Cleaning house physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

Traditions – Fruitcake Christmas Cake?

Another tasty holiday tradition is making fruitcake. (Would everyone please stop sniggering about fruitcake! You haven’t had mine; it is not that hard-as-a-rock, candied fruit, fruitcake; it is oh so much better!)  I have considered changing the name to Christmas Cake or Holiday Cake because of the negativity of “fruitcake” but it seems like caving in. So I waffle between the names while trying to have a “your loss” attitude.

Years ago, I would dry my own fruit to use (apricots, plums, raisins), but I no longer do that.  I usually mix the dried fruit and nuts during the Thanksgiving holiday. That allows the brandy to soak into the fruit and nuts for several days; I add more brandy as the fruit soaks it up. This year I was running late so brandy soaking was just 72 hours and then I baked the little gems the other day. Instead of make large loaves, I make cupcake size and mini-cupcake size. And if I’m tired of baking, I also make mini-loaves. They all can be wrapped in Saran wrap, then wrapped again in foil, and frozen. I love thawing a little one in the middle of summer and think of Christmas.

Here’s some pictures of the process.

Dried fruit (apricots, dates, figs, currants, golden raisins, plums) and nuts (walnuts, pecans) soaking in brandy and molasses.

After soaking, add batter.

Mixed batter and fruit/nut combo in cupcake pan, before baking.

Final results (before wrapping) -- yum!!

These are soooooo gooooooood!!   But I need to come up with a name that won’t deter people from trying them.  Any ideas?  I’ll send whoever submits the best name a little bit of heaven (also known as my fruitcake)!  Let’s hear some suggestions.


Traditions – Christmas Breakfast

Ever since I can remember, we have always gone to my aunt and uncle’s house on Christmas morning for brunch. That tradition still continues some 60 years later, except now it is at my mom’s house (step-mom, aunt – see Here’s My Family Tree to figure that one out).

Everyone pitches in for brunch, but the main course is what is affectionately called land goop. (I have always called it land gorp, but have been shown the error of my ways, but I still think gorp sounds more appetizing than goop). My brother Gary is the main chef. Land goop is a kind of omelet, but very heavy-duty. It contains eggs, potato chunks, sausage, and cheese. People fight over land goop; Gary has learned to always make extra to prevent fisticuffs.

Gary cooking land goop/gorp

YUM -- the star of the breakfast show!

Gary’s eldest son, Nick, has been the king french toast maker for several years now. Nick has this down to a science and I think everyone agrees that Nick’s french toast is the best in the world.

Nick making world's best french toast

This year there were 17 for breakfast.

Before the chaos begins.

Let's eat, drink, and be merry!!

Traditions – Countdown to Christmas

Many years ago I made a type of advent calendar for Christmas. Because I was quilting, I used a Christmas tree and placed snowflakes from the sky onto the tree for each day before Christmas. When the tree was full of snowflakes, it was Christmas day!

In the past, I never had trouble with the cats being interested in the dangling snowflakes. But those two cats have gone over the Rainbow Bridge and new kitties have joined the family. It seems as if at least one of them (MeiMei, wouldn’t you know) wants to speed up the process. She thinks if the snowflakes get on the tree faster, it will be Christmas sooner.  Darn kitty is messing with my traditions!

Advent tree with only a few snowflakes left until Christmas

MeiMei helping with snowflakes.

Traditions – Ornaments for Daughter

Since Daughter was 8 months old, each Christmas I have bought her a Hallmark “Daughter” ornament for that year. And also bought her another ornament that would provide a memory for each year. The idea behind this tradition is that when she is out on her own and has her own Christmas tree, she will have a collection of ornaments that hopefully provide many loving memories. As of this Christmas, she has 42 ornaments–a good start!

Here are her ornaments for this year.

Daughter - 2011

Harry Potter and Friends ornament

And because I collect mouse ornaments, I am always on the lookout for new additions to the tree. Here’s this year’s ornament.

Who can be "mousier" than Minnie? (Except for Mickey, of course)

Traditions – Holiday Lights

During the holidays, we (Daughter and I) like to check out the holiday lights throughout the town. There are always some favorites, such as several blocks where every house is lit up. The local newspaper lists many houses and we map out our route and hit the road. We will definitely do this again later this week when our Japanese friends are here for the holidays.

This year we don’t really have to travel far; actually we don’t have to travel at all. The house across the street is decked out with every light available on earth. Haven’t you noticed the lack of proper holiday lights in the stores? That’s because my neighbor has them all. And with music too (which is loud enough to hear from inside my house).

So without further ado, prepare for the show of the year.

Christmas Countdown Starts

Christmas countdown banner

Only 3 months until Christmas!!  What to do? Because I plan in advance (because I know I procrastinate) for  the holidays, it is time to get on it right now.

I belong to a small group where we exchange handmade presents in December. I think I have a good idea for this year, thanks to some great DIY crafts I have found on the internet. I can’t mention it here because at least one recipient reads my blog. But I am excited about it and have scheduled next weekend to gather supplies and start the process.  (such a tease –sorry)

Will probably be having Japanese guests this Xmas again, so should start thinking about that. Last year I made sure I had several little presents from Santa for your guest.  Better start shopping early.

I have a large extended family and need to plot and plan gifts for all. I want to come up with something that is useful. Last year I did a type of food gift basket which included breakfast, soup, and dessert. I had so much fun putting it together; thinking everyone liked it.

I am running out of ideas. One year I dehydrated several different fruits, and also made jams and fruit leather snacks. Another year I made mosaic trivets for family. Here are some pictures.

Since I try to have everything done by Thanksgiving, I now only have 2 months.  Help Help Help!  If anyone has some spectacular ideas for gifts, please let me know ASAP!