Monday, December 27, 2010

A Peak Into Our Family Christmas....

It's hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone once again. Having skipped a traditional Thanksgiving this year for a beach holiday, it seems like Christmas just arrived without much warning. But it was a great time for the whole family to gather and share food, gifts, and lots of laughter. For Christmas Eve, I typically put out simple hor d'oeuvres, dips, crackers, and a cheese ball, plus an assortment of my christmas baking.

We just nibble all evening. We also play games, which one family favorite is a rousing game of Taboo. We are usually paired up by couples, and sometimes that can get a little tense. This year we chose partners from names in a hat. That was much better. I was paired with my son-in-law Tommy (Melissa's husband).

Tommy put these glasses on and looked like Drew Carey. Paired up, we won the game, which was in close competition with everyone long as we can keep Susan and Julie from being partners, everyone else has a shot at winning!

The next morning the families were here by 11:00am and we gathered to read The Christmas Story (Luke Chapter 2 verses 1-20). For the first time, our son Billy, read the Bible story to everyone.

Then Bill prayed, thanking God for His gift to us, and asking for His blessings on the breakfast. So sweet to see Cassidy bowing her head in prayer.

After breakfast, we gathered in the living room and exhanged gifts.

How wonderful it is to have a grandchild to enjoy Christmas with! Every gift she opened, received the same excited squeal of delight!

We talked, played board games and watched Christmas movies till 5:00pm, when it was time to have dinner. This year was a traditional "Thanksgiving" dinner, because, know why. :)

I used paper plates and cups for Christmas dinner this year. I admit it doesn't look pretty and I don't know if I'll do it again, but I wanted things relaxed and easy this year.

The only tears shed the whole day was while I was getting Tom Turkey ready to go into the oven. My vegan daughter Susan surprised herself by tearing up for ol' Tom. I tried to console her by telling her this was an off brand turkey, and he probably lived a long life, and died of old age. I'm thinking that didn't help......Here's the turkey just out of the oven. Beautiful!

Afterwards, the men washed and dried all the serving dishes and pots and pans. I'm very thankful for the help from the guys! The ladies all took a walk in the softly, falling snow.

This was a wonderful, relaxing family Christmas. It was the kind of Christmas I've always dreamed of. Everyone was laughing, happy, and content. What a blessing God gave me this year.

We are now experiencing 40 mile an hour wind gusts on this cold Monday. With any luck, all the wreaths will blow off the windows, so Bill doesn't have to climb up that ladder again. Out of seven wreaths, three are already down!! :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Queen Cat And The Very Bad Mood

It was a few days before Christmas, and The Queen Cat woke up in a particularly bad mood. The Intruder Cat, and her infuriating "I don't care" attitude was on the Queen Cat's last, dangling, exposed nerve.

"If I see that Intruder Cat up here today, I'm going to go "Chuck Norris" on her skinny, tortoiseshell colored, self."

Ahh, I'm all stretched out, lying in the sun, in the Queen Cat's territory, and I don't care what she thinks.....

"Am I having a nightmare?" "Is that minion lying in MY sunshine in MY territory?"

"Here I am on the Queen Cat's Bed...and there is nothing she can do about it." "She is losing her power over me!" (Perhaps someday I'll be The Queen Cat......)

"Are my eyes deceiving me???"

Has my day just taken a turn for the better? Is the fun about to begin?

"Go ahead kitty-cat, make your day, you have no power over me, anymore."

"Oh no she didn't just disrespect me right to my face!!!"

"These ears are your last warning......."

Faster than the speed of light......

"What the heck just happened???" "Mommy!!!"

"Anyone else want to have some "Go" time with me? "I didn't think so."

"Hey noncat, get out of here with that camera." "I'm cleaning up after battle, could I have a little privacy??"

"Ahhh, time for a long winter's nap. I'd wish you a Merry Christmas, but I really don't care if you have one or not.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Some Christmas Baking...New To Me Recipes :)

I woke up yesterday and just had the blahs. I knew I had alot to accomplish but just didn't want to tackle any of my tasks. Knowing that the fastest way to complete something is to start it, I started baking. But to make it more interesting, I did some recipes I've never made before.

This is a new cookie for me. It is an almond cookie with powdered sugar. I've had them for years at different colonial houses and loved them, and this year I decided to make them.

After mixing the ingredients, you can shape them in either the crescent shape:

Or you can make them round. I did both because I had to make so many for a family my size. I don't think they are the prettiest cookie I've ever made, but they taste so good!

Next I made some holiday spiced nuts. Once again, I've had these at colonial functions, but never made them myself. I started with eight cups of mixed nuts. I used almonds, walnuts, and cashews, because these are my family's favorites. You then mix two egg whites in with the nuts and get them all wet.

After mixing together 1 1/3 cups of sugar, 6 tablespoons of cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, you pour it over the nuts. Mix it well, then place them on two cookie sheets in a 300 degree oven, and bake for 30 minutes.

These are just perfect and so hard to resist!

Lastly I made some Lemon Vanilla Bark. I made this because I thought it sounded good, and because I've always seen these big packages of Chocolate or Vanilla Bark, but never knew what to do with them. Another blogger (Mrs. T) mentioned this recipe on her blog so I thought I'd give it a try!

First, break up the bark squares, and slowly melt them on the stove top or in the microwave. I prefer the microwave for this. I discovered this after using the stove top :(

Using my blender, I crushed lemon hard candy, probably about two cups worth.

I quit taking pics at this point because I didn't think the recipe was turning out correctly. You mix the melted vanilla bark with the crushed lemon candy, and spread it evenly on a cookie sheet that is covered with waxed paper. Then chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When I took it out of the fridge, it actually broke apart just fine, and tasted delicious! You can use any type of hard candy and bark combination you'd like.

Merry Christmas!! Hope you have a happy day baking!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Invasion of the Intruder Cat

The noncats have all lost their minds. There is music playing all the time, decorative clutter is on almost every surface, and (I'm not kidding here), they put a tree in the living room. It's made me re-evaluate how stupid I thought noncats were. I now believe they have the dogs beat in the "brainless" category.

Lately, the Intruder Cat has been coming upstairs, and truthfully, she is acting like she is entitled to be here in MY colony. It's been happening for over a month now. If I thought my days at the top of the stairs were long before, they are now a nightmare.

"I can see you, and if you come up these steps, there is going to be kitty on all four of my claws!!!"

"Mommy says if I ignore the bully, then they will have no fun picking on me."

I was distracted for one minute, and here she is, curled up under the noncats' tree, without an invitation from me to come into my upstairs territory. OHHHH, fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice....impossibility!

However, this Intruder Cat refused to be chased back downstairs. It was a total revolt to MY authority. I, The Queen Cat, even resorted to claw to claw combat one morning, right in front of the woman noncat, but still this Intruder would not back down and return to her territory downstairs.

In fact, she advanced into my personal domain, the woman noncats' bedroom. Here she is, in my inner sanctuary. No one is allowed in here without my explicit permission. If she advances to the bed, there will be war:

Has the whole world lost its mind? Is there no respect for authority? No way is this going to be allowed. I shall show her who is the Queen of the colony.

"By the authority under MY command, I order you, Intruder Cat, to go back to your given territory the easy way, or the hard way...your choice!"

"Did I stutter?"..."If you go immediately there will be no blood shed"....

"Yeah baby, that's what I'm talking about, run Intruder Cat, run..."

"And don't let the door hit you on the way out....."

"I love being The Queen Cat!!!"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Windowsills, Snow, and Baking........

I've been in several colonial houses this holiday season, and I've noticed something...they seem to always decorate their windowsills for Christmas. I've never decorated a windowsill, other than to put an electric candle in my front windows. I've looked at other houses I've been to during the Christmas season and also noticed that the windowsills are not usually decked out for the holidays. Perhaps it's because most houses now have so many windows, or maybe it's because it is so common to decorate the outside of our houses more elaborately than during the Colonial period. Here are a few examples of some windowsills I've seen this holiday season.

There is just something so welcoming and festive about a decorated windowsill. During colonial times the furnishings inside a house were much more plain than what we have today. Perhaps living amongst our comfortable and overstuffed furnishings we've forgotten how homey and cozy a decorated windowsill can be.

I tried my hand this week at decorating one windowsill in my house. I used an old decoration that I normally would have tossed but instead I "recycled" it with some added "real" greenery and pinecones. Don't laugh, it was my very first attempt at decorating anything with something that didn't come completely put together from a store.

From the same "almost" discarded decoration I made a fragrant bowl of pinecones. It makes the whole room smell heavenly. I found the bowl at a yard sale for 25 cents. I just may be turning "Green." Daughter Susan would be so proud.

Today we had our first measurable snow. It was only a couple of inches, which is enough for me!

I made some cinnamon swirl bread. It is very easy to do. First, I ground my own whole wheat berries into flour. After mixing and kneading the dough, I roll it out into a rectangle:

I then add an egg white wash (some people use butter) and then sprinkle liberally with sugar and cinnamon.

Then roll, starting with the short end and pinching the seams closed as you go. Place in a bread pan and let bread rise till the top comes over the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 31 minutes.

As Lucy Ricardo would say "It's a happy little loaf"!!!

This makes wonderful toast. I just butter it and enjoy it with a nice cup of hot tea. Perfect for a cold winter's morning.

Have a wonderful weekend!