Happy Holidays to all, whatever Holiday you celebrate!
Unfortunately, we did our “OMG it’s Christmas already!” last-minute rush – again. I swear, Once Upon A Time, we were done before Christmas and had a fully decorated house AND went to bed before midnight. (Of course, we used to have a ‘clean and organized’ house too…Once Upon A Time) Alas, this was not one of those years.
However, we did at least get the minimum done besides the shopping. Lights up in the windows, fresh-cut tree in the house, table cleared and set up with Christmas stuff, and Hot Sweet Cider to get us through the rush of clearing piles of crap out-of-the-way to “get Christmas up”.
So here is our tree. We get it from the same tree farm every year. This year was a little unusual as instead of freezing our heinies off we were slogging through the mud. We take a tractor hay ride to the tree lot of our choice and roam the trees looking for ‘the tree’ and then cut it down and drag it to our pick up point. Unfortunately, the tree we got was wimpy. We do usually get a white pine cause we like the look, but this one had such skinny limp branches, that we could only hang the lightest of our ornaments on it. We got some heavy ones on in close to the trunk. Take a look at our poor Angel that is light as a feather drooping forward on her branch. (My son played “Who Put the Stump” while I was trying to find a branch to put the Angel on. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWsrypTqus8 )
This is kind of a crappy picture but I wanted you to see that we have lots of lights on the tree that the camera isn’t showing!
And here are my feet stuck out towards the tree as I sit on the couch. There is less than a foot between us. We get large trees!
This Nativity set was given to us by my family for our first Christmas. It is one of my favorites. It’s a popular molding, you probably know someone who has some version of this. My best friend’s mother bought an antiqued white version that was set up in an old radio housing. Mine was painted by a woman I had worked with at one point and is full of color, which I love.
I even cleaned all the paper crap and misc junk off my end table leaving just my favorite stuff.
Jake was looking for his share of wrapping paper, but we were still waiting for company to show up to start the fun.
And here’s Saver lounging around waiting for the fun to begin.
There won’t be any group pictures here as this blog isn’t common knowledge within the extended family and not everyone who knows wants their face on the blog. And for the first year in memory I forgot to take a trash picture! How could I forget? We always take trash pictures after all the gifts are opened! 😦
We loved all our gifts. Well, okay, I wasn’t thrilled with the Minnie Mouse, bright pink pj’s with feet and a hood with ears that was my mother’s gag gift to me. That sucker’s definitely going back to JC Penny’s. But everything else was good. I especially liked this teapot, from my mother, no less.
Saver was enamoured of these three:
Here is a close up of Saver’s mini-skirt. I soooo wish I could have gotten and shown you a picture of her father’s face when Saver modeled it for us. I thought he was going to burst a blood vessel. His little girl should not be wearing such things! So, of course, Grandma, Mom, and Auntie began discussing the pros and cons of if and when underwear should be worn with the skirt. 🙂
Now for food. We are not a make a huge meal sit down on Christmas Day kinda family. We graze. All day. We usually fix whatever my husband gets from work, turkey or ham, and then fill in around the edges. Some years are better than others with homemade foccacio and multiple types of Christmas cookies and sometimes little dishes of potatoes or such. This year everyone was running around so we just did basics. Which includes a lot of veggies as Auntie (my best friend/sister by choice) is a vegetarian and her yearly request for vegetable pizza is always honored. She won’t make one just for herself. And do note the cookies in the fancy bags. This alone could be her only gift to us. It is her grandmother’s recipe for pfeffernusse cookies. They are to die for.
And did I mention Hot Sweet Cider? This is the only thing that makes winter acceptable. I usually don’t make my first batch till Christmas. Christmas isn’t Christmas without Hot Sweet Cider. I would probably get stoned and tossed to the curb if I didn’t have a batch of this simmering on the stove all Christmas day.
Hot Sweet Cider
- 1/3 cup white Karo syrup
- 12 oz. Apricot Nectar (The odd measurement for this came about because they used to sell this by the 12 oz. can. That’s how my mother used to buy it.)
- 3 cups Apple Cider
- 3 sticks of cinnamon
- 10 whole cloves
- 3 tbls lemon juice
Bring everything but the lemon juice to a boil. Add the lemon juice and turn heat down so it simmers.
- Places like Shop ‘n Save and Giant Eagle carry Apricot Nectar. Shop ‘n Save is cheaper. Giant Eagle only carries it in the organic foods section.
- This recipe is always good; but it is much better if you use real cider. The kind that is cloudy with apple stuff, the darker the better.
- I usually double the recipe. One is never enough. The cinnamon and cloves I do NOT double. I just make sure it simmers for 30 minutes after the boil before I declare it ready to drink.
- If this is going to sit simmering for long, I recommend removing the cinnamon and cloves to keep them from overpowering the cider. Unless of course, you like it that strong. I have little bags I bought for loose tea that I stuff the cinnamon and cloves into. It makes removing them much easier. You can use the cinnamon and cloves 2 or 3 times before you need to replace them.
- I halve the lemon juice. I think it puts too much tart in the recipe. But this is a subjective taste issue. Try the recipe as written first and see what you think.
- If for some reason you have left overs, just refrigerate them. You can reheat this in the microwave if you want it hot again. My kids drink it cold and say it’s just as good cold as warm.
We played Tribond and got trounced by Auntie and finished the day off watching the last episode of Sherlock “Reichenbach Falls” (with Benedict Cumberbatch) which my daughter, Auntie, and mother hadn’t seen yet. It was a good day.