winter solstice

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Oh I do love this first day of winter! It’s been especially busy the past couple days (beyond the normal pre-holiday rush, I had some urgent admin business related to my school funding pop up on Monday), but we did make sure the Christmas/Winter tree made it up on time! 🙂

My final grades for the semester were posted today, and I was so happy with the results. Not that I’m motivated by grades; I’m simply trying to learn as much as I can from each class. But it is nice when efforts are noted and projects are successful. 🙂

The gifts I made for friends and family were printed today, and I’m really pleased with the results, too. Each is unique and beautiful in its own way — I’ll post photos of them after they’ve been gifted, as I don’t want to spoil any surprises. I still have some shopping to finish tomorrow and Friday, and then wrapping and more baking on Saturday (there are chocolate peppermint cookies in the oven now, too), but it feels good to have the bulk of the work behind me.

Now, off to enjoy some of those cookies!

marking days

img_5418As life would have it, this year James and my anniversary came smack in the middle of my finals week and his busiest sales season, so we’ve yet to really celebrate it. However, it was super-nice to find this little note tucked in my breakfast napkin. He’s a sweetie who makes me laugh — I can’t ask for more. ❤

I did finish up the last of my final critiques with my instructors yesterday, so the fall semester is officially a wrap — woohoo! Which mean my winter break began in full this morning, and I could start to check tasks off my holiday to-do list. The first was ordering the calendars we give to family and friends each year. Sorting through our photos is always such a nice way to review the past 12 months, as well as be reminded of the beauty that we live with each day. And on a day with negative wind chills and snow squalls, I was grateful especially for the summer photos, with their blue skies and hints of warmer weather. 🙂 Here are the photos that made the final cut:

With that Christmas task complete, I’m continuing the warming up thread by opening up a couple jars of summer, that is, our preserved homegrown tomatoes, and popping out a few pesto cubes from the freezer to make this tomato farro soup for dinner this evening.

Wherever you are, hope you are snug as a bug in a rug, too, and enjoying this almost-winter night.

around the homestead

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I’ve been parked in my office/studio for the past three days, working on my art and design projects for finals this week — a poster series, chili sauce labels, PSA fliers, a bondo sculpture, and a 3-tiered mylar chandelier. Yeah, I know, a lot, right? But all are in various stages of completion, from 50 to 90%, and although I know I still have a few busy art-absorbed days ahead of me, the end of the semester is definitely in sight. 🙂 My drawing professor from last year often reminded us to take a minute or two every day to just look up at the sky and take it all in. And I try to remember to do this, even on the busiest of days. When I don’t remember, I’m grateful for displays like this almost-sunset above that I catch out of the corner of my eye and make me do a double-take with their beauty.

I’m also grateful when I upload photos from my camera and find others that I had completely forgotten about! Like these two below, from earlier this autumn. This chipmunk is such a regular visitor to our bird feeder that the birds pay him (her?) no attention anymore.

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And although we are used to being on “deer watch” as we drive the country roads near our home, it’s unusual to find deer in the garden. But this year, the fallen chestnuts proved irresistible, and we found a steady stream of deer, as many as five at a time, passing through. I love to watch them,  but they did get in trouble when they got into the green tomatoes I’d been saving for chutney, ahem. Still a treat to be able to see them up close, and yet another reason I love living where we do!

Sleep well, and remember to look up at the sky tomorrow, OK? 🙂

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deck the halls (phase 1)

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Although most people in our area can’t wait for the food on the Thanksgiving table to get cold before putting up their Christmas decorations, we take much more time to deck the halls, often putting the final touches on the tree as the Solstice suns sets. And now that I am a full-time student as well, currently in the last week of classes with four studio art projects to complete before the final critiques with professors on the 14th…let’s say not much else holiday-wise is on the agenda until later next week.

Except for this sweet wreath made by my friend Patty! She brought to the Christmas Market on Saturday, and James hung it while I was at classes this week. 🙂 Now between my chili sauce bottle design project and mounting my sculpture for 3D  class,  I just need to remember to water the poinsettia! 😉

 

christmas market

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Yesterday was a busy day at the Christmas Market in New Holland. It’s been two years since we first started selling at craft shows, and even though it’s a lot of work to prepare and actually execute well, this introvert has come to enjoy the face-to-face interaction with others. It’s super-fulfilling and satisfying to be able to share our harvest bounty with folks, to receive their positive feedback, and establish relationships with our regular customers who keep coming back for more!

The market hall was full of craft vendors, and we saw a  regular stream of visitors all day. One of the high points for children was the visitor of Mrs. Claus, who entertained them with “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and carol singing before presenting gifts to all from under the tree.

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Mrs. Claus’ obvious love of the children and the enthusiasm she shared reminded me much of my grandmother, who was a kindergarten teacher for many years. Like this woman, my grandmother went all out during the Christmas season (and all holidays, really), not in the over-consuming sense, but rather with the spirit and tradition and, of course, making sure the children had a wonderful holiday, creating sweet memories indeed!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

 

advent calendar traditions

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The first advent calendars I remember were the ones we received along with our family’s World Book “Christmas in [insert country name]…” series back in the seventies and early eighties. The annual subscription included a handcrafted tree ornament, the beautifully photographed book detailing that year’s featured country’s Christmas traditions, and a paper advent calendar, which my brother and sister and I took turns opening its windows (with our mother refereeing). For small-town kids in an era before mass international travel, those books and ornaments, not to mention the advent calendar, were a highlight of our holiday season and absolutely treasured. In fact, the ornaments still adorn our trees almost forty years later.

And I still think advent calendars are a fun holiday tradition, so this year I picked up one for me and another for James (at 99cents a piece, it was an affordable splurge!). I also am participating in a Kindness Advent Calendar event (details can be found here) because our world can always do with extra kindness, especially at this time of year. If you haven’t a traditional advent calendar this year (or even if you do), why not join the kindness chain!

Happy Friday!