How I Got Here

December 3, 2009

There are so many things about Rhythm of The Home that have brought Bernadette and I joy in the last few days, but for me, one of the best has been the emails that you have sent with so many different questions, comments and stories. I really have cherished each one, and we will be spending the coming days answering each individually.

There have been a few questions that have been asked by many of you, so I thought that I would try and answer them here,


I have been asked by many of you where the wooden church is from the pictures in the Cranberry Celebration. The church was given to me by my grandmother when I was very young, and there are no markings on it at all, so I have to assume that it was handmade.


The inside of the church is my favorite part, as there is a wooden angel who sits atop a stool playing the organ (which moves as the music is playing). The church sits on my mantel during the holiday season, but during the rest of year has a special place next to my other favorite music box.


This box has been close to my heart, I think mainly (besides the craftsmanship, of course) because I love to sit and wonder if my dad, who gave me the box, knew how much I would love art when I grew up. I was given this box as a pretty young child, and there is something about sitting down and listening to it that makes me feel connected to the girl inside of me who still sits on the floor and paints till her hearts content. My dad brought it back from Europe on one of his many business trips, and I hope to pass it on to my own children some day.

Many of you have asked me about the Cranberry Butter that I mentioned in the Cranberry Celebration as well. The butter recipe, and the story behind it, feeds well into perhaps, the most asked question that I have received over the past few days, which is what inspires my creativity and my time in the kitchen.

I asked my mom yesterday where her recipe came from for Cranberry Butter, and while she couldn’t remember where the original recipe was located, she pointed me towards three cookbooks that have been passed down to me over the years. I went to my kitchen and gathered the books up, and sat on my bed looking through each one, and a flood of memories began to come rushing back.

When I was 6, my mom and dad moved me from Boston to suburban Chicago. To me, my new home felt like pure perfection. It was on a quiet street, with lots of old trees, and we had a big back yard. I remember when the moving van pulled in, the pots of coffee began to arrive from the ladies on our street, and with it their sweet rolls, coffee cakes and casseroles. The stream of families that visited us over that first week was amazing. I spent eight of my best years in that home, on that street, and those original families who stopped by became an almost constant part of my days.


My mother was active in three places during our time in Chicago; The League of Women Voters, The PTA, and the Lincolnshire Garden Club. The recipe books that my mom had given me were all from the Garden Club women who had meticulously cataloged their most cherished family dishes. Garden Clubs and Junior Leagues are not something that I have ever been a part of myself, and to be honest, have little or no real understanding of. I do, however, remember the hundreds of times that they gathered in my home, or the homes of friends when I was growing up. I remember the smell of coffee and cookies, and sweet breads that they brought. I remember the smiles on their faces when someone raved about their treats. I remember the Holiday decorations that they put up over our town, and how I thought that it had to be the most beautiful place on earth. I remember their food and clothing drives, and their Halloween haunted house, but one thing that I have no recollection of is anything ever related to a garden, which I still find to be odd, considering that they were, in fact, a garden club.

So, I suppose that one answer to the question of how I got to this place in my life would be from those women who gathered together every week and drank coffee and ate cookies and laughed a ton. My mother wanted much more for me than to sit in my family room with women and do the same, and my parents provided me with an opportunity for a wonderful education, and a chance to do anything in the world that I wanted. After all of my years of school, I hope that I didn’t disappoint them by still being the artist on the floor who paints, the girl in the kitchen who bakes, and the woman with the knitting circle who loves coffee and a good sweet bread with girlfriends. There is no more that I could want, and I am grateful to those women who taught me the value of community, of food and of laughter.


I was never able to find that original recipe for the Cranberry Butter, but here is the version that has been in my home for a very long time .

Cranberry Butter

1/2 cup of softened butter
2 tbsp. of homemade cranberry sauce
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp of orange zest
(if using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt before mixing)

Mix all ingredients together until well combined and serve

Julia is hosting a wonderful Creative Book Exchange that I am so excited to be participating in, and sign-ups are still open. Both Julia and Nicola also have awesome giveaways this week that can’t be missed! Have a wonderful day

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Hip Mountain Mama December 3, 2009 at 4:48 pm

I love getting together with friends…there is nothing I enjoy more (as you know!)! I am trying to create a community of Mamas out here where I live by starting a monthly get together. Can't wait to get together with you and your family some time soon!
Suzy

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healing hillary December 3, 2009 at 4:59 pm

i am so loving rhythm of the home. what a joy it is bringing to my little live.

i look forward to trying the cranberry butter. thanks for sharing your wisdom.

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Julia December 3, 2009 at 5:06 pm

You answered so many questions that I had, but didn't want to bother you with related to the magazine…so thanks for this post. I really enjoyed the history behind your sweet things. I really love the magazine.

Also, thanks for the nudge with the creative books exchange.

Hugs, Julia

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Stephanie December 3, 2009 at 6:25 pm

The cranberry butter sounds delicious! I have often felt that I found my dream job… a stay at home mama, baker, crafter etc… and I don't even have to leave my house!

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Valarie December 3, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories with us. That little church is just too sweet. As always I'm indebted to you for the recipe. I have more cranberries hanging around than a bog. Now I'm off to go make some butter. Have a great day.

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RunninL8 December 3, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Hey there from Alaska! I am LOVING your blog! Beautiful photos and inspiration! How wonderful to have such a whimsical music box that was handed down. SO special!
I’ve been discovering a lot of new (to me) blogs and it’s been wonderful to find so many like minded people!
Feel free to drop by my blog as well. I’ve been enjoying posting more prolifically lately- Advent/holiday gift ideas, recipes, insights and tutorials. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.mountainpulse.blogspot.com/
Off I go to peruse more of your blog….The butter looks yummy! -Happy holidays!

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Kelly December 3, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Okay, silly question here – is the cranberry sauce that it calls for just cranberry relish (like from Thanksgiving)?

Thanks for answering the questions!!

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Shivayamama December 3, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Hey Kelly, yes it would be. We make a whole cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, which is just basically cranberries, orange zest, sugar and water that is reduced down to a thicker sauce consistency. That is what I use to make the butter, and it becomes very spreadable with the butter. You could really use any kind of sauce that you make.

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Kim December 3, 2009 at 9:31 pm

I remember that book, my mom had it too!!! Thanks for writing about it. It brought back memories :) You are lucky to still have your moms!

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Shivayamama December 3, 2009 at 11:59 pm

I am glad that you are liking it. Let me know what you think of the butter

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Shivayamama December 3, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Of course!

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Shivayamama December 4, 2009 at 12:00 am

I feel the exact same way.

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Shivayamama December 4, 2009 at 12:00 am

Please tell me what you think about it, and I hope that you enjoy

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Lisa Q December 4, 2009 at 2:20 am

beautiful post Heather…how powerful our childhood memories are. Makes me realize I need to continue to be purposeful about creating good memories for my kids so that they'll look back and see from where they're from. Your blog and magazine are just beautiful…you're leaving a wonderful legacy to your children…thanks for allowing us to share!

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Rebecca December 4, 2009 at 2:21 am

Thank you for the cranberry butter recipe. My grandma made me pancakes with maple syrup and cranberry butter when I was a kid, and this brought back a lot of nice memories

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nicola December 4, 2009 at 4:52 am

i am not one of the readers who has already written an email about your new magazine, so let me praise you and bernadette here. it is absolutely lovely. what a perfect season to start with. the magazine exudes cozy, lovely warmth, and it is so clear how much of each of you (and contributors) are brought to the articles. this post simply reinforces that. it feels like we get to share in some of your family traditions and that is just lovely.
nicola
http://whichname.blogspot.com

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Marina December 4, 2009 at 5:26 am

Oh my, Heather, what a lovely childhood to reminisce about! I think your parents provided you with so many wonderful opportunities so you can find out what exactly is it that brings you your bliss, and they must be joyful to know you have found it as a mother :)

I am loving Rhythm of the Home and am so grateful for your talent in creating it!

Have a wonderful weekend!
Marina

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larissa December 4, 2009 at 5:51 am

I feel the same way Heather – I love baking, sewing, knitting and spending the days with my kiddos. My immigrant parents worked long hours to provide the best education for me and my sisters. Some days I feel i've disappointed them when i left my 'fancy office' job – but my life truly couldn't be happier. and i'm sure that's all they've ever wanted for me. Thank you so much for sharing your childhood memories with us.

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geek+nerd December 4, 2009 at 12:31 pm

What a wonderful post. I got all warm and fuzzy reading it! My sister has a music box, in the same style as your little girl one. Her's has a little girl on it too, wearing a kerchief I believe.

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Chelsea December 5, 2009 at 2:29 am

I'm wondering what Chicago suburb it was…? I lived in Evanston for 4 years just before moving west! Chicago holds a very dear and warm place in my heart. +Chelsea

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