feeling:: a sorting and a settling, I'm slowly learning to embrace this season; nature's perfect pattern of quiet, stillness, introspection, hibernation, and deep rest. Leaning into and coming to appreciate what winter has to give and teach me. Intrigued with the idea of "hygge" (recently finished reading The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge (Edberg), I've recently come up with a plan and list of ideas to make this winter a happier and cozier one. There are times, though, when it's hard not to slip into meloncholy ("What now??") or those dreaded and dreary doldrums, especially with the lack of sunshine, blue sky, and warmth.
thanking:: that our hero Keith was able to repair yesterday's broken water pipe. That it wasn't worse than it was.
longing:: I really am missing my morning runs and walks, I loath the treadmill.
viewing:: While You Were Sleeping was darling. Can't believe I missed that one until now.
reading:: I've decided that I want to focus much of my attention on the classics this year. That timeless literature, both novels and poetry, that I didn't get to in own education/reading, as well as those that we missed during the homeschooling years. Trying to be on the lookout when I visit the local thrift store for new titles/copies I don't already have in our home library. (I've scored a few good ones, so far.) Keith gifted me a beautiful copy of some Louisa May Alcott that I hadn't yet read, including Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom which I'm currently reading. He also gave me a copy of Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed. Already in 265 pages of the 719, and not sure if I can hold out 'til the end. A lovely collection/commentary of Robert Frost's poetry was happily received last night from my dear friend, and I'm very much enjoying these. Excited for all that's in store this year.
cooking:: I've had fun trying out some recipes from of another Christmas book I was given: The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook (Moskowitz). Already, I've made some vegan cheezy sauce to top my pizza, potato latkes (a December/Hanukkah tradition for our family.), challah loaves (pictured above. Interesting take on this bread normally made with eggs and milk.), some Buffalo Caulifower "wings" on New Year's Eve, and a delicious pistachio lentil biryani (Persian inspired rice dish). Each yum-o.
eating:: just now, a slice of Jane's scrumptious (GF) banana bread. We sure are eating GOOD with her around! (They'll depart for Virginia next Monday.)
enjoying:: time with the kids home these last few weeks, especially those one-on-one times and talks we've shared. Eliza and I had fun shopping for her first-ever oil painting supplies last week, as well as chowing down on the best Ban Minh sandwiches. Enjoying seeing them having their own special times with each other, too.
creating:: With the birthday gift cards/money I received from my kids + an awesome 40% discount coupon, I was able to purchase a new easel for my little art studio. It was needed as Eliza decided it was time to take hers (the one I'd been using) back to the dorms. I'm sure grateful to have this new one for its size and stability. I spent a couple hours at it on Friday, but the resulting drawing was only fit for the trash. "It's all practice though, and not precious," I need to keep reminding myself. I'll slowly get back into gear one of these days... hopefully soon!.
This was to be my year of trust. To understand it and live it, deeper. I won't lie when I say that 2016 was intense, difficult, even, All this, and at the same time, beautiful and rich with
much goodness and growth.
I have been stretched and I have trusted in ways I didn't anticipate or even think was possible. And looking back at all these moments, this season of my life, all I'm left with, once again, is gratitude.
For miracles and mercies, opportunites and relationships that have nourished my soul with
hope and joy. With peace and love. And with arms wide open, I embrace new beginnings and fresh starts.
I am very drawn to the German artist Kathe Kollwitz (1867-1945). I thought I'd ease my way tonight into a new Christmas sketchbook with some graphite drawings inspired by a few of her self-portraits. Her words inspire me, too:
"To this day I do not know whether the power which has inspired my works is something related to religion or is indeed religion itself."
"I do not want to die... until I have faithfully made the most of my talent and activated the seed that was placed in me until the last small twig has grown."
" The job of an artist is to offer a sanctuary of beauty to an ugly world. I am in the world to change the world."
Christmas is over,
but the moments and the memories
are warm and happy and good.
Hoping yours was that way,
making:: We gathered who was home last night for our family gingerbread (graham cracker) house/village making. I must admit that this well-loved and much anticipated Christmas tradition overwhelms me somewhat with all the preparation involved (especially all those batches of royal icing needing to be mixed up.) Once I sit down to make my own, I'm pooped. But the kids always talk me into it, and it ends up fun and fulfilling.
hosting:: the college kids, along with Jane and Preston here this past week. It's nice to be able to enjoy them all this way.
outing:: After dropping J & P off at the airport this morning (they will spend the holidays in California with his folks), we enjoyed a fun day in the city with Eliza and Isaac. Pastries and peppermint tea at a cozy French bakery, hearing those angelic voices performing A Ceremony of Carols at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, and finally, a delicious lunch of Indian street food. All-in-all, a wonderful, memory-making day.
listening:: and immersed in the sounds of the holiday these days. Enjoyed every minute of the beautiful harp recital Eliza and I attended yesterday at the home of her friend Nikenzie.
reading:: sneaking in bits of time here and there for my books with The Widow's War (Gunning), The Birds' Christmas Carol (Wiggin), The Young family's The Storybook Home Journal (such a beautiful, inspiring bi-monthly publication.)
feeling:: On the downhill now with one last grocery shop tomorrow and Christmas Eve dinner to prepare on Saturday. Relief that the Christmas rush is through.
cherishing:: the time I have with my kids.
wishing:: each of you a joyful and peaceful holiday season. I sincerely thank you for your presence here and interest in my life. For the kind words you have gifted me this year. It all means so very much.
Love and Blessings to you, my friend.,
The holiday season has, in years past, brought much stress and overwhelm. A feeling that I'm riding a runaway train (and can't get off) of to-dos, perfection, and expectation. I'm focusing now on living with intention and gratitude. Trying to find joy in the simple things. Choosing to do those things that truly bring pleasure and peace. Like spending a quiet afternoon Friday baking and tucking cookies into cute little tins, making sweet surprise deliveries for our grown up, left-the-nest kids. Reminding them of home and their mother's abiding love. Or yesterday's decorating of a small evergreen tree that sits in my kitchen simply with gingerbread cutouts and orange slices. The smells and traditions of my mother's own kitchen, those magical Christmases of childhood past coming back to my memory now. And these children all gathered together last night sharing hugs, Thai dinner out, bowling, cake, and fun, celebrating with me these 46 years of life. Snuggling with Isaac later on the couch, my eyes tear-filled while reading aloud my beloved Christmas Day in the Morning. Making merry all these moments and more to come.
photo credit: Gary Crofts
Staying snug and cozy here at home today after yesterday's whopper of a snowstorm. A morning walk through this winter-wonderland, a hot bath, sipping a mug of my new holiday tea, books by the fire, curling up to watch the newest Anne of Green Gables, creamy potato soup by candlelight... perfect.
As tomorrow marks the first Sunday of Advent, I thought it would be nice to create a natural wreath from the beautiful materials I gathered this evening (in the dark!) from our own yard and a neighboring horse pasture. It's a lot easier to go out and buy an artificial wreath at the craft store, but there's absolutely no comparison with the natural beauty, the heavenly scent, and the satisfaction I felt in making something out of my own hands.
As we gather for supper each Sunday, we'll light a candle in anticipation and remembrance of Christ's birth, His gift of Light to the World. The fourth and last candle saved to burn on Christmas Day.
"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough."
Hi, I'm Emily!
I welcome and thank you for visiting. Through this blog, I invite you, friends or strangers, to come and abide with me as I open my heart and home to you in understanding, honesty, discovery, and reflection. It is my hope that you will join me in my quest for a simple, joyful, meaningful life.