Monday, October 19, 2009

Christmas Cake

Baking Day




I haven't take a photo of the finished product yet, but it looks FANTASTIC!  The only regret I had was that I forgot to put on my Holiday Apron!

And don't forget, Flylady's  Cruising Through the Holidays begins today :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Holiday Libations

I was finally able to work on some holiday gift projects yesterday!  I spent an hour doing careful, beautiful embroidery work only to discover that my knots weren't good enough -DD destroyed the gift within a minute of having her hands on it.  I guess I would rather find that out now and not later after the gift had been given.  But still.....................sigh.

Today is the day that I am baking @DianeDenmark's Christmas Cake!  I have all the ingredients on hand, just waiting for all the folk to gather so we can Tweet-n-Bake together.  Unfortunately, Twitter seems to be down right now so I'm hoping it'll be up in time for baking!  I guess there is always Facebook Chat  :)

I had dinner with my sister's family yesterday as my nephew was home from college for his fall break.  We taste tested two sparkling wines to see if we had found a new (and less expensive) candidate for the holiday festivities.  But it got me thinking about Holiday Libations - or the Things I Like to Drink during this time of year and some recipes I would like to share.

Happy Hour

Merry Mimosas

This is a drink we like to have on Christmas Morning with our traditional Eggs Benedict breakfast.  It is super easy to make AND to drink.

Orange Juice
Cranberry Juice
Dry sparkling wine

Combine equal proportions of orange and cranberry juice.  Fill glass halfway with juice mixture, top with the sparkling wine.


Rusty Nail

This one I have yet to try, but it sounds intriguing.  I had to look up Drambuie to see what it was exactly as I am using it in the Christmas Cake.  Under the description there were a few cocktails listed.  I chose this because my mother spends Christmas Eve night with us and I always make sure to have Scotch on hand for her for our evening tipple.


Fill glass with ice.  Pour 1 1/2 ounces Scotch into glass, followed by 1 1/2 ounces Drambuie.  (Drambuie is last as it is heavier than Scotch).

Can't wait to report back on this one -maybe I'll try it at Thanksgiving  :)

Mulled Wine with Cinnamon Sticks

Hot Spiced Wine

I always did this back in the day when we had annual Holiday Open Houses.  I had to go in search of a new recipe as I lost mine last year & was pleased to find one that can be done in a crock pot. (Remember, my stove top is cracked & at this point I don't know when that will change).

2 quarts pineapple/orange juice
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
3 bottles red wine
2 lemons
1 orange
3 cinnamon sticks
whole cloves

Combine all the ingredients except the lemons & orange.  Add the juice of one of the lemons.  Slice the remaining lemon and orange and add to liquids.  For a fancy look, stud the cloves into the lemon and orange before slicing.  Simmer 30 minutes before serving.

Rhum St Nicolas

Another recipe I've wanted to try for years because it can be made with or without the rum.

What are your favorite holiday drinks?

Check out the Holiday Planning activities at:
A Mothers Ramblings
Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense

Monday, October 12, 2009

Holiday Grand Plan Week 7

I can't say that I'm happy with the result of one of my handmade gift ideas!  It involves embroidery and according to the directions it should be super simple.  It is simple but the finished result was not spectacular.  I'll try it one more time & if it still looks funny, I shall set the project aside and concentrate on other things.

Like the fact that it is week 7 and I still haven't emptied my freezer of old mysteries so that I have room for new stuff!  I would like to get at least one batch of crescent rolls in the freezer.  I would like to attempt making some pumpkin puree as well.  I don't care so much for pumpkin pie, but there are many other pumpkin recipes out there :)

I thought maybe I would stick to the music theme for this post.  After all, I love Christmas music!  I sang all throughout High School and the carols were my favorite.  I would certainly never be an American Idol Competitor (even if I were young enough) but I can carry a tune.  I also have an almost embarassingly large collection of holiday cd's.  But nothing gets me in the mood for Christmas like music does -hope you find something new to add to your own collection!

Little Altar Boy  by The Carpenters.  I love my Carpenter's Christmas cd -mostly because Karen & I have similar vocal ranges so I can sign along to my heart's content.  I stop every time I hear this haunting tune.

I Saw Three Ships  by Sting.  This is on a Very Special Christmas collection -I think we still have it in cassette form!

*   Blue Christmas - (From the 1968 NBC Television Special) by Elvis.  Can't have a Christmas without the King!

*   Winter Wonderland by Tony Bennet.  This isn't the version I was looking for, but the cool swing brings back childhood memories all the same.

*   Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer  by Chris Isaak.  Probably my favorite Christmas cd so far - and not just because I have such fond memories of Chris!  Its a little Elvis-like, but has Isaak's guitar sound throughout.  I dare you not to bop around to this rendition of Rudolph!

*   Christmas Wrapping (Long version)  by The Waitresses.  No child of the 80's would be without this song on their list!   ......or even a SHE?  LOL

Last Christmas  by Wham.  I just can't stop singing this when I hear it!

There are just so many more songs!  Music like the Nutcracker Suite & The Hallelujah Chorus, Hank Williams Jr, Dan Knight, and the unforgettable South Park Christmas collection......(Note:  I tried to add South Park's Dreidle Song, but it wasn't on file for some reason.  Probably for the best because it would surely offend someone, but I have to listen to it at full blast at least once during the season.  Without DD around of couse!)

So when you start baking your Christmas Cake next weekend, don't forget to let the music play!

Check out the Holiday Planning activities at:
A Mothers Ramblings
Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense

Drop me a line if you would like to be added to the list!

Christmas Decoration Sheet Music

Friday, October 9, 2009

Musical Memories

I was inspired this morning after reading DianeDenmark's blog post about her Top 10 favorite concerts.  What a fun trip down Memory Lane, so I've decided to follow suit and share my favorite concert memories.  Oddly enough, most of them were enjoyed courtesy of my own personal Musical Maven @lauriekeiko!  Concerts seem to be a thing of my past, but I certainly don't mind allowing DH to think that I had wild times back in the day :)  As with Diane, I'm finding my memory fails me as to when I saw performances, but I think I was at least accurate in identifying the decade of the concert.

1.  Duran Duran (199?) 

Duran Duran

Yes, I'm a Duranie!  Always have been, always will.   I've seen them more than once, but the concert I'm thinking of happened during my glorious time living in San Francisco.  It was the Ordinary World tour and we had tickets to see them at the Concord Pavillion.  The day of the show, Laurie managed to score us Orchestra Pit seats.  By Orchestra Pit I mean FRONT ROW.  I could reach out my hand and actually TOUCH THE STAGE.  No barricade or roadies between me & the guys.  It was heaven!  I spent two hours directly in front of John Taylor -I could've died right then & there perfectly happy :)  The only drawback was that there were cameras at the back of the pit filming the stage for the screens broadcasting the show to the peons on the lawn, which meant we couldn't stand up and dance.  Oh well, it was worth it!

2.  Chris Isaak (199?)

Delta Burke and Singer Chris Isaak

  Again, another concert enjoyed with Laurie during our San Francisco days.  This was one of a series of unannounced club gigs that Laurie found out about.  We were early enough to get positions right at the stage.  The highlight of this performance was when Chris used Laurie's head to jump off the stage.  He smiled at me, turned around and leaned back into me while he belted out a guitar solo - I was holding him up while he played!  Sigh. 

3.  B-52's (199?)

The B-52's

Another Concord Pavillion event, another gig with Laurie!  The B-52's are just plain FUN, especially with the Violent Femmes as the opening act.  Note: DH & I happened to see them perform at the same time & place years before we met!

4.  Tears for Fears  (199?)

Yes, you guessed it -another concert with Laurie :)  This time it was a college road trip to Chicago.  (Inside joke:  the directions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)  Sowing the Seeds of Love in the Windy City.  And Ms. Deborah Harry was a mighty fine opening act indeed!

5.  David Bowie (200?)
David Bowie

A concert I attended WITHOUT Laurie!  This is one I attended with my sweet DH who likes Bowie very much & kindly didn't notice me drooling throughout the entire concert :)

6.  INXS

The loudest concert I've ever been to -my ears rang for days after!  A memorable gig because Michael Hutchence  (drool) was still alive and Laurie got us backstage to meet the band (double drool).

7.  U2 (199?)

It was the Zooropa tour and it was the biggest stage production I have ever seen!  It was also the first concert I got in line during the wee hours of the morning for tickets.  We were second in line (after those stupid Jerry-Garcia-general-seating-never-sold-out-concert people) and I believe the only ones to get reserved seats for the concert.  Good times in Oakland, CA............with Laurie :)

8.  Sting (199?)


To be honest, I can't remember if I was with Laurie when I saw him at the Hammersmith Odeon in London (when it was still the Hammersmith Odeon).  He was amazing!  If it makes you feel better, I saw him again with Laurie in Berkely a few years later.

9.  Toad the Wet Sprocket (199?)

We saw these boys 3 or 4 times within a month.  Whenever I hear Walk on the Ocean I get a tear in my eye......sigh.  (Yes, with Laurie).

10.  They Might Be Giants

These boys very kindly gave a free concert on my first day in San Francisco!  What a way to be welcomed to the Bay City.  And its Istanbul (Not Constantinople).

There were many more memorable concert, and a few more seen without Laurie.  Not so many artists come to Iowa these days and with a toddler in the picture, taking road trips to see groups isn't really an option.  Oh well, at least I have the memories!

Time for Bed......

It is 3:15 and I have been awake for an hour now.  I refuse to lay awake in bed, so here I am.  What to do now?

I could:
  • curl up on the sofa and zone out in front of the television
  • go downstairs and work on some holiday projects
  • make myself a cup of tea
  • read a book
I'm thinking I will make myself a cup of tea AND curl up on the sofa and zone out in front of the television for a while.  I may only work a half day today, but I don't want to be a complete zombie for it!

Early to Bed, 1941

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cardinals & Candy Canes

We are already on week 6 -one third of the way through the preparations!  As I have been ill this past week, most of the Holiday planning has been just that -planning.  I have chosen one craft project and have all the supplies ready to go, just need to start doing it. 

Filigree Cardinal

I found some great decorative papers to hand make gift tags for this year.  One of the papers has inspired me to choose a decorating theme this year -cardinals!  I'm leaning toward red as the main accent color, and since we have been leaning toward bird ornaments the last couple of years, the cardinal seemed like a natural choice.  I chose candy canes because they are also red & white.  Love to look at them, just not terribly fond of eating them (hee hee).  I have a holiday decorating trick up my sleeve, but until the project is finished I'm going to keep it under wraps.  That way if I don't finish it, no one will be disappointed!  LOL

Merry Christmas, Candy Canes

I have been very productive so far today - I finally got into DD's closet and finished decluttering!  3 large bags of clothes & toys are ready to be dropped off at Goodwill.  All toys have been organized into baskets so EVERYTHING now has a place to be.  Books & stuffed animals will be rotated (out of the closet) to make it easier for DD to put things away.  She's already spent a considerable amount of time playing with that had been packed away in the closet!  There are still some toys in the basement to organize & we may need a few more baskets -preferably solid under-the-bed kind so they can be stored out of sight when not in use.  At least DD is now ready to make space for new things to come into our home for the holidays.

I haven't started baking yet!  I still need to "declutter" the chest freezer otherwise there will be no space for any made-in-advance goodies :)  Mincemeat is on my grocery list this week, as is Drambuie - both necessary ingredients in DianeDenmark's Christmas Cake recipe and the only ones I don't currently have on hand.  Will you be joining us for the bake off?

Check out the Holiday Planning activities at:
A Mothers Ramblings
Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense

Drop me a line if you would like to be added to the list!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Miracle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

I'm still not feeling well, it is cold & rainy outside - the time is right for a batch of Miracle Soup.  Much like my Hot Cold Soother, Miracle Soup is called so because I always feel better once I have some.  Trouble is, when I need it most I usually don't have the energy to fix it!

Miracle Soup

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup couscous

Saute onions, garlic & ginger in olive oil until onions are soft.  Add chicken broth (I usually have bouillion on hand and use it) and couscous.  Heat to desired temperature and enjoy!

This soup came about by reading up on natural remedies for colds.  The ingredients are supposed to help sooth cold symptoms.  The couscous I added so there was a bit of substance to the soup.  If you are interested in natural remedies, I highly recommend Prescription for Natural Cures.  Offers a variety of remedies for many common ailments!