the most beautiful snow

We live just over an hour away from Mt Hood but we don’t really go there in the winter, very much.  I am not a skier, and Mark, even though he grew up skiing, stopped going many years ago.  I don’t know why we did it, but it wasn’t in the list of things we wanted to do in our free time, even in all those years before we had kids.

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Siena was about 7 when we first went skiing with her, the first time in many years for Mark and I.  She loved it.  She learned very quickly, and it was on her third trip to the mountain that she skied in the black diamond runs.  She was fearless.  That winter, Mark and Siena went skiing one day, and on their way back, they had a car accident, and our pickup was totaled.  They were both OK, but the scars were more than physical.

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After that, Mark worried to drive in the snow, and Siena cried and worried even just thinking about going to the snow.  So we stopped, for the most part.  We’ve done a little here and there, to get to the snow, but take care of choosing the days and the weather we are driving in.  When we pick the Christmas trees, we stay in the main roads, they need to be plowed, and we haven’t been able to go if it was snowing.  Slowly, she and Mark, are getting ready to get up there again, or in any snow, really!

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With all the rain and cold we’ve had, Mt Hood was looking beautiful from the city, so we decided to go yesterday.  We woke up to a rainy day in Portland, which meant snow up in the mountain.  We headed up anyways, knowing we might need to stop and come back if the road was looking too much for Siena.  Hot chocolate in the thermos, snacks, jackets, warm pants, hats and the chains on hand.

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Snow was on the ground much lower than what we’ve seen and the rain turned into snow quickly.  Book on their mp3 player trying to distract Siena from the white stuff all around us, was doing little.  Mark decided to put the chains on, but struggled to get them on since we haven’t done it in many years.  Lucas helped and then Siena helped put them on, and we were on our way.  I think it was a great thing for her to help, I think she felt she was helping with the safety of the driving.

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I am glad she did, because the sights were the most beautiful I’ve seen in a long time.  The road was not bad, Mark was a little more relaxed since Siena was a little more relaxed.  It was a good trip and the view outside our windows… just incredible.

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There were lots of people on the road and up sledding.

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Fresh powder, snow, still falling. Is there anything better than that?

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A little sun trying to come out, but the clouds were passing by, and snow was falling the whole time we were up there. Small, beautiful flakes.

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I know, each to our own.

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This view was amazing.

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A parking lot full.  Some coming others leaving.  Some alone or in groups doing alpine skiing or snowshoeing.  Others with snowboards or skis coming down from a day in the snow.  And yet others with littler ones, crying with the cold after just having arrived, or maybe after playing for a while, or crying because of a fall, or just tired from a day outside.  Others happy, with rosy cheeks, tired from carrying those sleds up and down the hills. Everyone for the most part, enjoying this beautiful day.

DSC_0167 copy Us, with two tired kids, cold, happy and with rosy cheeks, and hungry.  Ready for a snack and in time to get back to the city for some swimming.

DSC_0168 copy The sun still trying to make an appearance.

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Siena in the back seat with Lucas, listening to their book, I think less worried after a safe and fun day up in the snow.  Little steps.

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And this sky, the clouds, the sun, the trees, the snow…

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This is our Oregon. It is just a wonderful place.

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We crossed this snowplow and to my delight, everyone was still excited to see it working on the road.  I think it’s a very cool truck!DSC_0183 copy DSC_0186 copy DSC_0184

Happy, filled with cool fresh air.  I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

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the kitchen during Christmas

we’ve been cooking and baking a lot lately, but not all were photographed.

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Some menu-making, lots of friends over, having fun.

DSC_0693 copyLucas made these gnocchi’s the last time he was in his outdoors day.  They made them with acorn flour they had made from scratch.  They were really good, so we shared them during  dinner when he got home.

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Inspired by Amanda’s post about grits we’ve had a couple of dinners this month. I use SouleMama’s recipe and some ideas of the topping and a combination of other online recipes.  And some more ideas I’d like to try.  It has been popular and a favorite of everyone.  A win-win meal I’d say.

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There were many days of baking.

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There was fudge made, and biscotti, and chocolate thumbprints.

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And of course, sugar cookies as well.

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And a day of decorating them all.DSC_0004 copy DSC_0001 copy Yellow and blue stars.

DSC_0006 copy Blazer Dancers…

DSC_0005 copy DSC_0007 copy DSC_0011 copyEiffel Towers.

DSC_0009 copy Basketballs and Blazers players.  Yellow snowmen and gingerbread men.

DSC_0012 copy DSC_0028 copy Smiley faces and Christmas trees.

DSC_0019 copy Squirrels and porcupines and baseballs.

DSC_0023 copy DSC_0018 copy DSC_0029 copyAnd a day of packing for friends to enjoy.

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And cinnamon rolls dough being mixed by everyone.

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I’d say, these were the best cinnamon rolls of all time.  Probably because we all worked on them together.

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I have to add to the goodness of these is seeing our kids hand over a plate over the fence, full of warm cinnamon rolls to our friends.  It is as much of a tradition as it is to make them and eat them.  Sharing them with our friends that morning, as we have for close to a dozen Christmas mornings, is a sweet gift that reminds us how lucky we are to have them in our lives.

How I wish I could have pictures of our kids delivering and taking these plates over the fence with Christmas morning faces with their brief smiles and comments of presents received… because in these 12 years they’ve changed and grown up so much, but it’s probably the same plate being offered all these years.  To sweetness of all sorts!  I hope you’ve enjoyed some good sweets too.

the weeks during Christmastime…

The last few weeks, besides celebrating Christmas, there were lots of things brewing, cooking, knitting, sewing, reading, singing, making… so much more!

… we went to the annual Solstice Bonfire celebrated not far from our house by the City of Milwaukie.  We’ve gone for years, but it was a little disappointing this time.

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They do the bonfire at a park on the river, so you can see the water and the Christmas Ships… well? The ships cancelled their trip up the river that night because of all the debris in the water (because of all the rain we’ve had) AND there were no carolers either.  No carolers!!! But the fire… oh yes, the fire was lovely indeed!

DSC_0744 copy DSC_0746 copy cropped This sign says “Attention: No Fires Allowed”… though this fire is made and organized and watched by City employees it was funny to be standing in front of the sign…

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I did enjoy the warmth and darkness of that night, standing by the fire by the river moving by, while the rain stopped for a little bit and reminded us that the light is coming back.  But I am in no hurry.  We are staying warm, dry and I feel lucky.  We have all the goods made and preserved during the summer to enjoy when apples are oranges are what’s most common in the stores.

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… I realized I love seeing what everyone is doing… for the most part.  I don’t go to Facebook often, and I don’t really write much, but I do go check it out to see if I have the luck to see my nieces and nephews in photos or stories.  They grow up so quickly, and being so far away from them all, makes me a little sad not to see them grow up into the beautiful little… well, young people they are right now.  From almost 30 years old to 15, the youngest.  Graduations from college, from high school, finals, exams, jobs, marriages have happened… so much we’ve missed by being up here, but it’s the choices we make in life what makes us what and who we are right now.  And with everything in mind, and even a little heavy heart, I would have to say that I wouldn’t change any of them.  I have this amazing little family of my own, and we are so close, and so lucky to be together.  Though I wish I could have them (my nieces and nephews) a little closer at times.

And I have to say, at this time of the year, I do love seeing the photos of Christmas, and vacations, and end of the year school activities for them.  All of them getting ready for summer break, Christmas and all, with summer attires, that remind me of the Christmases I grew up with.  Summer Christmases.

And now, in my own home, we pack and cover ourselves with blankets, sweaters, hats and gloves and raincoats most of the days.  I wouldn’t trade it either, I love our winter Christmases and the coziness it comes with it, turning us indoors for a while, being closer together.  I do love it.  But seeing my family in Chile so summery and ready to celebrate their own holidays and vacations, it’s fun of course.  Nature and this world where we live, is so big, and funny and an amazing thing.

… thank goodness for technology that let us see families and friends far away.  This is as we were talking on Christmas Day, half worlds apart.

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… delivered some goodies to our friends.

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… Lucas made this gingerbread house with some friends, it looks so cute!

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…. went to see a friend dance in the Nutcracker, and reminded me how beautiful it is when you have someone you know in it.

… the sun appeared briefly for few minutes few days ago. Not too warm, but to give us a little light.

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… have been sewing, sewing, sewing.  Knitting, and making of all sorts is (and was) happening all around the house by everyone.  It is a fun time of the year.

… there’s been playing too. Lots of it!

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… we’ve been baking all kinds of cookies and pies.

…  we’ve been enjoying Mark being home.  I know we are lucky to have him home for long periods of time like these, and summer break of course.  We feel so lucky.

… my parents had some celebrations they went and sent us this photo.

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… we’ve watched movies.  Lots of Christmas movies, many we’ve never seen.  We are so behind the “Must See” movie list that we have lots to choose from.

… there’s been lots of swimming too.  Practices and meets and more coming our way.  We are excited.

… we’ve been putting together some packages to be delivered to the homeless at a park close by.

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… we found this big photo of Siena from ten years ago. Where and how does the time fly so fast!  (I want to fond one of Lucas and do the same.)

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… we did our annual Christmas visit downtown and enjoyed it.  With some new highlights, and new places to visit, and continuing others making sure we don’t miss.

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… I found a new book I need to check out and read it very carefully.  Love it!

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Hope your past few weeks have been fun and hopefully not too chaotic or stressful.  I love ending the year with so much happening, all the making, the surprises, the secret-making, the surprises, and I try to remember that all this is here for us to share and to enjoy with those we love.  Because nothing is sure, we just have right now, and I don’t want to miss any of it.

Christmas Day

DSC_0014 copy And early morning.

DSC_0028 copy Tea in hand, sitting down and enjoying every minute of it.

DSC_0035 copy Smiles, laughs, surprises, secrets revealed.

DSC_0043 copy Hand made presents.  Yes!  Lots of them!

DSC_0044 copy DSC_0046 copy DSC_0047 copy (Have you’ve read the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood?)

DSC_0051 copy DSC_0059 copy Home made cinnamon rolls… the best recipe ever, I believe.

DSC_0071 copy A game board made especially by some friends to these friends…

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Gifts made out of wood, fabric, paper, Legos… and yes, we also received Legos, games, books, and art supplies. Plenty and lovely presents, thankful to receive them all. DSC_0108 copy DSC_0109 copy Later, a walk to the park on a beautiful Christmas day, that from wishing snow it turned out to be one of the few sunny, clear days we’ve had this month.  I’ll take it too!

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DSC_0134 copy Two beautiful boys and love of my lives.

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An evening meal together, thankful for what we have, thankful for what we received, and thankful for being here together, after a wonderful, wonder-full day.

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Christmas time

From setting up the tree, decorating the house takes few days.  There’s always something here or there to be done.   Something new.  Something we’ve always done.

DSC_0002DSC_0006DSC_0013 Memories of ornaments received.

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Most of the ornaments we have are handmade.  By us, by my nieces and nephews when they were young, by my beginning of sewing and crafting, by my mom, or Mark’s grandma or a good friend who is amazing at her ornaments, and we’ve ben lucky to receive them as presents since she started sewing them, more than 18 years ago.

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Things to be moved around, put away for few weeks, to enjoy the decorations and decorating of Christmas.

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The house is transformed, just for few weeks, and we love it.DSC_0735 copy DSC_0732 copy DSC_0685 copy I do have to say, the tree at night is the best time of the day to watch it. It is our perfect tree.  Every time.

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And now, I have to go finish up some projects that I need to place under that tree in just few hours.  If you celebrate Christmas, have a wonderful time.   We are ready to celebrate in family and with some dear friends.

the perfect tree

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We stopped nat the Ranger’s station to grab a permit to cut our tree, and a map to know where to go this year.  We headed to the same place we have the past few times.

DSC_0146 copyDSC_0200 copy DSC_0202 copy DSC_0227 copy So we head up the road.  Walking.  Searching for the perfect tree.

DSC_0229 copy The road was closed this year, but it doesn’t matter. W e came to play in the snow.

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Up a smaller road. Covered in snow.  What a treat!

DSC_0236 copy DSC_0237 copy DSC_0238 copy DSC_0242 copy Siena and Lucas uncovered few of these tiny trees, that had been covered by the latest snow fall.

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As some of us were searching and looking at the perfect tree, some of us where making perfect snow balls.

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Until we found it.  Yup! This is The Perfect Tree!

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And lucky us now, that the kids are big enough they can take turns helping carrying.  There was one year we were down hill, cutting the tree, Siena still tiny in a backpack.  Mark carrying most of the tree and her uphill.  Or the one year, when Lucas was just one, was being carried in the backpack, us walking slow at Siena’s pace, and Mark carrying most of the tree as well.

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For many years now, the kids have been walking on their own, and Mark still carrying most of the tree.  This year.  The kids walking on their own and carrying a good portion of the tree, and even for a while, both of them carrying the tree as Mark and walked behind, watching them.  Yes, I was watching them grow right there, and I paid attention, because I know how fleeting these moments are.

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After playing in the snow, walking in to find our tree, playing in the snow, sawing, carrying, talking, laughing, and walking back to the car with our loot,  as our tradition says, we enjoyed a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows and snacks, waiting for us in the car.  Aaaahhhh, fresh cold winter air filled my lungs.  A new year with this simple, wonderful family tradition and the perfect tree standing in our living room today.

a snow day

DSC_0139 copy DSC_0140 copy The one place we get donuts at, Joe’s Donuts in Sandy.  It’s a stop every time we go up to the mountain or in that direction. It is a must stop and a hard decision for sure.

DSC_0141 copy Nope, this one is not mine.  I like my donut old fashion, please.

DSC_0148 copy A wintry day, dark, gray, with beautiful full clouds, but no rain. Dramatic colors for us to enjoy and feel.

DSC_0149 copy DSC_0151 copy Lucas is someone who can’t stop not playing or touching the snow.

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His laugh, his smile, his happiness around snow is contagious.  Of course, until one of those snow balls hits a frozen face, or your back, or when you were least expecting it… but then it’s fair and square.  And I think that is all he’s after, after all!

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I know, we just can’t keep him off the snow… what a fun day.  We should get up there more often.

Craft Fairs

We’ve had a table of our handmade goods for few years, at a holiday fair, we really love. I only have photos of the past two year,s but this was our 6th!  It started because Siena has always loved making things, and we thought it would be fun for her to sell her kits and goods.  And it was.

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It has been so much, that here we are are, once again.  In between. Lucas has gotten involved and makes and sells his handmade goods, whichever they may be.  I make few things too, and take advantage of the time we have to make these, and the time and space we have for displaying them at the fairs.  But truly, it is mostly for Siena we participate in it, she’s the one reminding us all year around that we should be getting things done for the fair.

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Last couple of years, we participated in two fairs.  They’ve been different ones, sea re trying new places.  This year, we did three.  That seemed like a lot, but it was what Siena wanted to try.  So, we all worked on them.  Getting ready, making, getting the supplies, creating, looking and thinkings of ideas, boxing things up, getting up early, setting up, selling, packing things up, staying up late, and everything else in between that means to be at a fair of crafts.

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I love seeing how Siena has changed in these 6 years of having our own craft fair. How much she’s grown up and how much her making has improved.  DSC_0083 copy

Friends come to see us.  Actually they’ve come every single time.   They are so supportive, they words encouraging, with everything we make.  Sometimes we’ve needed this, when we are not sure of what we are doing, what we should make, or how we are going to set up our table at the end of one fair for the next, at 8pm.

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And from this second fair, we went straight to set up to our third and last one (of the year), the one we’ve been at five other times.

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The magic, the colors, it’s the beginning of the Holiday season, for sure.

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And I have to say.that a big bonus of participating in these craft fairs, is all the trading that happens with the other vendors. Look what I brought home.

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It was a year of fairs, a year of making, months of felt and sewing, tables filled with fabric and paints, and I know we have at least one more fair coming up, which means, more making is ahead of us, after the making for the holidays are done.  And, I am so glad.

what if…

How Would You Live Then?

What if a hundred rose-breasted grosbeaks
flew in circles around your head? What if
the mockingbird came into the house with you and
became your advisor? What if
the bees filled your walls with honey and all
you needed to do was ask them and they would fill
the bowl? What if the brook slid downhill just
past your bedroom window so you could listen
to its slow prayers as you fell asleep? What if
the stars began to shout their names, or to run
this way and that way above the clouds? What if
you painted a picture of a tree, and the leaves
began to rustle, and a bird cheerfully sang
from its painted branches? What if you suddenly saw
that the silver of water was brighter than the silver
of money? What if you finally saw
that the sunflowers, turning towards the sun all day
and every day–who knows how, but they do– were
more precious, more meaningful than gold?

Mary Oliver

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Sometimes it’s hard to go against the norm, against what is being told and shown to us is what we need to be happy today.  I know what we have is all we need, because what they tell me I need, are always changing, quicker than my life changes.  I am fine just this way.  I am perfectly fine.

I hope you are staying warm and dry and that your days are filled with love as well. Happy weekend to you all.

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