Scout has claimed the tree as her own. I find her under it most days. And if she is not under it, she's close by, in the chair or on the couch, watching it as if the ornaments might come to life. I should take note and claim the other chair. It's cozy by the tree.

We are mostly decorated now. The painters have been here for the last week and a half, working on our front hall. Ceilings, walls, trim, banister – the works. I admit not entirely thinking about the fact that they would be here while I wanted everything to be decorated for the holidays. Am I crazy or what? Still, it's beautiful now and I couldn't be happier.

We've had two snow days in the last three days of school. I've embraced it. The girls have loved it. I am so looking forward to Christmas break, during which we can stay in our pj's until noon and not do much of anything if we don't want to. It's been a busy fall and I can see the constant activity slowing down after the school play this week. Also, Jane takes her high school placement test on Saturday. When I started this blog, she was starting first grade. Where does the time go?

There has been some sewing happening, but it's of the top secret variety so no details or photos yet. I am not making many gifts this year – just a few smaller ones. I find that although I love the making, it does add to the stress of the season. I do have a backlog of projects to photograph and share – mostly clothes, really. I've had some good success in the garment sewing department, but I have a hard time getting photos of myself. I should probably enlist some help, but with the short days, it's rare that anyone else is home during daylight hours. Maybe this weekend. (Marcia, if you are reading, I'm looking at you.)

I finished reading The Book Thief last week in anticipation of seeing the movie with the girls. It is such a lovely, sad and happy story. I highly recommend it. Before that, I spent many hours reading the latest Elizabeth George novel, Just One Evil Act. I loved it. I remember the first time that I read one of her books. We were in Kenya with my parents, one year after we had been married. My mom introduced me to the Inspector Lynley series and I quickly devoured each one I could get my hands on. Now, when a new one is released, I am quick to jump in, but slow enough to savor every word. I'm without a book right now, but I think that reading would help ease the busy-ness of the moment. Time to find something new.

I'm still painting most Fridays. I started in January and it's been a good year of growth for me. I like looking back and seeing what I've done. I actually took 5 paintings in to be framed yesterday. This is huge. They have all been sitting in my living room, waiting for homes. Right now I am working on these peonies based on this photo I took way back in 2007. This one is stretching me in good ways.

If you've stuck with me this far, thank you. I know this is a little rambling and full of a lot of random information, but I was recently told (Hi Rob!) that I had stopped putting bits of life on the blog. When the words went, so did the everyday moments. Finding the right balance between the craft and the living is tricky, but I'm working towards finding it again.

My mantra for the season this year is the same as last: All is calm, all is bright.

So far, so good.

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