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...


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