Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Second Day After

1. We celebrated Marian's third birthday today. She was totally into decorating the cupcakes.
2. One of her cousins called me Nonni even though we're not related. I remember all the kids in my neighborhood referred to my aunt as Aunt Katherine because that's what we called her. I'm OK with being Nonni to all.

 3. Mari is so happy that the big kids indulge her with play.
* Her Grandma and Grandpa H. gave her this cool fort building set. It can be built in all different shapes; igloo, castle, tunnel, etc. It comes with sticks and connectors and you add your own sheet or blanket.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Day After

1. It felt good to be outside. We bundled up against the cold and trekked up the hill to the swing and tree fort. Mari said what every child says when swinging, "Higher! I want to go higher!"
1a. We swept years' worth of leaves and twigs from the tree fort with our gloved hands. We talked of plans to resurrect the make-believe place for Mari and her cousins to play.
2. Thanksgiving Dinner Revisited : )
3. A do-nothing-in-particular day.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Another Thanksgiving at Our House But They're Never Quite the Same

1. The parade is on (and later the dog show). We arrange a glass platter with assorted fruit for snacking and a bowl of nuts for cracking as the kitchen begins to fill with good aromas.
2. Audrey lies on the floor playing Polly Pockets with Mari.
3. One of my favorite tasks of the day is setting the table. The contrast of a natural linen tablecloth with the silver and glassware is eye appealing to me. Tiny white pumpkins hold votive candles and the leaves I waxed last month are scattered down the center of the table. Bundled twigs and berries are tied with name cards to add another touch of rustic autumn to the table.
3a. Our son-in-law-to-be introduces us to his mother. I greet her with a hug and make the observation that both our families are growing : ).
4. An "off" sound comes from upstairs. It's the vacuum. Tess has decided to rearrange her room which leads to her cleaning it, of course.

5. She's inspired by the new paper, charcoal, and colored pencils we bought in the pouring rain yesterday. Throughout the day, she shows me her sketches which make me smile.
6. Mari has pumpkin pie and then apple pie for her dinner.
7. At the end of a very long day, after some have been tucked into bed and others have begun to doze, there is a little boy who cannot sleep because of his stuffy nose. Nonni cuddles him up on her lap and whispers sweet things to him. He gazes into her eyes and studies her aging face. He takes his finger and touches it to her nose. She strokes his little boy forehead and his little boy hair. His eyes become heavy and soon he is asleep. 

I just realized Jack's hair is the same color as his mother's.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Baking Day, With an Occasional Squall, They're Here!

1. Four pies and two loaves of cranberry nut bread sit cooling on the counter. It's a pretty sight to see this morning's work laid out.

2. Snow flurries fly past the windows on a frenzied wind. It makes the kitchen feel welcome and cozy.
3. I bundle up and go out to find the berries and twigs that I'll use to make place cards for the Thanksgiving table. I'm bundled up properly so it's not that bad outside. The walk clears my head of all the 'busy-ness' that was tumbling around in there.
4. Claire and her family arrive, blown in by the cold and blustery wind.
5. We dine on take out pizza. I love the garlic dipping sauce/guilty indulgence from Papa John's.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

To a Thanksgiving

Robert Burns' poem and its line, "The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry." has often come to mind this week as we attempt to plan a holiday that is free of bad weather, sickness and travel woes. The last two stanzas say it all.

 Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
What makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell -
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me;
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects dreaer!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bottle this!, The Right Stuff, Good Food

1. I set the pecan pie out on the porch to cool. It's frigid cold out there and the smell of sweet pie, wood smoke, and cold air blend together in a magical aroma.
2. Daughter #4 is dating a young man who comes to our home and happily blends in with us. Any mother will understand how thankful it is to have this scenario. And he likes my cooking. That never hurts either.
3. Our church holds a celebratory Thanksgiving meal and the table overfloweth, and the little children overfloweth, and the talk get the idea : ) So much for which to be thankful!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Music Festival, With Cold Air, As It Should Be

1. Presser Hall at Hollins University is an old, old building, covered in brick with ancient hardwood floors and molding, cast iron radiators, and transom windows above the interior doors. It houses the music department. On this particular Saturday young musicians played and practiced piano simultaneously in several rooms. It was a cacophony of music notes and scales that ironically sounded pleasant.
2. Steve gets a fire going in the wood stove and it smells divine.
3. The guys are shooting pool in the basement, the kids are noisily playing boardgames in the family room, and B. knits while she and I visit in the living room. The house is being used and it makes me very happy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Clever Sweets, Company's Coming!, Open Door

 1. A parent made sweets that brought a smile to everyone's faces. She made dozens of these cute creations to hand out to the children and generously left the staff with some too. They were sealed in tiny plastic bags, but I could smell the chocolate all morning while I worked. *Mr. Turkey got a little beat up in my purse on the way home.
2. Uncle Jimmy and Jacob arrived from New York this afternoon. We're so happy to see family that it feels celebratory. Audrey and Jared joined the party. She had not seen her uncle in at least five years. Plenty of, "Remember When..." stories were told.
2a. I can't help but exclaim how my fifteen year old nephew is taller than me! Such a typical "aunt" remark.
3. Very mild temperatures allowed us to sit on the porch well into the night. Home brew and cigars all around. : )

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jack's Art, I Don't Bite, Getting Ready

1. When I glance in my rear view mirror before driving out this morning I see a beautiful frost pattern on the back window. I sit for a minute and study it in the mirror before I have to drive away.
2. The children are timid and shy when they come into the office on errands. We must be a scary lot, Marie and I with our flowers and smiles.
3. Claire says Mari is playing, "Going to Nonni's House". She has her stuffed toys in a bag and pretends to pet Henri. My arms are ready to have her at our door. : )

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beginning to Gel, Autumn Lunch, Craft "Shopping"

1. Thanksgiving preparations are forming in my head. This is the stage where I gain confidence that I've got a handle on it and I even begin to get excited.
2. B. invited A.and me to a lunch of butternut squash soup and homemade oat bread. There was a fire in the fireplace and a beautifully set table. What a treat to have all this placed before us and a good visit to enjoy as well! Two cups of coffee provided extra energy for the rest of the day.
3. I scan the roadside while I walk Henri, looking for winter berries and sprigs of this and that to use in decorating over the next month. I make another mental note of where to go back and find it when I need it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Gray, Endless Possibilities, How I Gear Up

1. It's what I think of as a true November day; Gray sky, gray trees, gray, rainy air. It's how November should look, in my opinion, so I embrace it.
2. Her friend works in the camping department and we got the inside scoop on what's good and what's not. I marveled over the entire wall of freeze dried foods. I'm not a camper, but I love looking at all the equipment. It's similar to the appeal I have of hardware stores.
3. A nice hot cup of coffee before we venture back out into the night and the rain.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Separate Paths to the Same End, Ten Feet, Bare Wood and Crunchy Leaves

1. To have a Saturday when we are both feeling well and have no commitments outside the home. Although he and I work on separate projects, our purpose is united in that it all benefits the common good of "keeping house".

2. The smell and feel of natural linen as I hem a long length for our Thanksgiving table. I ordered it from It's a bargain at $8.01/yard.
2a. Steve is building another leaf for our table which will extend it's length to ten feet. Now we can all sit at one table for holiday dinners.

3. These are November woods, my favorite kind for tramping through. I won't go farther than our own field for now...until hunting season is over.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings, Herbs, Children on Errands
1. I cooked a pot of Chicken and Dumplings to celebrate Friday night with comfort food at the end of our busy week. I could eat dumplings every day and never tire of them. Find a very easy recipe here.
2. My rosemary thrives year after year through all kinds of winters here in Virginia. It has become a woody, thick shrub. The parsley is still hearty, but it will die back soon. The dill surprised me today when I went to see if any still lived. A few rugged, misshapen stalks still have plenty of feathery green leaves to pinch and chop for the dumplings.
3. I have less interaction with the school children now that I work in the office. However, each morning little ones walk in pairs, holding hands to my desk and hand me their class folders. They all behave timidly except for one little boy whose eyes dart around with excitement as he asks questions and seems to want to stay and play a while.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Up Where the Air is Clear (Hum to Mary Poppins Tune), At Least I Still Have Teeth, Nice Fit

1. As we take our first blast of arctic temperatures in Virginia, I see this photo of Chelsea and Chad  on Mt. Bierstadt. And we thought it was cold here! They made their first hike of 14ers in Colorado today. I'm so proud of our adventurers.

2. Daughter #3 cleaned my teeth today. Ha,ha! It strikes me funny that she pinned a bib on me, told me to spit, and brushed and flossed for me. I teased her and told her now I know what it will feel like when I'm old and senile and she has to care for me.
3. Sometimes you have to trust the salesladies. One such lady suggested I try on a pair of pants that I never would have chosen for myself. She was right and they're great.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Winter Scene, When Steve's Away, Something New to Bake

1. Most of the time I don't see anything I want at the antique mall, but today I saw three things: a Department 50 Dickens Village building at 50% off, an original box of Shiny Brite Christmas ornaments, and this painting. I could only choose one thing, so I chose the painting. It's unframed and unsigned, but I love it...for only $15.00.
2. Steve was away, so for girl's night Tess and I had scrambled eggs for dinner. For entertainment, we watched a good murder mystery in the series, Midsomer Murders.
3. I baked chocolate mint cookies with Nestle morsels that combine both dark chocolate and mint. Delicious! We ate some, warm from the oven, with #2.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Protection, Already?, Deck the Halls with Autumn

I couldn't resist. This is how I saw the Indian corn this year, as a bouquet.
 1. I picked some rosemary and placed it in the wall planter outside the back door. It's to buffer the little bird who sleeps there from the wind. He is there every night and every morning. His feathers are brown with white spots, like a fawn's.
2. The Sunday sermon was so interesting and engaging that the time went by in a blink.
3. We return home and find Daughter #3 glittering pine cones at the kitchen table. She has also picked bunches of bittersweet and arranged it around the house. Her holiday Pinterest board is filling with ideas and she calls me over to come see. It's contagious behavior and I'm glad a little of that spirit rubs off on me.

Bittersweet in glass

Bittersweet twining up the chandelier

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ten Minutes Early, Comfort Food, Floating Off

1. I woke multiple times during the night, afraid I would oversleep on my first day at the new job. All the butterflies in my stomach were for naught because I received the warmest welcome when I arrived.
1a. A cheery pot of Gerbera Daisies was placed on my desk with a note that said, "Welcome to Greenfield!".
(I didn't know I was going to have a desk. I have a desk! The last time I had a desk was in 1985 : )
1b. The date on her calendar was marked, "Lee starts today!" with a smiley face next to it.
2. I love the complimentary flavors of macaroni and cheese with crunchy buttered breadcrumbs on top and stewed tomatoes on the side.
3. I wrapped myself in a down comforter to watch TV. It was so cozy, I feel right asleep.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A little post written in memory of my Uncle Tony. I enjoyed going through some old photos for this: Today I Have Something to Say

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

TO: "Mom", Celebrating One, Leaving Soon

1. A facebook message from daughter #3 that made me laugh:
 I went to go type a message to you and I entered "Mom" in the recipient box.. It took me 1 whole minute to figure out why you weren't showing up. Ha! "Leonora". 
2. Our grandson turns one year old today! It pleases my heart to see our children happy and content which means their children are happy and content.

3. When people tell you that you will be missed and you know they sincerely mean it. 

My head still feels stuffed with cotton wool. It really affects clarity of thought!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's All I Have To Bring Today

It's all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
                                                              Emily Dickinson

Still recovering from a weekend lost to fever and illness (yet again). The biggest down side of working in public school is all the lost time for sickness. C'mon immune system. Get with the program!

Netflix Makes Everything Feel Better

...and I'm watching a lot of Netflix.

I loved this "feel good" movie: Papadopoulos and Sons

I also watched the recently released second and third (!) seasons of The Land Girls. If you like BBC period pieces with a soap opera edge, then you'll love these.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Humor is Like Happy Candy, 76°, Three Down One to Go

1. I discovered Amazon has a section for "Funniest Reviews". Am I the only one to not know this? My day just got a little brighter.
2. I went grocery shopping in a short-sleeved T-shirt on the first day of November.
3. The happiest and most beautiful thing of the day, Daughter #3 is engaged! A fine, young man is joining our family and we are once again blessed.