Welcome Winter!

Many people tend to forget that while we are welcoming the first day of winter (which many people aren’t fond of), we are also welcoming the return of the light.  The days will start getting longer again now, so for all of you winter haters, silver lining!

You all know of course that I adore winter.  I function better in the colder weather than in the warm, and I still love the magic of snow.  Since we live in an area that is iffy with its weather, we have begun the yearly wondering whether we will get any snow this year or have any real cold temperatures.  Last year saw the Polar Vortex, and for the first time in the eighteen years we have lived in Virginia, even I thought the cold was excessive!

Sadly, it seems we will not have a white Christmas yet again this year.  The last I checked our forecast it even looked like we may get thunderstorms on Christmas Eve.

Thunderstorms! If it isn’t going to snow, it may as well be sunny!

Nevertheless, I won’t give up hoping.

For tonight, we will enjoy homemade cookies and light all of our candles in the windows to celebrate the season.  We’ll also keep watch on  Gavlebocken, who, on December 21 is STILL STANDING!!! (And incidentally, those of us lower lattitude types who have complained about daylight savings would do well to remember that the Swedes are only averaging about four hours of daylight right now!)

Have a warm, wonderful, and light-filled Solstice, all!

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Hygge

I came across an article about the Danish concept of Hygge not long ago; about how people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (or those who just hate the colder, darker months) might benefit from adding a bit of it to their lives.

Hygge, as it turns out, is all about the “cozy” in life.  Or, something like that. It’s a feeling that encompasses all of those things that make say, Christmas, so magical. It’s love. It’s an inviting fire with a cup of delicious tea when it’s snowy outside. It’s snuggling with your loved ones – furry or otherwise.  For most of us knitters, it’s an afternoon free and a bag full of fresh-spun wool.  It’s well-being. It’s sanctuary.

When I read about it, I knew it deep it my bones already.  It was in there all along, just waiting for a good word to put to it. Paul has always called it all of my “little things”.  Those things that make you feel at home, that make you happy. It turns out I’ve been practicing hygge my whole life.

December is, indeed, the sort of “holy month” for hygge, for lack of a better term. Think about it: the tree, the lights, the comfort foods, the festivities.  It’s a month where we all know the cold and dark of winter is breathing down our backs but we push it aside to  celebrate joy and warmth and love.

I have it all around me.

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A darling paperwhite bulb in the kitchen window.

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My favorite happy little sparkly reindeer ornament.

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My very favorite tea, which I will enjoy this evening, snuggled on the couch with my girls after a dinner of spicy vegetable soup.

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The soft glow of the Christmas tree, which still smells divine! We sat cuddled up next to it today and watched the classic Baryshnikov version of The Nutcracker.

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These fantastic little heat packs.  Great for cold feet, headaches, backaches, and cozying up your blankets at night.

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A big, furry, polar bear of a dog and a tiny sweet kitten.

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My purry little companion, curled up in a wool blanket.  A wool blanket woven from the wool of the very sheep I can see from my comfy chair as I type.  If that’s not hygge, I don’t know what is!

Go forth, fill your world with hygge!  And even more, allow yourself to revel in it a bit!

‘Tis the Season To Be Snuffly and Sneezy

The past week and a half or so has been rather trying.  Each one of us has gone through a few variations of the same nasty virus and it doesn’t seem ready to go on its merry way any time soon.

I did manage to get the tree up and all of the decorating completed before things went south for me, but I’ve been more or less down with it ever since.

Fortunately, I’ve had some resources to get through it.  I was well stocked with spicy gingerale and garlic chicken soup (not to mention Alka Seltzer Cold & Flu and box after box of tissues).

Being stuck on the couch next to a glowing and happy Christmas tree isn’t too terrible. It’s topped with our mini Gavlebocken:

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The Gavlebocken is a giant straw Christmas Goat in the town of Gavle, Sweden.  They put him out every year, and every year it’s anyone’s bet if he will survive until Christmas; mainly he is at risk from arsonists. There is a webcam on him and we spend hours upon hours watching.  You can find the cam HERE.

Susan has bought me a mini bocken from Ikea the last few years and we are starting to have quite the wonderful collection of them.

The other thing keeping my mind off my misery is the new podcast from This American Life: Serial.  It’s an absolutely riveting true crime story told over the course of many, many weeks (we are currently up to 10).  There were 9 out when I started listening and I binge-listened to catch up.  If you enjoy mystery or crime, or even just a good story, I urge you to check it out.

With any luck I’ll soon be back to normal and in a baking frenzy!

 

 

Turkey Day Coma

Have you all sufficiently recovered from the excesses of Thanksgiving? We had a lovely, quiet,  intimate holiday. Our friend Trina was scheduled to join us for the feast, but sadly she came down with the crud.  Unfortunately, Maddie had the crud as well, and  I have come down with the crud now (and am trying hard not to feel too bad about lounging in my pajamas on the couch all weekend) ; but at least I was well for the day itself.

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The kids were happy with a quiet holiday, too.  First of all, we had actual snow the day before.  Snow. In November. In Virginia.

As if that wasn’t excitement enough, they got to spend all morning in their pajamas watching the parade and the dog show, and were thrilled when I agreed to finally putting on some Christmas music during dinner.  Neve has been pushing hard for being able to get out the Christmas movies and music and I refused to cave in to it until the parade at least had ended.

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After dinner our friends Keith and Jessie came with their kids and Jessie’s mom, Joan, for pie. I had made the usual apple and pumpkin pies, but I also tried a new recipe from Cooking Light: Mocha Pie with Coffee Whipped Cream.  It was astounding. However, there’s a tip I should pass along should you choose to make it: don’t take it out of the fridge until JUST before you serve it.  Ours had been put out an hour or so before slicing and it had gotten quite goopy.

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Now that turkey season has concluded we all have turned our attention to all things Christmas, and yesterday was spent obtaining a tree and pulling out all the decorations from the attic.  If you are likewise feeling ready for the holiday spirit, I’d like to recommend taking a look over HERE at the Gavle Goat. He’s a wonderful Swedish holiday tradition, and as long as no one sets fire to him, he should be there for viewing until after Christmas.  I have several Yule Goats I put out for the season, including one that tops our tree.

I’ve also been hearing about the German Christmas markets from my friend Diana, who currently lives in Wiesbaden.

Europe knows how to do Christmas, y’all.

 

 

 

How To Spend A Perfect Fall Day

What do you to to enjoy the perfect combination of a Sunday afternoon, gorgeous weather, and beautiful leaves?

Hopefully your friends have their annul fall get-together/birthday party like ours do!

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Lisa and Will’s farm is seriously scenic and the ideal setting for a fall party.  We sat under these picturesque trees by a fire and feasted on fresh oysters, apple cider, sausages with sauerkraut, and pumpkin muffins.

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Our friend Tanya drove up as well, which made the day even more special.

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Check out the log stools!  I’d really like to do this at our place; Paul’s not convinced (in other words, too much work for him right now).  They made fantastic seating for today, though!

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Oona and Neve wore themselves out running around the farm with all of the other kids, playing on the hammock, and in that awesome hay fort.

Meanwhile, look at the leaves!!!!

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Then there’s the pond…….I’m rather smitten with Lisa’s pond right now.

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I mean, really.

I’m not sure it’s actually possible to get more “fall” than we did today.

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Look at this lovely little road next to the gorgeous pond.  Now imagine walking down it, leaves crunching underfoot, the smell of a wood fire hanging in the air, while you sip your apple cider.

See?

FALL!

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Today I am feeling so very fortunate for days like today.

Here’s so many, many more.

 

 

Oktoberfest!

This past Saturday we headed out to the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Va for their annual Oktoberfest celebration.  It seemed especially fitting this year as our dear friend Diana recently moved to Wiesbaden, Germany, and has herself been enjoying Oktoberfest.

Granted, there was no way our Oktoberfest experience was going to surpass hers.  Still, we had never been to the museum before, and it seemed like a perfect way to spend the first beautiful October weekend.

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We met our friends Jessie and Keith and their two kids and sampled some German food and beer before heading out to tour the homesteads.

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To be honest, the food and beer were a disappointment; there was very little to be had and the beer was all American mass-market. Thankfully, the music was fantastic and our company was fun.  The kids had so much fun wandering though all the museums that the rest didn’t matter.

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I loved this lovely stone wall and gate.  I want it at my farm!

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I also love these windows!

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Check out the chimney!  I could very easily live in this old home from 1600″s England! (You know, until it gets too hot, too cold, or too spider-y).

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The Nigerian Pygmy goats were Neve’s favorite.

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Happy Sheep!

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The 1800’s American homestead could easily make a cozy home as well! It was a little more buttoned-up against the elements than the English cottage.

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Look at that lovely wide-plank floor!

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Unfortunately the view just to the right of this, where the barn and cows stood, was marred by a giant “Cracker Barrel” sign rising up on the other side of the highway. I couldn’t manage a decent photo that didn’t include it.

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This cow was such a love!  He licked Neve’s face and let us all pet him to our hearts’ content.  I was ready to bring him home!

The kids have already asked to go back again, so I foresee a new October tradition!