Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And a happy Christmas!

Christmas 2014

This year I set aside one day, the 23rd, for our family Christmas at home, and it was really one of the most fun Christmas celebrations that I can remember. Douglas and I have alternated spending Christmases with his family or mine every year since we were married, which has been wonderful. But as more children have been added unto us, I've craved a bit of time for our own family traditions, and togetherness with our own little family of five. Last year, after Christmas was over, I decided that this year I would just set aside a day to be our family Christmas, and I think it worked out nicely. We still had plenty of time to enjoy with my family and Douglas', but it was special to have time just to ourselves, too.

Christmas 2014

We woke up to a gentle snowfall, which was a simply lovely blessing on the day. We had a leisurely morning of opening stockings and gifts, and then a brunch of scrambled eggs and sausage patties. The kids enjoyed their toys and we cleaned up all the wrappings after eating, then put the youngest two children down for a nap while Edmund was permitted to continue playing with his new things. This was the first year he really wanted a specific toy. He had seen someone played with a radio-controlled helicopter while on a walk this summer, and he remembered that and kept talking about "an airplane that can go on its own." Well, thanks to my parents, his wish came true -- Mom found an inexpensive helicopter on Amazon. We were pretty sure it wouldn't last long in the hands of a five-year-old (it's recommended for ages 14+), and we were right -- but he had such fun playing with it while it lasted!

Christmas 2014

After naps, we went for a cold walk in the wild (or as close to it as we can get around here), then came home to a dinner of cheese fondue. I have not made that in such a long time, and I wasn't sure if the kids would like the more "grown-up" tasting cheese, but they did! I had planned on serving eggnog for the kids and mulled wine for me and Douglas, but I was so tired I ended up falling asleep at 7:30pm. Thankfully, Douglas put the little ones to bed, so we were all able to get some much-needed rest after a happy day of celebration.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. - I John 1:5

Friday, December 12, 2014

Evening light on fruit

Christmas fruit
[not a dirty mirror with those specks, just a 100-year-old one!]

I have found that a cheap and easy way to decorate for Christmas is to use mostly natural objects... extra greenery cut from our tree, pinecones, dehydrated citrus slices, and a bowl of seasonal fruit. I set this basket, lined with a green plaid scarf, out on the sideboard of our built-in china cabinet, and filled it with apples, pears, pomegranates, grapefruit, oranges, and clementines. The amount and type of fruit varies as we eat our way through it, but it makes a festive focal point out of something we have on hand, anyway!

Friday, December 5, 2014

December whirling in

There's a prevailing thought that you shouldn't even THINK about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but I have come to realize that when you are a homemaker in charge of decorating and festivities, that attitude is Bunk. Hopefully each year I will do better, but I often end up scrambling around, trying to get things pulled together post-Thanksgiving (or whenever we return from our travels -- this year, it was Nov. 30).

Christmas stockings

At least in one area, I am way ahead of the game -- stockings. I've been wanting to pull together some coordinated family stockings, but as is typical, I couldn't find anything store-bought that I really liked. So last August, I finally made some! Yes, August. I did NOT want to be doing Christmas sewing in December.

Christmas stockings

I used quilting cottons from Moda's "Lumiere de Noel" line by French General, which is a few years old and very hard to find. I finally found some yardage from a few small online quilting shops. I don't know how many more stockings we may need in future for more children, so I ordered some extra prints just in case! I have stripes and plaids for boys and florals for girls.

Christmas stockings

I made up my own pattern, which is just a simple and classic stocking shape, with a cuff for names. The stockings are lined with an off-white twill and the cuffs are made from a linen-like cotton, both from Walmart, of all places. I hand-embroidered the names onto the cuffs, using an alphabet lifted from one of my English embroidery books (it is copied from an alphabet on a sampler made by one of the Brontë sisters). The "linen" wasn't quite fine enough to do counted cross-stitch, so I traced each name onto freezer paper, centered and ironed it onto each cuff, and then embroidered over my guide. After 1/2 of the cross stitch was done (all the stitches on one diagonal), I carefully tore away the freezer paper with my fingers and tweezers, then finished the cross-stitches.

Christmas stockings

I really love the way they turned out, and I am THRILLED to have them done before the Christmas season started! They definitely pass my home decor test: "Is this something that would be found in an English country home?" ;-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Birthday boy

birthday cake!

Before November becomes a distant memory, let me make mention of Edmund's 5th birthday! This year, his birthday fell on the day before Thanksgiving. We traveled cross-country to be with my brother and his family for the holiday, so it was special for Edmund to be in a new place and with a special playmate (his cousin) for the day. I had thought we might go out to a bounce house or gym in the Big City for a special treat, but the kids were having so much fun just playing at home, we scrapped that plan. Why add to the stress of bundling everyone out the door on the day before a big holiday when the birthday boy just wants to play at home?

Edmund requested the same cake from last year -- Hershey's "Especially Dark" Chocolate Cake topped with "Especially Dark" frosting and raspberries. I accidentally made the frosting a bit thin, so it's not sticking as well as it should in this picture. This year he wanted a "helicopter cake" so my mom found a little toy helicopter to put inside a landing pad of raspberries and candles. This cake is rich! But oh so yummy when served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to give a little extra sweetness to the dark chocolate.

birthday cake!
[Edmund in his new special PJs from great-grandma]