Well, now that Christmas is a distant memory for most of us, here comes Jane. I'll try to keep it brief.
I was late in the game shopping, decorating and baking. Rather than run around like a crazed woman, I pedaled slower. When the hour glass was down to a few grains of sand, I called it a day. I was happy that I hand picked my favorite decorations and didn't try to jazz up every room. I'm actually pretty happy to have had a festive mantel and pretty table. I got a few laughs when I mentioned I had gone very light with the mantel. But I felt good with this. You can see some of my Christmas decor in this post. I'm hoping to get my storage room cleaned up and organized so it's easier to pick out what I want to use next year without hauling up every box and bin.
The baking. Gawd, what a disaster. I only do it to have something to bring to some of the parties and I've also gotten into making little gift packages for my children's in laws, we are all good friends. I would start to make something and find I was missing an ingredient. A recipe for a bar cookie that had me really excited to make had to be passed on when I ran out of time. The biggest fiasco was the evening I was making fudge. I was using the basic recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag. Everything was going along so well and after I mixed everything up I read, "Drop by spoonful on a prepared baking sheet and bake at..." What? That doesn't make sense. Fudge is in a pan and it's definitely not baked. Quick look at the recipe on the bag. Oh, yeah. I was simultaneously making the chocolate chip cookie recipe and the fudge. No, no, no. Luckily I was able to start over but I must admit, the fudge was dry and tasteless. I know it must have been me. Maybe I need to stick to cupcakes.
Finally, the gift wrap. I couldn't just wrap, slap on a bow and a sticker with a name on it. No...nothing themed with fabric ribbon and velvet bows...just a few personal touches. But man, I would wrap my little brains out in the morning and in the afternoon UPS or Fed Ex would appear again.
Okay, I lied. I did a few things in the main bath. But I was discreet.
I apologize for the lighting, terrible. And I apologize for a picture of clear decadence. I'm all about making people feel good. One of those packages may hold a much needed pair of boots and another may have a framed picture of the recipients dog. Eleven people I hold close to my heart. Christmas morning is always wild...paper flying, whoops and hollers, mimosa's getting knocked back. And big smiles.
My breakfast casserole was a total disaster. It was a recipe that involved eggs, ham and frozen hash brown potatoes. One of those easy overnight recipes. It just wouldn't seem to set when I baked it, the egg was oozing on to the surface. Everyone was getting very hungry so I took it out of the oven and instead whipped up scrambled eggs. That with sausage and fruit was great. But wait~~suddenly the casserole started to behave itself. Seemed it just needed to come out of the oven to firm up. Still, it was a bland mish mash that was dominated by the potatoes that now resembled week old bread. Live and learn. Practice a recipe before you try it out on your people.
The Christmas festivities started on the 23rd. My sister in law Megan, and hubby Declan had a huge crowd for dinner with a gift swap. Above you can see my daughter in law, Deirdre (Jeff's wife), cradling little Madelyn. Deirdre is expecting in mid February. She looks like a natural, doesn't she? We just love her and can't wait for another grandchild. :-D
Here's my yearly shot of most of us ladies. Clockwise: Abby, Gwen, Deirdre, Megan, Me, Lizzie & Grace.
Christmas Eve was a celebration with The Husband's side of the family at son Jeff's house. Again, so much fun. He had a deep fried turkey catered in and then homemade side dishes. Deirdre and her mother, Maeve, are really wonderful cooks. The appetizers alone were substantial, and the desserts overflowed. When we got home all I had to do was make the "what would be" terrible overnight egg casserole. I was in bed at a reasonable hour, 1 a.m.
Jumping ahead now, we had a great weekend at the lake just a few days ago. We celebrated New Years Eve with a bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge, The Husband snoring upstairs, and me totally involved in a murder mystery book. I didn't realize it had struck midnight until I heard the fireworks around the bay. That was the one and only highlight. We'll have to save that champagne for Valentine's Day. And with romance in mind, I have to share that on December 14th, The Husband and I celebrated 30 years of marriage. We really didn't celebrate...sort of sounds like a pattern. I actually made chili dogs, and after he retreated to watch MSNBC in one room and I to the den to watch yet another Hallmark movie. And by the way, I don't want to see another Hallmark Christmas movie for at least another year. Sounds very unromantic but I think it's a testimony to marriages that have seen the ups and downs, good times and bad. There will be huge anniversary celebrations and quiet ones. This one was chili dogs and heartburn.
So, we settled in for a three day weekend at the lake, Swiffered as per usually (dry wall dust still in abundance), kept that fireplace burning some great three year old wood, and splurged on frozen pizza, potato skins, chicken wings and McDonalds. We still haven't quite stocked up but to my credit, I went to the little grocery store in town to get the makings for a proper dinner for Saturday night. I made a nice boiled meal of corned beef, carrots, Brussels sprouts and potatoes, as well as rye bread with butter. We had cinnamon rolls one morning when I was actually out of bed before 10:00 a.m. Funny, as I am typing this I had Fixxer Upper on and lo and behold, Joanna Gaines styled the table of the old farmhouse they featured with these same plates. I found them at Anthropology. I guess they make the grade!
It's sort of odd. On Friday nights I drag my feet in leaving the comfort of my home here in the city to make that two hour drive to Michigan. And then once I get there and all cozied in, I hate to come back. I guess that this is a sure sign that both places are definitively my Home Sweet Home. What was missing at the lakehouse was my Christmas tree which has not so much as shed one needle. In the days leading up to Christmas, I would sit in the living room with all of the lights off but the ones on the tree and just relax and let my thoughts flow. And I did that again last night when we got home. Cold and rainy and just glad to get in warm PJ's, pour a glass of wine and sit. What is it about this sort of atmosphere that makes us get so truly introspective? I do this when we have a fire going, too. I stare at the flames and go deep inside of myself. There's a truth there that is totally unencumbered by outside noise. Something to really grab onto.
I had notes all set for a post about change and getting our homes and heads together. About resolutions and intentions and some of the things I'm trying to do to get my act together. But I got lost in sharing all of the Christmas blather with you but I will do this post. I have so much more to say...I have to post more often and touch on the myriad of 'stuff' going through my head as opposed to my day to day life. Thoughts on life and family and goals and fears and getting older and challenges and, and, and...
We have a whole new year ahead of us, a brand new clear highway (or old back road) that we can travel, windows down and our hair blowing. We can travel alone or not, but we need to be in the driver's seat. I'm finally enjoying life after taking care of everyone but me. Still, it's not easy to disentangle oneself from our roles in the past. It's definitely an adventure and I think we can all find a bit of truth in the many aspects of resuming, becoming or enhancing our true selves.
So, I'll see you soon. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and now that we are into January, all the best in making this the most wonderful year!