December 23, 2017:

Hola!

It's COLD here and getting colder by the day, brrrrr. By December 26th the high may be only 3 degrees above zero. Yuck! But it's nice and cozy inside, and filled with the scents and sights of Christmas and Yuletide!

Today I made a crock pot full of my easy-peasy Beef Burgundy, made with a soup can full of sweet red wine (to rinse out the soup can, of course), and four other ingredients: beef (this pot I used beef already sliced in the package for beef stroganoff, and then cut the long thin strips into bite sizes), a can of Golden Mushroom soup, an 8 ounce package of whole button mushrooms cut into halves and thirds (depending on cap size), and a packet plus a little extra of a second packet of dried onion soup/dip mix. I also added a generous helping of ground pepper, dried thyme and dried - and aged (a year and three months, yikes!) of whole basil leaves that I ground up in between my fingers. Then the pot cooked on the "low" heat setting for 4 hours, with only one stir half-way through. The scent permeated the house and even managed to waft out to the street - wowsers - guess I need to get some additional insulation in these 1956 walls! My mouth was watering by the time I made up my first dish (over on-purpose a bit dry mashed potatoes) and gobbled it down, then had half a second dish as well! Now I want a nap.

I have my dark chocolate covered Queen Anne brand cherries (a Christmas must!), Beringer White Zinfandel wine, plenty of new fuel for my gel fuel fireplace and a host of Christmas movies to watch. Best of all, Solstice is done and we had a bit of sunlight day, late this afternoon. Every day, although it is not noticeable right now, it will get lighter a few minutes earlier and the Sun will sink below the horizon a few minutes later each day until the Summer Solstice on June 21. The worst is over, except for the bitter cold of January and February. I think I will go visit my friend Isis in Las Vegas in March - that always perks me right up :)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all, and may the Season's blessings shower you with good fortune for all of 2018.

Jan

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas Everyone

Ho ho ho!

I'm up before dawn and caught the Star of the East just as dawn started rising over Lake Michigan.  Sorry for the blurred image, I'm not very good with this camera even after years and years but I think it's pretty cool.  I also took a quick photo of my Christmas tree lit up in my front window about 6:45 a.m.  I did not have a clear idea until this morning what it looks like from the outside!


This is looking off my side stoop that opens to my driveway, toward the southeast.  The glow of dawn can be seen roughly at the roofline of the garage and the Star of the East can be seen near the top of the tree's branches just to the center right of the photo. [Note added later: I thought it could be Venus, but I checked a sky map for the month of December and it is probably Jupiter - or a comet that is right now at about 30 degrees angle in the south/southeast sky.  Holy Hathor!]


Thar she glows...  It looks massive, but it's an artificial 6.5 footer and not super-wide.

It was a beautiful, perfectly still morning, and not cold at all, probably in the mid-40's.  This entire month has been unusually mild, perhaps due to the El Nino.  We have had a lot of rain - thank goodness it wasn't snow, we would be buried under 20 feet of it!

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates; Happy Yule and Happy Winter Solstice to those who celebrate those traditions.  I totally missed Solstice this year, but it came and went and now the days are starting to get longer again, hooray!  The tree will be up until the end of January, when it will be noticeably lighter earlier in the morning and in the evening. The lighted decorations all around the house and candles at night help keep the darkness at bay. I am a creature of the light.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dinette Decorated for the Holidays

Hola everyone!

I am really enjoying this holiday season -- been out making merry with my friends a lot! I am thrilled that my decorating was done quickly during the Thanksgiving weekend and finished up shortly thereafter, and shopping was mostly done online (easy peasy), so I can concentrate on socializing with family and friends and watching my annual favorite holiday movies.

Do you think these go together???


A year ago this is what I'd envisioned for my dinette.  The top pattern is on the curtains that would flank either side of the patio sliding door that floods the dinette with light; the middle pattern is a large rectangular area rug I've had for years and was in storage for just about as long - a rich red with black border and myriad colors in its florals (but no turquoise or teal), it would have gone under the dining table; the bottom pattern is the tablecloth I love to use during the holidays because of its rich color, pattern, texture and sheen, but I didn't use it last year until Valentine's Day!

But, this year I resurrected my two foot tall cardinal tree, now centered on my 56" diameter dining table, added some cardinal, red and green accents around the space collected over the years and, voila, somehow it works (well, I think so :))










So happy with how it all turned out!  Best of all is the feel of the thick (1/2") wool rug beneath stockinged feet, the richness of the colors against the dark grey walls and the dark plank-vinyl wood floors -- looks positively Victorian library and I love it.  I feel enveloped in richness, warmth, snug and cozy, things needed this time of year in the Wisconsin climate.

The cardinal plates were purchased at different times at TJMaxx for $3.99 each.  The cardinal prints are greeting cards or photos printed from the internet (I have collected several over the years and interchange them); the frames were purchased over several years (I have about a dozen wood tone frames and six black frames) from my local Walgreens for $5 each (no longer available, sadly); and here and there, not photographed, are some red/green/gold/black plaid ribbons, three cardinals perched around the kitchen and dinette (they didn't all fit on the tree); and two other framed cardinal prints; a few other Christmas-y touches.

I love spending time in the kitchen/dinette.  I have a lap top set up there during the day, facing toward the window so I can see the birds and my tribe of squirrels cavorting about in the backyard :)  Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas Decor 2015

Hola darlings!

I am temporarily diverting from finishing the series of posts that led to the creation of my new living room earlier this year, so I can bring you the few simple things I've done around the house to introduce Christmas this year.

Here is the tree at dusk with the tree lights turned on; well, I know it doesn't look like dusk because of the flash on my camera, but it was:


I like how the ornaments "pop" more since hundreds of them are no longer competing for attention.  It works for moi this year. Next year, I may go back to my "more is better" tree decorating ways.

I realized just how much Christmas stuff I've accumulated over the years and after this Christmas I'm going to go through all of my boxes and clear out some of it.

This year I put the fewest ever ornaments on the tree since I bought it.  I did, however, go out and buy some long-coveted pearl strand garland.  I may never used my gold bead garland again and in any event half of it at least is going to the next Easter Seals pick-up.

This year, as last year, I stayed with the white feather boas I use as garland, but I left off the faux-natural long feathers that I would bow out around the tree in arcs.  I also only used half of my treasured Gump's feathered birds this year, but I made up for that by purchasing four larger sized golden feathered birds on clearance at Macy's and four composite crowned birds in a champagne color hung from a long ribbon.  I also relented and bought five faux-crystal and pearl stems to use as tree toppers.  So, I'm still adding to my collection of Christmas decorations - me bad!

I layered some ornaments in the center of the tree as per my usual practice to fill in the holes that show up so glaringly during the day with the tree centered on the large picture window with light pouring in, but not nearly as many as in prior years; this year I wanted to get the tree trimming done with a minimum of fuss and bother.  I added my four pearl starburst ornaments, my clear acrylic and crystal snowflakes and snowflake drops, my pearl and faux-silk florals, and a few other ornaments, and that was that.  Instead of six or seven boxes of decorations emptied, I used less than three.  Holy Hathor!

Here are some close-ups of some of the ornaments this year.  They stand out more, I think, because there is more "green" area exposed on the tree (gee, what a concept):

Me (I'm the golden-beglittered Nefertiti lower center left, ahem); Mr. Don's McLean kilt pin,
upper right, a sourvenir from Duarte Castle, and the beribboned heart in the middle.






xxx