She turned 10 and had fun putting the royal icing fantasy flowers on her little cake at her party.
I hosted a Christmas Lunch for two of my daughters-in-law. The tablescape was Christmas at Sea, which featured an old ship that belonged to my dear father-in-law. I love the Christmas song “I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing in on Christmas Day” and that was the original inspiration for the table. I would need smaller ships to fit three on the table though so one ship was big enough. One of my daughters-in-law used to work on a cruise ship so the theme was all the more fun.
The ship was placed on a piece of fluffy white batting in the center of the table. Small glass balls in white and wintery shades of gray were scattered like bubbles around the ship.
Small crocheted snowflakes were hung from the ship’s sails.
I also hung several glass balls and glass icicles and chandelier prisms from the ship to add to the wintery icy effect.
The napkins were made from Vintage Christmas Carol sheet music fabric from Spoonflower. I had the design printed on Linen Cotton Canvas and it made lovely napkins.
On each napkin I placed a sugar cookie snowflake. They turned out pretty but are so fragile that I broke the royal icing on several even before the lunch! But I adore snowflakes so I’ll probably make these again, even if they do break easily.
Several of the smaller snowflake cookies were placed around the ship.
To light the ship, I used three strands of tiny, battery operated lights. The battery boxes fit perfectly under the ship and were hidden under the white batting.
Lunch was Potato Bacon Chowder, Ham Barbecue Rolls, Spinach Salad, and Cranberry Cheesecake Pie for dessert. We were sad that one of the girls couldn’t make it due to a sore throat. But now I have a good excuse to host again. It was too fun to only do once. Instead of Christmas at Sea, it will be Winter at Sea!
I wish we had a fireplace mantel in the living room. I’d love to style ships like this on a mantel. If you do, please post in the comments and share. I’d love to see it!
I’ve wanted to host a game night for a while but everyone’s schedules were really busy. So we freed up the whole weekend and let the gatherings happen when they could. What fun!
First of all, I wanted warmth and light. Right after Christmas is always so dreary. All the prettiness of Christmas is packed away and all that’s left is cold. So I did a little searching and gathered a bit of warmth from around the world.
First and most important, there had to be fur from Russia.
I have a large fur throw in the living room but needed something smaller for the dining room chairs. I found the perfect fur at JoAnn fabrics and made two throws from 1.5 yards of fur to drape over the backs of the chairs.
I adore knits from Scandinavia and found a beautiful heavy knit, also at JoAnn Fabrics. 1.5 yards made two more comfy throws for the chairs. I also used another yard of fur and a lovely wool throw that a friend had given me.
On one chair is a pillow I made using Floral Wood Carving Stripe fabric from Spoonflower. Roostery sells premade pillows using the wood carving fabric too. The wood buttons were fun to carve while watching Gilmore Girls. :)
I’ve never leaned on a table so soft that your elbows sink in, and there are no words to describe how comforting this is!!! If you want your guests to linger, you’ve GOT to try it!
Our table belonged to my grandparents. Decades of love and laughter have taken place around this table. The only thing I’d change is if it were a trestle table with rounded corners and center pedestal so we could fit more people around it without bumping the table legs. My father made the family trestle table and I’ve always wanted one. This trestle table is beautiful! But really, all these tables are gorgeous here.
The first two nights I used the white bedspread/tablecloth as the top layer. The last night I put the maroon spread on top. You simply must try this! Make sure you use washable throws though, in case there are crumbs and spills. From now on, I’m going to be watching for thick, washable throws that can be layered on tables. I might even make one for my desk. Yes! … um… zzzz…. maybe too much comfort for a desk… ;)
For lighting, I wired old chandelier crystals and glass icicle ornaments to the light fixture. The crystals were salvaged from a family heirloom and I cherish them so much. They add a delightful sparkle and look quite wintery.
Two corners of the dining room have lamps. The terrarium is still unfinished, tied together with cord but the plants are growing fine. They’re over a year old now. I finished all the carving but have yet to cut the wood base, glue it all together and line it with copper. The glass top of the terrarium is the old dining room light fixture that we removed when we bought this house.
I also keep white mini lights on top of the china cabinet and dining room bookcase until winter is past. To me, mini lights don’t remind me of Christmas, they mean health and well-being. The more light in winter, the better!
While visiting my daughter in Tokyo, I learned about Japanese tables that were warmed underneath. What a great concept! To mimic the comfort of a kotatsu, I put an electric blanket under the table to tuck our stocking feet into.
On the table I put a beautiful leaf plate from Arhaus. It was perfect for holding cookies – German Springerli and Viennese Chocolate Hazelnut Crescents.
Friday night was just the girls. We played Old Maid, the very cards that I used in my childhood in the 60’s. So much fun!! It had been so many years since I played with those cards. There was Fifi and her poodle, Greenthumb Gert, whose plantings were being nibbled up by rabbits as fast as she planted them, and Milkman Mo with his begging cats. Love the humor in these old cards, which probably would be deemed totally “politically incorrect” now-adays.
Saturday night, children and adults together played Clue. We did our best using English accents and Oh the mystery and laughter!
Miss Peacock, how can you be capable of such a deed! Mr Plum’s strategy was quite scientific. And Colonel Mustard actually held the pistol and knife. This view of the chandelier is only possible if you’re a game piece lying in the billiard room. haha
One of my favorite warming strategies was loading fireplace videos on tablets and displaying them in the bottom of the china cabinet. Fire where there is never any fire! I sure wish some company would create a mini fake fire device that could play a simple, looping fire video like this and fit in a small space like a china cabinet. I would buy several in a heartbeat. Fire amongst the plants in the living room? Yes! Fire on my nightstand as I go to sleep? Yes! The last time we had a fake fire was when we made a fireplace in the oven. There’s something comforting about flame, even if it’s fake.
Sunday night’s beer and poker game ended up being postponed because the flu visited. Alas. But even as I write this, I’m feeling quite toasty. The throws are still on the chairs and I feel the warmth radiating against my back. My laptop is set up on this table and my arms are leaning in on the softness as I type. A Winter Game Weekend after Christmas has definitely become a tradition in our home.
Carpenter, as in not someone’s name, but rather the vocation. The wood worker that cuts down trees and uses sharp gouges to make houses and three-legged stools.
And not just any carpenter, but THE carpenter. Jesus could have been any profession in the world. But he was a worker of wood, a simple carpenter by trade. When I volunteered to do a tablescape for the Christmas brunch event at our church, the first thing I thought of was Christmas trees and wood, and how significant wood is in relation to Christmas and Jesus… and me.
Jesus worked in a wood shop. He used logs and blocks of wood. He used saws and gouges.
At the end of a day he would have had the glorious smell of aromatic sawdust and curly wood shavings clinging to his garments.
As an apprentice, one of the first pieces of furniture he would have made would be a three-legged stool.
Three legged stools can sit firmly on uneven surfaces.
My dad enjoyed wood working as a hobby but he didn’t build furniture. He built his own house, he loved cutting down trees and chopping wood, and he loved carving.
I learned to carve by watching him. “Never fight the grain of wood,” he quietly said. “Work with the grain, not against it. Take tiny cuts. You can’t put wood back but you can always cut away tiny bits. Take your time.”
My father had incredible patience and I watched in silence as he made tiny cuts in the wood.
I was 22 when I married and moved away from home. All I learned about woodworking was during my childhood but I never forgot my father’s skill. My father passed away just a couple days before Christmas, two years ago. But instead of having the memory of his passing be something hard, it is beautiful this time of year. Because my father worked with wood and so did Jesus. My dad never got to see my carving. But somehow, I think he knows and is glad.
Wood workers mark their tools and their woodwork. It’s called a “maker’s mark.” My dad carved his name into the gouges he made from nails.
He carved his name and date in his carvings.
He sometimes carved the location where he made his piece.
Jesus knew all the details of woodworking.
His first contact with wood was being laid in a wood manger, a feeding trough for animals. It was rustic and rough.
As he grew, He learned how to shape wood and smooth wood, remove tiny bits to make something functional and beautiful. He knew which trees were strong, which had the best grain, which smelled aromatic. And he would have known about maker’s marks.
As I put together my Carpenter tablescape, I included two wood cross beams leaning against the back of the creche.
After spending a life working with wood, Jesus’ last contact with wood was being nailed to it.
And there, in the cross, was Jesus’ “maker’s mark”, the nail prints.
This Christmas, what is precious to you? To me, it is the memory of my dad, the wood carver.
And being blessed with the ability to work with wood like my dad and Jesus, The Carpenter.
The plan was to get a free cup of hot coffee from “Luke’s Diner” in town. Commemorating the 16th anniversary of Gilmore Girls, and to celebrate the upcoming debut of a Gilmore Girls mini series, Netflix sponsored pop-up “Luke’s Diner” in coffee shops all over the country. Oh my goodness, I love that show!
I had every intention of going and really looked forward to it. In fact, I even walked toward the line and snapped a picture. What a special event in town!
But then I started to miss my own “Rory” so much that I had to leave. If I had stayed, I feared I would have started to cry and end up blubbering something like “Will you please be my daughter? I miss my daughter! Anyone in this line, can I please be your Lorelai because my daughter lives halfway to China and I’m missing her so much and we watched Gilmore Girls together when she was going to college and HOW can I possibly get a cup of coffee that we would have shared but can’t because she’s halfway to China??” If I had stayed, I totally would have done that. 0_0
So I left without coffee, immediately went home and did a Sookie thing – I whipped up some Sugar Crusted Orange Ginger Muffins and cried the entire time. I sure did.
I made up this recipe years ago, just because I needed a batter that fit in the big, new muffin tins. I still use my favorite batter-scooping spoon, even though the handle is broken.
Sugar Crusted Orange Ginger Muffins
Sift together in a large bowl:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
Mix together in another bowl:
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup oil
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp grated orange rind
Mix together in another bowl:
3/4 cup raisins (I like golden best but any raisin will do)
3/4 cup candied ginger cut up into little pieces (I never buy the precut ginger because it has too much sugar sprinkled on it. All that extra sugar changes the texture of the recipe. It’s better to buy candied, sliced ginger and cut it up yourself with scissors.)
Dump the egg mixture into the flour mixture and quickly stir with a whisk or wooden spoon about 5 or 6 strokes. Mixture will be lumpy and NOT mixed together.
Dump in the raisins and ginger.
Stir quickly and thoroughly but briefly using a wood spoon or whisk. Mixture will be lumpy. Make sure you scrape the dry ingredients off the bottom of the bowl while mixing. If the batter gets rubbery and stretchy, you mixed it too long and the muffins might be tough. Anyway, drop spoonfuls of batter into greased, large muffin tins.
Sprinkle tops with coarse sugar crystals.
BAKE at 400F for 20-25 minutes.
Makes 12 large muffins.
After I had two cups of good strong coffee and a muffin, I felt better. But since I miss my daughter so much, I’m declaring it Official Wallowing Day. Truly. At least once a year I just need a good wallow.
I miss you and love you, Heather. <3
And Texas just seems like half-way to China. ;)
“Don’t move!” I told her.
The sun shines through the west window for a short time each late afternoon, hitting a narrow sliver of wall half way between the dining room and living room. Sometimes I move the dining room chair and sit in that small sliver, if only for a short time and let the sun soak into my face, eyes closed.
She was walking from the living room to the dining room and paused just a moment and I happen to look over at that moment and I told her Don’t move because I wanted to capture the sun on her blue hair. One moment more either way and I would have missed it.
How many moments like that have we missed because we’re too busy walking or talking or cleaning or doing? The sun follows the same path every day. It isn’t the sun that changes, it is I. I don’t want to miss what the sun lights.