Summer is almost here….

Even though we had our hearth lit this 6th of June due to a chilly rain spell, the forest tells me that summer will be making her arrival very shortly.

As I begin preparing new scenes for the coming winter, select dolls and items are currently available for sale.

Please stay tuned for future postings or inquire within.

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Family & Guinevere Higgs

Our family is like the branches of a tree.  We may grow in different directions, but our roots remain as one.

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When families gather and share favorite memories, a good time is had by all.

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Kitchens are made for families to gather.

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Remember to hug those you love!

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Bess reminds us that it’s in the kitchen, where the warmth of shared memories, laughter, and life, create a recipe that spans the generations.

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The secret ingredient is always love!

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There is no foundation, no secure ground upon which we may stand, that does not hold the roots of our family.

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Family isn’t always blood.  It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs.

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The ones who accept you for who you are.

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We may not have it all together but together we have it all.

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The most important time is family time.”

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And time spent with family is worth every second.”

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Forever, for always and no matter what!

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Collect things you love, that are authentic to you, and your house becomes your story. But your family is your legacy!

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Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things!

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Meet Guinevere!  The newest member of the Higgs Family.

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A family is a circle of strength and of love.  With every birth and union it grows.

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Family like sheep flock together!

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Love your family.  Spend time.  Be Kind. Tomorrow is not promised and today is short.

Many hands make light work.

 

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Jasper warms himself by the hearth on this quiet evening waiting for his beloved Hannah.

He is quite ready for bed!

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The fire is crackling and the bed looks so inviting.

 Suddenly Jasper hears someone approaching the room.

It’s Hannah at last!  But she has brought Mary with her.  What is the matter?

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Hannah paces the room in her whites.  She has been invited to dine with the Higgs, but she is not sure what to wear.  She doesn’t own any fine clothes like her friends.

Mary assures her that she will look lovely no matter what she wears.  Everybody loves Hannah just as she is.  Jasper agrees!

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Now Charlotte has joined them.

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Charlotte agrees that Mr. and Mrs. Higgs will be happy to see Hannah, but naturally she should get dressed first!   And it would be a good idea to add a quilted petticoat.

The ride to the Higgs homestead will be quite chilly.

She doesn’t want her sweet friend to catch a cold!

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Jasper inspects Hannah’s quilted petticoat.  Yes, that one will keep you warm enough.

Not as warm as the one on your bed.  You can always stay home with me.

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Hannah promises Jasper she won’t be out too late and agrees that the evening calls for another much warmer petticoat!  And a silk gown!  O dear.  What will she do?

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Jasper would prefer it if they all went to bed instead.  Problem solved.

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That lawn dress under the petticoat is too delicate for a cold winter’s eve.  Let’s look in that large trunk over there. I’m sure we’ll find you something fitting for a Higgs party.

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Jasper is happy that he doesn’t have to go anywhere.

But he wouldn’t mind it if Hannah were to bring him home some leftover meat pie.

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Hannah rummages through the trunk.  Plenty of pockets and stockings and scarves.

But just an old plain dress of tabby.

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There is her bum roll and her favorite slippers.

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She recently finished darning her warmest stockings.

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Hannah wonders if a shawl might dress up the tabby dress.

Tabitha joins the ladies and sizes up the outfit.

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Not bad.  But Tabitha thinks Hannah should wear a silk gown.

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But Hannah doesn’t own any silk gowns.  What will she do?

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Mary suggests that she borrow one of cousin Izzy’s gowns.  Izzy lives just down the path and has several silk gowns.  Izzy also loves Hannah.

Mary is certain Izzy will loan Hannah a silk gown so that she can dine in style with the Higgs!

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And Mary knows just the gown!  Just the other day Izzy mentioned it was a wee too snug.  Since Hannah is a little smaller than Izzy, maybe it will fit Hannah!

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Be back in a jiffy! Mary is off to go fetch it from her.

Friends are a blessing!

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Mary returns with a most lovely gown of plum silk.

The others agree that the color is stunning and will look perfect on Hannah!

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Charlotte inspects the gown carefully.  It is a fine frock!

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Hannah worries that it may be a little too long.

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Charlotte points to the sewing box.  There are four of us. Together we can make short work of hemming the gown!

We’ll just gently tack it up and then take it back down again tomorrow.

And Izzy won’t mind because Izzy will never know!

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Tabitha warns her not to get it dirty!

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Mary reaches for her pin ball and shears.  Time to get busy!

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Hannah is so happy to be able to wear a silk gown to the Higgs!  Mary is delighted that she could help her friend.  Tabitha thinks they had better hurry up!

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Jasper still thinks it is time for bed!

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“Good Boy”

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I can do things you cannot.  You can do things I cannot.

But together we can do great things!

-Mother Teresa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Higgs has a big idea!

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And what do we have here?

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Someone little has made a little mess.

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We have stumbled into a battlefield!

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Led by the little baby Higgs!

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Time to tidy up!

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Yet a nap would be so much better!

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sigh…but I must finish my chores.

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I feel like I’m always doing chores!

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Oh- and I must finish so I have time to read my letters!

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How can there be so much laundry?

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Little Higgs is finally asleep!  I don’t want to wake him!

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And the fire is so relaxing.

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But so many toys!

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Oh well.  The battle will still be there when he wakes up.

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Because a nap is in order!

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Yes maybe just a short nap for me!

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If you have no time to rest.  It’s exactly the right time!

-Mark Twain

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I should finish my chores.

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But I will rest and be thankful that I have a home to clean!

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Yes- sometimes the biggest ideas comes from the littlest places.

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“Flump!”

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“ahhhh”

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“ZZZZZZZZZZZ………”

There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest.  Use both and overlook neither!”

-Alan Cohen

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Yawn…There now I am refreshed!

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And ready to be back on my feet again!

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Little Higgs is still resting!

How beautiful it is to do nothing and then rest afterward!”

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I suppose the chores can wait a little longer.

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And now time to read my letters with a cup of tea!

Night is the wonderful opportunity to take rest, to forgive, to smile, to get ready for all the battles that you have to fight tomorrow! “

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

“Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius!”

I draw much of my inspiration from places like Colonial Williamsburg, Old Sturbridge Village and many other historic gems that are nestled among New England and along the eastern coast.   There is nothing like being among these little time capsules and the lush gardens and natural settings in which they remain.  Each season has its own influence over me and rather than hope for winter’s passing I cherish its splendor!  The forest is at rest and the hearth is warming to the soul.   Take a moment and enjoy it!

Kindness is like snow.  It beautifies everything it covers.”

-Kahlil Gibran

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Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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And now we enjoy a winter’s eve.

A small house may be grande in happiness if it is filled with love, family and friends.

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And a happy home includes a dog….or a few.

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Bess Higgs is wearing her new silk outfit inspired by the Baker’s Chocolate Girl of Dorchester.

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The Chocolate Girl, Jean-Étienne Liotard circa 1743-44.   Pastel on parchment.

In a letter dated 13 February 1751 from August III of Poland to his friend Pierre-Jean Mariette:

I have bought a pastel picture about three feet high by the celebrated Liotard. It shows a young German chamber-maid in profile, carrying a tray with a glass of water and a cup of chocolate. The picture is almost devoid of shadows, with a pale background, the light being furnished by two windows reflected in the glass. It is painted in half-tones with imperceptible graduations of light and with a perfect modelling…and although it is a European picture it could appeal to the Chinese who, as you know, are sworn enemies of shadows. With regard to the perfection of the work, it is a Holbein in pastel.”

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The others agree that it is very lovely indeed!

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Couture caraco and skirt by “Queen Anne Pandora Dolls & Clothes” by Raine von Hohen.

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Openings on the sides of the skirts allow for easy access to her “pockets”.

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A pinball and scissors on her chatelaine.

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Everyone is impressed.

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But Mr. Higgs just wants to eat.   As does the Borzoi.

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Isabeau’s hand sewn saque back gown was also created by Raine.

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She’ll have to show it to you another night, dinner is being served.

And it will surely grow cold quickly from the draft of the windows which still lack curtains!

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The dogs keep warm as they wait for happy accidents to hit the floor.

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Bess brings in the chickens on this cold winter night.

No creature should suffer being left in the cold.

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She is intent to spend the rest of the evening eating warm pudding with her best friend Estelle as they sit by a warm hearth!

 

 

 

Enjoy the little things…

Do what you do with love!

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Some days you just have to create your own sunshine.

I always loved dolls as a child but was pressured to give them up sooner than I wanted.  Maybe that is why now as an adult I choose to enjoy them still. Nevertheless, while it seems like I’m ‘playing’ with dolls I’m simply enjoying little works of art.  Fusing several interests into a hobby, such as my love for history, photography, decorating, fashion, antiques, and collecting hand carved wooden dolls or apprentice furniture pieces, I have found that creating these scenes is very therapeutic to my soul.  I do it simply because I enjoy it.

My taste in dolls has gravitated back in time over the years to the 17th and 18th centuries.  Even though I grew up in the 1970’s, it actually makes sense.

The one doll that I cherished most from my childhood was my Sindy doll made by Marx in 1978.  When I woke up on that Christmas morning I was hoping for a new Barbie doll.  Instead my mother (er…Santa) had discovered Sindy and for a moment I was very disappointed until I realized that she could be posed in virtually any way that a person could be.  And who could resist that brown calico prairie dress!

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And she had a house!  A “Scenesetter” is what it was called.  The girl that lived next to me had the most beautiful doll house with tiny furniture, but it was always so awkward trying to play house without knocking everything over in the process.  The Scenesetter was a delight!  It was simple by design, pieces of laminated cardboard that created four rooms in which a young girl and her friends could all play with together.  And the furniture was fabulous!

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Tiny silverware that fit in the buffet and the fancy candlesticks on the table.

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Best of all – I was the only one of my friends who had a Sindy doll!

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I still remember the stereo with a radio that really worked!

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And the lamp that lit up at her bedside!

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So it sort of makes sense that I love these tiny things and making room scenes.

But why don’t I use Sindy?  Why 18th century?

Well, I also had an uncle who collected trains and liked to make mangers out of wood.  He used to organize an annual doll and miniature show and my cousin and I would get to go and help out.  I look back on those memories with great fondness and think of him often when I am creating these “rooms”.  I was able to see and appreciate a lot of wonderful antique dolls and doll houses as well as artist made miniatures during those years.  When I got older and made a decent living, I was able to go to shows and continue to enjoy seeing and studying all sorts of wonderful things from the past.

But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really got the bug for Queen Anne type dolls and period miniatures.  I began traveling to places like Brussels, Amsterdam, and London for work and distracted myself from my homesickness by visiting the museums.

It was at the V&A that I met Lord and Lady Clapham and all of their finery!

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And of course Queen Mary’s Dollhouse!

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I was hooked!

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Dollhouses are fascinating things!  Learn about their history and miraculous healing power  by reading here or enjoy the New York Times Bestseller: “The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton (found on Amazon).

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Some day I hope to create a doll house cabinet.

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The 16th Century Dollhouse

But what does one do when one doesn’t live in London or have vast wealth to afford buying a real 18th century dollhouse or Queen Anne doll?

You improvise of course!

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Luckily I have a closet, or rather nook, in my home office that I really didn’t use very much.

My husband had made shelves for me to display my dolls and other tiny things.

But like a curio cabinet full of dolls in stiff metal stands, it just didn’t seem fun enough.

Creative Doll Display

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So I went to the local hobby store and bought balsa, basswood, and a hobby saw.  And then I searched on Ebay for dollhouse trims and windows.  I use “playscale” sized windows and “plank” sized dollhouse wood flooring.

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I used to collect Schoenhut dolls and while I just loved how they can be posed just as my beloved Sindy, they are rather large even though most of the dolls I have now are the same height at 14 and 16 inches.  Schoenhuts are chunkier wooden art dolls from the Edwardian period.

The dolls I collect now are mostly made by doll artist Kathy Patterson.

A 1:12 dollhouse scale won’t work.

Apprentice pieces and salesman samples are a great scale for them and I emulate everything else to be about a scale in which one inch is equivalent to about 3 feet.

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I didn’t want the walls to be permanent or limit myself in variety so I used foam poster board trimmed to sized and glued the basswood and balsa to it.  It’s easy and relaxing to create these.  I paint them using period colors in chalk style paint.  I make the “glass” windowpanes using clear plastic and paint them with “triple thick” to give them a wavy look.  I still need to make curtains but like any hobby this is something I do over time.

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Each “room” has a fireplace or “hearth” in the center and four sections that can be interchanged.  Each shelf is about 50″  wide and almost 20″  tall.  You can be as perfectionistic as you want to be.  I personally am not that picky.

In fact, I like that some of the scale of my little treasures is not quite perfect.  Just as the dolls bodies are not perfectly scaled, neither is their house!  But it works for my purposes.

I fill the rooms to the brim with all my tiny treasures.  And because Kathy’s dolls are jointed at the hips and knees, they can sit.  The upper arms are cloth so they too can bend. They are not quite as poseable as Sindy or a Schoenhut doll, but their faces are amusing and  their fashions are to die for!  Every tiny stitch is hand sewn and antique textiles and laces are imported from Europe to create lovely fashions.

If you are a textile lover like me, what better way to enjoy them but by giving new life to remnants by turning them into petite couture!

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Before “walls”

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After “walls”.

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This doll is an Old Pretender.

Even though space is limited, because the walls can be reconfigured-

there is no limit to the possibilities!

Enjoy!

There will be always something old in the New Year!

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Let us celebrate new beginnings!

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Martha resolves to be more Merry!

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Charlotte and Tabitha resolve to enjoy the little things.

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I resolve to make curtains!

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Mr. Higgs resolves to finish his book!

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Charlotte resolves to dance with Edward like no one is watching!

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Mr. Higgs resolves to keep a close eye on his daughter!

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We are the authors of our destinies.  On this eve, let us reflect – and release ourselves of old thoughts and beliefs and forgive old hurts. Let us be thankful for the blessings of the past and the promise of the future.

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The key to a happy heart is to be content with what you have and rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. Happy New Year!

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Edward resolves not to dance but to enjoy the cake and punch!  Hannah resolves to find the ladle.

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Come, Let us drink down all unkindness!

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and welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been!

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But let us never forget those we have lost.

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Lady Higgs resolves to have tea more often with dear friends.

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Penelope is looking forward to tea and resolves to use just a little less honey!

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Now the New Year reviving old desires, the thoughtful soul to solitude retires.

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May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions!

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The Last Dream of Old Oak

In the forest, high up on the steep shore, and not far from the open seacoast, stood a very old oak tree.

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It was just three hundred and sixty-five years old, but that long time was to the tree as the same number of days might be to us; we wake by day and sleep by night, and then we have our dreams. It is different with the tree; it is obliged to keep awake through three seasons of the year, and does not get any sleep till winter comes. Winter is its time for rest; its night after the long day of spring, summer, and autumn. On many a warm summer, the Ephemera, the flies that exist for only a day, had fluttered about the old oak, enjoyed life and felt happy and if, for a moment, one of the tiny creatures rested on one of his large fresh leaves, the tree would always say, “Poor little creature! your whole life consists only of a single day. How very short. It must be quite melancholy.”

“Melancholy! what do you mean?” the little creature would always reply. “Everything around me is so wonderfully bright and warm, and beautiful, that it makes me joyous.”

“But only for one day, and then it is all over.”

“Over!” repeated the fly; “what is the meaning of all over? Are you all over too?”

“No; I shall very likely live for thousands of your days, and my day is whole seasons long; indeed it is so long that you could never reckon it out.”

“No? then I don’t understand you. You may have thousands of my days, but I have thousands of moments in which I can be merry and happy. Does all the beauty of the world cease when you die?”

“No,” replied the tree; “it will certainly last much longer,— infinitely longer than I can even think of.” “Well, then,” said the little fly, “we have the same time to live; only we reckon differently.” And the little creature danced and floated in the air, rejoicing in her delicate wings of gauze and velvet, rejoicing in the balmy breezes, laden with the fragrance of clover-fields and wild roses, elder-blossoms and honeysuckle, from the garden hedges, wild thyme, primroses, and mint, and the scent of all these was so strong that the perfume almost intoxicated the little fly. The long and beautiful day had been so full of joy and sweet delights, that when the sun sank low it felt tired of all its happiness and enjoyment. Its wings could sustain it no longer, and gently and slowly it glided down upon the soft waving blades of grass, nodded its little head as well as it could nod, and slept peacefully and sweetly. The fly was dead.

“Poor little Ephemera!” said the oak; “what a terribly short life!” And so, on every summer day the dance was repeated, the same questions asked, and the same answers given. The same thing was continued through many generations of Ephemera; all of them felt equally merry and equally happy.

The oak remained awake through the morning of spring, the noon of summer, and the evening of autumn; its time of rest, its night drew nigh—winter was coming. Already the storms were singing, “Good-night, good-night.” Here fell a leaf and there fell a leaf. “We will rock you and lull you. Go to sleep, go to sleep. We will sing you to sleep, and shake you to sleep, and it will do your old twigs good; they will even crackle with pleasure. Sleep sweetly, sleep sweetly, it is your three-hundred-and-sixty-fifth night. Correctly speaking, you are but a youngster in the world. Sleep sweetly, the clouds will drop snow upon you, which will be quite a cover-lid, warm and sheltering to your feet. Sweet sleep to you, and pleasant dreams.” And there stood the oak, stripped of all its leaves, left to rest during the whole of a long winter, and to dream many dreams of events that had happened in its life, as in the dreams of men. The great tree had once been small; indeed, in its cradle it had been an acorn. According to human computation, it was now in the fourth century of its existence. It was the largest and best tree in the forest. Its summit towered above all the other trees, and could be seen far out at sea, so that it served as a landmark to the sailors. It had no idea how many eyes looked eagerly for it. In its topmost branches the wood-pigeon built her nest, and the cuckoo carried out his usual vocal performances, and his well-known notes echoed amid the boughs; and in autumn, when the leaves looked like beaten copper plates, the birds of passage would come and rest upon the branches before taking their flight across the sea. But now it was winter, the tree stood leafless, so that every one could see how crooked and bent were the branches that sprang forth from the trunk. Crows and rooks came by turns and sat on them, and talked of the hard times which were beginning, and how difficult it was in winter to obtain food.

It was just about holy Christmas time that the tree dreamed a dream. The tree had, doubtless, a kind of feeling that the festive time had arrived, and in his dream fancied he heard the bells ringing from all the churches round, and yet it seemed to him to be a beautiful summer’s day, mild and warm. His mighty summits was crowned with spreading fresh green foliage; the sunbeams played among the leaves and branches, and the air was full of fragrance from herb and blossom; painted butterflies chased each other; the summer flies danced around him, as if the world had been created merely for them to dance and be merry in. All that had happened to the tree during every year of his life seemed to pass before him, as in a festive procession. He saw the knights of olden times and noble ladies ride by through the wood on their gallant steeds, with plumes waving in their hats, and falcons on their wrists. The hunting horn sounded, and the dogs barked. He saw hostile warriors, in colored dresses and glittering armor, with spear and halberd, pitching their tents, and anon striking them. The watchfires again blazed, and men sang and slept under the hospitable shelter of the tree. He saw lovers meet in quiet happiness near him in the moonshine, and carve the initials of their names in the grayish-green bark on his trunk. Once, but long years had intervened since then, guitars and Eolian harps had been hung on his boughs by merry travellers; now they seemed to hang there again, and he could hear their marvellous tones. The wood-pigeons cooed as if to explain the feelings of the tree, and the cuckoo called out to tell him how many summer days he had yet to live. Then it seemed as if new life was thrilling through every fibre of root and stem and leaf, rising even to the highest branches. The tree felt itself stretching and spreading out, while through the root beneath the earth ran the warm vigor of life. As he grew higher and still higher, with increased strength, his topmost boughs became broader and fuller; and in proportion to his growth, so was his self-satisfaction increased, and with it arose a joyous longing to grow higher and higher, to reach even to the warm, bright sun itself. Already had his topmost branches pierced the clouds, which floated beneath them like troops of birds of passage, or large white swans; every leaf seemed gifted with sight, as if it possessed eyes to see. The stars became visible in broad daylight, large and sparkling, like clear and gentle eyes. They recalled to the memory the well-known look in the eyes of a child, or in the eyes of lovers who had once met beneath the branches of the old oak. These were wonderful and happy moments for the old tree, full of peace and joy; and yet, amidst all this happiness, the tree felt a yearning, longing desire that all the other trees, bushes, herbs, and flowers beneath him, might be able also to rise higher, as he had done, and to see all this splendor, and experience the same happiness. The grand, majestic oak could not be quite happy in the midst of his enjoyment, while all the rest, both great and small, were not with him. And this feeling of yearning trembled through every branch, through every leaf, as warmly and fervently as if they had been the fibres of a human heart. The summit of the tree waved to and fro, and bent downwards as if in his silent longing he sought for something. Then there came to him the fragrance of thyme, followed by the more powerful scent of honeysuckle and violets; and he fancied he heard the note of the cuckoo. At length his longing was satisfied. Up through the clouds came the green summits of the forest trees, and beneath him, the oak saw them rising, and growing higher and higher. Bush and herb shot upward, and some even tore themselves up by the roots to rise more quickly. The birch-tree was the quickest of all. Like a lightning flash the slender stem shot upwards in a zigzag line, the branches spreading around it like green gauze and banners. Every native of the wood, even to the brown and feathery rushes, grew with the rest, while the birds ascended with the melody of song. On a blade of grass, that fluttered in the air like a long, green ribbon, sat a grasshopper, cleaning his wings with his legs. May beetles hummed, the bees murmured, the birds sang, each in his own way; the air was filled with the sounds of song and gladness.

“But where is the little blue flower that grows by the water?” asked the oak, “and the purple bell-flower, and the daisy?” You see the oak wanted to have them all with him.

“Here we are, we are here,” sounded in voice and song.

“But the beautiful thyme of last summer, where is that? and the lilies-of-the-valley, which last year covered the earth with their bloom? and the wild apple-tree with its lovely blossoms, and all the glory of the wood, which has flourished year after year? even what may have but now sprouted forth could be with us here.”

“We are here, we are here,” sounded voices higher in the air, as if they had flown there beforehand.

“Why this is beautiful, too beautiful to be believed,” said the oak in a joyful tone. “I have them all here, both great and small; not one has been forgotten. Can such happiness be imagined?” It seemed almost impossible.

“In heaven with the Eternal God, it can be imagined, and it is possible,” sounded the reply through the air.

And the old tree, as it still grew upwards and onwards, felt that his roots were loosening themselves from the earth.

“It is right so, it is best,” said the tree, “no fetters hold me now. I can fly up to the very highest point in light and glory. And all I love are with me, both small and great. All—all are here.”

Such was the dream of the old oak: and while he dreamed, a mighty storm came rushing over land and sea, at the holy Christmas time. The sea rolled in great billows towards the shore. There was a cracking and crushing heard in the tree. The root was torn from the ground just at the moment when in his dream he fancied it was being loosened from the earth. He fell—his three hundred and sixty-five years were passed as the single day of the Ephemera. On the morning of Christmas-day, when the sun rose, the storm had ceased. From all the churches sounded the festive bells, and from every hearth, even of the smallest hut, rose the smoke into the blue sky, like the smoke from the festive thank-offerings on the Druids’ altars. The sea gradually became calm, and on board a great ship that had withstood the tempest during the night, all the flags were displayed, as a token of joy and festivity. “The tree is down! The old oak,—our landmark on the coast!” exclaimed the sailors. “It must have fallen in the storm of last night. Who can replace it? Alas! no one.” This was a funeral oration over the old tree; short, but well-meant. There it lay stretched on the snow-covered shore, and over it sounded the notes of a song from the ship—a song of Christmas joy, and of the redemption of the soul of man, and of eternal life through Christ’s atoning blood.

Sing aloud on the happy morn,

All is fulfilled, for Christ is born;

With songs of joy let us loudly sing,

‘Hallelujahs to Christ our King.’

Thus sounded the old Christmas carol, and every one on board the ship felt his thoughts elevated, through the song and the prayer, even as the old tree had felt lifted up in its last, its beautiful dream on that Christmas morn.

by Hans Christian Anderson