Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Frosty Fun

If you live anywhere in the northern half of the United States, or in many parts of Europe and the United Kingdom, you may be quite tired of hearing the word "snow" by now. It's only the end of December and the winter precipitation level has already been overwhelming in these areas. Trying to look on the bright side, keep in mind that spring officially begins in only a little over two-and-a-half months. And I've already started to receive seed catalogs from the garden supply companies, so warm weather can't be too far away. Too optimistic, you say? We have still got to endure January and February's cold blasts of arctic air and blizzards of the frozen, wet stuff falling from above. Well put down your shovel and have a cup of hot cocoa while we take a look at the fun side of snow (yes, there really IS a fun side!).

That first white coating of snow is lovely, especially when the frosty landscape twinkles magically in the sun at the end of a storm. Snowflakes are made of single or multiple ice crystals: water molecules frozen in a hexagonal lattice configuration. "The six-fold symmetry of snow crystals ultimately derives from the six-fold symmetry of the ice crystal lattice." ( The patterns seen in snow crystals form as water vapor in the clouds condenses into ice. These patterns start out as small, hexagonal prisms, but they branch out into more complicated shapes as they grow. The basic categories of snow crystal shapes are columns, needles, plates, dendrites, columns with plates, and irregular. For a glimpse into the beauty and varied shapes of snow crystals, visit A Guide to Snowflakes at

from Chris1

The phrase "white as snow" is somewhat of a misstatement, for snow crystals are actually clear like plain glass. It is only when they are piled together that the multitude of reflective surfaces of many crystals reflects some light back towards our eyes. This reflected light represents the whole spectrum of colors, so when they all combine, the effect is white. In some cases, when the snow is very thick, some of the light bouncing off the crystals is absorbed on its way out to the surface. Since more red light is absorbed than blue, some of this blue spectrum light reaches our vision giving the snow a bluish cast, as in glaciers or on mountain tops. (

Most snow crystals are only about half an inch wide, though, if weather conditions are right, they can reach up to two inches in size. The "fluffiness" of snow is determined by the air temperature, with 15 degrees Fahrenheit being optimal for fluffy flakes; temperatures closer to 0 degrees affect crystal structure making crystals smaller and more able to be closely compacted, thus increasing the density of the snow when it is very cold. New, undisturbed snow is a very good insulator because it is composed of 90-95% trapped air amidst the lattice structure of the packed crystals.

Snow is not only a crucial source of water for our local supplies, but it also acts like insulation for plants during the cold winter months. "Skiers and adventures lost in the winter can survive by making a snow cave, providing shelter from the colder air and wind. The temperature within the snow cave can provide refuge from winter’s chill." ( Beyond the environmental impacts, snow provides us with many opportunities for fun and sport, like skiing, snowboarding, sledding, sleigh rides, and the ever-popular snowman building! I am sure many of us can remember childhood snowball fights, building snow forts, and creating the ultimate snowman (only to watch him melt, sadly, as the temperature went up). According to Guinness World Records, the largest snowball ever made "measured 6.48 m (21 ft 3 in) in circumference and was rolled by students of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, USA on 10 February 2006." ( "The largest snowball fight was achieved by 5,387 participants, organised by Jong-Gi Park (Republic of Korea), the Mayor of Taebaek City, at the 17th Mt. Taebaek Snow Festival Main Event Hall, Mt. Taebaek, Gangwon-do, Republic of Korea, on 22 January 2010." (

Although some year-round animal residents may be adapted to snowy conditions, wildlife survival is more difficult when the snow is deep. Ground dwellers, like foxes and porcupines, expend a lot of calories wading through snow to get to food sources, which become more scarce in the winter. In areas that do not usually get much snow, native wildlife may have a very difficult time adapting to unusual weather conditions. The distribution of certain bird populations is affected not only by the availability of food sources, but by the depth of snow fall. If you have a bird feeder or two, make sure to keep it clean and well stocked during the winter months. Platform feeders and birdhouse-style feeders attract different types of species than do tube feeders. If you can, have one of each style, plus a suet holder. The fat in suet provides concentrated energy to help birds survive freezing temperatures. For a guide to feeding birds in the winter, see

Every state in the U.S. has experienced snow, even Florida and Hawaii. Although New York and Michigan can boast that they have multiple cities in the top ten snowiest cities in the lower 48 United States, it is actually  Blue Canyon, CA, in the Sierra Nevada mountain range that ranks in the number one spot with an average annual snow fall of 20 feet. However, when Alaska is included, Valdez, AK, takes over the top spot on the list with an average of 27 feet of snow per year. ( Be glad that you don't have to shovel snow in Valdez! Even so, make sure you bundle up in layers and keep skin well covered when venturing outside into the snow, whether for work or play.


Still not a fan of snow? 
I hope this little poem by Robert Frost will help change your mood. 

Dust of Snow
by Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
Enjoy the beauty of the snow crystals! 
Little Winter Tree Original Watercolor ACEO 
by Colours and Textures

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In the bleak mid winter …

A lovely carol for this time of year with meaningful words.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Beautiful words! Many of us are experiencing not only a bleak spell of weather with plenty of snow/ice on the ground and a cold north easterly but also, a bleak time of year. So many trials and tribulations have affected those of us in the team with regard to personal situations due to unfortunately circumstances, often beyond our own control. And yet, there is hope! It is especially at this time of year that we want to look around us to find that even though our own situation may be dire to us, there are always those who are less fortunate who really need our love and support. This is why our BBEST team works so well. We are here to love, support each other through thick and thin. Comfort in times of stress and rejoice in times of jubilation.

We need to take a few minutes from our busy schedules to remember what we are celebrating at this time of year and reflect on our own lives.

I am not especially a religious person but do feel it is so important to stop every now and again to give thanks for what I have and for the wonderful friendship I have found thanks to the internet and a wonderful group of caring folk who make up the BBEST team.

Christmas Star ACEO by Sixsisters

Almost everyone loves the first snow. It is so quiet and the air is
clean and the sky is bright. On this particular night a
young boy sees a star that he is sure is the Christmas star.


Christmas Baby Red Baby Booties by Magdalene Knits

This adorable little red Mary Janes would be perfect for your little infant girl to wear on Christmas Day!


Folk Art Wood Houses by Herons Treasures

Adorable houses to line up on your mantel, under your Christmas tree, or perfect to accessorize your train set.


White Angel Sweet Fairy Earrings by PixieMarket


Holiday Scarf by BagsandmorebyPam

Won't your large dog look smashing in this red neck scarf trimmed with two snowflakes and a matching edging?


Nativity Scene by JillsTreasureChest


Green Poinsettia Ring by ZudaGay

This lovely ring features a sculpted flower on an adjustable ring base.


Hand Crochet Tree Skirt by StitchesbyJulie

This is a great tree skirt that you will use for years and years.


A wonderful collection from a wonderful Team, thank you!

Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jolly Old St. Nicholas

Christmas is such a memory filled time for me! I remember singing carols in the car with my parents and grandparents - and for some reason we were always going somewhere through the cold dark winter evenings. To visit friends, to have cookies and hot chocolate, to share presents, to watch the "living nativity" scene at the church, to see the houses all decorated with lights. Do you know the Jolly Old St. Nicholas tune?

Jolly Old St. Nicholas lean your ear this way!
Don't you tell a single soul what I'm going to say:
Christmas Eve is coming soon; Now, you dear old man
Whisper what you'll bring to me; Tell me if you can.

When the clock is striking twelve, When I'm fast asleep
Down the chimney, broad and black, With your pack you'll creep
All the stockings you will find Hanging in a row
Mine will be the shortest one, You'll be sure to know

Bobby wants a pair of skates, Suzy wants a sled
Nellie wants a picture book, Yellow, blue, and red
Now I think I'll leave to you What to give the rest
Choose for me, dear Santa Claus; You will know the best.

Oh, my grandmother always emphasized those last two lines - and oh, how that made me want to be just like the singer of the tune. Trusting in Santa, never asking for what I really wanted. I thought that the only way to be truly good and sweet was to never ask for anything. Of course, I was only little and bound to disappoint, and my Christmas Lists were always long letters filled with dreamy big toys that I mostly didn't get - but I learned that it was ok to dream big, and that giving is honestly as wonderful as getting - many times even more wonderful.

As we come into the holidays I find that I appreciate more and more the gift of family time and the great tradition of giving that we are fortunate to share. Today, at our house, we celebrate St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) with little gifts. We talk about how St. Nicholas lived a tradition of giving, and that he gave in secret. We chose names and then do secret things for each other all through the month, to teach our littlest ones the joy of simple gifts and simple giving. For example, last year several times during the month the cat litter was clean when I went to clean it, and sometimes the dishwasher was unloaded. One evening I even found a pretty neat hand made bookmark on my pillow. On Christmas Day I learned that my grandson had been my secret "St. Nick!"

Joy in giving and graciousness in receiving are two of the wonderful things we experience all through our lives, but these seem to have more focus during the holidays. I rejoice in these gifts whenever they occur, but like many of us, I absolutely love the opportunity to renew family traditions and spend time with loved ones. Our BBEST team members have created some wonderful goodies that really make sharing the time honored traditions at my house even more wonderful, allowing us to enjoy the moments for -

Playing games,

Making cookies & sharing treats,

Making gifts,

And sending Christmas Cards - every year our list gets longer!

I hope you all have time to enjoy yourselves this holiday season, and wish each of you much success and good days the whole new year through!

And psssst! St. Nicholas, if you really must know, these have stolen my heart. :)

Ruby Heart Earrings from MagdaleneJewels

Happiest of Holidays to you all!