Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Morning

After sleeping late on Christmas morning, Jim and I had a brunch of coffee, and waffles with cranberry-orange-pecan- butter. We have a tradition, when it's just the two of us on Christmas morning, we pull out my vintage phonograph and '78' records, and listen to old Christmas songs while we open our gifts, and sip our coffee. The turntable is clackety loud and the records scratchy, but it has a nostalgic warmth that we both enjoy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I saw Mama kissing Santa Claus

One Christmas season when I was a little girl, my mom's friend Sheryl was taking care of me.
She had her daughter Terri and I helping her wrap some little Christmas packages. One was a package of Chocolate covered cherries, which she addressed to Santa. That night we all went to a Community Christmas play and celebration. There was so much excitement and anticipation as we waited for Santa to burst through the door of the hall. All of the kids got to go up to him. He was amazing! He knew my name! .....and it was funny how much his boots looked like my Daddy's! (OK, so I wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed), I'm older and wiser now, and I send a box of chocolate covered cherries to "him" every year. Love you Daddy, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cocoa, Cookies & Christmas blessing

It's my opinion that the essential ingredients in a Nanni's tool-kit are whipped cream in a can and lots of sprinkles. The little girlies really like Mexican hot cocoa. They were helping me making Christmas cookies.

I had so much fun getting ready for Christmas the first year we were married in Monterey. I went thrift shopping and decked our tree competely out in shiny bright ornaments, I also thrifted a punch bowl for eggnog, and this Spritz cookie press. I would come home from work every evening and do some more holiday baking. There was chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, sour cream fudge, toffee, peanut brittle, fruitcake, spritz, chocolate spritz, gingerbread men, sugar cookies...... Now days I keep things pretty simple. Whatever I feel like. There's no more mad frenzy or high expectations. This year, a batch of chocolate fudge, and 2 batches of Spritz. (We won't talk about the gingerbread or sugar cookies that got great reviews on line, which I made and thought were awful. Back to my old recipes on those)

It's so refreshing to just enjoy the Christmas season,
rather than be the stressed out crazy woman,
I was for many years.
I've come to believe, the greatest gift we can give ourselves and those around us, is the peace and joy that comes not from shopping til we drop or standing over a hot stove, but from spending time with and sharing with others;
God's gift to us: Jesus.

Monday, December 20, 2010


There's a folk-lore that Cioppino came about when Italian fishermen would come in at the end of the day and pool their resources, a bit of this kind of fish and a bit of that, to make into a communal stew. They would tell one another to "chip in". When it came time to make dinner tonight....that's what I said to the freezer ..."chip in". So in went a bit of scallops, a bit of shrimp, a bit of crab, cod, and mussels. The birthday girl ate all of hers, and liked it, minus the mussels. She dearly loves clams in the shell, but not mussels. There was french bread to sop up with.
After dinner we gathered in the snug and watched Netflix Instant: Christmas Story, a different folk story, a movie from Finland about St. Nicholas. I loved the costumes, Ada's blue wool cape with embroidered braid trim, the Nordic knit scarves and sweaters, the grey mittens with white embroidery. The wood workshop was intriguing too, with it's old fashioned lathe and candlelight. It all fed into my winter nesting instinct, home-fires, candlelight, warmth of wood, and knitting, knitting, knitting. Last week I knit another fashionista scarf like Josie's for Tori, and a red ribbed scarf for our church Christmas outreach. Just getting warmed up........have to see what my yarn stash can "chip in".

Friday, December 17, 2010

Silver Lake Winter

I got these skates at a thrift shop years ago.

When I was in the 6th grade, all of the kids would congregate after school, at the place in the Baptist Church parking lot just behind those stairs, you see in front. In the winter it always flooded and froze there. I didn't have skates, so I would slide around on my shoes. My Aunt Fern, who lived in town, found out about it, and loaned me her skates for as long as we lived there. I was so proud of them, and made pompoms, like the older girls had on their skates.
One of the winter activities were skating parties with bonfires on some of the frozen alkali lakes, and areas where the creek overflowed and froze. I loved seeing my breath in the cold night air, wearing my soft rabbit fur earmuffs, and skating in the dark, looking across the ice to the glow of the fire on shore, with people gathered 'round talking and laughing. (It was very Rockwell'ish) My ankles always wobbled and went all wonky, I never did become a good skater; but I dearly loved a Silver Lake Winter.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Last night, I made a big pan of fudge, with toasted almonds in it.

At home when I was growing up, Mom made fudge every Christmas.
She made a recipe that had to be beaten until it lost it's gloss.
This was "the fudge spoon".
Now, I don't use it.....I just put it on the counter and remember...
after the fudge was in the pan,
all of the years of scraping our teeth against it,
savoring the warm chocolaty goodness.
Remembering the warmth of family closeness,
and the feeling of anticipation that filled the kitchen.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Friday Fashionista

We all got together Friday night at Sarah's for Josie's birthday party. Nine years old? Seriously?!
This year she's interested in clothes and accessories. One of the gifts we gave her was this scarf I knitted to go with her animal print coat that has pink trim. She got more excited over the pkg. of computer printer paper we got her to draw on! She loves to draw and doodle like her mama.

Garter Stitch Scarf: 11 stitches
Red Heart Baby Cloud yarn: Pink
Brown Fun Fur yarn double crocheted on ends
(twice across to give fullness)

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I gave the chickens a strong admonition yesterday morning, before we left for the day.....eggs or stew pot...their choice. I actually need a fresh flock this spring, my little biddies are getting some age on them. I don't actually enjoy butchering, but it's a farm-life reality.
We went to Kate's for the day. Liam read us a funny story about gossiping (sort of like the telephone game) where the story changes word by word as it goes person by person. Joe sang us a song his class is learning for their Christmas Program. Adelie wore all of us out running a marathon course singing a banana phone song throughout the house....over....and over...and over...soooo funny. Chris has gotten into roasting organic coffee beans and roasted, ground and brewed a yummy pot for after dinner. They made a delicious roast dinner. And they sent us home with a bag of Bob's Red Mill Polenta. Kate and I went through the house re-inventing the wheel so to speak....talking about where she's going to put everything and that they just found out she's expecting twins!!
On the way home, it rained harder than either Jim or I have ever seen before. The lines on the freeway were completely obliterated. Like driving through a creek....lengthwise.

Monday, December 6, 2010


We've been wanting to have more people over, instead of just talking about it. When I found our thrifted pyramid, it inspired an idea to have two couples over from our former home fellowship group. They had both been on trips to Germany this year, and since we had lived there three years, we all had stories and pictures to share.
We put this poster board up every year for Christmas, as it reminds us of one of our favorite times, in Germany.....Christkindlemart. When our guest arrived, they were greeted with the smell of warm Gluwien (Spiced wine), Hot spiced nuts, and gingerbread spice tea. We had German Christmas in the Alps music playing.

Not sure if this qualifies as "thrifted", but it was "frugal". Wanting some coordinating cloth napkins, but not having the budget for them right now; bought a pkg of 7 dishcloths from Walmart, and stuck them in some little craftstore grapevine wreaths, I've used for years.
We made SPEZI for everyone to have with dinner. 1 part Fanta, 1 part Lemonade, 2 parts Coke.

I found a shop that sells Salata, the salad dressing we ate all of time in Germany, everywhere we went, and at home.

For dinner, I made Schweinschnitzel, with Jagersauce, (fried pork cutlets with mushroom gravy)rotkraut mit apfel (red cabbage with apple), knodel (potato dumplings), or pommesfrits ( fries).

I didn't get everything decorated for Christmas, but a few touches here and there, and our year round lights, made it feel festive in the kitchen, while I was cooking.

It was Shir's birthday, and we go back 20 years or more, so it was fun making her a special torte.

It . Was. Tall.

Zum Gerberstag Alles Gute!
She was surprised.

Years ago, I had a slice of this torte from a bakery, and loved it. It was REALLY expensive, so I had disected it, while eating it. I wrote on a memo pad what each layer had.
1.bottom layer: ground Hazelnut cake
2. Hazelnut cream frosting
3.chocolate fudge cake
4.chocolate cream frosting
5.ground hazelnut cake layer
6. hazelnut cream frosting
7. chocolate fudge cake
Tops and sides: Hazelnut Cream frosting, decorated with shaved chocolate.
The mistake I made, was I should have split one layer of hazelnut cake in half, and the same with the chocolate one, and put the other layer of hazelnut and chocolate in the freezer to fix another time. Have to say made a statement! We couldn't use cake plates for it...had to pull out more dinner plates! (If anyone wants the recipe, leave a comment, )

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wednesday, Waffles, & Washing

I spent today hooking up our new washer and catching up on laundry. Yay!!!!!! Our old one finally completely died. I just didn't feel like sinking anymore money or days into fixing it this time. The people we were buying a new one from, needed it 2 more weeks, until they moved overseas. (They have a 2 year old....need I say more?) So for the past couple of weeks, I've been schlepping a basket of dirty clothes over to Anna's, in the mornings that we have the girls.
Our dryer is still fine, so I brought them back home to dry. It was a blessing to be able to do that, but I got backed up anywho. I can't believe how quiet this new washer is! I keep going in to see if it's still running! :<)

We had waffles for supper. We used this mix, which reminded me of our trip last year.

When we were there we saw pictures in the depot of their special Christmas Santa Train. It looked so pretty and festive, with snow and Christmas lights. I see where they are all sold out already for this year. Are you in the mood for Christmas? I am. Now just have to get gifts done...yikes...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fall Family Dinner

We've been wanting my sister Jen and fam. over for dinner, for awhile now. It seems like if it doesn't go on the doesn't happen. It ends up just being..."we really need to get together" over and over again. It was nothing gourmet, just a pot roast, carrots, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, rolls,and a fruit salad. We had chocolate cake, ice cream, and pumpkin pie/whip cream and coffee. Jen and I just visited and the guys played Wii, and watched football. It was nice having them here. I'll have to put it on the calendar again!

Cat Nap

Birdie....Did I ever tell you how she got her name? One night, her mother started giving birth to a litter of kittens in the closet in Tori's room. I gathered Mama Kitty and the kitlets up and moved them downstairs. The next morning, Tori (age 3) called me into her room and said "there's a bird in my room." "Hear it?" I listened and was appalled to find out that one of the kittens had fallen behind something in the closet, and hadn't gotten moved with it's mommy and it's siblings. It had a strange little squawkey voice, that indeed sounded like a bird. We named her "Birdie", and she still has a strange little voice. I'm not sure how her mama got in the house in the first place, since we have "barn cats" not "house cats" because of both Kate's allergies and asthma, and my very strong aversion to litter boxes. (I think she may have gotten some castaway assistance from a little girl.) Birdie will take assistance from anyone who is willing to not latch the front door properly. She nudges it open and bounds up the stairs, and quickly nestles into the afghan Ashlyn spreads on the floor for her teddy bears.


It was Anna's first Thanksgiving Dinner at her house, and everything turned out great.
There was a note under Papa's plate written by the girls, thanking us for coming to dinner.
There was a turkey on the table and there was a ham ^^^^ in the hall.
I was looking back at you,
to see if you were looking back at me,
to see if I was looking back at you..........
(We had to take each other's pictures.)
Anna had her "new" lamp on. I had painted a green wooden lamp base that I'd had for years, black.
She bought a white drum shade and I lined it in this fabric I had, to coordinate with the chair.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Over the River, and Through the Woods

to Grandmother's house we go....... Not....... Our Indian Summer weather, finally turned. I don't think we've ever gone so long without a frost. But this week the snow paid us a visit.

We weren't having Thanksgiving at our house this year, the plan was to go to my parents. Since the weather thwarted our plans, Anna invited us to her house for dinner. I need to go in the kitchen and whip up a pumpkin pie. I had thought I would maybe make some of these , but all of my cute little jars are still full of jellies. I am thankful for this cute spicy tin I found at a garage sale last time Jim and I went with Dad, for the wild hazelnuts, acorns, and vine maple picked up on a walk, and for this cool antler that a deer shed in our orchard in payment for all of the apples he has gleaned there.
But especially; Jim and I are so very thankful for all of the dear family and friends that God has blessed our lives with.
We love you!
xoxo, M

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Children's Children

Last year I blogged a couple of pictures, and scriptures from Psalm 103. On Friday, I had the joy of listening to our oldest grandson Matthew recite from memory the whole chapter to me, his Mom, and Aunt Kate. It blessed my heart sooo much. He is such a sweet, loving, kid, and has a really special place in all of our hearts. Love you Matthew!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Christmas Rush

No candles in the holders right now, but when there are and they are lit, the heat rises and turns the fan, which in turn, rotates the shepherds and their sheep, and makes the 3 kings and their camel, circle the Baby Jesus, Joseph, and Mary.

When we lived in Germany, I REALLY wanted one of these Christmas Pyramids. They were always too expensive for my budget, and there were always other higher priorities, so it was just one of those non-essentials that I would dream about each Christmas season. On a thrifting stop at the Teen Challenge Store this year, I found this one. (And on a 20% off everything in the store day...yay!) I was thrilled! I looked them up on-line and see that Christmas Pyramids have only gone UP in price as with everything else. I always wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas... oh the anticipation now!!! I think the kidlets are going to love it. (I also think I'd better remember to have my glasses on when trying to take photos..sorry for the blur.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Letters to God

We watched this on Netflix Instant last night. It's a Hallmark'ish type movie.

We had seen the previews last Spring when it was showing in the Theatres. With Jim being a former letter carrier, the cancer theme, and God theme...we were intrigued. The actual movie had a more spiritual aspect to it than I had expected, which was good.
Letters to God correlates nicely with the "Believing God" Bible Study I've been doing. It too, has letters to God involved. Sometimes we can get so busy living life, we don't allow enough time for reflecting, or serious praying. This study has forced me to stop and think about some things, no longer just sweeping them under the rug. Prior to the study I was going through a time where I felt like someone had put all of the things bothering me into a mental blender in my head.... turned the switch on, ..... and left the lid off. I was having a difficult time concentrating and praying effectively. This study, (shown in my side-bar) has been a God send to me. Have you done this study? What did you think?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sicky Soup

I've been chillin'. Chills, hammering headache, and sore throat. Jim brought me some Thai Tom Yum when he came back from errands. I've read good reports about the health and immune system boost from this soup. It has enough chili oil kick to warm a person up, and just the right amount of saltiness and sourness. If it doesn't provide enough warmth and sourness, He also got me hot lemonade, and there's plenty of kleenex, cold meds, echinacea, and good ol' netflix movies. Have I told you lately, how much I love this guy?

Iron Skillet Apple Cake

Since it was just Jim and I partaking of Jim's birthday cake, I cut the recipe in half. He loves apple pie, and there have been some years that he's gotten that instead of a cake. This year, I opted for something, sort of in between.....Pioneer Woman's Apple Cake in an Iron Skillet.
With a side of vanilla bean ice-cream; He loved it. It's a nice cozy fall dessert, birthday, or no birthday.


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