I'm daughter to Lissie, sister to Jess, wife to Brien, mom to Hannah, Lily and Eleanor. I am a stay at home mom to my girls, and my free time is dedicated to gardening (I confess I'm still a novice and look to Lissie and Jess for advice), baking and cooking, and card making. I'm doing my part to make the earth a bit greener, trying hard to avoid processed foods and HFCS, and find the "slow food" movement intriguing and inspiring. I love visits to my local farmers' market, fresh produce, reading, getting out in nature, and spending time with my family.


Catholic, homeschooler, lover of books and great wine and an amateur gardening addict.


I'm Melissa aka "Lissie", mother of Rachael and Jessica, and grandmother to a passel of the sweetest children on the planet. I'm a semi-retired public educator and professor who works from home for a small publisher. I am a lover of all things beautiful ... flowers, the mountains, nature scenes, the innocent faces of children, and my rock and fossil collection, to name a few. I enjoy shopping at the farmers' market for fresh foods and then experimenting with new recipes. Good food and good wine delight me. I love to travel so my suitcase is always packed. Like my daughters, I take pleasure in simple things ... clothes drying on the line, tomatoes so fresh they are still hot from the sun, good books, and interesting movies. I'd like to know everything before I die.
The Winter Solstice

We celebrated the Winter Solstice today which was a nice little bit of celebrating for Ella, who is so anxious for Christmas that she can hardly stand it. We talked about today being the shortest day of the year and being the first official day of winter. In honor of the day we made a seasonally appropriate dinner together, read a book about the winter solstice and made a winter lantern. We had also planned to string some cranberries on fishing line to hang outside for the birds and animals and to make some pine cone bird feeders with peanut butter and bird seed but we ran out of time. We'll get to those tomorrow. Our dinner consisted of Potato and Cheese Soup from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups and fresh crusty french bread. We adjusted the recipe a bit, as follows:

3 Tbs. butter
1 onion, thinly sliced (called for 2 leeks and we improvised)
6 large potatoes, peeled and diced (recipe called for 4)
5 C. of water
2 C. of milk
1 1/2 C. cheddar cheese grated (called for 1/2 cup)
salt and white pepper to taste

1. Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the sliced onion and saute them for about 2 minutes on low heat. Add the diced potatoes and continue sauteing for another minute while stirring continually.

2. Add the water and cook over moderate heat, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

3. Add the milk, cheese, salt, pepper, and paprika, and bring the soup to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the soup stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

"This is an idyllic wintry soup, both light and robust, a happy marriage between potato and cheese. For a bit of extra strength and flavor, and 1 tsp. of cognac per serving. Although the soup is particularly appetizing during the winter months, it is also appropriate in early spring and fall."

For our winter lantern we followed these instructions. We chose to vary our paper choices, our first tissue layer is silver, followed by yellow stars and angels cut from construction paper and then covered with a light cream tissue paper. We used an older clear vase. Now that the project is completed with a candle lit inside it we've decided a dark construction paper would have been better for the angels and stars so they would pop more but on the whole it is very icy and wintry and cloudy looking with some hints of stars and angels showing through. It works and best of all, Ella is thrilled. It will grace our table until spring.

Our book is The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson. It is far too advanced for a three year old so we really just looked at the pictures and I condensed and simplified the content inside. We talked about how long, cold and dark the winter was for people before electricity existed which is why the winter solstice had so much focus on fire and light in many cultures throughout history. In Europe people would tie apples to trees to remind them of the warmth and produce of summer, now we hang Christmas balls on trees. They also put candles on the branches of the trees to symbolize the sun, now we hang Christmas lights. Yule was celebrated by the Scandinavians by men feasting on boar while a Yule log burned. The Peruvians would create a fire of the first rays of the winter solstice dawn by using a mirror and then carry that fire to their temple where it was kept burning throughout the year.



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