Thursday, December 08, 2016

Winter's Chill

December 8. The darkness and chilly temperatures that signal winter has arrived, in spite of two weeks to go until winter is official. 

I've begun a little bit of food preparation for Christmas. Five things, in fact, to tie this post to Five on Friday. Spiced Pecans, seen above, Cranberry Orange Shortbread, Chocolate Marshmallow Roll, and Homemade Marshmallows. The fifth, Rugelach, is half-done - the dough is chilling in the fridge.

The paperwhites are emerging nicely, reaching up to the skylight in the entrance hall. These colder days have been sunny and that brightens up my spirits a lot.

This evening, Tim and I went for a walk. Toques, scarves, gloves and our heaviest jackets helped keep out the wind. How lovely to come home to a cup of hot chocolate, complete with homemade marshmallows floating on top. 

Linking with Five on Friday,  hosted by Amy of Love Made My Home. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

A Little Bit of Christmas

Over the weekend I hung a wreath on the front door, which looks quite rust-coloured in this photo but is more of a warm red. Haven't gotten around to the bow yet, but I clipped a little bird to a branch.

I puttered in the living room, too, hanging a garland of folded paper stars over the mirror, and strewing some simple candles and pinecones along the mantel. To three little artificial trees I clipped more cheery red birds. 

There have been few opportunities for taking photos. It's dark when I leave for work in the morning and mostly dark when I return. The Grade 8s and 9s are getting squirrellier (spell-check does not like this word) by the minute as the Christmas break approaches. Next week I'll be trying to engage their attention with Christmas vocabulary (French for the 8s and Spanish for the 9s). Let's hope it works.

Last night, just before heading off to bed, I took a look outside and saw the most beautiful sight - fat snowflakes falling fast. I was so excited that I lay awake for a long while thinking about snow and hoping it would last. I awoke in the night and got up to look out the window. The snow had stopped falling, but I could see the lawn and streets were covered. However, during the wee hours a bit of rain fell and then froze. What crunchiness ensued! 

And no snow day. I was so hopeful. Perhaps we'll have more snow. We have had none for several years, so this is quite thrilling - to me. Others are not so thrilled. But surely we can get excited about snow when we know it won't last more than a week, at best.

How are your preparations coming? Do you like snow?  

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Jolly Times

Sidney by the Sea is just 10 minutes up the road from our place. On a clear and chilly Sunday evening we bundled up with scarves, gloves, parkas, and boots for the annual parade. It's Sidney's annual parade, but our first. We tend to be stick in the muds  homebodies, finding plenty to keep us occupied at home. 

When we do exert ourselves and get out of the house, we usually have a great time. This was no exception. Bright lights, happy people, and fun displays entertained us well, and helped us forget that our feet were beginning to freeze to the sidewalk. 

A cup of hot chocolate also helped.

After the parade on Beacon Avenue, we wandered down to the waterfront to watch another parade, this one of lighted boats. How jolly it all was. And cold. 

We came home, sat by the fire, ate pizza and watched an episode of Midsomer Murders. Very cozy. 

Are you a stay-at-home kind of person, or do you attend a lot of community events? Do you get out more at Christmas than at other times of the year?

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life. 

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Slowing Down in a Season of Speed

My garden is getting ahead of itself. The hellebore is blooming well in advance. Shy flowers, dripping with rain, gaze at the ground and I kneel on the damp ground to photograph them. 

We've had two frosty mornings this week, separated by one day of rain. If the two weather systems collided, perhaps we would get the snow I wish for. 
Meanwhile, I venture outside just as the sun trudges reluctantly up the sky. Frost-edged hydrangeas draw my camera's attention.

In this season, where Nature slumbers, I keep a quiet Advent in my heart. Days are filled with lessons, recalcitrant students, sewing projects, and things I'd like to accomplish. How then, in the midst of busyness, do I hem my days with quietness? 

It's not easy when everything around me says, "do, do, do," and "rush, rush, rush." I make my lists, trying to be realistic about what I can accomplish, and I build in time to read, to sew, to go for walks. Yes, there will be things left undone, but the important work of waiting in hope as the days darken, as I wait for the Light, literally and spiritually, draws me irresistibly to quiet my heart, if not my hands.

The first week of Advent and the first day of December are nearly over. Each day is precious. Like my garden, each day can be quietly beautiful. 

Five glimpses of life here today for a linkup to Amy's Five on Friday. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Afternoon Tea

A few weeks ago, my daughter invited me to an afternoon tea at the White Heather Tea Room, along with her mother-in-law, and Little Miss S. 

How civilized to sit and drink tea, eat ginger-apricot scones, elegant sandwiches, and sweet treats while the rain dripped outside on a very dreary day. 

We three adult ladies ordered the Not-so-Wee-Tea, while Little Miss S had the Wee Tea. It wasn't so wee, and Miss S isn't so little anymore. 

Her tea was served all at once on a single plate. I watched her nibble one sandwich, and take a bite from another. She ate her apple slice, and then, it seemed like an epiphany occurred. There was chocolate cake. And shortbread. And butter tart square. ALL ON THE SAME PLATE! Surely, her mind seemed to reason, that meant she could eat it in any order she wanted.

So she did what any little person would do, she started with the chocolate cake, moved to the other sweets, and then the scone and chicken salad filling. She packed away most of that Wee Tea, along with two teacups of mint tea. What fun!

Although the tea wasn't a seasonal celebration, it coincided with the first Sunday in Advent the next day, and in a way, it felt like the beginning of this wonderful season. 

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life.

Friday, November 25, 2016

These Days

These days, the citrus scent of Japanese mandarin oranges takes me back to my childhood. They came in wooden crates and my parents purchased one or two boxes throughout December. They stayed down in the cold room or basement. It was the only time of year we enjoyed them. How sweet they tasted.

My grandparents (on both sides) gave all of their grandchildren a paper bag filled with candy, nuts and one mandarin orange wrapped in green tissue paper. I didn't appreciate the orange so much, then, as I would now. 

After the oranges were gone, the box remained, with infinite creative possibilities. It made a great doll bed, a little shelf for books on the desk my father built into our closet, or a repository for childhood treasures. What did you do with your wooden orange crates?

On this day, as I peel an orange, I breathe in the scent of childhood Christmases, slowly section each piece, pull off the white membrane and savour the sweet pop of juice in my mouth.

These days, lists are being made and there is tea beside the fire. Advent begins this Sunday and I'll bring out the Nativity set, hang a wreath on the door, and the season of preparation will begin again. As the earth tilts, ever so slowly, further from the sun, Christendom anticipates the coming of the Light of the world.  

Monday, November 21, 2016

Frith Wood and Painswick: Mosaic Monday

On these grey days (although the sun is currently shining here), it's hard to remember how hot it was in the summer. During our trip to France and England just a few months ago, we enjoyed marvelous weather. Sunshine with very, very little rain. 
One thing we had been looking forward to while visiting the Cotswolds was walking some of the ancient trails. You may remember that we were down for a few days and not up to walking very far. 
However, on our last day there, we determined to go for some sort of a walk, if not a long one. We had planned to do a canal walk in Stroud, but there was no shade at all, and the heat so intense that we turned back. The kind ladies in the tourist office suggested Frith Wood, and gave us a map. So off we went, first driving along a nail-biting narrow road through the prettiest valley, through the village of Slad and beyond, until we came to a public footpath with a small parking area.

The trail took us along a ridge between the Slad and Painswick Valleys, through an ancient beech wood that filtered the light, and beside fields that baked under the fierce sun.
The beech trees were probably planted shortly after the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century, from Belgian seed. 

There was little relief from the heat, even in the forest, but oh, how beautiful it all was. We would have walked longer, but the main trail seemed to end. We wandered along a road for awhile, then turned back and made our way back.

From a high point on the walk, we spied a village in the distance and thought it might be interesting to pop down there for a bit. Our adventurous GPS (Sat Nav) assured us that there was a road. It didn't indicate how narrow the road would become. After arriving home I looked at the "road" on Google maps and see that it is labeled a "lane." Much more accurate. 
While Tim drove, I leaned forward, craning my neck to see even one inch further around the corners as the branches slapped the sides of the car. At one point we met up with a rather snooty lady driving a fancy white convertible who wouldn't give an inch and was rather impatient with our efforts to back up to a somewhat wider section in order to let her pass. 

And so we arrived in Painswick, Queen of the Cotswolds, with its pretty Georgian houses, St. Mary's church that dates back to the Domesday Book, and best of all, The Patchwork Mouse Art Cafe where we fortified ourselves with Cheese and Tomato Toasties. A most serendipitous find.

New Street was built in 1428, at a time when the wool trade flourished. The doors are painted such wonderful colours, but after looking at all the photos, I realize that I have a slight list in all of them.
The arched door shown in the mosaic above is an older part of the church that probably dates to the 14th century. 

The tower was built in the 15th century and I'm assuming the clock was installed then, although I couldn't find any specific information. The clock was restored in 1986.

We managed to find another way back to our lodgings without having to drive that narrow lane, where we collapsed in relief, took cool showers, and later walked to The Apple Tree Pub for a satisfying, and easy-on-the-nerves dinner. 

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life.