The Spirit of Yuletide Décor

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and most Joyous Yule, my dear friends.  Our household, throughout the year, tends to honor and celebrate the oldest of traditions and beliefs, long before organized religion and that feels beautiful and real to us.  We will be celebrating Yule, but since I was raised Christian and Doug was raised Jewish, we incorporate all sorts of lovely traditions into our house and celebrate with our families.  For all the celebrations are really the same, the celebration of light, love, and hope.

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Decorating for the holidays should be nothing short of fun!  Incorporating ideas, palettes, and items that bring joy are the basis for holiday décor.

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We have collected cute stockings for a long time.  The children took some of their stockings to their own homes.  We are one short this year with the arrival of Ayla Mae, so I will find an adorable one for her.  Santa is coming to Grammie and Pa’s house Christmas Eve!  (To my great delight!)  I hung the stockings with care from the curtain rods.

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This was the first tree top angel I bought when I was nineteen years old in my first home.  I, of course, chose the tallest tree I could fit in my house this year so angel sits in the window welcoming loved ones.  Find these beautiful candles for a buck and some in the religious aisle of your grocery store.  They have them without the pictures on them.  They burn for a long time and they add festivity and charm to the home.

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Incorporating things you love is easy.  This moose was one of two that Doug got me our first Christmas together.  Her head is falling off but way up on the bookshelf she has a safe place of importance.

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The tree is filled with ornaments of old and new.  Photo ornaments the children made in grade school and ones from my childhood.  Ones from Grandma’s tree and many from our travels.

Yuletide décor is in the details.  Use holiday china this time of year, even for lunch!  Put oil lamps in each room.  Light plenty of candles.  Place strings of garland and twinkly lights in each room (even the bathroom!)

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These sweet, little cloches hold seasonal treasures.  Bird’s nests and moss covered twigs, sprigs of pine and pinecones.

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We opted this year to just string lights around the front porch and set them on a timer.  I love my ristras (one day I will be in New Mexico) and I leave the chairs and tables set up all winter in case of a sunny day that can be spent on the porch.  Always add pieces of yourself in the décor.  A sterile scene from a store doesn’t create the spirit of life that your own personal touches can.

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Place tea candles on sand inside lunch bags and line your front walk.  Light an oil lamp on the front porch for visitors.  Make handmade gifts this year.  Spend time enjoying the season.  And make space in your heart for light, love, and hope.

The Storytelling Tree

Ornaments are special.  They tell stories and relive memories on the glistening tree.

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This year when we went on our family vacation and visited the North Pole I picked up an ornament that held nine names.  It helped seal the moment.  We will look back at that ornament and relive the fun we had riding the train and petting the reindeer.

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A glass doll named Sarah that my grandmother gave me when I was very young.  Ornaments from my other grandmother’s tree.  Doug’s first ornament (he grew up Jewish) and our granddaughter’s first ornament mingle on evergreen limbs.  Decades of tales whisper among branches.

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From our trip to Las Vegas with the children in 2004.
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Ornaments that were given to me by my students in the dance company I had brighten my day. That was a special time.
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A gift from Rodney and Pat some years back. We all dream of getting our own adobes.

The tree is filled with memories of our trip to Las Vegas.  Of our honeymoon cruise.  It tells of Bronco fever and the children in elementary school.  Ornaments that were given as gifts.  Quite a few from New Mexico.  Next weekend we will pick up another.  Everywhere we go, we get an ornament.

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My Andrew at seven years old.
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Shyanne at seven years old and Maryjane’s hand print Santa.
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A very sweet five year old Emily.

When we look at our tree, it clears its throat and begins its sweet reminisce and dreams up ideas for the future.  Future names written on the tree, travels yet to be, but the comfort of home and hearth will always be the theme of our humble Yule tree.

What are your favorite ornaments?

For the Love of Farmgirl School (your one stop resource for everything homesteading DIY)

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Even when I wasn’t actively writing this blog for the short time that we weren’t homesteading (I was pouting), I kept pulling up Farmgirl School on my computer.  I used it to find recipes.  How do I make eggnog again?  I need a good recipe for dinner.  How do I make…

IMG_0741I love my blog.  I always have.  I am so happy to be actively writing again here.  Want to make something new for dinner?  How about Margarita Chicken?  Want to crochet some fingerless gloves for someone for Christmas?  Do you want to make soap?  How about cheese?  Interested in getting farm animals?  Maybe you just want to can some broth.  Maybe you want to read some funny, heartwarming stories about a real family and their life.  You are in the right place.  This is your blog too.

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If you love this blog as much as I do, perhaps you will consider sharing it on social media.  Or email it to a friend.  Or share a post on your own blog.  We sure have done a lot and been through a lot in those five years!  And now settled into our forever home, a small homestead in the city with chickens, a root cellar, and the love and experience to enjoy every second of it, I would like to invite you to come around more often, too.  Let’s celebrate all the great things about homesteading and the joys of a simple life.

A Trip to the North Pole

When my son, Andy, was very little he wanted a wolf from Santa.  He wrote him a letter and sent it to the North Pole.  There was a very convincing (and very likely the real) Santa at the mall.  I was able to whisper a few things in that old Santa’s ear before Andy climbed on the jolly man’s lap.  Andy’s little eyes grew big and he was filled with wonder as Santa told him that he had received his letter and would get him a wolf if he was a very good boy.  Christmas morning came and the howling stuffed animal wolf sat next to the Christmas tree.  The next summer as we perused the shops at Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole, we saw the very same wolf!  It made my little boy a believer.  Our family believes in Santa.

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Maryjane and I waiting to go inside Santa’s Village!

Seven of us traversed the hilly paths of Santa’s Workshop in Cascade, Colorado.  My granddaughter, Maryjane sat on Santa’s lap and relayed her greatest wish, that the elves would make her a penguin.

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I wanted a visit with Santa too!

Santa’s Workshop opened in 1956 in the mountains of Colorado just west of Colorado Springs.  They started their herd of reindeers and dozens greeted us and nibbled feed from our hands.

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My daughter, Shyanne, and her boyfriend, Jacob enjoying the baby reindeer.

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Rides, large and small, dotted the village.  Maryjane was very brave and rode just about all of them.  We adults had a plenty good time on the kid’s roller coaster and teacups and many other rides!  My Andy and his girlfriend, Bree, had to work but we recalled the story of Andy’s wolf while waiting in line to see Santa.

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The carousel is a must ride!

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Me and Pa riding the zipline sleigh!

If you have a chance to go to Santa’s Workshop in Cascade, don’t miss it!  You can whisper in Santa’s ear what you want for Christmas.

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Ready for Santa’s train to depart!

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Maryjane and Emily catching a ride up a hill with her boyfriend, Reed.

It might be time for Halloween, but Christmas and making family memories, is always in our hearts.

http://northpolecolorado.com

Happy Birthday HotRod!

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For those that are long time readers, the people that are mentioned in my blog are almost characters in a book.  It’s fun to see folks that read the blog meet my friends for the first time.  It’s almost as if they know them!  Rodney is one of those characters.  He and his wife, Pat, have been our best friends for twelve years now.  I have never had friends for that long.  We have traveled together, celebrated together, watched our kids grow up, mourned together (especially when Rodney’s mom, Kat, died last July.  I called her my mom too), and laughed together.  When we were losing everything and about to lose our minds, they threw us in their backseat and took us to Utah for four days to play.  We go to New Mexico together and plan our respective homesteads.  They are moving to Pueblo this year along with Rodney’s dad, Rod.  These are my people.

Today Rodney turns fifty.  I think that is a monumental success and reason to celebrate.  We have all lost friends that did not make it to fifty.  This is a gift, a blessing, and I am blessed to still call this man my friend.  We have a lot in common spiritually, and our families have really melded into one.  My granddaughter, Maryjane, calls them Aunt and Uncle, and their son is her best friend (he is 16…that is the sweetest kid) and cousin.  We are their grandchildren’s godparents.

So today I just wanted to share this celebration with all of you out there.  Happy Birthday to my best friend, travel partner, confidant, and trouble maker.  May you get every wish come true!  Wishing you health, happiness, love, and peace.  And a home by us!

Here’s to friends (clink!) and here’s to Rodney (double clink!)….Raise your coffee cups!  Cheers.  Happy Birthday, HotRod!

Geraniums on the Porch (memoirs and present)

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We sit on the balcony each evening watching the clouds.  The Creator paints and creates as we watch and laugh and point out different animals and characters.  We see the same things in the clouds, and the illustrations dancing across the sky above the mountains from this third floor view helps us wind down.

The balcony is my respite.  No doubt done with the city and missing my feet on the earth but this little abode in the sky makes a lovely garden and peaceful place of thought and memory and gift.  The bare root roses bought for dollars create a lovely garden in their brightly colored pots.  The lavender flows over its spot and the Christmas poinsettia happily flaunts green.  The transplanted comfrey and horseradish root strongly and the gooseberry, mini roses from the grocery store, the rosemary that barely made it though the homeless trek, the mint, curry, catnip, Jerusalem artichokes, and chives all spread out, face the sun, and thrive.  The gay petunias beckon the hummingbird.

And the ones that have been with me the longest, the geraniums.  They are large and lush and have survived everything along side us, from house to house, and shop to balcony, their colors rich in the summer heat.  My great grandma would be impressed.  She always had geraniums on the porch.  I would pass them as I walked up the steps and to the door where I never knocked.  And there she would be in her chair in the corner.  Smiling, excited to see me, always wanting a kiss, her love for me so evident, her small frame hugging mine.

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We would walk along her row of roses, always taller than me, their fragrance rich with summer and future memories of past.  Her yard seemed so big.  Her house quaint and tidy filled with relics and memory and life.

I went to a friend’s house for dinner last week.  She lives in Washington park, one of the places I grew up.  I rode my bike past her house a million times with my best friend, Susan, I bet.  The beautiful old cottages and bungalows all similar in their individual layouts.  I walked up the steps and noted the imaginary porch swing, knocked.  And through the door I entered and did face the fireplace and mantle, the two small windows above it with beveled glass, the couch, the corner where Great grandma’s chair stood.  The same floor plan as hers, situated just blocks away, and my breath was taken as my eyes moistened and there I stood eleven years old, gangly and tall in my all encompassing grandma’s house.  I saw her stand and squeal that I was there.  I saw us at the dining room table, plants behind us lining the south window, drinking sweet iced tea and enjoying hours of rummy, where I obtained my title of rummy queen.

How she would be thrilled with my roses and geraniums.  Now we sit watching a bear emerge from the depths of the sky and an old eagle flying by, our sights set on getting to a homestead respite of our own.  Soon.  Our feet firmly on the soil of earth and our spirits restored to freedom and homestead.  We breathe in the fumes of the city streets and post rain scent.  And look upon the roses and geraniums and flowers that Mother Earth has lent.

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Memory Seeds and Morning Glories

I was so moved when I read an article in Martha Stewart Living this month about her planting seeds that had been in a desk drawer for some fifty years that belonged to her father.  When she planted the lavender seeds and they flourished she created her own memory garden by seeing that same lavender that scented her childhood yard in her own present yard.  Her remembering her father so proud of that lavender in their sweet home, the scents and colors taking her to home.  How plants can become a part of our very being.

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I was overjoyed while digging through a box that we had been toting with us from place to place this last year.  A box of seeds.  Some no longer good, some gnawed by mice, some spilt, many, many ready to be planted.  I held up a small sandwich bag with little black diamond shaped seeds and knew instantly what they were.  The first seeds that I saved back before I had a green thumb were morning glories.  They grow easily and then offer up the gardener a well packaged bundle of crepe paper surrounding seeds to take on one’s journey. I planted them in my community garden plot.  I cannot wait to see their smiling faces again.

A Special Coffee Pot Indeed

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Coffee.  A homesteading necessity.

Doug and I have gone through many a coffee pot in our adult lives and for the past several years on the farm we opted for a simple French Press.  Off grid ready, rich, fresh, easy.

This apartment has brought on the “great respite” for us while outside its walls we work and save for a farm.  Inside it is peaceably quiet with only the old clock ticking.  The overhead lighting (where are my oil lamps?!), fireplace run by a switch, dishwasher, washer, dryer, easy layout to clean, all of these things make life remarkably lazy and sweet at the moment.  Not too bad.  And as I relax further I realize how much I do not want to wake at six (still on farm time) and boil water and pour it over the grounds.  Oh my, I have gotten lazy.  (It’s only temporary, Folks.)

Doug and I reminisced over a certain coffee pot we used to have.  Some sixteen years ago I wanted it so much.  It was a hundred dollars, a fortune for a coffee pot at the time.  It had a grinder built in.  And it was programmable to show the time, set a timer, and by itself grind and brew coffee.  Grandma and Grandpa bought it for me for Christmas that year.  Grandpa used to joke that it did everything, wouldn’t surprise him if it served you too!  I’d get up, feed the children, turn on Martha Stewart and pour myself a cup that was brewed just for me.

That used to be our alarm.  The sweet sound of a coffee grinder.  We set out to find one of these old coffee pot models but only found a regular coffee pot or a one pod, one cup variety that seemed like it was aiding in killing Mother Earth each sweet cup at a time (and I drink three cups each morning!).  A box sat on the counter and Doug had me open it.  It was my anniversary present.  He had found it on the internet.  The sweet sound of the grinder wakes us and the smell of fresh coffee brewing alerts our senses to a new glorious day.

Life is made up of the small things.

 

Christmas Dreaming

 

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As winter snow danced lightly down, the moon still held her luminous crown

and watched as each child in town went to sleep softly in the night.

Dreams of Santa filled their minds as they looked at moon’s generous light

and so wondered if they would see his reindeer cross her face in flight.

Warm with hot chocolate, jammies on, their stockings hung above the fires

their eyes grew heavy as they watched the tree with her glimmering wires.

Old Bing Crosby did croon, the sounds of the season on down through the hall

but sleigh bells were the most beautiful sound of all.

When they awake they will see who’s been here

Santa Claus and his eight glorious reindeer.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Grandma and Grandpa’s House

 

Yesterday evening I went to visit my Grandma and Grandpa.  It was just me.  For years I have always been there with other cousins or my kids or husband or Maryjane but as I nestled into the easy chair with my tea and cookies I quickly regressed to twelve years old.  Grandma said she was going to keep me and the urge to spend the night was almost overwhelming!  They are still in their home.  A grouping of homes around a lake for the older generation.  Peaceful.  The Christmas lights on adjacent homes glimmered off the lake as the silhouettes of geese honked in the night.  Grandpa sipped his tea as we watched Randy Travis in younger glory in concert at the Carlsbad Caverns singing Christmas songs and hits in that smooth, cowboy voice.  Grandma and I talked about kids and movies and life as we watched.

I am beyond measure blessed to have five generations on both sides of my family alive.  These are my dad’s parents and Maryjane made them great, great grandparents.  A gift I hope that Doug and I will get to experience.  Both in their eighties they are as independent and youthful as I can remember.

My memories of shopping at Cinderella City with Grandma and of sipping coffee at their kitchen table at a young age fill my heart.  Sitting on their porch swing.  Playing rummy.  Going on trips with them with my cousin, Helen.  They never batted an eye (at least in front of me) at my multiple crazy decisions but always supported and accepted me for exactly who I am.  No judgment, just love.  The gifts of life are plenty and sitting in an easy chair at forty-one years old near my grandma and grandpa is one of the best holiday gifts I could receive.