boxing day

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Look at the handsome fellow who showed up at Baldy Hill on Christmas Day! Last year, you may remember, we welcomed a pheasant hen that sheltered around the homestead for much of the winter. But we had never seen a male so close to home — gorgeous he is, I tell you.

One of my favorite days has arrived, Boxing Day. Not a special day I celebrated until I met my English husband, I now embrace this holiday. After weeks of trying to get it all done, I relish in this quiet day at home, still pajama clad with no plans of changing. There are new books to read, plenty of leftovers, and any messes can wait until tomorrow to be picked up, I say. 🙂

I’ll be taking a break for the next week, to spend more time with family and to luxuriate in my year-end holiday. I leave you with some of our “best of” photos, which appear in our Baldy Hill Homestead 2014 calendar, as well as wishes that you too relish in the glow of this holiday season. See you again in 2014!

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silent night

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Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin , mother and child
Holy infant so, tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, Holy night
Son of God, at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly, hosts sing Hallelujah.
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night, Holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

christmas sparrow

The View From Our Window

Christmas Sparrow

by Billy Collins

The first thing I heard this morning
was a soft, insistent rustle,
the rapid flapping of wings
against glass as it turned out,

a small bird rioting
in the frame of a high window,
trying to hurl itself through
the enigma of transparency into the spacious light.

A noise in the throat of the cat
hunkered on the rug
told me how the bird had gotten inside,
carried in the cold night
through the flap in a basement door,
and later released from the soft clench of teeth.

Up on a chair, I trapped its pulsations
in a small towel and carried it to the door,
so weightless it seemed
to have vanished into the nest of cloth.

But outside, it burst
from my uncupped hands into its element,
dipping over the dormant garden
in a spasm of wingbeats
and disappearing over a tall row of hemlocks.

Still, for the rest of the day,
I could feel its wild thrumming
against my palms whenever I thought
about the hours the bird must have spent
pent in the shadows of that room,
hidden in the spiky branches
of our decorated tree, breathing there
among metallic angels, ceramic apples, stars of yarn,

its eyes open, like mine as I lie here tonight
picturing this rare, lucky sparrow
tucked into a holly bush now,
a light snow tumbling through the windless dark.

gratitude sunday

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gratitude — the state of being grateful : thankfulness

On this Gratitude Sunday, I am grateful for:

  • Filling the darker days with the soft glow of candles and twinkly fairy lights
  • Catching a (really) good sale!
  • Finishing and shipping the last of the Christmas orders for Baldy Hill Homemade well before the postal deadline
  • Driving through the countryside at night to admire our neighbor’s holiday decorations, each home a uniquely beautiful reflection of its people
  • A purring cat curled up on my lap
  • The anticipation of the upcoming holidays and spending time with loved ones
  • Our cookbook collection, which currently fills four shelves and provides constant inspiration in our kitchen
  • Satisfaction of cleaning out my work e-mail inbox so that I can start the new year fresh after my two-week break
  • Finally finishing decorating our own winter tree, which we both are certain is our most beautiful one yet!
  • Singing along to my favorite Christmas carols when alone in the car
  • Support and encouragement from one of my work colleagues on a day when I really needed it
  • Watching our older dogs still enjoying a good romp in the freshly fallen snow

welcome winter!

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Winter is here — happy Solstice! And my two-week vacation has officially begun — could not be happier! We celebrated the start of my break last night by traveling to Bethlehem (PA) for a dinner out, and what a treat that was — aloo gobi for me and vindaloo for James. Highly recommend Nawab if you find yourself in our neck of the woods.

We had hoped to also visit the Christkindelmarkt, but its early closing time was surprising (especially as we’re used to later-night shopping in similar Christmas markets in Germany), so we found another seasonal attraction to put us in the appropriate holiday frame of mind — Lights in the Parkway, which was a lot of fun, too, and seemed appropriate for Solstice Eve.

Today I braved the shopping scene for my one day out among the madness. I am again relieved by our choices to scale back our gifting because it was awfully nice to be in and out of the shops in just a few hours. Now just wrapping and more baking on my Santa’s list!