Hope your day is cozy and full of warm feelings.
Hope your day is cozy and full of warm feelings.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
You know the verse.
But, can you tell me …
what, exactly, is a sugar plum?
My first thought:
Fresh, juicy, and sugar-sweet—much like the ones that grow at my farm.
But history says that my vision of a sugar plum is not accurate, at least not in terms of Clement Moore’s famous poem.
Here’s what my days are about. Momma “Sweetheart” nurses baby Charlie while Auntie Sally O’Mally sleeps nearby. Etta Jane and her baby, Eliza Belle, snooze out of view. Maizy and Miss Daisy are in the barn asleep. Otis, Yore, Brie, and Beau Vine snuggle in another barn. Milky Way and Samson in yet another shelter.
When Charlie isn’t tucked under momma, he and his older sibling, Eliza Belle, run like the wind. Run! Eliza Belle kicks up her heels sideways (too cute), and Charlie leaps likes a deer through the snow. I mean, he LEAPS. Bounds. I’ve never seen a calf leap like he does. It I weren’t trying to get my cow book done, I’d move in with my lovely cows. “Hay guys, is there room at the inn? Your beds look so cozy.”
Meanwhile, down at the farm … peace on earth.
How about a Christmas tree that’s roughly four feet tall, perfectly symmetrical, and very much alive? In late September, my local nursery puts their trees on clearance, so that’s when I usually adopt my soon-to-be Christmas tree for around $60. Some years there’s another local endeavor selling live trees for $125 but not this year.
My feelings are identical to the way I felt when my parents let me pick out a puppy or choose from a litter of kittens. This one! Its roots are securely tucked into a root ball covered in burlap. Each year, I bring a tree home and carefully and routinely water it until I can get it planted, usually in March sometime.
Grown and out the door, my farm is home to a couple dozen trees I’ve fallen for over the years. Some of them are now HUGE! Thought to protect homes from evil, it’s no surprise we want them indoors with us. Outside greenery, brought inside, is the centerpiece of our holiday season.
The worship of trees goes back to the time of the earliest Pantheists. (Pantheism is the worship of nature.) Integrated into our holiday customs are early Christian and Jewish practices, Roman traditions, medieval pagan rituals, and Victorian nostalgia. Germans introduced Americans to the Christmas tree (tannenbaum), but they weren’t the first to believe that evergreen trees represented eternal life because of their perennial green color during winter. Ancient homes were decorated with boughs and the tops of trees turned upside down to entice the spirit of nature inside for prosperity and good health.
Cut, faux, or alive—what’s your centerpiece this year? Having tried them all, I can make a convincing argument for all three. For every Christmas tree cut, two are planted. With over a million acres set aside to grow Christmas trees, one acre provides the daily oxygen requirement for some 18 people, but there’s just something sad to me about that lifeless hulk slowly turning brown out the back door. And I can’t for the life of me envision Pan, the god of woods, fields, and flocks, coming into my home to play his flute for my faux tree, even if it is an “eternal” tree.
Check out www.livingchristmastrees.org, a Portland, Oregon-based company that’s been in business for over 20 years delivering full-size Christmas trees and then planting them at schools, churches, and parks after Christmas.
Maybe you’ll be getting a new deck of cards this year in your Christmas stocking. If so, here’s an idea for what to do with your old deck. I made this scrapbook-inspired advent calendar last year from an old deck of cards.
In the spirit of upcycle and on a mission to make an advent calendar, I rummaged through my craft boxes, finding spare scraps, odd buttons, random thread and lace, and numbers, and then scrounged some holidayish-looking items. Using a fabulous vintage frame I’d been saving and an old deck of cards, I started cutting and pasting, the old-fashioned way. The cards have special meaning because my grandpa, now gone, gave me this deck many years ago after teaching me card tricks. Casino issue, the whole set had been punched with a hole upon its professional retirement, perfect for this project.
Most of my advent calendar is upcycled, but I did use a new alphabet stamp set and pad for some of the numbers and a dear friend lent me her Cricut machine that cuts paper into all kinds of shapes and sizes. Even the styrofoam backing is a scrap I snagged from the ‘shipping warehouse’ side of our farm.
When I showed my mother the finished project, she asked how on earth I burned all the edges of the paper and cards so evenly. Here’s a handy tip: rub the edges of your paper with a brown stamp pad, and it instantly looks rustic, aged, and even a bit burned in places.
Underneath each card is a smaller card with a note that is a 24-day treasure hunt for my children. Every year, I come up with things like, “Where on earth might your dollies be?” And then, underneath their sleeping dollies, sugar-plum lollipops await them or the promise of an extra-long bedtime story.
This year we’re having fun with the Elf on the Shelf. Anyone else doing that?
Wouldn’t you love to be shopping for groceries when …
Look what I found at our local coop, in our very own Glamping fabric!
P.S. Can you believe I get to live the background of this photo every day?? I was on my way to the farm with snappy pouch in hand so I thought I might as well enjoy the view and the sun for moment and snap a photo of my snappy for you.
This winter, try an eco-friendly snow thrower called the Sno Wovel. Recognized by Co-op America and National Green Pages for its positive, pollution-free environmental standards, it was also chosen Time Magazine’s “best invention.” The wheeled snow shovel design clears away snow three times faster than shoveling, and greatly reduces the physical strain of shoveling and the related risks of back and heart injuries. No fuel, fumes, or deafening noise to harm the environment or the operator.
If you know how to use a seesaw, then you can Wovel. The Wovel works on the principle of leverage. “Give me but one firm spot in which to stand,” Archimedes declared 2,200 years ago,” and I will move the earth.” The Wovel gives you the power of leverage to safely move more snow in less time with greater ease then ever before.
Watch a variety of videos of the Sno Wovel in action here.