Thursday, December 26, 2013

What a Time We Had

What a great time we had in Mammoth. We flew into L.A., Greg flew in too, and we stayed at Tom's.

Then the long drive through the Mojave Desert into the Sierras and to our little cabin at Mammoth.

Some skiing, some good times in the cozy cabin, a perfect little tree to decorate, and it was over so quickly.

Christmas was wonderful!

Then the redeye home, and another lovely holiday on Christmas Eve with Hope here at the house.

The best Christmas, celebrated on both coasts!

Monday, December 16, 2013

No Tracks

After the big snowfall over the past two days (and frigid temperatures) the sun is out today.

Surprisingly, there are no tracks in the snow. The whole yard is pristine, white and untouched.

Usually there are trails going everywhere across the yard after a snowfall. Rabbits, voles, deer and others. Deer meeting deer, deer going in circles, the place looks like a train terminal after rush hour.

But after this snowfall there is nothing -- a line of tracks running behind Meadow's Edge garden and then along the bottlebrush buckeyes, and a faint trail already snowed over that runs through the front yard almost at the edge of the street.

But that's it. And we had just seen a trio of huge deer a few days ago browsing in the meadow on the east side. Big things, looking like dumb brown horses.

It is so pretty to see the untouched snow.

Christmas is fast upon us and this beautiful snow is perfect for the season. The house is decorated and we have already gone through one full batch of anise cookies.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Indoor Days

This is the time of year when it is darkest and coldest and I can spend several days in a row indoors without ever going outside.

The sun sets now at 4:20 in the afternoon and it is pitch dark outside before 5 p.m.

It has been snowing all day and the temperature is in the mid teens.

I've been busy inside baking and decorating cookies, and now they are ready in tins to go with me out to California.

The house is all decorated, plans are all in place, dates are set, flights confirmed, cabins rented, ski passes secured, house prepared for when Hope and Steve arrive once we get back.

Presents are bought, most are wrapped, and the ones for Tom and Greg have been shipped and already arrived at Tom's. I have the little stuff ready to go in my suitcase, like lifesaver books. And Christmas Peeps.

Everything is done.

Now we let the holiday unfold over the next two weeks.

There is still packing to do, and a little more shopping and wrapping, but otherwise it's just travel, skiing, visiting, hosting, presents, eating, repeat. We get to see all three of our kids.

When all the holiday doings are over, I am so looking forward to starting in on the garden things that I can do indoors in winter:
  • I'll start updating all the entries in my Plant Inventory with photos and info for 2013. I like doing this, but it takes a lot of indoor time at the computer.  
  • I'll start my lists of plants to order or buy. I love this exercise in the winter, but resist even thinking about it until after the holidays; if I start, I get distracted from all the other organizing that needs doing before Christmas. I need a clean slate and blank stretch of time for this.  I'll bring some of the plant catalogs with me on the plane. 
  • I'll start daydreaming about the design changes I want to make. This takes a lot of empty time too, just letting my mind think and my fingers find inspiration on the internet or in books.

I love this point in time when the work of the holidays is done, events are about to unfurl as planned, and I can feel the time coming after Christmas when I can finally turn to the indoor projects that I've been anticipating since fall.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cute Robes for Kids

Noelle makes these little terrycloth robes for small children, and they are so cute. Well made, each unique, and she obviously has fun picking out and combining fabrics and patterns.

She has a website with all of her inventory shown:
Joy Robes 

She takes orders via e-mail, which is on her website. The robes are about $30. I wish I had a toddler or infant to give one to!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Little December Snow

We are having the first snowfall of the season and Christmas carols are playing.

I don't think it will amount to much, but it's nice and just right for baking cookies and wrapping presents. These guys agree.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tis The Season

This year I abandoned the 7 foot Christmas tree that we bought when we moved in here. When I first saw our 10 foot ceilings, I thought --- ooh, a big, big tree would fit in here!

I bought a very large expensive artificial tree (first ever), and we struggled every year to get that huge thing put up and decorated. I needed a stepladder to hang the upper ornaments and put the dove on top. Getting the big thing up and down the cellar stairs every year turned out to be a major two person endeavor, and the top broke the first year, requiring ever more elaborate duct tape each year.

This year, a small, 5 foot little thing was purchased (yeah, artificial again). I can decorate it easily, standing on the floor. The dove was simply placed atop it, no contortions involved. It is my height, easily reached, and I like the smaller size so much better.

And . . .  this is so cool . . .  there is a remote control that clicks the lights from all white, to all multi colored, to a combination of both. This is so awesome.

Jim and I walk by every few minutes and click the tree to a different setting.  We are easily amused.

The broken top of the old tree has been installed out on the front porch as a mini tree, lit up with white lights. It actually looks okay.

I put wreaths on the garage windows, a wreath on the front door, and it's Christmas. Ta da.  Some snow would be nice right now.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Red Jewels

The tree is up, the wreaths are on the front windows. It's cold, it's December.

After a grim, gray start today the sun came out and the air was still and it got up to 50 degrees. I got out and turned the compost pile since it wasn't frozen. It takes some effort and I work up a sweat, but it is getting easier the more I do it.

I keep being startled by how jewel-like the red fruits are on the flowering dogwood. They catch my attention every time I walk out the front walk or come up the driveway.

I know this dogwood fruited before, but I don't remember the berries being so eye catching. Red gems all over the tree.

There is something refined about these dogwood berries. They are a deep crimson, and they are sprinkled delicately all over the bare tree, highlighting its elegant shape and showing themselves to best effect against the sky. Now that the leaves are down, I really notice the berries decorating the branches.

A subtle and very subdued look, which is why I may not have noticed them in other years. But this year they make me stop and look.

The low winter (almost winter) light catches them and lights them up and I am always surprised.

Of course it is the winterberry hollies that are the scene stealers when it comes to red berries. But their berries are bright red and jam packed together and make a big fiery colored explosion. Not refined at all, but truly eye catching.

I love having these red jewels decorating my garden before Christmas.