Saturday, December 31

Seven Swans-a-Swimming


 Miss Margaret Waters and her sister Mary were quietly at work in their cottage in the village street.  They sat, one on each side of the big round table in the living room, penning their Christmas cards in meticulous copper plate.  Music tinkled from the large old-fashioned wireless set on the dresser by the fireplace, vying with the noise of the bells outside.  Mary's grey curls began to nod in time to a waltz, and putting her pen between her teeth, she rose to increase the volume of the music."

Miss Read


The Christmas roses finally drooped too much to remain, but I am still enjoying the vase of beautiful seeded eucalyptus that graces the table.  Our daughter's beautiful Christmas embroidery has also been brightening our table this week.  She saw a photo of Ginny Sheller's embroidery on Instagram and was immediately inspired to work on her own. 

I know that I have been waxing poetic this week about the Kapla blocks that we bought the boys for Christmas, but it's impossible to stop.  This morning, Little Man built a model of The National Gallery of Art, one of his favorite places.  I really love how open-ended these blocks are and how creative the kids have been with them.

Friday, December 30

Six Geese-A-Laying


Together, the three trimmed the hall and parlor and great dining room with shining holly and evergreen, lay fires ready for kindling on the hearths that had been cold for years, and made beds fit for sleeping all over the house.  What went on in the kitchen, only Dolly could tell.  But such delicious odors as stole out made Grandma sniff the air and think of merry Christmas revels long ago."

Louisa May Alcott 


We like to open some of our Christmas parcels throughout the twelve days of Christmas and today the children each received  paint-your-own matryoshka kits from a lovely couple in our church.  The children immediately sat down to work on them before, during, and after their breakfast.  It was such a great gift and I just love how they turned out!

We took a little trip to the cinema today to see the latest Star Wars film, Rogue One.  As I have mentioned in the past, I am not into sci-fy or Star Wars, but I have to say that I enjoyed today's movie.  Watching it almost makes me want to watch the rest of the films in the series (I saw the seventh movie last Christmas).

It is quite hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of December and the final day of the year.  My sister and her family are coming for an overnight visit and I cannot wait!

Books in 2016...

This past January, I decided to make a list of all of the books that I read in 2016 and aimed to read a book a week.  It was a bit of a challenge to make it to 52 books, but I finished the final one just last night.  I'm really glad that I kept this list to refer to  and I plan to keep a list for 2017, too!
1.   A Country Christmas
2.   Anna Pavlova: Twentieth Century Ballerina
3.   The Light Between Oceans
4.   The Girl on the Train
7.   Brooklyn
8.   The Shell Collector:  Stories 
9.   Sidney Chambers and The Perils of the Night
10. Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil
11.  Sidney Chambers and The Forgiveness of Sins
12.  The Queen's Dolls' House
13.  Jane Eyre
14.  A Circle of Quiet
15.  A Time to Blossom
16.   Simple Matters
17.  Wildwood
18.   The Railway Children
19.  Jayber Crow
20.  Middlemarch
21.  On the Estate:  Memoirs of a Russian Lady Before the Revolution
22.  The Remains of the Day
23.  Gilead
24.  Dragonwyck
25.  Love and Friendship
26.  Lady Susan
27.  Katherine
28.  The Summer Before the War
29.  Wildflowers and the Stories Behind Their Names
30. The Summer Book
31.  Late Wife
32.  Demelza
33.  Vinegar Girl
34.  Ladder of Years
35.  A Country Child
36.  Digging to America 
37.  A Spool of Blue Thread 
38.  Excellent Women 
39.  Jeremy Poldark
40Some Tame Gazelle
41.  No Fond Return of Love 
42.  Other Wordly
43. A Very Private Eye:  An Autobiography in Diaries and Letters
44.  Jane and Prudence 
45.  People Knitting
46.  An Unsuitable Attachment 
47.  Red Butterfly 
48.  Warleggan
49.  Fanny at Chez Panisse 
50.  My Family and Other Animals 
51.  Someone at a Distance 
52.  Happy Times in Norway

Thursday, December 29

Five Golden Rings

Anne was already tasting Christmas happiness.  She fairly sparkled as the train left the station.  The ugly streets slipped past her...  she was going home...  home to Green Gables.  Out in the open country the world was all golden-white and pale violet, woven here and there with the dark magic of spruces and the leafless delicacy of birches.  The low sun behind the bare woods seemed rushing thrugh the trees like a splendid god, as the train sped on."



It was another lovely and quiet Christmas vacation day here.  We woke up to rain (I'm so glad that we took that trip to the playground yesterday!) and spent time just lolling around with our new Christmas treasures.  We had a viewing of Cinderella this evening, played with camera and my cellphone taking fun pictures, and I took nice long bath with the last few pages of my current book and a chocolate truffle.  Tomorrow brings a trip to the movie theater with the Trio to see the latest Star Wars movie as a family!

2016 Knitting Projects

1. Blank Onyx Palmyre Shawl
2 and 3. Two 2x2 ribbed scarves for the boys 
4. Shale Blanket for Vivienne's baptism 
5. Riverbank Cowl for Kathleen 
6 and 7. Two crowns (one white and one gold) for the dress-up bin 
9, 10, and 11. Three merino black hats for the Trio (two Be Loving hats and one Audrey Hat)
 12. Pearly Oyster Hollows Shawl for Ira 
13. Great Grey Owl Greyhaven Hat

Though I felt like I didn't accomplish much knitting-wise, when I looked through photographs from this past year, I found that I was able to meet my goal to complete twelve projects in 2016.  In this coming year,  I would like to complete another twelve knits and also try to knit socks for the first time.

Wednesday, December 28

Four Colly Birds

The rooms were very still while the pages were softly turned and the winter sunshine crept in to touch the bright heads and serious faces with a Christmas greeting."

Lousia May Alcott

We've spent the fourth day of Christmas quite cheerfully.  My father-in-law ate breakfast with us (homemade buttermilk waffles, eggs, and bacon) and then watched A Christmas Carol with the children on the television before he left for home.  We'll get to see him again on Monday when we have a Christmas party with my husband's side of the family.

The children spent a little time playing at the playground this afternoon, while I read a little.  It was a bit chilly, the sun was shining for the first time in a few days.  We stopped by the grocery store before heading home for a few essentials for the next few days...  and, yes, ice cream found its way into the cart! 

Tuesday, December 27

Three French Hens

And now it was time for Mother to go down to the large parlor and light the Christmas tree.  Then it was really Christmas.  Astonishing, how it could see just as solemnly wonderful year after year, Mother thought.  In the big fireplace a large blaze of resinous pine knots cast a flickering red light across the pine-paneled walls that were smooth as silk to the touch and mellow with age, and brightened the gilded pictures frames and the old brown bookbindings with the faded gold printing.  The candles on the Christmas tree and the candles in the two old chandeliers that had once hung in a church were mirrored in the windows, where the night pressed blackly against the panes.  There was the good odor of fir boughs and melted wax, of lily of the valley, and of hyacinth."

Sigrid Undset

We are enjoying our visit with Grandfather Bear.  It was largely a day of relaxation that began with a nice breakfast of eggs, toast, sausage, and slabs of Potica bread (there was a choice of four kinds:  English Walnut, Chocolate, Poppy Seed, and White Chocolate Cherry) which was a gift from our boys' godparents.  Of course, Grandfather Bear also needed some good coffee made by Sugar Plum, who is becoming an expert at brewing in the Chemex.   We ended our day with a trip to see Christmas lights in a nearby park and mugs of hot cocoa before the children's bedtime, and now I'm introducing Grandfather Bear to the delight that is Netflix.

I was able to spend a little time today adding some of the odds and ends from my stocking to my Traveler's Journal:  a clip for my pen, a blank notebook, a little ruler, and some brass index clips.  I enjoyed the adding labels to the index clips and beginning to set up my bullet journal calendar for January and February and I'm looking forward to getting out the wall calendar that I bought for 2017.  It's another Carl Larsson one and the reproduced paintings are lovely!   


After the polite back-and-forth to decide which priest (my father-in-law or husband) would say the prayer after the meal, I commented that someday there will be more blessing indecision if our sons become priests (as they plan to).

Husband:  Oh, I thought Button wanted to be a bishop.  If that is the case, he will outrank the rest of us.

Button:  I don't want to be a bishop!  I want to be a saint like Saint Nicholai!

Monday, December 26

Two Turtle Doves

...In the bat-black, snow-white belfries,tugged by bishops and storks.  And they rang their tidings over the bandaged town, over the frozen foam of the powder and ice-cream hills, over the crackling sea.  It seemed that all the churches boomed for joy under my window; and the weathercocks crew for Christmas, on our fence." 

Dylan Thomas


In the early morning today, I got myself all ready to do my first real photo shoot of the extended family of some of our parishioners.  It was very fun and a little stressful!  I hope that the photos come out well and that they are pleased with the results.

We ran an errand in after lunch and now we are enjoying a little visit from my father-in-law.  The Christmas dinner leftovers are nearly finished and there have been plenty of sweets eaten in the last two days.  Tomorrow will be our first big family breakfast since the beginning of November and I am really looking forward to it.  I think that we will make pancakes, eggs, and sausage with plenty of hot coffee for Grandfather Bear.

I was scrolling through Instagram with Sugar Plum today and she happened to spot an embroidery project that Ginny was working on.  I mentioned that we would have to see if we could get our hands on a copy of the latest issue of Taproot to get the pattern.  Without a word, she went off to her room and found a bit of leftover linen from the skirts that my sister sewed, some embroidery floss, a hoop, and a needle.  She's a little wonder, that girl of ours.

Sunday, December 25

A Partridge in a Pear Tree



Tucking Ruthie into her little bed, Mama whispered, "The folk shall have their Christmas tree, and you shall be the heavenly angel this year."

Ruthie fell fast asleep, but Mama sat long by the firelight sewing as fast as her nimble fingers could move."

Gloria Houston


Christ is Born!  Glorify Him!
Alas, I didn't take many photographs today.  The children opened their stockings before Liturgy, and after church, we all worked together to lay a tasty spread of snacks to enjoy together while we opened gifts.  The big hits of the day were Kapla blocks (which I have always dismissed as being too simplistic, but after the children had a chance to play with them on two different occasions, I decided to take the plunge and we are all thrilled) and some Guidecraft dolly furniture (a cradle and highchair).  The rest of our day was pretty low key with dinner with relatives and Vespers.  Now that the dishes are tidied up, Father John and I are watching a few episodes of Netflix's Medici show with our feet up.  Christmas Day always seems to go so quickly and is a great deal of work for the mama in the family.  Thankfully there are still 11 more days of Christmas to enjoy!

Christ is Born!

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, 
 Has shone to the world the Light of wisdom! 
 For by it, those who worshipped the stars, 
 Were taught by a Star to adore Thee, 
The Sun of Righteousness, 
And to know Thee, the Orient from on High. 
 O Lord, glory to Thee!

Saturday, December 24

Christmas Eve

Today has been a flurry of activity with church services, confessions, last minute cleaning, and cooking for tomorrow's big feast.  I can't wait to celebrate!   

Friday, December 23

Wednesday, December 21

Matchy Matchy

I'm using the last of the yarn that my father-in-law gave me last Christmas to make a lacy hat.  The yarn is Madeline Tosh Great Grey Owl in DK weight and the pattern is the Greyhaven Hat.  So far, it is a great pattern and very easy to follow.  I love when my reading matches my knitting and I'm really enjoying Someone at a Distance.  It's making me want to pick up another favorite Persephone Book, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

Tuesday, December 20

Gingerbread Springerle Cookies

My gingerbread springerle cookies are finished! I'm really happy with how they turned out. They are not terribly sweet, so they may not be a favorite for those who like sugary treats (my husband wants me to try to turn them into sandwich cookies with a little icing), but I'm glad that they look so pretty and feel like this is a nice new Christmas tradition for our family!

Guest Post: Milo Vest

 Written and Photographed by Sugar Plum, Age 10

This is a Milo Vest for a baby I know.  I can't say who though, because it is a secret. It is a Christmas gift for her. I also have other gifts that will go with the vest: a rabbit with carrots and a headband.  Things are going well. I am so excited to give these knitted things to her! Yesterday night I finished the vest, so I am blocking it now before I wrap everything up.  Maybe I will take a photo of the rabbit,carrots,and the headband with the vest. 

The pineapple was a breakfast item. My mama and brother got the pineapple at the store when they where done with speech therapy.When my brother goes  to speech, my other brother and I  do our violin together and then apart. The flowers are from the breakfast table. I think my mama picks great flowers and she has a great taste.  I really mean it because her food is amazing.  She just made cookies for Christmas and they are scrumptious.

Monday, December 19

Living and Learning: The Week Ahead

In the Kitchen
I'm making molded gingerbread! I received the mold from for Saint Nicholas Day and have been nervous about trying something so complicated. So far, I've made the dough (using the gingerbread recipe that came with the mold), let it sit for an hour, and molded and cut out the cookies... now it's time for the hard part: letting them sit for 24 hours before baking. I'm not sure how they'll turn out (baking sounds like a bit of a challenge, since so much could go wrong), but it's been fun trying something new!

On My Needles
After trying to knit The Art Deco Hat multiple times over this past year, I finally gave up and am trying The Greyhaven Hat instead.  It is going much more smoothly so far and I'm excited to finally get to use the Great Grey Owl yarn that my father-in-law bought me last Christmas!

I've been listening to Loreena McKinnitt's Midwinter Night's Dream on repeat for the last few weeks.  I love it!

On My Bedside Table
I recently heard about Dorothy Whipple through a magazine article and though I have only read the first chapter of Someone at a Distance, I think that I might have found a great new author to enjoy.  She has been compared to both Jane Austen and Barbara Pym, so how could I go wrong? 

I know that this is old news, but my husband and I just finished watching The Crown on Netflix and enjoyed it so much.  Everything about it is so wonderful:  The scenery, the actors, the costumes, the storyline...  everything.  I'm so happy that we were able to watch it and I am really looking forward to upcoming seasons! 

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