Christmas in Montreal

pre-theater

old montreal lit for Christmas

snowy lizzy
ogilvy's window

snow play
Montreal nutcracker

Some scenes of our trip to Montreal for Christmas. Date night with my sweetheart, Old Montreal lit up for Christmas, snowy Lizzy and looking at the display in Ogilvy’s window on Ste. Catherine Street. It was lovely to spend the holidays in a place that makes them so festive with lights and food and wine and quite a bit of wonder thrown in.

Joyeuses fetes!

California

We had a lovely visit in California, although the rainy, chilly (for them!) weather had us curled up around the fireplace with hot cups of tea much of the time we were there. The kids reveled in each others’ company — so did we all! It was an amazing visit to my friend Kelly’s lovely home and family and a week full of laughter, delicious food, artwork, thrifting adventures and so much family fun.

{first grapefruit, picked within minutes of arriving!}

{one of many cups of tea}

{at the farmers’ market}

{off to pick some oranges from the yard}

{hiking up Mt. Rubidoux}

{and lots of kumquats for when we got home}

Plus plenty of times watching this on YouTube.

Can’t wait for next spring break!

train traveling

Today’s the day we’ve been planning and waiting for! Our little family of four is heading across the country on a train, in a sleeping car to make our yearly visit to friends in California. Oh, the things we’ve packed to be prepared for 40 hours in a train with two kids! Patrick balked at bringing my initial recommendation of chocolate — possibly enough to sustain Hannibal’s army crossing the Alps. So we scaled that back a bit, but rest assured, it’s still a goodly amount.

Games and drawing things and some books to read out loud together. And knitting, oh yes, the time I’ve spent thinking about the knitting! We’ll also be keeping a train journal so come back for excerpts of that when we return. What I’m most looking forward to is having each other — and all the ideas, wonderment and joy of watching so much of our incredible country go by out the window, with this wonderful little family of mine.

And the girls have been helping by leaping wildly off the furniture.

Have a lovely start of spring!

postcards from the farm

So we got back from the farm many many days ago — before Christmas! — but the sights and sounds of that beautiful place are something I think about every day. Here are some pictures of our time there. A quiet little post for a sunny/snowy day here in Chicago:

Such a wonderful long weekend of sunrise walks and sledding, solstice campfires and late night story-telling sessions and family and food and fun. And even a bit of polka-dancing in town! Lovely beginning of winter!

Outings :: Magical Miniatures and Chagall

Recently we went to Chicago’s Art Institute as a family. It’s just a short electric train ride from our house, but it had been a while. We felt ready to go again. The Thorne Miniature Rooms have been decorated this year for the holidays for the first time, so we loved that! If you haven’t seen these rooms and you live in the Chicago area, you really should take a look. The workmanship is incredible! As a knitter, I was delighted to see how many rooms featured teeny, tiny knitting baskets. Unfortunately, my no-flash pictures of those baskets did not come out — you’ll have to imagine them (or visit!). You peek through little framed windows to see inside the miniature decorated rooms. It’s quite magical.

And we did all our other favorite things…. rubbings from medieval carvings….

Looking at picture books in the children’s book illustrators gallery….

But the other lovely surprise was that the Chagall’s America windows were back on display after a long-time renovation…

We spent a long time looking at them….

And then in the Children’s area, there was an art activity to make your own “stained glass” using vellum sandwiched between sheets of black paper. Such a simple project, but they came out beautifully.

A lovely way to bring memories of the Art Institute and all its miraculous artwork home with us.

a visit to springtime

My friend recently posted her story of our spring break trip out to visit her in California and our adventure with a rattlesnake. Indeed. I’ll let her tell you that story if you’d like to take a visit and read it. Everyone survived the adventure safe and sound, thank goodness.┬áBut seeing her post reminded me that my pictures of our trip out West are way past due.

{at the Pacific Ocean}

There’s nothing like going out to see an old friend. Wherever she is, I am so happy just to be with her. Together to watch the kids be their delightful, silly, whimsical selves. To plan artworks and share ideas. To talk late into the night about every little thing, while drinking many, many cups of tea.

What heaven to visit her while Chicago was still in wrapped in a chilly, muddy March! A visit to springtime. Flowers, birds, even citrus fruit ready to be picked from the trees. Her lemon tree was covered with blossoms and giving off the most heavenly smell, not to mention fat, juicy lemons. Lemonade, anyone?

We did some great California thrifting and the kids played outside non-stop. It was a wonderful break for all of us.  The only difficult part was how sad we felt when it was time to go home.

Yet another reason to yearn for spring. It’ll be back next year, and so will we.

Souvenirs of California

As the wind howls outside, bending the trees (do I hear cracking — oh, I hope not!) and sleeting snow is blown sideways with incredible force, of course my thoughts turn to our recent trip to warm and sunny southern California. Thanks to my generous husband, I got to go thrifting and exploring with my friend, while he watched the five little ones. And there were treasures to be found!

California fabric

Thrifting in California — really spoke to a sense of place — all the things I saw seemed to tell tales of home movies, brightly-decorated homes, TV dinners, and sewing costumes or wearing them. Found some great linen napkins (above) and two breakfast trays with butterfly designs (a perfect surprise for two little girls I know!). 

new to Nature Table

And while walking around later, we found some treasures for the Nature Table, some beautiful reminders of the seussically magical flora and fauna of southern California. Pepper berries from a pepper tree and the dried-out insides of cactus plants, as well as a couple lovely pine cones. So good to have these little gems, which dapple my imagination with sun, since spring seems most unwilling to arrive here in snowy, chilly Chicago.