Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Simple Birthday Tablescape

Daughter #1 has a birhday during the holidays, and I think all of us were ready for clean and simple. Her birthday tablescape featured her favorite chocolate cake, and I took many of her birthday photos from when she was little and put them in  silver photo frames around the cake. It brought back many memories for all of us, and quite a few laughs.

Yikes!!! She's 29, that makes me OLD!
Happy Birthyday, A!

I am joining Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Books Read in December

I have read fewer books this month than usual , but there are two holiday books that I must recommend. Even though the Christmas season is quickly coming to a close, these two books are worth the late read, or put them on your list for next November to get yourself in the holiday spirit.

book cover of 
The Christmas Quilt 
 (Elm Creek Quilts, book 8)
Jennifer Chiaverini

By Jennifer Chiaverini, this story is about Elm Creek Manor, a mansion in Pennsylvania. Chiaverini takes the reader through the antebellum era, the Great Depression, World War II with her added love and knowledge of quilting. The main character, Sylvia is coping with the modern problem of family dispersed, estranged, or even forgotten,  and reconciliation with her personal history proves interesting for the reader. I am not a quilter, but the story was very captivating even so. A good Christmas read.

This book is a great, fun read. Light and quirkly characters are introduced throughout this story as a man takes a train trip from the east coast to west right before Christmas. He is a writer who has been thrown off the airlines, and must use Amtrak . He discovers many different people on this trip and the reader laughs along with him as he decides he has an article waiting to be written about all the passengers on the train.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Real Mincemeat Pie- A recipe

For the first time, I am joining Foodie Friday, from Designs by Gollum. Please link back to this button to see many other great recipes.

There are three Christmas foods I have fond memories of from childhood.  Long before Christmas, Mama would start making a fruitcake. Daddy took over when it was done and in the tin. He would pour something over it, and Mama would stand there and giggle and squeal " Too much!!! Too much!!!" Yep, I think that fruitcake was pretty well preserved. Even so, I ate fruitcake since I was very small, and I still admit to liking it, despite all the doorstop jokes.

Mom made bourbon balls just for Daddy. They sat in a beautiful covered candy dish on the coffee table. I WANTED to like them. After all, it was CHOCOLATE!!! But every time I lifted the lid on that candy dish, and the aroma of that bourbon wafted into the air, I slammed the lid down. I have not had bourbon balls in years, I bet I would like them now!

The best, best Christmas thing Mama made was real mincemeat pie. She and Grandma would get together and make the pies before Christmas. I loved those times.  In later years, I watched and wrote down the recipe, because mincemeat pies were one of those things that they had no recipe for, they just made them. When they were all still on the farm, Grandma made up  metal dishpans full of mincemeat. They canned whatever they did not use at the time. The only thing they needed to buy was flour, sugar, and oranges. Everything else they grew on the farm. Plenty of beef, an orchard of apples, and a vineyard. Grandpa made homemade wine, a sweet concord wine. Grandpa was first generation English, and Grandma first generation German. I don't know whose family had the tradition of mincemeat pies, probably the English side.

This year Mama and I made mincemeat pies again. We have customized the origional recipe over the last 20 years, because we don't make the mincemeat from scratch anymore.  Here are a few pictures and the recipe.

Mincemeat Pie
Makes 1 deep dish pie and 1 regular pie

3 cups of beef roast, cooked and chopped finely ( I do a chuck roast in the crockpot)
Peel from  1 and 1/2 oranges
1/2 orange, diced
2 cups raisins
1 apple, diced finely
2 cups of Mogan David concord wine ( no fancy wine, you need Mad Dog, the sweet, cheap stuff)
1 jar (1 lb) of mincemeat
crusts for 2 pies
Add all ingredients together in a large bowl, and combine. Fill pie crusts with this mixture. Make sure you have steam holes in the top crust. Bake at 375 degrees for  45 minutes, or until crust is nicely browned.                 

Adding the finely chopped roast.

Didn't Mama make a pretty poinsettia on top?


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Take a Moment

Take a moment for yourself during all the last minute craziness.

It's early in the morning, the house is quiet, time for a little coffee and fruitcake. Yes, I love fruitcake.

Here's my list of things to STILL do:
presents yet to buy
presents to wrap
decorating to finish
baking to do
 house to clean (again!)

What does your list look like?

Also take a moment to remember the "Reason for the Season"

Have a peaceful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter White Tablescape

A little sparkle, a little white, a little candlelight..........

This table cloth was my Grandmother's. She was married in 1914, and this was a wedding present. It has 11 napkins with it. It is amazing there are no stains on it. My mother says she used all her white tablecloths even when she fed the threshers. (farmers who harvested wheat)  All the farmers helped each other by going farm to farm at threshing time (hot summer in Kansas) and all the farm wives used their best linens and dishes to feed the threshers, noon and evening. It was like an unspoken competition of who could feed the other farmers the best, and by the next morning, all the farm wives knew who served what, how much and what their tables looked like. Can you imagine white tablecloths and dirty, hot, tired threshers?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Old Christmas Toys Tablescape

A mix of old and newer.

The truck, top, and jack in the box are my toys. The bear is a couple of years old, from Hallmark.

A Fitz and Floyd Santa plate and Santa mugs I made for my daughters when they were little.


 I remember getting this tea set at Christmas and I even remember the box it came in.

Green glass sherbet dishes from a thrift store. I don't know the maker of this Santa, it says CR on the back. Christopher Radko? Plates from a garage sale, and flatware is Oneida Venetia given to me by an aunt for my hope chest (!) when I was a teenager. She bought me pieces for every occasion.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Old Fashioned Christmas Parade

For 17 years, Lawrence, Kansas (home of the Jayhawks!) has hosted an Old Fashioned Christmas Parade. This was the first year I was able to attend. Requirements are that all entries are horse drawn wagons, carriages, or small buggies. Most all entrants dress in 1800’s fashion. There were about 70 entries this year, some from as far away as Minnesota and South Dakota.
Many of the wagons were drawn by draft horses. It was amazing how big they are up close. Their hooves are the size of dinner plates! Thousands of draft horses were imported from Western Europe into the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century. The ones we are most familiar with are the Clydesdales from Scotland and the Belgians from Belgium.

Enjoy this adventure with me, and know...... I am still the little girl who wants a pony. ( my back yard is pretty big, Mama!)

There were the very very big, and the very small!

This little burro was doing some turns and tricks at the intersection which won him some applause!