Tuesday, December 30, 2014

GB 2014 - Beartown

Does gingerbread count as crafting? Well for today's purposes, it does! There is certainly a lot of keeping calm involved. 

As promised, here are our 2014 Gingerbread photos. We took about 3 years off from our tradition of GB making and got back to it full force this year. In years past, we have tried to make our gingerbread houses relevant in some way to our year. This past summer, we had a wonderful time camping in a cabin at Holly River State Park, and that was the inspiration for this year's house. 

We decided, since our friend the bear looked so at home, that it would be his home, so instead of a bear skin rug, we have a gingerbread man rug (ha, ha). You can see in the picture before we put the roof on that the table has fruit and a Swedish fish on it. There are also Swedish fish in the creek. 

Just for the fun of it, I am including our GB houses from the past. The 2009 one was a birdhouse but I don't seem to have a finished picture of it with the chickadee on the top... Do you think we have improved over the years? (I don't know, 2007 is hard to beat!)

Keep calm and craft on with Frontier Dreams and others!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kitchen Notes, Christmas edition

molasses batter :: sticky jamaican ginger cake :: orange and clove tea :: fried apples on cornbread :: 
mincemeat pies :: pies all done :: final batch of royal icing :: creme brûlée is gone

We had a remarkably quiet holiday this year, by our own choosing. This was the first time we stayed in our own home, and Julian had bought my gift (a new 9ft artificial tree) before Thanksgiving, so there wasn't even any unwrapping. There was, however, lots of eating.

You may recall that I made mincemeat about 6 weeks ago. It did not disappoint! In fact, I completely forgot about it until Christmas Eve, and I kept chanting to myself, "Don't forget the mincemeat!" I got up Christmas morning and made these pies, but I didn't add the additional fruit the recipe called for and I used half shortening and half butter, instead of all butter. One pint of mincemeat made 12 perfect muffin-sized pies. It's always nice when something you've never done before comes out so well.

Speaking of things never done before, Julian and I made lobster and crab ravioli for our Christmas dinner. Being only two of us, you can do those things, you know. I don't have many good pictures of it because the lighting was low, but you can imagine that it was yummy, yummy, yummy.

Still to come are some photos of our gingerbread house, a tradition we renewed this year after several years off. It was fun, but exhausting, and you'll soon see why.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Orchid Room

I'm sneaking in a post when I should be in bed already. If I don't post now, I will get one more day behind and add the orchids to a long list of other things I feel behind on, too.

We went to Phipps Conservatory on Monday - they decorate it beautifully for the holidays and stopping in has become a Christmas tradition for us. Even without being decked out in holiday style, the orchid room is always our favorite.

In addition to the flowers, Phipps is home to some incredible art glass as well, and these Longfellows are my favorite glass in my favorite room - a match made in heaven. Feast your eyes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On books...

I've been getting some good reading in but I have also had some strong reading craving, left unsatisfied*.

On audio, I've been listening to James Herriot's All Things Bright and Beautiful, and loving every minute of his stories, per usual. It makes me so homesick for my childhood and being on the farm. I honestly don't know how non-farm people find so much pleasure in Herriot's writing, though I know that they do, because so much of the feeling for me is in nostalgia - knowing the exact sound that Herriot calls the "chuckle" of a mother ewe who has just lambed. These stories are completely hilarious. This book comes before the War, and details his time dating Helen and their very early married life together.

*Nevermind that bit about unsatisfied reading craving. I've been able to put my finger on it - of course - it makes so much sense! It's Christmastime! The books that spring to mind this time of year are three in particular: Little Women (Alcott), The Shepherds Abiding (Mitford Series, Karon), The Long Winter (Little House Series, Wilder). I now am well and truly into Little Women on audio and I've been reading one chapter each night of The Shepherds Abiding at bedtime. I find that, if I really enjoy a book, certain times of the year or other circumstances will make me miss the characters like they are real and I know them. (Then again, when you read nine books about the same people, you DO really know them...)

{FYI, Little Women is illustrated and FREE for Kindle on Amazon.}

Is there anything in particular you love to read this time of year?