It’s November!

I used to lie on my bed as a child and ponder the world . . . I wished I had a very long crayon so I could draw on the ceiling, add eyes and a fluffy tail to the crack up there, and make it into a REAL rabbit. Now I wake up pondering and start making lists in my head! November is a huge list month, and I couldn’t get through a day without one. What with Thanksgiving and the looming Christmas season, I have LOTS of things to remember. 🤔 (And P.S. They don’t make MUSICA like they used to ~ love this clarinet!)

The moon woke me up last night . . . knocked on the window and came through the curtains and directly through my extremely thin eyelids (at least they seem that way to me, since I was little, one speck of light wakes me up!).

So up I got to write you ~ and here’s the moon-view from a downstairs window. The aptly named, “Frost” moon ~ I went outside to take pictures and got my first real feel of winter! Brrr! And tonight we turn our clocks back! It’s that time of year….Days get shorter, but mornings are longer!

We had a wonderful Halloween.🎃 Simple, old-fashioned and shared with the people we love.

Jack enjoyed watching Joe bring out the decorations . . . 👻

Joe loves it as much as I do . . . we always decorate the front hall . . .

Because that’s where the kids come . . . the door to the street is right behind me . . . We don’t want to scare them, we want to delight them. 🎃

And after the trick-or-treating is over, our friends pop by for a drink or cup of hot spiced cider and a fall dinner . . . so I have fun cooking and decorating . . .

Our street is wildness on Halloween, windy and leaf blowy. 🍂🎃🍂 We think we had over a thousand kids this year . . .

Too jostled out there to keep the camera focused!

I always escape to take pictures. . . we have friends who live out in the country who come to our house just to give candy to the children! We share the wealth! With so many kids, it takes a village! Where’s Jack? While the front door was open, he was upstairs in his bed (our bed), quiet and cozy and safe, but after everyone left, he joined the party! 😻

By 7:30 it was all over . . . we go in and get cozy in front of the fire and munch on the corns . . .  candy corn, popcorn and kettle corn.

Table is set, the candles are lit . . .

I layered while Joe sliced for Scalloped Potatoes with Sausages ~ we made three pans of these ~ it was dinner for 30, tummy warmingest, most creamy (but made with milk and no cheese), wonderful scalloped potatoes, my mom’s recipe, simply perfect, probably came from the way back machine, she’s made them for as long as I can remember. If you’d like to try them, they’re on page 97 of Vineyard Seasons. Everyone loved them.

We had a big salad to go with it . . . spinach, spiced pecans, red onion, chopped apples and my favorite holiday saladPomegranate seeds! Put them on your list! They’re better than croutons!

I also made this scary layered Pumpkin-Chocolate Trifle . . . well, like a trifle, but no alcohol, no preserves, no custard … it’s broken up chocolate cake, crushed Oreo cookies, whipped cream, and pumpkin mousse ~ it was DELICIOUS! I saw a photo of it on Twitter, thought it was so cute with the hershey’s syrup spider web (the plastic spider goes on top) ~ the perfect thing for a party, I went looking for the recipe ~ in case you want to try it next year . . . go HERE . . .

I also made my grandma’s Molasses Cookies . . . I think I put that recipe in our last WILLARD (there’s a link for it at the bottom of this page.) 🍂

And there they are, frosted and ready to go. I borrowed one of my new Home Cooking tea plates from the WINNER of our newest drawing and filled it with cookies for our guests.  Oh, yeah. Don’t worry, it’s all washed and clean and back with the others, waiting for Vanna to hand me the winning name. 😘 Shall we? You’ve been so patient and she’s right here . . . . . . already kicking off her trademark pink-satin slippers with polka-dot bows! There she goes, she’s UP, her French-manicured polished toes are curled over the edge of my art table (wearing a sleek gold lame body suit and a pink bathing cap with rubber flowers). With the unique and quirky but delightful Vanna around, you can   And now, her very deep, very graceful dive into the vat of almost 3,000 names! 🤗 Down she goes . . . Vanna’s a swirling-whirling dervish of a girl, scissor-kicking her way to the bottom, side-stroking round and round at top speed, circling the vat, not unlike a very large goldfish, mixing the names ~ my studio has teeny slips of paper with names flying around like confetti …. but I only need one! Out pops a long golden arm, one slip of paper in a hand with a thin jeweled ring on every finger . . . I take what she gives me. A big smile comes over my face . . . Vanna waves goodbye . . .

In tiny letters, I see the name of the winner … so here we go … I hope it’s you! The winner is …. N A N C Y   E L L I O T and her daughter A B B Y! Congratulations you two! This entire set of dishes now belongs to YOU! ❤️It’s the little things that mean the most. And the reason I smiled? Vanna didn’t give me one name, she gave me THREE . . . so I thought, maybe we should add on two more giveaways! . . . Because it’s November ~ and in honor of Winston Churchill who said,

Let’s “make a life” and give this now out-of-stock, impossible-to-get Santa Mug to the second name ~ which turns out to be a Girlfriend from the Netherlands 🇳🇱 ~ IRENE PIETERS! Yay! Sinterklaas! You’ll have him before December 5th!

And for our last name? A little gift package that includes my new 2018 wall calendar AND . . .

. . . the 10th Anniversary edition of Autumn from the Heart of the Home! 💋Both the book and the calendar will be signed and sent to . . . CONNIE HOWARD! And KAREN and JULIA too . . .  (because Connie’s household includes a Nana, a Daughter, and a Granddaughter ❤️) ~ perfect! Happy Fall Y’all! 🍂 I’ll write all three of our winners an email and let them know they won and get their addresses so we can send everything asap, 💞 all tied up with heartstrings!

And for the rest of us . . . still many lovely things, plenty of reasons to go on . . . and a little reminder …

Ahhhh, November . . . Mas MUSICA?

Let’s have a little bit of nature to sooth our ravaged souls . . . This is the dirt road in the woods we walk everyday, and to us, it’s a little bit of heaven. 🍁 It won’t be long now and all those leaves will be on the ground. Below is a photo of where we were this time last year . . . taking photos in a field next to the “car park” (that’s British for “parking lot”) for Hidcote Manor Garden in England, a stunning place if you are ever in the neighborhood!

And here’s Joe, happy out at the water at the end of our walk where it smells so good, and the colors are more subtle …

So you can see we have everything we need around here to be inspired . . .

The sun shines through the leaves and makes them glow . . .

It was freezing outside this morning at daybreak . . . I hurried!

I found this on the Internet . . . if you think we’re Fall-Crazy, this display is in Slindon, England . . . where they make an art of it! Isn’t it creative? They had others … so perfectly English!

And this is where I go to get my inspiration for home this time of year 🍂. . . because when I wrote this Autumn book, I put in every single detail I could think of about fall, so now, very conveniently, it’s all written down … my biggest list ever . . . and all in one place!  All I have to do when the season comes is pull it out and I’m reminded of how I decorate the guest rooms, what fun things I love to do in “sweater weather,” how to make autumn cocktails, all about cozy lighting and hygge collections, how to give a good party, and all my best recipes for everything.🍂 Very handy!

I’ve already been cooking up a storm . . .

YUM! Right? It makes your house warm and smell so good.  The meat is pure tenderness . . . What else is in it? Good flavorful things, it’s not your run of the mill stew ~ there are parsnips and sweet potatoes, orange zest and orange juice, nutmeg and raisins and cayenne too ~ a bottle of red wine makes a wonderful gravy, and the whole thing is served over wide egg noodles. Or by itself, with a slice of soft buttered bread. It’s on page 111 of my new 30th Anniversary edition of Heart of the Home, and it makes Joe very happy!

And I’ve already made this oldie but goodie ~ it’s that time of year . . . requested by Joe, from my Christmas book!

It’s Bread Pudding with apples and fresh cranberries and egg custard . . . and tons of cinnamon and nutmeg . . . filled with texture, both smooth and pudding-like, but crisp and crunchy on the edges, then served with the coup de gras  . . .

Yes, Love is the best ingredient of all, but also, this has the most delicious Whiskey Sauce to go with it.  The recipe’s on page 98 of my Christmas book, or you can click HERE and print it out.

Me neither, Julia. Just like you, I love to cook! Joe went to get the paper, stopped on the way home and surprised me with a bag of cider donuts . . . I put them in the microwave for about 25 seconds and heated up some left-over spiced cider . . . 

And then out to the yard we went . . .  we want the house to be festive next spring when everyone needs flowers and color so much . . . so out in the windy, sunny, chilly day we planted new parrot tulips to go with what’s already in the ground . . . 🌷Every year we add a few new ones . . . 

Okay Girlfriends, off I go! Thank you so much for all your WONDERFUL comments . . . you truly are the very BEST!!  And just in cases someone didn’t get their WILLARD, here’s a LINK to it. If you’d like to sign yourself or your friends or your mom up for the next one, go HERE.

And don’t forget Poppy Day 🌺, and the quiet moment of silent remembrance and gratitude for our Vets,  at 11 am, the 11th day, the 11th month . . . Pray, Love, Remember. Enjoy the little things of the season for yourself and the ones you love, slow down, don’t move too fast, ya got to make the moment last . . . 🌺 Don’t forget your list! Later tater, XOXO

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 429 Comments

REMEMBRANCE

Hi Everyone! Welcome! Your Willards start going out today! Perhaps by the time you read this Blog about Remembrance you will have yours already! MUSICA?Willard goes out in groups, twice each day, today, Wednesday and Thursday (we go gently in order not to break the Internets) ~ if  you’re signed up and you haven’t gotten yours yet, you will soon. And when you do you’ll find out we have a Giveaway of lots of new products!

These to be exact!  I thought I’d help out with someone’s holiday shopping this year! You’ll read more about it in the Willard, but for now, all you have to do to enter is leave a comment at the bottom of this post (look for tiniest words at the bottom, “leave a comment” ~ click there, leave a comment, and you’ll be entered).  In a few days Vanna will pull a name, I’ll announce it here, and let the winner know via email! And now, on to our regularly scheduled programming . . . 

Would you like your story for today? That’s why I’m here! Storyteller Blog lady! It’s almost November … and I’ve waited a whole year to tell you about this wonderful thing that happens in England in the first weeks of November, which Joe and I discovered last fall when we were visiting. 🍂 And now, I figure, we’re close enough!

It’s actually a lovely tradition that started in America in 1920 when the Poppy flower was proclaimed by the United States to be our national emblem of Remembrance.  For Armistice Day, for never forgetting and for the prayer of peace.  See Joe?  See that red poppy on his jacket?

Here he is again, walking home from shopping at Blenheim Castle in Woodstock Oxfordshire, with a poppy on his jacket. Because in England in November . . .

You rarely see anyone who isn’t wearing one . . . I wish I’d taken a photo in a train station, so you could see how popular it is. You get used to it, then you start to fall in love with it, and especially the idea behind it.

This is Joe and Paul ( Rachel’s adorable husband, English man extraordinaire, one of your funnier and more charming humans on the earth), both poppy-decked of course.

We went to a dinner, and everyone was wearing a poppy . . .

Me too . . .

And Rachel too.

Because they are everywhere you go, and for a donation to the Royal British Legion ~ a pound for a poppy, you can pin one of these to your coat. The appeal raises millions for the care of British Veterans and their dependents, and by the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the whole country is decked in solidarity-red for remembrance, and silence is observed to honor those who were lost.

We read the paper and learned the significance of the Poppy.

As the years went by, other wars and all their memories have been added to what was the war to end all wars, the first world war. Flanders Fields were the battlefields in France where so many were lost,  the “western front”. . . is now covered in poppies for remembrance. And a beautiful heartbreaking poem was written:

The first Poppy Day was celebrated in England in 1921, and has continued every year since.

There will be no forgetting . . . the whole country shows their gratitude and old men wear their uniforms on the street with pride. I think maybe because when bombs literally fall on your house and your neighbors house, you have a different relationship to war than others that don’t.You turn on the radio, and there’s Vera Lynn singing We’ll Meet Again back in the day with the voices of servicemen and their sweethearts singing along, and you can feel the heart in the moment . . .

Poppies are everywhere, including pillows and sachets in the Blenheim Castle gift shop!

And we ended up with a bouquet of them for our kitchen counter.

You would find them on the street in simple little places . . .

And in the cities too . . . these are part of the Field of Remembrance, a small graveyard set up each year next to Westminster Abbey in London.

And there are remembrances in every small town . . .

Here we are in downtown Woodstock where we were staying, a small town in Oxfordshire with a population of 3,000, just around the corner from Blenheim Castle where Winston Churchill was born.

XOX

We had just come walking back to the High Street from the Castle (staying in the Bear Hotel ~ some parts of it 900 years old, you can see it on the right), and didn’t know what was going on when we saw a crowd had gathered, families, babies, and dogs, people of all ages, clergy and soldiers too.  It was 11 am on Remembrance Sunday, and the village had stopped to honor Armistice Day as they had done for 95 years, for all those who served and died in war since then ~  this quiet remembrance was happening in every small and big town in England at this same moment. MUSICA.

Afterwards we discovered that Winston Churchill was buried nearby, in a tiny churchyard in a small village called Bladon. So off we went through the golden air of the English Countryside with this music playing in our car to find Churchill’s grave. 🍂

When we found Bladon, we fretted about leaving our car parked halfway in the street that was only a bit more than one car wide, but it was the best we could do and still be in the town. How they could have had a state burial for one of the most famous people in the world in this teeny place with zero parking lots is a mystery.  But look at that beautiful house.  See the roof line, all curvy and crunchy from age? It’s a miracle that they managed to hold onto the beauty of the architecture as times changed and such things as bathrooms and electricity were invented ~ how they did it is beyond me, but they did!

Nothing in the town had changed since the day the Prime Minister was laid to rest, except the people. The generations have turned over more than once.

We walked through the quiet streets of the village looking for the church listening to the birds singing . . .

 . . . enjoying cottages and curtains . . .

. . . and people who brought nature inside.

We peeked in the windows at the far end of this house with the amazing vine . . .

. . . and saw these! It was the Studio of a sculptor . . . ohhh, I wanted in so bad!

Open Daily 10-6 (EXCEPT while we were there) said the card in the window . . . but another sign said, Closed!

So I was happy to take pictures of stone houses with names on them . . .

and of course, the little charmers out for a walk . . .

And there it was, the flag flying over St Martin’s Church . . . where the bells had just rung for Armistice Day.

A small rather austere church . . .

with lovely details

And a sweet peaceful graveyard, these being my favorite, family gravestones held in nature’s embrace.

Next to Churchill’s grave were simple memorials, and benches for sitting . . .

with rather an amazing drain in the stone path ~ I had to take a photo of it!

Churchill’s grave sort of broke our hearts. Everything so real. I couldn’t help but think of my dad who had fought in that war and had died a few months earlier. 😢 We’d been to Churchill’s wonderful house called Chartwell and learned about him and his fascinating wife Clementine ~ and here they were, buried together. History of the world,  just waiting for us to find and remember and learn.

Sure and certain hope.

Afterward we stopped at a nearby pub to read our paper and eat “Sunday Roast” ~ which most British pubs have every Sunday ~

a glorious menu consisting of your choice of beautifully cooked roast beef, roast chicken or roast pork ~ with Yorkshire Pudding, stuffing, roasted carrots, parsnips, and potatoes with gravy.

And poppies on the mantle . . .

After lunch we drove to Oxford to see Carrie and Stuart, who took us on a wonderful tour ~ here we are in one of the churches.

Then back to Carrie’s kitchen which was in full-remembrance mode. We had a wonderful visit with them . . . but when we got back to our rental house, I noticed I had lost the poppy from my jacket. wah.

We spent more weeks in England, taking long walks under blowing leaves, enjoying the fall, and did not return to America until late November ~ celebrating Thanksgiving on the ship!

And finally home, where our sweet kitty Jack was waiting, and of course we brought our poppies home with us . . . And a few days later, a package arrived from England.

A book gift from Carrie, along with the poppy I’d dropped at her house! Total perfection!And that’s my story for today, Girlfriends . . . in a couple of weeks, it will be  November 11 … Veterans Day, I hope I see some Poppies to buy!

Here is my kitchen this morning, sparkling with light from the sunrise…It’s our time now . . . and one of the gifts of remembering is the gift of knowing the real and important things of life, and passing  them to the ones we love . . . 

Clothespin caught a leaf, and I got to make a wish.  So I think we can all make a wish!Ah yes, time for tea! Hope you enjoyed our trip to England . . . now, look just below here, see the tiny words, “leave a comment?” That’s where you enter for the drawing! Have a wonderful day! xoxo

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2,908 Comments