A List of Winter Classics

 

Birch Snow (this was a tentative holiday card design for 2011)

 

I find solace in recognizing what enriches my life.  What a better time than the end of a year, to reflect and be thankful.  A few of my favorite things include: driving in the morning or early afternoon darkness to the illuminating, twinkling lights on houses and smelling the tar pitch from wreaths and trees is humbling.  I am delighted to discover local and unique products that I know my family will LOVE, stamping/painting recycled grocery paper bags to wrap those gifts, and picking out a bottle of wine or a 6-pack of seasonal ales to bring to a winter gathering.  What I seek are warmth and genuine experiences. Finding joy at work is a gift.

Witnessing a child seeing snow for the first time (or a dog or a cat, for that matter) instantaneously makes me smile, falling into the arms of the snow and making a snow angel brings me back to childhood (when things were less complicated) and sticking my head up, starring into the falling flakes is like a deep meditation of quiet space.  (Too Hallmark Card-ish?)  What can I say, living in and painting watercolors of winter scenes are what get me through the sub-zero temperatures.  I am always fighting the temptation to simply hibernate in an oversized chair, with the knitted blanket from my Memere, and a good book. But I wanted to share some of my winter holiday love:

  • Sending real cards.  There is magic in sending and in receiving a sealed envelope via postal mail.  The element of surprise, upon ripping open the envelope, is much more evident than in clicking “Open” on an email.  I relish writing out short wishes to neighbors, family, and friends.  I am a bit of a dork and hopeless romantic when it comes to handwritten letters/cards.
  • Supporting local companies, such as Vermont Farm Table.  Though they create gorgeous and reclaimed furniture, they also use scraps for butcher blocks.  Having a refinished table birthed from old barn beams would, indeed, be a love of mine, but being able to have a small part of that in my kitchen is also fabulous.  The cutting boards range in wood species and shapes/sizes.  See for yourself by visiting their store at 197 College Street in Burlington, Vermont, or by checking out their website: www.vermontfarmtable.com
  • Shopping at local grocery stores for your homemade feasts.  Of course, I am a bit biased, to recommend Healthy Living Market and Café, at 222 Dorset St. in South Burlington, Vermont…but, even if I did not work there, I would highly suggest discovering the bounty of food and gift options.  Some of my favorite items that you can find at Healthy Living, include the following.
  • Comforting breakfasts: Stove cooked oats!  Use big, flaky, real rolled oats. Cook with a 1:2 ratio of oats to water, top with a generous scoop of almond butter, and sprinkle with berries or pomegranate seeds and relax.
  • Devouring hot chocolate…a little bit of dark chocolate a day is good for that heart and adding some spice benefits your arteries, blood pressure, and overall cardiovascular health, so seep and enjoy!  http://www.lakechamplainchocolates.com/aztec-hot-chocolate.html
  • Going ice skating.  I am the 25 year old who should still be holding on to milk crates on the rink but gliding across the surface is fluid and graceful, even when you fall.
  • Listening to Dean Martin’s Baby it’s Cold Outside, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, or singing to the multiple versions of Santa Baby.  Everyone has at least one guilty-pleasure Christmas song stemming from childhood.
  • Experimenting with crafts.  (Martha Stewart was my idol growing up.)  Bringing outside elements such as: pinecones, birch tree branches, those mysterious red berries, and evergreen pine branches, among others, into the house not only smell divine but add a welcoming element.  Heat some cinnamon essential oil and you’ve got your own haven.
  • Giving books, reading books, & loving books!  A few of my newest favorites:  Home Made by Yvette van Boven, The Repurposed Library: 33 Craf Projects that Give Old Books New Life by Lisa Occhipinti, Hand Made Home: Living with Art and Craft by Mark and Sally Bailey, and belonging by bell hooks.
  • Pumpkin, apple, and cinnamon flavors carry me through September and into the New Year.  Try out the following recipe on a below-zero snowy morning (adapted from http://sweetandnatural.wordpress.com/).

Pumpkin, Banana, Oatmeal, Flax Muffins

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie mix)

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

3/4 cup flax seed meal

2/3 cup maple syrup

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup oats

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or line with paper cups and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, mashed bananas, vanilla, eggs, flax seed meal and maple syrup until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until blended.  Pour into prepared muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes.  Makes approximately 18 muffins.

 

Enjoy the- hopefully upcoming- snow and have a wonderful holiday season with your families.  Treat yourself to that expensive coffee and an accupuncutre session, to then calm your heartbeat (may I recommend one of my saving graces Jeanette Moy at http://www.jwmoyacupuncture.com/), and celebrate!

 



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