Dressed for the Holidays
After two months of choral practice and hours at the sewing machine, let the festivities begin! Our four part harmonies are awesome and the mayor of Baltimore has invited us to sing at one of the city's events - pictures to follow.
Last year my heart wasn't in participating since the songs reminded of singing with my brother who had passed in early November. Time helped heal the wounds. This year my Christmas spirit has returned and I'm feeling blessed to be in two choral groups.
Yesterday i made my Mrs. Santa Claus hat. The faux fur pompom and trim were much too stark white to go with my ivory cape so I removed and tea stained them and cut a new hat out of the red velvet I used to make my skirt and top. I decorated with fabric roses, stars, feathers and a Christmas ball. The hat is light weight and has a hidden velcro closing in the back to ensure a good fit.
Forgot to Mention!
On Thanksgiving Eve I completed my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo! I still have a lot more to do - the fiction section to finish, formatting and editing for all four sections, and my watercolor and photo illustrations to add, but I'm well on my way!
Beauty Berry Swag
Finished removing the leaves off my beauty berries and created a swag.
I've always been told that they are toxic but recently read that they can be used to make a jelly, similar to a mild elderberry - my very favorite!
Next year I'll try cooking them but this year I'll enjoy their gorgeous color.
Removing the leaves one at a time is a labor of love but worth the effort.
The leaves are attractive while green but as they dry and brown they detract from the berries so it's best to remove them.
Thanksgiving is a two word recipe for a joyful life.
If we are grateful for what we have right now, we'll find contentment. And if we aren't appreciative of the miracles that surround us, we will never have enough. I've found gratitude and thanks are the basis for happiness. Without them, nothing else will compensate.
A continuous flow of giving enables us to share our gifts and blessings as well as to receive. Deep Chopra compared it to the body's flow of blood in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Giving and receiving are the same, and when we have faith to give, knowing there will always be more, receiving is the natural progression, which allows us to ultimately give even more. It is a divine cycle.
Ideally, a gratitude list and a plan to give to others, as well as ourselves, should be ongoing and not simply reserved for one holiday a year. But for those who need to be reminded. Thanksgiving invites us to slow down and take time for gratitude and giving..
Last year at this time my brother had recently passed, Singing the Christmas carols we sang together growing up brought tears so I didn't participate in my choral groups. This year I'm participating in two groups. The passing of a year has helped me find the joy in the memories. Time truly does heal wounds. I still miss him terribly but now I can smile while remembering him. Usually.
NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month - is progressing in a way I hadn't expected. For the first time, I'm writing fiction, weaving my love of herbal symbolism and magic through out. The book is a mystery and at times it even frightens me as the words flow from the pen! Today I passed the 40,000 word mark with less than 10,000 to go to complete my goal by November 30.
As the holiday season begins, I hope each of you will make a list of blessings and share your time and talents with friends, family and those in need. Happy Thanksgiving!
Autumn's Silver and Golds
Garmisch Walnut Stollen
I've been making this recipe since we lived n Germany - and that's been awhile! We lived-in an apartment above a fabulous bakery and we had a view of the castle in Wurzburg. This is not exactly the same bread in the bakery shop window, but very similar. Shortly after I first saw it a three page recipe showed up in one of my favorite cooking magazines. The pages are worn and barely legible from use.
This is the final harvest from this year's garden - other than some of the herbs I'll continue to use long past frost. We've enjoyed an abundance of fresh vegetables this year and will plant even more next year. I feel so blessed to finally have a garden again after being displaced in an apartment for several years after the flood. I will never cease to be in awe of the gifts from the earth from a single seed. Connecting with the earth through a garden is one of the best ways to be reminded that the earth is abundant with bounty and miracles.
We're expecting a freeze tonight so I spent part of the day harvesting and putting the garden to bed. The silvers - dusty miller, artemisia silver mound, lamb's ears - were the perfect back drop to set off the autumn burgundies, oranges and golds.
You will need -
Basic White Bread Recipe
Make a basic white bread recipe - I use King Arthur Unbleached Flour. - see recipe above. A recipe for 6 cups of flour will make 3 loaves.
This is very similar to the recipe I use and has a step by step guide especially helpful if you are a beginner.
After the bread has risen the first time, divide the dough into three parts. Divide each part into three more sections to make the braids. Roll sections into 10 - 12" long lengths.
Place shredded cheese and paprika on rolled lengths before braiding them and then add more cheese and paprika to the top after the braids are complete..
Oven - 375 F
Cover and let rise until double - 30 to 45 minutes.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Welcome!! I’m Mikell (pronounced Michael). If you love spicing up your life with herbs, recipes, decorating and crafts, symbolism and rituals like I do, I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter and free Enhancing Your Life with Herbs e-book!
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!