Phew, this was a whirlwind of a season…..  we have been enjoying every moment and are now getting back into the rhythm of our “routine”. 

The season starts on Thanksgiving.  We have spent the last few Thanksgiving dinners at our good friends house in their arbor out in their vineyard doesn’t get better than that 😉  It includes, good friends, lots of kids running around, good conversation, good food and beautiful fall weather and sun.

After a day of good food we went for our post Thanksgiving hike.  We headed out on a new trail that lead us to an ancient Redwood that looked like there should be dinosaurs walking around it – it was magnificent!  Then we headed up to this reservoir for some good old fashion echo calls – the kids got a big kick out of that – not sure all the animals around the area were thrilled but hopefully it scared off the mountain lions!

The next day was spent trudging around Moon Mountain for the perfect tree!  We always like to get the tree and the holidays kicked off early, it really gets everyone in the mood.  It was a great day spent looking for our tree.  Of course, Mama likes to walk around the mountain looking carefully at every tree while the kiddos run through the trees squealing with delight and Milo and Doug saunter along waiting for the call of “WE FOUND IT”!  For some reason it always ends up being one of the first trees we were eyeing.  I enjoy cruising around enjoying the sights and the smells, I don’t really think I’m looking for the “perfect” tree, I think they are all great, I just enjoy the time spent out there with the family – so I will keep taking “forever” to find our “perfect” tree 😉

Next comes the decorating….

Then began the baking.  Oh the baking, cookies, breads, more breads, more cookies, fudge.  I have found two lovely recipes at rhythm of the Home that I have added to my holiday arsenal – so delicious – orange, cranberry walnut bread and cranberry ginger bread and so easy.  The kids had so much fun making all the goodies to be passed out for our friends.  Baking and singing was the theme throughout our house during December – good times 🙂

The first weekend in December marked the first Christmas recital for Ryder and what was supposed to be Saige’s second recital, but…… a little bug took Saige down for the day/night (luckily she was back in the game the next day – of course) but Ryder made his debut in a hip hop routine and rocked the house 😉  He was a bit nervous but as soon as he got up on stage with his buddies he was a natural and then he came running off the stage after the performance just flying on adrenal and saying “that was too short, I want to go back and do it again!”  It was priceless.  Very proud of my little elf, but sad my little mouse missed her performance – oh well there’s always next year.

The next adventure was the Santa Skunk Train in Mendocino.  We usually go on The Polar Express but that was sold out way too quick – which I am now glad for – because the Skunk Train rocked!

That’s one groovy looking Santa Train 😉  We made a weekend out of it with another family and had such a great time.  We stayed on a bluff with access to the beach – which we enjoyed making our version of snow angels!

Then we made it to Glass Beach – I have been dying to go there.  There is polished glass all over the beach.  We had lots of fun collecting and trying to find unusual colors (only found blue and red in really tiny pieces).  We all wondered what caused all of this glass to wash up on this little cove – much to our dismay, this area was an old dump – yes, we were frolicking on an old dump!  UGH!  It was still gorgeous, maybe the years of crashing waves has washed this area clean (and unfortunately dragged it all out for the rest of the world to enjoy!)  Seriously who would build a dump on the oceans edge!

polished glass

great tide pools to play in, lots of urchins, a few crabs, some fish hiding and lots of anemones – which all equals lots of fun and exploring 🙂

The annual lighting of the snowmen happened Friday after Thanksgiving – which turned out to be a volatile stormy day and night.  We were all ready to go but right as we were getting ready to put on our coats the sky unleashed its fury and we decided to sit this year out.  So instead we visited the snowmen on a different occasion. 

The deal with these snowmen is…. every year Cornerstone sets up these vintage snowmen (lots of them) and then lights them to start the holiday season.  They have marshmallow roasting, frosty and rudolph played on a wall of one of the buildings with hay bales set up for seating, hot chocolate, etc.  Everyone who has kids in Sonoma comes.  It’s a great time – too bad for the weather.  I just love these snowmen – I would love one for our yard.

This little guy showed up at our house the first week in December.  Not sure if you’ve heard of Elf on The Shelf?  Well I heard about this a few years back, we had elves that looked just like him when I was growing up (they weren’t elf on the shelf) but my mom always had them hanging out on the banister heading upstairs and I simply LOVED them!  It was my favorite thing to get them out and line them up.  I would pretend they were alive and I would talk to them.  Well fast forward to somewhere around 2008 and here is a modern day version of what I used to pretend.  So the story goes, the elf arrives, he is named by the kids, they can not touch him/her, they can tell him/her all their wishes, he/she reports to Santa every night whether the kids were good or bad and then he/she flies back to the kids home and is in a different spot every morning.  So the fun part is when they wake up the first thing they do is look for the elf.  Ours is named Nutcracker Boy 😉  Let’s just say Mama had a couple close calls, a few mornings I heard Ryder’s voice and I bolted out of bed, ran to Nutcracker boy and replaced him (once he got thrown across the room into the christmas tree!)  Ugh!  That got me a few times throughout the month.  Ryder swears he saw his head move 🙂  On Christmas eve the elf flies back home to live in the North Pole until next season.  He usually arrives sometime around Thanksgiving. 

We had so much fun with this tradition this year.  We even wrote our letters to Santa and gave them to Nutcracker boy to bring with him one evening 🙂

In between all this craziness I still remembered to enjoy the beauty of the season

And I think it was a little too much excitement for these two 🙂

 

New Years came in quietly – thank goodness 🙂

Hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday season.  Would love to hear how you spent your season.

Peace and Blessings to you in 2011 – hope to see you all back here

During the holiday season I contemplated what to make for friends – I knew I wasn’t going to be doing any real crafting and I wanted to do more than cookies.  Not sure if I said this before, but I am NOT a baker.  I don’t like to follow recipes to the exact measurement, I like to add a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  And I don’t need all those yummy treats laying around the house – they just call for me to eat them.  What to make?  I found this new blog/site I really like and found the perfect treat to make cranberry walnut bread!  OHHHHHHHH so yummy!  I made a couple loaves of this and along with it I made orange curd (from Alice Waters curd recipe) for spreading across each slice.  I am in LOVE with this recipe!  This is my new holiday tradition. 

My vision was that all of my friends would be eating it on Christmas morning and shortly after Christmas I received emails from everyone who received the bread and curd and they all said they and their families enjoyed it on Christmas morning, as did we. 

I just made myself a loaf this morning and the kids and I enjoyed a few slices 🙂

What are some of your holiday traditions?