Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas in Photos

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. It has been quite nice around here, even if everything didn't get done that I wanted to do and kids were sick most of Advent.

In the end Christmas arrived. Mass was perfect. My oldest son sang a solo Once in Royal David's City for the entrance hymn and did it beautifully. Christ was there and the other stuff didn't matter.

Here are a few Christmas pictures:

The whole gang

Flaming Christmas Pudding

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Baking

A year or so ago, I found an unusual springform cake pan at Goodwill. It had a decorative design on the bottom and was also a tube style, as in, "This cake has a hole in it."

It wasn't for a cheesecake. It wasn't a Bundt pan. It didn't look like my angel food cake pan. What was it? Undeterred by the unidentified pan, I bought it anyway. For $.99 I figured the mystery pan was at least a conversation piece and of historical interest. It was marked "Made in W. Germany" and West Germany hasn't been a country since before I reached adulthood, so this cake pan was obviously terribly old (or not new anyway).

Home it came and after a good washing it went to live in the cake pan drawer. Once in a while, I would take it out when I reached for something else, then I would turn it over and ponder what on earth it was for. Then one day it hit me. It was a fruitcake pan!

I'd never made a fruitcake, but all jokes aside, I rather like them. And one of my go-to cookbooks even has a recipe.

Now that Advent is here, it was time to pull out the fruitcake pan and give it a whirl. I did make a few modifications to the recipe. I used dried bing cherries rather than those green and bright red ones. I added candied orange peel as well as candied lemon and threw in currants and craisins rather than figs and dates, because I had them around. I did add the brandy, however, though I resisted taking an equal measure for the cook.

It is supposed to chill overnight in the refrigerator, but I think my efforts will be tasty indeed.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Penitential Season

One sometimes hears that Advent is a penitential season, but before it began and I made all sorts of plans for quiet reflection, lots of Christmas books, and fun baking, I did not make plans for the kids to be feverish and vomiting the first week. Nor did I think that this morning I would wake up at five in the morning realizing simultaneously (as much as one can do anything coherently at 5am) that the five month old was coughing and breathing strangely and blazing hot.

At 103.1, I was right about the temperature and the cough was terrible. As soon as she got outside—on our way to the Children's Hospital—the cough subsided. I said, "I bet this is croup. I've heard it gets better in the cold." We managed to wait until baby number seven to see croup, which is fine by me. The cough and labored breathing are scary.

After a while on humidified air, a breathing treatment, and a steroid, we are home again. This Advent is certainly a penitential season, but the preparation part is going to have wait until babies feel better.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Free (or nearly free) Wreath for the Front Door

Subtitled: Jordana pretends to be crafty.

I've been making a Christmas wreath for our front door for years now. It's easy and can be basically free too. Free is always good. The only necessary expense is some florist's wire. I bought some back when my oldest child was in hippie German pre-school. He's in eighth grade now. I've nowhere near used it up. Green wire would be better, but I bought this for something completely different and since I have it, I use it.

One also needs a frame. For several years, I used a wire coat hanger as a frame. Just pull it into a circle, pinch the hanging part tight and you have a loop to hang the wreath from. A few years ago, I realized I had an old fake wreath I didn't want to use. I pulled the stuff off of it and now I use that as my wreath frame.

Next collect greenery. I don't happen to have any evergreens in my yard, so I go to Home Depot where they will be happy to give you the stuff they cut off Christmas trees when they trim the lower branches. Boxwood or magnolia would also look pretty. Then just start taking pieces and wrapping wire around them and your frame until you have covered it entirely and it is as thick as you wish.

You can even do this with a baby who grabs everything sitting on your lap, but it is easier if they go sit on a sibling's lap.

Then you can add some decorations. This year I went with a few pine cones, I've picked up and saved and some bay leaves from the giant bag I bought at the Indian grocery store and haven't used up. I just wrapped the wire around the pine cone, used a hole punch to make a hole in the bay leaves and wired it to the wreath.

And when it is done to your satisfaction. Hang on the door.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Teenage Years

For the first time in many, many years no Legos were involved in the celebration of my oldest's birthday. As the old ladies in the grocery stores had warned me, the years really did fly by and suddenly I'm the mother of a teenager. And even more suddenly, Legos have been replaced somewhat by Doctor Who. 

A lanky, interesting man-child with feet larger than mine now lives in my house. I still look at him and wonder how that happened, but I love that he usually still let's me rumple his hair and chat with him about the goings on of his mind. Even if my eyes sometimes do glaze over slightly at the comparisons of the various Doctors or the history of early Peanuts comic strips.

And of course, as the mother of both a teenager and a five month old, I have the privilege of both being the mom telling women with small babies that the years fly by and being stopped by women seeing the little one in my sling, who want to share that truth with me.
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