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."
noticing:: blustery winds and a light dusting of snow last night and through this morning. Looks like the weather is finally taking a turn to cold and winter. We've been enjoying such a glorious, mild autumn.
smelling:: cozy, stay-at-home days like this always puts me into the baking mood. I mixed up a batch of Challah dough, and with the two extra portions, I decided to make "star bread"--one cinnamon and the other Nutella. Boy, my house smells divine.
listening:: Bach station on Pandora.
reading:: The Irresistable Introvert: (Chung).
viewing:: marathon 10 episodes of The Crown (Netflix) last weekend. Yes, hooked, loved, and guilty pleasure.
outing:: Jane and I sure enjoyed our night out on the town Saturday evening. Lovely candlelight dinner at Himalayan Kitchen and then off to Ballet West's beautiful production of Madam Butterfly. (Tickets so kindly gifted to me.) So grateful to spend this special time with her before she and Preston leave for Virginia in January.
thanking:: Something totally unexpected, joyful, and wondrous happened to me last week that I want to record and never want to forget. I was notified by email that an "admirer and fan" of my work anonymously paid (in September and me just finding out about it now) for an online portraiture painting course in my behalf. Tears. I had previously taken a few drawing courses from the same instructor and others-- focusing and working all year on drawing-- and have now desired and felt like it might be time to go on to the next level with oils, etc, but waiting patiently when the time was better financially. Also to note: that same week I was grateful to book two massage sessions that provided most if not all ofthe funds for my painting supplies!
I am so humbled, touched, and deeply grateful for angels who have so generously and so personally come to my aid over and over these last few years. All of these miracles and mercies witness that Heaven is indeed aware and does loves me. That my art practice is a gift that needs to continue to be nurtured.
“You know Pastor, baking is a real art. Especially bread baking. There is something so divine about it. It is a pure alchemy. And all alchemical elements are there: flour that comes from the earth and represents material, water that you mix with flour to make the dough, air released by the yeast fermentation that makes dough rise, fire that bakes the bread. It is fantastic. And the aroma of hot bread released during baking is the most pleasant fragrance for our senses. Think about that for a moment, Pastor. Any food aroma that we like, no matter how much we like it, gets overwhelming after a while, and we open the kitchen windows and close kitchen doors so the smell doesn’t get into the living room. Any smell, but the smell of freshly baked bread. Did you ever hear anybody complain about the smell of baked bread? Nobody, Pastor! Nobody. You hear people complaining about their neighbors frying fish, roasting pork, barbecuing sausages, but nobody ever complains about the smell of baked bread. And you know why? Because it is divine. It is magic – the magic of the craft.”
~Stevan V. Nikolic, Truth According to Michael
I pass this little lane on my running route most mornings.
Today it gave me the warm fuzzies.
First go at making lacto-fermented vegetables.
They'll culture in a salt water brine for 5-7 days and then store in the fridge.
Eager and excited to see how they turn out.
My kind and generous friend brought over a bunch of apples and pears
he picked from his trees.
I told him that they would be put to good use and I meant it..
A pan of roasted yams and apples for dinner that night, along with 8 quarts of applesauce and some scrumptious apple fritters yesterday proved it to be so.
When a chore becomes a meditation...
Isn't she the sweetest?
The golden hour is the magic hour.
A small personal victory today on this bread baking journey. First real attempt and success at a true, fermented sourdough (no yeast here). I began the development of these loaves early Sunday morning and baked them today. I've been intimidated by the process, but am starting to realize that all good things take time. Delighted and somewhat surprised with the just-right subtle tang, the nice, high dome (even with the whole wheat addition) and open, satiny crumb interior.
Onward and upward.
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.