Archive for December, 2013

Vacation Mode

Some people think living in Minnesota in the wintertime is impossible, like we’re all going to freeze to death or something.  I suppose if you live in the tropics a temperature of 0 degrees F. (and frequently below 0) would seem enough to freeze a person’s blood right in its veins, but we all survive somehow.

I don’t mind cold weather, and I don’t mind snow.  In fact I like them both.  But today, after spending a nine-day holiday away from the day job, the snow and cold temperature slapped me in the face to shake me from my dreamy vacation frame of mind.  I returned to the doldrums of the day job, and spent my time counting the hours until the weekend.  Surviving a Minnesota winter is simple compared to having the snow and ice abruptly turn off my vacation mode.

Grey winter day in the city.

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I’m serious now.  I’m going to start cooking for me and Husby more than I have been for the last many years.  You see, Husby took over the cooking one year when I was especially mental about upcoming craft shows.  That was before I had the planning and production down to a tee.  But since then I’ve let him do all the cooking.  All…of…the…cooking.  Like the poor guy doesn’t have a life of his own.

So with this glorious week I’ve had off work I’ve been scouring the interlinks finding recipes that are day-job-friendly and am pinning like mad for my own quick reference.  There are a lot of recipes for two, which makes a lot of sense for me and Husby.  For those recipes that make enough for an army, I can take some over to my parents’ house so my mom doesn’t have to think up things to make, as she’s had to do for the past fifty-five-plus years.

If you’d like to see what I’ve been pinning on Pinterest, check out my Stirring Up Goodness board.  If you don’t have an account there, sign up already!  It’s free!

I mostly use Pinterest for my own personal use, not so much as a social media platform.  But seriously, if you want to find good stuff, Pinterest is the place to find it.  Stuff, stuff, and more stuff.  Ideas galore.  Recipes to die for.  Craft projects.  Redecorating ideas.

Go for it!

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The Day After

The day is soft and quiet ~ the day after Christmas.  The pine trees lining our yard have beautiful highlights of white snow on top of the dark green needles and the squirrels are playing with each other between their nut-gathering activities beneath the bird feeder.  When I looked outside our bedroom window on the second floor of the house I noticed deer tracks across the front yard, right up to the front window of the house.

From my bedroom window.

I wish I could have seen them lingering outside the window.  Or maybe seeing a creature staring back at me through the parlor window would have freaked me out.  We live in the suburbs, after all.

Again from the bedroom window up on the second floor.  Tracks right up to the shrubs directly in front of the parlor window. Yikes.

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Enjoy, Relax And Be Merry

It’s almost time to pack up the presents and head over to my mom and dad’s house for a very merry and festive Christmas Day.  And what a perfect Christmas Day it is.  It snowed quite a bit last night so my world is white and fluffy, and even now there are little, weightless snowflakes falling.

We’ll gather for the annual family photo and eat a lunch of pick-up nibbles.  Then on to the present opening that can last hours as we open our gifts one at a time.  I like that tradition because everyone can see what everyone else got.  It’s relaxed rather than a chaotic and almost greedy tearing of colorful wrappings in a span of a few short minutes.  Good things should be savored, and gifts from others are very good things.

The Christmas dinner will be delicious, although never the traditional turkey or ham.  My mom got that right too ~ a make-ahead meal makes so much more sense.  It’s usually Italian and always very savory.

This year I did the Christmas season as close to my dream Christmas season as I ever have.  I wasn’t rushed, gifts given are modest but thoughtful, entertaining went relatively smoothly (although I have a huge burn on my arm from taking a pan out of the oven after having a glass of champagne ~ not paying attention!), and the snowy weather is literally icing on the figurative cake.

A merry day to everyone!

Snow Girl and Stormy, enjoying the season.

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It’s past 1:00 in the morning.  Christmas Eve morning.  In less than eight hours I’ll be drinking mimosas and eating caramel rolls at Charlotte’s annual holiday event she calls the Champagne Jam.  I should be sound asleep but instead I’m basking in the light of the Christmas tree eating a leftover dinner roll with peanut butter.

My hands are dry for all the paper I’ve been handling tonight.  Wrapping paper.  All of the Christmas presents are packaged up and tied with pretty bows.  I made a complete mess of the kitchen where I prepared the gifts, but by now the scraps have been thrown away and the long tub of my collection of papers and the box of ribbons are back in storage until next year.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be loaded with festivities, food and family.  Tonight I relish the silence.  Reflections, lights on the shiny tree ornaments and thoughts in my mind, remind me of how much I have to be grateful for and how treasured this time of year is to me.

Merry Christmas to all.  And to all a good night.

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It is a silent night for me tonight. The day was spent by attending my great Aunt Margie’s funeral. She was buried on the same date as her brother, my grandpa, who died a few years ago. Seems people in that family like to spend Christmas together. According to someone in the family Aunt Margie said she was ready to go onto the next realm. I hope she’s happy, dancing with her husband and spending the season with the many members of her family who entered that realm before her.

A Distant Memory by The Crooked Camera

When I returned home from the funeral I spend a half hour gathering my thoughts and went on to make preparations for the annual Christmas Cheer party I have for my family. I did some cooking and baking and preparation for the most festive entertainment event I have every year. I’m preparing new recipes and also some tried and true ones, the libations are stocked, and the old victrola is ready to play some of the old 78s that were listened to by generations before me. Christmas is a time of nostalgia, a time to remember Christmases past and to romanticize Christmases before our time.

The house still smells of the buns I baked this evening and I wish they were the buns my grandma used to make. Mine were made from store-bought frozen dough, thawed and baked. Delicious, but not the same as those made from scratch by Grandma Mabel. Some day I’ll make them as well as she did; I have the old recipe complete with instructions out of her head rather than precise measurements and sure-fire techniques. Oh, to have the time to perfect her wonderful buns.

I find myself remembering Christmases of my past on this silent night. Christmas Eve on Jackson Street with the great aunts and uncles on my dad’s side. Christmas mornings at Tug Lake with a roaring fire and presents galore. Grandpa Mike looking out his picture window, telling his grandchildren Santa’s sleigh had been sighted by the weather men at the local TV news station. Grandma Harriet with her glorious Christmas Day meal. Yes, Christmas is all about nostalgia for me. And every year I build upon the nostalgia of future years.

Via Google Images

Great Aunt Margie had a lot of Christmases under her belt. Ninety-five of them. Sharp as a tack until the day she died I wonder what she would think about at Christmas time. Did she reminisce about Christmases she spent as a child on her parents’ farm? Did she miss the years gone by, or did she embrace the holidays as they came?

On this silent night I think about the generations past and the generations to come. I also think about right now. That in a few hours my family will gather at my house for food, drink, and merriment. As we celebrate the season and ourselves we’ll also be creating memories. These are the memories I want when I’m ninety-six years old like my Great Aunt Margie.

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Cherry Poutons

Once upon a time I knew a woman who used to love hearing me describe the food I made.  When I would have company I would describe the meals in detail she said it made her mouth water just hearing about it.  I was under the impression she was one of those women who didn’t have much time to cook, what with kids and all their after-school activities and whatnot.  Seriously, her kids were involved in sports and music and any other kind of activity that would keep them occupied nonstop.  I felt kind of sorry for them, the kids, as it didn’t seem like they had any time to just play or hang out, much less eat some decent food.

I remember one year she told me about how she took some time with her youngest child who might have been about ten or twelve years old.  They made some Christmas cookies together.  She was surprised when her son told her that was the best thing about Christmas that year, making cookies.

Tonight I made a batch of cookies that took but an hour to mix, bake, drizzle, and clean up, doing the dishes by hand.  There is no reason to not make cookies, especially at Christmas time.  If you’ve got kids they can join in with the fun.  Or at least lick the bowl.  It takes no time at all.

I never had kids, but I do have Husby.  He stays clear of the kitchen when I’m doing my Christmas baking, but is always available to sample what I’ve made and loves the sweet morsels right out of the oven.  Tonight’s cookies were new.  When he looked at them he announced, “Cherry Poutons!”  The name was a spontaneous labeling of what he saw, no matter that it didn’t mean anything.  Except for the cherry part.  There were actually cherries involved, but neither of us knows where the “pouton” came from.  I don’t even know what the cookies are titled on the recipe, but forever more they’ll be referred to as Cherry Poutons.

Christmas baking makes memories.  Like the boy who will always remember that time he made cookies with his mom.  Like a new favorite that will be known as Cherry Poutons.  I hope the tradition of baking Christmas cookies never dies and that none of us are ever too busy to treat ourselves to the sweetness that comes with the season.

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