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The Season of Wonder and Winter Hygge

Freezing rain

Ice and snow

Bitter winds

Winter woe

But in the depths

The flowers grow.

~ Joyce Monachina ( my mom)

We have been in a cold snap here in the Berkshires.  Today we are preparing for a Nor’easter.  I am tucked in and cozy, with the heat turned up, candles going, soothing music in the background and a pot of soup on the stove.  Tonight we will forgo the fireplace because the night-time temps are expected to be below zero… but that may not stop us if we need the extra hyggeligt to sooth our souls.  I have new book, netflix, and the most comfortable bed, so that may just do it.

I have been thinking about ritual and tradition lately. Trying to mindful of living in the moment.  I love the feeling of being in the flow of life. For me nature provides me an awe inspiring presence. Winter still being in the early stages, is truly magnificent, and the shadows, light and darkness combinations really do take my breath away.

Fresh pines are such a delightful Christmas tradition.  The simplicity and absolutely gorgeous look are so comforting for the winter soul.  It is really so amazing that this ancient ritual, and tradition of gathering pines for Christmas decor still manages to make our hearts sing year after year!

“How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year!”
–Thomas Wentworth Higginson

When it comes to holiday decor, inside and outside, there was a time I was a bit over the top. Now I let nature and simplicity be my guide. I no longer like to compete with the magic of simplicity.

Simple traditions ~ nothing new about this little homemade potpourri, but it still manages to say wow!

A new twist for our traditional tree this year ~ a concolor fir. It has a citrus scent. I am very fond of this tiny tree, and may keep it up for a while.

My sister Kaye gave me this simple butternut squash trick. You pierce the whole squash a few times and then bake in a 375 degree oven for about an hour or so. And get this – if you forget about it, no worries it doesn’t matter. Then you just scoop it out and it is even better than roasted.

So far I have made butternut squash soup with some other unknown squash we got from the farmers market, and this butternut squash “mock frittata.”  Such comfort food. My new tradition. Simplicity at it’s best.

Another new twist to “bites” this year has been charcuterie boards. My vegan version was a big hit on Christmas Eve, our holiday family party. I had a big board out in place of all other hor dourves. It was filled with delicious faux gourmet sausages, nut cheeses, olives, some roasted veggies and dips, bread and crackers. New Years Eve for my little party of four, I made it again – here is the mini version. One of my new traditions here. I am having a friend over tomorrow night, and in this winter wonderland storm, I thought I would serve another version of this board with soup. I had this amazing shiitake bacon on both boards and it was one of everyones favorites! Pop over to my facebook page for the recipe.

The absolute highlight of the Holiday Season was this beautiful girl coming home from California for eleven days! We just saw her in November, but that doesn’t even count, when it is your favorite person in the whole world! She was the greatest blessing for our broken hearts. The day before she arrived, we had to say goodbye to our little lover, Max.  The greatest comfort for our heartache, and the greatest joy of the season ~ we will forever be grateful for the divine timing of her visit.

Here she is with our little Margot. The dynamic duo!

Below, our beloved Max, aka, our “little bubba.” Our grateful hearts are filled with amazing memories of this sweet little soul, who filled our home with humor, joy and LOVE.  Here he is with a good cigar, and just as cute as he can be.  Cheers to one of the greatest lovers ever!

 August 2, ’02 ~ December 22, ’17

I feel about my dogs now, and all the dogs I had prior to this, the way I feel about children — they are that important to me. When I have lost a dog, I have gone into a mourning period that lasted for months.  Mary Tyler Moore

Thank you for coming by my blog today. May your new year be filled with many blessings and lots of love.