Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Cookies and China

Everyone knows that one of the big anticipations of any holiday is eating all the special and traditional foods that make up part of the fun.  At our house that means homemade Christmas cookies.  This year I decided to try a couple of new recipes I discovered on Pinterest.

These are called Cranberry Shortbread.  I really liked the idea of refrigerator cookies, just mix the dough, form into rolls, chill and then slice and bake, so easy.   They were delicious too.




 



This was another new recipe, Toffee Butter Ice Box Cookies, so yummy and again so easy to make.





But the star attractions when it comes to cookies are the cut out sugar cookies.  As far as the whole family is concerned, it isn't Christmas Day without them.  This has been the family recipe since I was a little girl baking with my mom  here.


 Outside the snow was falling and The Inspector stepped out back to catch this photo of a deer out under one of the apple trees.


Inside was the warmth of the kitchen and the smell of freshly baked cookies, heavenly!

One pan going into the oven and one pan coming out.


This was a plate of finished Christmas Cookies all ready for dessert on Christmas Day.  Didn't they look scrumptious? They certainly didn't last long!




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Over the years to save time in the kitchen on Christmas day I have started using paper plates and cups for serving. It certainly keeps things casual and easy throughout the holidays.  But this year I was encouraged by a sister blogger to bring out the china and make the holiday meals more festive and special for my family and guests.  

I did still use plastic cups and paper for the snack table.


There were only five of us on Christmas Eve.  I used the stoneware for that.  However, I must admit to paper plates for breakfast on Christmas morning. 




Everyone enjoyed the annual Christmas morning egg casserole, fruit and homemade cinnamon rolls, baked by my daughter.


For Christmas dinner all the lovely china and crystal stemware came out.  The beautiful hand crochet lace table runner was a gift from a dear family friend who was like an aunt to me growing up.  The china was chosen by The Inspector and myself when we were married almost 43 years ago. I must admit, it certainly made the meal feel so much more festive and special.  I really should use it more often. 








 As we continue to enjoy celebrating the 12 days of Christmas I am looking forward to having a dear cousin come to spend the New Year with us.  I also remember going to an Epiphany Breakfast with an aunt & uncle in Texas a few years ago.  Perhaps I will consider hosting something like that next year.  We shall see.  Meanwhile, let's not walk away from Christmas just yet, let's just keep savoring the season.



For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given
and the government shall be upon his shoulders
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor
Mighty God
Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace
Isaiah 9:6





Saturday, December 17, 2016

Making Holiday Memories

This is always such a busy time of the year and like everyone else we are trying to make the most of it.  Getting the Christmas tree is one of those traditions that everyone loves and wants to be a part of.  We have been cutting our own tree for more than 35 years and even though the kids are all grown, they wouldn't miss it. In fact,  one year after my daughter moved out into her own place, I decided to purchase a tree to support our Church Youth group's fund raiser.  My daughter was so disappointed she wouldn't decorate it when she came over because it wasn't "our" tree.  We all still laugh about it but we have never made that "mistake" again.

This year was cold and clear when we headed to the Christmas Tree Farm but we were ready to go
Even Grandma comes along although truthfully I really worry about her falling on the uneven ground.
 

The youngest always has to pick his own personal favorite.

 
The whole crew gathered around  their choice for one of  the trees.


We picked two trees this year.  One for our house and one for the oldest one's new home.

Oldest has made his choice.
 
And here is ours




It was a good thing we went tree cutting when we did because the next day we had our first snow.

I woke up to the sight of big fat snowflakes swirling around in the sky.  Naturally, I had to grab my camera.





 We only got a dusting but it was fun to walk around feeling the icy wetness of the snowflakes on my face and listening to the soft crunch under my boots.  It definitely got me into the feeling of Christmas.

While the snow only lasted for the day, the weather has definitely been COLD with temperatures dipping down into the 20's and even the teens in some places.  Now we are living in a garden of frost which has a beauty all it's own.


There's the sparkle of the ice crystals on a spider web illuminating the tiny threads.


And the foot prints on the frozen blades of grass that tell me a deer passed through here in the early morning.



 I love the extra texture the ice brings to the leaves on this Nandina.




 It's been snowing a little bit again this morning but inside all is cozy and warm as The Investigator builds a fire in the wood burning stove.



The house is all decorated for the holiday season.




 Passing through the french doors into the dining room all has been transformed from fall to Christmas











And our chosen Christmas tree stands guard over the gifts our daughter has brought over to open on Christmas Morning.


As we continue to enjoy this special time of the year with our loved ones.




   I pray that each of us remembers the importance of Keeping Christmas Well. see here





Merry Christmas













Friday, November 11, 2016

An Autumn Stroll

With Thanksgiving behind us and the November days now coming to a close, I wanted to take this time to remember one last autumn walk from our trip to the mountains last month.

On the back side of Leavenworth is a small island filled with several nature trails and a small park.  It's a wonderful place to take a nature walk.







Those who know me well, know that I love pictures of empty chairs and empty paths filled with curves.  It reminds me that you never know who's going to enter your life or what you might find around the corner.  It this case, the path opened up to the beautiful Wenatchee River.  In the Spring when the snow is melting off the mountainsides the river is a favorite spot to go white water rafting but this time of the  year the water just meanders quietly past the fall trees.








It was spawning season and as we waited patiently along the riverbank, from time to time we would suddenly hear the splashing sounds of a salmon as it made it way up the gentle current.  The scene looked like a painting hanging in an art gallery somewhere.









 Once you leave the river there is a lovely little park with benches where you can just sit and enjoy the day.  If I lived in the area I would come here and spend a couple of hours as often as I could.  

Imagine being able to just sit here and read a book or spend some time in quiet reflection.




Walking around the grass I started noticing clusters of pods in the trees and in pieces on the ground.  I went over to take a closer look.





I picked up a pod and discovered that what I was holding was a chestnut!  This particular species is called a horse chestnut.  I don't think these are edible but I loved their smooth shiny skin and the rich brown color.  I took a handful home to place in a dish.





 There was something about this picture with the lamp post that made me think of The Chronicles of Narnia.  Can't you just picture a snow scene with Mr. Tumnus coming around the corner to meet Lucy for the first time?  Wouldn't that be a surprise!



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Now I am going to leave you with this one last picture taken at Deception Falls on our our way home.  If we were standing there today it would be covered in a blanket of snow as it is only a few miles from Stevens Pass which just opened up for the ski season this week.  



And so we say goodby to November and hello to winter which is just around the corner.  There is even talk of a little snow here on Monday.  We shall see.