Friday, December 30, 2011

Catching Up with Christmas News

Merry Christmas! We had a wonderful day, well --- several days. I did take pictures, so here they are, though, as is typical, I didn't take pictures of us on Christmas day. Somehow, there is always something more fun going on. I'll try to organize this in my mind and relate the following events in a form of order. We've been going to be late for a couple weeks now --- and it's beginning to take it's toll on me. I've got to go to bed early!

December 24: We finally got down to making some cookies. Elizabeth and I like those "Danish Butter" cookies, but we forgot to get a tin of them this year. So, we decided to make some Spritz cookies. For anyone that doesn't know what they are, it is a butter cookie that you "squeeze" out of this little metal cylinder. On the bottom of the cylinder is a little metal plate with a shape cut out of it. The dough is squeezed through the shape and pops out onto the cookie tray. We hadn't made these in several years, but they were a tradition around here when we were younger. Dump the store-bought stuff and let's make more Spritz. In fact, we made five batches of them! Some are vanilla-flavored and some were chocolate. We even decorated some of them with star-shaped sprinkles and mini chocolate chips.

We also finished up our present wrapping. Dad was off of work, so I got him to wrap most of my secrets. He and Elizabeth are fabulous wrappers. They make everything beautiful, so I had to take a shot or two of the packages before we ripped all of that paper off. ;)

Mom and Elizabeth also made some "Peanut Butter Doggie Treats" for Buddy and Kay's dogs. We'd been wanting to try making them for ages, and they seemed like a great Christmas present for three pups. Mom got out a bunch of cookie cutters and they made all different shapes, including a cowboy, an airplane, dinosaurs, dog bones and a goat (my personal favorite!). We packed up some "Rum Balls" for Buddy and Kay.

Since no churches around this whole area of the state have Christmas Eve services anymore --- we had our own. We read the Christmas story and sang hymns together. Elizabeth played piano, and we sang a ton! In fact, she and I kept at it and sang 'til our voices were all but gone. I was still a bit gravely sounding the next morning. It was sure fun, though.

December 25: Christmas morning dawned not too bright and early. I got up and made breakfast before everybody was up, so all we had to do was pop it in the oven. We were all tired a bit, so we decided not to dress-up, hence, no pictures of us opening gifts. I did manage to get one of Elizabeth after we were done. She's holding a huge glass "emerald" that I gave her. Long story.

We had some really fun gifts, as everyone seems to have done a wonderful job choosing stuff this year. I was really surprised. I'll have to take some pictures of some of the things unwrapped. I got a really cool mechanical pencil from the Coronation of King George VI, also a book on the Clapham Sect, and a "Bing and Nelson" charm bracelet! Gramma Gail sent presents, and as always, they were wrapped in her special way. Elizabeth and I can always spot her packages --- even if there were a hundred others around them. Aren't they cute? (They're the ones in the red and silver wrapping.) Beatrice even got a new little mouse-toy --- which she liked a lot.

As soon as we were finished with the gifts, it was time to get dressed up and ready to go. We went down to Buddy and Kay's for their Christmas party, and we ended up staying until eight o'clock or so. The weather was great for driving --- no snow and so warm that it was hard to realize it was actually Christmas. Buddy took us up to the barn and we looked at the horses, and it wasn't even cold. They gave us a set of Roy Rogers movies (wonder how they knew we liked that?) that is swell! It's got a bunch of films that we haven't seen yet, but most importantly: The Cowboy and the Senorita uncut version! Wow!

That's most of the Christmas news. We've been trying to stick around here this week. I've been doing some research on various members of the Clapham Sect (Edward James Eliot and Harriot Pitt, in particular), so that's been fun. Bad though, because I stay up late. We still want to make it up to Stan Hywet, but the weather hasn't been good enough on the days that they're open. Maybe tomorrow. With New Year's weekend coming up, it's almost time for our annual Lord of the Rings marathon. All three films back-to-back! Elizabeth and I can't wait. More later.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Keultjeses and the Annual Cuban Dinner

I haven't been blogging at all, as we've been doing stuff for Christmas. We had the Keultjeses over on Tuesday, so we spent a couple of days getting ready for that. It was our annual Cuban dinner --- it wouldn't feel like Christmas without that. We've not had a Christmas in Ohio without the Keultjeses! Grampa sent a big box that was just loaded with plantains, yuca and sour oranges, and Mom and I sorted through five pounds of black beans. I meant to take "before and after" pictures, but I forgot to take the "after" one. This is what our Cuban dinner looked like in the raw form. Those are beans soaking in the pot, by the way.

Tuesday night was a blast! We were up really late, but hardly noticed --- 'til the next day, anyway. Hannah and Claire actually got enough time off to stay until this weekend, so they've had some time to enjoy up here. Mom and I spent all day yesterday making Rum Balls. Funny thing is, we never actually made any with Rum! So, we packed some up and took them up to Keultjeses last evening. We were only going to visit for a little while, but it was ten o'clock before we left. They called Mrs. Furr and she came over, too. It was a ton of fun. I think that Elizabeth and Claire polished off a gallon of hot tea between them. :) We discussed everything possible, and solved the problems of the world.

We made four different varieties of Rum Balls this year. Old Forester Bourbon with pecans and rolled in Cuban coffee; Bailey's and Kahlua with walnuts and rolled in powdered sugar; Frangelico with pecans and rolled in coconut; and Cherry Brandy with walnuts, a brandied cherry in the middle and rolled in sugar. Mom and I made them together while Elizabeth wrapped some presents and worked on "secret stuff". We ended up making twelve dozen!

One more thing to mention: Claire brought us a wonderful present the other night, and I wanted to include a photo of it here. A vintage Christmas ornament that is a red-glass, unsilvered bell --- with the original cardboard topper! What a cool present, huh?! We only have two other round balls that have the paper toppers, so I think it's thrilling. More later.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Decking the Halls and All

More pictures of Christmas decorations. I spent about a half hour yesterday taking photos --- that way I'll be ready for the next few posts! We're not putting out a ton of decorations this year, but there are more than last year.

The downstairs bathroom always gets really decked out with the old-fashioned elves and "pine-cone character" decorations. Mom remembers these from her childhood, so she puts them all out together. These used to be a little easier to come by, but their era seems to be over. We haven't seen them at a garage sale or auction in a year or two. This is one of my favorite spots in the house when decorated.

Other spots in the house are decked out, too. There are Nativity scenes spread around, but this is my favorite one. They even have a little Christmas tree behind. Okay, so it's not exactly authentic, but it's pretty --- besides, there is no way that Mary had blonde hair! The next is my favorite decoration in the house. Well, part of it. This is a piece of plastic mistletoe garland that drapes across the frame of the French doors in the living room. What makes it my favorite decoration is the little piece of matching mistletoe hanging in the center (pictured at left). We got this a couple of years ago, and I've really been thrilled about it ever since. Everybody should have mistletoe, and you know that I've never seen a real piece of it?! So, if you can't have the real thing --- this is second best.

The next thing is another of my favorites, though it's out all year. This is a photo of Dad's parents when they were still in Cuba. It was Christmas Eve of 1949, and the family had a big party. Gramma and Grampa are engaged at that time --- he's twenty-one and she's nineteen. This is one of my favorite pictures, and it's especially nice at Christmas. The little gingerbread people are just cute. Elizabeth like these little statues, so she has six of them around the sink in the kitchen. Dish washing is so much more enjoyable with cute things to look at while you're doing it. Hmmm. I still haven't figured out a way to decorate the washing machine.

Well, more pictures will be coming as I have time to post. We have our Christmas cards almost finished now. Elizabeth finished the drawings on them last night, and we just have to go over them today. I got some more felting done last night, and the little Indian is really starting to look like something. His torso is all shaped and ready for some arms. Sounds painful. He actually looks cute so far --- through the eyes of love. :) More later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

'Tis the Season to Be Jolly and Joyous!

We finally got to decorate the Christmas tree last night. Oliver is not co-operating with the Christmas spirit, so we had to use all unbreakable balls. Mom and I were laughing about it yesterday. It's a funny thought: we own, literally, thousands of dollars worth of vintage Shiny Brite balls and others from the 1930s to the 1960s. Beautiful glass balls of all sizes, shapes, colors. And what is our tree decorated in? Plastic, shatterproof glitter-covered balls from K-Mart. Ah, the joys of life with Oliver. Cutie pie.

So, I finally set about putting stuff on the tree last night while the other three worked on Christmas cards. Dad was a good Joe about it and helped me put the bins back in the attic once the tree was finished. These are some pictures of ornaments that I liked. Particularly, the large pink gumdrop.

One of our yearly traditions when decorating for Christmas is to have a box of chocolates while we're working. This year, it was a lovely Whitman's Sampler box. My favorites are maple, chocolate-covered cashews and chocolate truffles. Couldn't resist a nice shot of the candies as they looked before we decorated. :) It's a nice tradition, that's for sure!

After I finished decorating the tree, it was time to sit down and help with the Christmas cards. We bought a bunch of Christmas stamps at the National Stamp Show in August, and we've been collecting vintage cards all year, so we are sending out a bunch. Fifteen of them are in the mailbox today, but we're hoping to finish the rest this afternoon. Elizabeth decided that she should hand decorate each envelope, so that's why it's taking a while. These are some of the envelopes that she finished last night. Amazing, isn't she?!

Well, that's about all the news that I've got for now. It's really foggy here today --- and very dark and grey. More later.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Take a Look at My New Carhartts!

For months now, I've really been wishing for some Carhartts. A pair of Carhartt overalls for general yard work --- which would also come in handy when we're out working in these cemeteries. For some strange reason (and don't ask me why!) I am a literal dirt-magnet. Elizabeth and Dad can go out and work in a garden and come away with a couple spots of light dirt. I come away covered in dirt and mud and looking like a bedraggled mess. So, Carhartts should be just the thing.

Well, they weren't exactly in the budget at the moment, so I was figuring on waiting 'til Spring. God worked it out in a better way, though, because we got some on Friday! The Wright's are selling their house, so they were having a moving sale last weekend. We trundled out there and guess what?! They were getting rid of Rhianna's Carhartts --- which are practically new looking. So, for twenty little green-backs, I got a pair of overalls! Can't wait to go out and try them.

Somebody broke into our car again. This makes four times in the last two years. You'd think that this junk wouldn't happen in the country. Humanity is so low. I feel like Pa Ingalls in the Little House on the Prairie books. Too many people around when you can see the smoke from your neighbor's chimney --- and we can sure see a lot of chimneys.

On a nicer note: We spent yesterday afternoon putting up Christmas decorations. Still have the tree to do today, so I haven't taken any photos yet. Keultjeses are coming next week, so Gramma and Grampa called and they are sending a box with yuca, plantains, sour oranges and all kinds of things! I can't wait. More later.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

'A day that will live in infamy . . .'

This marks the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. The day that the United States was bombed by forces of Imperial Japan. Considering that Elizabeth and I live in the era of 1935 -1945, it doesn't seem that it should be seventy years ago! We were just born too late, I guess. ;)

Mom and I spent a couple hours this afternoon Christmas shopping, so Elizabeth had to stay home by herself. We had success, but I can't say what we got, as she reads this blog sometimes. Keultjeses finally got their scheduling worked out and we have a date for our Christmas dinner. Yay! It wouldn't feel like Christmas if they didn't come over for Cuban dinner. I guess that means that we'll have to clean the dining room out before then. It's full of eBay packing supplies, but we're done selling stuff until the new year.

I started felting another doll the other night. After a lot of debate, I decided that it's going to be an Indian. This little Indian will be sitting cross-legged and making a sign in Indian sign-language. So far, he is two legs that aren't connected to each other. Quite a way to go!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!

It's Mom's birthday today! And it isn't every day that a birthday rolls around. We've spent the day at home --- nice and quiet. Mom and Elizabeth have really been enjoying posting the cemetery pictures up on the site, so they have been working on those all day. I haven't had much of a chance to blog lately. It looks like winter is here, but this is the nicest one that we've had in years. Not too cold and pretty decent weather --- cold and rainy for the last couple days, though!

Yesterday, we had to go grocery shopping. We could only put it off so long, but when you run out of butter, milk and Crisco, well, it starts to get serious. Especially when we wanted to make a birthday pie for today.

Edit: Photo added of the finished pie. It was good --- just not big enough.

We were down at Buddy and Kay's house again on Saturday to play some music. The two of us are going to play at one of Buddy's Christmas concerts in a couple weeks along with him and Charlie. That should be pretty fun, but since Buddy won't be home until the day of the concert that is the only rehearsal we'll get --- except for a final run-through before the actual thing.

On Sunday afternoon, Dad and I put the Christmas tree up. It is all ready to decorate (we even got the lights on), but we're having to leave it plain for a couple of days. Oliver thinks that it is his new tree house, so we're giving him a few days to get over the excitement. He's a cute, naughty Bunny!

Well, the pie is practically ready to come out of the oven, so I better get out of here. :) It's a peach pie! More later.