To Amuse and Delight

Monday, December 28, 2009

Special Gifts

I have been blessed with a husband who is attracted to and appreciates the same things that I do. So, it is no surprise that I am head over heels for the gifts he picked for me. My birthday is very close to Christmas so I received not one, but two wonderful pieces of hand made pottery from Bauman Stoneware. This photo of the pumpkin teapot and acorn casserole speak for themselves of their amazingly gifted creator. All I can say is that they are beautiful and magical as everything concerning Christmas should be.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas baking

The snow is piled up outside. The tree is trimmed with favorite ornaments. Fairies, mushrooms, nesting birds and woodland critters adorn it's branches. Oh, and the red lights are twinkling, I do love my red lights. The Christmas music is playing. It's time to get baking. As a child of the 70's (not the healthy hippie 70's) I was raised on a lot of packaged food. Potatoes and cakes came from boxes and vegetables came out of cans. But, come Christmas time my mom would bake cookies from scratch and she did it very well. As far back as I can remember Christmas we had the green acorn cookies. Mom would make the dough with the big wooden spoon, no mixers here. Then she molded each little acorn by hand. After baked and cooled she dipped each one in melted chocolate to make the acorn cap. They are buttery, kind of like shortbread, but flavored with almond extract. When I got married I started making them our tradition too. This year I also made a batch of sugar cookies that we have yet to decorate. They are from my late Grandma Jean's 1963 "Cooky Book". They are called wonderland cookies and we cut them out in fun animal shapes: pigs, owls, chicks, rabbits plus hearts and diamonds. It's just not Christmas though without the green acorn cookies. That big, gorgeous brown glass acorn ornament is a new gift from a special friend who really knows what I like.

Each Christmas I make a birthday cake for Jesus. I also like to make a buche de noel. It's a french roll cake filled with whipped cream. It's a less sweet alternative to the buttercream iced birthday cake. I decorate it with merengue mushrooms and strawberries. Of course I take any excuse to put cute little mushrooms on my table!

When serving this cake to company, one friend was notably disgusted to be eating mushrooms with his cake! I took this as a mighty big compliment at the realism of the little shrooms.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Storybook Home

It is bitter cold today. The perfect day to snuggle down with the latest issue of The Storybookhome Journal, which arrived in my mailbox just yesterday. It is a rare treat to anticipate and receive something of worth in the mail these days (not email!). The Storybookhome Journal is put together by the artist Al Young and his gifted family. It is a bimonthly publication centered around wonderful classic literature. Each issue spotlights one book or author. Various aspects of the book are brought to life in whimsical yet practical ways so that you can “live out” the book in your own home. In each fabulous issue you will encounter delicious recipes, home decor and handiwork projects, music pieces, gardening ideas and much more. Each idea is pulled directly from the book and personalized by this highly talented, very imaginative family. Each issue is a work of art in itself. There is beauty and inspiration at every turn. I find myself refering back to certain issues again and again.

If you are searching for something special to give this holiday season for mother, sister, or friend, a yearly subscription to The Storybookhome Journal is perfect. It is very reasonably priced for the ongoing gift of delight that it will bring. Individual issues can also be purchased. Here are just a very few past issues that will whet your appetite: Heidi, Litttle Women, Silas Marner, The Wind in the Willows, Bleak House, Persuasion, Little House in the Big Woods, Understood Betsy and Treasure Island.

Five years ago I was asked if I might contribute to the ‘Old Christmas’ issue which focused on the author Washington Irving. I was more than happy to oblige, it is very exciting to be a part of such a wonderful and worthwhile endeavor.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Being Thankful

This Thanksgiving was by far the best I’ve ever had. I cooked, family visited and we had a relaxed, fun time being together. Everything went off without a hitch. Now that it is over I realize what made it so special. The very things that I am most thankful for, the intangibles. The intangibles can’t be seen in these pictures. They are not the food or the stuff, they are invisible. They are faith, love, joy, health and many other things that without them the tangible things in life are meaningless. What good is a well cooked bird if it shares the table with pain or discontent? You will be amazed at how thankful you will become when you begin to count your intangible blessings.

I am thankful for my place at the table. I am thankful for the cleverness of a daughter who figured out where everyone should sit, made place cards, and set about to make it all look nice.

I am thankful for a husband’s thoughtfulness. When passing by a yard sale, he grabbed the squirrel/nut dish because he knew I would be crazy about it. I love that he gave them money for it even though it was in the box marked “free”.

I am thankful that the people who really know me love me anyway.