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_0121 copy DSC_0125 copy DSC_0128 copy And a river full, flowing fast.

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.



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.


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.

DSC_0257 copy DSC_0260 copy To play an impromptu game of “hit the hole” or something like that.

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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.

in the kitchen

We’ve had lots of cooking and so much picturing them.  But here’s some.

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Mark is the baker in the family.  For all sorts of pies and cookies, breakfast, he is the one who does it all.  And they are so good! DSC_0137 copy

Thanksgiving, what a treat it was.

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And few meals have been made.  Just not pictured.

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There’s been request of cookies already, and would like to make some, but we need to get some momentum going.  It seems all of my free time has been spent in creating new things for the holiday fairs we just finished.  My mind has been in crafting mode, not so much in cooking.  Now it’s time to turn this way a little.  I’m ready.  Even though I have quite a few projects I need to finish, and few I need to get started on.  I need a couple extra weeks before Christmas comes.

What have you’ve been cooking lately?  What are your favorite cookies to bake at this time of the year?

Turning 13

My oldest, has turned 13.

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I can’t believe it has been that long since we became parents.  Looking at the pictures of my pregnancy with her and the delivery and first few months, it seems like it wasn’t that long ago we were arriving home with this little bundle and not really knowing what parenting was going to be like.  What a treat it has been.  An amazing gift, an amazing life I sou;don’t change for anything in the world.  I can’t wait to see what adventures we’ll have this year.

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Happy Birthday my little girl.


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Halloween this year was a scary one.  The day before was pouring rain, the morning was raining hard too, but by 1 pm, the rain stopped and it didn’t rain until later this weekend.  It was a beautiful evening making it that much more fun.

DSC_0046 copyLeaves are falling non-stop.  Lucas has been keeping up, raking them up.

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Glendie, helping Lucas fit into a costume she made for Siena when Siena was 2.  That’s 10 years ago. DSC_0049 copy DSC_0051 copy DSC_0056 copyAnd we waited for this little guy to come (and his parents) to have dinner and go trick or treating together.   DSC_0040 copy DSC_0053 copy DSC_0057 copy DSC_0060 copy DSC_0064 copyWe had a Panda and Flash and our guest Batman appearance.

DSC_0068 copyAnd we gathered with a whole bunch of friends, to walk around our neighborhood together, hanging out.  Some of these kids went on by themselves this year.  Others let us go with them.  We’ll take all the Halloweens we can.

DSC_0073 copyThe loot. 

DSC_0081 copyAll of it.  Now, after a couple of hours walking, chatting, laughing, running, trick or treating and having fun, we get home for the yearly exercise of dividing the candy by kind and discussing what kinds every one likes better than others, and which ones taste better than others.  Deciding what to keep and what to give away. A fun evening indeed.