On Saturday we discovered that our Christmas tree that had only been up for two weeks was dying. STRANGE. It was losing needles quickly and if we brushed or bumped a branch the needles rained down completely coving the tree skirt. At that rate it would soon be naked. I have never seen a Christmas tree die so quickly. In fact, the tree we had last year still had needles on it this spring, even though it was taken out of the house shortly after Christmas and left at the farm to die.
On Sunday we undecorated our Christmas tree and my husband went to the farm to cut a replacement tree. We brought the new tree in and set it in the stand but decided it was best to let the snow melt off the branches before we decorated it. On Monday afternoon I put the lights, ornaments and candy canes on the new tree.
My husband added the angel when he got home. This tree, that seems perfect in every other way, is missing a tall center branch on top that typically holds the angel, so our angel is in the center on top of the tree but nestled in amongst the outward reaching top branches. A unique Christmas tree indeed.
The dying Christmas tree is not the strangest thing that has happened though. That would have to be the forsythia bushes that blossomed at the farm about three weeks ago. There were two of them in full bloom. (I didn’t get a picture.) That is not supposed to happen this time of year. Our forsythias always blossom in May. STRANGE.
We also had bulbs, likely daffodils, sprouting in the prayer garden last week. That too should not happen until spring. STRANGE.
The other thing that is different this year than in past years is the chickens. Normally they stop laying when they molt in the fall or at least begin producing less eggs sometime in November. We get fewer and fewer eggs through December until we hit a low. After that it’s usually sometime in February, or around the time the sap begins flowing, that the hens begin laying more eggs again.
This year the flock began to molt in October and by November there were feathers everywhere and I was getting only one egg every other day. I expected this to last until February but about two weeks ago we began getting more eggs on some days and it has gradually increased until we were getting three eggs each day this week and then today, we got five eggs. STRANGE. (I wonder if the sap is flowing)
Even though I find this to be weird I’m not complaining – in fact I’m thrilled, especially since during our dearth my husband was buying eggs from a neighboring farm for $4.00 a dozen.
I don’t think it’s strange that I finished making Christmas gifts for my kids and grandkids last weekend though usually I’m not done quite so early. Since I had some time to spare, I decided to make myself a Christmas present. No, I didn’t wrap it and put it under the tree.
I put it on yesterday evening and my husband is now calling me Candy Cane. It’s made with flannel and I’m quite happy with the way it turned out and how it looks on me.
I finished up wrapping gifts today and tomorrow, Christmas Eve, I will spend cleaning and getting an early start on cooking for our family brunch on Christmas day. I am so looking forward to having the kids and grandkids here for the day.
Thank you for visiting and from our home to home and from our hearts to your heart we wish you a
Welcome friends! I thought I would give you fair warning that this post turned out to be quite lengthy, so you might want to grab a cup, glass or bottle of your favorite beverage to enjoy as you share in our pre-Christmas and Christmas activities.
O Christmas Tree
I had intended to include several photos documenting the cutting of our 2019 Christmas tree as I have done in past years. Regrettably, it was not meant to be. Although I snapped many pictures as we ventured out to the farm and cut our tree, it seems they are trapped on my cameras SD card. When I put the card in the computer the photo program seems to search for them but then freezes up and refuses to retrieve any photos. Fortunately upon buying a new SD card I am able to once again take pictures and load them onto my computer, so it is only those few that I will not be able to share.
Even though I cannot access those photos, I felt it was important to document this event since part of the purpose of this blog is to journal our activities. This is our fourth year of cutting a Christmas Tree from our farm. The trees we have been cutting are either Norway Spruce or Blue Spruce that we planted as when they were 12 – 18 inch seedlings in 2012. When we planted the young trees it was not our intention to grow our own Christmas Trees but this has since become our tradition.
It was Sunday, December 15, when we headed out to the farm to cut our preselected Christmas Tree. The temperature was hovering around freezing, and though the sun was shining bright as we walked out the door, the clouds quickly moved in and produced a brief snow squall. By the time we got to the farm, about 5 minutes later, there was a thin layer of snow blanketing the driveway, and setting the Christmas-like mood. The snow subsided as quickly as it had appeared and eventually the sun reappeared and melted the snow away.
After going to the barn to retrieve a saw we headed to the south-west corner of the property. The tree we had chosen was in a line of trees that were planted near the west property line to separate our property from the neighbors to the west. It is a lovey blue spruce that is slightly over four feet tall. We will plant a tree to replace this one in the spring.
I won’t bore you with the details of setting up the tree and decorating it since it all went smoothly and within a couple of hours the task was complete.
Made With Love
As in past years, I spent the month before Christmas making gifts. Since I have been working on increasing my sewing skills lately I decided to make aprons for the girls. This may seem an odd gift since only one out of four of them likes to cook, but I decided to personalize them.
The first two were made from a pattern that I bought several years ago and have never used. The second two were made out of worn out blue jeans, using this tutorial. I learned new sewing skills while making each of the patterns – the first involved hand basting a seam before sewing it in place and top stitching (that actually turned out pretty well). The second pattern involved making a ruffle and bias tape. On the last one I got very bold and changed the design from a ruffle and bias tape trim to a cut flannel, rag-type, trim. I was very pleased with the way they all turned out.
It was then time to personalize them – I wanted to capture each of the girls attitude for cooking.
The first was Tina who simply does not like cooking. She laughed when she saw it and agreed that described her.
This one was for Kara, who doesn’t like to cook, but calls me often with cooking questions. I’m always happy to get those calls. She too laughed when she saw the words and realized it was an apron.
The third one was for Hanna. While she may cook occasionally she is more likely to spend time painting, so I decided to make hers a painters apron. The old blue jeans that I used already had some paint stains on them and I added some more splotches with fabric paint.
The last one was for Lindell. She is the only one that seems to enjoy cooking and has recently told me about some of the meals she has made. When she tried on her apron she smiled and said “I love that it has pockets!”
The other big project that I made as a gift was a afghan that I crocheted. This was one of those situations where you might think “everything happens for a reason” or as I prefer to think “God was working behind the scenes”.
I started crocheting this afghan around Thanksgiving time simply because I found a stitch pattern that I wanted to try. I really had no plan for what I was making or what I would do with it. I began with alternating rows of red and blue yarn but when I ran out of the blue yarn the piece was not really big enough to be anything. I went to my yarn stash and found that I had enough of the gray and green yarn to at least double the size of this project. When I finished the gray and green section the afghan would have been a good size for a child, but since I didn’t much care for the color pattern and I didn’t have any children in mind to give it too, I decided to add a third section to make it large enough for an adult. I again went to my yarn stash and found that I had enough black and orange yarn to make a third section.
It was about this time that my husband asked me who I was making it for. “I don’t know,” was my answer, but I began to think about what to do with it. I realized that in the past I have made blankets for all of my daughters except Tina, so I thought I would give it to her. I wasn’t sure if she would like the colors but I was sure she would like wrapping herself in it as she tends to be chilly a lot.
It was two days before Christmas that we learned that we would be having an unexpected guest for Christmas. My father-in-law accepted my husbands invitation to join us for the day. That evening as I finished crocheting and began weaving in the ends I decided to give him the afghan.
Food and Family
Our guests would start arriving around noon so I spent most of Christmas morning in the kitchen preparing our meal. The turkey went into the oven at 8:00 am, then potatoes were peeled, celery and onions were sautéed for the stuffing and frosting was made then the cake was frosted. Meanwhile my husband vacuumed and tidied things up, started a fire in the fireplace and asked if there was anything he could do to help me.
Lindell and Brycen were the first to arrive, so I recruited Brycen to decorate the birthday cake for Jesus. Despite never having decorated a cake before he was eager to help. He completed this task with enthusiasm and I was grateful for the help. I didn’t get any pictures of the cake but I will say – Great job Brycen!
Other guests arrived shortly after. Another picture I didn’t get was Aunt Donna in her Christmas Tree tiara, but in the background of the picture below you can see the comfy-looking elf slippers she put on after removing her shoes. She brought two trays of mini cheese cakes announcing that one tray was made with amaretto. My first thought was “Oh, I’ll have to try that.” My second thought was “that explains the tiara”. LOL! I’m just kidding Aunt Donna doesn’t need to be under the influence of alcohol to do fun and crazy things.
Even before we ate we got Jackson and Addy busy opening gifts. I didn’t make anything for them this year, instead my husband and I spent a few hours perusing toy isles to pick out some gifts.
For Jackson, who has a mechanical mind and is always trying to figure out how things work, we bought this truck/racetrack set. The truck has a horn that blows and a key, that when turned, makes the sound of an engine starting and the headlights come on. It also came with race cars and tools to take the truck part. Once the truck is taken apart the race track is stored inside but we didn’t get it taken apart to see the race track while they were here.
For Addy I picked out a stuffed kitty. I remembered how much she loved Peanut the cat when she met him at our Halloween party, and since her mom said I could not get her a real kitty a stuffed on would have to do.
By far the best gift we received was having the family all together. When the girls were growing up we spent so much time together and never realized how much we would miss each other when they went their separate ways. Nowadays though they keep in close contact through a “sister chat” having them all together happens but once or twice a year.
I am not sure which one of them mentioned having a “sister photo” taken but when they were ready to pose I was ready with my camera. I snapped several photos and when I looked at this picture I wondered what they were all looking at to my left. Then I remembered that Brycen was standing next to me and after I took several photos he said. “now it’s my turn.” Apparently they all looked at him while I stole another photo.
I had the girls put on their aprons and pose again.
Then I handed over my camera and joined the girls. After this picture was taken I said, “now that you are all dressed for doing dishes…” and we all had a good laugh. Actually by this time my husband had many of the dishes already washed up.
Having both of our fathers there was such a blessing. Just like with the girls, the time spent with my dad has become less as the years go by, and the time the girls get to spend with their grandfather is even more rare. Isn’t it true that the more rare something is the more we value it? This was a day to cherish!
Having my Father-In-Law with us to celebrate was truely an amazing gift. This is the first time since we have been together that we have spent a Christmas with him, and I felt honored that at 86 years old he would make the two and a half hour drive from Ohio to celebrate this day with the family.
It had been many years since he had seen the girls and this was the first time he met Jackson and Addy.
When I gave dad his Christmas gift he told me I didn’t have to give him anything. “I wanted to,” I replied. When he said he would open it later, I had to insist that he open it now. He was pleased when he realized that it was an afghan and said he would use it to cover up with in his easy chair. I could relate to this as I have an afghan, that my mom made for me about 30 years ago, that I use to cover up with when I kick back in my recliner for a nap. Dad also marveled that I had made the afghan and asked how long it took. As he was leaving our house to travel home he told me “I can’t wait to use it.” 🙂
Christmas 2019 was a blessed day. As we celebrated the gift of the Christ Child our home was fill with laughter and love.
If you have stayed with me to the end of this very wordy post I thank you, and we wish you many blessings in the New Year.
It was sunny but cold Saturday when we went to the farm to cut our Christmas tree. Although having snow in the air and/or on the ground might have made the event more festive I was thankful for the ease of not having to trudge into the field though several inches of the white stuff. It was also nice that we did not have to clean up puddles of melted snow after setting up the tree in the living room.
This is our third year of cutting a tree from our farm for a Christmas tree. When we bought the property in 2011 it had absolutely no evergreens growing on it. So in the spring of 2012 we bought 50 12-18 inch spruce seedlings (twigs) from our local Conservation District spring tree sale. When our trees arrived we had no idea where we were going to plant them all so we made a nursery area in our main garden. At least the trees were in soil and could grow there until we decided where their permanent home(s) would be. This also made it simple to care for them especially since it was a very dry summer and we spent much time watering.
By fall the twigs that we had planted had begun to take shape and turned into small trees. We then planted them along the north and east sides of the back field where we hoped they would eventually grow large enough to act as wind blocks and provide privacy. We have continued to nurture these trees, fencing them in the winter to protect against deer, mowing around them so they have not been choked out by weeds and watering them during extreme dry spells. Despite our best efforts we have lost some. Each year we order more seedlings to replace ones that we have lost and to increase the spruce evergreen population on the farm.
2016 was the first year we cut our own Christmas tree. Life had changed. The girls were no longer living at home. They had grown up and moved out. Some were married, some were in college, some were working and I had to accept that our days of the girls and I all getting together to put up a tree were over. It made me sad. Life had changed in another way. My husband who had always worked a job that took him away from home for weeks or months at a time and often missed the holidays with the family, was no longer working that job. He was home for the holidays. This made me happy. To help cheer me up he suggested we start something new – make Christmas ours – by cutting a Christmas tree that we had grown on our farm. I loved it.
I think it was in September this year when my husband pointed out the tree he thought we should cut and I agreed it was a good choice. It was a the right size since we set it up on the coffee table and it had a nice straight trunk. It’s not exactly picture perfect and probably not a tree I would have picked out had we gone to a place to purchase a tree. It has an awkward shape and the braches are gangly and reaching out in all directions, but I am delighted that this tree is a product of our farm.
When we had the tree set up my husband helped me put the lights on the tree and the Angel on top, then I brought out my collection of Snow Angel ornaments to adorn the tree.
My Snow Angel ornaments are small angels each having a different pose and a tag attached that assigns them as a different blessing. There are Blessing of Love, Blessing of Hope, Blessing of Generosity, Blessing of Playfulness… I have 36 of them in all.
When the girls lived at home and we decorated the tree together I would take out each Snow Angel, read the tag and assign it to a specific daughter to hang on the tree. They would read the tag out loud and everyone would talk and sometimes laugh about why I gave that particular ornament to that daughter. Sometimes it was a characteristic that I admired about that daughter and sometimes I thought that daughter may have needed more of that particular blessing. At times it was difficult to decide and the blessings were given out randomly. This activity was one we enjoyed year after year.
For the past two years, with the girls not being there to help decorate the tree, I had left the Snow Angels packed away but this year, I am not sure why, but I decided to bring them out.
As I hung the ornaments on those gangly braches that reached in all directions I noticed how easy it was for the ornament to hang freely, something I struggle with when decorating a “perfectly shaped” tree with nicely tapered branches. Thus increased my appreciation for this awkward looking tree.
The more I look at it the more beautiful it becomes. I see this tree as representative of our life. Much like this tree our family has grown and our lives have changed in the past 6 years. We have branched out in all different directions and each branch bears blessings. Yet like this tree each branch stems from and is supported by the same trunk. It binds us together. Our trunk is love – our trunk is Christ.