Wanna have a white Christmas?

If you are, like me, dreaming of a white Christmas, the prospects at the moment don’t look terribly encouraging. It’s about 10 days ’til the big day. Our weather has not been cooperating and now it looks like the snow we do have on the ground now will be gone in the coming days…humbug, I say!

I suppose we all may have different notion of what is normal Christmas weather depending on the era and area in which we were raised as children. I may have been infused with the notion that a snowy landscape should be the norm. Quite a romantical notion really, isn’t it.
Waking up as we did last year to a beautiful covering of snow on the holiday seems like an added blessing to me. I do, however, well remember one holiday season… that brought us way too much of a good thing. 1968, I think..Green Bay packers had a good year (not that this mattered to me, but, I remember the excitement) and we were snowed in from Thanksgiving on…it was over my head, mind you I was probably only 3 feet tall at the time. That’s where these things begin, memories of snow so deep you couldn’t walk through. Perspective is born. Trees so big you have to tilt your head way up to see the top. Ah, our childhood vision…we need to use our child-like eyes to see this holiday for what it can be ~ magical. Not for what the media dictates it should be…expectations can never be fully realized and lead to disappointment for some. So go ahead admire the beauty of the decorated trees, the sweetness of cookies and cakes, the frenzied pace, the time preparing, the wrapping, the frenzied shoppers, a good book and a cup of cocoa,…enjoy the moment not for what it should be , but for what it is. What ever that means to you…not what today’s media and commercialism tries to shove down our throats. We don’t need to buy Christmas…we need to learn to enjoy it again. Enjoy loved ones, enjoy ourselves.

If you, like myself still wish for a white Christmas…try this!

playdough snow...saw this on pintrest.

I tried a new recipe for homemade playdough today, and this is by far the best I have found.
1 Cup Flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
food coloring

Heat the oil in a pot. Remove from the heat and add food coloring and water. Stir in all other ingredients. Continue to cook over low heat until mixture is firm, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, and set clay mixture on wax paper to cool.
Store in an airtight container

Or this…

snowflake, my pretty little snowflake...

Make Snowflakes

Make real crystal snowflakes to decorate your home or tree using borax (look for it on the laundry detergent aisle at the store). This activity takes about 30 minutes of active preparation and then overnight to set. (Adult supervision recommended.)

Wide-mouth jar
3 pipe cleaners
A pencil
1-cup measuring cup
Food coloring (optional)
Glow-in-the-dark paint (optional)
Ribbon (optional)
What To Do:

1.Twist together three pipe cleaners in the center to make a 6-pointed star. Use scissors to trim down the ends of the pipe cleaners so they are all approximately the same length and can fit in the jar.

2.Tie a piece of string to one end of the star. Connect the string to the next point by twisting it around the pipe cleaner. Continue around until you connect all the points together with the string, making a snowflake skeleton (see the picture).

3.Tie another piece of string to one of the pipe cleaner points and tie the other end around the pencil. Place the snowflake in the jar with the pencil resting across the mouth of the jar. Make sure that the snowflake hangs without touching any part of the jar. Take the snowflake out of the jar.

4.Use a teakettle or microwave to boil enough water to fill the jar. Have an adult help you add the hot water to the jar. As you do, measure out how many cups of water are needed to fill the jar. For every cup of water placed in the jar, mix in three tablespoons of borax. This will make a saturated borax solution. Stir the borax solution with a spoon until as much of it dissolves as is possible.

5.Hang your snowflake in the jar so that it is completely covered in the solution. Let it sit overnight. Gently remove your now crystal-covered snowflake in the morning and let it dry by hanging it in a dry jar.

Optional: To make colored snowflakes, use colored pipe cleaners and add 1-2 drops of food coloring in step four. To make your snowflakes glow in the dark, paint the pipe cleaner snowflake with glow-in-the-dark paint in step two and let it dry completely before going on to step three. Tie a ribbon to one point of your snowflake to make a Christmas tree ornament!

a romantical notion....

the days of yore...

Norman Rockwell the beloved and talented artist always set out in his paintings to depict life in America and the importance of American Values. In our fast paced society today we need to re-discover these same values this year during the Christmas season.

I re-named this: The reality....another Rockwell depiction

So, yes, I am still dreaming of a white Christmas, and may all your Christmases be bright…. whatever weather this Christmas Day brings – snow, sleet, sunshine, rain or fog …make your own Merry and (perhaps) make your own white.

Be well,

I’m dreamin’ of a white Christmas…

Do you remember wanting to go out into the cold dampness of a December morning, The wake up! wake up, look outside it’s snowing!!! days…before the times of having to…having to shovel a path to get to your car, having to clean off the car, having to bundle up little ones til all you could see was the color of there precious eyes, having to re-scrape the windshield, because as you were bundling it was covered again in ice or snow.

Well, yesterday was one of those ~ want to ~ mornings. I wanted to trudge happily through the crackly snow to feed and water animals. It was such a pretty morning…all sparkly and white. The sun had just made it’s way over the side hill…and lit the pastures in a golden glow. so, with the dogs in tow,I headed up around the pastures with my camera. I wanted to try to snap as many photos as I could before the morning light melted it all away…

It feels like the holidays…It’s such a cozy feeling to wake up, grab a hot cup of coffee, and head out into the frosty morn, llamas breath suspended in the air as I give them a quick back rub or head scratch…they are a source of constant entertainment…Each morning I wake them up with fresh water, beet shreds and a sweet mix of grains..and they wiggle, and they gather ’round like children, and make me smile. I muck there stall, and fluff fresh bedding for them as they settle in to the morning’s selection sweet fresh hay…all is well.

Beautiful feathery flakes of snow Over the woodland and field they go Making a blanket so warm and deep Over the flowers that lie asleep

First Snow by Mary Louise Allen Snow makes whiteness where it falls The bushes look like popcorn balls And places where I always play Look like somewhere else today

Winter Morning Poem by Ogden Nash Winter is the king of showmen Turning tree stumps into snow men And houses into birthday cakes And spreading sugar over lakes Smooth and clean and frosty white The world looks good enough to bite That's the season to be young Catching snowflakes on your tongue Snow is snowy when it's snowing I'm sorry it's slushy when it's going

Jackets and sweaters, Stockings and boots Snug hats and mittens, Warm woolen suits All bundled up and ready to go Out of the house to play in the snow Although I feel clumsy in all of these clothes I am so happy whenever it snows!

"Someone painted pictures on my Windowpane last night -- Willow trees with trailing boughs And flowers, frosty white, And lovely crystal butterflies; But when the morning sun Touched them with its golden beams, They vanished one by one." - Helen Bayley Davis, Jack Frost

"So with the stretch of the white road before me, Shining snow crystals rainbowed by the sun, Fields that are white, stained with long, cool, blue shadows, Strong with the strength of my horse as we run. Joy in the touch of the wind and the sunlight! Joy! With the vigorous earth I am one." - Amy Lowell, A Winter Ride

"My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound's the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep. - Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Even in the warmest glow...snow

"Have you ever noticed a tree standing naked against the sky, How beautiful it is? All its branches are outlined, and in its nakedness There is a poem, there is a song. Every leaf is gone and it is waiting for the spring. When the spring comes, it again fills the tree with The music of many leaves, Which in due season fall and are blown away. And this is the way of life." - Krishnamurti

As I write, snow is falling outside my kitchen window, and indoors all around me half a hundred garden catalogues are in bloom.

Be well,

Short and sweet, very sweet.

Cookies, cookies, more cookies, and warmth. I believe I have taught my children to value family and tradition, and, when someone cooks for you…well, you must be special.
Close your eyes and remember December, the smell of cinnamon in your mother’s or grandmother’s kitchen and the warm scent of dough baking in the oven…mmmm. We gather in our kitchens to bake, decorate,and eat cookies…with each bite, you can taste your childhood and family history. Where did this this yummy tradition begin, from what I can discern; the tradition originated in Germany and Scandinavia. The tradition became more popular after spices like Cinnamon, pepper, and others became more easily purchased. Here in the USA, early in the 1600’s Dutch settlers brought with them favored Christmas cookie recipe, a bit later, when import laws were loosened; cookie cutters from Germany were popular in American markets. Imported cookies cutters were created with images designed to be hung on Christmas trees. Christmas Cookie recipes began to appear in all of the most popular cookbooks to make use of these new cutters. With the advent of inexpensive tin cutters, new emphasis was placed on shape, where in the past, many homemade cookies simply had been square or round. Bells, Christmas trees, Sant Clauses..could now be easily shaped…and then hung on trees.

In the United States, since the 1930s, children have left cookies and milk on a table for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, though many people simply consume the cookies themselves. The cookies are often cut into such shapes as those of candy canes, reindeer, and holly leaves.

To our family, Christmas cookies represent home, family, comfort, joy, and tradition. Christmas cookies are a thread to Christmas past, not only our past, but long past.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes.

cookies can be a messy endeavor...Jenn and friends...2003

Start with 1 family, 1 kitchen, and a box of recipes. Add an uninterrupted period of time. Subtract phone calls, technology, and any other distractions. For best results, add the Prayer Before Baking: “God bless this mixture with the sweetest and tastiest ingredients: joy, faith, family, friendship, love, and health. Amen.”
Sprinkle with laughter. Add amusing family stories in heaping amounts. Fold in 1 cup patience and understanding, blended with 1 gallon youthful enthusiasm and a pinch of baking know-how. Eat your mistakes with joy. Bake lovingly and well. Enjoy warm, delicious, cookie-baking memories for years to come!

Gingerbread men

Our favorite Gingerbread Cookie recipe:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended.

In a large bowl beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended.

Add molasses, vanilla, continue to mix until well blended.

Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.

Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.

If you are pre-making your cookie dough for baking another day…(Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days; Return to room temp before using.)

Preheat oven to 375°.

Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper. ( I always use paper)

Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface.

Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin.

Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick.

Use additional flour to avoid sticking.

Cut out cookies with desired cutter– the ginger bread man is our favorite of course.

Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart.

Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies– very good!).

Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack.

Cool cookies, then decorate as you like…we use a powdered sugar icing raisins for buttons, eyes, and what not, can be gently pressed onto the cookie before baking.

They say Christmas snow can be magical.

snow much fun....

love , pure an simple.

last vestiges of summer

a winter morn on the farm

Misty Maples Farm house....

Happy baking and be well,

Versatile Blogger Award…quite an honor. (One More Try)

I was so suprised and happy to open my e-mail this morning to find a note from http://writingfeemail.wordpress.com; A Versatile Blogger Award for me! I couldn’t be smiling any harder. I started blogging about 6 months ago. My life has not always been easy, but I try to find beauty in everything; so, I figured I’d share my journey with you ~ through photos and stories. It has been a blast. I always have a notebook with me to jot down ideas for my next post, and my camera by my side, as I get most inspiration from photographs (my true love).

The participating rules for the Versatile Blogger are as follows:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
Thank you so much, Renee. I find her writings inspiring. If you haven’t already (and I can’t imagine you haven’t) checked out her blog, head on over there for some well written fascinating reads.

2. Reveal 7 things about yourself.

1. I have 14 llamas. Do you have a moment? OK? Let me tell you how this adventure began.
A 4-H project for my daughter Jenn…her friend was in the llama 4-H program and she was smitten. We lived right smack dab in the center of New London, NH…she would have to lease an animal (the llama stays on the farm it is leased from). All was going well; she would be showing in her first fair.
After arriving at the fair, settling in, and enjoying the first day’s activities..llama pens cleaned, animals fed and watered;we headed into our camper to get a good night’s sleep before Jenn’s first competition. It was barely dawn, I heard a light knocking at the door. It was the 4-H leader..her face was red, her eyes puffy; I could tell she had been crying. “What happened?” …more sobbing… “Jenni’s llama died during the night!” (insert look of horror here) followed by more sobbing, this time from behind me. Jenn had been awoken…and was silently listening to the conversation. We had a very sad 7 year old on our hands. After lots of consoling..we found ourselves searching for Jenni’s very own llamas. We heard of a nice farm in Vermont and on a sunny Sunday morning, set off in search of the perfect llama. The farmer was so kind and soft spoken, we walked Jenni around looking at all of his llamas and talked with her about each animal and llamas in general. He gave her pointers and tips around camelid care. Finally he pronounced,”I have the perfect llama for you”. “She is calm, sweet,all you could ask for, and the price is right for a 4-H animal”. “We’ll take her”, I proclaimed!
…..the conversation came to a screeching halt. “Ma’am, you can’t have just one, they are herd animals. you need at least 2”. (reminder we live in the center of town). “oh, Ok”, I reply. At least, I am fairly certain I relied affirmatively…I must have, yeah. Anyway, he then continued with his herd animals spiel, “You can take Camille, with her sister Lilea, they have been together their whole lives, and i’d hate to split them up now”. More talking..I am now in a llama induced stupor, I continue to nod in the affirmative. He adds, “They are both bred and Camille comes with a cria (baby in llama speak) by her side. I am now, sweating profusely, can’t feel my fingers, and my knees are jello. “We’ll take them”. I heard this response, was someone throwing my voice, mocking me, committing to the ownership of 5 rather large animals? “We can deliver them” or you can pick them up in a few days”. I then realize we have no trailer. “Yes, could you deliver them please”? To where? uhmm, uhmm..think quick., Jessica. Think quick. There is a paddock down the road, perhaps we could board there. “I’ll get back to you tomorrow, we can set up a delivery”, I told the nice man. The drive home,(did I drive home) was filled with chatter and beaming smiles from the passenger side of the car. We were able to board our animals at the neighboring paddock, and the rest is history.

2. I am a paralegal , who worked in Domestic Violence Court Development.

3. I have 8 brothers and sisters.

4. Hello, my name is Jessica, I am a choco-holic.

5. My favorites color is green-blue-pink.

6. My eldest child and I are the same age. I will soon be younger than he.

7. I love Winnie the Pooh.

Finally, I am privileged to nominate……

3. Nominate and link to 15 bloggers.

1. http://writingfeemail.wordpress.com; , all that I mentioned earlier…and more.

2. http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com ~ She is an inspiration. I also passed on the Liebster award to her.

3. http://sweetridgesisters.wordpress.com , a family affair..they all add to the blog with their own special personalities…I love it.

3. http://arindammohapatra.wordpress.com ~ I think you will enjoy this one.

4. Teri Conroy at http://blog.timesunion.com/farmlife ~ Always refreshing, and she shares my love of animals.

5. http://nevittphotographyblog.wordpress.com ~ a new one for me…

6. http://asoftplace.net ~ I am certain Kimba doesn’t need my accolades, but this is the first blog I subscribed to and I still love it…though I
don’t know where she has been?

7. I am a self admitted francophile… to that end: http://fabulouslyfrench.blogspot.com

8. I started out life wanting to be an interior designer…http://myfrenchcountryhome.blogspot.com

9. http://ourredhouse.blogspot.com ~ musings, ideas, projects..you name it!

10. http://shedreamsbig.blogspot.com..cute, fun, creative

11. http://country-life.blogspot.com ~ sweet.

12. http://www.theemptynestmom.com ~ She should be further up on this list…I love reading her blog..love, love, love.

13. http://backroadjournal.wordpress.com ~ best recipes ever….

14. http://prairiewisdom.wordpress.com ~ One of my favorites…I will give her every award..OK?

15. http://gogreygirl.wordpress.com”> “A Lighter Shade of Grey” ~ I am a relatively new follower…amazing, just amazing photography.

**not sure what was happening with my codes…I hope you can access these sights now!!!

Well, there you have it.
Some random photos from the last six months…

It is going to be a good day!
Be well,

I’m bringing in some back up…in search of the elusive “perfect” gift.

I am, still in search of my husband’s Christmas gift…today I am going to brave the crowds and head to a Mall..Ah shopping we will go….oh geeze. The very idea sends shiver up my spine…now, don’t get me wrong; I love to shop! I just don’t enjoy hand to hand combat. A time when shopping is a mission and manners are optional. I will however enjoy a Latte or 2, maybe a celebratory cinnamon bun…a manicure, a pedicure…I kid, I kid (at least about the latter two indulgences).
I’m not doing this alone, and you can’t make me…I am bring in the heavy hitters…my shop-a-holic offspring! Yes, they know how to spend, where to spend, and how to dress whilst doing it..I have been hemorrhaging $$$ for years as proof.

There is mall shopping and then there is SHOPPING, next weekend, we head to The Big Apple for our annual shopping trip, this is a no pressure, “it’s not just about buying” trip…Nothing beats Christmas shopping in New York; it comes down to the entire holiday spirit in the air. SoHo area is the place we will be.. it is packed with niche apparel shops, unique vintage stuff, honestly, it’s just cool. Over to Little Italy for lunch…then uptown to take in all of the decorated store fronts, ending at Rockefeller Center. Now, there is a shopping trip I look forward to!

Ah well, ‘tis the season.

Alright, focus…I can do this!

I am going no where dressed like this!

Julianne and Mr. Naldo ~ in deep contemplation..." What is the perfect gift, what would he like"?

Hmmm...Julianne and Jennifer, wondering...where would we go to search for this perfect gift?

Why..that way....of course!

Maybe if I look through here...I can see more clearly...

Okay Mom we are ready to begin this quest...

Dear Santa, I have been good most of the year…please help me survive!
Thank you, that is all.

3 of my favorite things…one of them is a herd.

I was reading http://thesimplecountrylife.com where she was talking about her favorite things and the beautiful photos of them; so, I got to thinking…
What are my favorite things and can I choose just three? hmmm…probably not!

Let’s see…my very most favorite thing is my collection of photo albums…some from when my ancestors were babies, then children, soldiers in the civil war and others, first time parents, then Grand parents, only 2 photos of me as a child)…my children and their friends, and activities through out their lives. I don’t know how they could ever be replaced. I should really have them copied and saved on my hard drive.

Then probably an old ( very old) Bible, this is from the 1600’s with baptisms, marriages, children born, illnesses and deaths all recorded. The first recording, Deaem John Birdseye, born in Reading,Berkshire, England in 1616. Funny thing about this..there are 10 Katherine Jennette’s …Birdseye, Ledger, Burr, and McHale (my Gramma)…them my Mother was the last. I could read the entries for hours, there are notes written on “promises of material goods ~ written in the late 1700’s…and an insurance company letter head from the 1800’s. From what I can discern, they came to Connecticut in the late 1600..very Early settlers. Thaddeus Burr, was Aaron Burr’s Uncle, we won’t go into his sorted past.

My 3rd~ish most favorite thing is my collection of animals, 14 llamas ( not to be confused with alpacas) 2 dogs, Riley cat, and a flock of 10 birds ( 4 ducks, 6 chickens).

And finally, tea… can’t live with out it. Earl Grey please, and often. It soothes my soul, smooths out bumps in the road, warmed my children’s rumbly tumblies , they often had a cup of tea after school and it is their go to beverage of choice to this day. (Well, Justin might be an exception).

My favorite movie, just in case you were wondering..Sound of Music. I saw it 3 times at the Theater in Manchester, NH in early 1966 I think.

A Few of my Favorite Things
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Through the years...

Gramma ( Katherine Jennette Burr - McHale) and her childhood dog Trixie

Kindergarten Picture..oh boy, Gramma and I shared a love of Robert Frost and Auburn hair.

Burr Family Bible

A hand written note remnant

The first page...with repairs

one of the entries...

Riley cat

Lexington..sweetest girl ever...and biggest bed hog

She now weighs in at 100+ lbs. Still just as cute.

Finn, need I say more.

Llamas…a few.

Little Andy with Jenn

Malokai such a love.

Phantom of the opera...

Andrew joining the girls for lunch.

one of my favorite photos.

and other farm critters.

2 of the ducks...

A silkie chicken, how's that for a hair style?

Sophie, a Rhode Island Red.

I call him Mr. Nasty...this could be an entire blog. Let's just say he makes egg gathering an adventure.

Andrew, my sweet, sweet little neighbor. Oh, and Claire.

What are your top 3 favorite things?

PS, I am still on the search for my husband’s Perfect gift; heading to Upland Outfitters, perhaps some sheepskin seat covers? To keep his toushy nice and warm…toasty buns!

Be Well,