from the ground up


Long night moon.

And in December

the Long Night Moon waits

                                             and waits

                                                       and waits

                                                                  for morning.

This is the faithful moon.

This one is your friend.

from Long Night Moon, by Cynthia Rylant

A Long Night Moon Gathering. Something we’ve been brimming with excitement about for months. An outdoor gathering complete with crisp air, twinkle lights, holiday treats, warm drinks, crackling flames, and a telescopic view of the moon.  Truthfully, the moon viewing was most spectacular the night before the actual full moon. But a fun time was had by all. And this is surely a treasure of natural reflection, during the season when our skies are so often dark.  And hopefully, a tradition in the making.


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Plant Profile: Christmas Cactus.

Our childhood home has a wonderful sunroom on the south side of the house.  In the summertime, it was HOT.  But in the winter, it was a great spot to sit with a book and enjoy the winter light, warmth and plants.  Our mom faithfully watered her houseplants, cleaned and maintained them, and many of those plants are still thriving today.   Several of the beauties that she diligently cares for are Christmas Cactus.  They were passed along from her own mother, bloomed each winter and still do.

Common Name: Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, crab cactus, holiday cactus

Latin Name: Schlumbergera species

Family: Cactaceae

Growth Requirements  Plants enjoy indirect sunlight.  In their native habitat, Brazil, they grow as epiphytes. They naturally grow in small pockets on rocks or trees. They prefer filtered light, direct sun may burn the leaves.  As a houseplant, allow soil to thoroughly dry out between watering. Keep in a warm area, free from cold drafts.

Additional information:

There are two different groups of this genera of cactus.  The first group (Truncata) has much more asymmetrical, pointed leaves.  The one featured above is in this category.  It tends to bloom earlier in the year and is often coined the Thanksgiving cactus.  The rounded leaf variety (Buckleyi) tends to bloom a little later in the calendar year and is therefore typically called the Christmas cactus.  This one is featured below.


Ever green.

The season of thick traditions is upon us. We’ve transformed our living space with our tree at the center. The sharp yet sweet scent, the prickly feel, the majestic stance of the evergreen. As we’ve done since childhood, we journey through the snow in search of our Christmas tree. And there is it, standing tall though weighted by snow. But…there is a twinge, a tug at the heart, a brief sadness as we fall that one tree. I don’t recall this feeling until well into adulthood. As a child, I only remember the rambling forest walks, the search for the one tree, then the music, the trimming and the lights. The power of memory. And so we roam the woods with our own children, marvel at the beauty of all the trees, finding it difficult to choose one among many. But it fills us up, it fills our home.

At the expense of adding more to our holiday season, this year, we started a tradition to fill a longing I’ve had for years. We also visited a local nursery and brought home a live, tender Colorado Blue Spruce. It rested in our garage for several days and is now at home inside. We’ll be able to enjoy the indoor company of this tree for just one week.  We learned that any longer will stimulate growth and decrease the survival rate after it is placed outside.

Our trees are beautiful. And it warms my heart to have the company and promise of this evergreen through the coldest (-15 F) season. We’ll bring you along, come spring, when we plant this sweet tree in memory of our tall tree standing lighted and adorned. 

Do you have a Christmas tree tradition? Do you visit the forest, a tree farm, or the local tree lot?

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Because we have enjoyed sharing thanks each month, we are recognizing a few more moments of gratitude here today.

1.  winter walks

2.  the humor of a new puppy

3.  local artisans

4.  laughing until you have the hiccups

5.  pomegranate juice and Prosecco…mmm

6.  overhearing a trio of alphabet singers, mostly alto

7.  a wind-free week

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Recipe Share: Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip

Here’s a new recipe creation from a Thanksgiving we shared together. After serving this dish as an appetizer with a variety of crackers, we decided it was worthy of sharing. And yes, this sweet, succulent swiss chard is straight out of the late, late, late autumn garden. It’s verging on winter here, and since harvesting these ingredients, the plants are finally wilted from frost. All that remains is strong, dark, ever green, ‘Blue Vates’ kale. And won’t it be amazing to harvest and eat fresh into December…keep your fingers crossed.  And Enjoy!

Swiss Chard Artichoke Heart Dip:

1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

3 cups finely chopped Swiss chard, veins removed

1 TBS lemon juice

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 tsp. sea salt

8 oz  cream cheese (1 brick)

Fresh ground pepper to taste

1 c. plus 3 TBS, low fat mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix all ingredients. If a finer consistency is desired, pulse in a food processor.
Spread into an 8 x 8, oiled baking pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until brown and bubbling.
Served with toasted baguettes or crunchy crackers.