Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Childlike Christmas

What is a childlike Christmas? Pom Pom has asked us lady bloggers to post on this topic.

First and foremost,  a child's Christmas should be a religious Christmas. And I don't use the term "religious" in a negative, legalistic, shallow way. I simply mean that Christmas should be true to its namesake, Jesus Christ.

Thus, our Jesse Tree:
 We acquired this little plastic tree about 20 years ago, in the first church we attended as a married couple. Each family in the church got a tree, and each family chose an ornament, and volunteered to make about 25 identical copies of that ornament. When all ornaments were finished, they were brought to the church, divided into 25 sets of ornaments, and each family got a set.

The ornaments, which are placed on the tree each day through advent, tell the story of Jesus through the Scriptures. I love how this beautiful daily decoration, used year after year, teaches our children that Jesus is the theme of the Bible, that He was the point from the very beginning.

They also gave us a simple booklet that reminds us which ornament goes on which day, and gives a Bible reading.
 When I look at the ornaments, I remember the precious families that made them, all those years ago. Our children are grown now, and the Jesse Tree has done its work in their lives. When my children remember our Christmases from their childhood, I want them to remember Jesus, the point of it all. We've lived in about 11 different homes since our first baby was born. They moved many times, but some things stay the same, no matter where the family lives:  Christmas, the Jesse Tree, and our love of Jesus.
Every Wednesday during Advent, we'll be enjoying a "Childlike Christmas" on our blogs. Come join us!

Mole, Ratty & Toad at the Lunch Bunch

Wednesday is knitting/crocheting day, so the Traveling Threesome came along. I'm afraid Toad was rather bored with all the "ladies' stuff" and Ratty is missing his river.
Hunter is getting very serious about the Christmas afghan. The colors are so luscious.
Ginny is making a little doggie coat for her granddog.
After knitting group, a bunch of us ladies went to town and gathered for our church lunch together. We do this each month. I took those Three Travelers along. They were in the "center" of things, of course:

That's our pastor at the other end. He doesn't usually come to these ladies' events, but his wife brought him along. The fellows in the centerpiece were glad to see another man in the group.
A few of my favorite people: Beverly, Mother, Judy and Hunter.
After lunch, several of us went to visit Charlotte's Fibers, one of our favorite (and exceedingly dangerous!) haunts in town. Toad was exhilarated to discover we were visiting a dangerous place! How disappointed he was when he found out it is only dangerous to our pocketbooks, because the yarn is soooo beautiful and tempting to us knitters and crocheters. He let his guard down, unfortunately. Soon the resident doggie at Charlotte's, Sophie the Greyhound, came to investigate the new animals in her shop. The Threesome were resting happily on Mother's shoulder, but as soon as Sophie sniffed them, Toad leapt down to the floor in his terror! Mole was frozen in place. Ratty, of course, kept his cool. They clearly needed Badger along to give them courage!
Sophie is such a dear!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November Tomatoes

I think I mentioned before that we rescued some very green tomatoes from a neighbor's garden, just before the first frost. We wrapped them in newsprint and put them in a cool place, and checked them often.
Here's one of the last few tomatoes. I took this picture before Thanksgiving. I tell you, these tomatoes were as tasty and beautiful as if they'd ripened on the vine. My mother likes a nice thick slice of one for breakfast, on top of her egg and toast. She says she's sad that they're just about gone. The last two little ones are on the window ledge.

I think red summer tomatoes are a wonder. But red summer tomatoes in November? They are a miracle.


Last week when the girls and I went to Grove Park Inn, we also took some time to visit Grovewood, the artists' community right next door. But before we leave the Inn, here's their festive wreath, from the front porch:
The buildings at Grovewood are old like the Inn, and you know how I love old houses! Ivy-covered, time-weathered. There's a little cafe, a large shop that sells everything from pottery to textiles, an antique car museum, and a living history type museum with some metal workers, wood workers, and someone who demonstrates weaving. (Why, oh why did I not get a photo of the huge loom?)
Sigh. All that artisan stuff is very nice, but to me -- this is true beauty. An old house with mullioned windows and a cool roof line.
One more shot of the Inn. I'd like to stay a week in one of those little rooms under the eaves.
Outside the cafe is this comical crow with a golf ball in his mouth. The Inn does have a course. However, I think I'd be more interested in the "courses" at the cafe!
It was hard to capture these fantastic wind ornaments along the walk; in the camera's eye, they just blend into the trees. They were amazing, swirling and dancing in welcome.
I was drawn to the shop with all the fabrics. Shawls, bags, scarves and hats abounded. Look at these felted purses with a mock stained glass pattern:
This pic is too dark, but I loved this shawl. Not exactly sure what the fabric is: soft, not woven or knitted, with mottled colors.
And this is such a cool piece! So creative! It looks like it's flat against the wall, but actually it's a corner cabinet. Adorable!! You can't see it well, but there's a tiny shelf on the bottom, and a little mini wooden acorn sitting on it :)
This clock is in the Inn. They have quite a few antique clocks.
Another old clock in another wing had this inscription on its door.
"'Tis a mistake -- time flies not.
It only hovers on the wing.
Once born the moment dies not.
'Tis an immortal thing."

And I cannot resist a few more photos of gingerbread houses, particularly this one. It's a sewing machine, complete with a bowl of notions and little mice, no doubt making a mess for the unlucky seamstress. Remember -- all of this is edible, candy buttons, candy ribbon.
For those of you enjoying some snow this morning:
This house was so elegant.
Beautiful! Love that roof line!

Monday, November 28, 2011

More Family Pictures from Thanksgiving:

For those of you who know my family, and miss seeing their smiling faces:
Here is One Hungry Boy. Oh, how patient he was!
I sat next to him at Thanksgiving Dinner. He loves stuffing.
Adam, the master meat-guy:
Four lovely ladies in the kitchen: Anne, Hannah, Faith, DeVona
The groaning board:
Julia knows I'm taking a picture. She has a nose for it, and thus her hand is gracefully over her face :) These four cousins were all born in 1999: Nathan, Justice, Julia, Clark. Well, actually Clark missed it by one day, but still they call themselves "The Ninety-Niners." Isn't that fun? They played together the whole time.
There were some happy, satisfied teenage boys around the Thanksgiving table.
This was Adam's plate. Note the preponderance of browns.
This was Anne's plate. She is a farmer. Note the abundance of color. Hmm.
Faith has her hands full with many children, but she found time to visit and play. She rarely has a dull moment!
Max and Marshall. Max is the farmer whose home and land provided this wonderful holiday for us. (I will note that several of us brought along pies and cakes and other things, to help in the Great Feeding!)
Adam, goofing around with teenage boys. This is his olden-days quarterback pose. Peter is a bit tall for a receiver. William is thinking, "They're crazy."
All these cousins are in upper-elementary. We really packed them in!
After the meal, we all went outside for pictures. Philip, with his fancy-shmancy camera, tripod and timer, took the "official" photos. He'll have to mail them to me.

Mark, Faith, and their children: Patience, Justice, Honor, Mercy, Courage, Grace, and Liberty Margaret. That's a lot of virtue for one family.
Julia, Clark, Honor, Justice:
A partial gathering of the clan, before everyone got there:
Beautiful Katie Dee:
Anna and Hannah. I will avoid posting the old photo of these two as baby girls, playing together in a rain bucket in their diapers.
Slowly, various family members peeled off and returned home. The morning we left, here are the kids that remained:
Here are the kids, with the grandparents. I tried for one, full group picture, but some of us ran out of patience for picture-taking, unfortunately.
And I would be remiss if I did not include a photo of Anne's famous waffles! And, I'll have you know, on that plate are eggs from their own chickens, whipped cream from their own cow, and all berries grown on their farm. Yum!
Many, many thanks to all who came, and to Max and Anne and their hard-working kids, who quietly, happily entertained and fed us. We love you and are so thankful for you!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wind In the Willows Grand Tour Has Arrived!!

Guess who are at my house right now? Toad, Mole and Ratty! They've arrived! And Little Pom is being a perfect hostess. The Traveling Trio came here from Texas. They've been around quite a bit out West, and now they will visit in the East. Our first duty? A warm cup of tea, of course, and a few "biscuits."
The Trio brought with them a copy of their famous book. One fun activity for this World Tour is the making of an annotated copy; we bloggers are enjoying coloring the pictures and writing our own exuberant notes on favorite pages. Here, I've found the picture of Badger, welcoming Ratty and Mole into his home on a frigid, snowy night. My favorite thing about this story is all the hospitality, and the many tasty meals enjoyed in front of a crackling fire.
Pom Pom is the blogger who started this Tour.  They were sent to me by Lisa at Pen and Ink. And I shall be sending them on to Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm.  Half the fun is getting to know all these lovely ladies, with whom I share so many joys.

At the front of the book is a map of the river area, and what a beautiful map it is! Pom must have colored this, I suppose.
Julia wanted to color some pictures too, and I thought I'd better let her, since we were using her pencils! She's working on the famous raid on Toad Hall, in which Badger leads the reclaiming of Toad's home from the wicked Stoats and Weasels.
Since they are traveling all over, Ratty, Mole and Toad need a passport, of course. Each blogger on this tour places a stamp in the passport, indicating that the travelers have come and gone. But I was stumped -- I have no stamps! And then I remembered! I have a bag of stamps that belonged to my husband's great-grandfather, who worked on the railroad. Most are letters and numbers, so I created my own stamp arrangement:
E. L. Wooldridge was my husband's great-grandfather. I loved using these neat stamps, and showing them to Anna and Julia. "C. B. & Q." stands for Chicago, Burlington and Quincy. These three cities in Illinois and Iowa indicate the railroad's destinations, so these stamps are so appropriate for our Traveling Trio!

Tomorrow, Julia and I will be posting more about their visit to our area. Stay tuned!