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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

As I sat in the corner of the couch next to the front window, journaling as I do each morning, Jazzy curled up next to me, I looked outside. It was breathtaking. The sun had barely risen and there was a low fog clinging to the ground.

If I were the kind of person to run outside at that hour in my bathrobe, I would have been everywhere, taking pictures of the neighborhood in that ethereal atmosphere. But I am not. I waited until I had showered, made coffee, fed Jazzy, and then I ran out. The sun was just clearing the mist, and casting shadows across a large pine and the leaves along the road’s edge.

At the end of the block, the mist was thinning on the river. This is a view of the Delaware that I never tire of, though I love it most in fall and winter. The white tree – perhaps a sycamore – always just pops in the landscape, like someone took a brush and painted it there.

I walked past this tree that seems aflame. The color is so all-consuming that I honestly can’t remember what it was before, if it was ever green. Even as I write this, I’m smiling, because some of my gardener and blogging friends probably know exactly what all these trees are. Me? I’m by and large a humble fan.

Before I came to this side of the state, I didn’t know what rural delivery was. Sure, you saw mailboxes like those above in movies, but my mail had never been delivered like that. It came in the mailboxes on our houses or in apartment vestibules, and we dropped our mail off in the big, blue mailbox on the corner, or at the post office. Here, I can put outgoing mail in my mailbox, pull up the little red flag, and the postal driver takes it away. I found this convenience magical.

My neighbor texted a photo to me on Halloween, showing me how an ancient tree that had been slowly dropping lower and lower over the nearby street had finally given up and broken. Local traffic could not pass, and this would undoubtedly be a problem for trick-or-treaters. Soon after, I heard the sound of chain saws. This morning I had the first moment to look at the tree, one I’d known and passed by for fifteen years. It was a sad sight, yet I couldn’t help but notice the bright yellow sprout, now visible behind the remains of the aged tree, as if carrying on the torch of the brilliance of life.

I am always awed by the beauty of this river, whether edged with crisping rust leaves, swollen and grey after a storm, or reflecting a bright blue sky on a sunny day. I am so grateful for the richness around me, even that which can be found on a short walk. The simplicity of our natural world is such a balm to all the worries and negativity of the world that might assault us if we’re not careful.

There is so much to be thankful for … in this brief moment of time in which a holiday reminds us to consider our many gifts, but also in every day. We only need to remember and look around us.

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When I haven’t written in over a month, it usually means at least one thing. In this case, it means I have been deluged with holiday fundraisers and projects from my clients. It has been non-stop, and while I think of things to write here – I even take photos – and I want to catch up with those I follow, my creative energy is directed towards these projects and the time to actually focus on my own writing has been non-existent. It’s frustrating.  But enough whining.

As a new and different Thanksgiving approaches, many, including myself, are already shopping extensively online for Christmas and holiday gifts. To that end, I am going to take a moment to shamelessly promote myself and the lovely French Bulldog items I have created for my Etsy shop.

If you are looking to send holiday cards, “Stranger in the Snow” is one among several you’ll find in my shop. You can also find a few neat gift ideas such as my “Frenchies Apres Monet” blank notecards which I’d like to think would be appreciated by fans of Monet as well as the French Bulldog. I also have a sweet, handsomely-made Frenchie journal, because we all are writing more these days what with all the stress in our lives. No? And if not you, perhaps you know someone who journals faithfully. (Or maybe just needs a notebook!)

All the original artwork is mine, and I can assure you, the cards are of a beautiful, heavy stock. If inspired, just toddle on over to Etsy at JBalsamFrenchieArt. 

As the intensity of my holiday workload is ever-so-slowly winding down, I am planning on writing again soon, and coming by to see you and what you’ve written, too. Should I not get to the post I have in mind before Thanksgiving, I wish you all a peaceful, happy, and safe holiday, however you may spend it. Take good care and let’s continue to look forward to less stressful days when we can meet with each other again as we have in the past. I am always happy to have you stop by!

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Although fall does not technically end until the Winter Solstice, it is often felt to end with Thanksgiving, when all things Christmas and holiday ramp up in earnest. Today is Black Friday with all its manic sales and crazy competition, and one day of the year I am more than happy to stay put where I am.

But Thanksgiving was another story, and the perfect time to make a warming soup. Pictured is the Pumpkin Black Bean Soup I made, vegetarian, healthy, and delicious — onions, garlic, spices, black beans, tomatoes, pumpkin, and finished with a splash of balsamic vinegar. And served in one of my very favorite finds – black matte and gloss stoneware by Pfaltzgraff.

Presentation is an important aspect of food as we eat first with our eyes, so I love to photograph food. How rarely you see this in my posts is testament to how little time I have for cooking and baking nowadays, a sad comment as I truly enjoy doing both from scratch. And those lovely dishes? Though now closed, there used to be a Pfaltzgraff factory outlet, a dish-lover’s paradise, in nearby Flemington. A perfect bowl like this might run $8.00, but due to some usually invisible defect, it sold for $1.00, maybe two. Many mourned the outlet closing its doors, though it was a somewhat dangerous place for those who love dishes and cookware.

So while feeling spectacularly fortunate that I was able to buy such beautiful and durable stoneware for a pittance, I couldn’t help but think how fortunate I am in so many other ways — that in a world where people are shivering and suffering in the cold, I am able to have a safe, warm home; where people are dying of hunger, I can make a nourishing soup with the purest of ingredients; where people are in want of clean water – or any at all – I have what I need to make coffee and tea at the touch of a spigot.

And I am fortunate to enjoy the wonderful change of seasons where I live, golden fall easing into the chill and white of winter, so beautiful. For all these, and so much more, I am thankful.

 

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FoggyMorning

Nature XXVII, Autumn

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

~ By Emily Dickinson

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Is there one small spot in your home that makes you happy? Perhaps more than one? This is one of the spots in my home.

OakWashstand-Tksgving2

 

It’s a collection of items that all make me feel happy, calm, and grateful. An oak washstand I bought in Brooklyn on Atlantic Avenue back when I lived in Park Slope; a rather poorly matted, (by me), and framed photo of my Mom and Dad when they were married; a rusted crow sitting atop a real piece of branch; a couple candles and some fall leaves in a heavy opalescent dark brown pitcher …

I change these items around regularly, but for now, this is what speaks to me of Fall. Warm, simple, woodsy. Home. I am grateful to have these small reminders of where I’ve been in life and with whom, what holds memories for me, and how blessed I’ve been in so many ways.

Happy Thanksgiving.

“The greatest wisdom is in simplicity. Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It’s not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It’s encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way.” 

― Carlos Barrios, Mayan elder and Aiq’ij of the Eagle Clan  

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ChristmasPlate-Mug-Pie2

At my house, it’s the appearance of my favorite Dollar Store Christmas plates and German Christmas mugs. I find them so simple and festive that I can’t help but get in the holiday mood when having coffee or serving up something good to eat, like a slice of yesterday’s Thanksgiving apple pie. Yum.

How much better is a cozy moment with good food on some pretty dishes than being jostled endlessly while competing with swarms of shoppers on Black Friday? I leave the shopping marathons to others and content myself with oner tasks. It was rather unsettling, to say the least, to find that a number of stores out this way had decided to one-up their competitors who traditionally opened their doors at 4 a.m. Friday morning – by opening theirs at 7 or 8 p.m. ON Thanksgiving. People, people, is it really all about money?

So snuggle up with your loved ones, your yummy leftovers, a good book – whatever inspires you – and protest. That’s right – stay home and actually enjoy some holiday time. Spend a few moments in gratitude and leave the shopping olympics for someone else. Feels so much better, doesn’t it?

ApplePie2

My apple pie cooling in anticipation of Thanksgiving.

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The last few days I have been intuitively drawn back to read my friend – though I have never met him – author Mark Nepo. I find such comfort in the kindness and wisdom of his writing, but moreover, the ability of his words to help center me.

Delaware-Fall2

Work, and its sometimes seemingly endless demands, can pull me farther and farther away from my self until I feel lost. Especially with Thanksgiving upon us, I wish for my mind, heart and spirit to be in a far different place. This morning, tuning into Nepo’s The Book of Awakening helped me rein myself back into a place where I want to be … calmer, more content. He writes:

“The goal of all experience is to remove whatever might keep us from being whole. The things we learn through love and pain reduce our walls and bring our inner and outer life together, and all the while the friction of being alive erodes whatever impediments remain.
“But the simplest and deepest way to make who we are at one with the world is through the kinship of gratitude.”

He asks that we sit quietly and meditate on what keeps us from knowing ourselves, inhaling gratitude and exhaling what stands in our way. I know that when we are feeling most whole, when we have separated what we “do” from who we are, that we experience greater peace. And when we are at peace, we love more easily, breathe more easily, give more easily. So beautifully connected.

Knowing ourselves and releasing all that we are not taps us right into the magnificence of spirit, our Oneness. This Thanksgiving I share peace and thankfulness with you.

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Have you ever noticed how many perfectly competent, as well as excellent, cooks shake in their boots at the thought of making a cheesecake? (Also homemade pie crusts, but that’s a different post!) This always surprises me, because cheesecake is actually one of the easiest desserts you can make. It’s not that you can’t find very complicated cheesecakes – they’re out there, and I’ve made them, too – but most of your cheesecakes are fairly simple and almost foolproof.

Take this pumpkin cheesecake, for instance.We decided that this year for Thanksgiving I would forego the more traditional pumpkin or apple pie, and make a pumpkin cheesecake instead. I have a couple good recipes for pumpkin cheesecake that I know to come out well. In deference to my host who cannot eat nuts, I eliminated the pecan or walnut praline topping, and made a substitution in the crust ingredients. Instead of the called-for graham crackers, I used gingersnaps. Note – the crust has only 2 ingredients – ginger snaps and butter. Easy, right?

More simplicity – the filling is all made in one bowl, – cream cheese, sugars, eggs, pumpkin, cream and spices. It doesn’t really get much easier than that! It came out creamy and delicious, and although it called for 1-1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, you couldn’t go wrong by making that 2 teaspoons.

Feeling more confident yet? Cheesecake is really an easy dessert – easy on the cook, easy on your busy schedule, and easy on your hungry guests eyes!

p.s. If anyone would like to try my recipe, just leave a comment, and I will scan it or type it up.

 

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