A winter weekend at the lake
We are headed out of the town tomorrow morning for the long holiday weekend to our beloved lake. Winter time there is quite different than summer but just as lovely. Hannah turns 15 on Saturday and there couldn’t be a more perfect place to celebrate her birthday.
I’ve got my warm winter essentials packed up and ready to go along with the ingredients for Hannah’s birthday dinner request- lasagna (made with homemade noodles by Norah with the pasta maker she got for Christmas) and a carrot cake.
If internet service is available I will be posting daily photos throughout the weekend. See you soon!
This week’s vignette
This week’s vignette sits on our dining room table.
I am a true believer in keeping dining tables clean and clear of clutter and debris. Being able to sit down to do work, or set the table to eat a meal is so much nicer when there aren’t piles of stuff to move out of the way.
A vignette in the center of the table sets the tone of a sacred space. In places where you visit often, especially where you might work or eat meals, they create a sense of peace and calm.
This grouping sits upon a wooden lazy Susan. We like to spin it around to pass condiments, herbs and spices. A white dish with an antique vanity plateau mirror sits upon the lazy Susan to dress things up a bit. I love how the mirror reflects the candle light in the evenings.
I always have a fresh bouquet of flowers on the table. At this time of year I use mostly store bought but as the seasons change, posies made from my own garden begin to appear. This one is made up of store bought Anemones, Silver Bell Euculyptus pods (left over from Christmas decor) and some foraged Sensitive Fern seed heads.
The antique thrifted pewter pitcher sits upon a slice of wood to give height and some rustic flare.
Sitting atop another slice of wood lives a set of little pewter dishes holding a crystal salt cellar. A second cellar holds hot pepper flakes.
A small glass vase holds a votive candle. Lighting candles makes the ritual of meal time that more special.
This Week’s Vignette
This week’s vignette is one that lives inside one of my built-in bookcases. Since I am a bit of a vignette-aholic every shelf in the bookcase contains a vignette but I’ll focus on this little top nook for now.
Like I mentioned before a vignette can tell a story. This particular one tells a story of our love of nature with several bits of the natural world found on walks and hikes , antique gardening and nature books, pottery and photographs.
I have been collecting antique gardening books since back when I was in college studying horticulture. I loved to hunt through used books stores and library sales for both myself and my mom who has an impressive collection herself. The pictures and drawings are so beautiful and I am always drawn to a pretty cover.
A slice of black walnut adds texture against the books and can be used as a coaster.
The daffodil pottery bowl holds a wren’s nest that sits upon a group of foraged pine cones. I found that little nest walking Harry one morning. It was just sitting on the sidewalk. It has bits of sweater lint woven throughout.
One of my favorite photographs of Hannah and Norah from a past camping trip leans behind the bowl.
A little handmade pottery vase holding an assortment of found feathers (including some from our own hens) sits next to a little clay bear made by Hannah.
And an old black and white photograph of Pop when he was sixteen watches over the little scene.
Feed the birds
After much hinting around about how I longed for a bird feeder to live outside our dining room window, Norah made me this beautiful one in wood shop class. We installed it in the fall, used a millet seed mix and sat back and watched. Weeks went by but no birds to be found. I began to get impatient, as I sometimes do, and my family would roll their eyes as I would look out the window each day asking “Birdies where are you?” I did some research and decided to switch to black oil sunflower seed. Later that day as I was washing dishes I squealed out loud with delight as I spotted a Tufted Titmouse from the kitchen window. I even called Chris at work to tell him. After that our feeder has seen a flurry of daily activity.
I love the design which has proved to be quite a hit with an amazing array of birds and it’s squirrel proof too! Norah made a beautiful Yew knob that sits atop the roof which lifts up to pour in seed. It has a nice wide lip for bigger birds to perch on while the smaller birds feed inside under the protective roof. I have sometimes seen up to 5 different types of birds feeding at once. The base seems to be too wide for the squirrels to jump from the pole up to the feeder. I had quite a chuckle one day as I watched one do back flips over and over trying to get up. I have yet to see another one try. I think Earl must of told them not to waste their time. I told Norah she should patent her design.
I never dreamed of how much joy this little feeder would bring me. I love how much life it brings to the side of our house. The other day as I was coming home from my morning walk I watched from across the street at a variety of birds on the feeder, on the branches of nearby shrubs, in the flowering cherry tree above and even up in my window boxes. There was a Downy Woodpecker pecking at the ivy vine growing up our house and squirrels and mourning doves feeding on the ground below the feeder. I am having to fill the feeder at least once a day for all of our new little friends! It will be fun to see if we have some volunteer sunflowers come up in the garden from all of the seed.
I have begun to keep a written list of the birds that visit our little Second and Edgemont feeder. So far we have seen House Finch, Blue Jay, Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Black Eyed Junco, Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Mourning Dove, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Yellow Finch, White Breasted Nuthatch, Purple Finch and White Throated Sparrow.
We are keeping an eye out and our fingers crossed for Oriole, Evening Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager and Cedar Waxwing.
What birds come to visit your feeder? Any tips on bird seed?
This little guy is still coming around. He’ll be 5 years old this spring and comes to visit almost every day.
He’ll look for me through the kitchen window to remind me that it’s time to meet him on the back porch with some nuts.
He is especially liking cashews these days.
He and Chris still have quite a bond. Earl will sit on Chris’s lap and eat right from his hand.
Yesterday we spotted a red tail hawk in a tree across the street. It was feasting on it’s prey. We gasped when we realized it was a squirrel!
We were so relieved to have this visit from little Earl later that day. Phew!
I wanted to share a few projects that I had fun knitting over the last few months. I tend to only work with one color so two of these projects were a little out of my comfort zone but I am now completely hooked on color work and fair isle!
I was super happy with how the Peacock Hat turned out. It’s always a treat to knit something for myself. It’s super warm for my morning walks and I adore the pattern.
I made a pair of fingerless mitts for Hannah for Christmas. I have knit many a pair of these. They are quit and easy. The pattern is from this book.
Norah requested the Baa-ble hat for Christmas. How cute are those sheep?! Now she wants the matching cowl.
She also asked for white mittens like the ones from this book. I knit her up a pair of Antler mittens.
Next up…. a fair isle sweater for ME!
I am excited to announce that I will be sharing a weekly vignette series here in this space where I will post a photograph of my favorite vignette created in my home or out in the garden. These little creations bring me much joy. They are sometimes inspired by the seasons and often times are created without my help at all.
I thought for my first post of this series I would also include some tips on how to create your own vignettes. So let’s get started!
Any small pleasing or endearing scene, view or picture.
Vignettes create a sense of order and calmness to any room and bring beauty and originality to the home. I love to create these little still lifes. Sometimes they may reflect the seasons, sometimes they show off my favorite things. And most times they tell a story. Vignettes come in all shapes and sizes. They can reflect the past and present all at the same time. Vignettes can be moody but are always open to change. Each one has it’s very own personality.
Choose a space
Find the perfect stage to tell your story. Designate a few spaces throughout your home that will remain free of clutter. Mantles, bookshelves, nightstands, a bureau, a window ledge are all great places to start. Vignettes can be placed in plain view for all to see or tucked away in forgotten corners. Happening upon a beautiful arrangement when least expected is a pleasant surprise. But beware, vignette making can become quite addictive. I have vignettes in my pantry and even inside the medicine cabinet!
Experiment with what you have. Vignettes are an affordable way to change the look and feel of your home. No need to go out and buy new things, chances are you have plenty of items lying about. Shop around your home and choose things that bring you joy, have sentimental meaning or are just plain pretty. Things you might find in my typical vignette are pottery, nature finds, candles, plants, photographs, a vase of flowers, books.
Arrange and Create
A vignette could be a cluster of all of the same sort of thing or a grouping of different objects. Choose an anchor. This piece will stand out the most and be what draws you in at first. It typically will be the largest piece in the arrangement like a lamp, a piece of pottery, mirror, painting or plant. Let this object set the tone. Instead of arranging items in a straight line, create depth by using items with varying heights, shapes and textures and most importantly arrange in odd numbers. Don’t be afraid to create vignettes with things that get used on a regular basis. Little clusters or groupings of objects that are both beautiful and useful can make a room feel inviting. I have many vignettes throughout my kitchen created with tools and pottery that get used almost daily. After they have been washed and dried, back into the vignette they go! Tell a story. Create little scenes that spark a good feeling or remind you of pleasant memories- something from your childhood, a heirloom passed down, a piece of nature found on a walk. Chances are each time you look at these things arranged ever so carefully on a shelf, they will ignite joy, peace and comfort.
Admire and Allow for Change
Sit back and admire your creation. Allow yourself to edit a bit. Vignettes are not meant to be permanent. They can be changed, added to and rearranged whenever the mood strikes.
In the photo above taken in my bathroom of a shelf above our claw foot tub I pair an antique pottery vase full of fresh Ranunculus with a candlestick and piece of pinched pottery full of wooden brushes. Hanging behind the little scene is an antique hand painted Tole tray. Fresh flowers and plants in any room add life. The tall candlestick gives height and dimension and I prefer candlelight when taking a bath don’t you? The pottery full of brushes is both beautiful and useful as we use those brushes when bathing. The tray gives depth and a pop of color. Even bathrooms deserve vignettes. It’s a room we all use quite often. I want to enjoy the scenery when I am there.
January- a time for openness
I have officially declared January to be my most favorite month of the year maybe because it’s my birth month but mostly because I love it’s calm, slow and quiet personality. After such a busy and abundant holiday season it is such a respite and a gift.
Our weekends have been open and free. Rather than trying to fill them up, I have been taking them one minute at a time, watching as they unfold and unwind naturally.
Being a list maker and a task master, it’s been a positive challenge to find balance between getting things done and making time for openness.
This past year I made a conscious decision to try to omit sugar from my diet. I notice how much better I feel when I don’t eat it and over time the cravings do go away. However I do still enjoy something sweet late afternoon or after a meal. Fruit is always a go to for me but sometimes I just want chocolate! I do always have a little dark chocolate hidden away for those days when I need a pick me up.
About a month ago I taught a healthy snacks class where I included some of my all time favorite ball recipes made with variations of dried fruit, nuts and seeds. I wanted to include something a little more decadent and something that satisfied my love of chocolate.
I did a little research online and found the bliss ball. After some experimenting I came up with my own version that included 4 simple ingredients. It was an absolute hit with those who took the class, a favorite over all.
These little balls pack a powerful, protein-filled punch and taste just like a chocolate truffle! I always double the recipe because let’s face it I cannot eat just one and Hannah loves them too.
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup walnuts (preferably soaked for 2-4 hours)
1 1/4 cup dates
Place all four ingredients into food processor and grind until a moist ball of dough forms. Roll the dough into balls. They are delicious just plain but have fun experimenting with different coatings such as sesame seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, shredded coconut, cinnamon, cocoa powder, chile powder, grated citrus peel.
We store ours in the freezer as they are a bit too sticky if left out.
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