Christmas tree - felt snowman ornament

The Snow Plow and the Christmas Tree

The Snow Plow and the Christmas Tree

Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 2
Week 49: December 3, 2022

While Miriam and I are home decorating the Christmas tree, the snow plow operator braves winding mountain roads that hug the side of the mountain. Samuel is a grader operator for our county’s road department. This is a lead position that involves organizing a crew during summer months for road-building and regular maintenance such as resealing worn roads with rock and oil, known as “chip seal” and grooming road shoulders, among other tasks.

In winter, work turns to clearing snow from roads at the south end of the valley we live above. Visual markers like lines, signs, and shoulders are often obliterated by feet of snow, so Samuel goes by memory. It is hazardous work that often does not allow time for breaks.

Praying for a white Christmas presents a quandary because it means Sam will have to work. He ends up working most Christmases and our celebrations have to be flexible.

The Cat grader Samuel operates was purchased new 7 years ago. In winter, he has to chain up before plowing. Chains for grader tires are heavy.

Living dangerously holding “the cat.” Notice leather gloves.

Decorating the tree

My daughter Miriam and I enjoyed a lovely evening decorating the Christmas tree together. With old-time Christmas carols and hymns playing softly, we unwrapped memories along with decorations.

I still have my very first ornament: a red reindeer with a bell and one eye missing. And the ceramic ornaments my mother painted by hand: a little German girl and a Christmas tree.

Rather than purchasing an ornament for my children each year (nothing wrong with that) I made one for each of them. Cheap, sturdy acrylic felt, tiny beads and sequins, polyfil, and lots of hand stitching late at night yielded snowmen, mittens, ballerina girls, nutcrackers, bells, doves, carolers, lollipops, and Santas with a bag o’toys.

I even created ornaments in memory of favorite pets, including kitty cats and ducks that my children found comforting. Oh, the hours of fun I spent making these! I made some for myself, too. The Santa mouse ornament seems especially appropriate as we have so many mice at Chocolate Box Cottage!

What fun it is to recall Christmases past and re-tell the family stories. So thankful to have one child out of five nearby.


I baked 4 dozen Matrimonial Rolls for an event that was canceled, so it is soup, salad, and rolls for dinner for a week! Not a bad thing.

The recipe for Matrimonial Rolls is available in three versions, tailored to three mixers: KitchenAid Artisan, Bosch Universal, and Ankarsrum Assistent.

Wood stove

Early morning, Samuel puts the wood stove to use thawing a loaf of frozen homemade Old Fashioned Buttermilk Bread.

We use the wood stove to warm blankets, melt beeswax for salves and making beeswax wraps, thaw frozen foods (on a cookie sheet), melt crystallized honey, and cook – even though it’s not technically a cook stove. I’ve learned to work with it and produce some wonderful soups, stews, hot beverages, broth, beans, and more.

Beef stew on the wood stove
Beef and vegetable stew on the wood stove

Curious and eager to learn to use your contemporary wood stove to cook? Read my 10 Tips for Cooking on a Modern Wood Stove and get started right away!

Studying herbal medicine

Winter is a good time to study. The garden is quiet and attention is focused indoors. I dusted off my herbal study materials. I am so looking forward to diving back in! Here is a link to the course of study I am involved in and highly recommend.

The index of modules for the course is 6 pages long. Each module includes printable handouts that can be saved electronically to your computer and/or printed out and added to a notebook as I do. 

I learn better when I take notes, so I also keep a couple of spiral notebooks and as I watch and listen, I take notes. This is where the real learning and thinking take place, for me. It depends on your learning style.

Doc Jones shares his proprietary herbal formulas throughout the course. You will see that each herb studied has multiple applications, which is really exciting. It means you don’t need to keep 100 herbs in your apothecary. A reasonable number of herbs will cover many bases and that number depend on the particular health issues you are addressing in yourself and your family. The fact that he shares his tried-and-true herbal formulas is rather…amazing!  I keep a 4×6 file box and jot those “recipes” down along with their pertinent info on a card and file it. 

He doesn’t just share the formulas, you learn the how and the why of applying herbs. You will learn anatomy and physiology, nutrition basics, and a whole lot of common sense applications. He really teaches his students to THINK. 

If you’re thinking this is a deep learning experience, you’re right. Many people take 2-3 years or even 5 years to complete the course because it’s not something you can just stuff into your brain. It has to be absorbed.


Advent by Anja Dunk is steeped in tradition. The reader is initiated into the realm of German winter culture, beginning with a Bunter Teller, a colorful plate of Advent biscuits (cookies), followed by children busily polishing their shoes and cleaning their bedrooms in preparation for Nikolaus – St. Nicholas Day, and Christmas Eve, the pinnacle celebration of Christmas for German households. Learn to make Zimststerne (Cinnamon Stars), Schoko-Pfefferminztaler (Chocolate Peppermint Biscuits), meringue mice, oat waffles, Apfelringe (chewy dried apple rings) to decorate the tree or your home.

Bavarian Cooking by Olli Leeb is a gem of a cookbook that opens with a stunning folk art fold-out map and calendar of holidays. Pictures of old world cooking utensils and a typical American-Bavarian kitchen stove decorated with tiny blue flowers are included. Appealing font and line art adds to the charm of the old world recipes. Many of the dishes I grew up eating are in here, or variations of them. Makes me homesick for my Grandma. The meat chapter includes all part of the animal – nothing wasted. Pages and pages of noodles and dumplings and plenty of recipes featuring seasonal vegetables and desserts both special and everyday. 

Bavarian Cooking is out of print, so I invite you to check my favorite online used bookseller. (We can both earn points toward free books!) 

Click the link and then type the name of the book in the search bar on the website when you arrive. If it is in stock, great! If not, you can create a wish list and add this title to it. They will email you when it is back in stock.

Blessings to you this week,
Michele and Samuel

Note: This post contains links to products and vendors I use and appreciate for their quality and usefulness. Some are affiliate, some are not. I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases when you use the links I provide; this does not change your price.


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