A Quick Hello…

Oh my goodness. Do you hear that? Right now… silence. For the first time in 2 weeks the house is empty and quiet. As you can see I’m not much of a blogger during holidays. I get all worked up and then disappear. I can’t seem to steal the time away from the kids, friends and family. I’m usually not one to sneak away with my laptop… although at times I’d like to.

Santa came. Our kids require proof and apparently he answered their questions appropriately. The Bean told LaLa that now he was SURE there was a Santa because there is NO WAY Momma and Daddy would have gotten you one of those. Ha.

The kids are at their cousins. Farmboy is at the farm giving Ruby the Rabbit some run around time in the barn before the horses come in for the night. We had a brief thaw and this morning I took my time at the barn taking off the horses blankets for the first time in a month and lazily scratching their backs and combing their manes. I smiled when the masses of hair that I pulled from the mane comb made a little balls and were swept away down the aisle by a breeze. Barn cats sprung out of nowhere pouncing on the hairy tumbleweeds. Our little barn family is quiet lovely and I plan to photograph them soon.

Tomorrow starts a new year. Hmmm. I’m not much for resolutions. I have enough trouble keeping up with my normal good intentions much less giving myself new ones. But, I will try to excercise more and be conscientious of my portion sizes. Boooo! Over 40 is the pits. Until then I have made a lovely Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip to take to some friends house tonight to celebrate New Year’s Eve. It uses pureed Cannellini Beans and Light Cream Cheese instead of the normal sour cream and mayo. It’s heading into the oven shortly.

The kids are home. The silence has flitted away. Have a safe and happy New Years’ Eve friends!

Yuletide in the Country

We had the most fun last weekend at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, New York. Our party of 24 (!) enjoyed all of these things:

“Enjoy reenactments of Yuletides past; sing along to joyful holiday songs; delight in merry instrumental music; catch the lingering aroma of wood smoke in the crisp, sparkling air; savor a refreshing drink and perhaps step to a lively tune, all the while discovering a little about the roots of our many favorite Christmas customs.”

Six families participated and it was such fun. Seeing the village lit by candlelight and hearing the stories of people during the early 19th century gave all of us a unique window into American history during the celebration of Christmas. The reenactors did a wonderful job as did our guide.

Who knew that celebrating Christmas was ever considered scandalous and controversial in our country. Those crazy Puritans! Shown below is the Mercantile. Isn’t it beautiful… I kept expecting Nelly Olson to walk out into the room!

I found the play based on the celebration of Christmas during the Civil War to be very moving. As the townspeople were dancing and making merry in the Town Hall, a messenger brought news of loved ones wounded and killed in the war. The people tried to combat their sorrow and grief with continuing in their holiday traditions.

The last house on the tour consisted of a Scottish family who invited us in to watch as they lit the candles on their Christmas tree. It was a beautiful sight. Our visit with them ended as they played the bagpipes and we danced around in the kitchen. I will pass on the lovely “boar’s head” they were having for dinner.

LaLa was struggling with a cold and by the end of the day she was completely exhausted and happy to be “toted”. I love the way this picture came out. So sweet.

If you live in the area be sure to visit the GCV&M. It is a local treasure. I remember visiting many years ago on the 4th of July- another special event at the Village & Museum. For more information and the event schedule visit their website.

Christmas Dinner Menu

~   Appetizers   ~

Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Shrimp Cocktail

~   Main Course  ~

Baked Ham with Bourbon and Coke Glaze & Jezebel Sauce

Brined Roasted Turkey with Traditional Cornbread Dressing & Gravy

~   Sides  ~

Cheese Souffle

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Pennies from Heaven

Sauteed Green Beans

~   Dessert   ~

New Orleans Style Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

Marilyn’s Flan

Christmas Eve Dinner Menu

Caesar Salad

Beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Sauce

Wild Rice Pilaf

Steamed Broccoli

Apple Pie

Cheesecake Petites

It’s beginning to look alot like Christmas…

Shipping today…

Oh! Christmas Tree…

You wouldn’t believe our Christmas trees growing up. Seriously. Do you want to go there? Really? You may need to sit down.

Cedar. You know those bushy evergreens that you see growing along the landscape down south that people line their closets with. Usually we would cut down a cedar tree from my grandparents land in McComb, MS and take it back to Brandon (a small town outside of Jackson). I DO remember one year my dad going deep into the woods where we used to foxhunt on private land and cutting one. I have a vague recollection of doing something against the law to get our lovely tree. It was scandalous. Maybe that’s why I remember it. See, I told you. Scandal.

I vividly recall my friends teasing me over the “outdoor” lights on our “indoor” tree. You know the big fat mulit-colored lights. I thought that’s what everyone used, didn’t you?

One day I will write about my father. He was quiet a character. His temper flared when it was time to get that tree in a tree stand. Perhaps it was his ice-blue eyes that made his face seem that much more crimson. My sisters and I stayed out of the way and let the TWF (Tree Wrestling Frustration) begin.

But one year… there appeared a crooked nail in the ceiling- right above where the tree stood. That stubborn, leaning, gigantic-lighted Christmas tree became tethered to a stud in the ceiling. The next year was the year that if you gently pushed the tree it would swing from the nail. Somehow my father managed to liberate that tree from that cumbersome, hell-provoking tree stand. It was free to swing in the wind from that bent nail. I took some ribbing from my friends about that one.

Our lights never got smaller. The nail never went away. It wasn’t until I moved away that I saw people used little blinky lights on their indoor trees and big, fat ones outside. “You mean you PAY for a Christmas tree??? Wow. You have one of those fancy Spruce ones? Impressive. ”

I used to lay in our living room and stare open-eyed at our beautiful tree until I fell asleep. The world was so big and so far away yet all I wanted was enclosed in that house.

When your kids want to stay up late and stare at the Christmas tree let them bask in the magical qualities and reflection that it brings. They will rest in their memories and their hopes of what they don’t even know is to come. Sometimes we all need a chance to just BE in a blessed twinkling light with our imaginations open and our hearts free from the stand on this earth that entangles and frustrates us.

So, think about it… this year are you a tree planted firmly in a stand? Are you alittle crooked and precariously perched? Maybe a little help from above isn’t so bad. Alittle freedom from a visible nail…

31 inches and counting…

Yellow Lab Design

Finally. Gracie, our adopted Yellow Lab. She has been on my to-paint list for the past year. One day I will write about that crazy dog but today I’ll just post her design and tell you that the image is titled “Good Dog” because any time that she is not digging something up, chewing up my boots, bouncing off the walls or chasing cats through the house she is a Good Dog. When she is laying quietly on this stylish topiary couch she is SUCH a Good Dog! ; ) Hope you likey!

This design is available online at in notecards, linen guest towels, lavender sachets, limited edition prints and pillows! Call 888.313.0239 with any questions.

2010 Holiday Discount

Use code SIMPLE&SWEET to receive your 15% discount. : )


Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.


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