year-end thoughts

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It’s been a quiet week between, as I reckon it should be. I had a morning of thrifting followed by lunch with a good friend on Wednesday, but since then I and the pets have mostly been nesting and enjoying the lazy days (James sadly could not join in, as he returned to work on Tuesday).

I love this week between, the time to reflect and begin to plan for the coming year. I am not so much a resolution maker, but I do find it meaningful to take stock and look ahead at the start of each new year. And this is true whether the year has been obviously eventful and full of much growth (as has been the case the past couple years, since I had my job outsourced and then began my fine art and design studies) or a seemingly tame one with only subtle shifts of mindset and focus — a year to pause and breathe.

Despite the at times heart-breaking and awful world in which we live, I still try to face each day, as well as the coming year, full of hope and love, reminding myself of William Blake’s wisdom, that our lives are woven of both joy and woe, if I ever find myself questioning the beauty of our day to day. And looking at the #2016bestnine photos from my Instagram account this past year, I feel very blessed indeed.

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Now off to prepare our NYE party nibbles! Wishing you all the best now and in 2017!

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christmas throwback

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This year for Christmas, my mother gifted my siblings and me each a photo from the albums she kept from our childhood. Here I’m peering into the same stocking shown on the far right of a picture I included in my last post. The stocking was knitted by a neighbor of my grandmother for my first Christmas, and almost 50 years later, I am still using it — even the reindeer’s jingle bell nose has survived all this time! ❤ ❤ ❤ these Christmas traditions and memories! 🙂

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! 😉