Hello my friends, and Happy Monday! Welcome to our third week of Holiday Tea - and today I'd like to talk about Christmas trees! First though, a quick word about my beverage-of-choice this week ...
As you can see, my mug is pretty big - and also, very pretty! I bought this last year at HomeGoods (for all of $5!) and loved it immediately for its generous size as well as the lovely seasonal images. It has a big sturdy handle, too!
Inside my mug today is a wonderful hot tea I "discovered" this year, made by Twinings:
This delicious Christmas Tea has a smooth and lightly spiced flavor - and for me, "lightly" is a very good thing, when it comes to spices - because I get heartburn very easily! And sometimes, as much as I like the idea of a spiced tea, the flavor can be too reminiscent of cinnamon gum. Like I've steeped my tea with a stick of gum, lol! Weird, I know ... but once I had that impression from a previous tea, it just stuck with me! So clearly I'm a bit persnickety when it comes to flavored teas, but happily this one is smooth and subtle. :)
Now, I'm afraid I don't have any goodies to share today - the past few day have been busy and I just didn't have time - though honestly, if you were coming to visit, I'd be sure to have a few tempting things to offer! In case you were wondering, here's what's on my baking to-do list this week ...
Do you have any special baking planned this week?
Well, how we talk about Christmas trees now? Here is ours ...
This is the first year we've had a tree in our family room and I must say I love it here! This is an 8-foot Frasier Fir and I think it fits the room nicely. Would you care for a quick tour?
We use all white lights, two different garlands - one made of red wooden beads and another made from a golden ribbon festooned with festive red squirrels - and a red punched tin star as a topper. Many of our ornaments are "woodland inspired" and lots of them were made by my kids through the years.
The glittery pinecone was made by one of the boys - the softly shaded maple leaf was hand-painted by my mum. She gave us a collection of them last year, and I just love them! They remind me of my favorite season (fall), my favorite state (Vermont), my favorite colors (soft orange and gold) AND of course, my love for nature.
I'd wager many of us have popsicle stick crafts on our Christmas trees!
Another leaf and a cute little pinecone-y hedgehog.
The star was made for me by a sweet girl in our homeschool co-op years ago, while the moon was something I made myself. There's a little verse on the back, and a matching (or contrasting, I should say) ornament just around the corner ...
I don't do handcrafts nearly as often as I'd like to, but I'm thinking of making that a goal for the New Year - to indulge more of my favorite hobbies.
We have LOTS Of cardinals all over our tree, one of our favorite winter songbirds.
Birds in general enjoy a strong presence on our tree!
This is one of the few "fragile" ornaments we have on the tree - made of porcelain, it's a bit "clinky" (as Little Bear calls it).
This is a very special ornament - a gift from Crackerjack's girlfriend, Jen, to our Little Bear who just this year discovered the excitement of "Minecraft."
Last year it was this guy ...
Little Bear's never even seen Star Wars, but somehow - youngest of four boys that he is - he just "gets" it! "That's BB8 Mama! He's a good guy robot!"
We have name ornaments here and there and as uncommon as my name is, my mother-in-law found this one for me last year:
And one last ornament which I just treasure, a gift from my boys:
I'm sure many of you mamas can relate! (p.s. That's a hand-painted sand dollar in the back ground. Well, painted with glue and then sprinkled with glitter! I made that one several years ago when we were celebrating National Poinsettia Day.)
And here's the cozy corner where I'm enjoying my tea today ...
We have no snow to speak of here in New England, but the skies seem to hold promise - thick gray clouds, a chill in the air. That said however, the forecast is not looking promising for a white Christmas! (It always pains me when we miss snow at Christmas ... and then spend the next three winter months absolutely inundated!) But boy do the days get so dark now, and so early!
And yet - we must take heart, my light-loving friends - the sun makes its triumphant return this Friday! In teeny-tiny increments perhaps, but each day going forward we'll have just a little more light than dark each day. So, Happy Winter Solstice, everyone!🌞
Right now I'm all curled up on the family room couch, admiring the tree lights, enjoying a moment of quiet (while the boys are all occupied elsewhere in the house) and on my tv screen ...
Show of hands now - who loves The Great British Baking Show??
Our local PBS station ran a marathon this weekend of TGBBS's Holiday Masterclass series. This is not the same as the ABC special airing each Thursday night this month - this is not a contest, but rather a cheerful and cozy hour's worth of holiday home baking with show hosts, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. It is so much fun to watch Mary and Paul recreate their own family favorites! If you're looking to get in the "holiday baking mood," look no further than this program ... I especially recommended it for Anglophiles like me. :)
You know what else I'm doing right now as I enjoy my tea? I am looking through old December journals, remembering past Christmases and holiday ideas I've gathered over the years. Journal-keeping is another hobby I'd like to make time for in the new year ... it's something I've done since I was a young girl, but have seemed to let drop recently.
Here's a peek at a few page spreads ...
As you can see, I fill my journals with clippings from magazines and random notes about our home, our family, craft ideas, recipes and just about anything that comes to mind! It's such a pleasure to look back over these journals - the plainest little spiral-bound notebooks but they serve their purpose! - and reconnect with my self and my thoughts on various things. I especially love seeing things like this ...
This journal was from December, 2012 - the year I was pregnant with Little Bear. I remember that ultrasound on New Year's Eve, vividly. A particular blood test had come back elevated and we were having a level two ultrasound to check on our little guy's development. They were going to do it after the holidays but we insisted on being seen as early as possible. We had to drive into the city mid-afternoon on New Year's Eve ... and oh, the nerves! Thankfully, everything was just fine with our wee one and we found out that night that our fourth born would be a fourth BOY! We gave him his name that night and celebrated the new year feeling immense gratitude for our blessings, most especially the health and well-being of all our children.
(And all that came rushing back from those brief cryptic notes!)
Well, my friends - that is all I have for today but as always, I thank you for joining me and wish you all the very best! I hope this next week is one of peace and joy for you and your loved ones ... I will see you again NEXT Monday, December 24th, for a cup of Christmas Eve cheer!