Christmas 2020 recap

by | Jan 5, 2021 | a slice of life, Favorite Things | 22 comments

While our Christmas break was quiet and slow, it was also full.  We have spent Christmas with family some years, but it’s not out of the ordinary for it to just be the four of us, so this year didn’t feel sad or lonely.  We did miss the school Christmas concert and church staff Christmas party, but it was still a sweet season.  We ordered our yearly Christmas Eve breakfast out and ate it at home.  We had our candlelight Christmas Eve service on the sofa in our jammies.  We watched movies at home instead of going to the theatre.  We met with our family over Zoom to open presents and play games.  But we still had a wonderful time of celebration, reflection, and rest.

christmas morning 2020 | miss mustard seed

(Yes, the top string of lights burnt out just before Christmas!  Ugh!)

And Christmas morning was still a flurry of activity and excitement as the boys opened their presents.

christmas morning 2020 | blue white and green presents | miss mustard seed

Despite shipping delays and a few last-minute purchases, everything arrived on time!

christmas morning 2020 | miss mustard seed

We watched A Christmas Story with the boys for the first time, too, and they loved it.  We all laughed so hard at “Not a Finger!!”  Quoting that has become a regular thing around our house along with references to leg lamps.

We ate a lot of yummy food, too.  I went all out and made cinnamon rolls and apple pie and our usual Christmas brunch (which turned into “linner” or “dunch” because I was running behind.)

half baked harvest | cinnamon rolls | miss mustard seed

I used the cinnamon bun recipe from Super Simple (with just regular cream cheese frosting instead of the chai frosting) and they were the best cinnamon buns I’ve ever had.

no fail apple pie | white ceramic scalloped pie dish | miss mustard seed

I made my own No-Fail Apple Pie recipe because it’s Jeff and Marshall’s favorite.

As far as gifts, I mostly ended up getting spending money and I ordered some art supplies and antique things I’ve been wanting.  One of my favorite things that Jeff bought me (and I realize this is lame) is Smartwool socks!  He bought me a few pairs and they are so comfy and warm.  My office can be one of the colder rooms in the house, so it’s nice to have some warm socks on while I’m working.

smart wool socks | blue and white | miss mustard seed

Jeff also took me to Barnes & Noble to browse and pick out some books, which I did happily!

creative and interiors books | miss mustard seed

Things are what you make of them | Wabi-Sabi Welcome | Living with Pattern | Living with Color | Terrain | The Great American House | Classic Cottages

I also bought some art supplies…

unison pastels | miss mustard seed

…and fun antique boxes to put them in…

schmincke vintage pastel box | miss mustard seed

…and some handmade ceramic palettes…

sylvan clay works moon palette set | miss mustard seed

These are from Sylvan Clay Works and are just so pretty and heavy-duty.

sylvan clay works moon palette set & water cup | miss mustard seed

But, my favorite gifts are the ones a couple of my friends sent me.  When I opened them, Jeff said, “They’ve got you pegged!”

One of my sweet friends from PA sent me a beautiful mother of pearl dip pen…

antique mother of pearl dip pen | antique french letters | miss mustard seed

It is so dainty and beautiful…

mother of pearl dip pen | antique french letters | ceramic inkwell

She also sent me a lavender sachet made out of an antique napkin embroidered with my initials.

lavender sachet | miss mustard seed

And a little clasp purse made out of an antique grain sack.

grain sack change purse | miss mustard seed

And Maria of Dreamy Whites sent me a box filled with goodies wrapped in white paper and embellished with dried olive branches.  One of those was a vintage French watercolor box!  I just about cried when I opened it.

vintage french watercolor paint box | dreamy whites | miss mustard seed

It has the coolest graphic on the top of the lid…

vintage french watercolor paint box | dreamy whites | miss mustard seed

And it even has little ceramic palettes…

vintage french watercolor paint box | dreamy whites | miss mustard seed

I wanted to actually use the box, so I popped out the old watercolors and put them in a jar, and filled the wooden “pans” with professional tube watercolors.

vintage french watercolor paint box | dreamy whites | miss mustard seed

There’s just enough room for a pencil, a travel brush, and a kneaded eraser.

Maria also sent me a French ironstone berry bowl…

french ironstone berry bowl | miss mustard seed

french ironstone berry bowl | miss mustard seed

And an ironstone cheese strainer…

french ironstone cheese strainer | miss mustard seed

french ironstone cheese strainer | miss mustard seed

Jeff was laughing as I opened it.  “I never would’ve thought to buy you whatever that thing is.”  He could see my delight as I told him it was a French ironstone cheese strainer/mold.

french ironstone cheese strainer | miss mustard seed

I did end up buying a few utilitarian things like jeans and a pair of duck boots, too.

As far as what I did with my “free time” when we weren’t playing games, watching movies, or working on puzzles, I learned to knit…

beginner knitting | miss mustard seed

I have really enjoyed it so far and I look forward to learning more and making something useful!  I did make a potholder, but now I want to work on a scarf before graduating to more interesting things like hats, mittens, and socks.  I will write a blog post soon about the resources I’ve been using to learn as well as how kitting compares to crochet.

I also did a lot of creative play in my sketchbooks.  I’ll share a whole post on the sketchbooks I’ve been working on.  I’ve really enjoyed playing around in different mediums.  The sketches below are watercolor with just a little bit of white gouache mixed in to give the watercolor more body and to lighten the colors.  This is my favorite way that I’ve used watercolors and it all came out of playing around without an agenda in my sketchbooks.

watercolor & gouache sketches | sketchbook | miss mustard seed

sketchbooks | graphite portrait study | miss mustard seed

I took some art classes, too, including one with a homework assignment to paint a black & white still life.  I have to admit that I wasn’t excited about it, but I love how it turned out and I learned so much.  I’ve always been intimidated by reflective objects, but the silver baby cup was so fun to paint.

black and white still life value study in oil | miss mustard seed

And I painted a few more still life paintings and a couple more to add to the “nice view” series.

nice view number 8 |  oil landscape painting | impressionist style | miss mustard seed

One of my goals this year is to spend more time at the easel and have more consistent art sales.  It can be hard for me to fit in at times because I’m working on this blog, the podcast, freelance writing or design work for clients, stuff for the book, etc.  There’s just a lot going on and painting isn’t always my top priority, but the thing I’ve been asked about most recently is my art.  Specifically, when I’m going to teach more classes and when I’m going to sell more originals.  I’ve always viewed questions as a compass when it comes to creative work.  If a lot of people ask about it, that’s a pretty strong point in a good direction.

Anyway, I’ll share more about things that are in the hopper for this year in another post!  I just wanted to let those who have asked know that I am working on more originals and more classes!

Our whole family was a little sad as Monday was approaching.  It was time to go back to school and work.  (Well, Jeff is still taking this week off, but the rest of us were back into our normal routines.)  I was feeling ready to start sharing here again.  Because I was quiet for a while, I feel like I have a backlog of things to share!  I’m sure we’ll get to it all eventually, though.

How was your Christmas?


  1. Christy

    That mother of pearl dip pen is incredible!

    • Marian Parsons

      I know! I gasped when I opened it up, because it’s so delicate.

    • Karen

      All of your friends have excellent taste in gifts! What treasures! I especially love that you found a way to continue to use the French watercolor set!

  2. beverlee lyons

    you are blessed!

    • Marian Parsons

      I recognize that! 🙂 I am surrounded by wonderful friends and family and I am truly blessed.

  3. Patricia Kasparian

    You’ve taught me to crochet, Marian, so I’ll look forward to you also teaching me to knit 🙂

    I’m happy you enjoyed the season and the quiet that came along with this one. Happy New Year.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, wonderful! Thanks for sharing that!

  4. Sandra

    I have decided this is the year to redo the kitchen.
    Did I see you mention paint companies and paint color names you used for your bathroom and kitchen.? I need a good white
    Happy new and better year !

    • Marian Parsons

      The color is actually a gray/blue called Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore. I use it in full-strength in some rooms and 1/2 tint in others. The trim is just a bright white right out of the can (without pigment mixed in.)

  5. Monica

    What colors did you put in the watercolor box? I wanted to make a list but couldn’t make out the colors. Glad you and your family had a nice Christmas.

    • Marian Parsons

      Sure! Indigo, ultramarine, cerulean, kyanite (this is a natural earth pigment that’s a blue gray), cobalt teal, undersea green, olive green, chromium oxide, green gold, neutral tint, alizarin, burnt sienna, quinacridone gold, yellow ochre, and new gamboge.

  6. Margaret

    For your knitting i am pleased to recommend Elizabeth Zimmermann and her books and DVDs. She was all about knitting in the round (not much purling or sewing up), and using a percentage system so you can knit your swatch, take the gauge and design anything you want, and know it will fit.
    Free you from the tyranny of commercial knitting patterns, or just to use them as inspiration.
    She’s also very funny.
    Knitting Without Tears is the best place to start.

  7. Tara Schaubert

    you ought to check out felica’s site — for knitting (especially beautiful + practical knitting)
    she has a lovely perspective on making! i’ve also been a part of the soul craft festival and it’s amazing!!

  8. Melanie Arnst

    Wow! you have fabulous friends with great taste in gifts, love them all:)

  9. Lillian

    Smartwool is TREASURE!

    • Marian Parsons

      I agree! They are so comfortable and warm. They are my favorite socks.

  10. Judy from Texas

    You’ve inspired me to knit again. I learned how to knit about 9 years ago and did just a few things before “life got in the way”. After an hour of watching YouTube videos just to cast on (!), I finally got the hang of it again! Haha! Thanks for reminding me of this relaxing winter craft.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, I’m so glad! I had to practice casting on for a couple of days, but I think I have the hang of it now.

  11. Karen Juliano

    Beautiful things, all around.
    I taught beginning knitters for several years until my local yarn shop closed. Hats seem intimidating but I think it is a great beginner project for two reasons. First, it’s one skein; you’re not stuck with it for months and months. Second, you can finish it quick, and put it in the “finished” pile, and then you can start your second project, which is already going to be way more awesome because you have double the experience now! My two cents. 🙂 Hope the knitting is going well.

    I love the old paint boxes. I have a very hard time walking away from a curious wooden box at a decent price at any second-hand opportunity. I always hope that my kids, house guests, whoever, are overcome with curiosity and open them to peek inside. I need to work on better treasures to be found in them.


  12. Karen Juliano

    PS LOVE the b&w still life. Who would have thought that narrow palette would be so compelling!?

  13. Mary Bommarito

    I’m not very good with technology. Skimming through Pinterest I have stopped on pieces by “mustardseed” and love them. Then this morning I came across Marian Parsons on daily works and love those. Then reading I find you are one in the same. Could you tell me what colors you purchased of pastels and which ones you like. I have Terry Ludwig , but yours look amazing

    • Marian Parsons

      Thank you! Those are Unison pastels from the landscape set. Yes, they are lovely colors.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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