Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Trains, Parks, Family

::the train ride from vienna to frankfurt::

::frosted fields, red sun, little farms and houses along the way::

::my father's home::
::candlelight, morrocan lanterns, legos and pirate ships, a little boy who loves his brother-in-law::

::walk on the Lohrberg overlooking the city::
::mud, grass, soccor ball, red berries, naked branches, lots of wide open space for a cavalier to run around on::

we're having a good time....
more soon...


Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Thank-You Gift To You

::a little something for the people i hold so dear::

thank you all for the love, support, and kindness you have shown me this year. i hope i was able to give something good back through my pictures!
i love looking at these and seeing the past, but also what lies ahead for us...the four seasons in all their changing glory.
we're off to germany now, hopefully i'll be able to pop in and contribute a little while there.
love, xo country girl

Oh, So Many Pretty Things!

a few favorite gifts from thoughtful and generous folks...

Grateful for all things, big and small!

first image, clockwise from top left:
1. cath kidston soap, handcream, and book from morwenna 2. bogner bag from hubby 3. olympus camera from hubby 4. hand embroidered vintage table cloth from granma 5. bird house ornament from maria

second image, clockwise from top left:
1. vintage hand-painted candy dish from granma 2. ascaso espresso machine from hubby 3. napkin from and handmade by ose 4. christmas apron from morwenna 5. pretty pink top from mother-in-law

what a lucky girl i am.
to see images of christmas day, see post below.
it was lovely.
i know our angel baby was with us in spirit.

we're hopping on the train tomorrow, off to germany to spend new year's eve with my father and his family. lots of washing, cleaning, and packing before the trip.
the train journey between vienna and frankfurt is beautiful.
you sit in your little cozy compartment, looking out the huge window as the train cuts through fields, forests, tunnels...and there are houses and farms and rivers on either side...you wonder about the people living there as you pass by, and the world seems so big and pretty and peaceful.
....i do have a little thank-you gift for all of you....
...you'll have to tune in tomorrow for that...
xo country girl

Friday, December 25, 2009

Bits of Christmas Day

A long, busy day in the kitchen.
Candles, candles everywhere.
Family, laughter, food, 'Mmmmmmhhhhs,' rustle of wrapping paper.
Full bellies, fitting a few more cookies in, resting in chairs, watching Angelo play with his new toys.
Saying goodbye, Merry Christmas, kissing cheeks, waving.
Wrapping paper, boxes, and plates everywhere, time to clean up, give Kiki some scraps, she's been a good girl.
Sit and look at the Christmas tree twinkling.
What a nice Christmas Day this has been.

oh....and all of these photos have been taken with my new sidekick, Mr. Olympus.
He's gorgeous.

Hope you're all enjoying yourselves!
More Christmas images tomorrow.....

xoxo country girl

Thursday, December 24, 2009

merry christmas, everyone!

This wreath is hanging in our hallway now, and fills the entrance with the scent of apples and pine. If I had my way, it would be welcoming you all to my home as you would arrive, one by one, to sit around our big table and enjoy one another's company. As it is, I suppose we will all be dropping in on one another's blogs whenever we get a chance these next couple of days to have a different sort of celebration. You are all in my heart this holiday season.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas with candlelight, laughter, delicious food, and good company. Have a great time!
Now, back to the kitchen....I'm baking up cornbread and applesauce spice cake so the oven is free for Mr. Turkey tomorrow....

Lots of Love, country girl xo

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I've got my love to keep me warm

My husband is a hard worker. He started out with nothing. We both started out with nothing. But we had each other, and because our beginnings were hard, we were given something great: the knowledge that we really only need love to keep us glued together.
When I first moved into a little apartment with Ramon, we didn't have a kitchen for the first two years. I cooked on a double hot plate on top of a mini refrigerator and washed our dishes in the bathroom sink. We dreamed of a functional kitchen where I could bake and wash the dishes, and looked through catalogues, worked extra hours and saved up money until we had enough for the a tiny yellow kitchen with a wooden work top and a deep white sink from Ikea. Do you know how much we appreciated that little kitchen? I jumped up and down when it was installed, and immediately baked up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
For the the first year we also didn't have a washing machine. I would carry our dirty laundry two blocks down, under sweltering sun or pelting rain, to his parent's house, where I would wash our loads and then bring them home wet to hang dry around the apartment. Then one day we got lucky and his sister gave us her old machine to use because she bought a new one. Being able to take our dirty clothes from the hamper in the bedroom to the washing machine in the kitchen felt like an absolute luxury!
I worked as a waitress in a coffee shop during the day, and Ramon was on his feet all night working security at night clubs, and spent the days starting up his own company. Sometimes we only saw one another getting on and off the bus to and from work. I had to work on Christmas, he had to work on New Year's Eve. It was a rough start.
And yet, what an amazing gift that rough start was. My husband's film company began taking off, and eventually we were able to buy nice clothing, pay for a lovely wedding, and move into a larger apartment; I was able to quit my job and stay at home to paint, write, blog, and take care of everything domestic; we can afford weekly fresh flowers and organic groceries, vacations and fun gadgets. But more importantly....we have that rough start to remind us what is really important: the love we have for each other. 
I like to think that, if we lose everything, if something goes wrong, if God has other plans for us down the road, if we are meant to cook on a hot plate and wash dishes in the bathroom sink again....we will still be OK. It wouldn't be the dream of course. But I just like knowing that we have those roots, that solid foundation, that absolute knowing that we are together because of our love. We loved each other when we had nothing to give on another but love, and that was enough to keep us together. So it will always be enough.
These are the thoughts I am having at Christmas time, when there is so much gift giving and money spending. Any gifts we give one another are just material examples of our true feelings; they are the cherry on top. They're fun, but not necessary.
I feel so lucky to have this man in my life. And so lucky that I am the woman he wants in his. And I hope it will stay that way for a long, long time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

hello, winter!

Winter is here. The time for quiet, contemplation, and candlelight. We have been enjoying this first day of winter, bundling up for walks with Kiki, cuddling on the couch, eating hearty meals, talking about the year that is almost finished and the year to come. 

Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments,
embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.

John Boswell

Winter will be here for a while, and sometimes, when the cold air and leafless trees have been with us for a long time, I have to remind myself that this is the perfect chance for creativity, indoor projects, regeneration, and rebuilding faith. And I know winter will be sweet because I am sharing it with all of you.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

this quiet village

Winter has begun, settling white and silent over this small village. How can something so transforming be so quiet? Benches are empty; summer games have been covered in a fine layer of snowflakes; roads are powdered and winding. I feel if I could stand still enough, I could hear the sounds of people in their homes, preparing food, speaking in low voices, hearth fires crackling, footsteps up old stairs. Everything grows so silent and rested now. Even when there are many things to do, gifts to wrap and cookies to bake, there is a certain ease now glowing within. We remember Christmases past, old friends, and happy moments of the year. We have generous hearts and creative minds. We drive carefully, slowly, down snowy roads, and returning home means putting the pot on for tea and changing into dry, thick socks. I love this time of year. As I love every time of year. And I feel so lucky to live in a place where we have the seasons in all intensity. I have never felt so connected with nature and her rhythm, her cycles, as now. 
Wishing you warmth and a tender, quiet heart this wintery day...
and thanking you all for your kind notes on the previous post...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Bakery!


I've been busy as a Christmas elf making gingerbread cookies in

I used this Betty Crocker recipe, substituting 1/2 cup of golden syrup for a 1/2 cup of molasses. My dear friend Morwenna brought me a beautiful can of golden syrup all the way from Hampshire! The gingerbread comes out of the oven filling your entire home with a deliciously spicy fragrance. Wonderful!

Once the gingerbread cookies had cooled, I mixed up a batch of Susan Branch's Royal Icing. Recipe: 1 large egg white at room temperature, whipped for 10 minutes together with 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes before using. This icing hardens when it cools, making it very practical for cookies you want to pack in boxes or hang on the tree.

I love to add sparkle and elegance to my Christmas cookies with these nonpareilles, shiny sugar pearls waiting to be sprinkled over fresh icing.

Look what a difference icing and pearls make for these cookies! It was a joy decorating them. The sweet gingerbread scent was heavy as I swirled, dotted, and striped my hearts, stars, and men.

I made sure to poke holes in the cookies I wanted to hang from our Christmas tree before baking them. Once the icing was dry I pushed golden thread through the holes and hung them delicately all around the tree. I love how they look...so old-fashioned!

The remaining cookies were placed on plates or put into little baggies tied with ribbon for gifts.
It was a gingerbread adventure!

For me, Christmas is a time where I let my creativity flow through baking and decorating. I love to peruse magazines and blogs for inspiration. Here are a few pictures of desserts and displays which I find beautiful and inspiring:

So many glorious tempations. So sparkly, playful, and elegant! What makes your mouth water, I wonder?

Below you see a gorgeous cake which was featured in the magazine Southern Living.

Would you like the recipe? Me too.
You can find it right here!

With all of this sweet endulgence, you need something to wash it all down. Here, cook up a big pot of this for you and your loved ones. Not only does it taste wonderful, but it will fill your home with the fragrance of the winter season, courtesy of the spectacular Susan Branch:

You can read her heart-warming words about honoring your inner child this holiday season here.

illustrations by susan branch

I hope you've enjoyed your little visit here to May All Seasons Be Sweet To Thee! This place has become a second home for me, where I meet lovely people and share heartaches and happiness.
Christmas is so much fun when you remember to experience it through joyful childlike eyes, and to spread that joy around everywhere you go.

And look; it snowed all night and we awoke to a magnificent winter wonderland!

Enjoy the party, and come again soon!

xoxoxo country girl


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