gift. Both fabrics are very soft, and I think that's why it works, why it curves around so well.

Don't worry - I ordered again; Cyndi won't have to be without one.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

3 gifts sweet

A sweet gift of scones from a client of my brother's, our sweet Dolly who wanted to see what was going on, and some minty blondies with green and chocolate chips I'm bringing to our party after work tomorrow - my gift.

Good night!