Sunday, December 23, 2012

Creative Beast

I really should be wrapping presents, or cleaning something, or prepping something, but instead I just got done with two hours worth of cuddle time with Grace and Jeremy, lazily watching our coveted food network cook off shows, fireside, under the soft glow of the Christmas tree. If I could pause those two hours, I would. I love the coziness of pre-Christmas. I do love the day itself so much, but it also makes me sad, because it means the world will soon be back to houses without Christmas lights, carol-less music, and boring old, boring.

Being another year older, and possibly a bit wiser, or maybe weathered is a better word, I am cautiously optimistic for 2013. It seems like a year ready to have the thick red curtains pulled back. A mysterious year, ready to unfurl some magic. What do you have up your sleeve, 2013? I don't know, wait and see... it whispers, with a tip of it's hat, a coy smile curling at it's lips.

I have to say, I am already feeling conflicted. I don't stay put very well. If you remember my resume, I like to learn new things on about a three year basis. One new thing I really badly want to learn how to do, is oil paint. I have no plans of hanging up my photography, not even, but, this creative beast inside, wants to learn it all. And, oil painting, it wants. I've tried to explain this beast to Jeremy, and have explained it like this: It is a wild stallion inside me that roams free. I try and catch it, chase it, tie a noose around it's neck, but I can't. It runs wild, freely, bucking and snorting, kicking and galloping,  and when I do catch it, it is not for long before it breaks free and runs, rope trailing behind it. That is how it feels.

So there you have it. My creative beast.

Can I catch this beast in 2013? Probably not. Besides, horses in corrals make me sad. Horses that run free, I love to watch.

I do hope, whoever reads this and beyond, that 2013 will meet you and keep you in good health and happiness. I hope this is "the" year for you, a great year, a fond year that when looked back on, has treated you well. A year filled with love and dreams, starry skies, and full hearts. That and more, is my wish for you.

Sending love and wishing you a very Merry Christmas to you all,

           The Smith family

*Will be back in two weeks! Taking a winter break! : )

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Here I am, staring at a blank page staring back at me.

I really have no words, and don't feel like writing, and just like so many other of you, I am silenced by a deep heartache.

The right words fall away perhaps because their are none to be had, or perhaps words feel too little to even come close to soothing hearts that feel so much pain right now. Instead of words, I offer you, the people of Newtown, the deepest of prayers that there will be a net to catch you, arms to hold you, and that you can feel the love and support from a collective world that mourns with and for you.

A mama I don't know, a very brave mama, stepped out with her story, and does know what to say. She wrote an eye opening piece that I believe should be read by many, so instead of my words that feel so small and insignificant, I invite you to read hers, a cry for help that we, as a nation, should all hear and tend to.

Please Read Me

Hugs, love, and light to help you navigate this darkness. Sending it all your way. Love~M


Last week, we made gifts.


We made bird seed ornaments to hang outside for your feathered friends.

This would be a good craft to do with your little ones this week, on these cold, wet evenings. It is a quiet, fun, and messy project.  But, messy is OK. We swept up the mess and crumbled castaways into a bag that we dip a small bowl into, and my little one scatters seeds on her way to the bus stop in the mornings.

You can find the instructions and ingredients here

Here are some tips:

  *Pack it in pretty tight, as tight as you can. Help your littles do this, as if it is not packed,
     it will crumble when you take it out of the mold.

  * Cut straws to leave in your feeders as they dry for a hole to put twine or ribbon through
     to hang them.

   * Make sure when you put the straw in that it is not close to the edge at all. Many of ours
      were accidentally inserted at an angle, and too close to the edge, resulting in a crumbly
      mess that you can't hang.

    * Use cookie cutters that don't have any thin fancy details that hang out. A star, a heart,
       an acorn, a gingerbread man works best and hangs as a nice solid piece.

    * Be prepared to loose some. We lost about half  to a crumbly mess, but the half that
      did work, look great.

 We strung ribbon through to hang them, and packaged them up in clear bags and a raffia bow.

 If you do these, please post pictures on your fb, I would love, love to see them!

Give your kiddos an extra hug. A hug from me too, while you're at it.

Enjoy them, breathe them, love them.



Sunday, December 9, 2012

Kiss me, I'm Irish

Need an idea for gift giving this year?

Let me just hook you up with a recipe for a little sippy, sippy.

I made this a couple of years ago to give away as gifts, and sadly that year, ended up with none for us. Not even a drop. This year, that won't happen, as I tripled the recipe, and we have already been doing a little sippy, sippy of our own.

It is best made at least a week in advance so the flavors can soften, but if you are short on time, it will still be very tasty.

                                     Homemade Irish Cream

                         2 Cups Heavy Cream

                        14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

                         1 to 1 1/4 Cups Irish Whisky

                         2 Tbsp. Hershey's special dark chocolate syrup

                         2 tsp. instant coffee granules

                         1 tsp. vanilla extract

                         1/2 tsp. almond extract

It couldn't be more easy. Put all ingredients into a blender, and blend well. When you are adding the whisky, start with a cup, then taste and add more to your liking. I ended up using just shy of 1 and 1/4 cups. Always store this in the fridge as it will go rancid if kept at room temperature. Once made, it will keep for at least a month in the fridge. As it sits, it may separate and look "iffy". Just give it a good shake, and all will be good with the world again. I ended up getting my Irish Whisky at Trader Joe's. It is called Kilbeggan Irish Whisky. Irish Whiskey's can be spendy, but the bottle I bought was 19.95 + tax, and it made three batches worth. I poured each batch into big ball canning jars to keep in the fridge until I pour them into pretty jars for gift giving. That way I can pour off a little bit and taste test for quality control. : )

Here is another variation I did with one of my batches:

Fleur de Sel Caramel Irish Cream:  Omit the Hershey's chocolate syrup. In it's place, add 4 Tbsp. of Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel Caramel sauce. Cut down the instant coffee granules from 2 tsp, to only 1/4 tsp, or omit it all together. I added the 1/4 tsp just to add a tiny back flavor to it. Make sure it is blended well before pouring into jars.

Since we are on the subject of Trader Joe's, let me just tell you how much I love that Fleur de Sel caramel sauce of theirs.

I love it. I luuuuuuuuuuv it.

I have also found a way to make my favorite espresso out of it.  I have this espresso machine I bought from Starbucks way back in 1997, the "Starbucks Barista." I remember buying it, as it was sitting all lonely like in the back of the store on the sale rack, gathering dust. It was all, " No one likes me. No one wants me because I'm, well," It's true. It was most certainly gold colored. And not just any gold, but that awful '70's gold that has a shimmer in it that will match no ones decor. I took pity on it's golden tears, and scooped it up, and bought the machine that now sits on my counter and doesn't match any of my decor at all. I don't care. I have my favorite lattes down to a science, and I love it even if it does strike a John Travolta Saturday Night Fever pose in my kitchen. It makes me fabulous espresso.

Anyways, right now Trader Joe's has it's seasonal goodies out, and one of them is a "Sipping Chocolate." It is good as a sipping chocolate, but it can be better.  By adding a tsp. or two of it, and a  very generous Tbsp. of the Fleur de Sel caramel to your morning latte, you just made yourself a Salted Caramel Mocha. Yummmmmmmm.

I go sit now ( I am actually writing this on Thursday night instead of Sunday), with a small glass of Fleur de Sel Caramel Irish cream over ice, wrapped up in a fleece blanket, the Christmas tree twinkling to my right, as I go address my Christmas cards to send out. Daisy wants my lap, but can't, because I am busy, so she settles on keeping my feet company instead.  I click on the TV and pick out Sleepless in Seattle the new Footloose movie from my Netflix queue, and slide into the lazy evening.

Ahhhh, I do love Christmas time.

Have a lovely Christmas laden Sunday evening, y'all.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Plateau's and hot wings

I am stuck on this crazy plateau.

The pouring out of pent up memories has me reeling a bit, and hiding out. I feel I have bared too much, and have yet to feel that it was helpful to let it all spill out. So, I sit here on my indifferent plateau, not feeling the need to slip down, or feeling the need to climb out. Just staying put. I even dreamt about it last night. I was on this tiny trail on the steep side of a mountain with a massive cliff edging it, and crashing waves down below. Being one that is incredibly afraid of heights, I just hung on to the rocks on the side of the mountain with fingers tight, hanging on for dear life, not wanting to move one tiny inch. I wasn't alone. There were people with me. There was this very slim, rocky, rim for people to walk on that was just past me, but it was treacherous, and the random people that tried to climb past, either stumbled and fell off the cliff, or couldn't get past me. Isn't it weird when you dream of complete strangers? Where do they come from in your dreams? Are they people you have not met, but have seen before? Or is your brain making you friends? Intermixed with those random strangers, were people from high school (darn you, fb!), and newer friends. Some were jumping off the cliffs, and falling into the crashing waves below, which no one would have survived in real life, and then there were people that were stalling, until someone would grab them, and toss them over the side whether they liked it or not. Anyhoo, the dream went on like this, then at the end, I was somehow in a restaurant picking from a menu with 100+ types of buffalo hot wings....dreams....plateau's and hot wings.....go figure.

December has moved on in, and so has the rain. I look at the forecast every night, why? I don't know. I should know by now it will be the same forecast for the next five months, temps 40's-50's, rain, with micro moments of sun.  I guess I am hoping for the s-word. I could use a coating of magical snow to come whisk me out of my funk, and show me some beauty.

We are decorating over here. Our nephew came to stay with us last weekend, so I had two elves helping me decorate, which I loved.


We've also been doing some remodeling.

Grace's books have been stacked in the upstairs hallway for months, waiting for a home. We finally gave her a hammer, and she went to town. We said, "Grace. Go make yourself a bookcase, so we can go through the hallway not sideways anymore. So, she did, and now, here is her new bookcase. We will hire her out to the right person. Payment will be made in the form of milk and cookies....and maybe the new Taylor Swift CD she's been wanting.   ; )!


I have a very important photo shoot coming up, but the kicker is, it is all indoors, so, mama got a new toy.

A new set of studio lights!  So, I've been cramming all the information I can on how to shoot with these suckers, and let me tell you, it is very intimidating, and has a completely different set of rules from shooting with natural light.  Must practice.  Lots to learn in a very short amount of time.  Eeeeeek!!!


So, that is the story, morning glory.

Things have been rough, but I sit on my plateau and I stay until a hand comes down to pull me up, or a yank at my ankle comes to pull me down.

At least I have buffalo hot wings.

 : )