darkness before the dawn continues? please remember it’s the christmas season.

I just read an article in New York Magazine I found very disturbing. It’s about Trump not leaving White House on January 20th, 2021. Then there are the articles about January 6th, 2021, including a fascinating history lesson via the National Constitution Center.

Electors from all 50 states just met on December 14 to place their states’ official votes. On January 6, that vote count is finalized and election results are certified in Congress. First day of the new Congress is January 3, 2021. Congress then reads the election results out loud at like 1 PM on January 6, 2021.

Then the President of the Senate, still Vice President Mike Pence, will announce the results. But what everyone is wondering at this point is will Trump-supporting Congress members try to disrupt this process one more time? Is Trump going to attempt a coup one last time as The New Yorker is pondering?

And I see people posting on places like Facebook what they think are little things no one reads about 1/6/2021 and well are they supporting anarchy, martial law, tyranny, and domestic terrorism then?

The people I see posting this are among the biggest hypocrites I have ever met. I guess it’s OK to use things like abortion as birth control as a teenager (among other things), and then become a fake born-again southerner super conservative pro-life refined lady? Bless your heart honey, I have got your number and the way your brain works now. I am saving the stamp and not sending a Christmas card. I just can’t.

I guess at the end of the day what I don’t understand is that for time immemorial in this country, one candidate has won, while another candidate has lost. And it hasn’t evolved into nonsensical conversations about certain southern states once again seceding from the union and everything else that has gone on in 2020.

I said a while back this year that it was almost like this country was on the verge of another Civil War and what is that going to gain any of us? Are people so afraid of other people that don’t look like them and act like them and vote like them that them can’t even live in the same communities with them anymore? Will Parler go from app to living zones?

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. We’ve known each other since we were young because our parents were friends. We now sit on the opposite side from each other at the political table, yet we still share so many similarities in philosophy, even politically. We had this total conversation and it wasn’t angry, it wasn’t nasty…. we talked. It was awesome. We spoke about how we were so in the middle on so many things, yet all you see in this country is extremism in politics from both sides of the aisle ruining this country.

It’s the week before Christmas. We have all had a trying year including but not limited to a global pandemic. For the love of all that is holy can you people stop pretending a crazy man who tweets from the toilet had the election stolen from him? He didn’t. And y’all won’t turn to pillars of salt with Joe Biden as President. And while we’re on this conversation can people of a similar band also stop talking about how Joe Biden is not healthy and Kamala Harris is awful?

Just stop. Give peace a chance, quite literally.

Please. There is one week before Christmas. Can we act like it’s Christmas? Do something nice in your community. Pay it forward.

Or at least just think about it. Thanks for stopping by.

christmas traditions

What are your Christmas traditions? Are you keeping them in the year of COVID-19?

We’re trying . Santas came out today and outside lights went up. When my husband went out to buy an additional strand he discovered another 2020 shortage: Christmas lights. A friend of mine said today she thinks people are trying light up the darkness of 2020. Kind of a beautiful thought if you think about it.

People are baking up a storm. I have not started baking yet. In a few days I will. I haven’t decided what I am baking yet.

Christmas cards have started to arrive. I have ours…. but I have to actually address and mail them. That procrastination has nothing to do with 2020, I do this every year. I just have to sit down and carve out the time. That and will the cards reach everyone since the post office seems more than a little problematic right now.

I have been talking with people and getting ready for Christmas is happening in fits and spurts. We start and then we pause. 2020 is a year like no other thanks to politics and COVID-19.

For me personally? As much as I love Christmas it has been hard some days because you put up some decorations and then you realize no one is really coming over. But it’s Christmas, so you still do it because it is a simple good and pretty thing to celebrate in a year when there often has not been much that was good or pretty.

Another tradition at this time of year I am keeping? Neighbor gifts.

When we first bought the house, we didn’t actually live here the first Christmas. We were updating appliances and putting in new heating and air conditioning and things like that. So we kept “visiting” and around this time that year, and little presents started to appear. We didn’t know what to make of it, until a new neighbor explained the tradition of leaving every neighbor a little Christmas treat.

I love this tradition and today I filled my little bags with treats! I am not sure when I will deliver them but thy sure look cute!!

Keep your traditions! And I wonder if we get snow this week, will we have a white Christmas? It’s feels like forever since we had a snowy Christmas !

Merry, merry. Thanks for stopping by.

bit by bit, christmas comes to life

Bit by bit, Christmas is coming to life. The tree is getting there. It takes a couple of days. The ornaments get layered in. Mostly vintage with some new. My nod to 2020 is the gnome with a little face mask.

Every year is a bit different. But constants like my father’s German mercury glass pine cones mixed in with the ones I have collected which include German and Ukrainian mercury glass pine cones.

The Ukranian ornaments I discovered thanks to my friend Kristin. They are really special. A little more primitive in style compared to their German counterparts and often more brightly hued and the glass is slightly thicker than their vintage German and Austrian relatives.

I use a lot of woodland themed ornaments made of mercury glass. As a homage to our woods acorns, pinecones, nuts, birds, foxes, and even a tiny red squirrel. I delight as each ornament emerges from it’s protective wrapping cocoon. Every December it’s like greeting old friends.

Santas and nutcrackers will join little elves throughout the house. Yes for a little over a month, it’s a lot of work. This year I went back and forth in my head on what I was going to do. In the end, Christmas won.

In a year when COVID19 has kept us in the grips of a grim pandemic reality, getting Christmas out is a sweet reminder there is more out there waiting for us.

This year there will be no Christmas parties, and Christmas Day will just be our small pod, but we will have Christmas…and still (hopefully) love every minute.

18 days until Christmas. #MaskUp and stay safe.

christmas magic…at life’s patina

We walked into the beautiful big old barn and it was truly magical at Life’s Patina today. Beautiful and Christmas festive in every nook and cranny. There are only a certain amount of people allowed in the barn at any one time and everyone must be wearing masks, and there is hand sanitizer everywhere you turn around. It’s a magical and safe experience in a COVID-19 world.

Meg and her merry band of elves outdid themselves! From little balsam wood houses that light up, to Christmas mice in velvet dresses and tree skirts for feather trees it was amazing! Sparkling ornaments everywhere and among my favorites? Very lovely mercury glass pinecones and marvelous modern reproductions of old German Kugel ornaments.

Mixed in with Christmas magic were all sorts of vintage and antique items. One of the things I liked best was downstairs in the barn on the big long farmhouse table was a vintage Grenadine bottle.

We loved every minute we were there, and preview guests were also given amazing gift bags to take home.

I love Christmas, everyone who knows me knows how much I love Christmas and I loved today’s experience. You really should go if you can. Simply magical!

By appointment only. Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm, 1750 North Valley Road, Malvern, PA.

finding christmas spirit

Soon little ceramic elves will be peeking from book shelves. Gnomes and Santas too. Maybe some nutcrackers. The tree will come to life with vintage and other ornaments. And Christmas baking season will begin.

But what will Christmas in the year of COVID19? Will we celebrate in tiny family pods? Will we celebrate. And what about that grinch holed up in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC? What about all the people who continue to be affected by COVID19 including now our former Chester County Sheriff?

So yes, finding my Christmas spirit has been a little challenging this year. There has been a little bah humbug in the air. Usually about now we are planning a Christmas party. But not this year. We won’t even see our entire family this Christmas. Too many people from too many places. That bums me out.

All of our Christmas celebrations will be quieter this year undoubtedly. But we do need to find our Christmas spirit!!!

Yes, even though I had recently discovered a couple of cool little Santas for a table, my Christmas spirit has been struggling.

Until yesterday. Yesterday my friend Kristin had her business’s open house. It was very different than previous years. We were timed, it was super small, we had to wear masks, and there was hand sanitizer. But there was still Christmas magic every which way I looked. She said sometimes we just have to believe and she’s so right!

Yesterday at the Smithfield Barn we were treated to a vintage Christmas. Totally magical so keep an eye out for more small, socially distanced pop-ups. Also check out what my other favorite elf Lisa has planned at Brandywine View Antiques in Chadds Ford! And you can’t forget Life’s Patina starts spreading holiday cheer next week and Meg is another favorite elf who always seems to know what I am looking for!

Also things that you won’t see this Christmas would be the open house I usually have for my friends to promote another friend’s business. But as luck would have it my friend Alice has two fabulous websites to showcase her products:

A Single Strand and ABW Designs.

Also to be considered is Past*Present*Future in Ardmore. Owned by my friend Sherry, you can shop safely with a mask in the store or buy things online! An artist by training, she has an amazing I and hers is a store that you go in and marvel at everything she has collected for her customers. It’s a beautiful place! And if you’re more comfortable shopping remotely right now you can do that too.

Another place would be Magnolia Cottage Shop in Malvern/Frazer and the lovely folks at Frazer Antiques. And also Old Soul Decor in West Chester which is re-opening in a brand new space Thanksgiving!

The last three places I am mentioning today are also special to me an run by friends as well. Clover Market has pivoted to online due to COVID19 and Janet has curated an amazing collection of things and they offer free shipping! Shopping Clover 🍀 has never been easier.

Second to last would be King’s Haven in Paoli which is not just an amazing interior design destination, but has a remarkably beautiful collection of art and gifts. All due to my talented friend Lauren.

Finally, there is Framers Market Gallery in Malvern, Newtown Square, and Haverford. Yes Jayne and Dave are friends, but I am a devoted customer and not just for the framing business. They rep some amazing local artists! And to me one of the best gifts you can give anyone for Christmas or the holidays is the gift of art!

Yesterday I realized part of finding our Christmas magic means #ShopLocal and #ShopSmall as well. So I hope you find lovely presents at some of these places and they are all places I am just a regular customer of. They won’t even know I have mentioned their business until I hit publish on this post. As a customer I like to pay it forward.

So I know this is going to be a holiday season like no other. But we do have to believe in the magic of the season.

Shop local, support small businesses wherever you live!

things that make me happy include…

…Christmas ornaments!!! Christmas is coming!!!

Alderfer had a holiday auction. I especially love vintage ornaments and these fruit ornaments caught my eye.

I put in a super low bid and with buyer’s premium and tax it came to $30 and change! I am super excited to have them home!

Christmas countdown has begun!! (Much to my husband’s chagrin.)

white chocolate oatmeal hazelnut cookies

I seem to have created something new. I had wanted to make my white chocolate cinnamon cookies with oatmeal, but then I decided I could improve on it. And I didn’t have any cinnamon chips. So I did improve my recipe and changed it up…and…taa daa! The 2019 White Chocolate Oatmeal Hazelnut Cookies were born.

RECIPE:

1 cup of butter softened (2 sticks)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup quick cook oatmeal (plain no flavoring)

2 cups white chocolate baking chips

1 cup dried currants (I used Sunmaid Zante Currants)

1 cup chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350°

Cream together until well mixed butter and both sugars in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla, beat until light and fluffy. Add 2 tablespoons buttermilk.

Add cinnamon, salt, baking soda.

Mix in 2 cups of all-purpose white flour until mixed well. Stir in oatmeal, followed by white chocolate baking chips, and finally the hazelnuts.

I chilled my dough about an hour.

Drop by rounded teaspoons on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. (I line my cookie pans silicone baking sheets for the most part now.)

I actually like to roll might dough into about 1 inch balls instead of “drop”. I place them a couple inches apart on the sheet.

Bake at 350° for 10 to 11 minutes depending on your oven.

Do not overbake and please cool these cookies at least five or six minutes before removing from baking sheet to cooling rack to cool completely.

This recipe makes a little over 4 1/2 dozen cookies. They seem to be an instant crowd pleaser in my house, so I hope you like them too!

passing down recipes

 

I have started baking. It’s a much slower process this year as I am hampered by my formerly “good” knee. Actually everything Christmas is hampered by it, so this morning to be honest, I was mopey.

What I was thinking about this morning is I never had children of my own. So I’m a stepparent of a son. When he was little I tried to get him interested in making Christmas cookies but he was into it for about 20 minutes and then would evaporate. He likes to eat them, but he’s not really into cooking . And there are no girls.

Well I do have a niece but she’s a big city girl. They order things like cookies, not bake them. Fashion, make-up, and selfies are where it’s at now. Maybe that will change as she grows up, but I don’t think so. And that’s ok, I am happy to bake them.

It’s just when you are growing up female, or at least for me, there was always this little day dream of when I was grown up and had my own kids I would bake Christmas cookies with them. Like my mother did with us. When we were little my mother did this. Gingerbread men, chocolate chip cookies, cut out cookies with bright sugar sprinkles, Russian tea cookies, and these amazing things called Florentines with bittersweet chocolate and candied orange peel. I still don’t know how to make the Florentines.

So this morning I was all down about this whole wondering who would eventually want the recipes I had collected and written over the years? They fill three 3-ring binders. And then there are my cookbooks.

Then I realized sometimes family extends to friends. And I do have friends with daughters. And one is already a baker at 13.

And I also realized I do share my recipes with my readers too. So hopefully down the road, as the years progress people will find my recipes and use them. Of course I could actually write a cookbook if I would just get down to the writing of it part. I have the recipes and I have the photos. I just haven’t done it. It’s on a “I will get to it list.”

 

Then I also remembered I had shared a collection of recipes last year with my readers, friends, and members of my cooking group.

So….sharing again: Fa la la la la. No cookie grinches here! Follow this link and see embedded below a curated collection of cookie recipes from ALL over the Internet

Also included?A few of my own personal cookie recipes. For web-based recipes at the bottom of each page is the link to the originating sites. Gathered here to make my life easier! Yes a lot of them are in landscape – I do that when I print – easier for me.

Happy Baking!

christmas memories and recollections

Christmas is unique because I think as humans it is when we are the most nostalgic. A lot of it occurs as we get out our decorations. We remember where most every ornament and decoration came from, and even who may have given it to us.

Yesterday I was speaking with one of my good friends I have made as an adult. The thing that is so funny about us knowing each other is we basically should have known each since we were teenagers. We have led parallel lives in the friends we had.

We knew so many of the same people yet never met until middle age. This friend she says to me last night that we probably met at parties or in bathroom lines at old Main Line haunts and never realized it. Which is so true – she was even a hostess once at the same restaurant as one of my oldest and best friends.

Six degrees of separation. Literally. Last night she asked me how I knew a couple more people she also knew so we got to talking about this guy we once knew. Not a boyfriend, a friend.

Now I know every time a woman or man speaks of a friend of the opposite sex, so many want to make something else out of it. But she, like me, has always had male friends. Some of my oldest friends in the world were boys I first met in grade school. I married a boy I was friends with in high school and fell in love with as an adult. But that’s the exception and not the rule.

This one person we knew in common was a friend we shared in different stages of his life. She knew him early on, I knew him in the succeeding years for a while. It’s like that phrase people say about people in our lives: reason, season, or lifetime. He was a season in both of our lives.

He is someone who experienced tragedy and unpleasantness early on, so I hope his life is happy now. He deserves that. My friend and I both agree. It was just so funny in the timeline of our lives. If we all had just actually met a little bit earlier, we would have been friends at the same time.

And it’s funny we both had the same impression of this person at the stages of life we knew him. He was what you would describe as an old soul. He was a total outdoorsman yet he wrote music, poetry. To some reading this that might sound weird, but it wasn’t. He was just deep, and he was deep at a time when we were at the age to be frivolous.

When I started to stop knowing him, he was preparing to move across the country to build a life elsewhere. I still have the letter he wrote me when he was moving. He was a really good person. Still is I am sure, just elsewhere.

That’s the thing about this season, as in the Christmas season, you remember those people sometimes. Just as we remember relatives who were dear (and not so dear) to us. It’s part of the human condition of sentimentality.

I actually have had something happen as a blogger that never happened before, and I am chalking it up to Christmas. Someone contacted me to ask me to pass contact information to a relative.

I would never divulge information EVER, but I did pass the information along. It’s Christmas so you never know. Maybe whatever made them lose touch is enough in the past that they could reconnect.

To some of my readers this post will be dull as dishwater. To others, it might strike a chord.

I hope you all continue to enjoy the magic of the season. A little Christmas magic and love is good for all of us.

Pax

time to start decking the halls!

This year I was going for a simpler, almost nostalgic look. Above is my dining room chandelier. Originally, it was given to me by my late father many years ago and it lived in storage units and attics until we bought the house we now live in. Here it was the perfect chandelier for our dining room. (The chandelier originally in the dining room was repurposed and now hangs in our front hall. It’s a small chandelier and it is the perfect scale for the front hall.)

This year my chandeliers were completely inspired by a childhood memory. When we were little and lived in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia one of the things we did at Christmas time was attend the St. Lucia Festival at Old Swedes in Philadelphia.

This is such a beautiful tradition and it is still hands-down one of my favorite things about Christmas in Philadelphia.

Lucia Fest is actually this coming weekend in Philadelphia at Old Swedes:

Friday, December 6th – 6:00 & 8:00

Saturday, December 7th – 2:00, 3:30 & 5:00

Sunday, December 8th – 2:00, 3:30 & 5:00

The Lucia Fest weaves together a number of Swedish holiday traditions into a colorful musical pageant. The heart of the celebration is the Lucia procession, in which a young woman is joined by other female members of the household in taking hot coffee and a warm Lucia bun to all the residents of the home. She comes crowned with candles, dressed in white, singing her traditional song, “Sankta Lucia.” In Sweden, her day is celebrated in homes before dawn on the 13th of December, which, at one stage of life with the Julian calendar, marked the winter solstice – the point at which the hours of darkness begin to diminish and the daylight hours begin to lengthen.

At Gloria Dei Church the celebration is held within the walls constructed by Swedish settlers in 1699-1700, in the beauty of candlelight, with a large entourage of young girls joining her in song and procession. For many people, participation in the Lucia Fest is a unique way of marking the beginning of the holiday season.

If you have never been, I actually encourage you to go. There are many Lucia festivals across the country. PLEASE NOTE that to attend at Old Swedes in Philadelphia you need tickets!  that is not the way it was when I was growing up, but even then it was a mad crush of people so I think it is smart of the church to do that, plus the tickets are moderately priced and proceeds go to the church. This church is one of the most historicly important in Philadelphia.

In the Lucia procession, young girls wear crowns of seasonal greens with candles. I doubt very much anymore in most places that the candles are live, but they were when I was a little girl. 

Anyway the Scandinavian simplicity and beauty of this festival was my inspiration for my chandeliers as silly as it sounds. And I’m very pleased with the results.

I did not use real garlands, because they would not last the Christmas season inside. On Wayfair and Etsy I found felt garland and that’s what I purchased to create my Lucia inspired chandeliers. The Company Store and places like Pottery Barn also sell the felt garland, but their prices are much higher than what I found between Wayfair (and the felt pine garland I found on Wayfair is already sold out) and Etsy. There are also some options on Amazon and elsewhere, but you have to hunt through the garlands.

The garland I purchased was both wired and not wired. You can also use other artificial garland for this purpose I just liked the almost childlike simplicity of the felt garland. It has whimsy.

The garland is placed simply enough on the chandelier and I had a half dozen white felt birds that I tucked in here and there. But the best part of the garland is it is the perfect foil for my great grandparents’ German kugel which my mother gave me a few years ago. It is my favorite Christmas ornament. It is not a giant kugel as I have seen displayed, but it is super lovely.

There are also three beaded tassels in a lovely cranberry color. I have absolutely no idea what store they were from originally, but I bought them on a whim from the Smithfield Barn and put them away until I had a use.

The table is dressed with a festive tartan cloth (also from the Smithfield Barn!) In the center of the table, keeping with the simplicity of the chandelier above, are my glass candlesticks with cheerfully festive candy cane striped candles. They are all sitting in a copper tray.

I am not anywhere near finished decorating and there will be a lot less of it this year and it will be slow going because of my knee. But I think it’s actually a good thing that I had to change my routine up this year because I am liking the results so far!

Fa la la la la!