Category Archives: Nora at home

Out With The Old

There still some celebrating left to do, but Nora’s getting a jump on 2015.  Is this something you do as well?  ~Laura 

Holidays bring the bright and shiny, whether it’s tangible things or spirit. Hopefully, some of both. We had plenty around here this past week. Happy faces, friends and family, excited kids–and shiny gifts. We all have our traditions, and in our house this involves food, pajamas, a couple hours of chaos, a family picture in front of the tree, and a massive cleanup — eventually.

one more room
Top to Bottom, drawer by drawer.

I have my own tradition following the big day, and that’s the start of my full-house purge. I think of it as Reclaiming My House. Starting Christmas week — with a break for the preparations for our annual New Year’s Day open house — I start a room-by-room purge. Every closet, every drawer, every space where we’ve stuffed things through the year gets the treatment. I mean top to bottom — no space is safe from me once I get going. Which tends to make my husband a little nervous. He’s a Keeper. I’m a Get It Out Of Here-er.

There’s a lot of “how did that end up there?”, or “why am I keeping that??” I try to shovel out my office after finishing a book to clear the way for the next–mentally and physically. This is shoveling on a bigger scale to clear the way for a new year.

I’m always amazed by the amount of absolute trash that ends up pushed into a drawer. Out it goes. Some things no longer belong here, but will suit someone else — out go those things, too, to be offered to someone.

first cut
First round

Before long I’ll have bags and bags, boxes and boxes. How did it all FIT in here in the first place? A question I ask myself every year.

I’ve already started on my closet, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (And I have many friends who’ll be happy my closet got The Treatment as what was in there will now be in THEIR closets!) The Big Purge is a weekend task for me, so it’ll run through January. But when it’s done, ahhhh–my house can breathe again, and the pretty shiny things that came into it over the holidays will have their time in the sun.

As the new year approaches, I try to do the same thing with myself. Clean out the trash, Nora, in your head, in your heart. Make room for the new and shiny. It’s not as easy as tossing expired Banana Republic coupons in a Hefty bag, or letting girlfriends go through a bag of clothes, but it’s worth the effort to clear a clean path for the new year.



Cookies, kids and joy

I’m re-posting this since Word Press decided comments were not allowed the first go round.  

Nora saved her favorite part of holiday prep for last which made for a joyful and noisy Saturday. Enjoy!  ~Laura 

Yesterday was cookie-baking day, and we had ourselves a marathon.

Grandkids and friends of grandkids piled in the kitchen or scattered around the house make lots of joyful noise. I should add my dogs were in heaven all day long, not only did they have all the playmates they could handle but they got a new automatic pet feeder which they absolutely love!

We made a double batch of chocolate chip as they always prove to be the crowd favorite–and this year was no exception. Snickerdoodles because not ab004 - Copyonly yum but who doesn’t like to roll dough into little balls then roll the ball around in cinnamon-sugar? And our traditional painted sugar cookies.

I have plenty of holiday cookie cutters, so we have snowmen, trees, stockings, angels, stars and so on, plus ninjas (another fave). A chaotic kitchen, which is just as it should be, while a small herd of kids paint the cut-outs and sprinkle colored sugar. Before you ask, the paint is evaporated milk and food coloring. I use the little plastic tubs that comes with Easter egg dying kits, and skinny paintbrushes.

Who says a snowman can’t be purple?cookies 2 (2)

It’s a mess. But it’s fun.

The herd goes down to swim, and BW and I finish up the painting. Swimming enhances the appetite, so the small herd fell on the cookies like young wolves and made a surprising dent before–thinking of their moms–I cut them off. Sent everyone home with a little plastic tin of cookies, and undoubtedly a sugar high.cookies!

A big, busy, fun day I hope the kids will remember as happily as I do. And this Nana crashed by nine o’clock.

Wishing you all the joyful noise of happy kids, and the fun of purple snowmen this holiday season. I can promise the combination will make your days merry and bright.



Pies on a snowy day

Nora unchained herself from the kitchen to send a holiday note.  ~Laura

For the next few days, writing takes a backseat to cooking, fussing, eating, drinking, family and friends. Traditions matter, and one of mine is making pies–two apple, two pumpkin, the day before Thanksgiving. The bird will leave no room for pie bakingtomorrow. Plus, whoever said easy as pie should never be allowed to eat a single slice. Pies–when you do them from scratch–are a lot of work, and a lot of time.

But the satisfaction of making them, smelling them cook, is worth it. Plus, eating them. I make damn good pie.

Apple and pumpkin pies
Apple and pumpkin pies

I baked mine today while the first snow of the season fell outside the windows. The first is always the prettiest, and somehow the sweetest. And since they’re now calling for about six inches rather than the threatened twelve, I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

Right now, the extra apples are quartered and simmering on the stove so I can make my mother’s signature applesauce. This I’ll do from memory and taste, as I can’t find my scribbled recipe. And making it will bring her back for a little while, and that’s a lovely thing.

photo (3)
Fall gives way to winter.

Tomorrow it’s the big-ass turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes and all the sides–and my kitchen will be my chaotic hub. But this afternoon, with my pies cooling and scenting the house, the snow falling outside to blanket my woods, it’s nice to have the quiet, and the anticipation of friends and family.

I wish you all the happiest of Thanksgivings, lovely food, sparkling wine, the warmth of friends and family gathering. And, if you’re like me, a little quiet time to count your blessings.