Hygge . . . for the Gardener

This gardener decided . . . what better way to bring hygge to the dark days of winter than by nurturing some lovely amaryllis bulbs.  

Not only will there be joy and comfort in the planting, but also in the watching -- and certainly in the blooming.

So I splurged!  

I ordered four different amaryllis bulbs from that Flagship of Gardening - White Flower Farm.  (I gotta tell you -- even just the choosing which bulbs to order was a hygge-moment!)  Then, I gathered up my vases and some stones for planting, and I waited for delivery.

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The bulbs arrived earlier this week, and yesterday - in the midst of our first major snowfall - I planted them.

Let's just say . . . these bulbs are big.

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Like . . . pretty much too big for any of the containers I had chosen.

But I think it'll work out.

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Now, I'm going to sit back and watch the show.

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Hygge . . . for the gardener!

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And be sure to check out Bonny's blog.  Her annual Amaryllis Watch has begun!  (She is a true amaryllis-whisperer!)

 


A Christmas Tradition. Since 1992.

Back in 1992, a friend invited me to a Pampered Chef party.  And, well, you know how it is . . . you feel obligated to go.  And obligated to buy something.

I bought this . . . 

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a gingerbread mold.

It'll be fun . . . I thought.

The kids and I can make gingerbread houses . . .  I imagined.

Maybe it'll even become an annual tradition . . . I mused.

And, y'know?  I was RIGHT!

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It was fun -- and it TOTALLY became an annual tradition!

In the early years, I always baked two houses worth of gingerbread, and my mom and I teamed up with my kids to decorate houses on a weekend before Christmas.  It was lots of fun - and something we all enjoyed doing together.  (Although Brian usually lost interest once the houses were assembled; he hardly ever stuck around for the finished product.)

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While Brian's interest waned, Erin became the Queen of Gingerbread.  She started hosting an annual gingerbread decorating party for her friends.  Here they are in 5th grade (Erin, the hostess-with-the mostest, is in the very back of this photo; I can't remember which finished house was hers, though.) . . . 

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(You'll notice I gave up on the mold when it came to Erin's parties.  We just went with graham-crackers-on-milk-cartons.)  (Works GREAT, by the way.)

Erin's annual parties continued even in high school.  She invited fewer friends -- and baked the gingerbread (in the mold) on her own.  (Just as an aside . . . one of Erin's high school friends used to decorate these incredible houses every year.  Intricate and gorgeous.  Really amazing.  She ended up becoming a pastry chef and decorator extraordinaire as an adult!  We knew her when. . . )

Once Erin finished college and moved to Pittsburgh, we started doing gingerbread houses on Thanksgiving evening after the meal.  We continued the tradition this year.  It was really hard without my mom . . . but we were thrilled to add my sister to the mix!  (She has never taken part in this particular activity with me before, although she is a veteran gingerbread house decorator.)

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This year, my sister and I got our inspiration from Pinterest.  Like . . . maybe too much inspiration.  We got really excited about . . . thatched roofs and stone fireplaces.

My sister's kind of worked . . . 

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But mine?  Not so much. . . The "stones" are falling off in little piles around the base of my house!

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(There will be no "stones" left by Christmas. . . )

But, you know.  That's how it goes!  Some years, our gingerbread houses turn out GREAT.  And some years . . . well, they just don't.  

But it doesn't matter at all.  

Because it's really not about the finished product!  Like most beloved family holiday traditions, it's ALL about the being together, having fun --  and creating memories.

I'm really blessed . . . to have some great memories coming out of that silly Pampered Chef party.  These houses really just . . . warm my heart.  Every single year.

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This post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To read more contributions, click here.  And to sign up to receive the weekly prompts, click here.


Is It Genetic?

Recently, one of my mom's cousins in Canada sent me a few old photos of my mom as a little girl.  Here's one I hadn't seen before.

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That's my mom ("Little Vonnie") . . . with her mom (my grandmother) and grandma (my great-grandmother).  I love and treasure this photo -- because we only have one or two photos of my great-grandmother at all, and not many more of my grandmother.  (Both grandmas died before I was born.)

But look closely.

My great-grandmother is knitting a sock!!!  (Further, she didn't put the sock down for this rare 3-generation family photo-op with her daughter and granddaughter!)

Genetics.  It's a powerful force!


Tuesday? ACTION!

FOUR Tuesdays ago . . . I sat there, watching my computer bring me election updates, stunned.  

Numb, in fact.  

Sick.

And, really . . . four Tuesdays later, I'm still pretty much there.  (Although I am sleeping through the night now, so that's a plus.)

After giving the whole thing quite a bit of thought (and a lot of angst), I've decided that, really, the only way to deal with post-election madness and the upcoming (gulp) DJT presidency is to take ACTION.

On Tuesdays, I'm going to put together some sort of ACTION-related blog post.  Sometimes, I'll pass on direct actions you might choose to take; sometimes, I'll share information; and sometimes I may even bring you something to laugh about.  My aim is to provide information we can use . . . to stay informed, prepare ourselves, raise our voices, and make a difference.  Because one thing is for sure . . . I can't just sit here.  I need to do something!

So.  Where to start?  (Because there is just So Much.)

I'll begin here. . .

This morning, as I was driving to the gym, I heard this story on NPR.  (I can't find the NPR story I heard, so the link from ABC news will have to do.)  An off-duty police officer, who also happens to be a Muslim woman, was subjected to verbal threats by an angry man in her Brooklyn neighborhood.  (The man has since been charged with menacing as a hate crime.)

This type of news story is becoming increasingly more common.  It certainly seems that hate crimes are on the rise since the election (actually, since the campaign madness).*  

It gets me thinking. . . What can I DO if I encounter someone being harassed?  How would I take action?  How could I help?  I want to be prepared.

Here's a nifty little infographic that offers practical tips for helping diffuse harassment.

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This short video by Films for Action also provides practical advice for what to do if you are a witness to harassment.

While I'm hoping I don't encounter this kind of situation, at least I'm feeling more prepared and ready to act.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
                                                   ---Margaret Mead

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*  Here's an interesting article about hate crimes reporting and the difficulty in obtaining meaningful, consistent data.  While it certainly does seem that hate crimes are on the rise, it is difficult to state with clarity how much.

 

 


'Tis the Season . . . for Hygge

The first time I ever heard the term hygge (which is pronounced hue-gah, by the way) was in Stockholm a few years ago, when I traveled there with my sister.  One of our tour guides mentioned it as a Scandinavian tradition -- creating a comfortable environment through enjoyment of the simple, ordinary things in life.

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Hygge . . . is actually a Danish term - and there is no direct English translation.  Basically, hygge is "the art of creating intimacy" -- a ritual of introducing simple pleasures to make the dark, cold months of the year as pleasurable as summer.  It's about creating a mental state of coziness, warmth, and togetherness in the heart of winter.

I really need a bit of hygge in my life right now!  Focusing on connection, well-being, and warmth sounds just perfect to me.  I want to feel rooted by ordinary ritual, comfort, and presence.  I want to create light . . . around me, and for those I love.

So . . . I'm planning to embrace all the ways of celebrating hygge -- creating comfort in my home, getting outside every day, pampering myself a little, looking for ways to connect with friends, slowing down and savoring the ordinary pleasures in my days.  

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I can start with my new slippers.  Over Thanksgiving, when Erin was in town, we visited DSW (because she needed new boots, y'know?).  I splurged on something for myself . . . $19.99 for some Dearfoam slippers with memory foam.  This was a completely unexpected purchase -- because I'm not generally a slipper-wearer.  (I prefer going barefoot around the house - even in the winter.)  But these slippers with the memory foam?  They are SO comfortable!  I feel pampered every time I put them on.  Hygge?  Definitely!

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Watch for future hygge-themed blog posts this month (and maybe all winter), as I look for ways to introduce comfort and warmth into my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Bring It!

Hello, December!

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I'm so happy you're here.  Oh, I know.  There have been other years where I have dreaded your arrival and maybe even cursed your name.  This year, though?  This year I welcome you with open arms.

You see, I'm ready for a little merry-and-bright.  And we all could use some peace-on-earth-goodwill-toward-men (that's for sure).

So.  December. . .

I long for your sparkle (to keep me smiling).

I await your lights (to brighten the dark spots).

I seek your wonder (to help me believe).

I need your hope (to keep me moving forward).

I wish for your joy (to add fun to my days).

I crave your peace (to blanket us all).

Hey, December?

BRING IT!

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This post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To read other contributions, click here.  And to receive the weekly prompts, click here.

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PS - Today's photo is a winter shot from a past year.  Today it is cloudy and gloomy and rain/snowing and generally not good for photos.

 

 

 


Finding Peace

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I don't know about you, but I could really use some peace in my life right now.

So . . . I joined Project Peace.  Knitters.  Knitting for Peace.  Thinking Peaceful Thoughts.  Sending our Peaceful JuJu out into the universe.  (And creating a lovely, warm handknit in the process.)

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Last night, I downloaded the pattern, settled on my yarn, and decided to wind it up.  Maybe I'd even cast on, y'know?  Let that Peace start flowing.

Well.

Let me tell you . . . I did not experience ANY Peace last night.

Because my lovely skein of yarn?  It turned out to be one of Those Skeins as soon as I put it on my yarn swift.  Knotted.  Tangled.  Two too many yarn ends.  A MESS.  I struggled on.  Swearing a bit and maybe throwing my scissors.  (No Peace.)  I wrangled the thing onto the ball winder, but it was uncoorperative every step of the way.  (Not even a Little Peace.)  Then, of course . . . it was wound onto the ball winder so tightly that I coudn't get it off!  (Forget all about Peace.)

I walked away.  Then I came back.  I took a deep breath.  

And started winding the too-tight yarn from the ball winder into a ball . . . by hand. 

I wound and I wound and I wound.  Around and around and around.  Once I relaxed - and stopped being so angry about the whole mess - I found the process to be (sort of) meditative.  Not Quite Peace, but closer.

Definitely better.  (But I decided to hold off on that cast on.  Because I didn't want to push my luck casting on 318 stitches.  Y'know?)

Want to join the Project Peace and knit your way to peace -- for yourself and for the world?  Find more information on Christina's website or here on Ravelry.

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(And with that . . . NaBloPoMo is over for another year!  Thanks for hanging around with me this month.)


Right Now . . . November 2016

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November has been a crazy-busy month for me, end to end.  Filled with stresses and emotions and too-long ToDo lists . . . but also with love and gratitude and turkey!

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(These gorgeous flowers are from my mom's memorial service last Tuesday.  Aren't they lovely?)

Here's what's happening in my world . . . Right Now:

Watching - I finished watching The Crown last night.  I loved it.  Tom and I watched Love Actually the other night.  Other than that, not much watching going on.

Reading - But . . . I do have plenty of reading happening!  I finished reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (and winner of this year's National Book Award) just yesterday morning.  This is a powerful book -- one I will be thinking about for quite a while.  I also recently finished Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  Again, powerful.  I have two books on library loan through Overdrive -- and I'm going to have to read fast because they're due far too soon (when it rains it pours, it seems): Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh and Hot Milk by Deborah Levy.  (Luckily, they're both on the short side.)  

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Knitting - I have been finding some time to knit a bit.  Not much, but some.  I'm knitting this sweater, and I'm nearing the end (just one more sleeve and the pockets).  On size 11 needles with bulky yarn, this one is clipping right along (so to speak; it's a relative statement).  I'm anxious to try some of these cute little guys -- and I'm still looking forward to knitting up some of these.

Drinking - Tea.   And plain old water-infused-with-oranges.  And wine.  (Natch.)

Humming - This one.  Four Strong Winds was one of my mom's favorites.  (She was from Alberta, you know.)  Erin sang it at the memorial service last week --- quite a bit different than Neil's version, of course.  Seeing that Erin's voice is classically trained.  And Neil's is . . . not.  Anyway.  I've been humming this song ever since.

Needing to - Resume my usual fitness routine.  Because my life has been so upside-down and inside-out lately that too many of my workouts have, well . . . pretty much disappeared.   (I also need to quit eating so much cheese.)  (But let's not talk about that.)

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Delighted by - Shhhhh.  It's kind of under the radar . . . but I'll let you in on a secret.  My knee has improved enough that I am running again.  Just a little.  And very slowly.  But I'm delighted.  (I'm also delighted by the shoelaces in my new running shoes.  Aren't they great?)

Looking forward to - Bringing light and winter comfort into my house during these dark times (seasonal AND political).  (Stay tuned.)

Celebrating - Something that I can't quite blog about yet.  But it's fun.  And I'll tell you as soon as I can.

Planning - A party.  The holidays.  My dad's move.  What to knit next.  Which book to load on my iPod.  Year-end tax stuff.  Pretty much . . . All The Things.

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Grateful for - These four goofballs.  I was so happy to have them all home last week.  I was happy to buy them drinks and take them out for dinner and laugh with them and listen to their banter.  It doesn't get much better!

How about YOU?  What's going on for you . . . right now?


 


Gold Rush

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Tom is contributing to NaBloPoMo this year by writing the following "guest blog."  Enjoy!

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Jenny, top dog in the pack, the sheriff, not inclined to suffer fools or foolishness. Attitude. But, beneath it all she is a lab mix, always on the make for food, insatiable.

Just before Thanksgiving, Kym has placed chocolate kisses, a mix of plain and almond in a dish on the low-slung coffee table. Amid regular visits to the dish, I find it empty and so transfer the partial bags to refill the dish, pleased with the abundance of almond in the mix.

Next day, a full dish, but all plain, no almond. Strange.

Later, an empty dish. I confer with Kym and we conclude that the dogs have been into the kisses. Interrogation begins. Jo Jo looks vaguely guilty but clueless (as usual); Jenny however looks Very guilty. That was a lot of chocolate, and what’s more, there are no wrappers around meaning that the foil was part of the feast.

I know that dogs are sensitive to chocolate. Caffeine and related compounds like theophylline. But milk chocolate is better than dark, less dangerous. But what of the wrappers? I am also concerned about blockage. We wait.

Over the next couple days Jenny coughs up a few soggy foil wrappers, but not enough to account for what was eaten ("missing mass" in technical terms). Then, Jenny appears to have a bowel movement out back one night. When she’s done, I take a flashlight to investigate. I find it and…EUREKA! A silver-encrusted nugget fit for a miner’s dream. Striated veins of glittering ore run through the turd; Together with the relieved dawning that this too shall pass.