Monday, December 29, 2008

Rocking horses and angels

My sister Rhoda has given Andrew a rocking-horse ornament every year, and Mary Lee an angel. A few have broken or gotten messed up through the years (I remember finding one that a mouse enjoyed over the summer) but most survived intact.

Andrew's rocking horse collection

Mary Lee's angel collection. I think one or two from somewhere else may have gotten mixed in; she's had 19 Christmases and there are 21 ornaments here.

Painted Ornaments, one last time

This may be boring to anyone but family, but please bear with me.
These are all the ornaments we've painted over the last five years or so. There are a couple more in the collection from Rhoda, but those will be shown later.

The gingerbread house is a little older, and the red house was from last year. These are easily the two most difficult that I painted. But it was very rewarding to see them done. I especially liked the "snow" that was added on the roofs and the trees.

The two trucks have interesting stories. The dark red one is a treasured ornament that Mary Lee painted for her dad, the first year we did this. It matches the truck that he had at the time. Now, we have a white truck, so when I found that we had one more truck ornament in the bag, I painted it to match the current one. It's not quite as special as the one Mary Lee did but it still fits. Back then we put the "snow" on the tree; on this newer one I used a product called "diamond dust" that adheres to the wet paint and looks like glistening snow or sleet.

This was one of the first ornaments Mary Lee painted. The detail and neatness show her great artistic ability. She doesn't paint much with me now and I miss it.

The box is closed up now; I'll get the paints out again next winter!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

To Preserve a Husband

From The Penobscot View Grange Cookbook, circa 1920, by Mrs. Libby. Printed in Sylvia's Cakes and Breads, by Sylvia Adams Hocking, p. xix:

"Be careful in your selection; do not choose one too young, and take only such varieties as have been raised in a good moral atmosphere. When once decided upon and selected, let that part remain forever settled and give your entire time and thought to domestic use. Some insist on keeping them in a pickle, while others are constantly keeping them in hot water. Even poor varieties may be made sweet, tender, and good by garnishing with patience, well sweetened with smiles. . .; then wrap them well in a mantle of charity, keep warm with a steady flow of domestic devotion, and serve with peaches and cream. When thus prepared they will keep for years."

Friday, December 26, 2008

The kitchen is now closed.

In the last three days I have made:

Chicken and noodles (for Andrew's sore mouth)
Two batches chex mix
Three batches fudge
A pumpkin pie
A double recipe shrimp creole
Garlic bread (Mother put together, I got the stuff)
Fruit mix (Dad put together, I got the stuff)
A baked ham
An egg casserole
Biscuits (okay, they were frozen, I just baked them)
A triple batch of Ham and Corn Chowder
A recipe of spinach dip
A double recipe of crock pot macaroni and cheese
A fruit salad.

The kitchen is now closed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Quiet Christmas Eve Eve

Talk about a quiet day. Mary Lee is gone babysitting & then to a classmate's party. Mike is having trouble "turning around" from night shift to days and is asleep on the couch. And Andrew had his wisdom teeth out at 8:30 this morning - came home and watched westerns with his dad for three hours, ate two bowls of blended chicken noodle soup and three bowls of pudding; finally asked for some pain medication, and he too is now zee-ed out in the La-Z-Boy! Both are snoring. Not the usual hectic schedule of two days before Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Today is the last day of school before Christmas vacation. Always a hectic day, I've learned to cope - I "sedate" them by showing them Mickey's Christmas Carol - the Disney version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I can justify that since it has literary roots! And they love it. At 11:15 an all-school Christmas party with tons of food, and then. . .home to tackle Christmas!

But today has a touch of sadness too. It is the end of an era. Today is my long-time, long-admired, long-appreciated administrator's last day. He is entering a well-deserved retirement. But, even though I believe the new man will do a good job, it is very very hard to see my boss go. He is the caliber of man that one meets only a few of in a lifetime. Integrity, humility, concern, servanthood - He will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Christmas Gospel

For God, the Lord of Earth and Heaven,
So loved and longed to see forgiven
The world, in sin and pleasure mad,
That He gave the greatest Gift He had,
His only begotten Son, to take our place,
That whosoever - oh, what grace!--
Believeth placing simple trust
In Him, the righteous and the just,
Should not perish lost in sin
But have everlasting life in Him.
--author unknown

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas 2008 Is Underway

Christmas Tree 2008

My favorite potpourri for the season - chopped up oranges with cinnamon and cloves added to the mix. Makes the house smell wonderful!

The ornament factory is in full production. Sometimes I don't have more than a few minutes an evening, but it is so relaxing and enjoyable to me.
A few of the finished products -

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Week Flew By

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas just fly by, there is so much going on. This week was no exception.

UP - Mike and I went out to eat tonight and it was delicious.

UP - I've got the ornament-painting box out yet and love relaxing by painting. It's a once-a-year thing to do but I really do enjoy it, even if just for a few minutes in the evening.

UP - I got some pictures made at Walgreens and found out how much fun it is to play with the kiosk in the photo department.

DOWN - Mary Lee learned the meaning of a bad economy this week - teen jobs are usually the first to go. The jewelry store where she's been working just didn't have the business to support her.

UP - I finally got 30 chemistry tests on gas laws graded. They took forever.

UP - We filled up my gas tank, which was on empty, for $27. Who would have ever thought that that kind of price would ever return.

DOWN - The animal control officer came by this week. Ginger was not only loose, she picked that moment to run in the road (which she rarely does) which made her a "nuisance animal" according to the law. Fortunately he did not cite us but said he would next time. She is permanently tethered now. Does anyone know a place with a fenced-in yard and people who would spend time with her, who would like a beautiful collie for free?

DOWN - I also got stopped by a cop last Sunday night. To make a long story short - I've been driving on an expired tag since August. For some reason which neither of us can figure out, we just filed away the new sticker and registration when they came in the mail last summer. I went to traffic court and they erased the fine on payment of $30 court costs.

UP - I helped Mrs. Brown do the drama part of the elementary program last night, and it turned out really nice. On the program she called me the "drama director," which was laughable - I did maybe 10% of the work. "Director" was very kindly overstated.

UP - Did I mention Mike took me out to eat tonight?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Infamous Birthday

Mike's birthday was yesterday - December 7. It's interesting having a birthday on an infamous day. Anytime someone asks his birthdate, that person's next words are "Oh, Pearl Harbor Day." It's kind of like the difficulties of being born on September 11, just a little further back in history. However, June 6 would be a good day. Mary Lee almost made it to June 6 but not quite.

I always feel bad for people born on December 26. Any December birthday gets a little overlooked, especially ones very close to Christmas. My brother and his wife could both relate, and my sister-in-law understands the unique blessings/difficulties of being born on Christmas Day. At least with the pre-Christmas and on-Christmas birthdays, people are in a partying mood. But the day after Christmas - Who can think about a birthday party then? Most people are too busy cleaning up, finishing up details, returning things - or just sprawling on the couch recuperating - to even care much about a birthday on that day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Arsenic and Old Lace

I took a group of 35 students to see ARSENIC AND OLD LACE on Thursday night. We left after school, went out to eat at Olive Garden, then to the play--I try to do this at least once a year with a play of some sort. The kids really loved the play - the seniors are begging to do a SECOND play this year ("We'll do all the work! We promise!") and the juniors have decided they want to do it next year--they've already casted it for me! The play was really well acted and was very funny. Andrew had a small part.

The teacher in charge of the senior who directed the play was very kind and generous - I had sat next to her at a previous play, and she said that if we were able to attend ARSENIC, she would bring the director down to our school the day after we attended. So the two of them drove down on Friday for 2nd period, and I had a combined class of juniors and seniors. They did a great job talking with them and encouraging them in their own dramatic attempts.

Always, no matter what year, when a group goes to these plays, there's a small group of "not interested--too cool" students who don't go along. They don't have to; it's strictly for enrichment, but sometimes they can put a damper on things. Well, this year they were totally obliterated. During our discussion with the two women, the ones who went asked great questions and it was obvious that those who didn't go had missed out on a great time. They didn't look very "cool" then!


I have been trying several new recipes lately. At a yard sale I got a stack of old TASTE OF HOME magazines, and even though I have a complete set of them (that will end when my subscription runs out in a month, but that's another story. . .) will get them when available at yard sales to go through them and cut them up.

I made this when some friends of Andrew and Mary Lee were over here last Saturday night. It's called a Chocolate Chip Pizza. The base is a peanut butter cookie mix, baked; there's a layer of whipped cream cheese on top of that; then a layer of chocolate pudding; then a layer of cool whip; then chocolate chips.

It looked just like the picture in the magazine, and they loved it. If I ever made that recipe again, however, I've learned a few things. You can't really keep it as a leftover because all those toppings make the cookie crust soggy after just an overnight in the refrigerator. Also, I think it would be better with something like Heath toffee bars crumbled on the top instead of chocolate chips. But that is all wishful thinking because I have no plans to make it again any time soon.

Over Thanksgiving holidays I made a casserole with leftover cornbread and cooked chicken and celery. It was basically a casserole version of chicken and dressing. They liked it fine. I also made a baked bean recipe that tasted good but was very unappetizing to look at, so probably won't do that one again.

I also made some Lil' Smokies rollups (in crescent rolls) to take to Thanksgiving day as an hor d'oeurve. You bake them on top of a brown sugar, margarine, and nuts mixture (which I cut WAY down and it was still too much - Why do recipes sometimes overdo it so dramatically?) which was OK. I may make those for the teachers' snacks days at school, but if so will just make a little bit of the sauce and brush it on the top instead of putting it in the bottom of the pan.

Today I just made a cream of broccoli soup (no recipe needed--actually that's the best kind) and am getting ready to go out to the kitchen to make porcupine meatballs for Mike's birthday. His mother always made those for his birthday.

And, also last week I tried this with some leftover apples that needed to be used up. All-day apple butter, cooked in the crockpot. I've never made apple butter before, and only made a couple of jars, but it's pretty good - especially over cottage cheese, which some people think is really weird. I like it that way.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Skeet Shoot

Skeet shooting at Thanksgiving is always a lot of fun. I just got these pictures today and thought they'd be interesting to post even if the holiday is past.

Perfect form!
Chris's girlfriend taking a turn - Andrew and Mary Lee watching.Some of us just watch!