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
I can feel the warmth of your Christmassy preparations Brenda. So lovely to think of adding one thing each day, and somehow spinning things out to make them more enjoyable. Nigel Slater has such a way with words....'Home means more to us in cold weather'. So true. I remember as a child, those last few steps running home from school on a frosty day, and longing to hurl myself into the warmth of my home.ReplyDelete
What a beautiful, cheerful visit! A bookcase makes a wonderful gift!ReplyDelete
It is hard to find space to work on a desk. It might help if you had a card table. I often set one up beside my desk if I need extra work space. I also like to put a pretty tablecloth over it while it is in use. I might need it for a day, or a week, depending on the project. Then I fold it up and put it away when I am finished. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!
Dear Brenda, As I have said before I SO appreciate and love “hearing” your thoughts!! These Christmas thoughts” and photos again, bring me SUCH enjoyment. One of my Grandmother’s had 2 wonderful desks in her home. One was a very old Rolltop desk, used by my Great Grandfather. She also had another that at some point came to my Mother. It was a smaller but lovely desk that eventually came to me. Wish I could send a photo. That desk is now in my son’s house , in a lovely corner in a large 1900 home with a lovely” Tiffany~like lamp on it. As a little girl I imagined having a writing desk up in an attic where I could enjoy writing. All of this to say, I loved your photo of your writing desk, adorned with a string of warm lights, complete with photos!ReplyDelete
As to Christmas cards, it was my first “ Christmas priority” this year; even in an unexpected week of travel to be with an elderly Aunt ( 97!) who fell and then sadly died. I took a few cards along as we hurriedly packed our belongings to drive out of state to be with her. In a few “in between” moments it brought me joy to “get started”
With Christmas simply by pulling out my green and red pens and addressing and signing a few cards. We are back home, we don’t have our tree up but the Christmas cards coming in are bringing such joy and as I completed and carried mine to the Post Office I felt joy in this old tradition .
“Yay” for your new bookcase! Would say more but think I’ve already used up too much space.☺️
Yay for a new bookcase that your husband put together. Perfect!ReplyDelete
The books you describe always make me want to read them.
Lights across your desk is such an inspired idea. Wonder if it would
help with my desk chores.
I imagine you are already, even as we speak, having fun filling and organizing your early Christmas present! When we are young, we long for and cherish the romantic gifts, jewelry and perfume for instance, but in this later stage of life, I have learned to cherish and appreciate the practical gifts that make my life better in some way on a daily basis. A bookcase for a book lover seems to combine the best of romantic and practical! Lovely!ReplyDelete
When I read those lines of Nigel Slater's in my book, I returned to them a couple of times. Coming in from the cold into a warm and cozy home is indeed a gift. A new bookcase for your office is a wonderful gift, one you will enjoy filling and organizing. Christmas preparations are coming along here and glowing lights, cards in the mail, and scent of baking all add to the anticipation.ReplyDelete
The chocolate nut clusters sound delicious, just right for a sweet treat with a cup of tea. Your guess about the small output is probably correct!
A great big heart hug back to you, Brenda. That was a lovely post. Oh, I think it's such a good idea to put orange peel in the shortbread. I'll have to try that. Shortbread is sooooo delicious, isn't it?ReplyDelete
Hope the rest of your week is totally blessed! Hugs. Susan
Sometimes there are posts where every word and paragraph resonates and leaves the reader with such a full, joyful, contented feeling. That's what yours is doing for me today. I just love your writing desk with its lights and loving that you got a new bookcase! Can't beat that! (I didn't know IKEA delivered! Could be trouble.) Everything is so cozy and lovely. The shortbread sounds wonderful and so do those clusters. Do enjoy the rest of the day, the rest of the season! Merriest to you!ReplyDelete
Always so well written. I too have finished writing out and sending my Christmas cards. This year I even included a photo in each card. I have to admit that the batch of shortbread I made a couple weeks ago is gone already. So I'll have to make another batch and maybe put a good portion of it in the freezer, so I actually have some on hand when guests pop in. This all sounds wonderful.ReplyDelete
What a lovely post Brenda. I just felt like I had the nicest visit to your cozy nook. Love your photo of the Library and table. Yes that would certainly give one plenty of room for all those wonderful books and such. Hope you have a great day. Hugs!ReplyDelete
I listened to Nigel Slater's Christmas Chronicles a few years ago and enjoyed them very much. I like your desk. I can't wait to get my own desk workspace back. It is now in the living room and it's just not the same.ReplyDelete
Hurrah for a new bookcase. I know what you mean about gifts. I used to hate utilitarian gifts for Christmas. Now, I think of things that would be nice to have, but they are not personal gifts! So funny.
I was thinking about utilitarian gifts, Deanna. Wondering if perhaps when we are younger it's more important for the romance of those more personal gifts. And when years have passed and love is well established, maybe we don't 'need' the perfume and jewelry, etc. as much to signal love in the air? Just musing about it. On a different note, I hope one day you'll get your own desk workspace back. Happy day!Delete
"Come in," really are the nicest words! And such a nice thought that feeding the birds is like a prayer. I don't usually feed the birds these last few years, except when it is snowy and cold, which it is today. I think a bookshelf is the perfect gift, even if it did come early. It is true that as we get older our gift giving seems to become more practical. We usually get something new for the house as our gift and then fill our stockings. Having a little study of one's own sounds lovely. I seem to always end up in the living room in front of the fire with the Mr. and the dog right there to keep me company. The chocolate nut clusters look yummy and healthy, too. Another thing we have to think about as we get older! Well, Christmas is almost here - the year went by quickly, didn't it? I hope that you and all of your loved ones have a lovely Holiday and a Happy, Healthy New Year! x KReplyDelete
I also enjoy receiving practical gifts. I got a new car battery for my Christmas/birthday gift. Heh.ReplyDelete