Christmas houses(15K)

Dear readers,

Well, I've done it again: procrastinated far too long in updating my newsletter. There are reasons for that, of course (we procrastinators always have a long list of reasons), but they're much too boring to go into.

Still, while we're on the subject of procrastination ... does anybody out there have a recipe for "Procrastinator's Fruitcake?" My mother used to make it every Christmas, mostly because the name of it tickled her procrastinator fancy. I loved it; it was loaded with apricots and nuts and NO icky green and red things. I was brought up in Chicago, so it's probably in one of your midwestern cookbooks or files of clippings. If you send it, I promise to print it out on my website. It's the least I can do to convert fruitcake haters everywhere. I think even husbands would eat this one.

If you're wondering about the charming cardboard houses strewn across our mantel in the photo at the top of this page: these tiny confections used to cost a dime or fifteen cents way-y-y back in the '40's, when people arranged them in villages under their Christmas trees. They're entirely magical, and if I had an extra wish in life, it would be to shrink myself, like Alice, and wander through them all. I've been collecting them for about a year now, the first real case of collectivitis I've ever had in my life. (Don't forget, I lived aboard a boat for a dozen years. Living in such tight quarters keeps one from gathering, and after we moved off the boat and into a house, I guess the habit stuck.)

There's a wonderful website called "Papa" Ted's Place that gives a complete history of the evolution of these dimestore houses, with hundreds of examples. Want to feel the wonder of being a kid again? Just click on this link: "Papa" Ted's Place

The past few months have been a quiet time for us. No big all-at-once summer visit by family--and we really missed it. True, we did get to load both cats on the boat and sail off to Nantucket with our suddenly available vacation time, but still. There's something about full bedrooms and constant laundry that's breathlessly intense. You miss it when it's gone.

Incidentally, the cats have adapted beautifully to sailing. They discovered a dark, hidden spot where they can hunker down together and not come out until they hear the splash of the anchor and the rattle of the chain paying out. Here's a shot of them aboard, living it up like royals.

Chewy & Tommy(22K)

THE NEW BOOK: will be out next August. The story is set on Cape Cod, one of my favorite places in New England. It's about three unmarried siblings who've gone their own ways in life, and then after their father's death re-gather to try to save the family nursery from ruin. Despite squabbles and glitches and romantic entanglements, things seem to be going okay--until the grand reopening, when an awful discovery is made in the nursery's compost pile.

A MONTH AT THE SHORE falls squarely in the vein of KEEPSAKE and A CHARMED PLACE . I like the boy. I like the girl. I hope you like the book.

Church(25K) Here's wishing everyone a wonderful holiday and a healthy, happy and peaceful new year.

Warm wishes,

Antoinette Stockenberg

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