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Monday, December 31, 2007

The True Vine

Last weekend our dear friends Ben and Shar had a wine and cheese party at their home. It was delightful for many reasons, the most important being with friends and having the time to talk without little ones running about! Secondly, spending quality time with the love my life, all dressed up and handsome. One of our favorite things to do together, (since we first met almost 10 years ago!!) is to get dressed up and go out to eat. That hasn't been happening a lot lately with a new baby in the house, but here we are, Luke is 9 months old already, so our "dates" are coming back again! whoo-hoo!!
We began the night by enjoying some delicious appetizers that each couple had brought to share. It's so fun eating other people's food, new, tasty recipes.

Brian and Lyn, (Ben's parents) were visiting from England for the Christmas season. Brian led us in a great time of discussion about the various wines we were tasting. Ben had put all the bottles that we had brought, (each couple provided one bottle of wine) into sleeves to hide the label. It was then up to us to taste and explore each wine. Brian explained in such great detail the differences in each wine. It was amazing learning about this whole new world of wines.
After tasting each wine we were to comment on it and give it a score from 0-100. At the end of the night the wine with the highest score was revealed. The wine we provided was from Canada, a fruity wine, and it was my favorite by far! Amazingly I didn't even know it was the one we had brought, but I knew I liked the taste very much, as did Jake. Thanks to Sam and Cheryl, (Jake's brother and his wife) that gave us that delicious wine knowing our tastes! It was a big hit because Brian was having a hard time distinguishing the grape. He mentioned that it was most likely because of the growing climate. Obviously the climate in Canada is quite harsh thus affecting the grape in it's growing period.

Often we would smell the wine and know before the first sip that it would be bitter or sweet. Although at times our noses fooled us and it ended up tasting much better then it smelled. Again, such an adventure for the senses.

The discussions were never ending about each grape, the storage of wine, the location, the growing climate, the ripeness, the cork, etc. Hugh Johnson writes: "The scope of the subject of wine is never ending, as indeed, so many other subjects lie within its boundaries. Without geography and topography it is incomprehensible; without history it is colorless; without taste it is meaningless; without travel it remains unreal. It embraces botany, chemistry, agriculture, carpentry, economics – any number of sciences whose names I do not even know. It leads you up paths of knowledge and by-ways of experience you would never glimpse without it."Here are our lovely host and hostess for the evening. Thank you Ben & Shar for giving us a night to remember.

The evening ended with these delectable cheeses. Needless to say, our mouths were happy!!
Some of my dear friends, Kara, Shar, Dawn and I. And the handsome chaps. Ike, (Clark's Dad), Jake, Adam, (Ben's brother from England), Brian, Ben, Clark, Chad. There is such beauty in the wine making process. From planting a vineyard and watching it grow, pruning out the dead branches, allowing the storms to come and strengthen the grapes, all the while hoping that the storms are not too ferocious as to totally destroy the crop. Hand picking the grapes, pressing them, storing them, allowing them to age. As I write it all sounds so familiar..."I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love." John 15:1-9
Remaining in Him.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

9 p.m. madness

A few weeks ago my sisters, my Mom, my nieces and I went to a cottage decor shop owned by some relatives of ours. "midnight madness", but at 9 p.m.!! That's my kind of midnight!! It was such a delightful time. My sister picked me up and kindly handed me a freshly brewed cup of Starbucks white peppermint mocha....ah, yes, the PERFECT beginning to this night. Here is my niece Jess with her own cup! Thanks Shrish!!
Here are my sisters, from left to right, (Jan, Fan, my Mom, Naomi, Von, me). My best friends.

What an inspiring evening, such beauty, creativity, simple pleasures.

My oldest sister Fan, with her three beautiful daugthers. I hope I can look THAT good when I have children that are taller then me, (and it's highly likely that I will...have children that are taller then me that is)!!
And come on, the perfect ending to the night....smores with my Mom. They had a glowing fire just outside the door with all the ingredients! Yes, another wonderful memory to store for the road ahead.

"For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands."
~Christina Rosetti

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Little boys rooms

Hello from Strasburg! I've been meaning to post these pictures of the boys rooms, but am only now getting around to it. I have a camera full of wonderful pictures and stories to tell and yet, not enough time to tell them!!! Here's a quick tour for today: this first picture is of Tyler's room when we had just moved in:

and here it is after a fresh coat of paint called "Nantucket gray." It looks kind of sage in the sunlight and more gray at night. It's warm & inviting, much like it's room dweller. And isn't that just the smallest bed EVER? You would laugh out loud if you saw Jake trying to lay down beside Tyler in this little bed. It's practically the size of Jake's upper body! For the most part Tyler does well and stays in his bed. Every now and again we'll hear him playing when he should be sleeping. I guess if I had that much energy I would play instead of sleep as well! I didn't know what curtains to use, so I just hung some of his cute baby clothes with clothespins on twine.

And here is sweet Luke's room. His room is VERY small, (11 x 9) but very cozy as well. It fits all the basics and that's about it! It was set up as a nursery when we looked at the house, so that was extremely helpful, otherwise I would have never thought a crib, changing table, rocker and end table would fit! Here Tyler is during his usual morning routine of climbing into Luke's crib to say good morning!

This crib has quite the story! It was for sale at my neighbors garage sale, but I thought the price was too high. Apparently I wasn't the only one to think that, because at the end of the weekend it was still there and marked as FREE!!! So, later that night after Jake and I were in bed I said, "oh, shoot, we forgot to get that crib, it will surely be gone by morning." (Okay, so I said the "oh shoot, we forgot the to get the crib" part and not "it will surely be gone by morning," but it sounded like a good sentence)! Anywho....there goes my Darling, in his robe, down to our neighbors house and PUSHES the crib home! I'm telling you, if anyone would have seen him they would have definitely reported him!! When's the last time you saw a tall man, in a flannel robe, pushing a crib through YOUR neighborhood....AT NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!! I found this great chest of drawers at our neighbors garage sale. It's a little worn, but lovingly so. There is a good size closet in this room too, but I forgot to take a picture of it.
There's our little tour of the day, come back again. I'll be here...

Monday, December 17, 2007

a good laugh

So we're sitting on the couch yesterday, a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Tyler was a little grumpy so Jake asked him, "Tyler, are you bored?" His response with furrowed brow, "I no bored, I Tyler!" That was a good laugh to be sure....
"May your hands always be busy, may your feet always be swift, may you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift. May your heart always be joyful, may your song always be sung, may you stay forever young, forever young, forever young, may you stay forever young." ~Bob Dylan~

Thursday, December 13, 2007

oh, the weather outside is frightful...

but the hot tub is so delightful. so since there's no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow." Here's Daddy & Tyler relaxin' in the hot tub, a place where you can find us on most nights. The boys really like it, we take them out there with their little beanies on and keep them down in the water. Some nights, just Jake and I go out, and that too is fabulous....the snow melting into my hot cup of tea....delicious!

I'm really into decorating with fuchsia/pink ribbon, fuchsia pillows, fuchsia blankets, pretty much anything fuchsia and bright...even our Christmas cards are hot pink!! It's such a FuN color.
The Christmas season is here, it always amazes me how quickly it comes....and goes, leaving us with a few new gifts and memories to last. I really want to live a Christmas-lifestyle.

"I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays--let them overtake me unexpectedly--waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: "Why this is Christmas Day!"
~David Grayson

Monday, December 10, 2007

of new aprons & little helpers

I got a new apron. It matches my kitchen and makes me want to bake all sorts of yummy things. I found it on ebay, it came to me from Kearney, NE and cost me $7. It is vintage in the best of every way, a handy pocket on the right side, long ties on either side and great rickrack detail. There's something comforting about putting this apron on. Somewhere at sometime another woman lovingly wore this apron while she too provided for her family. I love being connected to the past. Here's my little helper. He loves pulling the "schtooley," (bar stool in PA dutch) over to "help" me pour, mix, sprinkle, beat and stir. Here we are making zucchini bread. I added these delicious treats and it gave it such a yummy, minty flavor.

I must have been feeling very ambitious because I doubled the recipe, (which is already large) and I was putting stuff in the oven for hours! Well, now I have loaves to share and isn't that point? Thanks for dropping by today, it's a cozy Monday. Here's the recipe if you'd like to give it a go:
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325*
Beat eggs until light and frothy, (the key to making this delicious I do believe)!
Mix in oil & sugar.
Stir in zucchini and vanilla.
Combine remaining ingredients and add to egg mixture.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, (depending on the size of your loaf pan, smaller pans = less time).

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Stoltzfus Family

Hello all, just wanted to send you our latest family photo. This was taken on Thanksgiving day at my sisters home. I LOVE MY BOYS!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Friend of the Sweetest Sort

Earlier this week my dear, dear friend Jeane treated me to a few priceless hours of girl time to commemorate my 29th birthday!! She took me to the Hershey Pantry for a most delicious breakfast. I had some of the best orange juice I've ever tasted, served in a chilled glass I might add. We ate cinnamon french toast, with fresh fruit, a lovely bacon and egg sandwich served on sun-dried tomato bread and of course, we had several cups of HOT coffee, (with flavored creamer)! I am eternally thankful when I get to a.) sit down, b.) eat food that was prepared for me and c.) drink HOT coffee, (as opposed to reheating it because someone needed something and I had to put my coffee cup down only to return to it 15 minutes later). Most of all, I am eternally thankful for the company in which I partook of all these wonderful things. I assure you, there is not a quiet SECOND with us, (not counting when our mouths are full). We laugh A LOT. Even on the way to breakfast I was laughing so hard my stomach was hurting. After breakfast, Jeane gave me one of the most thoughtful gifts. A beautiful book called, "A friendship book" in which 24 writers talk about what friendship means to them. Shakespeare, Bronte, Dickens...etc. She also framed a recent picture of Jake and I in an adorable shabby chic frame and lastly, she ordered personalized "calling cards" for me, note paper with my name on top and return address labels. They are BEAUTIFUL. Thank you Jeane, for being such a kindred spirit to me. Lets be friends forever....

"A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil--but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small silly presents every so often--just to save it from drying out completely." ~Pam Brown

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Central Market

Last month my dear friend Esther came for a visit from Holland. It was SO WONDERFUL to be together with her again, to sit and chat for hours at a time. I had the privilege of introducing her to Lancaster's Central Market, the oldest continually operating market space in America -- it has records that date to 1742!!! Needless to say, the history is quite amazing. We spend some time meandering through the ageless aisles, purchasing a few home baked goodies.
After our time at Central Market, we headed over to Prince Street Cafe for a delicious lunch. The boys did so well and Tyler sat w/ us at the big table eating his good ol' scrambled egg!
Lastly, we stopped at my cousin Freiman's art gallery. Unfortunately, for us, he was in Paris, France at the time, but we enjoyed his amazing artwork nonetheless. If you have the time, please do check out his website. Here is only one beautiful example of his work:
Thank you Esther for taking the time to spend the day with me and my boys. We had a delightful time with you and anticipate your next visit to America! I love you!!
"Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes is certain for those who are friends."--Richard Bach
Esther took this picture of Tyler....come on, how big is he getting??? So sweet!