They know me and love me

I got many good gifts this year.  Here are some of my highlights.

Old clothes and coloring!  Double hit!img_20161225_170734214.jpg

Inspirational quotes and coloring-double hit again!img_20161225_170757949.jpg

A 3D puzzles that looks like my dog.  It was hard so it is never being taken apart! EVER!img_20161225_170515575_hdr.jpg

Be still my Trekkie heart.img_20161225_170617191.jpg

I didn’t know what this was until the hubby explained it.  You put balls of wool in it.  You are supposed to hang it near where you are working so that it dispenses easily but really it is to keep my dog, who thinks she is a cat, from playing with it.img_20161225_171507294.jpg

An elephant watch and necklace.img_20161225_170918842.jpg

There were many more fabulous gifts but less photogenic.  Who wants a picture of a bag of coffee and gift cards?  I hope your haul was equally wonderful!

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Merry Christmas!

I want to wish you all a fabulous Holiday!  I’m enjoying what works out to be a 4 day weekend and  I intend to spend most of it in my PJ’s!  Woot Woot!

I thought you might enjoy some inspiration that I got from the local house museum Dalnavert.

The Origin of the Christmas Tree by Heather Mousseau

In 1841 Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, husband of Queen Victoria, imported a small Christmas tree from his homeland and the fashion quickly caught on. Called German trees at first, they generally stood about 4 feet high and were placed on a table as we have done in the study at Dalnavert. They were decorated with small presents, sugared fruit or candy as we do in the cornucopias on our parlour tree, little toys, and other tiny items. Children might string garlands of cranberries or popped corn to trim their tree. They were lit by small wax tapers and must have looked quite lovely when all lit up.

As often happens, after being overwhelmed by the prep for an event, I find inspiration to add to my stress level for next time!  The above paragraph inspired me to have a bit of Victorian Christmas in my home.  This would mean having a 3rd tree!  I have my big tree with ornaments purchased or given over the years…many with sentimental meaning behind them.img_20161224_090726691.jpg

Then I have a little tree of elephant ornaments because I love elephants.img_20161224_090807821.jpg

This is the latest acquisition.

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Now I want a Victorian Tree.

To have this Victorian tree, I will need to find a 4 foot artificial tree. (1 step away from authentic but no need to kill a tree every year). I will scan the shelves this Boxing Day and see if the stores can produce one for a decent price.

The tree needs to be on a table, which I have.  The trouble is, that table already has decorations on it.

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These decorations will have to find a new home next year or be pitched into the donation bin.  Then I may have to move the table because the 4 foot tree might be a bit much on a 2 foot table in the middle of the room.

The small presents would be easy enough to do…make some ornaments with small doors in them to put small things in. I think I’ve seen a blog that has instructions for Victorian ornaments like that. The candied fruit…well I could learn to do that but likely I’ll take another step away from authenticity and by the fake ones.

I could give the cranberry popcorn chain thing a try again.  I did it once…and hung it up outside for the birds and squirrels.  (Don’t tell the hubby I feed the squirrels.  He hates them.)  The waxed tapers seems a bit like a fire hazard so I will take another step away from authenticity and see if I can find the battery operated kind and then come up with a way to attach them.  Perhaps glue some alligator clips on them…very authentic!

Then I will put the gifts for my costuming chums under it.  All wrapped in brown paper or tissue paper and tied with ribbon or lace.

Now the pragmatic part of me is saying, “yes, that seems like fun but, you didn’t put out all of the decorations this year (or last) because you didn’t feel like it.  What makes you think you’ll want to put out more next year?  And where will you put it hmmm?  And if you can’t find places for it all without resorting to little used rooms and step ladders…”

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“…what makes you think there will be room for it all when you DOWNSIZE in a year or two? And the idea of starting to collect those little Victorian buildings and creating a town is stupid.”

Oh shut up pragmatic side.  You are spoiling my muse.giphy

 

Big success, little success.

I attempted the leg lamp cookies.  They were a little success.  They tasted fine and my “older guests” recognized the reference but I’m not totally happy with them.  Problem one, I couldn’t find black pre made icing nor black food coloring so that I could make my own icing so I settled for blue.  Meh.  And when I iced the fish net stockings, I forgot the garter.  So here is my “nailed it” photo…what it should have looked like and what it actually did look like.

I also made Grinch Popcorn.

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It turned out PERFECT!  I even found the EXACT Grinch doll to display it with.  And I was sure I took a photograph of it but it seems I didn’t.  Drat.  You are going to have to believe me when I say it was PERFECT!

Leg Lamp

My two favorite Christmas movies are not in the Victorian genre.  Go figure.  Number one on the list is The Christmas Story.  My favorite scene is when the father gets his leg lamp.  Slays me every time! So as an homage to my muse, I am taking one of my Pintrest Pins and attempting to recreate it.  See the site here.

The first step is printing up the recipe and the stencil for cutting out the leg. For some reason, my printer printed up the stencil way too small.  Not only would they be annoying to try and make and disappointing to try and eat, visually the lamp shade (made from Resses peanut butter cups, would be out of proportion.img_20161214_095846827.jpg

My printer wont enlarge and I was unable to free hand the sketch so I just enlarged around the printed stencil.img_20161214_094221464.jpg

I traced that onto clean paper and cut it out.  I then used that shape to trace out a stencil in cardboard.  Much better proportions.

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I followed the recipe and added half cup of flour to store bought sugar cookie dough.  I have no idea why they wanted that.  I can only assume the straight dough is too soggy.

I rolled the dough out and pressed the cardboard into the dough.  I wanted 24 legs because I had enough peanut butter cups for 24 lamp shades.

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Then came the tough part…cutting the shapes out with a paring knife and then smoothing and shaping once they were transferred to the baking pan.

They baked up fine, but did take longer than the recipe suggested.  Is my oven not hot enough?  Did I make them too thick?  I don’t know.

The next step is cooling.  Dangerous in my house.  So I took the left over dough and baked that up and left this behind before heading off to work.img_20161214_102008847.jpg

I taped my cardboard stencil and the icing diagram onto the recipe for future attempts.  The cardboard got greasy so my plan is to use it to make a new cardboard stencil for the next batch.  Seems the best way to avoid food poisoning in the future.

I will attempt decorating next.  Sure hope this doesn’t turn into a “nailed it” post for next time.

And so it begins

The tree is up.  The lights were their usual pain in the butt, but this year I had help!

Normally, I do the tree on my own as my boys (hubby included) always hated the process.  My future daughter-in-law, on the other hand, normally helps her mom set up their tree in Germany and so she wanted to help me with mine.  Where the girl goes, the boy goes so I had two helpers with the assembly of the tree.

The hubby will gravitate towards groups so once the hockey game on TV was over, he came to help too.  He did battle with the lights that were not working (he had to concede victory to 3 strands that refused to light.)

The youngest happened to walk by at the ornament stage and he stayed to help with that.  So this year I got to tell the stories of where all the ornaments came from instead of reliving it all by myself.  Many hands make light work.  (Pun intended).img_20161204_180853333.jpg

Ginger, in the foreground, had not noticed that her “boyfriend”, in the mid-right of the picture, is back.  She has now…cue sexy time music.  Stupid dog.

Christmas ruminations

Tomorrow is December 1rst.  I don’t really like to do much about Christmas before December arrives.  Sure, I send out and request Christmas wish lists for folks that require mail service to give and receive gifts.  I start amassing stocking stuffers during my weekly grocery shop.  But I refuse to put up decorations.  (I do let hubby put outdoor lights up because it is easier in snowless November than in the waist deep snow of December).  If the radio starts with the Christmas tunes I turn the station.  One of my favorite stations has been playing only Christmas tunes since November 1 (grumble grumble!)

But tomorrow I will start thinking in earnest.  I have to pick a day to put up the tree.

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This photo is several years old but I still have that shirt. I wear it every time I put up a tree…including at work. I secretly love the Grinch.

It is best to do that before the decorating insanity starts at work.  In my old job, I had to help stand 7 trees-one was close to 20 feet tall.  I had decorate 3-4.  By the time I got to mine I had no desire left!  (Damn lights).  untitled

This year, in my new job, it seems I only have to stand 3 and decorate 1.  And none of them are over 6 feet.  Sweet.

I also have to get my butt in gear for the shopping.  We have no children in our clan now so some of the fun has gone out of it.  And we have all reached the state of life where we just run out and buy the little things we need and want so there is nothing to put on our lists except big-ticket items that no one person would reasonably buy for another.  So we are moving towards the gift card option.  This gives the person the option to hoard cards from one store to “save up” for something they want/need or hold onto several different store cards until they think of something they want or need.  Shopping will be a snap…just stand in front of a wall of cards and start selecting.  img_6568The Santa in me wants to have at least one or two well thought out gifts that the person may like but not think of buying themselves.  But lots of times it is simply walking by something in a store or craft sale and having an item cause me to stop and think of someone.  I can tell you this because my brother and sister-in-law don’t read my blog…They have two wiener dogs,  Jenny and Leonard.  Jenny is brown and Leonard is black.  I was walking in the store and I saw these.img_20161130_081036236.jpg

And they dance!

Completely useless but funny!

An added joy this year is my older boy will be home for Christmas.  He missed the last three.  The first year he was in Australia.  I found a tree ornament that year of a kangaroo.  I cried when I hung it on the tree.  The next two years he was in Germany and I cried when I hung the stupid kangaroo on the tree.  I also cried (messy, need to leave the room cried) every time I heard “I’ll be home for Christmas” and “Blue Christmas”. Really inconvenient in stores and a bit scary in the car.  No crying this year!

Wishing you all Merry Christmas prep!