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Monday, December 24, 2012

Maxwell-Concklin Christmas III

I feel so lucky to say that this is my third Christmas with John. In a way, it's our fourth together, because he was the first person I heard from, via text message, on Christmas morning 2009. That was before our first date, and I remember being really excited it. :) 

I've told you about our tradition of having a private celebration before we leave town to be with family, which is one of the best ideas we've ever had. The photo above is a card John gave me, which was perfect. I was in tears before the first gift was opened. He's also gotten especially good at making our favorite drink, pictured below. 

We had said cocktails, let Herbie annihilate his stocking, and baked a wheel of Camembert with sun-dried tomatoes. We exchanged gifts before cooking Halibut in a Shallot Caper Vinaigrette and opening the wine. It was romantic and wonderful, and I already can't wait until next year. 

I'll be taking a few days off this week to be with family and friends, but meanwhile, we wish you a beautiful, cozy Christmas with the people you love most!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

(More) Little Holiday Moments and Tips

Part of me doesn't want this week to end, because once Christmas arrives, everything is gone in a flash. The little moments are what I'll miss. Herbie's obsession with his stocking, our tradition of baking together, and these secret chocolate chip cookies. I suppose the challenge will be to make little moments in the plain old normal, busy days that don't feel so magical. These two certainly make that easier.

Some holiday things:

We're having this baked Camembert tonight as part of our (private) Christmas Dinner.

I made these Apple Cider Caramels via Smitten Kitchen, and they're amazing. 

For your after dinner drink, a Cardamom Fashioned.

The best place to order beautifully designed gifts using wedding photos, Pinhole Press.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to Make Hot Mulled Cider

If you're anything like me, this illustration from Lisa Congdon captures everything you're feeling this week leading up to Christmas. I feel like I've been waiting ages for Private Christmas, which is finally here (tomorrow). We can't wait. We're also excited about the Bubblies and Big Reds Tasting at The Community Tap tonight. On Friday, it's off to Atlanta to begin family celebrations. Are you celebrating this week, or do you save it for the 25th?


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sandy Hook

It's hard to know what to say about Sandy Hook.

I can't stop thinking about the children, and I'm sure you feel the same. Somehow, more than any other recent tragedy, it feels like we're all in this together. We're all grieving, and we're all brought to tears by each child's photo. We are all heartbroken to imagine the terror those sweet faces experienced in their last moments, and the unimaginable, gaping loss surely felt by their families.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why blog?

I've asked myself many times why, and if, I should blog. What an egocentric pursuit, I tell myself. Flee to the Cleve started as a creative outlet when I left opera - and a way to document an exciting, spontaneous move to Cleveland. There was a lull while I was planning our wedding, but it remained a place to record moments in our little family's life that would otherwise be forgotten.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How to be cool (Keep hope)

Downtown City Lights - New York City Street Abstract 8x12 Photograph

My heart is so heavy today with thoughts of the children and families touched this morning in Connecticut. I feel so helpless, but I wish glimmers of hope for them all.

Carefree summer, and a bit haunting.

How to be cool. (Keep hope)

Math of relationships, because it's not always rosy and laughter is crucial.

As much as possible in this time of mourning, enjoy your weekend,


Thursday, December 13, 2012

What is Marriage: He's predictable and I'm not.

Earlier this week, I read somewhere that kids thrive on regular schedule and routine. I immediately felt a little alarm go off when I remembered that consistency is not my strong point. In love and support, sure, but in scheduling and daily activity? No way.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Inspiration: We Took to the Woods

In the spirit of little holiday moments, I have to tell you about my recent trip to We Took to the Woods. You may have seen them on the Garden and Gun Blog last month. These photos were taken by the owner's daughter (see the rest here), and they capture a bit of the ambience, but really, you have to visit. Upon arrival, you see rows of fresh wreaths on wooden benches in front of the shop. The one pictured above was my favorite.

Entering invites delightful woodsy smells to overtake you, and suddenly you're enticed by candlelight to stay a while, have some cider, never leave. There are plaid blankets and wall hangings, antique ornaments and Mast Brothers Chocolates. There are beautiful antique decanters and carefully selected letterpress stationery. The owners are there, and they want to talk to you, get to know you, adding to the already palpable sense of warmth. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dogs Driving for Your Weekend

You absolutely must start your weekend with this. It's given Herb so many ideas.

Rescue dogs driving cars.

From Herbie (and me) to you, have a wonderful weekend!


Other posts:

5th Graders: Highlight of my week


Until everyone we love is safe is what you said. I worry a lot; you know this. Lately I've been worrying that John will be in a wreck, for no good reason other than the fact that he's been on the road more frequently, driving home after long days and late night orchestra gigs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What is Marriage: Texting Started it All

Yesterday was December 4th, one of the three dates John and I place on a little memorial pedestal. We have both described how we met, and I've mentioned some of the circumstances that paved the way for our marriage. December 4th, though, was like the seal on a secret, hopeful little package we were putting together piece by piece.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Day I Met My Match

Herbie's first days at home

My dog is a mini me. I don't know if I knew that the second I saw him or if it happened later, but I think it was the first. After visiting every shelter in Baltimore County in August 2009, it seemed impossible to find a dog that was an acceptable size for my tiny apartment. That apartment was amazing, by the way, on the corner with a view, and incredibly peaceful. At the shelters, there were so many boxers and pitbulls. Some of them broke my heart, but they wouldn't have had the room they needed with me, plus let's just face it, I wanted a living, breathing stuffed animal. One day I was visiting the Balt City SPCA for the 10th time, and there was a new dog, a small one: mangled, terrified little Herbie with huge eyes and a teddy bear face. Love at first sight. Really. We looked at each other and knew. There was an understanding. He said I think you could love me and I said yes I could. He had literally just arrived, been given up by his owner, and he was windswept and disoriented to prove it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

5th Graders: Highlight of my Week

At Governor's School last week, I did lots of things. Somehow, though, the highlight was a crazy group of 5th graders who visited campus. I wasn't exactly dreading helping with the event, but it wasn't on the list of things I was looking forward to, either. When they arrived, we got them off the bus, let them use the bathroom, and corralled them in a lobby to regroup.They were given a choice between music, visual art, and dance, and the music kids were told to stand next to me. I was ambushed and noticed right away that personal space was not a priority. Somehow I didn't mind, though; I kind of felt like Mother Goose (was it her?) with the huge skirt hiding lots of happy children. Plus, they didn't have that weird smell yet that 5th graders get after recess.

Right away these kids had questions and energy. So many questions and so much energy. They were incredibly bright. I've spoken to many groups of 8th graders about Governor's School opportunities, in big groups and small groups and one-on-one. The 5th graders' questions were way better. They were more enthusiastic and willing to think outside of whatever box gets put around us in middle school.

We all know that middle school is rough. What happens, though, to make us start judging one another constantly? Then we are afraid to be so bold with our questions, it's harder to think outside the acceptable box, and we make sure, in any situation, that our enthusiasm is dulled just enough to avoid criticism. Those habits seem to stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Maybe 5th graders have the answer: fewer filters and more happiness.

Happy Monday,


The monkey is by Sharon Montrose from 200x200. He seems like a 5th grader.
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