Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

 Since our children have married,
and they do their spouse's family Christmas
on Christmas Eve,
it has become a tradition of ours to have dinner out
& then ride around town & look at the Christmas lights display.
I spent that day putting finishing touches on gift wrapping,
gave the house a quick touch up,
prepared some casseroles for the next day,
& cooked Tom Turkey.

I was so glad I had accomplished so much on Christmas Eve
as Karen's wish was granted
& the census was low enough that she didn't have to go to work!
Quick phone calls were made early Christmas morning,
and my crowd arrived for dinner about 3 hours early!

Jeff & Karen's families had opened their gifts early Christmas morning
and arrived at Grandma's house ready for dinner!

Most of them had asked for Pillow Pets, & since they were impossible to wrap,
I sat them out with their goodie bags.
They dived in to see what surprises were in their Santa bags
& then dinner was served!

Somehow we didn't do "food" pictures this year!
I usually do a ham dinner for Christmas,
but was hungry for turkey & the trimmings,
& I think we were all happy to have that meal again.

My pretty Christmas dishes never even came out of the closet this year.
I planned on using them Christmas day,
but at the last minute decided we wouldn't want to do dishes
for 13 people, & so used paper plates.
Tucked away in my buffet were these pretty paper plates & napkins.
No one complained...especially our clean up crew!

We gathered around the Christmas tree in the family room.
Bob was going to ready the Christmas story from Luke, Chapter Two,
when our Christian School educated adults decided to see
 if they could still quote it.
Jonathan, Karen, & Jeff recited it...Karen remembering most of it.
When they were finished, Paige piped up & said
"Man...that was a long Bible story!"
She was ready to open gifts!

It takes us forever to pass out presents & then to open them.
We don't tear into them, but each person patiently waits their turn,
& we start with the youngest child opening first & do it by age.
It does take a long time, but as some said later,
it took us a long time to shop & we want to see each person open their gifts.
We were blessed!
Of course we all spent too much & got more than we needed,
but I do it out of a heart full of love.
I always say I'm going to cut back each year & thought I did this year.
It was a full day of family, fun, & fellowship!

And for a day or two more I'm enjoying my decorations...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Taking a few minutes for myself...

One recent morning I had breakfast alone...
just me & the birds at my feeder.
Bob had slipped out in the wee hours of the morning
to begin snow removal & I slept in!
Being the big metropolis that we are,
we recently were finally blessed with a Panera Bread Company
& I splurged on some pastries.
A perfect morning for a muffin & cup of coffee-
or at least some java with a whole lot of cream!

Have you ever noticed how quiet it gets with a new snowfall?
I took a few extra minutes and enjoyed the beauty of the fresh snow
out my kitchen window.
It was as if it was just me, the cardinals & chickadees...
& my Saviour
speaking softly to me in the quiet of the morning.

And for a few precious minutes,
I let the cares & burdens
of my world slip off of my shoulders.

I often find myself getting too busy & burdened down
with what is on my "too do" list.
Taking a few minutes for myself made my day go much better.
Quiet times...I need them more often.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

White Christmas!

Another day, another snow!
And the weather man is predicting more on Christmas Eve
& possibly on Christmas Day.
For now it is so very pretty & makes for a winter wonderland.

This evening I finished wrapping my gifts, except for a couple
of things I still need to get.
Decorating finally just stopped as I ran out of time.
I have tried to freshen my look up with a few new things
as I most of my decorations had a worn out look.
My only outdoor decorations were the urns on the front porch
& a spotlight shining on the front door.
No candles in the windows this year.
But with the snow, it looks beautiful & is enough.

I made the decision to no longer put the garland on the stairway.
Still, I needed something to brighten up the entry
and made up a swag with some sparkle.
Although I loved the garland, the lights, & the mistletoe sprigs,
I am very content with this simple look.

 May each of you have a blessed Christmas with your families.
We will be celebrating in the afternoon on Christmas Day
as it is Karen's holiday to work.

I can't wait for the grandchildren to get here!
Merry Christmas,
with Love

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sugar Cookie Tradition

It's hustle & bustle time here on the snowy hillside
 in southern Indiana.
Most of my shopping is finished, decorating is done,
 simply by me saying..."that's it"!,
some gifts are wrapped,
with more to box up, 
& I still have some baking to do.

I promised myself that I wouldn't do so much decorating this year-but it's hard to get out of that frame of mind
when you have done it for years.
I packed up my garland for the stairway & gave it to my daughter,
I sorted through some ratty looking decorations
& hauled them to Goodwill,
and then found myself with a cart full of glitter & Mercury glass
for a new look.
. . . I'll show you later . . .

But that isn't what this post is about.

Years ago, when we lived in Kansas,
& I worked for Montgomery Wards,
a friend game me a recipe for sugar cookies.
I was a fairly new bride & not the best cook in the world,
but made a big hit with my hubby
when I baked a batch of these sugar cookies.
That must have been about 1969 to 1970.
And I don't think I've missed very many Christmas's
baking them since.

They aren't extremely sweet,
and when freshly baked
are a soft cookie.
I think the sour cream is what makes them so good.

And I always use pure vanilla, not vanilla extract.

The batter is sticky when mixed & needs to be chilled.
And while working with the dough, I sometimes pop the bowl
back in the fridge for a little while to chill again.

Since I've become an expert at making these...
I will tell you my little secret.
I have found that you must work a lot of flour into the dough
as you are working with it,
& I only take out enough dough to make
a couple of cookies at a time.
Much easier to handle this way!

My cookie cutters are almost as old as my recipe
& I always make stars & bells.
I have a tree shaped cutter, but it is larger & harder to handle.

Bob doesn't like iced cookies.
So...we have colored sugar sprinkles on all of our cookies!
I've tried to sneak in the different shaped sprinkles
but he says the colored sugars are the best.
Oh don't want to ruin a good thing!

They may not be as decorative as the iced ones,
but they don't last long enough around my house to matter.
This platter was shared at our Sunday School Class party
& that is all of the baking that I have gotten around to this year!
So...come this week, I'm going to get my cookie cutters back out
& make at least one more batch.

And now you know the story of my sugar cookie tradition.
I remember taking a plate of these to my Grandma Fulkerson
when she was in the nursing home.
I also remember borrowing train shaped cutters
& sending a platter of them to work with Bob
at Rock Island Railroad.


Note. . .
The brown lidded crock in the top photo
 belonged to my Mom
& when I was a little girl, it was where she kept her sugar.
Several years ago she brought it to me & I treasure it.
It usually sits on a shelf in our family room.

Recipe for Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup "oleo"--I usually use butter
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda-dissolve in sour cream
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups flour

Mix sugar, butter, eggs, sour cream, & vanilla until well blended.
Add flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well.
Cover & chill.
Keep balance of dough in refrigerator while cutting out cookies.
It needs quite a bit of flour worked in as you cut out cookies.
Sprinkle with sugar crystals.
Bake in 350 degree oven about 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
Cool on wire rack.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Decorator's Showcase-The Upstairs!

Come go with me on the rest of the Irwin home tour.

We climbed the winding wooden stairway to the second floor
where we were able to view 3 rooms.

The first room was the sitting area off of Clementine Miller Tangeman's bedroom.
The decorator has used Ms Tangeman's favorite color, teal, for accent color.

This chandelier had been glittered up for the season,
but you can see that Clementine loved her bright colors!

The tree was decorated in teal, brown, & golds & it was gorgeous!

Her desk set at the window facing the east.
And as we drew back the curtain for a peak at the gardens,
this is what we saw!

Can you imagine living in a home with a view like this?
It was as if the snow angels had done their own decorating,
especially for this special day.
It took our breathe away!

On to the second room, referred to as J.I & Xenia Miller's bedroom.

Black, white & animal prints were used in here.

You can spot another of Xenia's creches on the mantle.

A photo on display of the Miller's.
They had a great influence in our town & were a wonderful family.

We noticed that the bathroom fixtures have not been replaced.
The old ones fit the mood of the home.

The front bedroom was referred to as Joseph Miller's...I think!
(I should have written this all down but there was too much to take in.)
This decorator is from North Vernon
& she too used a Victorian theme.

The pink poinsettias were very pretty on this tree.

We noticed the Bible that was open to Luke Chapter 2.
It belonged to the decorator's father.

Whimsical touches to the bathroom...

I loved the lime green & hot pink!

And a tub full or ornaments!

Our tour was over & it was time to go back down the stairway.
Mary Ann & I were so glad that we had taken an hour out of our Saturday morning
to go through the home.  It was beautifully done & well organized.
We are hoping it becomes an annual event!
But I'm not sure I would want that many snow covered feet tramping through
my house for two days!

If you go to the website,
you can see how the guest rooms look during the year,
& you can read about the history of the home.

Hope you enjoyed our little tour!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Decorators Showcase

There is a stately old home in our town, one of those old houses you dream about living in.
When we first came to Columbus, Clementine Miller Tangeman still lived there,
dividing her time between her hometown & New York City.
There are gardens in the side yard of the home...
gardens that invite you to some sit a while & enjoy the beauty & serenity of your surroundings.
The family would very generously open the gardens to the public on weekend afternoons & you often could find a few visitors strolling the grounds.

The Irwin-Miller family lived in this home.
But with the death several years ago of Mrs. Tangeman
& recently of the Millers,
the house was sold & is now a bed & breakfast.

Last Saturday as the snow was quilting the grounds in a beautiful white blanket,
the home was opened for our very first
Decorators Showcase
as The Inn at Irwin Gardens.

Several area decorators turned the home into a glittery Christmas wonderland.
Each ticket holder had an assigned time to tour for 1 hour.
My friend & I walked in promptly at 10:00 & used every minute of our allotted time!

The main parlour was decorated in a Victorian style.
I noticed that the walls were no longer the dark stained mahogany,
but had been painted a beautiful shade of aqua-blue.
Even the woodwork had been painted an off-white & it was all beautiful!

Creamy silk magnolias, aqua & amber ornaments,
feathers & seed pods
made for a Victorian feeling.

You will notice several creches throughout the home.
Zenia Miller had left part of her collection to United Way
which was displaying them,
along with having an auction.

This painting shows the side view of the home, looking back from the gardens.
And with the snow falling outdoors, it looked as if we were walking through the painting itself!

In Innkeeper had most of the furniture moved out of the home for the showcase
& the decorators used pieces of their choice.
I'm not sure which pieces belonged with the home.

A hutch in the second parlor

Another creche on the hutch

The second parlor fireplace, with candles all aglow!

There were quite a few people on tour the same time as us,
so it was impossible to get pictures of everything.
I somehow missed the Christmas tree in this room.

The dining room was decorated by the design class at Ivy Tech.
They used a Mexican-Spanish motif to compliment the creches in this room.
Notice the tiny one on the end of the table.
I think it was from Ecuador.

This was a large ceramic creche from Mexico.
The colors were very vibrant, like a Mexican Fiesta!

Another creche from South America

On to the library...every book lovers dream-
& I didn't come home with even a glimpse of a book on a shelf!
Believe me...there were many!

I don't remember about the large creche on the fireplace

but the poinsettias & two fireside chairs were promptly put on my wish list!

A blurry shot of the library tree.
You will have to take my word for it that they have a lovely view of the gardens!

I fell in love with these old light fixtures!
The bright bulbs are shielded with fabric ovals, making a candle like glow.
And I loved the wall covering!

I think they somehow sneaked a silk amaryllis in on us!

Of them all, this creche was my favorite.
I could see it sitting in a garden...
but it won't be mine
as I didn't fork over the money for the privilege to attend the benefit auction!

And this is just the first floor.
More touring to come...
For information about The Inn at Irwin Gardens
go to