End of November

November comes
and November goes,
with the last red berries
and the first white snows.

With night coming early,
and dawn coming late,
and ice in the bucket,
and frost by the gate.

The fires burn
and the kettles sing,
and earth sinks to rest
until next spring.

- Clyde Watson

Sweet Faces

Look at those sweet faces! For years and years now, I have longed to own sheep. But...ahem...not everyone in the family agrees that this would be an outstanding idea. It's an impossible situation. So, I satisfy my sheep longing by visiting them whenever I can. I'm happy to report that I now know of three different farms where sheep are kept. I'm probably getting a reputation as a sheep stalker. Each time I drive by, I slow down or stop for a second to say "hello". Just look at those ears and those eager expressions! This fleecy trio practically came running over to greet us. Precious!

Christmas Decorating: Vision & Technique

Increasingly, my Christmas decorating plans begin with a different vision each year. Last year, the year we went to the UK on vacation, my vision for Christmas decorating was all about incorporating tartan and a few British customs and foods into our celebration. This year, my vision was "simple and magical" and started with a list of adjectives for the look I wanted to achieve:

- natural

- green

- simple

- sparkle

- light

Then I mentally started to break each element on my list of adjectives into the details:

Natural: fresh greens, pinecones, antlers, nuts, clementines, potted plants, Bosc pears.

Green: focus on fresh greens and follow a more natural color palette. Limit or eliminate red this year.

Simple: a reminder to edit, edit, edit. Less is more.

Sparkle: metals, mercury glass, glass.

Light: candles and more candles, Christmas lights, tiny battery-powered lights. More candles.

The happy news about this year's vision is that most of it could be obtained in the woods, the local nursery, and the grocery store. There's been the inevitable run to Target for more lights. Oh...and antique stores are essential for unique elements.

That's me, Saturday, in my element cutting greens from our own woods and kind of pinching myself that I can do this. For years, in California, I stared at the single palm tree on our property, and now I can go gather for Christmas with abandon in the woods! SO happy about that!

Christmas decorating is a lingering project around here. I have tubs and tubs of loose items that I paw through each year, picking and choosing just the right elements to fit this year's vision. That takes a while. And sometimes we pull it all together, stare at it for a few days, and then take it apart and redo it. Once it's all finished, I'll share photos with you. 

How about you? Do you stick with the same decorating each year, like a well-loved tradition? Or do you come up with a fresh vision each year?

30% Off All Shopping Bag

I've never had a sale in my Etsy shop, Jiggety Pig, before now. But it's happening! From now through Cyber Monday, you can take 30% off all shopping bags by entering the code: ETSYCYBER2018 at checkout. I make my bags super sturdy, so you can carry a heavy load in them...easily a gallon of milk and several other items in one bag, or a load of books from the library. Each one is machine washable. A great gift for someone who lives in a place that has banned plastic bags, a farmers' market devotee, or just treat yourself! Here is just a sampling of the ones that are still available. Click here to visit the shop and see them all.

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you had a very blessed Thanksgiving Day! Ours was full of contemplating our blessings and enjoying them...food and feasting...phone calls to dear ones far away...worship and song...and giving thanks to the Lord, who provides for us all we need from His merciful goodness. And this was, quite possibly, my favorite moment from today.

Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Dessert Option

If you're looking for a quick and easy Thanksgiving Dessert option (particularly if you, like I, have family members that don't like pumpkin), you might want to give this recipe for Pear Cranberry and Gingersnap Crumble from Smitten Kitchen a try. We tried it over the weekend, and were...well...completely smitten!

Bomber Hats

The shop is freshly stocked with bomber hats, after Colette and I scooped up the littlest grandkiddo and went for a photo shoot in the snow. SO much fun! We discovered that, away from his siblings, he never stops talking! Not for two solid seconds was there silence. Hilarious chatter and non-stop action, wild expressions, throwing of snow, throwing himself into the snow, and all the antics one would expect from an active three-year old.

And to say a bit about bomber hats. Actually, I probably shouldn't say this, but...I really do NOT like making them. They just aren't that fun to make. But I do...every year. And I do it for one reason...because it breaks my heart to see a child who is cold. So, when I set about to make these hats, I created them with warmth in mind. How to create the perfect, winter hat? 

- made from 100% American-made wool

- lined with fleece and sherpa suede, so that nothing itchy touches their head, because a hat that itches will be torn off and tossed, and then they're not warm

- the combination of wool and synthetics creates a warmer hat than one of just wool

- ties under the chin

- comes in sizes 1-2 years AND 2-4 years

And this year, 10% of the proceeds from every sale go to support a charity that helps children and women who are in need of care.

Click here to visit them in the shop. Makes a great Christmas gift for the little one on your list!

Comments on Colors

I've realized that I am particularly fond of color. Although I admire those clean, white homes, or those with varying shades of white (like Nora Murphy's gorgeous home), I just don't think I could ever create that for our home. I just adore color so much. I have been known to stop in my tracks to study a particular color combo. I stare, agape, at displays of colored pencils. I stop and study the nuances of green in moss growing on a rock or tree. I like analyzing the composition of a color..does it have yellow undertones?...or brown? Perhaps I'm just a bit obsessed.

I love studying interesting color combinations in clothing. I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to it. There I pin intriguing color combos that one doesn't see every day, or were more popular in the past. Did you realize that certain color combos were very popular in past fashions eras, but we rarely see them now? And nature, being created by the Author of color, has unending colors and combinations that never fail to awe and bless us with their beauty. Here is some color inspiration for you. I hope it inspires you to look through your wardrobe and try something new!

Robin's Egg Blue and Rose-Pink: This is one of my favorite color combos from the past. If you watch for it in old paintings, you will see it everywhere. But you won't see it much at the local mall.

A Pensive Moment, Eugene de Blaas
Source: here
Thus Perish the Memory of Our Love: 1865
Source: here

And it can be varied with great results too! For instance, you can increase the red in the pink-rose:

Red & Blue Fair Isle
Source: here
Or you can deepen the blue:

Blue-green and salmon-red together.
Source: here
Or add a bit more green to the robin's egg blue and alter the pink-rose to a salmon, and you get a striking color combination!

Pretty for autumn.
Source: here
Source: here
Different tones of brown: Brown is an underappreciated color. I never appreciated it until I moved to New England (probably because so much of the natural world in southern California is brown). I never owned a single article of brown clothing until I moved here. And now it's one of my favorite colors to wear in the autumn. It's frightfully out of fashion this season. I know because I'm in need of a new brown turtleneck, and haven't seen a single one for sale anywhere. But check out these beautiful ensembles from past eras made striking by just altering the tone (the shade or tint) of the brown.

Toffee brown and coffee brown.  (Dress 1880, American, Made of silk)
Source: here
Coffee on toffee.  Coat    1898    The Metropolitan Museum of Art  #1890s
Source: here
Dress 1818, British, Made of silk (Gothic Regency)
Source: here
This is probably my all-time favorite brown-on-brown ensemble. Isn't she elegant? She looks like a cup of tafetta hot cocoa! Brown makes a stunning evening color...when it's done right. And this ticks all the boxes!

Brown on brown.  Brown is an under used color for evening wear...but how stunning it can be!
Source unknown.
Cobalt blue and green. Cobalt blue has the distinction of looking good when paired with a myriad of greens. And the combo looks equally good on men and women.

Purple-blues and green. "Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty." -- John Ruskin
Source: here
Jacket from a skirt suit, made in Great Britain, c.1895 (source). to love many things
Source: here
Olive and denim blue..
Source unknown.
Wine and Pomegranate Red: This is one of my favorite combinations to wear. I wore it just last week. Looks great paired with gold jewelry. And it can vary into burgundy and purple and look just as good.

red and purple-brown
Source: here.
Autumn Red
Source: here.
Eggplant and greens: I must admit to not having much eggplant in my wardrobe, but someday it's going to happen. Just look at the gorgeousness here!

Vogue September 1993 The Velvet Touch
Source unknown.
aubergine and blue-green #wedding bouquet + eucalyptus
Source: here.
And in the "honorable mention" category, since I don't have many images of these combos (yet), are:

Midnight blue and purple: (note how they photographed this against a green background).

navy and eggplant
Source: here.
Navy blue and brown:

Navy and brown . C. 1905 Afternoon Dress Marine blue silk & chiffon dress with gold soutache
Source: here.
Grape purple and copper-brown:

Lavender and copper-brown.
Source: here.
I hope you enjoyed this little dose of pretty and found something to inspire you! Thanks for letting me "geek out" (as my kids would say) about my passion for color.

First Snow Storm

Last night, our first good snow storm of the season rolled in. Flakes started slowly drifting down about eight o'clock last night and didn't stop until around noon today. The moment I was awake this morning, I became aware of a whooshing sound. Initially, I thought it was wind. Then, as it got gradually louder, I thought it was an airplane. And finally, I realized that it the the sound of the snow plow going up the street...a noise we haven't heard for months. I scampered downstairs and filled the pellet stove with scoops and scoops of fresh pellets, embracing the warmth radiating from it. Then I threw open the door and stuck a ruler in the snow to see how much we had...7.25 inches! And it was still snowing!
Amusingly, there was an autumn leaf sitting on the snow piled up on the deck.

It was an oatmeal-for-breakfast and soup-for-dinner, cozy kind of day! And in between there were steaming cups of hot chocolate. 

Colette and I enjoyed making a quick loop through a neighboring town and seeing it in all its wintery glory!

Hubby did the snow blowing and we girls did the shoveling. And we all discussed how amazing it would be if the snow stayed on the ground until March or April!

Currently Reading: The Christmas Chronicles

I'm not quite sure where I heard about this book, but it came highly recommended. I was curious, so I read up on it and discovered that NIgel Slater sounds like he might be the British equivalent to Ina Garten. It was described as part diary, part cookbook. That's intriguing! And then I read the reviews. I'm not sure I'd ever seen any book on Amazon get solely five-star reviews. Goodness, but they were glowing! So, I splurged and bought it. And I'm ever so glad I did.

Apparently, Nigel Slater, is as passionate about winter as I am. He's written the book in diary form, and that's how I'm reading it...one entry a day on each day, from November 1st through February 2nd. He puts voice to all that is in my heart about winter, as he contemplates all its holidays and beauty and quietness.

"Turn the lights off on a winter's night and light a candle or two instead. Instantly, the smell of cordite, and soon the scent of beeswax. Shadows to feed the imagination, flickers of flame, perhaps the scent of woodsmoke by which to read a book.
None of this would I wish to be without." 

"There is...less to smell in the winter, because odour molecules, denser in the cold, move more slowly in the air in the the cool weather. So we actually smell fewer things. This may explain why the smells we do notice, the smoke from burning leaves or of roasting nuts, or a pot of marmalade bubbling on the hob or the Christmas tree being brought into the house, is more pronounced. Our nose is less confused with other smells."

I haven'e yet tried any of the recipes, but from liquor-soaked fruit for cordials to "Braised brisket with porcini and onion gravy", they all sound delicious.

I'm looking forward to slowly savoring this book for the next few months...just like I savor winter.

Pilgrim Boy's Costume

If you guessed on my hint in the prior posting that the new costume was a Pilgrim boy's costume, you were right! Super pleased with this one for a number of reasons:

1. I adore the Pilgrims with all their hearts devoted to God and their trust in Him and His Providence.

2. The woolens I made the doublet and breeches from are just fabulous quality...top notch!

3. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.

4. My own, adorable grandson was the model for my photo shoot!

Click here to go visit it in the shop! 

Sabbath Rest

A page from my travel journal (April 2017) which details part of the inscription on the tomb of the unknown solider buried in Westminster Abbey from WWI, on this, the 100th anniversary of the ending of that war.
Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

Thy Word commands our flesh to dust,
“Return, ye sons of men:”
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downwards by the flood,
And lost in following years.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

- Issac Watts 

Coming Soon

Here's a sneak peek at a brand new costume coming to the shop soon! Can't wait to show you the full costume once it's complete!

Little Things

Autumn is typically the time that my thoughts turn to doing those little household maintenance tasks. Recently, it was treating all the wooden spoons with a light rubbing of mineral oil. I love their utilitarian beauty.

Next on tap: waterproofing all those leather boots and shoes.

Elf Work Done Early

Last week, I took the week off of sewing for my shop (mostly) and concentrated instead on making the grandkids' Christmas gifts. I always seem to be scrambling to sew at the last minute, and I really, really don't want to be doing that. It's decidedly un-Christmasy to me to be sequestered upstairs in the sewing room late at night...all alone. I'd much rather be downstairs by the fire and with everyone else. I blocked last week off on the calendar months ago to devote to sewing these gifts, and I am happy to report that they are done! The boys are getting pajamas. The girls are getting nightgowns. And all are getting a coordinating heat sack to tuck into bed with them and keep them toasty warm on cold winter nights.

It was so much fun to pick out the flannel prints for each child...something in their favorite color, or a color to complement their eyes. Sewing the nightgowns made me quite nostalgic, for I sewed my own girls' nightgowns from that same pattern for many, many years. All softness and eyelet and ribbon! Proof positive that you should hang on to some things!

I think my favorite print is the whale pattern for the littlest! I think he's just going to be irresistibly cuddly!

And I'm feeling a bit ahead of the game with all these nestled in tissue paper and boxed already. Yes!

Sabbath Rest

A mighty Fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

- Martin Luther

Autumn Fest

A couple weekends ago, we had so much autumn fun planned that we dubbed the weekend "Autumn Fest". Three days of reveling in the delights of the season for which New England is most noted!

The first day, a Friday, Colette and I took off to the western edge of New Hampshire and the eastern edge of Vermont. There was a lot of food in this three-day fest, and we began it with lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Burdick's, in Walpole. Their French onion soup and truffle pommes frites are THE best!

Then we drove down the road to Alyson's Orchard where we admired the sweeping view of Vermont to the west. Such a crystal clear day! We were grateful for sunny weather, because we've had a lot of rain this autumn.

Alyson's Orchard, in addition to growing a wide variety of apples, is our go-to place for pumpkins. We must confess that this is our second trip there for pumpkins this season.

Then it was a short drive, down meandering lanes lined with trees in full autumn foliage, through small town, and past farms.

First stop was achingly beautiful Scott Farm. They make the best cider this side of the Mississippi. I say that because our dear friends in California make the best west of the Mississippi! It took us years of disappointment to find a cider here in New England that we really loved as much. Scott Farm's is fabulous, because they use a mix of apples, with all the subtle nuances and complexities of flavor that come with that.

Next stop was Green Mountain Farm, which is known for its incredibly delicious cider donuts.

Last stop of the day was Walker Farm, where we bought one last pumpkin of the day...a really unique one that the clerk said "looked like an antique". Sold!

All these goodies coming home with us! A box of autumn...our "antique" pumpkin, three quarts of Scott Farm's cider, a Winesap apple, two Hudson's Golden Gem apples (taste like a pear-apple), a bi-color squash-gourd-thing, and some Indian corn.

The next day was another gorgeously clear day with cool, crisp air. This time, all three of us headed east to Applecrest Farm & Orchard, the large and oldest orchard in New Hampshire.

We enjoy the energy of this place, with lots of families there to enjoy the apple picking, pumpkins, farm animals, and more. We were...surprise, surprise...there for the food! This place has a fabulously delicious farm-to-table bistro! We got there just before they stopped serving breakfast, which made me so happy, as breakfast is my favorite meal to eat at a restaurant.

Bonus points to Colette for accidentally coordinating her sweater and the table!

I had the French toast with vanilla whipped cream, apples, and pecans, applewood smoke bacon, and tea. Yum! I love how they cut the apples into little rounds instead of traditional slices.

The next day, the grandkids came over for the whole afternoon and evening, and we had plenty of autumn fun planned for them too. First up was decorating cookies with frosting and sprinkles. I thought this might be challenging with four kids age seven and under. But giving each child their own cookies and their own three colors of frosting with a knife in each color gave it enough structure to keep the mayhem to a dull roar, and yet everyone had fun! Win, win!

Then we moved on to carving jack-o-lanterns. They did a great job of scooping the goop out with nary a complaint or groan. And we got some fine faces for Halloween!

We hope you are enjoying the delights of autumn too! Sometimes the days go by so quickly and we forget to really enjoy those precious, fleeting moments. Take time!
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