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Christmas Cards

It’s been a while.  I’m not a good blogger.  But…

…another blogger requested to see some of the Christmas Cards that I have drawn over the past 26 years.  This is the best place to post them.

When I was about 16, my Mom asked me to draw her card (I can confirm the year once I get the folder of the rest of the cards out).  We’ve incorporated Dad’s position as GM of the World Trade Center, my going to college in DC, various vacations, hobbies, family celebrations, etc, into the designs.  And about 8 years ago I began to draw my family’s cards, too.  One Aunt has all of them taped to her closet wall.  A cousin puts them all out every year with the current year’s cards.  They aren’t fancy.  I’m not the best artist.  But they are personal and different.

Here are some of the last few years.  Once I get up into the attic I’ll dig out the file of the rest of them and scan some of the more interesting ones in and post those, too.  You can click on the images to see bigger ones.

The small boy is The Cub.  The cats are Ceilidh and Dara.  The ornaments are things we do or like or play with.

The Cub again.  Ornaments are some of the things we like.

The Cub and Mickey the year of our trip to WDW.

We went to DC last year, hence the Monument and various DC characters.  The bikes are because The Cub learned to ride without training wheels.  The small thing on the side of the Monument is an ant carrying an ornament.  The leaf cutter ants were one of The Cub’s favorite critters in the Natural History museum.  The rolling pin and pot on the flag behind the plane are because we saw Julia Child’s kitchen in the American History museum.

This is one of my Mom’s cards, the year that they took a Baltic Cruise and drove across the US for a wedding.  The garland is a list of the cities that they visited in Europe and the balls are the states that they drove through.  The car is for The Cub, the doll for his cousin, and the little box for the second cousin who was about 3 months from being born.

More to come soon.


Who Needs Yard Crashers?!

When we moved into our house it had been empty for two years.  The yard was a mess and overgrown with ivy all around the house.  I spent the first summer pulling out ivy.  I”m still trying to keep it from taking over in certain areas.  The creeping myrtle is trying to take over, too.

There is forsythia in several locations.  I’ve spent a lot of time pruning that back or removing it altogether.

I love the tall lilac bushes along the back fence.  The smell sets off my allergies, so I don’t bring the blooms into the house, but they are lovely and the bushes (trees?) hide some of the rear neighbor’s white fence.  I’d rather be fenced in with green stuff.

The oddest thing was along the bedroom side of the house.  Just a couple of feet in from the property line the old owner had installed 5 segments of stockade fencing.  It doesn’t connect to anything at either end.  The best that we could figure out was that it was to block the view to the bedroom windows from the neighbor’s family room.  There was a sad rose bush right about a mid length.  Between it and the neighbor’s chain link fence were privet or boxwood hedges.  Many of these were dying.

The sections were doing a really good job of trying to rot in the dirt as they hadn’t been installed up enough to prevent rot.  So we eventually pulled the sections down, leaving the posts which are in decent shape.

The stockade fence has since been replaced with lengths of vinyl lattice supported by lengths of 1 x 3 that were salvaged from other odd projects that came with the house.  What we did do was install them from the tops of the posts, leaving a 1 foot gap at the bottom.  Grass and weeds filled in where the boxwoods had been.  I’m working on eliminating the weeds and establishing more grass.

We finally attacked our side of the lattice area and did something that we had wanted to do for a while.  There is now a garden edged with stones salvaged from a raised bed that we are eliminating.  We’ve planted two blue berry bushes and transplanted a rose bush from another area that is about to be torn up.  We are hoping that it takes to the transplant.  If not we’ll get a climbing rose for that location.  We need a few more plants for the garden area, but the tilling and edging and prepwork have been done.

More stone edges a newly mulched area along the side of the house in order to make mowing easier, protect the poor remaining part of the thorn bush, and protect the grounding wires and siding (yes, I know it needs a paint job) from the weed whacker and lawn mower.  The stone gives it a more finished look.

I am hoping that the thorn bush fills back in.  It was huge and died a rather ugly death, except for that one stem.  That stem even had flowers this spring.

The side yard looks much more finished now.   M’Lord plans to build an arbor archway at the narrow area between the lattice and the forsythia.

It’s a slow process, but the yard is shaping up.

Now the “Patio” is a whole other story.

I’ve Lost…

…the ability to get both the Cub and myself out of the house on time in the morning.

For 3 1/2 years, two mornings a week, The Cub and I would get up at 6:30 am and cuddle on the couch while he watched Disney or Nick Jr.  At 6:50 I would get up, get dressed, pack my lunch, get him dressed, feed him breakfast, and get us both out of the door by 7:23.  I’d drop The Cub off at the sitter’s house and be on my way to work by 7:30.

As M’Lord can go into work later in the morning, now that The Cub began kindergarten, M’Lord drops him off at school on those two mornings a week and then heads in to work.

Today through Thursday M’Lord is in FL on a business trip.  So, for the first time since August, I had to get both myself and The Cub up, dressed, and packed and out the door by 7:25.  We didn’t make it.  We left at 7:31.  I dropped him off at a friend’s house, so that she would walk him to school with her kindergartener, and was finally on the way to work at 7:36, about 10 minutes later than I usually leave for work on my own now.  Time of arrival at work…8:15, about 10 minutes later than usual.

Maybe I’ll get my timing back on Thursday?

…In Doubletime, No Less

That loose tooth that I mentioned yesterday….is no longer loose. It’s out. Yesterday morning The Cub announced that it was loose. Tonight, while eating his dessert cookie, he announced “Mommy, my tooth is out!” as he stood there with it between the fingers of the hand not holding the cookie! It is now in a small black cloth sack on his desk, awaiting the Tooth Fairy. We managed to keep him from putting it under his pillow, way up in his loft bed, by saying that the Tooth Fairy would probably knock her wings on the ceiling if she had to get up that high.

He was so excited to lose his first tooth. I’m not so sure how I feel about it yet.


Christmas!  May your day be wonderful and full of family, friends, fun, and love.

Yeast…it scares me

I love to bake.  For years I have baked cakes, cookies, and quick breads.  I wanted to bake bread.  Real bread.  But I was afraid of yeast.  We have a bread machine.  I use it regularly.  But I don’t have to do anything other than pour in the ingredients, set it, and start it.  Other than making sure that the yeast isn’t past its 6 months since I opened it date, I don’t have to worry about kneading or rising.  Because yeast scares me.

I thought that I’d like to take a bread making class so that someone could, in real life and not from a book or web page, show me how to knead the dough and what it should feel like when ready to rise.  The teacher would also show me how to bloom the yeast.

A friend makes her own bread.  I asked about kneading.  She said that she lets her mixer do the kneading.  AHA!  We have a 6 quart Kitchenade Professional stand mixer.  With a dough hook.  I decided to be brave and give making bread, without the bread machine, a try.

Last winter I started with a recipe that I found on the internet that had good reviews.  It made two loaves of whole wheat honey oatmeal bread.  I messed up the yeast blooming part, but redid it and, with the help of the mixer, made two loaves of very tasty bread.  Then came cinnamon swirl bread.  That worked out very well, too.  Our kitchen and house are cool, so keeping the dough warm for rising was a trick until I remembered that we have a microwavable heating pad.  Heated for a couple of minutes it is warm enough to keep the dough warm for rising.  I though that I was pretty smart.

The whole wheat bread was made again.  Then the cinnamon swirl bread.  It was during this last loaf that I discovered, after owning and using it for 3 1/2 years, that the oven has a proof setting.  Wow!  How did I miss that?  Anyway, the second loaf of cinnamon swirl bread rose to a huge size in the loaf pan in the oven.  And it became very delicious french toast.  Yes it did.

So, now that the house is cool again and the oven can run for a few hours without overheating the house, bread is being made again, without the bread machine.  There is 1/3 of a loaf of the whole wheat left and I only baked it yesterday.  The other loaf is in the freezer.  Another batch will be made late next week to prep for the parental Christmas visit.

But I did it.  I braved the yeast and made homemade bread.  And it was good.  I’m still nervous about screwing up the yeast, and I have yet to have someone teach me how to knead, but I did it.

Maybe buttermilk bread is next.  Or cinnamon swirl for Christmas breakfast.  Hmmmm…

Christmas Baking Past and Present

My mother can cook.  But, like I do, she prefers to bake.  At Christmas time she would make dozens of cookies.

I remember rainbow colored petit fours, butterballs, walnut cups, spritz made with the classic twist press, New Zealand Holly Cookies (raspberry filled holly leaf shaped roll out butter cookies iced with a glaze ,with cinnamon hots for berries), roll out butter cookies decorated with sprinkles, and buckeyes.  She doesn’t make nearly as many now as there aren’t teen aged girls and their friends in the house to help eat them.  But I remember the process.  I can picture the pile of Christmas tins full of cookies.  I remember having to open a bunch of tins to find the cookie that I was looking for.

I remember being drafted to help roll buckeyes as I got older.  Mom always did the dipping, though.  And for years she has hosted a Cookie Exchange.  She started hosting them before they became the thing to do, had cook books written specifically for them, and began to be showcased on The Food Network.  The buckeyes were her contribution to the selection.  The one year that she wanted to make something else the rest of the Moms when up in arms.  Then again, Mrs. B wasn’t allowed to make anything other than meringues with mini chocolate chips.  Now that Mom has moved to NC and hosts one down there, she makes whatever she wants and the buckeyes are for the family.  I can also remember other kids asking when the exchange was going to be so that they could haunt their Moms for the cookies.  Some of the Moms snuck the filled tins right into the freezer when they got home so that they’d have cookies left for Christmas Day.

I make buckeyes for the cookie exchange that I go to.  We have a great group of friends whose beginnings come from going country line dancing.  We meet for a few parties each year and one is the cookie exchange.  Most of us have a specific cookie that we have to make.  Some can vary their contribution.  But they are not happy if I don’t make buckeyes or JK doesn’t make PB Blossoms.  The Cub and M’Lord don’t object to the buckeyes, either.  They even helped roll and package this year.

What do I make, otherwise, for Christmas Cookies?  Hmmm…this year I’ve made Chocolate Krackle Cookies so far.  I am planning to make spritz (with that classic twist press that Mom gave to me), roll out butter cookies, and possibly butterballs.  I can halve the butterball recipe easily and not end up with tons of them.  Not a huge variety, but with the cookie exchange cookies and other Christmas treats we don’t really need that many cookies begging to be eaten.  And I’d like to make meringues.  Possible for Christmas dessert.

But I do bake cakes.  It is another thing that my Mom did.  Small loaves of Chocolate Chip Poundcake, 7Up Poundcake, Sour Cream Poundcake, possibly Chocolate Marble Loaf, and Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut bread will be baked and wrapped and labeled and ribboned.  These go to the neighbors and The Cub’s teacher, among other people.  I do need to bake more small cake loaves.  I don’t have enough to give out at Christmas yet.  The brick wall in the freezer is very short right now.

Maybe making a list of ingredients would be a good idea right now.