Tuesday, December 30, 2008

a bright new year

Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!”

- William Arthur Ward

I vow to go forth with gusto.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

family love / togetherness

Today was a whirlwind of Christmas merriment. This afternoon my older brother and his family arrived from Maryland and it seems the minute they walked in the door the activities began - we heard a few tunes on the piano from the twins; there was a gathering in the kitchen for snacks; opening of birthday gifts (today was my younger brother's 48th birthday); what we called our 1st phase of Christmas - opening gifts at my parents house; dinner and dessert; 2nd phase - opening gifts from T and me at our house... and more to come tomorrow to extend the Christmas cheer. It's nice to have the entire family together and I'm so lucky to have the time off from work to spend with them. / my twin cousins were born on Christmas Eve, 8 years ago. they are such fun to have around - really great, sweet kids. since they were babies they have been receiving lady bug and bumble bee things. i think it started when M was dressed as a lady bug and C was dressed as a bumble bee their first halloween. my oma found these cute german ornaments for them. how perfect and cute.

Friday, December 26, 2008

recreation / relaxation

This is a different sort of Christmas for our family. Because my older brother and his family are not arriving until the 27th we are delaying our Christmas celebration. So Christmas day was not filled with the usual excitement of opening presents and a big Christmas dinner - instead we enjoyed a quite day (there will be children here later). I spent some time with a friend walking at a local park. It felt so good to get out and exercise. It was more like a warm spring day than a cold Christmas day. There were a lot of families outdoors - enjoying their time together - fishing, flying new motorized aircraft toys, walking their dogs, trying out new scooters... walking off Christmas dinner. In the middle of a big empty field I saw this tree with gourd bird houses hanging from it. When I walked up to it I realized the "tree" had been put together by man - it's all real wood but the branches have been manually grafted on. It reminded me of a Christmas tree with huge ornaments. Very interesting don't you think? A high-rise bird hotel. / i enjoyed a day of cooking (made some dishes that i was very proud of - pumpkin creme brulee - yum) with my dad, but after cooking, and eating too much, it was time for one of my favorite pastimes - to bring out all my old disney movies and decide which one i would watch ( i'll admit, i love my disney movies - it makes me nostalgic). today i watched one of my all-time favorites, "the fox and the hound". that movie makes me cry every time, but it's so good. do you have a favorite disney movie?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

bustle / reflect

After all the hustle and bustle - pause and reflect.
May The Blessings Of Christmas Be Yours Throughout The New Year
- Leslye and Taylor

Monday, December 22, 2008


solo post tonight - L
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus." - Francis Pharcellus Church

I believe, don't you? Santa Claus represents the joy and spirit of giving - a joy that brings an euphoric feeling of well being and it seems to happen universally at this time of year don't you think? And if you have children around at Christmas they bring it all to life even stronger. To see the wonder in their eyes as they sit on Santa's knee, looking in to his eyes as they tell him their wishes; as they wait in anticipation for his arrival on Christmas morning. Why is it that this innocence of children brings tears to my eyes?
I can't tell you how special it was to be a part of a visit with Santa with my niece and nephew over Thanksgiving. They were convinced he was the real Santa. Santa was at a Christmas show visiting with children all day long and it was closing time - he spent over 20 minutes with them, personally, telling them all sorts of stories as they sat at his feet with their mouths dropped opened. He was very animated and wore deer antler rings and pins made by his elves and real fur boots and velvet suit so rich. He told so many interesting tales filled with such exuberance - one of being saved from the freezing lake by a polar bear; he showed them his world map and told them of the travels and how many trips back to the North Pole it took him before he finished all of his rounds; he told about some of his favorite elves - all in greatest of detail. By the end of the visit I was convinced - he was "Santa".
The other day I was looking through some of the Santa photos I had taken of Taylor and even some of the ones that were taken of me and my brothers. It's funny how the times change. I wonder if the photos that we take today will have such great nostalgic quality as the ones from our childhood do now. I mean I know they'll still be nostalgic but do think they will have the charm that old photos have today?
I'll be posting a few on my autumnsun blog just for fun. Maybe more later.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

humble/ fancy

block print card by young Leslye and a handcrafted German sheep

This weekend has been filled with many activities - from a quite evening at home looking through old photographs and old handmade Christmas cards, attending a magnificent performance of traditional Chinese dance "Chinese New Year Spectacular" with some friends at our new Cobb Performing Arts Center, shopping at the crowded mall searching for the perfect gifts, wrapping presents together and then watching the movie "The Fall" (if you haven't seen it I recommend it). While looking through my childhood photos and cards I remembered the simpler times we enjoyed when we made our own cards and ornaments and made many of our gifts; we enjoyed staying home and baking together and putting together puzzles; sitting, warm, by a fire listening to my mom read a Christmas story. I don't remember there being a lot of t.v. watching and frantic Christmas shopping or the desire to always be on the go (of course, that's a child's recollection). It seems it was a slower paced life back then - at least that's the way I see it now in comparison. I'd like to slow down and enjoy the simple things like we did when I was a child.  / today was somewhat stressful for me - i have a hard time knowing what to get people, especially when they give no hints (mom!), and that makes me stressed. but mom and i did end up finding a few things that we think people will like and then we wrapped presents together. i like wrapping things so that even the most ordinary looks special. remember playing the white elephant gift exchange game when you wrap the gift to look all big and fancy when what's inside is usually just a silly little gimmick? we play the white elephant every year in our family but we give nice gifts. i've been to many a party where this game is played and i've gotten some really crazy stuff - sometimes funny, sometimes embarrassing, and every once in a while you get something you actually like. have you played this game?

The above is one of the handmade cards from my younger years. Inside the card I included this poem (I don't remember where I got it):

Animals knew Him
In His first sleep,
Donkey and cow,
The wool-soft sheep.

The humblest beasts
Gave Him their heat,
And shared the straw
Beneath their feet.

Creatures were kind
In that cold place.
They gave Him warmth.
He gives us grace.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

this is my wish

"What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace." - Agnes M. Pharo

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

balmy / gentle

Is this really the middle of December? Here in Atlanta you would think it's the middle of June. 70ยบ on a December night! I know a lot of you are having snow and VERY cold temperatures. Can't say I'm jealous of the ones having temps in the single digits and struggling with the iced streets and such, but I do think it would be nice to have a white Christmas. I know that's not happening here, but how about cold winter evenings were you can enjoy a fire in the fireplace and cuddle up with hot cocoa? It is starting to look like Christmas even if it doesn't feel like it outside - T and I decorated the tree tonight and it's very pretty / it's nice to be woken up by something other than your phone's alarm clock and obnoxious ring tone. i have missed having kodi come into my room and nudge me awake. it's a much gentler approach - a tap of her paw on my face, sometimes a rough kiss - still better than the alarm. other perks of being home include the extra space of a full sized bed, actual water pressure, real food, and OF COURSE - being with my family and friends that mean so much to me [:

listening to: "The Winter Song" by Eisley

Walking home with the
Snow it is falling down
Passing by lit windows
The people inside they wave from the glow

Chimney smoke billowing
Snowflakes on my lashes
Oh, starry night
I was walking and singing this song

La la la la...

Singing la la la la...

It's that day again
It's that time of year
With our smiling faces
We will sing with cheer

La la la la...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

off / on

I liked this shot of kodi in the window this morning - it's like a trick - is that tree inside or outside? As you can see our tree is still not decorated. Sure looks bare in the day light - kinda like it's meant to be outside. I hope we get the decorations on soon, but with me working late it's hard to get motivated for it when I get home at night. We'll do it this weekend for sure... if not before. / i'm wondering - do we even need to put the ornaments on? the tree looks pretty at night all lighted up, but i guess in the day it looks a little silly.

Monday, December 15, 2008

segments / dividing my time

Nikon D40x / phone pic

I have a question... How do you prepare your grapefruit for eating? Every year at Christmas we get a huge box of pink grapefruit as a gift - they are SO delicious and we look forward to this shipment each year. So at Christmas, when we are all together, we serve up grapefruit for breakfast. Sometimes I am the one preparing the grapefruit and sometimes it's my mom who does it. She cuts hers one way and I cut mine another way. She claims her way is better - sometimes even saying my way is "wrong" - kidding of course. This morning I tried it her way - cutting all the way around the half, separating the pulp from the skin and then cutting from the center to the outside, separating each triangle segment. It's probably the proper way, but I prefer my way. I cut each individual triangle segment leaving the membrane attached to the skin. I think I just like the repetition of it - going around each triangle, one by one -then I put a little sugar on it. Does it really matter? : ) How ever you slice it up, it taste delicious! / today it was so mild outside - it felt good to be outdoors at my neighborhood starbucks again. before i start dividing up all my time to spend with everyone on my list i took a little time to just be with myself and my drawing journal and my favorite starbucks drink - soy chai latte, no water. it was nice.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

popcorn / cranberries

Taylor got home today and I already had plans for us. I guess I should have let her relax a bit. But we're a little behind on the decorating - there are no ornaments on the tree yet and the mantel looked a little lacking. So I thought what a relaxing sort of activity it would be to string some popcorn for the mantel - we added cranberries too. We talked about some Christmases past - some when I was young and some when she was young. She made one string and I made another - it worked out perfectly and it didn't take long either./ the house looked so pretty when i walked in today - it was warm and smelled of pine. haha, i should have known mom would have some decorating for us to do today. it was fun though. it reminded me of photo we took for our card one Christmas when i was young - mom made me a mrs. claus outfit - a little short, red circle skirt and jacket trimmed in fake fur - I wore a santa hat and sat by the tree stringing popcorn. it was the year it actually snowed for Christmas - 2000 - the year my cousins (twins) were born on Christmas Eve.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


solo post again - Nikon D40x
I am so lucky to live close to my parents.
My parents are in their 80s yet they are more active than most people in their 50s. I could write an entire blog just on all that they do on a daily basis - maybe another time. Today they had just been to the church Christmas party (the one she made 50 plus table decorations for), had to attend a funeral immediately after that and were on their way to do some shopping. And here I am wanting to stay home and not go to my party tonight - prefering a lazy evening at home - sad.
Anyway she came by today to let me sample her recipe for Spice Tea that she was giving to a friend. I have always made Spice Tea (many call it Friendship tea or Russian Tea) for the holidays starting at Thanksgiving and this year I wasn't home for Thanksgiving so Mom created her own recipe and wanted me to taste it to make sure it was as good enough for giving. She was sitting there at my table and just looked so pretty to me I wanted to take her picture. My mom is a beautiful woman - not only on the outside but so much so on the inside. She was telling me all about the party and some of her plans for baking for Christmas. There was such a brightness about her but I'm not sure if I captured it. In the photo here she is looking at a little felt gnome I just received in the mail from luckyd and she's wearing a crocheted poppy necklace I ordered from MarianneS. (I was going to wait and give it to her for Christmas but it just looked so perfect for what she was wearing I had to show it to her). Isn't it a striking piece?
Another reason for her visit - she was letting me borrow her jewelry for a party I'm going to tonight. I've worn this set before and it always makes me feel beautiful. The set is stunning- I love the dangling earrings and choker - it's a set she has had since the 40s I think (maybe before). I don't get dressed up much so I usually have to borrow something from my mom to make the outfit. I'm lucky she's close by (maybe I can borrow that poppy necklace sometime : )
Well I need to go get ready - lots to do to make this one beautiful - glad mom brought me those earrings. -Leslye
By the way, the Spice tea was just right.

Sorry for so many solo post lately. With the holidays and school finals I'm afraid we've gotten off track. This post really should have been put on AutumnSun. It might be confusing to some. I hope that Taylor and I get back on track soon.

Friday, December 12, 2008

ever changing / good news

iphone / photobooth
I can't begin to express the beauty of the sky yesterday - all day long - from sun up to sun down - I was constantly in awe. And the full moon illuminates the room tonight. Have a wonderful weekend everyone. / yay! this makes me so happy. i did it! wow, first semester of college is complete.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

lights all a glow

solo post tonight - Nikon d40x Sigma 30mm lens

I got the lights up tonight and it looks so pretty. I think kodi enjoyed the process too. She's behaving pretty well so far - she hasn't jumped in the tree yet.
It's your last day of finals and you must feel a relief. See you soon and we'll put up the ornaments together. You can put the angel on top - I'm too short.

“Until one feels the spirit of Christmas, there is no Christmas. All else is outward display - so much tinsel and decorations. For it isn't the holly, it isn't the snow. It isn't the tree nor the firelight's glow. It's the warmth that comes to the heart” - unknown

Listening to: "A French Christmas" CD

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

warm toes / glowing cap

"camera bag" app with the holga filter on my iphone / phone pic
Taking a break from the card printing. I'm loving these relaxing evenings by the fire. Even when it's not so cold I like to build a fire. Today it has rained all day long - wishing it was snow. Kodi loves sit and watch the sparks fly and apparently something "smells" on my feet. eww. / my first secret santa at the dorm was a lot of fun. i'm so happy with the friendships i've made here and i think i'll miss them a little while on christmas break. i had planned to put up a little tree but it's too late now so this is the extent of my decorations in the room. (i got some good chocolate from my secret santa)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

waiting on you

solo post tonight - iphone pics
The decorations are coming along but I'm waiting on you to finish it up. The wreath needs fresh lemons and the tree needs lights and decorations, of course. (I'll get the lights up before you get here Sunday because I know you don't like that part). I think I got a good tree - look it's not even shedding - remember last year's tree? It smells so good and so far it doesn't seem as though kodi is bothering the tree - at least not when I'm home.      See you soon.
Listening to: We Need A Little Christmas - The New Christy Minstrels
Are you waiting on a special someone to come home this Christmas?

a helping hand

phone pics
I don't want to get in this habit of not posting every night but sometimes there are just other more important things to do. I worked (at my job) until 8:30pm and then I helped my mom with her table decorations for a church Christmas party. She had made 15 centerpiece decorations and was now working on the 50, or so, place-favor decorations. She made doili-lace origami doves for each place setting and I offered to help tie bows and glue the little green "olive branch" in the mouths of the doves. I offered my help sort of late in the game but every little bit helps I suppose. I wish I had helped her sooner - she always, always helps me. / cupcakes for secret santa party at the dorm. i know they're not very christmas-y but we had to make use of what we had.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

my little corners

solo post tonight - before / after
This weekend was very enjoyable - productive but in a very relaxing way. I took my time - doing a little here and a little there. I began the transformation process - turning little corners into scenes of Christmas. I don't go all out, covering every inch of my home in Christmas decorations but I do have little corners that I like to switch out - . I got every thing done except for the decorating of the tree. I put the tree up and will leave it that way (undecorated) for a few days to see how kodi reacts to it. We didn't have her last year so I don't know how having a cat around a Christmas tree is going to work out. I guess I'll hang all unbreakable ornaments this year. I may wait until T is home to decorate it - it would seem too lonely doing it by myself. We've always done it together.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

some treats / a glimpse

I went to Trader Joes today to get some poinsettias for the mantel and found all my favorite Christmas treats. It's not Christmas without clementines, Panettone and Lebkuchen. My brother lived in Germany for several years and he bring back Lebkuchen at Christmas time. I guess that is also when I fell in love with the original Steinbach German smokers and nutcrackers. I have a pretty good collection, but my mom has a great collection. I bought my first one when I went to Germany along with something I really treasure - a 3 tiered German carousel of the Nativity. Do you collect special Christmas decorations? / here is a glimpse of the "creative" portrait i'm finishing up for drawing. sorry for all the drawing stuff - it's just pretty much all that's going on right now.

Friday, December 5, 2008

my evening / a break

Yesterday the mailbox was stuffed to capacity with catalogs - there must have been at least 10. I enjoy looking at catalogs. So that's what I did tonight. I built a fire, made some hot chocolate, put on some Christmas music, got my blanket and sat by the fire...browsing at silver jewelry, cashmere sweaters, red leather purses, wool felted rugs, flannel sheets and treat towers from Harry & Davids.... I go through them and earmark the pages of things I like. I've always done this, leaving them lying around the house as little hints of what I like (I 'm not sure anyone else ever looks though). I don't often buy from catalogs but I love to look and dream and I ALWAYS mark the pages thinking someday I'll go back and order. One of my favorite catalogs is Sundance. I love their jewelry, everything really. Now, I did buy myself a ring with some birthday money from their catalog. Well, actually from the website. But the catalogs are a lot more fun to look at than the website wouldn't you agree? Last year, instead of buying from catalogs, or retail, for Christmas, I bought handmade from etsy. I can always find unique items there for any one I need to buy for. Where do you enjoy shopping? / taking a break from all the class work. i've been drawing like mad this week (can't wait to show you) and i've finished my english portfolio. yeah

Thursday, December 4, 2008

frosty cold / toasty warm

nikon D40x by L / iphone pic by L
I love the Christmas season - the festive lights outdoors and the glowing warmth indoors. In Frederick, last Friday, it was Frosty Friday and the shops were open late. We enjoyed browsing the streets all-a-glow with twinkling lights. It was so cold outside but to me that just adds to excitement (personally I can't imagine being in a warm climate at Christmas time). When it's cold I can dream of snow. And when it's cold outside, it makes the fire inside all the cozier. This night we walked the streets until our hands and feet were numb and then found a cozy little coffee shop along the Carroll Creek district with a warm fire that served up one of the best cappuccinos I've had in a while - or maybe it was the atmosphere, nonetheless the coffee and the fire warmed us up for the walk back finishing up a wonderful evening. / T is busy with finals - no post or photo from her tonight

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

far from home / left the nest

This was a different sort of Thanksgiving. It was one of the few that I can ever remember not being with my parents and on top of that I wasn't with my daughter either. I guess things are changing. And it's not all bad, just different. This photo was taken during my vacation to Maryland this past week and I was alone when I went on this little photo walk. Is this bird lonely and looking for warmth in this bush or about to spread her wings and fly about in this beautiful park? I had planned to post this photo at some point but when T. sent me her drawing of the empty nest I had to pair the two together today. They belong together for sure. She has been gathering her drawings from the semester to present for her portfolio and she had not shown me this one. / this was a still life set up in my drawing class - it fits our theme doesn't it mom? i may have "left the nest" but home is never far away and unlike birds, i will return. it was nice being at home for several days this past week and i'll be home again soon after finals.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

reflections in nature / reflection of self

At times it can be enlightening and empowering to take just a few moments to reflect on ourselves

I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted. I have missed you all - truly. I hope that every one had a most wonderful Thanksgiving.
As some of you know, I traveled to Maryland this Thanksgiving and visited my older brother and his family. The drive is a long one but it was a wonderful time. Frederick is a town with a lot of Civil War history and also home to many wonderful and unique specialty shops and art galleries. When I first planned this trip I thought that I would be there on their First Saturday Gallery Walk. On this day the galleries are open late and they serve up hot chocolate or mulled cider in many of the shops. But I was there for their famous Frosty Friday - a day when the shops are open late and there is a special arrival of Santa Claus at the local toy store. My niece and nephew (twins who turn 8 on Christmas Eve) look forward to this every year - they use this day to do their secret santa shopping and I got to be a part of it this year. It's so much fun to be with young children during the Christmas season - there is excitement and wonder in their eyes and voices. The Santa that arrived that night was of course not the real one, they knew that, but we saw the real one on Sunday night. I will have to tell you about it. I believe.
On Saturday I shopped by myself and walked around the park. It was such a beautiful and crisp day. I really have to say I enjoyed being along and taking my time - reflecting on what the weekend had meant to me - there had been a few ripples but overall everything went smoothly with a clear picture of love and gratitude / another self portrait. this one is for my drawing class and i'm pleased with it although i'm not sure this phone pic does it justice - i feel like i captured my eyes pretty well. do i look deep in thought?
i had such a great time at home last week being with family and friends but this week i will be very busy with finals and all - i'll do my best to help with the blog but forgive me if i miss a day.


The photos on the left are taken by me, Leslye, the mother. The photos on the right are taken by my daughter, Taylor – unless otherwise noted. Comments are always welcome. thanks
If you care to visit, I, Leslye, have another blog - AutumnSun where I ramble around different paths and pleasures of my own.