November is just the beginning. We’re barreling full speed into the holidays, the time of The Full Cold Moon. Winter cold fastens its grip, nights are at their longest and darkest.


The Moon before Yule. The days are ticking away. Soon we’ll exist in a blur of ruby-red gems, parsnips and pies. I’m surrounded by people who live to eat and respect turkey and its trimmings as much as I do. We’re thoughtful and prepared ~ the road from here to the holiday is paved with parsley, sage, rosemary and, well, you know. We’ll be on it most of the time until 2014.  Gosh.  So many days ahead filled with butter, flour, sugar, chocolate and cream, heavy. And no regrets, trust me on this one.

Cookbooks are my BFFs.  I have a few. Let’s start with Jacques.  He taught me and millions of home cooks how to chop an onion and perfect a cheese soufflé.  Any cook book of his is riddled with genius.


Need a gift?  Want one for yourself?  Pick up one of these ~

MOOSEWOOD was listed by the New York Times as one of the top ten best-selling cookbooks of all time. Sophisticated, easy-to-prepare vegetarian recipes, charming drawings, and pages of beautiful full-color food photography. Healthy and great-tasting food from Molly Katzen.

More than 225 recipes in ROOTS ~ salads, soups, side dishes, main courses, drinks, and desserts ~ that bring out the earthy goodness of veggies from artichokes to yams.


Mark Bittman’s collection is absolutely indispensable for anyone who cooks.

Of course, everything looks better, sounds better, and tastes better in Italian.  We discuss dinner at the breakfast table.  I’m not brilliant in the kitchen but I am an authority on eating.  Italian cookbooks comfort, inspire and satisfy me. 

The holiday season can be a bit overwhelming-intimidating-oh goodness gracious what am I going to make-crazy busy. Just play. Whip up some jolly and unbearably wonderful things.  Make time for deep breathing, a little wine, old movies.  It’s living..and it feels really good.



Meet you here next Sunday.

Toni 11/17/13

Day 17



Every mile is two in winter.

~ George Herbert, British poet

I took a few minutes today to look out the window.  Actually, maybe a lot of minutes.

I wanted to do something, anything other than laundry and dinner. Sarah Blacksmith, cowgirl of the Old West, knew how to avoid housework ~ she lived outside.

Now that’s a formidable woman.

I just have to accept that it’s December and the garden work is over.  I’ve hoed, dug, loosened, turned over, fertilized, limed, cut, transplanted, planted, divided, watered, and weeded. Everything is finished.  It’s time to toss a log on the fire, and while the garden sleeps, dig into my pile of books.  But I worry. Have I mulched the butterfly bush enough?  Are the new peonies protected?  Did I really mound the asparagus like I should have?  What if the garlic doesn’t come up?  Well, then I could plant…Oh, wait, I’ll look through a few seed catalogs.  I love how they begin: Acaena, Acantholimon, Acanthus, Achillea. And in the catalog, the weather is balmy. I am so there ~ in Nature’s Paradise of Eternal Life.

The catalog illustrations remind me of the blank journals Mary gave us last January. I started to fill the pages of mine with sketches and photos.

Yesterday I caught a glimpse of this brave little guy.

I wonder what winter has in store for him.  December 21 is the official start, the Full Cold Moon, time to make snacks….. for the critters. Make some for yours ~  roll pinecones in one part cornmeal and four parts peanut butter.

I wish I could cultivate the weather.  It’s never quite right.  But there are other things I can work at and pay attention to. Like writing.  I keep my notebook handy and scribble in it.  And when taking in a landscape, whether physical or emotional, I turn it sideways, like a sketchbook. Marion says it will deepen and broaden your view.   So on the next blank page of my journal, I sketch my garden plot and imagine the first fragile snowdrops waving in the raw spring wind.

I brew a pot of tea, sit by the fire and fall into a poem by Gary Snyder.

Paradise Found.

Toni 12/2010