Christmas Day.  We got up early to open gifts and spent a lovely slow morning together.  Our son played with his new things while my husband and I curled up on the sofa with blankets and cups of coffee to watch Serendipity together.  After a late breakfast, we took a drive east toward the Sandy River.  With a little bit of time outside together away from the Christmas crush, the deep breaths began and true relaxation set in.  We have so much to be grateful for, and simply being together is at the top of any wish list I have. 

Winter Sunday at the Clackamas River.  My husband and I were under the weather over the weekend, only venturing out Saturday to walk down Peacock Lane, and by Sunday we were anxious to be out in the natural world, to breathe in fresh air, and to see the river wild on the winter solstice.  I stood on the riverbank and thought about the past year.  It's been a year of change and so much goodness.  I hold my boys and all those I love close to my heart as we enter the next. 
I wish for you a very happy season to come, full of love and light and all good things. 

One of the highlights of the holidays for us is the day we get our tree.  For the last six years we have gone to a tree farm in Dallas, Oregon with my sister-in-law and her family.  This year we brought along one of Thor's cousins that lives not too far from us in Portland.  Including the family that lives down there, there were seven cousins together on tree day.  There was a wagon ride, cocoa and candy canes around the fire pits, and careful deliberation over the perfect tree.  I'm glad they will all have this tradition together to remember.  {These are the days.}  Another tradition for us is going ice skating, which we also did last weekend.  So fun!  Ahem, yes, mildly embarrassing at times, but festive and fun! 

Watching & Reading:  I've been trying to catch up on Downton Abbey before the new season starts next month, whilst also trying to get through the pile of books I checked out from the library.  I don't know why I tend to check out three at a time when I know I can't get them all read, but I do like All The Light We Cannot See so far.  Making & Baking:  I made a good pumpkin pie!  I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe, minus the pecan/praline topping.  It was super easy, very creamy, and not too sweet.  I'm generally not that into desserts, but this pleased my people and that makes it worth repeating.  I'm going to make another one in the next few days. 

The Christmas shopping is not done yet, but the tree is lit, the wreath is on the door, and the holiday spirit is alive at our house.  The evenings are dark and cozy, with cups of tea or chocolate in hand, fires in the woodstove, and rain tapping on our windows.  I feel so much gratitude.  We are here.  We are together.  We are content.  I hope the warmth of the season has found its way into your home as well. 

Saturday we decided to go to the beach, thinking not too many people would be there on a bitingly cold day at the end of Thanksgiving break/beginning of shopping madness.  Just over halfway there, it began to snow.  Snowplows and a line of cars began to come from the other direction, so we decided to pull off on a side road before heading back home.  It was so magical.  An unexpected gift.  We are dreaming of more. 

I still just want to bake, and next up are some pumpkin pies.  Confession:  I've never made a good pumpkin pie.  I was asked to bring pumpkin pies to a Thanksgiving gathering once.  Having this history and feeling intimidated about providing pies for a large group, and this group in particular, I opted to order them and not risk taking my own failed pies to serve.  I overheard the ladies in the kitchen saying how lazy it was of me not to bring homemade pies.  I cursed myself for not at least trying, but for a few years I wanted nothing to do with pies.  However, these days I feel that failure is okay, that it's all in the effort and experience, and that now is pie o'clock.  One regular, one vegan coming up soon.  Fingers crossed!

Growing up in a vegetarian family, we never had turkey at Thanksgiving, but we always had a feast that included a turkey alternative, stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes, cranberries, my mom's homemade bread, rolls, and jams, and various vegetables such as corn and beans from my parents' garden.  Plus pies - pumpkin, apple, and pecan.  There was no shortage of deliciousness, I tell you.  It was the best.  I miss those days with my family.  It seems that we are never home on Thanksgiving, but perhaps someday we'll do it up right here at our house.  

These days spent baking and making in the kitchen, strings of lights up, Christmas music playing, really make this feel like home again.  I'm so glad we are here.

What a beautiful Thanksgiving with my little family it was.  Although we missed the loved ones were were not able to be with, we spent it with people who always make us feel welcome and part of the family.  For that, and for so very much more, I am truly thankful. 

blues + bread


My holiday blues came early again this year.  I started writing this post last week and erased it over and over again.  There's so much I could say, but I want to keep things on a positive note today.  I will say this {it is not always easy, and I fail at it all the time}:  Just one kind word or gesture can do so much.  Show kindness and acceptance to those around you.  Even if they are not of your religious persuasion, sexual orientation, political leanings, or in line with what you think are right life choices.  You might think you know who someone is, but you might know what you have decided about them, either from an on-sight judgment or perhaps just years of superficial interaction.  You have no real idea what's going on with them.  You don't really see them.  So be compassionate.  Look for the good instead of criticizing ~ show them good.  Be love.  Acceptance is a powerful gift.

Nothing beats the blues for me better than time outside.  These pictures are from a week ago.  Multnomah Falls was a frequent "Sabbath afternoon activity" with my parents when I was young.  We always hiked to the top then, something I have not done for many years, something I would like to do again.  This day was so windy, so cold, but so worth the icy fingers and toes.  I feel so lucky to live where we do in this Pacific Wonderland.

Inside, we have been spending evenings around the woodstove to stay warm.  The heat and the smell of a wood-burning fire is one of my absolute favorite things.  I have been on a bit of a bread-making kick, keeping the dough warm overnight by the woodstove as the fire dies down and using my trusty thrifted dutch oven for baking the next day.  I've yet to try baking it on top of the woodstove, but I'd really like to do that sometime soon.  I've been using this recipe with pretty good success so far.  I don't use cornmeal or wheat bran before the second rise, just flour, and always substitute some whole wheat flour, and occasionally some dark rye or soy flour, for some of the white in the recipe.  It's so easy and makes a delicious toothsome loaf.   

What are you baking for the holidays?  And how do you banish the holiday blues if you get them?  

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving ~
by mlekoshi