Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thankful for Grayson

Not having my grandmother here for Thanksgiving was sad for all of us, but what a joy a new baby brought to our family. On Thursday it was all about Grayson. How could it not be? Come on, look at this cutie.  I got a chance to experiment more with my camera (and Photoshop). I still find it all a bit daunting, but the thrill of capturing moments . . . priceless.

Mom requested that we bring over Harleigh's wagon from when she was little. I cleaned it up (it became a transporter of plants and gardening tools since my little girl grew up), lined it with a pretty quilt, and Poppy took a cardboard box to create a seat for our little man. I left the string on the back axle; Harleigh had put it there when she and the neighborhood kids strung all their wagons together to make a parade (little things like this have to be preserved).

After the walk and the warm temperatures, Grayson was down for the count. Poppy managed to slide the cardboard seat from under him and he took a nap while we ate our dessert.

And we can't overlook the additional cuteness at the table. As small a group we have for our holiday meals, we never go without placecards. Karla made this year's: Grayson's handprint cut out of scrapbook paper and laminated. Mom found these ceramic pumpkin placecard holders on sale at Williams Sonoma.

And Grandie's beautiful table all decked out in browns and golds. Just as scrumptious as the food!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Aprons and Birdhouses . . . It's Christmas Everywhere!

Got the girl back on the road after church and a quick Target run. It was a great Thanksgiving long weekend. Not once did I feel overwhelmed or anxious. I do believe that I have paved the way for a relaxing holiday, both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Harleigh enjoyed Chateau Gahan, relishing a house not filled with girls and the temptation to stay up until 1AM watching 500 Days of Summer and eating cookie dough. She certainly missed her routine at school, but was happy to wake up to the smell of coffee brewing and breakfast cooking in the skillet. One of the true joys of motherhood is simply doing the things that make make home, well, home.

Will share pictures of Christmas decorating as I get things accomplished. In the meantime, an outdoor birdhouse needed a little Christmas.

Here are pix of the aprons she made for her roommates, what they'll wear when they bake goodies for holiday giving. She put her heart and soul into these. I am so proud of her efforts. The sewing machine whirred, she sang out loud to Christmas songs, and she seemed like a version of me when I cheerfully craft.  Each apron's fabric was hand picked for the recipient (Harleigh's is the vintage Santa one). I love seeing her immerse herself into things that my mom and I both love . . . in this case sewing.

The roller coaster weather brought about everything from my girlie hibernating from the cold temperatures (and the fact that I keep the heat at 63 degrees) to putting up our Christmas tree in swoony temps that begged doors and windows be propped open.

It was a glorious long weekend. A dinner at my mom's unrivaled by any past. Christmas tree shopping, donning our car grills with Christmas wreaths (and the reminder, out of this tradition, that no man will ever win my heart without wearing a Santa hat to Christmas shop), and nesting to Christmas music whilst crafting and cooking (my neighbor's Thanksgiving gift of a smoked turkey equals a turkey corn chowder that I'll enjoy for the next 8 months out of my freezer stash).

And Harleigh had two dear friends over last night who basked in the Christmas glory that Chateau Gahan wears like a badge of honor this time of year. And Hannah, dear Hannah, told me, "Mamma G, if I ever win the lottery I'm going to buy your house  and everything in it. Maybe even you."

Enough said. I set out every year to create a home, a true home, in every sense of the word. When a 19-year-old gets it, I think I've struck gold.

This year's tree is all about being girly. Lots of pink, including a swathing of our dear tree trunk in a vintage hand-embroidered tablecloth in pinks and greens.

And Gideon now sports his Christmas collar.

[Pictures tomorrow of the aprons Harleigh made for all her roommates for their Christmas baking extravaganza. She made me so proud as she worked through patterns, fabrics and trim to make the ultimate heartfelt gift. You go, girly!]

The girly theme made its way to our front door where pretty-colored ornaments garnish a white wreath.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Kids' Table — The Feast 2011

This year's theme allowed me to channel the inner kid within this 51-year-old constitution. And it came quite easily, a pleasant reminder that I'm only as old as I feel.  I decided to do The Kids' Table, a light-hearted theme that I knew would bring instant childlike abandonment to all those at the table.

I begin thinking of a theme for the next Feast right after one ends. And once I settle on an idea, then that leaves me a year to plan and craft. This year's was actually pretty easy. Instead of our usual drop-cloth tablecloths, I used plastic, and covered the table in one long sheet of white butcher paper, the idea being for everyone to write on the table using crayons and markers (hence the plastic underneath). To hold all the markers and crayons, I covered tin cans in yarn and in brown craft paper decorated with puff balls and pipe cleaners. I had forgotten just how fun it is to craft with pipe cleaners! It didn't matter that you could see tape holding the craft paper in place . . . it is the Kids' Table after all.
 Each place was set with a large oval dinner plate and brown paper napkins rolled around utensils and secured with pipe cleaner napkin rings, each uniquely different (which we girls all turned into rings, dahling). Some of the rings had a Dr. Suess quality to them.
 Down the center of the table I used oil lamps and small tealight candles.

Since this year we had a number of guests from outside the office, I made nametags, gluing writing/alphabet paper onto cardstock, adhering felt pilgrims (had both boy and girl figures with different colors of hair), using yarn to make a necklace, and then writing the names using Sharpies. Everyone proudly wore them . . . a big hit.
No Kids' Table is truly for children unless it has a crepe paper folding turkey.
 I put signs out everywhere to stage where everything goes, and then throw away the signs as items make their way to their proper place. Next year (especially if we have guests like we did this year), I'm going to have to create prettier labels that serve to ID the food (not just help me get organized).
 The Publix pilgrim salt and pepper shakers show up in the kitchen on the Monday of our Feast week, a reminder of what's to come!
 And we have this morbid (but so very fun) tradition of doing a weigh-in before and after the meal. I won't go into all the details; you get the idea. (I do post all the results from past years.)

 We even start the day with homemade goodies. These bacon date scones were a new addition this year and much loved.
 Tod, our president, bringing out one of two 20 lb. birds.
 And of course we MUST make crisp white cuffs for their little legs.
 And you can see in the upper left . . . a treat I made for everyone. Setting on a construction paper leaf, two "acorns" made from a Hershey kiss, a mini vanilla wafer (held in place with a smidge of peanut butter) and then topped off with a "stem" of peanut butter created with a decorating tip on a pastry bag. Found this idea on Pinterest. If anyone has a genius idea for how to transport these, please do tell.
 Here I am in my Christmas shirt. Such a freak.
 Everyone gets in line to scoop up all the homemade goodness. Tod is carving at the head of the buffet table, taking requests for white vs. dark.

 At the beginning of the meal I encouraged everyone to decorate the paper cloth and not to worry about spills and drops. That's half the charm.

 Tod acknowledging our guests, our blessings (he's got last year's "thankfuls" in his hands as a reminder that every year we have so much to be grateful for) and the meal to come!
I plan on displaying the table art this coming Monday. And I'm onto next year's planning! (For past Feasts, see my event list on the right column for links to their posts.)

And thanks to Buzz Busbee for taking most of these photos!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Maybe winning the lottery isn't such a good idea

 Weekends are so wonderful. After a tough work week, there's nothing like settling into two days so very different in complexion from the work week routine. By Saturday at noon I had:
1) gotten groceries
2) made a dessert, crab cakes, the fixings for a caesar salad, and an artichoke and parmesan dip for my parents coming to dinner that evening
3) gotten a Feast project completed
4) listened to 5 Christmas CDs (one 3x — Andrea Bocelli's "My Christmas." Who knew that "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" could wind up becoming a favorite of mine!?!? I've yet to tire of listening to it. His duets with Mary J. Blige, Natalie Cole, The Muppets, Reba McEntire, and Katherine Jenkins. . . one is better than the next. And his "The Lords Prayer" with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is touching beyond words.
5) and was ready to run errands, go to the gym, and, of course, listen to more Christmas music.

For dessert Saturday evening, I really wanted to have something fruity that I could pair with vanilla ice cream, so I went to my recipe file and found a recipe from, believe it or not, a file of good eats I had compiled from when my Pap Pap passed away. My Nana's house had been overflowing with food when he left us, every dish delivered from a friend stopping by with condolences in the form of hugs and casseroles — food never ceases to make a heart feel warm.  There was everything from a delectable chopped ham spread, to dips, to this apple "pie" (at least that's what it was titled) that is really more of an Apple Betty.  Easy to make and, in typical fashion of anything worth baking or cooking from scratch, better the second day. Here's the recipe.

6 cups of peeled, cored and sliced apples
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup Bisquick
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. butter — melted
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 325. Grease pie plate (I used a quiche dish and think it works better than a pie plate). Mix apples and spices, turn into plate. Beat remaining ingredients until smooth. Pout into plate. Sprinkle with streusel. Bake 50-60 minutes. [I made the whole shebang the night before and just put the streusel topping aside and put on right before baking.]

Streusel Topping

Mix 1 cup of Bisquick, 1/2 cup chopped nuts ( I used pecans which I think were way better a match to the apples and spices than if I'd have used walnuts). 1/3 cup brown suger, 3 Tbsp firm butter cut into small pieces.

P.S. And as much as I'd love to win the lottery, would weekends still be such a treat if every day were a weekend day? Perhaps reason enough to stick with the day job and be content with those two little gems in the week that shine with creativity, family, nesting and Chateau Gahan. Besides, where else but on the weekend can you afford to make typos? On a cozy Saturday morning, "continuous" can be spelled any way you dang feel like it (especially if it's on a fridge dry erase board).

And the etsy shell crosses are coming along. I so don't want to do this etsy thing half-arsed. They are done, photographed (but not to my exact standard of how I want to them to be portrayed), and the backs need my signature (a branding element) along with a scripture that fits each cross. The bottom line . .  . I need another weekend. 5 days and counting.

You might also like . . .

Related Posts with Thumbnails