Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Last Walk

Hello Friends!
If you've hung around my blog for any length of time you know that I love to take walks.

This afternoon the sky was so blue and the sun was so bright I thought we should take just one last walk of 2013. It's been a grand year for walks - especially now that John is such a proficient bike rider and can really keep up.

Arthur decided to bless us with his smiles and coos during the walk rather than crying incessently. Perhaps he's getting used to his mama's walking obsession.

The brightest color was the blue sky. Everything else was gray or a delicious shade of golden.

Of course since it was rather cold (at the most 30 F) John said that we needed hot cocoa once we got home. I was happy to oblige. I love watching him make it - his enthusiastic swirling of the milk and his careful pouring into each cup. "I'm sorry, mama, I didn't get as much in yours as I got in mine." (Of course!) But I don't care. It's the ritual, the enjoyment that I savor the most.

Happy New Year, friends!
I do hope it is a good one for you!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Day - The Picnic

Hello Friends!
Are you enjoying the week in between holidays? I am. I've got all three boys down sick at the moment. Hopefully it stays a "boys only cold." But I thought I would steal a moment in between nursing all my men back to health to tell you about my favorite part of Christmas Day - the Christmas Picnic Tea in the Woods!

Doesn't that sound delightful? Well, to some I'm sure it sounds terribly cold. But our family really enjoys a good gander through the woods and why not on Christmas Day!

We all had our separate Christmas mornings at our own homes, enabling us to go at our own pace and develop family traditions specific to our little families. Then at 2 pm we met up in the delightful parkland that separates our houses, Eagle Creek Park. We are so fortunate to have such a big green/wooded space in our city. Not many cities have such a luxury.

My sister had prepared a simple but decadent lunch feast for us to have in the woods. There was a basket or a bag for most of us to carry, which we did happily. The little people scurried on down the path with that particular energy and zeal that comes on Christmas day. It was so much fun to watch them scurry about.

After a decent walk through the woods we came to a picnic bench with a beautiful view and a little gully with a frozen stream bed. While the grownups spread the table cloth and lit the candles the little ones ran down to the stream and proceeded to bang and bash about  - pretending all sorts of things. We made hot cocoa and tea, munched on hot sausage rolls, gingerbread cookies & mince pies (and homemade marshmallows) chatted, laughed and watched the children play. It was magical and I savored every moment!

I had never before done such an outing on Christmas Day but it was such a nice pause in the day. Time to just enjoy and do something different. Oh, I want to do it every Christmas now!

When we were tired and the children cold we packed up and headed back to the cars for the afternoon and dinner at my house. But we carried a piece of that magical picnic with us.

I do have to mention a funny thing - we met several people in the woods - running, walking their dogs or just walking. We said "Merry Christmas" to each and everyone we came across but only one person smiled and said, "Merry Christmas" back. Isn't that rather odd? Oh, well.

So there you have it! The crazy Winslow sisters have started a new tradition - and boy, was it fun!

Did you start any new traditions this year?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

My family KAL

Hello Friends! And Happy Boxing Day to you! It's been a lazy one here. A little clean up, a little munching on leftovers, a little knitting, a little napping. John is down with nasty cold - one which we're praying little Arthur doesn't catch. 

Now that presents have been give out I can share a fun little thing I put together for my sisters, my mom and my niece. We decided to have a very simple Christmas this year - no big presents, just stocking stuffers - so that we could spend our time on making Christmas special. 

So I bought funny socks to stuff into everyone's stockings. However, a few weeks before Christmas I saw Susan B. Anderson's blog post about her Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl designed by the Knitting Pipeline. 

OOoooo, I had so much fun! I listen to The Knitting Pipleline podcast on the shawl, I drooled over susan's lovely shawl, and then I went down in my basement and got out every last little bit of yarn I had in my "scrap yarn draw." Wow! I didn't realize how much I had! And oh, how I wish I had taken a picture of it all spread out on the floor! Little balls strewn all over the basement floor. John had a fun time kicking them around until I told him that "mama's project was strictly off limits for the time being." 

 My first ball of yarn was such a delightful mish-mash of my favorite yarns. Bits of handspun were thrown in with soft cashmere and Noro. It brought back so many memories. I found myself saying things like, "Hey, were's that sweater these days?" or "where did that shawl get to" or "remember when that yarn came into the shop." It was a trip down memory lane.

This ball went to my mother because all the jumble of colors reminded me of her free and creative spirit.

When I finished this ball I realized I had barely made a dent in the scrap heap so I foraged a little further.

Soon I had a blue and brown ball put together. Again, full of handspun, cashmere, angora, hand dyed yarn that I had made myself and odds and ends of commercial yarn. This cake reminded me of winter wonderland so I decided to give it to my sister Heather because she always looks good in blues.

Then I looked at the scrap heap again and saw prominent greens and pinks and browns. Oooo so lovely! It was so rewarding using up all the lovely bits of lovely yarn that I had kept "for some rainy day project."

Then I realized I had the perfect edging yarns to go with each cake - just take a look at those lovely mohair skeins! Don't they match each cake so perfectly?

What do you think I made for myself? Well, I looked at my scrap heap once again and saw .....


Black and grey and red! Oooooo and it is so lovely!

We all cast on today (with the exception of my sister Emily- poor dear! She works in the medical profession and so has to work today. But hip-hip-hooray for all of our wonderful medical community staff who work on holidays to take care of us! You guys are awesome!) and have been having so much fun together knitting away on them.

Here's the details again:

Knitting Pipeline
Susan B. Anderson's shawl

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas dear friends!

We are tucked in our home with a gentle dusting of snow on the ground. Grandma has arrived to join us in celebration. We are listening to Lessons and Carols broadcast from Kings College Cambridge England and baking. It is a tradition for us. We are sipping tea and laughing and letting the joy of Christmas - the fact that we are indeed saved from our human estate - wash over our souls.

Merry Christmas and may you too find joy in the birth of a babe in a manger so long ago!

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Tree

I love how the years change. Each year brings tradition experienced differently. Do you know what I mean? Take for instance the tree. In years past we JK and I have chosen the tree - walked among the grove of trees or aisle of trees (depending on the year) and come to a joint agreement.

This was the first year we had a very happy and very vocal third person who wanted to choose the Christmas tree - John. As we picked various trees out and looked at them he gave his up or down vote. Finally, he ran to the back of the lot where they were unloading fresh trees that had just arrived from the tree farm and he said, "I want that one." JK and I looked at each other - there was no way of telling what kind of a tree it was because the branches were frozen together. It looked more like a Fraser fir missile then a Fraser fir Christmas tree. But we thought there was a bit of an adventure in not know what our tree truly looked like. So we went with it.

It turned out to be a huge fat jolly tree that takes up so much space we are afraid to have a fire in the fire place for fear of the whole thing going up in smoke!!!!

Then, when it came to trimming the tree, once JK and I had put the tree up and trimmed the tree with lights John felt it was his turn to have tree trimming all to himself. Back off mom and dad - you've had your turn with the lights. It's my turn. So we did - we helped here and there. I helped take the ornaments out of the boxes and JK helped at the tree to ensure the most delicate ornaments actually made it on the tree and of course Grandma offering advice here and there. But we took more of a back seat approach. It was different, amazing and wonderful all at the same time.

But when it came to the tree tray that stayed the same. All of us enjoyed it and participated in it fully! Chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies from JK's side of the family and Scottish shortbread from my side of the family - two traditions coming together to form a new one!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The hustle and bustle...

Hello Dear friends!

Thank you for all your lovely comments! I wish I could sit right down with each of you and have a jolly good chat!

The hustle and bustle of Christmas has descended. John gives me the update every morning - the count down to Christmas Eve. Goodness me! I almost wish I hadn't taught him to count and tell time! He's about to begin the hourly count down! Ha! You've just got to laugh.

Just as soon as I fill the cookie tins, they are empty again! Even before they are in the tin they are beginning nabbed by little hands (do you see the shadow of little hands off to the left in the picture). But your heart does give a little cheer when you hear John say, "Boy, these are the best cookies in the whole world. I just have to have another."

The fruitcake is made. I know, I know. Everyone has such jokes about fruitcake. But it is dearly loved in our family beginning with the tradition of the seasonal fruitcake arriving in the mail from Uncle Roy on Long Island (via Collin Street Bakery). Now I make a gluten free version and stick it in a Collin Street fruit cake tin for memory sake.

There is a long list of cooking and baking, of people to visit, and birthday parties. I'm always so thankful to make it to the end of the day, light the candle, sit down and eat dinner, put the babes to bed, and crawl into bed. (Yes, I may be rapidly trying to finish gifts in my PJs in bed, but I'm in bed nonetheless!)

Today, just when I was feeling a little discouraged about the mountain to accomplish and Arthur was crying terribly as we stood in the check-out line, 6 people stepped aside and said I should check out before them and one kind mother of 4 who had already checked out stayed behind to rock Arthur's car seat while I paid. I was floored by such kindness by 7 total strangers! I'm going to carry that kindness around with me in my heart today to encourage me and pull me through - I know it was a little gift from my Heavenly Father!

Well, I have to fly! But Hopefully I'll be back to online land one more time before Christmas Eve!