Thursday, December 31, 2020

Monday, December 28, 2020

Little pops of color -

The amaryllis and Christmas cactus 'garden' on the dining room table - our
sunny spot - now has the cutest ceramic toadstools popping out of two pots!  
They are a gift which I'm really enjoying while sitting here awaiting new
 growth and hopefully blooms in the coming months.
After New Year's Eve we'll be 'taking down' Christmas, packing away
 the much-loved decorations, hoping they will make their way here
 lighting and brightening a more normal holiday season when December
 rolls around again!

Taking a little break for a few days as many of you seem to be doing 
this week.  Will return New Year's Eve. . . . . . . . . after all there's
really nowhere else to go!!!!
Take care dear blog friends - stay well and safe - and thank you for
stopping by often during this very different year. 
Your visits and kind words always make me happy. 
Hugs to everyone.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Recalling Moscow -

Snowy mural on a Moscow street wall 2013


I was in Moscow during the summer of 2013. 

I flew there from the city of Petropavlovsk in the Russian Far East, 

on the Kamchatka Peninsula. It was 9 hour flight across Siberia and, 

on landing, Moscow was drenched in heavy rain.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour from the bus window 2013

Crossing Red Square 2013

The following day the sun came out and I was able to see how wonderful
 the city really is, an amazing blend of old and new.

Now Moscow is in the midst of winter - on checking I see today the high
 is 28F and the low will be 19F - we were almost that cold here yesterday,
but have no snow as they most likely do.

If you haven't seen this video, filmed on the Sparrow Hills overlooking
 Moscow, do watch.
It's a 'flash mob' to beat most flash mobs you may have viewed online - or 
maybe even watched in person. 
It will cheer you, put an end to the winter blues, make you smile, tap your
 toes, wish you were there. . . . . . sing or hum along and just enjoy in Full Screen -
"Puttin' on the Ritz"

Boxing Day 2020 -

Christmas was lovely though very quiet.
Boxing Day is my favorite day on the calendar no matter 
the weather. I embrace it as 'my very own day' when 
nothing urgent needs to be addressed, cooked, baked, 
poured, or served at a specific time.
A roaring fire, a footstool, a cozy throw and a great
 book sound perfect. . . . . . especially as it's very, 
very cold!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Christmas art -

Eugéne Samuel Grasset (Swiss 1845-1917)
Color Wood Engraving from his portfolio Les Mois -1895

This has always been one of my favorite depictions of December as
 Christmas approaches - snow, hellebores, wind, a warm red dress, cozy wrap, 
and a huge bunch of mistletoe. . . . . . but no kissing under it this year!

Monday, December 21, 2020

All Around the House and Poinsettias -


We visited a garden center a week or so back to gather some greens
 for the mantel - Santa and reindeers were almost airborne!
The poinsettias were perfect, and there were thousands, but we didn't
 buy any this year with no company coming to the cottage, plus not
 wanting to spend too much time around other shoppers - now I feel
 somewhat guilty.

This local garden center/nursery is one of the top poinsettia
 growers/researchers in the USA - here they grow over 30,000 plants
 annually.  Their displays and greenhouses are a breathtaking sight
around Christmas. 
Usually there are hundreds of shoppers and many photographers.

The gift shop always has the most beautiful ornaments - this was my
 favorite this year.
A few more colorful cottage corners.

Time is getting short.  Today we deliver gifts to little ones and their
parents - just front porch stops, no going into homes, no hugging, no
 sitting and nibbling or drinking and toasting . . . . . . . oh for a real, 
old fashioned Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Rainy Sunday before Christmas -

Today is cold and dreary. Rain a steady heavy drizzle. Skies leaden.
The only lively spot is the leafless fig tree with birds waiting on the 
rain-soaked branches for a turn at the feeders. 
Three Eastern bluebirds attacked the suet feeder at once - a family
enjoying Sunday breakfast perhaps.

Note my favorite vintage rolling pin and cookie cutters - and the
 baking tins I brought from England so many years ago.

My traditional English mince pies - ready for the oven.

My weekend has included baking - mince pies, ginger crinkle cookies, 
a delicious apple galette (shared with the new next door neighbor), and
 then sitting and thinking about other traditional foods I will make in the
 coming days and into the new year.

Sadly, no usual Christmas Eve party, but for some reason I still feel
the need to bake and cook like I always do . . . . . . . you just
know someone will eat the food!

A bit bedraggled this morning - but always a pleasure to see in the garden.

I'm struggling a bit learning the New PicMonkey - - there really are a lot
of differences but thankfully they have great tutorials - I just need to set 
aside more to read them, and watch their videos. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Places to ponder . . . . . . . .

She is always part of my decor year round however at Christmastime
 my santos doll gets a little more dolled up so to speak.
Out come her golden wings, vintage rosaries, beaded wrap, velvet 
pillow from France, and of course her jewelled crown.

The Santos dolls take their name from the Spanish word for Saint, and are also known as Santons (French) and Santibelli (Italian). The Santos that started the genre of dolls we currently represent (primarily Spanish Colonial and Western European style), were originally started as copies of 17th century carvings by priests. Originally, Santos were created for use as in-home altars.  They were needed in small villages that did not have a priest, as well as for when it was not possible to travel to church, such as during times of war.  Their development flourished in Europe  in the 1700's and 1800's, primarily due to these wars.

This year I decided to place her in a different area for a change. 
She's now at the top of the stairs brightening up the doorway to the attic.  
It's another spot where a chair can fit and I can sit for a while . . . . . and yes, 
you may find me here these days pondering on the meaning of life, but mostly
 on the Christmas season, quite different but still as always beautiful, full of
 peace and hope for the future.
Do you have favorite little places around your home to sit
 where you can think, reflect on . . . . . . . . and ponder?

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

All Around the House . . . . . . Part II


Still more pretties to share today, a wet and wild day weather-wise, 
but bright and cheery around the cottage.  
Bob's barber came early morning so it felt right to turn on the Christmas
 lights and enjoy the sparkle for an hour. Then I turned them all off so I can
 do it again as dusk falls!
Off to the kitchen for a couple of hours now as I have a lot of cooking and
 holiday baking to get on with - and it's a perfect day to turn on the oven!

Stay safe if you're farther north of us where the snow may be heavy
and the roads dangerous.  

Monday, December 14, 2020

All Around the House . . . . . . . Part 1


I completed my Christmas decorating around the house, then sat for a
couple of far too warm days for December, wondering why.

Why was I doing all this when Bob and I might be the only people to see
 the sparkle in dark corners and on tabletops and shelves. The flickering
 of candles all around, Rudolph's red nose, a golden stag, a whiff of fresh
 pine from the mantel, an angel frame with an angel photo of someone
 very special, and tiny trees of silver, green and some snow dusted.
Now, after a week of early dusks, after my afternoon cup of tea, I'm in love
with the routine of lighting the candles, the Christmas tree and large paper
 stars in the gazebo, the small metal tree with my collection of birds, hearts,
stars and vintage chandelier crystals. . . . . . and then the outdoor lights.

It's not perfect this year, and I didn't put out every ornament, but the sparkle
 and glow is making these now darker, colder evenings very pleasant.
I'm so glad I made the effort . . . . . off now to listen some 
Christmas music.
More peeks around the house next time.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

The week that was -


I was up with the sun on Saturday. A mild morning with such a fiery sky it
 took my breath away for a few fleeting minutes. 
Followed by scattered bird songs from around the garden, I sat down
 to listen on the front porch, wrapped in a chunky cabled throw, coffee
 mug in hand, hoping this would be a good day.

I picked up a lovely bunch of mixed fresh cut greenery from a nearby 
garden center - today I will arrange it on the mantel and hopefully 
it will remain pretty through Christmastime.

Now it's already Sunday with a little rain from the night glistening 
on the shrubs and grass, but the sun breaking through and a pleasant
 day reaching 68F predicted. . . . . . .perfect for me!

Yesterday this bluebird was caught showering in one of the backyard
 baths - always a sweet bird to see.

Cooking this weekend included a tasty cauliflower soup - and although
 not shown here, I added a teaspoon of Dijon mustard noted in a French
 recipe, and it did give an extra flavor layer which was really tasty.

I also made that good spinach quiche again - it's delicious right out
of the oven but, for me, the leftover portions reheated gently are actually
 my favorite when the ingredients seem even more tasty.

At long last the city leaf collection truck showed up in our
 neighborhood on Friday - here they are working on our pile. 
Fortunately the leaves were dry and sucked up quickly - of course
 there are still more to come down but hopefully a second clean up
 will happen in January.

The 'Apple Blossom' amaryllis continues to bloom - four flowers
 open fully now, one more bud just beginning to open this morning.
This has been a stunner.  

The old bulbs are showing a bit more green but it will be 
some time before a stem and buds appear - if ever! Fingers are
 crossed for them, also for the Christmas cactus which hasn't 
done much despite my care in the year since I was gifted with it.

When it comes to Christmas mail, I love to discover envelopes
 with beautiful stamps waiting in the mailbox at the end of the
 driveway. So far, this year, my favorite is this one on my card
 from my family in France. It's not actually a Christmas stamp but
it's a lovely illustration of the facade of Notre Dame Cathedral.
All snail mail cards are so welcome, especially with the
exorbitant cost of postage for overseas mail.

I had a health scare last week which included having to return for a 
second (diagnostic 3-D) mammogram when my annual screening one
 showed an abnormality. Thankfully it was determined by the radiologist
not to be anything resembling cancer - and I walked away from the 
clinic feeling free and so grateful after several days of nervous thoughts.

Always have your annual check ups even if, like me, you are older. 
I was going to skip my annual due to COVID and having to go
 to a medical facility - thank goodness I didn't.
They can save your life!

Here's to a good week ahead for everyone.
Hope your 'different' plans for Christmas this year will go smoothly.