Cocoa on a Rainy Day

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  It is scheduled to rain for the next five days where I am. I started thinking about what blanket I wanted to snuggle under, what book I wanted to read, and what I wanted to sip. When I went in search of a recipe for hot cocoa and what I found was even better. Check out all of these ways to enjoy cocoa–by thinking outside the mug.

The Norwegian Secret to Winter Bliss

Winter NightThe people of Norway have a word to describe the cozy winter nights leading up to Christmas. I think we should all practice this:

“Norwegians also have a word, koselig, that means a sense of coziness. It’s like the best parts of Christmas, without all the stress. People light candles, light fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets. There’s a community aspect to it too; it’s not just an excuse to sit on the couch watching Netflix. (They have)…plenty of festivals and community activities creating the sense that everyone was in it together.”

I am going to light a fire. I hope you are too.

Ending the Flurry of Hurry!

 

This is how I feel right now (wait–AFTER the ad).

For the last few weeks, ever since I started to think cozy thoughts about an Unhurried Christmas, something strange happened–every single thing sped up. It was like a flurry of hurry. IT was not cozy. Until today.

Today I finished a project, took an important test (and passed it–hooray!) and as the pressure and responsibilities lifted, I started to SING!

And now I feel like the clip says, I am out of the woods, I am out of the dark, I am out of the night. I am ready to step into the (Christmas) light!

 

This weekend I will share a special recipe, preparation for a Christmas tradition and of course, some quiet moments reflecting on the season and all that it means to slow down and enjoy it!

Join me for the sleigh ride! Sing along!

Hunting and Gathering Through the First Week of the Year!


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I just finished a really good book. I was drawn in by the worn pastels on the cover when I found it at a used book sale last summer. It sat next to my bed for months before I started it–but once I did I didn’t want to put it down. I dragged it with me through all of our Christmas travel. I fell asleep reading it. It is one of those books that leaves you wondering how the characters are doing long after the book is done. In short, it was a great way to kick off reading in 2014.

Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda is my first book of the new year. Its the story of three unlikely roommates who find one another and shape a life in a gigantic apartment in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. One of the room mates, Camille is an artist sort of in recovery. This is the story of her finding her way and a family being formed. The story is smart and involved. This is not a very light read but it is a great way to get lost on a cold afternoon. The story is infused with good humor, tidbits of art and world history, and food. I couldn’t get enough. It made me think of these moments in Paris with my best friend. We took the Eurostar from London and we spent less than 24 hours there, but we packed a lot in (the joyful challenge of travel on a budget)!

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One of the characters in Hunting and Gathering works as a security guard in an art museum. She didn’t do it because she wanted to be a guard, she did it so she could see the art and sketch at work. That made me think of my trip to the Orsay Museum. That day there was a group of school children taking a tour. The little French kids were adorable, but they weren’t what stood out. The tour guide was. She was in all black to her knees. Adults could have just seen that in the crowd, but the kids who spent time sitting cross-legged on the floor, saw her crazy, swirly, artistic tights. She got their attention. That is knowing your audience–and loving your job!

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The next thing this book made me think of is the Eiffel Tower–but of course! When Lola and I were in Paris years ago, we took a walk late at night (sleep is for leisure travelers). And as if we summoned it from all of the chick flick movies we had ever seen, there it was shining blue in the distance. We were giddy (I am sure the French loved that). We pulled out the berets my mom sent us for the trip and we proceeded to take a hundred pictures like these from every corner of the street we were on. Each photo has the Eiffel tower sticking out of the top or the side or some part of one of our heads. I am laughing now as I write about it. The characters in Hunting and Gathering are mostly Parisian and even they know they talk about the tower with a kind of reverence. Long walks are almost a character in the story. Reading with Paris in the background of the story made this even richer. I was disappointed that the book came to an end, but I soon learned that Gavalda is a contemporary French author–and she is still writing. All of her books in French and in English are available on Amazon, and here is the even better news–I found a PDF version. Click here if you want to read it too!

Now. What should I read next?

Finish Each Day and Be Done With It

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There is so much more to write about this Unhurried Christmas season. The last weeks haven’t been rushed, but they have been packed. Tonight is an exception.

As I sit here finally at home, in front of the fire, listening to soft music and the sounds of something delicious being made in the kitchen, one of my favorite quotes won’t leave my mind. It seems like the perfect sentiment to send off this year…

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” -Emerson

Wishing you fond memories of 2013 and a beautiful 2014.

The Gift of Christmas

Christmas Yawn

This is my brother on Christmas morning sometime in the 80s. There was some debate as to whether he was screaming or yawning at the pants he opened on Christmas morning. I took it right to the source yesterday and he said, “What are those made of? They’re shiny.” Then he confirmed he was indeed yawning.

From there we went in to talk about the ornaments on the tree that we have given each other over the years and as we laugh an joke and make fun, it’s increasingly clear that the gift of Christmas is sharing it. The Christmas presents are a yawn compared to the people you spend it with. I should also mention while I’ve been writing I’ve been wearing neon orange springy pig tales and no one has said a word. This might be one way you know you’re at home with the people who get you 🙂

I have to get back to the fun, but I’ll leave you with this from Dr. Seuss:

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Mail Mail it Never Fails…

Well, we have done it. All of the Christmas presents are sent and all of the Christmas cards are mailed!

In the last few days we have gotten so many great notes from friends, pictures of new babies, new slippers, and a heavy box of homemade rum balls and other surprises that really touched my heart. The mail is a wonderful thing. For less than fifty cents, you can get a message to anyone in the country in a day or two. Think about how nice it is to open the mailbox and see a non-bill: a letter, a note, a card, and on really lucky days, a package.  It’s wonderful to open the front door or the mail box and see familiar handwriting.

Flat E whAt Christmastime last year we had a really special visitor arrive in the mail. Flat Ellaleigh came to visit from Tennessee. She wanted to see what life was like in Washington, D.C. so she could go back home and tell the real Ellaleigh about it. Flat E, as we called her once we became friends, took us on adventures all over town. We saw the White House in lights, we went to see A Christmas Carol at the Alexandria Little Theater and to a Washington Wizards game. We took her to the Botanic Gardens to see trains and trees and to the art gallery where she briefly got lost, but thankfully was found. When it was time for her to go, we packed her up with pictures and postcards and we sent her back home.  As a single piece of mail, Flat E connected family across miles. That little flat girl brought a lot of joy and fun on this end, and I would imagine she did the same when she arrived in the mailbox back home. She gave us a reason to spend a frost bitten evening glove in glove taking pictures in the lights. She put smiles on the faces of those who passed us posing and angling her into photos. You can’t do that with an email.Flat E

This year, more than ever it seems like the days of daily mail delivery may be numbered. Canada, a bastion of all things polite, is already getting ready to say goodbye to mail . And before too long Amazon is planning to skip mail delivery all together with drones  that remind me of The Jetsons.  But this year, you still have time to connect with someone by taking a minute to reach out to with a card or a note. Let someone know they are special enough for you to send them a letter. I for one, would love to hear from you and I am sure there are so many people who would like to hear from you too!

Photo Credit: Donielle Scherff

PS: Unhurried or not, I am glad not to have to go to the post office again for a while. Just remember when you are there–Santa is watching. Be nice.