Sunday, December 6, 2015

Christmas Musings

Well, hello!

Please click here --> Charlie Brown Christmas Album ~ Vince Guaraldi
and be sure to open in a seperate window so that you may enjoy some lovely music as you grab a cuppa and read on!
I have REALLY been enjoying this tea of late.

Since I have not corresponded with you in a while, I have many things to share this time...

First, a wee bit of Thanksgiving.  The house was filled with family arriving on various days throughout the week.  We had people in every nook and cranny, but we made it work.

There were games, sunsets, fires, roasting marshmallows, homemade pumpkin pie, a turkey that refused to cook (!), and a trip to the apple orchards.



me and my daddy at the apple
orchard.  It was 25*  :)
My son started a part-time job as a caregiver to an elderly neighbor so that her daughters could have some time off.  Miss Annie is 96! She was once a seamstress for Hollywood, and later a bank teller who worked her way up to manager.  She loved, loved, loved square dancing, and has lived in her home for over 30 years!
Isn't she cute?!


After a few days of recoup (and a dryer that was out for a week - eeek!) I managed to get our little tree up.

It wasn't even up an hour, before Abbey snuck in and claimed her spot.
Here is a special treat I found at World Market.  I love it because there are no nuts in it.

I have been hitting a few seasonal sales over the past few days.  First, The Barn (a fun neighborhood sale that opens every few months).
Here are some of the cute things I spotted.
Reindeer Games - - - hee hee!  I would totally
play Bunco with these!
I believe this was made with 1 cup sugar and 1 Tbs.
of pumpkin pie spice.  They sold out in about
10 minutes! <Bakers twine, jingle bell, cute tag,
tiny clothespin, in salt shaker>... now YOU can
do that!
Here is the front & back of a cool piece of pallet Christmas art. 
It lights up!  
And here are the treasures that came home with me.  Because I got such good deals (at least I think so), I will share the prices:
Rod Iron fireplace grate (did you spot Max kitty behind it, checking it out?). $40... bought while in line before grand opening, because somebody was returning it from a previous Barn sale when they discovered it was too small for their house (woo-hoo!). Christmas album for my daughter $3. Awesome green and red mirror (and dang heavy too), $45.  4-pack of Christmas hankies $12. Vintage Christmas cards $2 (more on those later). Teeny bottle brush Christmas tree...um, $2 or $3 - I don't remember. Christmas pillow $5.  Christmas candy bowl $5.  What fun I had!!!
 Here is my little kitchen shelf dolled up for Christmas. Twinings Christmas tea, tiny tea mugs, a Christmas tea for one set, gingerbread men, and even a cute tea themed Christmas towel.


One of my favorite things to do (since my daughter was a baby) is make Christmas shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (a ministry related to Billy Graham and Samaritan's Purse).  I was able to serve twice in the last week at the processing center, where we check the boxes, and place them in cartons to ship out.  It is tiring, but SUPER rewarding.  We get to see what others have shopped for and packed with love.  Sometimes there are notes, and Christmas cards and photos.  It's great.  I went with my friends, sister and niece on trip #1, and my daughter and son & their friends on trip #2.  Such a blessing.


This week, I made homemade chili and decided to give it a twist.
You see, my ex-husband was kind enough to come fix my broken dryer (yes, we are friends now, PTL and we can do favors for each other).  Any way, he is Mexican, and they like to put cabbage and a squirt of lemon or lime on chicken tortilla soup; so I thought why not try that with chili?  It was delicious!




Now, back to decorating.


Remember that $5 candy dish I snagged? Here's why^
It goes perfectly with this wonderful tea set I got at this time LAST year at The Barn for only $25!!

What is interesting is the tea set is from Poland, but the candy dish is from Japan.  They are SO similar you would never know if I did not point it out ;)

Next, I wanted to show you some of the mantel displays.  The mirror from earlier, along with a cute little wreath 
I picked up for $6 at Trader Joe's.
I think you can see the color really well in this next photo, and
the ribbon was from my stash!

Here is that cute teeny tree from before,
along with a charming vintage looking truck I picked up
the other day, & one of the vintage Christmas cards
featuring a sweet family singing carols.  Incidentally,
I discovered a surprise inside... a small
book of carols complete with sheet music!
The lantern says He is the Light of the world.
Wish I had those boots in my size!
I love this 1950s card.  It features mom doing all the Christmas activities... isn't that authentic ladies?  Off to the right is a chippy, rusty old lantern I got at a previous Barn sale.

The reason for the season :-)


Over my table are some tea themed ornaments 
I have had for a very long time.  

I have not planned a tea for this month yet, but I really should!
I love that song (Dean Martin)!!

Thank you Stephanie!

Just before Thanksgiving, I managed to mail off batch #1 of Christmas cards, and yesterday I received my 1st one in the mail along with this sweet homemade ornament made by my dear friend, Stephanie, over at: The Enchanting Rose
She knows I like lavenders/purples and there is even a bit of bling in the center.  It is hanging in my lavender bathroom!



After church today, I headed to the Hillside Farm Craft Fair (an annual event).
On the way, what to my wondering/wandering? (hmmm...uh, dad?) eyes should appear?


And I spotted this sweet reminder when I got there:


Plus this really interesting piece of china framed in leaded glass,
which apparently is from the homeowner's wedding.
I love the lamp too!

A lady was working on this stocking.
She told me it was from a kit.  I just love gingerbread men!











These guys totally cracked me up!
Those eyes though!
 Snowmen paint sticks! What?!
How adorable.
2 came to live at my house!
OK! Seriously?  We can do this!
Today's SUPER, AWESOME, AMAZING find!
I was really wanting a Christmas quilt, and a lovely lady named Joan had hers on sale.  This is a CA King size with shams, she handmade and it was only $85!


I promptly came home and decorated my room.
I pinned those Christmas hankies you saw earlier to the shams and a throw, and strung some lights.  I figure the set will work all the way into Valentine's day!


Here is my nightstand,
as the lights change colors :-)
See that Santa Mouse book?  It is from my 1st birthday.
I hung 3 plush ornaments from when my kids were little.
Abbey spotted the mouse and prepared to attack!

She was super intrigued by the new bedding and all the goings-on in my room.  

Later, Delilah came to investigate.


While Max just slept in the other room.


And this is the fun, sparkly hat I bought today.  It is handmade by a lady name Deborah who I very much enjoyed speaking to.  She makes them in all sorts of colors, well, except this sparkly red; I got the last one!  She can't find the yarn anymore. Anyhoo, I'm adding her email in case you want one. Only $10!  Lots of floppy play, so you can style how you wish.
by: D's Crocheted Creations
dd.mosely@yahoo.com





Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Thanksgiving Moment


My dad arrived for the holidays last night. 
Heading off to get ready for bed, we met en route, and chuckling both agreed to a quick round of rummy (cards) 1st :-)
While I was in the kitchen this morning, he stumbled in, eyes half cracked open, hair askew, and with a slight grin; he said, "Is my tea ready yet?"
To which I replied, "Yes it is!" having just made a fresh pot of BlackBerry Sage :)
Let the warm & cozy memory making begin!!
Happy Thanksgiving!



I think it's important to stop and take notice of the small moments; the ones that touch our hearts and make us smile.  And if you can capture them in writing, all the better.  For some day, our fading memories will thank us!

Hugs to you friends!
~Heather Elizabeth

Sunday, November 22, 2015

MY DAD'S MODIFIED PUMPKIN PIE

This is my dad's  version of the traditional Libby recipe.  

"The intention is to make a much spicier (shouldn't just taste like doctored squash), more flavorful (and darker colored because of it) pie that tastes fresher because of the half and half and using my version of foolproof pie crust*.  Properly done, cooled and kept in the refrigerator, it should cut very nicely into even small slivers that can be held in the hands for eating as a quick and so delightful snack when you happen to be passing the refrigerator anyway." 
Love, Dad/Grampa
*ANOTHER TIP, my sister, Melanie, recommends the pie crust from Trader Joes.  She says it is much better than Pillsbury :)
LIBBY'S® Famous Pumpkin Pie


LIBBY'S® Famous Pumpkin Pie
This is the traditional holiday pumpkin pie. This classic recipe has been on LIBBY'S® Pumpkin labels since 1950. This pie is easy to prepare and even easier to enjoy. Just mix, pour, bake for a delicious homemade tradition.

Estimated Times: Preparation - 15 min | Cooking - 55 min | Cooling Time - 2 hrs cooling | Yields - 8
Ingredients
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger {¾ tsp. per dad}
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves {½ tsp. per dad}
  • ADD ¾ tsp nutmeg per dad
  • ADD ¼ tsp. allspice per dad
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.)Libby's 100% pure pumpkin (we will use Trader Joe’s organic pumpkin)
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk NO! USE 12 oz. HALF & HALF per dad
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
  • Whipped cream (optional) – sprinkle a little spice on top for fanciness! ~Heather
Directions:
MIX sugar, salt, & spices in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in HALF & HALF.

POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.


NOTES:
1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin spice may be substituted for the cinnamon, ginger and cloves; however, the taste will be slightly different. Do not freeze, as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.

FOR 2 SHALLOW PIES: substitute two 9-inch (2-cup volume) pie shells. Bake in preheated 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F.; bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until pies test done.

FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (3,500 to 6,000 ft.): Deep-dish pie- extend second bake time to 55 to 60 minutes. Shallow pies- no change.


Here is the link to the original in case you are interested:


I believe we will be making this {my daddy & I} on Wednesday since he is joining me for the holiday!  I'm getting excited just thinking about it!!!

So far, my sister and I have planned a menu as follows:
2 small (fresh, not frozen) Turkeys  - because we want them to cook faster and not dry out
Trader Joe's Cranberry in a jar - SERIOUSLY my favorite! it's possible I already bought 5 jars! (ehem, and ate some in a grilled cheese sandwich, and another time on toast!)
Mashed Golden Potatoes & Trader Joe's turkey gravy
Hawaiian Dinner Roles (soft & sweet.... yum!)
Petite Sweet Corn
Sauteed fresh green beans with crimini/cremini (different websites show either spelling) mushrooms (made by my sis)
Brown sugar sauteed carrots (made by my sis)
and Trader Joe's Spiced Cider - yeah... already had several cups of this as well!!!


As I was looking for the cider image I found this:   
Yep! Adding that to the list!

(internet photo)
And there is always plenty of tea at the ready.


I plan to break in some lovely china I purchased at a yard sale over the summer.  I negotiated it down to $65 (eeeeek!) during the final day and minutes of the sale (my patience after watching it for three days paid off).  There were all sorts of pieces in the two large boxes.  I just love the MANY pretty colors.

Dinner plates, salad plates, dessert plates, bowels, small and large serving platter, gravy boat, teacups & saucers, etc. (sadly, no teapot, but that's certainly ok for this great deal).
I ran outside just now & took a couple of pics in the sun so you could see.  You're welcome! ;)

This set is labeled "Yamaka China" made in Occupied Japan
Now, here are some interesting tidbits I found on this term over at: 
She gathered her information from a collector.

"Occupied Japan" (OJ) is a term used for the time period from 1945 (after World War II) through April 25, 1952; it was during this time that the Allies "occupied" Japan.
You will also see items marked "Occupied Germany" - both of which are generally an insult to these countries. I do not have any specifics on the German occupation. As Japan needed to rebuild their economy after the war, part of the agreement to allow them to export goods out of their country was that they had to mark 50% of all items with "Occupied Japan" or "Made in Occupied Japan."
This could be done with a paper label, cloth label (as on scarves, doilies, clothing), engraved, handwritten or stamped. Thus, you may come across things, such as a salt and pepper set, where only one of the pair is marked OJ and the other will just have "Japan" on it.
They exported every thing you can imagine, but during the last 2 years, 90% of the items were kitchenware, which is why we have a proliferation of china, dishes, vases, etc.
Many of the figurines were cheaply made, and looked it. But the Japanese had a wonderful talent for mimicry - you will find pieces that you would swear are Dresden and when you turn them upside down, you will find "Made in Occupied Japan!"
The collectibility of OJ is that it covered a specific 6-7 year period in our history. There are many fakes out their now, especially those that portray black persons, so you need to be careful.
One test for porcelain: the mark was always put UNDER the glaze. If you have a suspicious piece, try nail polish remover. If the markings come off - it was a fake.
Bisque pieces are most highly prized and much harder to identify for authenticity. Warning: Do NOT ever wrap any bisque item in newspaper or colored wrapping. The bisque will absorb the print and is near impossible to remove. It will ruin the piece.
I hope I've helped you a little and didn't give you more than you wanted. I've been collecting OJ for 30+ years and get a little passionate about the subject. You can go to e-Bay or Yahoo and run a search on Occupied Japan and see many items up for sale, to give you some idea of where the pricing is going. Most of the serious collectors I know are disgusted with the outrageous prices being asked for the lower valued items out there.
I hope this helps. Have a great day,
Ms. Sam Armijo

Well, I think that is PLENTY for one blog post, but since I have not posted in a while a gave you a heaping big serving spoon full! -smile
I hope you had fun, learned a little something and got a little more excited for the holiday or heck, just to go cook something or make yourself a cuppa'.

Lifting my cup to you dear friends, and wishing you all God's good blessings for you and yours,
Heather Elizabeth