It’s almost Christmas. Where did the time go? And isn’t it always so swift?
There’s been so much going on here, and yet, we’ve managed to carve out moments of peace and relaxation. It’s a nice thing to deliberately slow down. And why not during the holidays, when everything begs to be admired and enjoyed? Lately, I’ve been curling up on the floor in front of our little Christmas tree. Turns out, looking up into a twinkly tree, with sparkling ornaments, is every bit as magical when you’re an adult as when you were a child. If you have a chance, do give it a try. (Maybe with a cup of hot cocoa in hand? Or a soft kitty to hold in your lap. But not both.)
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So this has been happening. Wintry, stitchy magic. I love the gently unfolding story of cross stitch samplers. The trotting palomino is my absolute favorite. These days I stitch with the sun in my eyes. It comes through the dining room window at a sharp angle, over the neighbor’s rooftop and across the garden wall, as it always does this time of year.
Winter arrived rather suddenly on Wednesday afternoon. The sky darkened – something it hadn’t done in ages – and burst open in a torrent of wind and rain. Bright orange and yellow leaves blew across the road, trees bent forward, rain lashed against the windows. It was brilliant. Normally our first storm arrives around October 31st. For a while there we felt we’d lost winter: The sun shone perennially, the weather was fair, flowers were blooming, and everything was decidedly springish. Now that the cold has truly arrived, there’s a bit of hope for a good solid winter – the kind that keeps us bundled up in soft throws and hand-knit mufflers. (And the kind that has me dreaming of cozy sleigh-rides through frosted woodland…)
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I’ve got my 2018 reading list off to a happy start. Happy is the operative word here. I want sweet and thoughtful stories, with perhaps touches of melancholy, and overall life-affirming. Goodness knows I get enough local, national, and international news, painting an all-too vivid image of what’s wrong with our world. But what’s right with the world is every bit as valid and important, and it’s good to focus on that. It’s also good to remember that all the small, kind, joyful, thoughtful, pretty, everyday things we do and create – they add up. Like a field of flowers. Or stars in a dark sky.
I discovered Jenny Colgan’s Little Beach Street Bakery series quite by accident. And thank goodness for that, because they look absolutely delightful, and I can’t wait to jump right in come January. (Throughout December I’m reading Nigel Slater’s Christmas Chronicles, and re-reading my all-time favorite, Susan Branch’s Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams.)
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The zinnias we sowed last spring are still blooming. They’re growing quite wild, actually. (The cold hasn’t frightened them much, but once the frost arrives…) I stopped tending to them months ago, as life and work got rather busy. I’m not making excuses though, as I love a wild-looking garden. Ages ago, when I first started gardening, I made sure to pinch, pluck, trim, and prune. And everything was neat and pretty. Then I discovered the ruffled, tousled look of the cottage garden, fell madly in love, and decided to be more hands-off. Aside from occasional pruning and deadheading, we just sort of let things be, and enjoy the unfolding story of plants doing what plants do.
It’s a wee bit early, but I’m already planning our spring garden. It’s hard not to think about it, actually. We’ve decided to return to our well-loved container garden. We’ve grown so many wonderful things in containers, and it’s always been the most efficient form of gardening for our environment. Much more on all of that later.
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Does anyone else look forward to seasonal Dum Dum flavors? Apple Cider is a winner. Also, I’m pretty sure Sugar Cookie is actually Butterscotch. That’s too bad, because a sweet vanilla flavor would’ve been nice.
I’ve bought a lovely new planner by Katie Daisy. It’s filled with her colorful artwork, inspirational quotes, and plenty of space to write daily notes, lists, plans, whatever. I make sure to take some notes each day: what I’ve done, what I have to do, etc. I have a tendency to want to do all the things. A planner reigns that in a bit. It’s good for me.
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Then there’s Fluffo. She’s a bit bossy, but terribly cute. And I love how she sits like a furry tank.
And my favorite Christmas book from when I was a child – The Care Bear Cousins and the Snowy Christmas. The pages are yellowed, but still colorful and full of magic. (It’s been hanging around my bookshelf for over 30 years. Goodness.)
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I’m still working on my Rock Candy muffler. (Isn’t “muffler” so much cozier than “scarf”? I love it.) I’ll share more of that in the next post. In the meantime, I bumped into an issue of Mollie Makes which featured this beautiful Folk Circle Pot Holder by Emma Lamb. So I worked it up in two evenings. The colors were inspired by the cheerful jar of candy canes – Christmassy, but also perfect for next summer, (though I imagine I’ll have made about twenty of these by then.) Oh, and I should note that I skipped the whole ‘pot holder’ part of things, as I was mainly looking for a pretty granny circle doily for around the house. It worked out splendidly.
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There’s a lot more going on, but I think I’ll pause for now and wish you a very Merry Christmas. We hope that wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, you’re well and happy. Remember to take good care of yourself, every bit as much as you care for others. (I know that sounds a bit backward for this time of year, but I find that if we are kind and loving with ourselves, we have so much more love and kindness to give to others.)
For me, this Christmas is about reflecting on all the wonderful gifts we already have. Like my darling 13 year-old niece reminded me, sometimes when we see something too often, we don’t notice it anymore. I’m all for changing that. Let’s count the blessings, one by one.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.
Sosae (& Dennis)