Because it made me giggle at the end of a long day, and maybe it will make you giggle, too: Pan, swinging and singing with a chicken in his lap.
Yours, with a big smile,
PS: There's still a bit of time to take a gander through our etsy shop, PAN+QUINN+MOM+DAD, before the BIRTHDAY SALE ends. If anything strikes your fancy (we now have custom order options with adult sizes!), use the discount code // MOM29 // for 20% off your entire purchase! Xxoo
Sebastian and the boys just stood in the shower for about fifteen minutes because Quinn wanted to scare me for my birthday and I thought they were working on some secret project and was trying to ignore them so it could be a surprise.
So, this is the last year of twenty for me.
I'm really okay with that.
My twenties were awesome. They were enormously hard. They were filled with adventure and learning and incredible responsibility. Big love. Big heartache. Big headaches. Big joys. This past year alone was been one of change on a bedrock level (and I thought 2013 was a doozy).
I was going through photos recently, as one with thousands and thousands of moments documented tends to do every now and then -- and that's when I really saw it. The shift in me that's happened over this past decade. It's like with the little ones, how you get so stuck in the the thick of it that sometimes you fail to see these big changes they're undergoing the way others, who may only see them every now and then, do.
In the past, I think I would have said that the one constant that is always there for us, for our family, has been our love. That is true, to a degree. But, really, the one constant that is always there for us is change.
More often than not, I push hard against it. But, lately, I've felt that softening, found that I am more pliable, shapeable, open to what may be.
And that, I think, is what I'm taking with me into the new year.
AND! Because it's my birthday, I have TWO PAN+QUINN+MOM+DAD special treats for you today!
1. We now have a CUSTOM ORDER option for four of our hat designs, which includes ADULT SIZES!
// All custom order hats will be hand knit and sent with love AFTER the holidays, in mid-January. If you'd like to give a custom hat as a gift, let us know and we'll send you a hand-drawn (digital) gift certificate! //
2. And, today and tomorrow, December 16 + 17, use the discount code // MOM29 // to receive 20% off your entire order!
// Our shop will be closed for the holidays // December 23 - mid-January // but we will be accepting and shipping orders right up til next Monday! //
PS: All photos (excluding the bottom two) were taken by my beautiful and extraordinarily generous Aunt Kim / KIM HUDSON PHOTOGRAPHY. She got me my first real camera, and lens, and answered all my many, many urgent questions (about photography and other things), and I owe a great debt of whatever photography skills I possess to her enormous talent and patience. If you're in the Kansas City area, there is no one like her when it comes to capturing a family's warmth and connection.
This I will admit: I'm a bit of an anglophile.
My dream vacation is an auto tour of the (fictional) Midsomer.
For a long time, I didn't ask this question. I wanted it only to be a pleasure I took, a small exit from my own familiar. If pressed, I would scramble at some historical reasoning -- that England is the territory of so much studied history, that that long-ago history still lives in many of its buildings and streets, recognizable, yet touchable and lived-in. It seemed, to me, a place still rooted in the past - and I have such a strong curiosity about the past (our local library has a random, meaningless question asked at the bookdrop: two slots for two possible answers. when asked whether I would time travel backwards or forwards, I would always go backwards).
But, as I've thought about it, it's so much more than that.
And I'll get to those other thoughts another time.
Today, Christmas Pudding!
We made Nigella's Ultimate Christmas Pudding last year (the idea was jostled into action by Mary Beard's column, actually), and it is such a deliciously extravagant treat, we decided to prepare it again for this Christmas.
Traditionally, the pudding gets stirred up, with everyone in the family taking a turn, on the Sunday before the first Sunday of Advent. We got to ours a bit late this year, but I'm reassured it will still be wonderful.
So, you might already know this, but the English Christmas Pudding is not a pudding in the American sense (ie, the kind that comes in a Jello box and is fed to hospital patients). This is much more of a very dense, but moist, fruit-laden cake that gets steamed rather than baked. After the second steaming on Christmas day, the pudding gets gently nudged out of its mold, doused with flaming vodka, and sliced for all to enjoy (with eggnog cream, of course).
Nigella's Ultimate Christmas Pudding
1 1/4 c. Currants1 c. Golden Raisins
1 c. Roughly Chopped Dried Plums
3/4 c. Pedro Ximenez Sherry (I couldn't find this here in the states, and used Trader Joe's Pastora Cream Sherry, which was only $4.99 and worked perfectly to soak the fruits in)
2/3 c. All-Purpose Flour
2 1/3 c. Fresh Breadcrumbs (my local bakery told me this just means crumbling up fresh (rather than stale) bread)
14 tbsp. Freshly Grated Vegetable Shortening (I used real suet last year, and it was a pain to chop finely enough; this year I used lard, so we'll see how that goes)
3/4 c. Dark Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Clove (I tend to be a bit more generous with the spices, because I like it like that)
1 tsp. Baking Powder
Grated Zest of 1 Lemon
3 Large Eggs
1 Medium Apple (peeled and grated)
2 tbsp. Honey
1/2 c. Vodka
Nigella suggests using a plastic pudding basin, but because puddings are not such a hit in the US, I had a very difficult time finding one. Last year I just used a very carefully wrapped 1.7 liter heatproof bowl. This year I ordered this mold online. It made the steaming process enormously easier.
I'm going to direct you to Nigella for the written instructions, because it's her recipe and I think she has such a playful and encouraging written voice.
What are you making in the kitchen these days??
For the past couple of years, we 've had this thing we do with the the raising of our Christmas tree. On the night we are ready to put it up, we set out our tree stand, place a special found pine cone in the center, and water it with wishes, several rounds of O Christmas Tree, and magic blown kisses. The boys send dream magic to the tree all night long, and, by morning, a beautiful tree has grown!
Sebastian has another long-running family tradition of never paying for a Christmas tree. His method involves late night stealth, a handsaw, and a loose idea of what a Christmas tree might be. This has worked fine in other places we've lived, but I don't think we quite know the lay of the land in Portland well enough yet.
So, one night of tree growing yielded a branch more meager even than Charlie Brown's. Quinn seemed willing enough to go along with it, and even added a few ornaments to the limbs that would support them. Pan, however, wasn't having it.
Sometimes, we told him, trees take a bit longer to grow. A bit more water, a few more wishes, another night of magic dreams...
We'll keep you posted.
PS: I'm totally letting that dangling Charlie Brown's dangle. It's been that kind of day.
PPS: It's also been the totally encouraging kind of day, in which we've received so many kind words and going-to-good-home hat orders in our shop -- thank you! Xxoo
Thank you so much for your kind words about our hat project!
We are very excited to get your parcels wrapped and on their way, and just wanted to remind you that today is the last day to use the discount code // PANQUINNMOMDAD // at checkout to receive free shipping on your order!
There is also still time to purchase and receive a hat via ordinary shipping methods (we use USPS Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express), if you'd prefer to wait. In order to receive your order by December 24, shipping deadlines are December 20, by Priority Mail, and December 23, by Priority Express.
I'm still working on a few new designs before the holidays, and will fill you in on their readiness as soon as they're, well, ready.
All our love and warm, gushy insides,
PAN + QUINN + MOM + DAD
HERE we are!
If you see a design you like, but not the size you need, let me know and we'll try to arrange something!
I'm working on a few more new designs to post before the holiday, as well, but wanted to open shop and settle in before we get too close to shipping deadlines (which, by the way, are December 20 for USPS Priority and December 23 for USPS Priority Express, for delivery by the 24th).
Because we're so excited to be doing this, and because good things deserve a bit of celebration, and because we love you... We'd like to offer FREE SHIPPING for all U.S. orders placed today (Tuesday, December 9) and tomorrow (Wednesday, December 10)!
Use the code // PANQUINNMOMDAD // at checkout, and we'll make sure your package is sent merrily on its way!
All our love,
PAN + QUINN + CHELSEA + SEBASTIAN
Pan, especially, considers himself an artist, and claims that's what he'll be when he grows up.
So, I thought, why not start a collaborative project now?
We bring you our family shop, PAN + QUINN + MOM + DAD (named so by Pan)!
Starting tomorrow, we will have a selection of "knitted yarn hats" (again, named so by Pan) available just in time for some holiday giving!
The hats are designed by the boys, and knit by me. The guiding glue of this collection was that the hats be "cool for kids to wear" -- bright colors and pom poms galore! It has been so fun for me to interpret their designs into usable objects, and to see how tickled they are to touch and wear something they imagined onto paper.
We're setting up shop on etsy and, with love from us to you, we'd like to offer free shipping for all orders placed tomorrow and Wednesday! Check back in then for the shop link and discount code.
It was an awesome day
The sun shone. This boy sparkled.
We got to spend most of the day alone with him, while Quinny took a little trip to Salem with his grandma.
We walked to the grocery so Pan could choose olives from the olive bar - something he's been asking for, and we told him he could do on his birthday.
We went to Sushi Land, and he was practically giddy, pulling those little plates off the conveyor belt.
He requested a banana cake, and so I spent most of the afternoon baking this one. That evening, we sang happy birthday to our boy and shared the cake with friends.
He built and built with his new tinker toys from his Kansas grandparents; he stayed up late sketching in his new drawing pad from friends.
He stood up very straight, and delcared himself taller than the day before.
He smiled almost constantly.
It was an awesome day.
He turns six tomorrow.
Yesterday, he told me that he felt a little sad to be turning six, that he really liked being five.
Five was a pretty magnificent year for him, it's true. It met many, many new friends, moved him around the country a couple of times, created space for learning awesome skills.
But, I do believe six holds incredible potential for this rad kid.
I guess we'll just have to see.
All my love,