Saturday, December 31, 2011

What A Beautiful Year!













Your 10 Favorite Posts of the Year, In Order of Number of Comments

My Favorite Posts of the Year

This Year's Recipes

Favorite Movies of the Year

Favorite TV Shows of the Year

Favorite Discoveries of the Year

Most Favorite Thing of All

What a year it has been! So transforming. Full of love and lessons, pain and joy...just so FULL. 

I am deeply grateful for the blessings which overflowed this year, and grateful, also, for the friendship, kind words, understanding, compassion, advice, and companionship I have received here from all of you.

THANK YOU. Thank you for another year of wonderful kinship. 

Here's to another year of all those good things that make us smile, learn, nod, contemplate, and grow.

Happy New Year!

Lots of love,


Thursday, December 29, 2011

A December Walk In The Woods

How strange that these are photographs of December in Austria. Normally at this time of year we are tucked deep in banks of white snow. But these days, the air is mild, and the birds sing as if it's late March.

These are quiet days; walks, cooking, talking, watching movies, and mostly, spending time with Rafael.

I took out all of my old January issues of my favorite magazines from the couch table and have them in a neat stack, ready to be leafed through like they are every year. Am I the only one whose favorite issues are the January ones? They are always so full of clean freshness...humble designs and hearty, simple meals. Somewhat of a relief from the gaudy Christmas issues, where you feel this pressure for decorating and cooking to be especially spectacular.

January lies ahead...a new year. Soon we'll be packing up the holiday decorations and bringing home hyacinth and tulips.

But first, we'll enjoy these final days of December. And who knows...maybe snow will fall after all?


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rafael's First Christmas

My favorite thing about our Christmas celebration this year was that, everyone was in perfect harmony with each other. The peace between us was so palpable, and our joy so real. What a blessing!

Ramon cooked most of our delicious feast: two roasted chickens, the annual traditional carrot souffle, mushroom gravy, and two apple pies. I made a beet root, orange, and roasted walnut salad, and my sister in law brought dumplings. I was so proud of Ramon, who only learned how to cook in the past four months, and is astonishingly good at it.

Rafael slept through the all the festivities, which I thought was pretty funny. It was as if he knew it would have all been too much for him. As everyone was putting on their shoes and coats to leave, I heard him rustling in the bedroom and there he was, ready to say a quick hello and goodbye to our guests. It was actually so perfect this way, because I was able to enjoy our meal and gift giving, and we were both stress-free.

The most important thing was that he got to see his great grandmother, and that I got a few photographs of them together. I am glad that he will see them someday, when she is gone, and he doesn't remember.

Once the last person shut the door behind them, our home was still and warm and we let out sighs and relaxed. I put Raffi into some reindeer pajamas and we opened his gifts with him. Holding my chubby little angel, sitting by the twinkling Christmas tree, whispering to him about Santa, unwrapping a little wooden carousel and a vintage race was all such a dream come true.

It was a very special Christmas, indeed. Probably the most special of all.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Christmas Wish For You All

Merry and bright, festive and fun.

Wishing you all magical moments and cheerful celebration!

xoxo country girl

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas Two Nights Before Christmas...

I shot these while Rafael was napping. It was very quiet, with the twinkling lights of the christmas tree, the warm glow of the candles, and the clove and citrus scent of pomanders. This year I wasn't able to decorate all at once like I usually do, because as a mother, you must steal moments to get anything done that doesn't have to do with the baby. But this made the fun last longer, and I really enjoyed putting little pieces here and there over the days.

Today we bounced around town, getting our major grocery shopping done, and I loved seeing people I know (or didn't know) and greeting them with a smile and a hearty 'Frohe Weihnachten!' Everyone is so busy in the days leading up to Christmas, and I noticed very strongly that some people love the holidays, while others become a bitter, annoyed, and frustrated mess (this was very apparent in line for cheese and milk at the farmer's market). Thank goodness, my husband and I belong to the people who really enjoy the holidays.

My husband brought the Canon 5D camera from his workplace and invited me to take photos with it over the holidays. I am so in love with this camera. As much as you can be in love with something inanimate. I didn't do a single thing to these pictures in photoshop, and these were taken in the evening, in our home, with very little light. I am so impressed! We can't afford to buy one for ourselves at this point, but I am so happy that I have access to this awesome piece of equipment once in a while.

I know you are all busy in your own homes with preparations and festivities...Thank you for dropping by to visit mine, I am always so happy when you do!

I'll be back with more holiday cheer soon...

xoxo country girl

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rafael is 3 Months Old!


What can I say about the blessing that is my son?

Watching him grow, seeing his smile, laughing together, comforting him when he cries, cuddling up close at night, witnessing him doing brand new things....

I am grateful every day!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When Will It Feel Like Christmas?

Not a single snow flake so far. Not one.

Ramon complained the other day: "It doesn't feel like Christmas at all." So I took out a little box of decorations and had Frank Sinatra croon Christmas tunes while I lit candles. Still, it's been awkwardly warm (not really warm but warm for December) and we're all starting to wonder: When will it start to feel like Christmas?

The advent wreath I made a few weeks back was shedding needles and looking quite sad. I finally decided to take it apart and transform it into an advent bowl. It looks very pretty and made me think of my mom, who always knew how to make something out of nothing. Once we lived in one room together. We ate meals sitting on pillows on the floor, cooked on a hot plate, and slept in one bed. But it was clean, and warm, and cozy. I guess I learned how to think creatively from her.

So mom, this impromptu advent bowl is dedicated to you.

It does make it feel a little more like Christmas.



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