Wrapping up the end of the holiday season, the calendar year and my most recent year of life. The closing feeling of December can mean sadness or ‘blues’ to many people. I choose to look at as a chance to reflect, restart, and stay humble.
The memories made throughout the year, but especially in December are what never gets older with time. People age, times change, but memories stay the same. How comforting.
Reflecting on what has been done, or failed to do, the past year can also be daunting or create a sense of melancholy. Feel the melancholy, and let it pass. Allow the feeling of gratefulness for what has been done, or the feeling of motivation to make a more productive year linger. A year passes and we are given the opportunity to make changes.
Making Shortbread & Memories.
Every year for Christmas, our family makes a super secret family recipe of shortbread cookies. The recipe is SO simple, but has a few key tricks to help these babies melt in your mouth.
Our family originates in Canada and even furthermore, England. The simple, yet decadent flavor of English tarts are so exquisite.
Family traditions are what keeps Christmas Spirit alive. The memories made in between the gifts and food and rushing around is what Christmas is about. This year we made cookies with my grandpa, his lady-friend, my mom, sister, nephew and the boys.
We never know how long our elders will be with us. Heck, we don’t even know how long anyone will be with us. The memories spent with loved ones are what carries with us from generation to generation. The traditions may change, the memories are always evolving, but the shortbread recipe remains the same.
Well, that was until my mom got into the picture. She allowed her grandchildren to drop sprinkles and decorative sugar onto the cookies and skip candied cherries. We all scolded her (jokingly), but what another fun memory. The year mom/grandma changed the cookie decorations. The year that instead of picture-perfect shortbread, we handed out shortbread covered with rainbows and an uneven sugar dusting.
The story those cookies must have told. They looked far from bakery perfect, but they looked like a few toddlers helped to decorate. Even the mail lady could probably tell that the kids were not in another room the entire time we made cookies, but instead they were in the mix, literally.
Even though the Holidays are over, go out and make some cookies. If cookies aren’t your thing, go make some memories with your loved ones, before it is too late.
I try not to have a ‘too late’ mindset, but sometimes that is the reality we live in. Sometimes it IS too late. Right now it is not too late to create memories with who you have RIGHT NOW.
From Old to New.
We received a kitchen island from my brother & sister-in-law when they decided to remodel their kitchen. The island fit perfectly into our house, but was not an aesthetically pleasing palette in our home.
The base was a shade off from our walls and the top was a modern cherry whereas we have a medium-tone vibe throughout our house.
I immediately knew we had to paint the base black to tie in our accents throughout the kitchen (pulls, appliances, crown moulding, etc…) but the top was another story. Aaron stripped the cherry and sanded it down. Our trim has an amber hue to it, so he chose an amber shellac. On the Maple top, the counter screamed 1990 to me, which is not what I was looking for.
My dad calls me a princess, but sometimes I just KNOW what I want.
After much contemplation and brainstorming, Aaron decided how to go about the second rehaul of the table top. He stripped and sanded it again, leaving a natural wood color – Maple wood grain is VERY light with random black speckles. It contrasted the black base nicely and flows better with the kitchen.
This island provides us MUCH needed space for canning, cooking and storage. The cabinets will house our canned goods, empty jars and tools we will use to preserve food. Our pantry was kind of exploding with clutter and we were searching for a solution to the problem when it landed in our lap, almost literally.
Never say no to free stuff, and never be afraid to make it your own.
Never wash farm fresh eggs. Ever. Unless… you are about to use them, or they look like the picture above.
Winter eggs just simply are nasty. I have no idea WHY they get so gross, but they do.
Egg nesting boxes can be filled with fresh straw and cleaned daily, the eggs still manage to look like this. Every time.
Winter is when I tend to wash eggs and keep them in the refrigerator.
So, why do we not wash or refrigerate farm eggs?
When eggs are laid, they are coated with a liquid that dries and protects the egg called a ‘bloom’. The bloom seals the egg contents and protects it from air. Eggs are porous and if the bloom is washed off, the egg will spoil faster. Washing the bloom off can allow air and possible fecal matter and other pollutants to pass through the shell.
Washed eggs must be stored in the refrigerator.
Is it cleanlier to keep eggs natural and room temperature or to wash and refrigerate them?
Poopy eggs are probably healthier to wash, whereas a little dirt is likely safe to remain unwashed.
Did you know, the U.S.A. is one of the only countries to wash eggs? Many countries leave eggs unwashed and stored on the shelf of the grocery store.
Also – eggs can be naturally white, they are not necessarily bleached. Brown (or other colored) eggs are not healthier or more natural. It depends on the chicken breed.
Leghorns are the most common white egg laying chicken and have been bred to lay eggs more often.
So, there you have it. Egg facts.
Winter eggs are poopy, wash them.
A few years back, my father requested that we only exchange gifts that were ‘homemade’.
What a daunting idea that seemed like at the time. Fearful we would get a stick-drawn figure on notebook paper, many of us threw down the idea. Who wants ‘trash’ for Christmas?
Fast-forward about five years and with NO request, many of our gifts are hand made and even a few second-hand. How cool?
Some family members are not as ‘creative’ or ‘crafty’ as others, but they still have learned to create different gifts for others that are just-as, if not more useful than store-bought gifts.
My sister claims to not be creative, but she makes natural soap, first-aid care, lotion, and other cleaners or toiletries. The gifts smell wonderful, have natural cleaning power, and look nice. Best of all – they are useful! Getting a store-bough lotion is nice, but too often they contain drying agents that are tough on winter hands. Her products are actually moisturizing and healing.
Aaron and I make handmade bowls and tea towels, among other things. They are custom, have character, and keep us busy. Instead of two-click shopping so we can binge more television, we are often crafting together and having conversation. The television may be on sometimes, but we are also exercising our brains and creativity instead of mindlessly scrolling our phones.
For gifts this year, I challenge you to create something. You may even enjoy yourself!
New Year, Same Me, Sort of.
TODAY IS MAH BIRFDAY!
Sometimes we need to spoil ourselves because it is nice to have nice things.
I spoiled myself with a pretty pancake board, and shared it with the fam.
After a crazy holiday season with extended family and chaos of the house from Christmas, I just felt the need to have a sit-down breakfast with my family. After which we also took down all of the Christmas decor and put away gifts instead of keeping them on display on the livingroom floor. The clean house calms me.
Oftentimes I am asked if I HATE having my birthday so close to Christmas. Truly I am almost grateful for a birthday so close to Christmas, better yet, AFTER Christmas. I can exchange Christmas gifts that were duplicated or not needed and get things on a SUPER sale. My personal holiday falls in a time when most people get post-Christmas blues. The low-key feeling after Christmas is exactly how I enjoy spending my birthday – no pressure to do any extravagant activities because nobody is in the mood. I get to spend the day at home with the family.
Some hate birthdays because it means another year older. I have yet to have a ‘hard’ birthday – each year gets better. Each year I reflect at all that I have learned and all that I plan to grow into. Year after year the life we create shapes into the life I have always dreamed of.
Some years are hard, but lessons are always learned, and we become better people because of it. Birthdays are like a giant ‘Sunday’. Sundays are a day to restart the week. Birthdays are a restart to life.
Here’s to reflecting on goals that have been met, realizing the accomplishments that have naturally come to fruition and to setting new goals.
The holiday season is not about money or gifts received, although it IS nice to receive gifts. It is also about creating memories, creating gifts, and appreciating what we have.
What things are you appreciative of this season? What things do you plan to change in the following year? What mindsets have given you benefit this year, and which mindsets have set you back?
How can a mindset shift allow you to create a better year?
This year I would like to slow down, create more, and improve on the things and skills we already posses.
I am not sure I will get to another post before the new year, so Happy New Year!
If you ever have any questions, or ideas for future blogs, comment below or shoot me an email!
From the farm,