Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tales of Christmas Past - Books


 As far back as I can remember, there was always a book or two at Christmas.  Without realizing what they were doing, my parents instilled a love of reading and of books deep within me -- and this from two people that I never saw reading other than a magazine or a newspaper.

I recall reading a few Little Golden Books as a small child. But I quickly graduated to more mature books such as Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and Heidi. Then as a teen, I began reading Agatha Christie mysteries. Whatever the book, you'd find me under the covers with a flashlight all through Xmas vacation. Books continue to be a treat for me, my shelves groaning under the happy unslaught. 


Blogger Jo from "A Cup of Jo" had a post yesterday on Jólabókaflóð or The Christmas Book Flood.  Apparently in Iceland, books are exchanged on Christmas Eve; you then spend the rest of the night in bed eating chocolate and reading. Doesn't that sound divine!  


I hope Santa has some books for me this year. (I can always make room under the night table.) And I plan on adding Jólabókaflóð to my list of holiday activities.  But, of course, because we actually open gifts and feast on the 25th, I'll change the date to incorporate Xmas Night & Boxing Night and for that matter ALL throughout the holiday season. 



Happy Jólabókaflóð: and I'll see you under the tree!
















Thursday, December 11, 2014

Happy Hatty Christmas!


It's winter; so it's cold outside; and you know your Mama always reminded you to dress warmly before leaving the house.  Good warm, dry boots for your feet, mittens or fleece lined gloves for your hands and a hat for your head: you MUST protect those extremities.  

I've been a hat person person since my early 40s.  So, I've had 20 years to amass a wonderful collection of touques (Canadian for ski hat) and other hats. (Almost all come from Frenchies and Value Village, of course; one could not afford them otherwise!)

I like to sometimes add a bit of glam or festive cheer to my hat in the form of a broach or pin.  And after 60 years on this earth, I know what hairstyle suits me and what hat suits my hairstyle.

Here are a few of my winter hats:
The white fleece in the top left corner is super-duper warm; the blue "bowler"is a cute one (Nagisa really likes this style); I have a brown felt hat similar to this next brown wool with the rhinestone snowflake -- both very warm; and then there's one of my favorites -- the red wood with black feathery trip.

This red velour is a find this year; it has a flattened bow at the back and sports a Xmas pin.

But my very favorite hat this season is below. It's not one I can wear often, but it always draws a crowd.
I do love me a good seasonal hat!


Do you have a favorite winter hat?




Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas Tree Day!

What a couple of great girls I have here with me.  How many other mothers could get their teenage daughters to actually volunteer to help you wash walls and windows? That's what they did yesterday and today.  So, much, much earlier than I thought possible, I can cross powder room and kitchen off my cleaning list for Christmas.  Only the dining room left.


Perhaps they were just really eager to get the tree.  Well, they were absolutely giddy about getting a Xmas tree. This is Lena's first time being part of the process and it's Nagisa first ever real Xmas tree.  "So big!" she said about our 5 ft tree.  


And what fun we had picking out a tree. We went to a local U-pick where you choose and cut your own, tag it, then you walk to the cabin, pick up some hot chocolate and a cookie and sit on hay bales around a blazing log fire, cocooned by a circle of wee, decorated Xmas trees. It was so pretty.

 


The tree is home and up but we were all too pooped to decorate. Instead, we prepared a delicious picnic supper and lay around the TV watching "Home Alone".
Cheesy nacho dip and Jalapeno/Mango wings (so spicy!) from M&M's Meat Shop, veggies, orange cake, strawberry Kit-Kat (from Japan) and Milka cookie bar (from Germany).


My bed is calling.  All that cleaning and fresh air has me tuckered out.  Do you have your tree up yet?



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Stir-up Sunday


I was channeling Jamie Oliver last weekend; and I don't know about you, but I didn't even realize that there was such a thing as Stir-up Sunday -- the day you mix your Christmas pudding. I'm a little late; traditionally, it's done the last Sunday before Advent.  But better late than never.

I'm a big fan of the Christmas pudding. I found a great (healthier??) version many years ago -- it has grated carrot and potatoes inside. My Ex and I loved it; but like most things containing candied peel and raisins/currants, my kids were pretty "nhaw" about it -- they'd eat it, but it wasn't a favorite.  So, I haven't made one for a few years.  

But my international daughters are so avid for anything Christmas, that they were very excited about the prospect of a Christmas pudding -- something neither of them has had before. And I was fortunate enough to find a lovely pudding mold at a consignment shop on Saturday. I wasn't sure if it would be stick proof; but it was pretty.


Sunday involved a lot of measuring and mixing and stirring (and tasting) on the girls part.  But we stirred up that pudding, popped it into the very well buttered mold, and steamed it for about 2 hours.

It emerged glorious! The pineapple relief on the pudding came out well (although you can't really see it in the photo). And it was so fragrant! Yum!  
However, it's safely tucked away until its big appearance after Christmas dinner when it'll be served with a butterscotch-like sauce.


So, how about you?
Do you (still) make Christmas puddings?






Monday, December 1, 2014

The Jolly Season has Begun!

Long time, no blog.l  But I've been busier than a one-armed paper hanger (as they say).  Here are some highlights from my wonderful weekend.  

Saturday the girls and I joined my good friend Diana and went to Mahone Bay for their annual Father Christmas Festival.  We visited the market which is held in an old barn: downstairs was full of the most delicious food stuffs -- crisp golden buttery shortbreads, mince pies, breads, jellies, wines, etc etc.  But upstairs is the "Magic Xmas Kingdom":  each year is a different theme; this year's theme was "Global Christmas".  

As you walked upstairs under a canopy of white, you entered through Ellie the Elephant's mouth; her trunk is placing the star on top of the tree, and there's a beautiful little village on her back with little fairies hanging above.




This is the friendly, talking elf that greets you at the top of the stairs.  He loves getting his picture taken.  


And here are just a few of the beautiful Father Christmas figures representing various countries.
  The very centre of the room had a 350 deg display of Father Christmas, various female figures, a swan, etc all in white. It was quite stunning.

The open section over the Market held this display: 2 skaters which spun round and some beautiful balloons overhead.

There was a whole story line with the display, but I was so busy looking and taking pictures that I haven't read it yet. 

After a walk about town, we headed to the Christmas Craft fair in Lunenburg and lunch at Sweet Indulgence. And after that particular lunch (Bailey's cheesecake), we needed a walk about Lunenburg. So, we took the girls to the Parade Square to see the over 100 Xmas tree display by various businesses and groups in the area. 





We were home by 4:30 pm and then out for our town's Christmas Parade.  All the international students walk in this parade; and it was a lovely parade this year followed by some fantastic fireworks.
 


Fireworks over the LaHave River.


What a great way to begin our Christmas season.









Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Snow and Licorice Tea.

Cool boots huh! Sadly, not mine.
The weather has definitely taken a turn towards winter here on the South Shore of Nova Scotia.  The winter coat, hat, gloves AND boots have come out.  And this morning, there was snow on the ground.

The students are in a state of bliss.  So many of these kids never see snow at all. Mind you, we just had a sprinkling, not the amounts that the city saw and no where near what Buffalo NY is experiencing. Poor people! I'm praying for their safety.

Like so many people, my thoughts these days go towards Christmas. I'm in a great spot this year as I brought gifts home to my family when I visited this summer (no expensive post), I have one student's gifts purchased, something in mind for #2 student and my kids are happy with cash to spend as they like. So, other than a number of Xmas activities with the students over the next 4 weeks, I have time to think about things like baking and tree decorating TV Xmas movies and the heady anticipation of most of us being together this season .... 

.... time to focus on the most important aspects of Christmas: family, love and the Christ child.



It's quiet here at the office; just me listening to intermittent hammering downstairs from the carpenter who is himself listening to the country music radio. Quiet and warm and peaceful; just me and my Maria cracker and my licorice tea.