and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and
for a talk beside the fire: it is time for home."
Happy Sunday! Hope you enjoy my December edition of Daybook Notes.....
Outside my window: As I write this, it's a colder day here this morning, with the palest of sunshine and faded blue skies. On milder days, the birds come for their first feed as the sun rises, and then they tend to fly off and aren't around much. I suppose because they don't need ALL their energy just to keep warm, and they can fly and forage further afield. Today they stay close to their seed trays. I came across a lovely line attributed to Pope Pius XII: "Feeding the birds is also a form of prayer." To the One who notices when little sparrows fall, surely it's a most acceptable prayer.
Inside the house: The pencil tree is up and has been sending out cozy vibes the last couple of weeks. Other corners are slowly being decorated, as I set out something festive every day, a little like opening a new window on an Advent calendar. Will include some photos next time.
What I'm wearing: At this moment it's still morning and, yes, I'm still in my jammies. I wanted to get straight to it before I lost any of the 'youthful' zest of early morning. It makes me feel on top of things when I get straight to it. Then, once I've passed that crucial good start, I can relax and go get myself ready for the rest of the day.
Plans for the day: The day is still young, and after a very decent sleep, I feel quite ambitious today. My aim is to finish this post and have it up by day's end. Plus, I hope to wrap up (see below)...
Writing Christmas cards: Started writing cards the other day, and today there's just a tiny pile to finish off. Rather than trying to find room enough on my small writing desk in the study for this beloved holiday tradition, I made myself a writing station at one end of the dining room table, where I can hear the Christmas music playing, enjoy the warm lights on our new pencil tree, and spread out my assortment of festive cards, envelopes, stamps, stickers, address book, pens, and glue stick.
A Little Day Dream: I love my small and cozy study with my books arranged around me, but there are days when I yearn for it to be just large enough to house a nice-sized work table, like the one I showed you in this POST. To have a place where I could spread out my books and paper and notebooks, and have lots of breathing space to muse and play with my thoughts and ideas. But square footage-wise, well, it can only remain a dream at this point.
A peek at my writing desk: I love my writing desk in my snug study. This photo is from a few years ago. It's so cozy to sit here at this time of year. As you sort of see, there really isn't a whole lot of room to spread out when space is required.
I am looking forward: To baking a small batch of Mary Berry's Shortbread, to which I want to add some orange zest (about a tsp or two) to the recipe. I saw Miranda Mills and her mom Donna sampling orange shortbread on her Christmas vlog from a couple of years ago - I don't recall which one, sorry. She didn't share the recipe they used but there's a similar one of Mary Berry's HERE.
With me still carefully watching my sugar and carb intake, even with my good lab results of a few months ago, I found something that might work for a small, not too dangerous holiday treat that includes dark chocolate. I found this recipe (and photo) in an old Christmas magazine I'd saved from years ago.
Fruit and Nut Clusters
150g / 5oz dark chocolate
3 tablespoons shelled and toasted nuts (eg, hazelnut, peanut)
3 tablespoons raisins (or craisins)
Melt chocolate in a mixing bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.
Stir in nuts and raisins. With a teaspoon, drop clusters onto a parchment paper covered tray.
Now I haven't tried this recipe, but it sounds delicious. I am a little surprised at how small a batch this makes. I'm trying to imagine 6 tablespoons of nuts and raisins. How many clusters would that make? Surely a person would have to double or triple the recipe unless you're the only one planning to sample.
A early Christmas delivery arrived yesterday: An IKEA bookcase for my study! Which means a wild afternoon of assembling and scratching one's head about the directions. Thankfully Rick volunteered to take it in hand, and it turned out to be fairly straight forward. I've been wanting a new shelving unit for a while now—to finally get the growing stacks of books off the floor. So when Rick asked what I wanted for Christmas, I knew what I wanted right away. Once "Santa" has assembled it, he can put a big red bow on top—my reminder that Christmas presents don't always fit under the tree in book size boxes. And, occasionally they show up a little early.
I was musing with my sis-in-law, in years past, such a present would not have been considered good gift material, but rather more in keeping with the frowned upon frying pans and irons. But things change as we mature. It truly matters less about what's under the Christmas tree. Or, even if it gets under the tree. Yes, I admit, Christmas presents gaily wrapped in bright paper and pretty bows is a joy I don't quite want to give up entirely, but my new shelf fits the bill perfectly this year. I'm going to have so much fun filling my shelves. And yes, I will show pictures when it's all settled.
Just finished reading: Once Upon A Wardrobe by Patti Callahan. What a delightful story, with its hint of fairy tale magic, very much in keeping with the other book using 'wardrobe' in its title. Young George Devonshire falls under the spell of his favourite story: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. His older sister, Megs, sets out to fulfill her beloved brother's last wish to find out where Narnia came from and visits the author himself. Set in 1950 just weeks before Christmas, this is a perfect little book to curl up with a hot cocoa or spiced tea on a wintery afternoon.
A wonderful quote from The Christmas Chronicles: I've got Nigel Slater's gorgeous book The Christmas Chronicles on my bedside table. It's great for dipping into at the end of a busy day when a person wants something gentle and comforting before drifting off to sleep. Here are a lovely few lines about coming in from the cold that he writes so cozily about:
"It is just as good to come in. You stamp to shake the snow from your boots. The flakes of snow on your coat melt instantly. Your glasses steam up. You close the door and thank God you remembered to put the hall light on a timer.You hang up your coat, tug off your boots and light the fire. You will probably put the kettle on or pour yourself a drink. No so much as a way to get warm, more to welcome yourself home. Home means more to us in cold weather. Making ourselves comfortable is a duty. Making friends and family comfortable is an art.'Come in.' Two short words, heavy with meaning. Step out of the big, bad, wet world and into my home. You'll be safe here, toasty and well fed. 'Come in.' They are two of the loveliest words to say and to hear."
On that note: Time has come to say goodbye. Evening shadows have fallen around my study, and it's more than time to turn on the lamps. As I close I'm spreading out my arms and sending you a big heart hug, with lots of wishes for a beautiful week ahead. It's two weeks until Christmas, can you believe it?
Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,
Top Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay
Other photos are mine