Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

Christmas Tree ReflectionsRandom 5 Friday

I maintained my “up” attitude this week.  This may be the longest stretch of joy since nineteen hundred and fifty nine.  By this time in the holiday season I am ordinarily “snarky,” as my friend, MJ says, and it all began with a Christmas tree.

  • Bill  agreed to purchase a real Christmas tree EARLY this year since our weather here is so tricky! The idea of searching  in a downpour did it.  In Bill’s family the tradition was to find and decorate a tree on Xmas Eve.  But my family liked to get it all together quickly in order to extend the suspense.  Well, the weather worked in my favor this year.   We not only found the perfect tree but brought it inside yesterday (because the forecast was for cold rain!) and last night we put on the lights and I finished adding all the memory infused ornaments.  Hurrah for bad weather!
Mondo Cookies

MJ’s Mondo Cookies

  • Today I made MJ’s Mondo cookies!  MJ is one of my favorite bloggers.  She calls her cookies “The Un-Christmas Cookies, but they are scrumptious and beautiful and perfect for any holiday.  You can visit her at Emjayandthem’s Blog.  Hurrah for MJ!
  • This week I also found a pair of skinny jeans with sparkles on the butt!  I may be a bit ancient for a sparkly rear, but hey, why not?  I am fortunate (or perhaps unfortunate) to be blessed with skinny legs and a flat bottom. The rest is indescribable.  But these wondrous jeans fit!  Hurrah for holiday miracles!
Skinny Jeans with Rear End Sparklers

Skinny Jeans with Rear End Sparklers

  • Friend Joan and I had lunch in downtown Lexington, Virginia. Our lunches last for hours since we have so much to talk about, catch up on and share.  We dined at the newly restored Robert E. Lee Hotel in their restaurant called Rocca’s!  Downtown was buzzing too but I managed to squeeze in a haircut.
  • Then Bill and I had dinner with other great friends, Pete and Phebe.  Our favorite “haunt” is Frank’s Pizza because that’s where all the action is.  At our age it doesn’t really take much action, but there is something about Franks’ or maybe something in their sauce that reduces us all to uncontrollable laughter.  Hurrah for ageless hilarity.Franks-sign-320-x-200

Well, in spite of being deeply enthralled with my latest Doomsday book, Year of Wonders, (about the Plague) I am in a holiday sort of mood.  Hurrah for jingling bells and Christmas cards in the mail, and a home that looks like a Norman Rockwell painting.  And hurrah for a great family and good friends!

And although I cannot believe it myself, I am saying, “Hurrah for bad weather!”

Oh Christmas Tree2






Read Full Post »

en.wikipedia.org1274 × 910Search by image Santa Claus Sugar Plums. Confection label, showing Santa Claus on sleigh with reindeer., 1868.

en.wikipedia.org Santa Claus Sugar Plums. Confection label, showing Santa Claus on sleigh with reindeer., 1868.

I’m not sure what a sugar plum is exactly, but that’s what my dear old Mom used to call me – “Sugar Plum.”   Isn’t Sugar Plum a lovely endearing name? Better than Dork or Snort I must say.  Did you know I have friends who actually call me Dork?!!!  I am immune after years of this but no wonder there are some odd looks from people out in the public.

Sweet Treats

“Tis really the season” here in the Virginia countryside and ’tis ripe for dreaming.  The weather outside slides from frightful to delightful in the course of hours, but there is a happy tension in the air that makes us ready for a White Christmas.  Bing Crosby used to sing that one.  Does anyone remember Bing and his dreaming of a white Christmas?

VABornandBred Sign

Awaiting Santa in Lexington, Virginia

Awaiting Santa in Lexington, Virginia

Some folks have their decorations up and it’s only the first week in December!   Downtown Lexington is beginning to look all decked out in its best finery.  And we bought the tree(s) today – real ones – with the real scent and the real, sticky hands, real light stringing disasters and of course, real avalanches of needles on Dec. 26th.

Santa's Throne

In an effort to save tree lives, we once or twice tried plastic varieties. The poor things died quicker than the real ones.  Either we could never put them back together or one great segment of the thousand points of light would give out never to be seen flickering again.

Anyway, now we have two trees -one for the inside and one for the outside.  The little one will stand on the deck with some edible ornaments for the birds.  The inside tree will light up a window and when it’s all adorned, Bill and I will sigh and say it is the most beautiful tree we have ever had.  We mean that too, every year.

Tipsy Toy Soldier

Tipsy Toy Soldier

Yesterday we went to Lowe’s for a new high powered battery operated leaf blower.  Lowe’s is in the holiday spirit too because we were greeted by what must have been a tipsy toy soldier who was leaning on a Christmas tree.  Sorry for the trash can in the photo but it was just there.  The giant soldier must have blown over in the wind or the people who put him up had a bit too much to drink too.

I haven’t dreamed of sugar plums yet, but my hopes lean toward laughter, family, friends, playing in the snow, and the magical lights and moments of the best Christmas we have ever had.

What about you?  May all your best dreams come true.

From Wikipedia:  A sugar plum is a piece of candy that is made of dried fruits and shaped in a small round or oval shape.  “Plum”in the name of this confection does not mean plum in the sense of the fruit of the same name.  At one time, “plum” was used to denote any dried fruit.  “Sugar plums: may be made from any combination of dried plums (aka prunes), dried figs, dried apricots, dates, and dried cherries, but traditional sugar plums may contain none of these.  In one recipe, the dried fruit is chopped fine and combined with chopped almonds, honey, and aromatic spices such as anise see, fennel seed, caraway seeds and cardamon.  This mixture would then be rolled into balls, often then coated in sugar or shredded coconut.



Read Full Post »


Lost Something

I bought a beautiful piece of wearing apparel for my daughter-in-law’s Christmas gift.  I would love to tell you what it is, but Emmy reads the posts so you will simply have to guess.

The gift fits in a big sweater box.  That is your only clue.

Don’t leave yet!   I know you are not particularly interested in what I bought for my daughter-in-law.   I know that.

However, the thing is, Item X has disappeared!  And therein is the mystery.  I need help because this blogger’s mind is slowly/rapidly disappearing too.

The razor sharp wit and intellect that used to be my trademark is getting a little on the rusty side – maybe even corroded.

I went to the dermatologist recently.  And she said the little bumps scattered here and there upon my milky white skin are “barnacles” that come with age.  And – get this – the brown spots are AGE spots too and there is not a thing I can do about them.   I tried hard to grin and bear it under her forthright scrutiny but have been looking for another more politically correct/more flattering dermatologist ever since.

Anyway, the barnacles may have spread to my head now, because I simply cannot locate Item X, which is something that is bigger than a breadbox and smaller than an elephant – namely, Emmy’s gift!

Being extremely organized and eager to have everything in one place and ready to go when I start wrapping, I have begun gathering all the pre-purchased gifts for the holidays into one room.

Not only is everything in one guest room (don’t come for a visit now please) but everything is divided into logical piles.

This item goes in the “Son’s Family Pile.”

And this goes in the “Janet and Kids” pile.

And this goes in the “Locals” pile….. well you get the idea.

I could hardly believe it but the Son and Family pile is missing one major item – the daughter-in-law’s gift!

This is so frustrating I can hardly write.

I have looked everywhere in the house.  I know it is somewhere.  I know it.  But where?

I have checked all the closets, drawers, and shelves, under beds, and even in the pantry!

The only place I have not looked is the attic and that would require climbing a ladder to get to it.

Will I have to go shopping again for Emmy’s gift?

And if I find something else, will I forget where I put that too?

Help!  Any ideas you can share about where you might have put things you can never find again will be greatly appreciated.

And if you can find my lost mind that would help too.


Read Full Post »



Some of my friends actually set off fireworks on the day I was born.

What a great honor huh?

And if you are wondering why these folks are so devoted, well, it is because they are from England.

Now that does not really explain the fireworks does it?

Notwithstanding their delightful accents and delectable gifts (like Terry’s Chocolate Oranges, Cadbury Biscuits, and All Butter Shortbread Fingers from Harrod’s), these lovely people always remember November 5th and they have been remembering it since 1605!

They celebrate that day because a fellow named Guy Fawkes tried to blow up King James I during the opening of Parliament.

Having long memories and able to hold a grudge for centuries, the English have been drinking cavorting, and setting off fireworks ever since.  In other words, every year they celebrate

G u y    F a w k e s    Day!

And that’s my birthday!  A little history never hurts right?

Now if you are not English, will you please mark your calendar so as not to miss this auspicious event?

History of Guy Fawkes Day

There are lots of stories about Guy Fawkes Day, but here is a concise summary from www.history.com:

Catholic dissident Guy Fawkes and 12 co-conspirators spent months planning to blow up King James I of England during the opening of Parliament on November 5, 1605.  But their assassination attempt was foiled the night before when Fawkes was discovered lurking in a cellar below the House of Lords next to 36 barrels of gunpowder. 

Londoners immediately began lighting bonfires in celebration that the plot had failed, and a few months later Parliament declared November 5 a public day of thanksgiving. 

Guy Fawkes Day, also known as Bonfire Night, has been around in one form or another ever since.  Though originally anti-Catholic in tone, in recent times it has served mainly as an excuse to watch fireworks, make bonfires, drink mulled wine and burn Guy Fawkes effigies (along with the effigies of current politicians and celebrities).

Portrait of King James I

Portrait of King James I



Read Full Post »

I always feel a bit down on holidays like the 4th of July since our family is so scattered and so far, but I wistfully went through the motions this morning  planning for the usual hot dogs and burgers w/trimmings.  The fun was missing though, and there was still shopping to be done for the necessary ingredients.  Bill warned, “It’s gonna be crowded.”   He knows how much I HATE crowds.

Stop# 1 – Herman’s Roadside Country Store.

Herman's Market

 Yep, it was crowded.  Inside was abuzz with laughter and activity.  “Do you have lime to add to the soil?” asked one woman.  The jovial checker lady said, “Hang on!  I’ll ask.”  And she hollered at full volume to a gent at the rear of the store, “HAVE WE GOT LIME?”  And then she whispered to me, “Watch – I’ll bet he says Huhhhhh?”   And within 10 seconds he hollered back as if on cue, “Huhhhhh?”

This may not sound funny in writing as it did in person but everybody in the place cracked up.  I left laughing and with some great tomatoes.

Stop #2 – The YMCA Treadmill.

Merrily proceeding I decided to stop for 20 minutes to stroll on the treadmill to assuage pervasive guilt over sedentary slothfulness and imagined again the gym would be too crowded.  And yes, it was, but there was one treadmill available.  On the way out I met four friends and  stopped to chat, finally leaving energized and smiling and feeling noble about conquering slothful urges.

On the way out, there was this great old beat up farm truck that begged to be photographed!  Old Farm Truck

Stop #3 – The Grocery Store. 

Surely the supermarket would be mobbed and it was, but with a happy crowd.  A favorite member of my book club appeared in one aisle so we stopped to chat about the current book, Factory Girls.

Leaving the store and expecting a hot muggy trudge to the car, there was instead a lovely breeze to nudge me to the far end of the parking lot (favorite spot to work in extra steps).
The air felt so good I wanted to keep on walking but the frozen yogurt might have melted.

Stop #4 – Home.

Arriving home meant unloading (if Bill was snoozing or mowing the South 40) putting away all the groceries, washing all the fruits and veggies, then slicing, cutting and preparing for a traditional Independence Day feast.  I was happy but tired and had not begun the slicing and dicing when the phone rang.

Good friends suggested we all go out to dinner to the Natural Bridge Hotel.  Great idea!

Stop #5 – Natural Bridge Hotel.

Natural Bridge Hotel

“It will probably be empty,” was the day’s lament.  “Everybody’s home barbecuing.”  But the hotel dining room was mobbed and once again with a happy bunch of people.  We were seated right next to a talented guitar player who was playing at extremely close proximity, so table conversation was at the shouting level.

Our waitress had a name tag.  It said her name was Andrew.  “IS THAT REALLY YOUR NAME?” I yelled.  “I WEAR FAKE NAMES ALL THE TIME,” she yelled back.  That started us all laughing and it was hard to stop through the entire meal.  Her real name is Michelle (we think) and she says she has another job as a fire truck driver!  She also goes by the names of Brad or Francine.

I still sorely miss my family and friends who are scattered so far away but the fates must have conspired to force smiles and laughter on this particular Independence Day.

A song kept trying to erupt as the day progressed (and of course, you do not want to be around for that).  I think Perry Como made it famous and here are the lyrics.  Do you remember this song?

It’s a Good Day

Yes, it’s a good day for singing a song
And it’s a good day for moving along
Yes, it’s a good day, how can anything go wrong?
Good day from morning till night

‘Cause it’s a good day for shining your shoes
Yes, it’s a good day for losing your blues
Everything to gain, nothing to lose
‘Cause it’s a good day from morning till night

I said to the sun
“Good morning sun, rise and shine today”
You know you gotta get going if you’re gonna make a showing
And you gotta get the right away

‘Cause it’s a good day for paying your bills
And it’s a good day for curing your ills
So take a deep breath and throw away your pills
‘Cause it’s a good day from morning till night

When I woke up this morning, I was feeling all wrong
Couldn’t find any reason for a happy song
Then I combed my hair and I washed my face
And my little world fell into place

‘Cause it’s a good day for paying your bills
And it’s a good day for curing your ills
So take a deep breath, throw away your pills
‘Cause it’s a good day from morning till
Good day from morning till, good day from morning till night

Read Full Post »

“We lose things as we age.

That’s the hardest part,”

 Mom said.

Christmas has come and gone and I found myself craving things lost.  Mostly I missed the people I wished could gather round and share our holiday celebration.

But in the days leading up to Christmas, I also had mysterious cravings for foods!  The list began to grow of  favorites I gave up long ago for the sake of health or weight.  Or maybe some of them were simply replaced –  lost for years –  but not entirely forgotten.  And suddenly I WANTED a whole list of Ghost Foods of Christmas Past!

This year I craved Macaroni and Cheese!

Mac & CheeseSupermarket aisles are still full of the old box versions, plus every possible variety dreamed up by the merchandisers.  But, I haven’t had old fashioned, “original” Mac & Cheese in years!   This was one of my early wifely sacrifices since the husband hates cheese!

But I keep dreaming of Mac  & Cheese so now there’s MY personal box in the pantry reserved for cheese cravings, nostalgia, and a carbohydrate boost.  

Country Tip for City Dudes:  Comfort food can be comforting just sitting on a shelf!

Then there’s Orange Iced Sweet Rolls!orange sweet rolls

I wonder if our son remembers Sunday mornings long ago when his Dad made orange sweet rolls and sausage for breakfast.  The rolls came in a cylindrical box you banged on the corner of the sink to open, then set on cookie sheets to bake,  and lastly you coated them with a scrumptious orangey icing.

I used to drive our son crazy trying to wake him up with “Rise and shine! Rise and shine!” and singing off-key, “It’s time to get up.  It’s time to get up.  It’s time to get up in the morrrrrning!”   Mmmmm!  The scent of baking and sausage from the kitchen is what finally worked to get him out of bed.  He blocked out the singing with a pillow over his head.

Guess what we had this Christmas morning?!  And that got Dad and me to talking about other foods we recall from the “olden days” when we could handle sugar overloads with grace.

My Mom used to make Baked Beans and Hot Dogs for dinner!

The beans came out of a can and she simply chunked up the hot dogs and heated both together.  Not the healthiest scenario but who knows?  Lotsa protein anyway.  I’m not craving that meal so much but the memories are huge! Wonder how it would taste with a sprinkle of cheese!

Canned  Brown Bread.

Oh yes, we found it at one of those vintage stores and ordered two cans of date-nut bread!  I used to love canned bread because it worked so well with baked beans and hot dogs.   Guess what?   It tastes the same as it used to.  On the other hand, it doesn’t taste the same at all.  Does that make sense?  Do taste buds change along with facial character lines?

Liquorice Allsorts Licorice Allsorts.

Uh Oh!   My craving for these beauties  never leaves, and my husband loves them too.  I know if we find Licorice Allsorts, the entire box will be gone in a matter of days.  He found some for Christmas!


Was this my little brother’s favorite or my son’s?  The images are beginning to blur.  O.K., I know it’s a brand name I’m giving a plug.  Maybe the brand has become generic for any pasta in a can (like bandaids or kleenex)?  I never really liked SpaghettioO’s but the little fellas in my life always did.  Still, the “O’s” were always a pantry staple at home, and deserve a test again for my elderly taste buds!

Rum Balls.rumball2

Oh, how I loved Mom’s rum balls and usually make them every Christmas.  “Not this year,”  I reasoned, since  I practically inhale every single one!  Nope, this year I will practice abstinence!  After all, a hysterical craving for rum balls is embarrassing, especially when added to all that licorice intake!  Have you noted my admirable will power as proof of total self control.  Ha!

Ahhhh!   How I love Christmas and the Ghost Foods of Christmas Past.

This virtual trip was really unexpected, and wandering down a memory lane of long ago favorites, I wondered if I was alone in craving such lost delicacies.

Have any of my blogger friends been experiencing this odd way of looking at the past?

Have you been thinking of Ghost Foods you would like to try again?

Read Full Post »

Home for Xmas

Wherever I go people ask,

Are you ready for Christmas yet?

And I always answer, “Not quite.”

Always one more thing to do,

one more gift to wrap,

one more cookie to bake,

 one more menu to plan,

one more bed to make,

one more card to send.

Only four more days to go.

Are you ready for Christmas yet?


Read Full Post »

My friends dreamed up a wonderful idea for gift giving:

A special gift for a special day

Here for now and gone away.

What?  Don’t worry.

It’s  a magic act I hear.

 Now you see it,

Now see it disappear.

What is this gift so removable?

Why, it’s simply this – a gift Consumable.


Actually this little mystery rhyme was the lead-in to a true story.  After years of agonizing over what gifts to select for the special people in our lives, some of my special friends came to a consensus.  We made a pact to only give consumable gifts – meaning things that will get used up.  I can’t tell you what a relief that is and how much more fun I have shopping.

We just remember this:  “If it will soon disappear it’s a gift worth giving,” and here are some examples:

  • Chocolates (Yeah! Yeah! Chocolates!)
  • Gourmet Flavored Oils (I put this in because I found a gourmet oil store!)
  • Spices (you can even make your own concoction but I found a spice store too)
  • Candles (beautiful or utilitarian in case there’s a freak storm)
  • Batteries (maybe best for a man?)
  • Note Paper (lovely reminders to keep in touch the old way)
  • Faux Fingernails (Huh?)
  • Nail Polish (for the fake fingernails)
  • Soap (used to be an insult, but now soaps come in grand scents and colors)
  • Nuts (but not raw cashews – supposed to be poisonous – unless you want to see your friend disappear too!)
  • Coffee or Tea (always a tradition)
  • Cheese and Fruit (a gift of health and good taste)
  • A Book (time well spent and pass it on)
  • Money (of course – but considered somewhat crass!)

Are you getting the idea?  I know you will come up with a whole new list of your own Gifts That Give and Go designed to temporarily please.  And what better way I ask, is there to celebrate a special occasion than to relish the moment and then move on?

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: