Monday, November 27, 2017

No Thanksgiving is Perfect

 I really tried to make everything as nice as possible for our family Thanksgiving dinner.
 The table was set,
 the room decorated,
 We have a pretty good sized home, but when you get 21 people in it, it gets crowded pretty fast.
 No photos of the day.  I barely got the dinner on the table.  I thought I was on the right track and almost done.  Then I realized that ten pounds of potatoes were still on the counter, uncooked.  That's when things started to unravel. My SIL's were very helpful, but perhaps that's when I got out of the zone. The casseroles in the oven didn't seem done.  The corn, gravy and peas and carrots had not been warmed.    By the time the mashed potatoes were done, so was I!  Everyone filled their plates as I reminded them of the things that were late to the table. By the time I sat down, everyone enjoying their meal, I calmed down and started to enjoy it too.

 Weeks of preparation.  Baking, shopping, cooking, decorating...
We all ate and talked and laughed.  The good humor lasted well after everyone had finished eating.
My brothers and I talked about all kinds of memories, and the SIL's talked and listened too.  The kids had their own conversations, and the little one's got along so well, when it was time to go they didn't want to leave.
 The desserts were enjoyed, the coffee poured.  Leftovers packed.  All the girls helped to clean up.
All the dishes and platters, pots and pans, silverware and utensils were washed and dried.

 So many sweet memories were shared and made.
 Our girl was a great help.
She helped set the tables with silverware and washed some dishes, Penny does a great job.  It's wonderful to have her in the kitchen with me.

  I decided to embrace my imperfections and realized that it was a great Thanksgiving after all. As for families, I am blessed beyond measure.
The weekend was ours, and with amazing weather for the end of November, we took advantage of it with a long ride.  I looked at the map as we were driving and noticed Wandawega, near where we were in Wisconsin.  There is a Camp Wandawega that has been featured in many a magazine. They have refurbished the entire camp with Vintage furniture and accessories.
You drive down this long narrow lane till you get to the Lake.
There's a tree house behind those trees.
The actual road down to the camp was even smaller, with no place to turn around, so we just looked from the end of the road and I took some photos.
I looked online at their website and I have to go back in the summer.
It was beautiful on this lovely fall day.
We also went to a couple of thrift stores and found some vintage Christmas items I'll use in a vignette.

 All these items were less than $5.  I think they are beautiful together, though I didn't buy them thinking that. (The Cloche changes with the seasons.)
These plaster sheep and a goat are probably from a nativity.  Reminded me of Steel Magnolias where  Daryl Hannah's character buys orphaned Baby Jesus' to make a wreath at Christmas.
A vest for Penny...

 Fabric and a Scandinavian tablecloth.
 Longaberger ribbon. I thought they made baskets ;-)
Silver snowflake ornament for a quarter.
Our Saturday was spent driving, shopping for lights and some rest at home before we started decorating the outside of the house.  Days like we had this weekend are few and far between in November. Sunny and warm and slow after such a busy Thanksgiving.

So we hung the lights outside, and cleaned up some of the Autumn decorations.  I got a lawn bag and filled it with twigs I had in a crock and a grapevine wreath I had decorated with dried hydrangeas. The sun was just setting as we turned on the lights and admired our work.  I came inside to wash my cold hands and realized that my wedding rings were missing.  I looked where I put my lotion on in the morning, then knew I lost them outside.  My rings have been falling off, in the washer as I grab the clothes out, or the sink as I wash pots and pans.  I got a flashlight and looked near the arbor and other places we hung the lights.  To make a long story short, after a frantic search, I found my rings at the bottom of the lawn bag.  Thanking St. Anthony, patron saint of lost items.  The only part of me that's skinny, is my ring finger! LOL
 A Larch set against the bright blue sky. Sunday.

 Almost done...
On Sunday we walked the Botanic Gardens, and though I felt all my bones creak as we began, by the time we finished I felt great. 
I saw on Facebook that a local merchant was having live music in their store.  It was in Long Grove, just a stone's throw from our town.  This sweet man Bill Robinson played the hammered dulcimer accompanied by a guitarist. (Sorry I didn't get his name, but equally sweet.)
The sound of the dulcimer is so magical, and in a small store so resonant, it was amazing.  We shopped around,  all the while listening to the sweet music.  I went up to the table the musicians had set up to purchase their Christmas album.  Mr. Robinson asked me if I had a request and I said Silent Night.  Well, the mister and I cried like babies, they played the song so beautifully.  I admit, I started the crying, then my dearest joined in, the sweet old softy  he is.  I went and hugged Mr. Robinson and shook the guitarists hand, thanked them and wished them a Merry Christmas.  We took our purchases to the register and made our way home to the happy music of the hammered dulcimer. I just love moments like that, so special and unexpected.

The store is Mangel Gifts in Long Grove, IL.

My SIL Elizabeth gave me this lovely green Poinsettia.  I've never seen one like it.  I prefer the soft green, a flower that won't be out of place after Christmas is over.

Thanks so much for stopping by.
Grateful for all my family and friends, and for you, dear reader.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, November 20, 2017

A look ahead, a look back...

A frosty morning walk. 

 Frost on the lawns,
 and on the fallen leaves.
 I stopped to photograph these beautiful scenes...
 So ethereal and brief.
 Tiny crystals of ice, perfectly coating this pine hedge.
 The leaves are still falling,
 along with the fruits of the Osage orange .  The french name for these is Boise d'Arc.
 I noticed this tree, an American sweetgum. I knew from the seed pods.  I saw them only once before, at the Country Living Fair in Ohio.

I love the way they look.

 Lambs ear, already fuzzy, sparkled with frost.
 The sky so blue on this crisp morning.
 A long straight sidewalk, and time to observe.
 Willows loose their leaves pretty late.  Usually after a snowfall.  Our neighbors have giant Willows.  Usually the early snow is covered with it's thin leaves, and twigs.
The Osage orange hedge was the property line of the farmland our home was build on .
This hedge continues across a busy road and into the Forest Preserves.  To go back in time and see this place as it was 100 years, maybe 200 years ago.   

Forgive me if I have told this story before, but it's one of my happiest memories. I remember being on a farm with my family when I was young.  We were invited to somewhere in Indiana for Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner.  I went out for a walk with my Dad and our host, Father Lee, a friend of our family, and I am pretty sure a couple of my brothers tagged along.  We walked in a cornfield, where the corn had been harvested, as it was getting dark,.   We stopped and looked back to the farmhouse.  The windows of the house all glowed with light. I have thought of that moment a hundred times in my life.  It was so beautiful to see that cozy home waiting for us.  I think it's the reason that every Christmas Eve, I walk out of my house, with my sweetheart, and look back at our home, all glowing and filled with love and all those we hold dear..  Somewhere in our subdivision, many year ago, there was a farmhouse.  I hope it was a happy place.  That hedge always reminds me of how this place might have been long ago, and also of the Native American people who lived here first, long before that hedge was ever planted.  

 Just moving things around for our Thanksgiving feast.
 I start earlier now.  It takes a while to get things in order.  We have a small dining room, and Thanksgiving is the only time we all seat at the table.  Usually there are too many of us, so we often have buffets.
 I move the love seat into the living room.  Swap out some chairs for the small table in the dining room. Clear the family room to make way for the long tables, right in front of the fireplace.
 Some things I love just stay in place.

Like the globe hanging from the light .  Peace on Earth, it's banner says.

I've done some baking, most of the shopping is done.  The tables and chairs are at the ready.
Time is flying.  Here we go, another holiday season.

Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny