Tonight is a new moon (which is actually an invisible moon). If you live in South America, today you’ll get a solar eclipse. The next big thing, December 21 is Winter Solstice, a sacred time of magic and light and the bridge to a new beginning which I think we could all really use right now!💫 On that day we’ll be furthest from the sun, but the next strike of the second hand? The days start getting longer!☀️ . . . So much to celebrate! And now, me. No. First, MUSICA. THEN me.
I do not think, on earth, you can ask much more than this. Note cat.💞
And among my wonderful old movies and among my darling kitty cat . . .
We had our first last week! Just a cotton-candy dusting . . . to make it pretty . . . but of course I ran around with the camera! First snow is always the most magical!
We haven’t put away our fire pit yet, still thinking we might spend New Year’s Eve hovering over that fire and, one by one, burning every page of my 2020 calendar, because I am SO GLAD TO SEE THIS YEAR GO. I’ll say prayers to go up in the smoke. With that lovely light at the end of a rather long tunnel, we’re all getting closer to HUGGING again!⛅️
The weather has actually been quite warm considering where we live, and beautiful out on our walk, so this was like a little frosted Christmas gift!
Bit by bit, it’s getting very Christmasy around here!
We decided to put all our trees outside this year . . . this one is in the garden and I can see it from the kitchen window… but so can everyone who drives by the house!
These are out front, a little one in the window, a big one in the yard, and a nice little extra of reflection in the window . . .
We don’t have room in the kitchen for a tree, but we spend so much time there, so Joe put one on the kitchen porch where we can see it from inside.
I took that last photo with the table lamp ON…And this one with the lamp OFF. Camera reacts to that lamp! We also wrapped a small living tree in twinkle lights and took to our hospital to thank our heroes … trying to do our part in this crazy time we’re living through!
But it’s not like we have NO trees in the house. . .’Course we do!
We do! My bird tree. Our kitchen table wouldn’t know it was Christmas without it!
Joe’s been busy! Our wreaths smell wonderful!
It’s funny how we’re decorating. We don’t feel rushed. Every day one of us adds a little something. We’re truly enjoying it, and not doing everything we usually do, but pulling out loved things, and celebrating. Cooking a lot and loving it. We’re home alone this Christmas . . . we seem to be using the extra time to count our blessings.
The candles are lit!🕯
Mother Seraphima surprised me with this glowing tea light . . .💫 (and if you’re new here and haven’t read about Mother Seraphima and her house of creativity, you might like this post of Christmas Past.)♥️
This is a must-have for us, a Christmas tradition: Joe’s stocking for his family’s pets. I mentioned this the other night at our webinar … I wrote about Joe’s childhood prayer in A Fine Romance ~ the last seven names (below) are family pets! You can see, on the stocking, how as time passed, some of the names are crossed out 😞, and new ones added👍.
Wasn’t our Crowdcast event with An Unlikely Story Bookstore WONDERFUL? I LOVED reading your comments and answering questions, but was sorry I couldn’t see you! Although there were over a 1000 of us on that call, might have been hard to see everyone! It was my last one this year ~ Book talks in the time of Pandemic! I’m on the phone in this pic because for about five minutes I thought I couldn’t get on 😜 which led to minor meltdown!
But Kym saved the day … and there we were! If we get really bored this winter and need another visit, Kellee learned how to do it! We can put it on the calendar and all come together for tea!Oh yes, we can talk! I also want to thank whichever one of you it was that suggested I CLEAN the camera lens on my laptop!!! I could never figure out WHY I was so blurry … I kept asking everyone! No one knew! But then, during the talk, some of our girlfriends said, get a swab and some alcohol and clean that little spot next to the red dot on your computer! And voila! I came into focus for the first time! What would I do without you???
Did everyone get their puzzles? I hope so! We just heard they WILL be doing a second printing … probably won’t get them until February, but at least they are working on it! So, look what else came in! The first chapter of Enchanted! Another little bit of Christmas cheer🎄. Although it hasn’t much to do with Christmas, but everything to do with our very first trip to England aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2. It’s 28 pages, lots of photos, and all handwritten, and tied with a golden ribbon, it’s still festive! A stand-alone story with a beginning and an end . . . it’s the first chapter of the new book! And yes, I’m still working on the rest of it! And one more bit of news, I was just asked to renew the “shopping agreement” for the movie (or series) option for Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams! Fingers still crossed (almost cramped in that position at this point), still not holding breath, but wouldn’t it be fun!?! And one more thing, THANK YOU so very much for all the lovely reviews for Home for Christmas . . . here, on Amazon, on Facebook, everywhere! . . . You don’t know how much it means to me!Speaking of Roald Dahl . . . supposedly he met Beatrix Potter when he was a little boy, and now there’s a Christmas movie about it just released in England. Not here yet, but I’m sure we must be next! Interestingly because I met Roald Dahl’s daughter, Tessa. So that only means two degrees of separation between me and Beatrix, my closest fly-by yet!💞
I took all my Christmas-tree-decorating time and instead wrote Christmas cards and sent Enchanted and Puzzles to my friends and family . . .♥️
And this year, instead of greens and candles and trees on the fireplace mantle, it’s packed with Christmas cards! Almost like having everyone here!
Now it’s time to rev up the old girl . . .
I made my Cranberry Marmalade again after Thanksgiving! Have you tried it yet? Well, make more cranberry sauce at Christmas . . . then try this delicious thing! Lovely New Year’s Gift for the ones you love!
My girlfriend Lynne sent me this photo yesterday of her grandson getting ready to make Christmas cookies! Did it make my day? It definitely did!♥️ I particularly LOVE his T-shirt! The Future is right there in front of us making Christmas cookies!
I’ve been baking too! Making things to give away this season . . . I’ll try anything with Cranberries in it . . .
So when our Girlfriend Mary Holland sent me this recipe I knew I had to try it! (I’ll type it out at the very bottom of this post!)
Isn’t it pretty? Doesn’t it just scream Christmas?! You could almost hang it on the tree!🎄
So I gathered all my goodies and did some measuring . . .
Into a medium-sized bowl went 2 cups of flour . . .
add 1 cup granulated sugar . . .
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder,
1/2 tsp. soda,
and 1/2 tsp. salt . . .
Whisk it all together well…
Stop and find out what Jack is up to. ⬆ But of course. . . Time out for some shooting and retrieving of the stretchy unit! His eyes say to me, “You have all the power.” And then he whispers, “I know if I look at you like this you will stop and play with me.” And he is right!
Then it’s time for wet ingredients ~ The original recipe called for 2 Tbsp. melted crisco … but you can use melted butter, or coconut oil ~ I used avocado oil ~ it’s all considered “shortening.”
One beaten egg . . .
grated zest of one orange . . .
and 3/4 c. fresh-squeezed orange juice . . .
Mix it all up! (A spoon is better than a whisk in this case as I learned the hard, thick way!)
I thought nuts would be good in this bread so I added 1/2 cup coarsely-chopped walnuts . . .
And because I LOVE cranberries, I didn’t cut them in half as the recipe called for … I put them in whole (and probably saved a half hour of tiny cutting!).
Stirred it all up and poured it into my buttered bread pan…
Ready to go! Into a 350º oven for 55-60 minutes …
It’s done if the knife comes out clean!
Cool completely before cutting into it.
And there she is … perfectly delicious and gorgeous too! You can make them in the little pans and give them as gifts! If I would have had some on hand (which I will next time) I would have sprinkled this bread with sanding sugar before I put it in the oven. I have to say, for some reason, this Orange Cranberry Tea Bread tastes better the second day, and every day!💞
This recipe reminded me a little of my Orange Marmalade Cake, which is more of a tea cake than a tea bread … a wonderful recipe that’s NOT in any of my books. Also perfect for this time of year, and I would have NO problem adding a cup of raw cranberries and some walnuts to it!
M A R M A L A D E C A K E
- 1 ½ sticks butter (¾c.), room temp.
- ¾c. granulated sugar
- zest of one lime
- zest of ½ orange
- 3 lg. eggs, room temp.
- ⅓ c. rough-cut orange marmalade (and another ⅓ c. below, for Glaze)
- 2 TB. fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 1 ½ c. all-purpose flour, fluff with fork before measuring
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¾ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×5 loaf pan. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer (hand or otherwise), about 5 min, until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl periodically. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in ⅓ c. marmalade and the orange juice. In another bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Fold them gently into the batter until just combined. Put batter into loaf pan and bake 50 min. until golden brown ~ knife into center of cake should come out clean. Remove from oven and cool 10 min. Put a wire rack on a cookie sheet. Turn cake out of pan and place it on rack right-side- up. While cooling, prepare Glaze:
In small saucepan, heat together until melted: ⅓c. marmalade, 1 Tb. butter, ¼c. powdered sugar. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over cake, allowing Glaze to drizzle down sides. Cool completely before serving.💛
Soooo Sleepy these short dark days . . .😴💤
Found this on the Internet:
Very handy little list . . .
Enjoy this season of love.♥️ Take time for yourself. You can do everyone else NEXT year … it should be a doozie!🎉 Merry Christmas, darling friends, Happy Hanukkah, Joyeux Noel, Feliz Navidad, Happy Kwanzaa! And happy just hanging around the house!🎁
CRANBERRY-ORANGE TEA BREAD
- 2 c. flour, unsifted (just lighten it by stirring before measuring.
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. shortening: melted Crisco or butter, coconut or avocado oil
- grated zest of one orange
- 3/4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 beaten egg
- 1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts
- 1 c. raw cranberries
- Sanding sugar
Preheat oven to 350º. Butter a 9x5x3 bread pan. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together first five ingredients. Stir in shortening, zest, o.j., and beaten egg. Fold in walnuts and cranberries. Pour into pan. Sprinkle on sanding sugar if you like. Bake 55-60 min. until knife comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing. ♥️