Thursday, November 29, 2012

Feeling a Little Like Christmas...

Every year when I drag my Christmas tree out of the attic and remove it from the box I chuckle to myself (and sometimes out loud) and wonder how many more years it can last. My tree is a second hand, second hand tree. It was made somewhere around the year 1955. It originally belonged to my father’s aunt. She decided to get a new tree so she gave it to my parents at some point when I was a child. We had always gone to the woods and cut down a cedar tree every year, two weeks before Christmas. I remember not being very receptive to the idea of a fake tree in the beginning. I never liked change much as a kid, though I’ve learned to welcome it as an adult. My mother kept the tree until about five or six years ago at which point she decided the throw it in the trash and get a new one. It’s been mine since that day and I cherish the little transformation it makes every year.


I lovingly refer to it as my "Charlie Brown Christmas tree" because every year I put it up; it drops more needles than a real one. My friend Will says, "All you need to do is put a little blue blanket around the base." It reminds me of a fish skeleton when I first assemble it. We’ll leave it to stretch its branches for a minute or two and take a look at the rest of the house.


This is a new addition to my Christmas decorations this year. It’s a flea market treasure. When I saw it I thought it would be perfect for my dining table. The height is going to wonderfully spread the candle light when I have company over for dinner during December. I have guests coming this weekend, so as it grows closer I’ll snip some greenery and Nandina berries to put in and around the stand at the base.



When I rescued the tree from the trash heap, I also took several boxes of ornaments that were on their way out. The little colored glass globes were really no longer suitable for the tree because they were faded and the insides have begun to peel. I think it just gives them character and speaks of the fact they have been adored for many years. They were still in the original Elmore’s Five and Dime store boxes. I remember my uncle giving me a dime to shop in there when we made our Saturday morning trip to town over 40 years ago. A dime! Wow... where has the time gone...


I filled two crystal vases with gold and silver ones. I also have a huge glass fish that sits on top of the china cabinet my grandmother built filled with pink ones. It was too dark in the house to get a decent picture of it. Where it sits there is very little light and if I used the flash it just washed out all the color anyway.


I like to decorate the house with a gold and clear glass theme for Christmas. I never have been one to like bright colors in my home. It’s really kind of strange since I absolutely love a kaleidoscope of colors in the garden. I also prefer to use Father Christmas instead of Santa Clause. This is the first one I was given almost 20 years ago. I also have three others in addition to this one.


You can’t see them very well, but in this bowl are the last of my mother’s decoration she bought in 1956. There are so many different shapes and sizes in this little bowl. The designs remind me of the big chrome bumpers on cars from that time period.


This little tin gold star was on top of our tree for many, many years. It was eventually replaced with a fancy one that would light up and twinkle like the rest of the Christmas lights. You know, the most valuable things I have in my home actually have no monetary worth. This star is one of them…


The garland is hung above the door that enters the piano room...


I also draped it around the top of the piano. I’ve been given many ornaments as gifts from friends over the years and I hang them here. Also on the piano are two of my reindeer, another item I sort of collect like Father Christmas.


I didn’t realize until this year that none of my deer have faces. They have no eyes, noses or recognizable facial feature. This was completely by accident. I was once told if you buy things you like, you will unconsciously develop your own personal style. Because all the items you like will have a similar characteristics whether it is immediately visible to you or not. Even if it appears extremely eclectic it will all blend together nicely.




See what a little TLC can do to a Charlie Brown Christmas tree? Amazing what a little love and determination can do. Isn’t it?


That’s enough of my mindless chatter for one post. :0) Hope this finds you filling with the Christmas spirit and giddy with anticipation of its arrival!






Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Full Frost Moon

Tomorrow night is the full Frost Moon or Beaver Moon if you are a hunter, time to set your traps before the lakes freeze over. :0) These photos are kind of grainy because my camera was on full zoom. I'm afraid I don't have the luxury of interchangeable lenses. *Sigh* maybe one day. :0) The rain clouds set the mood for some interesting photos even if the moon wasn't completely full.













Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Day 2012

Hello everyone! I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving Day! I spent the actual holiday with friends because my mother planned our dinner on the following Saturday. That means I had three huge dinners last week. I never thought I would say this, but I'm tired of eating! For the dinner with friends I decide to make the dressing. This was my first time attempting it and I've heard all the horror stories about the dry or undercooked dressing so I was a nervous wreck. I called on the matriarchs in my family and I was tickled to death at the outcome. My dressing came out perfect!





We decided we wanted homemade cranberry sauce for the dinner, so I got online to see what I could discover. I found a recipe for Orange Ginger Cranberry sauce. It was so simple to make and so positively delicious. I made some more to take with me to my family dinner on Saturday. I grew up on the canned stuff that you slice, but I can promise you from this point forward I will be making my own.


There was a slight amount of stress involved with the Turducken. The directions said to cook it three and a half hours. Well it took seven. Nothing a little liquid sedative and flower picking couldn't handle. The Turducken came out just fine and everyone enjoyed each other's company while we waited. We still managed to sit down to eat at a little over an hour past the scheduled time. That's why you don't wait until the last minute to do things people.




And what a lovely table we had to sit down and enjoy our meal. I don't have public pictures to display of the food. I want to respect the privacy of the guests that attended. They were all seated around the table when the photo was taken. I had an absolutely incredible holiday and I hope all of you thoroughly enjoyed yours as well. And yaaaaaaaaaaa! Christmas is just around the corner!







Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday Night Soup

I’m no tablescape designer by any stretch of the word, but when company comes over for a meal I try to make it a special experience for them no matter what the menu may be. I found a recipe for bean and ham soup on a blog I visited and I thought with the weather cooling down it would be an excellent time to have a few people over for some comfort food.


I love soup tureens and I think it’s such a shame people don’t use them anymore. They’re really pretty. I bought one several years ago and I use it to take my next door neighbors soup as a treat in the winter time. They’re elderly and hate getting out in the cold weather. I thought it was a nice idea, but she always says, “Oh, let me dump this in a pot so you can take your pretty bowl back I wouldn’t want anything to happen to it.” Well, my intentions were good anyway…

I have to admit last night the lazy side of me said, oh just leave it in the pot on the stove and dip it out of there. I’ve changed my mentality about that kind of stuff lately, when it comes to meals. I’ve decided to treat myself more often.


I surrounded the tureen with pink and white camellias, pink azaleas and Nandina foliage. I love the leathery green leaves of Nandina, it’s great to use in all sorts of arrangements. I really like the fan shape of the limbs.


I thought far enough ahead to sit the butter out to soften this time. I never seem to remember to do it. I knew I would be having cornbread with the soup so I wanted it to be easy to spread. I thought it would add a nice little bit of sparkle to the table in the candle light.


I have two sets of stainless steel flatware in my closet that I now, never use. The silverware that’s been in the closet for years and years I now use every day. I saved it to use for special occasions and guess what? It was never being used.  We fill our homes with this gorgeous stuff and say it’s for special occasions and we deprive ourselves of the pleasure of using it. Not me, not anymore I’m using mine. I have very, very fine Italian china that’s been boxed up for years in the closet. It’s in my cabinet now and I ate lasagna off of it Friday night. After all it is Italian and if I break a piece, I’ll get another one from Ebay or


The dishes I used last night are from the 40’s. The pattern is called ‘Sayonora” and it’s by Nasco. See the little people sitting on the bank watching the person in the boat leave? I’m sure there is a larger story to this pattern but I’ve never found it. I discovered most of these Asian patterns tell a story. I'm certain the majority of you are familiar with the legend of ‘Blue Willow’.


My guest list decreased from 6 down to three before the night was over, but I was okay with that. It actually freed up more room on my small table for the bread and a couple of candlesticks. Something about the dancing flames of a candles just completes the mood for any dinner. Don’t you think so?


The original recipe for the bean soup turned out to be extremely bland in my opinion. I thought it was some great recipe that had been circulating online and it turns out it’s just the one on the back of the bag of dried beans. Here’s the Ham and Bean recipe Randy style:

Sausage and Bean Soup

1- 1lb. bag of assorted dried soup beans
2 quarts of water
1lb. of smoked pork sausage links cut into 1 inch sections
1 large onion, diced
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1- 16oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 large can of tomato paste
The juice and pulp of 1 lemon
4 tbsp. of good Chili powder

Soak the beans in water overnight and cook on medium for several hours until done. I can’t give you an exact time because I started in a crock pot and ended up in a pot on the stove. But it took a loooooooooog time. Next time I’ll just find out what kind of beans are in that bag and buy them canned. I just knew for sure we were going to eat crunch soup, but they finally got fit to be eaten. I added ground red pepper to my bowl and it was really good.