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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's your Christmas tradition, baby?

Published by cck at 10:21 AM

The hubby and I are spending our third Christmas together. And last night, we were giggling in front of our tree and the fire and talking about memories of Christmas past.

Our family traditions are different. In his, the kids wake up and tear into their stockings while the parents suck down coffee and wake up slowly. It's festive and lovely and there is lots of laughter. We eat eggs benedict with Christmas Eve's leftover ham. And then the family gathers in front of the tree to open presents. Honestly, it's a bit more sedate than my memories, but then again - we all are over the age of 25 and I wonder if that has a little bit to do with it. I have never enjoyed Christmas as much as I do now. I'm guessing, again, that it has something to do with my age.

In my small bag of tricks I bring from my family, the kids wake up the parents, but the kids have to wait upstairs - with clean teeth and brushed hair and made beds, while the parents have their coffee. We wait for the sound of Christmas bells and my father to utter, "Ho Ho Ho!" to know that Santa has finally left the area and we race down the stairs to recover our stockings. I've also never met a family that treated the nativity like we did. Baby Jesus never arrived in his manger until Christmas morning. It was placed under the tree while we slept, so my brother and I always checked to make sure he was there. You know, finally.

Luckily for me, my first Christmas away from my family included the bells and the cookies and trappings that were important to me. My mother-in-law called me and asked what made Christmas for me and she included my traditions into her festivities.

When K. brought up the fact that Christmas will be much more fun once we have little ones - besides gagging - I thought of the beauty of combining our respective traditions and making new ones for just our family. I'm always on the lookout for new ways to celebrate. Am I the only one who not only leaves cookies for Santa but also a small slice of cheese for Santa Mouse?

I love Christmas. We're leaving today for the warmer south and will be down there a week. I hope all of your Christmas wishes come true - and that you are surrounded by the warmth and love of those you hold dear. Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

High of 78

Published by cck at 4:41 PM

It's the week before Christmas and I have all the windows in my house open. Bright sunshine is streaming in and I want to put on shorts. Tomorrow is supposed to hit 80 degrees. It's my third Christmas in Florida and for the first time, it really feels like Christmas.

Our house is all decorated, and I've finished wrapping all the presents. My aunt will be here in two days and I cannot stand how excited I am for Christmas. K. and I are exchanging gifts (real gifts) for the first time. The last two years we wrote letters to each other, and while I hope that tradition continues, there will be something a little more materialistic under the tree this year. And no, K., it is not a nintendo wii. I am so ready to celebrate the holiday with my family.

ps. Voting on haircolor continues until Friday morning. I still haven't made up my mind.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Drunken Cherries

Published by cck at 6:58 PM

Oh my. Y'all, cherries are on sale at Publix this week - go get you some. I got mine drunk and now I am a very happy girl. You can do it too! Really.

Simple, simple, simple. Now I canned mine - meaning that I processed the jars (wash them by hand or stick them in the dishwasher, then boil them for about ten minutes and keep in hot water till you are ready to fill them with the cherries). Visit for more information about easy canning.

Okay, so onto the drunken part. Wash the cherries thoroughly and submerge in water. Discard any cherries that float (supposedly, they might have worms in them). Using a pitter, pit all the cherries. Trust me, a pitter is a worthy investment. You'll start making pies after this. Really.

In a saucepan, bring some (recipe below) sugar, water and lemon juice to a rolling boil. I also added a few strips of orange peel with about 50% of the pith removed. Once the syrup is boiling, lower the heat to keep a simmer and add all the cherries. Gently stir it all up and let it simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and add the liquor (I used Gran Mariner - go crazy: brandy, cointreau or hazlenut liquor would be yummy).

After all that, ladle cherries into jar and top with the remaining liquid. If you're processing your cherries, I put them in a boil bath for ten minutes. Spoon over ice cream, into a pie crust or over chocolate cake. These are so good. SOOOOO GOOD!

I just started canning. My marmalade, while tasty, came out cloudy. My red pepper jelly is pretty fantastic, but I tried to do something with pears that we will not talk about. Ever. Loved this quote from angry chicken "Well, nothing like homemade gifts." Let me know if you get your cherries drunk!

Drunken Cherries
4 lbs Cherries - washed, stems and pits removed
1 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
Thinly sliced rind from 1/2 an orange
1 1/4 c. liquor

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I love me some l'oreal.

Published by cck at 2:51 PM

I love coloring my hair. When I was younger, I did it myself. As I've grown up, I've realized that (at least for me) heaven is not found in a box of L'Oreal. That has not stopped me from being adventurous.

I went red a few months ago (look to the left), but now I'm looking for a change. What do y'all think? Keep the red or go darker like Natalie from Love Actually (I set the dvr and I think I've watched it seven times now). Help!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

See the USA in a Chevrolet

Published by cck at 3:21 PM

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Big Three

Published by cck at 10:52 PM

I have a lot of thoughts about what's going on with the proposed bail out of America's biggest employer. I'm a fan of keeping auto workers working.

I'm shocked that car companies are being blamed for chasing profits. Sure, it's great to look back and shake our heads at the gasoline beasts - the Hummers, the giant trucks, the Explorers. Man, that was silly! But during the height of the crazy buying sprees, very few were thinking that we should create cars that would be better for the environment, easy going at the pump.

You know who was thinking of all that? Lemme tell you -- (you might have guessed) -- the BIG THREE. That's right folks... Ford had to come up with the Explorer in order to come up with the Hybrid Escape.

I know that there's a certain resonance with build it and they will buy. But, who's to blame for the Hummer craze? It's the buyer right? I mean, no one was forcing aging men to buy tanks to drive down Appalachee, Augusta or Forest Drive. Since when are Americans afraid of making a profit?

Bail out the Big Three. Do it now. Do it before our economy gets worse.

Turkey Recap

Published by cck at 12:17 PM

My husband and I traveled down south for Thanksgiving. It was fantastic -- absolutely lovely to spend four days with our family. First, let's talk food... I actually got to help in the kitchen, which was pretty cool. I learned how to make Nana's stuffing, which according to the spouse was a make-it-or-break-it deal. If I couldn't make sausage stuffing, I'm pretty sure we'd be in couples counseling.

I like Thanksgiving. It's a big deal in my book - a major holiday. This was the first one I spent with a family that was not my family. And in doing so, I realized that my family was much bigger than I imagined.

Friday entailed sleeping in and a long boat ride. Nothing like fresh air and sunshine to follow a huge meal. I wish I'd brought my camera. K. and I sat in the front of the boat, snuggled up against the cold wind. I had a long and meaningful conversation with my mother-in-law. The more time I spend with them, the more I feel the knots of family tension (my own baggage) unwind, unfurl, ease. The more time I spend with myself, I become who I am.

Ohmygoodness, and the pies! I made dutch apple (passed down from my great-great-grandmother), pumpkin and cherry. Yes, I'm domestic. Dude - my motto is if you're going to eat pie it should be really good pie.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Little Lost Angel

Published by cck at 2:02 PM

One of the many things I miss being estranged from my immediate family is the holiday stuff. No, not opening presents or swilling eggnog, but the very things that help to dress up the holiday itself. The handmade Thanksgiving runner? The kissing Mr and Mrs Claus? The large coffee table book with no words? Yes. Those things.

I hate to admit I miss these things more than I miss my parents, but let's face it - the book Santa Mouse never caused the level of tension in my house that they did. I miss my ornaments, the ones that I always claimed - the ones half-broken with my name scrawled on the bottom. I miss the special dishes and tins, the way certain things were celebrated - unique to my family and my family alone.

I ran across a small used book - the The Little Lost Angel. I remember it so well. I can remember the feel of it under my fingertips. I decided it was my Christmas gift to myself. (Well worth the $4).