Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Nostalgia

Christmas Eve, Ring Co. Waterford

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. When the children were young the house buzzed with excitement. The first indication that Christmas was approaching came with the making of the Christmas pudding. As I began measuring one aromatic ingredient after another the children pulled chairs up to the counter and watched in fascination. Once all the pudding ingredients were in the bowl, it was time to stir and wish. This was done with such concentrated determination. Each in turn with eyes closed tightly moved the wooden spoon around the bowl and made their wish. Children wishing on the Christmas pudding is as old a tradition as pudding itself. 
Daughter's hands visible in bowl. Notice sugar in Child #3's hair!
A few weeks later it was time to make the snowball cookies. A recipe handed down by my mother.  Chairs were once more pulled around the counter as I beat the butter and sugar into a soft creamy batter. While the snowballs were baking four large bowls were filled with icing sugar. Aprons were fastened on and the children sat anxiously waiting for the oven timer to buzz. The signal for fun to begin. I placed the hot butterballs into the first bowl of sugar for tossing and passing along. If I was lucky only a dozen snowballs would myseriously disappear in the process. No-one could explain this mysterious disappearance. "Mr. Nobody" a regular visitor in our house was blamed. But I had my supisions as I observed the mischievous sugar mustached grins looking back at me!

Husband, Firstborn, Child #3, Daughter's best friend & Daughter
Decorating the tree in Ring, Co. Waterford
The Sunday nearest December 8 was designated for decorating. Once Sunday lunch was over, snowball cookies, chocolate covered marshmallows and chocolate covered Kimberly biscuits were arranged on a Christmas Cookie plate, placed on the Christmas tray with glasses, a litre bottle of Cidona along with glasses of sherry, for mom and dad. Children waited anxiously for the tray to arrive. This signaled the decorating was to begin. Each year at least one ornament met its end and this too became part of the ritual. With the decorating done we would sit and watch the taped video of the Late Late Toy Show that had aired the night before. Christmas was now just around the corner.

I sit here now with a longing in my heart and tears brimming my eyes remembering these sweet moments. The years flew by way too quickly. My children are now all grown. But all is not lost! My daughter is expecting her first child in February.....so in a few short years I will have another mischievous sugar mustached grin looking back at me.

I would like to thank you for reading, commenting and following my blog. Your support and encouragement has meant the world to me this past year. 
My warmest wishes to you and your family for a very Merry, Peaceful and Happy Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest

Stockings all hung in a row!

What a fun way to celebrate!  Thanks to Jen at Unedited and Melissa at Through the Looking Glass for this Christmas Cheer Blogfest.  I have collected a number of wonderful recipes already and the day is only beginning! Stop over at Jen's and Melissa's and catch a glimpse of bloggers beautiful Christmas decorations and discover new holiday recipes.

Husband's Snow Village
Child Number 3 is placing the angel on the "Ring Tree."  This tree travelled with us from Ring, Co Waterford, Ireland.  It has its own special ornaments some of which also travelled from Ring. 
It bears the Children's school and homemade decorations.    

Ring Tree
Firstborn is putting the finishing touches to our second tree.  In previous years this tree took pride of place in the dining room......but our family is expanding so it has been designated to the family room.  I have to say it is looking very much at home in its new corner.
Family Room Tree

Onto food.......
We have a number of traditional Christmas foods. But the fare with rituals or stories attached (some of which will be revealed in next post) are the Christmas Pudding, Trifle and Snowball Cookies.  Snowball cookies were a family affair.  Children donned aprons in the futile attempt to reduce the mess. A large bowl of icing sugar was placed in front of each child to toss and coat the delicate butterballs. These powdered sugar treats were brought out during tree decorating, the exchange of Christmas presents on Christmas Eve and  were the treats left out for Santa.  This recipe is my Mom's given to her by her best friend from our time in Chicago eons ago.  That's as much as I am going to say about that except thank you Mom and Betty Issac for giving us and our children this wonderful fun tradition.
Snowball Cookies
Cream 8 ounces of butter and 1 ounce of icing sugar
Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 Tablespoon of water
8 ounces of sifted flour and mix well
add 2 ounces of nuts (optional)
Form small balls and place in fridge until firm
Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet  in a slow oven.  300*F/150*C for 20 minutes or until golden brown
While hot roll in icing sugar.  Makes 3 dozen.

When dinner is finished and my work is done, I love to sit curled up in front of the fire and sip a creamy topped Irish Coffee.

Irish Coffee
1 tsp of sugar
Powers Irish Whiskey
2/3 cup of coffee

Heavy cream, lightly whipped

Preheat the glass with hot water. Dump the water out and add the hot coffee with the teaspoon of sugar and stir. Add the Power's or any other Irish whiskey you might have, and top with the whipping cream. Pour the cream over the back of a spoon so it doesn't sink.  Dark coffee's are best for this recipe.

Monday, December 13, 2010

And It Snowed, And It Snowed!

Did someone say snow?

At nine o’clock on Friday night the snow began to fall, twenty-two inches of it. As you might imagine our weekend was spent drinking tea, hugging the fire and shoveling. Well I wasn’t shoveling. Thank God for small mercies. That task was left to Husband and the snow blower. Thankfully the children had the foresight to give their father a snow blower for his birthday two years ago. But even with the snow blower it was arduous work. Pushing that snow blower through the first five inches of snow wasn’t too bad. I even braved the elements to take a photo. Once the driveway and paths were cleared a bowl of porridge, toast and a pot of piping hot tea seemed in proper order. A quick look out the window, when breakfast was over produced a groan from Husband. So much snow had fallen it looked like the driveway and the path had never been cleared. Husband donned his partially dried coat, boots and gloves and headed out to battle the snow accumulation with his new best and constant friend the snow blower. Pushing the snow blower through the next five inches proved a bit more difficult and took longer. This became the routine of our day with two more forays outdoors. Son telephoned to inquire if he could use Husband’s snow blower. A short time later Son arrived and Husband helped load the snow blower into Son’s truck.  At some point during this effort Father and Son bonded resulting in Husband offering to help dig out Son’s driveway and path. En route they stopped to pull people out of ditches and help others dig their cars out from under the snow. Husband arrived home three or four hours later red faced and breathless. Hot whiskeys by the fire were the next order of business.

It snowed throughout the night. In the early hours of Sunday morning, the city plows made their way down our road. This meant all the snow from the road was pushed into the entrance of our driveway. Packed heavy ton weight snow. With a sigh of resignation, Husband once again donned the winter gear hanging over chairs to dry in front of the kitchen and mudroom heat registers. An hour later I turned on the 24/7 weather channel to learn the temperatures were dangerously low. Getting Husband’s attention over the roar of the snow blower to warn him was a chore in itself. When he finally looked in my direction I gestured for him to come in. I did not relish the thought of trying to navigate snow laden roads on the way to an emergency room due to frostbitten digits. I related the warnings and asked that he not stay out for long intervals. Clearing the paths and driveway took up the rest of the day. There was nothing for it but to make a hot chili and some homemade New Zealand beer bread for dinner. I made it extra hot. Lip throbbing hot according to Husband, which didn’t deter him from refilling his bowl! So that was our weekend. Everyone I have spoken to has a similar tale. A weekend revolving around keeping up with clearing the snow. Thankfully neither we nor any of our family or friends lost power, there is always a silver lining. But I can’t end this tale on the silver lining, because in the early hours of this (Monday) morning the plows came down our road again. Pushing more snow into the entrance of our driveway and every other driveway on the street. Guess what Husband was doing at 4:30 this morning!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Last Sunday I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. Actually I felt very sluggish and deflated dissolving into tears at the slightest provocation. But the grocery shopping had to be done. Husband said he would drive me as he needed to get another one of his bargain basement haircuts. I was relieved because there is nothing like driving in snow to put the heart crosswise in me.

Husband pulled up to the doors of Festival asking how long I would be. Tears began to spill down my cheeks. Why this simple inquiry reduced me to tears is beyond explanation…..I managed to say “half an hour if I’m lucky, an hour if I’m not,” to a very bewildered looking husband!

I moved through the fruit and vegetable section struggling to keep the tear flow under control. I quickly went up one aisle and down another until I came to the shampoo/cleanser aisle. I slowed down because I needed some cleanser. Casting a glance along the shelves searching for Ponds a blue jar caught my eye. I stopped right in front of the blue jars stacked on the shelf and felt a little smile threaten to supplant the tears. The big white letters on the blue jar read “NOXZEMA”. I have not seen or maybe just not noticed a jar of Noxzema in years. The white letters on that blue jar plummeted me back in time. I was a small child watching my mother open her jar of Noxzema and rub the white cream all over her face and neck and then dab a smidgen onto my cheeks and nose. Well what do you think I did….I grabbed one of those blue jars and placed it gently into my cart. Not with the rest of the groceries…Oh no….it was carefully placed in the child seat.

When I got home I sorted out my pantry and put the shopping away. I began to feel a bit light headed and chilled. I just couldn’t get warm. Was I coming down with the flu. I discovered I had a fever of 102. My weepyness was now explained. Whew! For a while there I thought I was losing my grip! I decided the best place for me was bed. Grabbing my Noxzema jar I headed up the stairs. I opened the jar, held it under my nose and breathed in the scent. There is no way to describe the Noxzema smell, it has its own distinct scent in the same way Vicks does. The very mention of Vicks and one can smell the vapours. Well I smeared a big glob of that cream all over my face and neck. Closing my eyes I felt soothed by the scent and the tingling sensation on my skin. The overwhelming emotions that had gripped me washed away as I rinsed the Noxzema from my face.

Most people assuage their well-being with “Comfort Foods.” It seems I am not one of those people. I have discovered to my surprise my well-being is soothed by “Comfort Scents.” Which begs me to wonder what other little mysteries am I hiding from myself???

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Talli Roland's "The Hating Game"

Talli Roland's "The Hating Game" Kindle edition is now available on Amazon. Help make Talli'e debut novel soar on the Amazon bestseller list at Amazon and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today!

A delightful read. I was gripped instantly! Anxious to find out what trials and tribulations where in store for Mattie Johns with the turning of each page.

A very cleverly written book filled with witty sarcasm and just the right amount of tenderness. I read this book in three sittings. I recommend "The Hating Game" to anyone!!! Talli Roland is an author to watch.