The House At Christmastime

Happy New Year!  Another holiday season has passed and I am reminiscing already.  I always love decorating the house at Christmastime. I usually think about all the “tours of homes” I would like to take and how I would love for our house to make the cut for a Christmas home tour at some point in the future. Then I remember the mile long list of projects we need to tackle and I am quickly rerouted back to the present. But the house does look pretty during the holiday season. It makes me happy to sit by the fire and admire the twinkly lights of the tree. Cozy. Happy. Content. All words that would describe me now. The main fireplace that we use is in the Living Room.  It never fails to take the chill off the room and lure me into believing all is right with the world. This picture is of said fireplace in the Living Room. That’s my Cleo in front of the ottoman. You can just barely see the Christmas tree in George’s “Tavern”. You can also see that tree from the outside if you are driving north on our street. Here’s another shot of the Living Room so you can see the Christmas tree there.IMG_2390

IMG_2397A nice redo of the Living Room is one of the items on the mile long list of things to do this year. I think it will be one of my top priorities. It’s looking a little tired.


I also had a tree in my office because it faces the front of the house, so the tree could be seen from the street.  IMG_2391The Christmas cactus was blooming like gangbusters………IMG_2136And my amaryllis plants were beautiful! This picture is before they were even in full bloom.

IMG_2410I do my best with the outside, although I think there’s much room for improvement here.  IMG_2406So the holidays are over now, and I’m glad to be back in my usual routine. But I’m already looking forward to next Christmas and have a few thoughts about how to spruce up the house. Until then, here’s wishing a Happy New Year to everyone!



The last of the summer tomatoes…….



Every winter, I avidly read anything I can get my hands on—–books, magazines, etc–about gardening, self-sufficiency, putting food by, etc., and dream about the warm weather months to come and how phenomenal my garden will be. I envision providing George and myself with all the produce we will need to get through the freezing cold winter months. I imagine us hauling in tomatoes, beans, peas, lettuces, peppers,etc., by the bucketfuls. Then Spring arrives and I have all good intentions, but invariably, I get distracted. This year’s excuse was that I was in school again full time, complete with 300 clinical hours to finish. Sigh.


But I did manage to get the tomatoes planted and harvested.  My heirlooms actually did quite well! I used a method that was new to me called The Square Foot Gardening method. You can find more about that at  Once I got everything set up, I found this method to be so much easier than the traditional ‘row planting’ method of gardening. There were very few weeds and I was able to produce a more bountiful harvest from a much smaller space. Basically, all I had to do post-planting was go out every afternoon to water the plants. Almost anybody can do that!

So what do you do with loads of tomatoes at the tail end of summer?  You can them, that’s what! And last week, when almost all the tomatoes had been harvested, canning day finally arrived. It took about 6 hours start to finish, but I wound up with a pretty good haul.

First you wash them….


You have to make sure all the jars are sterile (and that you have enough!) …….


After the tomatoes have been washed and peeled, toss them in the pot and cook them down until they’re stewed, about 30 minutes or so.


After all that, the tomatoes are poured up into the clean jars and sealed.  18 quarts of canned tomatoes later………..


So now that the tomatoes are all canned and put away, I can remember the days of summer during the dead of winter. Every time I reach for a jar to make a pot of vegetable stew or chili or spaghetti sauce, I’ll think about my little summer garden and the cycle will continue. I’ll dream about next year’s garden and vow to make it better. And that will keep me warm all winter long…….