Archive for December, 2011

Find Delight (Even or Especially In Winter!)

(Skating CHRISTMAS DAY! 2011)
What can I say?
I really am delighted with winter!
I guess that is why I still live here.

You can’t have those sweet rosy noses and cheeks with out it.
Or wear thick sweaters and knit scarves each day without it.
Mittens and toques with pompoms are a must have and a must enjoy.

(At the neighbourhood rink with my oldest boy!)

Trips to the outdoor rink, to the toboggan hill, snow forts and snow angels and the amazing way the house feels when you freshly return from winter adventures.

(Our home, a couple winters ago.  We don’t have this much snow yet this year.)

Ones house never feels so inviting in the warm months of the year!
How perfect a big hot mug of tea or hot chocolate feel whether going warmly down your throat or just being held in your chilled hands!

Such glorious domesticity blooms in ones heart as you unpack your snow covered children, rediscovering them from underneath loads of winter clothes and you place a warm cup of love in their sweet little hands.  Just standing over the pot of home made hot coco is enough to make me feel like a great mom.

(A day gone by, at the community toboggan hill will the whole crew.)

Yes winter takes a lot of work and requires effort and yet this is why the little moments feel so very good this time of year.

(My eldest son, on the way home from a winter adventure.)

Hurrah for winter!


Funny Little Thing

Since my three year old started to point out, joyfully, any little chubby bird in sight I have also grown fond of birds more.  I like them as sweet little decor inspirations and I like them in nature.  My boy and I might feed the birds this winter, if we can find the time to set up a feeder safely away from neighbourhood cats.  I saw this yellow little ‘chubby bird’ at a discount store and after much humming and hawing I put her back.  Well, without knowing I had seen it only days before, a special friend spotted it and picked it up for little old me!  Such a funny little life thing.


Since my three year old started to point out, joyfully, any little chubby bird in sight I have also grown fond of birds more.  I like them as sweet little decor inspirations and I like them in nature.  My boy and I might feed the birds this winter, if we can find the time to set up a feeder safely away from neighborhood cats.  I saw this yellow little ‘chubby bird’ at a discount store and after much humming and hawing I put her back.  Well, without knowing I had seen it only days before, a special friend spotted it and picked it up for little old me!  Such a funny little life thing.


Little Cookie Cutters

This has been a Christmas of sweet reminders that people ‘get me’.  My sister got me these little cookie cutters and they came straight off my amazon wish list (which she took the time to track down).  This is a first!  Someone found and went from an online wish list of mine!

Oh these sweet little cookie cutters reflect a piece of who I am.  I am a tea lady and can hardly wait to cut out cookies for my next tea party with these, not to mention SANDWICHES, thanks to hearing about that clever idea from a childhood pal of mine.

I like little ‘you get me’ gifts!  It reminds me it is OK to let people know who you are, to share who you are and to keep being MYSELF!


Christmas 2011

Christmas came and went, as it always does, and although we have another family celebration later this week I feel like writing about the actual day and getting my blog looking back to normal.

Christmas Eve was spent laughing and sipping tea.  We had our ‘Scottish tea’ with Pop and Grams (Garnet’s folks), Mirelle and her daughter.  There was Scottish shortbread, cakes of ginger bread, chocolates and bree with crackers.  We enjoyed real china tea cups and a large selection of tea to choose from.  After the eating came the game playing and we had a rip roaring good time playing ‘extreme uno’.  What a lark!  We laughed and cheered and a few screamed!  It ended pretty early, which was good since we had last minute preparation for the morning yet.

(Tea time and cards anyone?)

What a special year this was with my kids aunt and cousin sleeping over so they could be with us Christmas morning!  I hope we can entertain loved ones like this again in the future.

I got up early and had my jog and by the time I got back the children where stirring.  My sister and her girl came up the stairs and we worked together to get some cornflakes down the kids before they got into the gifts.  Since we had worked so hard at making the stockings special this year I insisted they wake their Dad so he could enjoy them getting into the stockings too (usually we let them open them before breakfast or even before us parents are up).  Each child (including my niece) got a hand made puppet.  There was a pirate and a dragon, a princess and a king.  It was very cute to see them get right at playing puppeteers.  The oldest two got a new novel from their favorite series, signed with love from their Dad and I.

We work hard at only really getting them one gift so each gift opening was short and sweet.  Everyone worked to help keep the unwrapping chaos pretty tidy and waited their turns politely.  We laughed and talked and enjoyed a cozy morning.

Mirelle, my sister, then got busy making pancakes and I warmed up the ‘pigs in a blanket’ that I had prepared ahead of time.  Whipped up a veggie frittatta and she brought out her mini quiches and a fresh fruit tray.  In no time close family friends arrived with their two kids and their famous cinnamon french toast!  We all dug into a fabulous Christmas brunch and long conversation over coffee once the meal was over.

A very tired three year old of mine went for nap soon after the brunch and my sister and I took the rest of the kids skating.  With hardly any snow and plus 2 weather it was a perfect day to put on our skates and have our first turn around the rink this year.

(Our crew, heading to the neighbourhood rink!)

After Mirelle and my niece headed over to the inlaws for supper we all crashed here.  After we came too we rushed over to see my side of the family.  There was desserts and tea and family fun.  My daughters and I performed the two carols we have been preparing as our gift to their grandparents and it went so well.  My heart glows with so much pleasure when I do music with them.  Too many treats had my oldest boy a little yellow around the gills so we struck out for home pretty early.

Good thing though, none of us lasted long after arriving home.  Bed time wasn’t fought about, as would be usual around here.  Even boxing day was really a nap fest as we all tried to recover from the holidays.

It was lovely.  Nuff said:)


The Sun Is Gone!

Christmas was a full day.  We had all stretched our energy to the max by the time we where heading home from connecting with my side of the family that evening.  We had just pulled away from my brothers home when my youngest piped up. “THE SUN IS GONE!” he spoke with earnest concern.  We tried to ease his mind by explaining it would return come morning.  He then asked who runs the sun.  We explained God runs it, he he he.  At that point my clever five year old daughter jumped into the conversation, “Hows he control it?  With his hand or with a controller?”  Between giggles we managed to share how he generally speaks things into being.  He is that powerful that his very WORD makes something of nothing thus something happen. “I would like to control the sun,” she then added.

“And what would you do with it if you controlled it dear,” asked her Dad?

“Oh pretty much what God does with it,” she said matter of factly.

“If it works for him it must work of us I guess,” I chuckled in reply.

Indeed I am thankful for God’s control over it all.  This is a broken world, but he knows that, lived through it when incarnate in Jesus Christ, and has and sees the very biggest of plans and reasons to it all.  He holds the mysteries and we can only trust him as we haven’t his clarity on LIFE itself!

I have no idea where the kids little minds come up with this stuff but I know it all seems to fit in some way and this conversation really added to my Christmas.

Merry Christmas!


Christmas Eve Snippets

Has been another day of cooking in the kitchen and yet, unlike so many previous years, I am happy there… prepping the ‘pigs in a blanket’ and the cake of ‘gingerbread’.  We will have a house full of family tonight for our Christmas eve ‘Scottish Tea Party’.  This is something we do every year with the kids and this year it just worked out that more people are coming.

 Has been a day of making sure the house is nicely prepared for guests and so I have less to do tomorrow.  New Christmas decorations (like the mitten garland) are up and the floors are sparkling. Fresh sheets are ready for the guest bed and clean towels.  For the first time ever we are also having a sleep over on Christmas!  My sister and her daughter will be with us since her man is away with work.  The home will be all the cozier with extra loved ones to shower with generosity.

Has been a day of receiving early gifts!  Our neighbors are always so kind, today was no different.  They stopped in with WINE and CHOCOLATE for us!  Later my mother arrived (the folks are staying at my big brothers) with my first lesson on my sowing machine AND a pretty box of sowing tools!  Grand moments of generosity sent our way!

The anticipation is building and the kids are almost bursting with cheer and excitement.  We had cornflakes for supper and it just added to their joy at how special holidays are!

I anticipate a lovely evening over tea and shortbread and then a reasonable early night so I can be ready for gifts, stockings and then a brunch with loved ones!

Thank GOD for holidays!


Bake Off Day Two

(My sister and I, in two of my favourite and most faithful aprons!  Working hard, but not too hard!)

 Christmas bake off day two 2011 was a big success!  We got so much accomplished so quickly!  We made many many cranberry tarts and fudge walnut tarts!  I added extra dark chocolate to the fudge ones and MAN the samples we had where LOVELY!

 Add my sisters daughter to the mix and we had an audience of up to five kids and a dog, when all in attendance.  I so appreciate my kitchen at times like this.  The open concept means the kids can literally hang around and easily see what is going on, without being under our feet.  They have gotten very good, and fast, at pulling up chairs to get a spectator spot.

(My youngest two kids hanging off the half wall of my kitchen.  Eyes glued on what their Auntie is making, TARTS!)

 Before the afternoon was through Mirelle got the Dutch Almond Spice rolled out and filled with their soft sweet filling.  Flaky pie crust filled with ground almond flavored with a little spice and lemon, sweetened with icing sugar.  They come out so lovely and golden thanks to an egg glaze. )

(Almond Spice log, ready for the oven)
(Fresh out of the oven! I feel like they could be such pretty little gifts if wrapped with a Christmas ribbon like a wreath is)

We all had such a great day together.  My playlist of favorite Christmas music on repeat; tea and coffee available to us at any time.  A plate of lovely home made treats to refresh and fill us with energy (gifted to me JUST that morning by a good friend).  We rolled up our sleeves, dawned our aprons and joyfully enjoyed one anothers company and conversation, while working in the kitchen!  The kids played really good for us, so in no time we where able to head off to meet and greet the mall Santa.

I feel like Christmas baking should always be a group event.  Good friends and loving family are a must!

Well, other then the fresh cakes of gingerbread, that I will prepare Christmas Eve for our tea, and the pancakes and pigs in a blanket for Christmas brunch (all of which really need to be made the day of to enjoy most), I am done my Christmas baking!



Lovely Weather For A Sleigh Ride Together

 Can you hear the sleigh bells jingling?  
Ring ting tingling too?!
Pops and Grams (my husbands folks) where kind enough to let us know about their community winter day in the park, Sunday past.  Oh what a grand opportunity to bask in Christmas feelings!  A sleigh ride is a sure fire way to take me back and make me all sentimental.  
We had neighbours, up north, who had two very strong (mid-sized) ponies to pull us on what we called hay rides; probably since there was a lot of straw involved.  We often came home with it up our jackets and down our ski pants.  Sleigh rides are so civil down south!  There was only one boy who kept hopping off and on and he got ‘spoken to’.  
(Garnet and I, our first photo together.  Also our first Christmas holiday together.)

Back home we spent more time wrestling off and on the ride then sitting and looking around.  It was one big brawl from start to finish.  Mr Hillier only ever stopped the ponies if we fell so far behind that we couldn’t catch up, weighted down, as we where, by our snow gear.  We laughed so hard and loved ever minute of it.  I remember it was one of the first things I had to do with him, when Garnet and I where dating.  My brothers took it upon themselves to immediately try to throw the city boy off.  It took a lot of work, Garnet is a stubborn and big fellow.  He was game right away though.  I remember I got him worse then anyone else; he was hanging on by his hands at one point and I coyly unhinged his fingers till he rolled away, carrying my brother with him.  My brother had been hanging on to Garnet’s foot trying to pull him off from that side.  My boyfriend landed safely… on top of my brother… knocked the wind right out of him, it was all terribly funny!

Well the ride this Sunday was really genteel and sweet.  We climbed up and sat orderly.  The kids gushed about the horses and the ride.  My sister and I broke out in ‘jingle bells’ with her daughter and my youngest boy at one point.  All adding up to romantically Christmas-y memories to keep.  It was such mild weather for this time of year and thus truly was ‘lovely weather for a sleigh ride together’.
My youngest pointed out the ‘horse’s bums’ and my second youngest thought they might not be real horses but was pleased when we told her they are.  All four kids really enjoyed the hot chocolate served in the skating shed.  We finished this romantic evening with coffee and soup at Grams and Pops house, just a couple blocks from all the fun.  
I couldn’t help stealing glances at Garnet through it all, remembering our first sleigh ride together, up where I come from.  I can get so enamoured with him still.  Ahhh romance always adds to this time of year.  
Wishing you a very merry Christmas!

Christmas Treats That Schmeck

‘Food that Really Schmecks’ by Edna Staebler

I have mentioned this favorite old cook book before. I ‘inherited’ it, if you will, from my grandma. Her and my mother have enjoyed their copies of it for many many years, and so I had to have one too. Full of sweet stories and lovely practical Mennonite recipes, I have come to enjoy flipping through it time and time again as well. A favorite recipe that stopped me in my tracks the first time I had a gander was “Cranberry Pie”, or tarts if you put it into little shells instead.

Oh how pretty cranberries are. They are a favorite of mine and yet because of the punch-y bite they carry it can be hard to use them in large amounts. Some might have assumed this pie would be too tart right away, but seeing as my other total favorite pie is JUST rhubarb I figured I could handle it. Well hello cherry pie taste with no pitting! Yup, as lovely as cherry pie but FAR easier when making the filling from scratch!

I just boiled up a batch of filling today, in preparation for day two of my holiday baking cook off tomorrow. It looks so amazing on the stove, such a beautiful colour! I can’t help but feel cheery while cooking it:) This is a beautiful Christmas treat that will brighten up any holiday gathering!

Bellow is the recipe for the filling. Other then that all you need is a top and bottom pie crust from your favourite pastry recipe.

REMEMBER to make this ahead and cool in the fridge, even over night, because it really adds to the flavour!

Cranberry Pie

2 cups whole cranberries (fresh best but frozen are just fine)
1 cup chopped raisins
2 cups organic sugar (or coconut sugar, just add a half cup more)
2 cups water
2 generous tablespoons of unbleached flour
2 tsps vanilla
2 Tbsps butter

  1. Bring all the items listed to boil in a pot.
  2. Stir until nicely thickened.
  3. Turn the temperature down to low and let it stew down for 15 minutes.
  4. Cool thoroughly before putting into a crust. Best if it is cooled overnight in the fridge, for best taste.
  5. For tarts I will roll out the crust for the tops and use cookie cutters to cut out cute shapes in it, then just put a small shape in the middle of each tart.
  6. For pies I put it in a full shell top and bottom, putting a little design in it with a knife and then brushing the top with milk and sprinkling with sugar to give it a glow.
  7. BAKE at 350 degrees for about 30 in pie or tart crust(s).