Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pretty To Look At....but...

We've had a couple days of snowfall here in Lethbridge - and it's still coming down. I went out yesterday and took some pictures of the snow on the trees in our front yard.

I love the red berries against the superwhite snow. Looks very festive.

A little bit of editing turns the trees into works of art.

Although nature does a wonderful job of artistry on her own.

While we admire the beauty of the snow, there's a definite downside to it. We're supposed to drive home tomorrow - 5 hours in good weather. We may have to wait over another day.

Amy and Curtis and kids started out from Edmonton today to come down for New Years, but they had to turn back because the highway was so bad.

Mary and Greg and kids left Lethbridge yesterday to head back to Oliver, BC. Their 10-hour trip through the mountain passes was made treacherous by falling snow. They made it home safely though and called this morning to tell us that the highway they drove on yesterday was closed today for avalanche control! So glad they got home safely when they did.

We take the good with the bad in this country, enjoying the beauty and trying to avoid the dangers.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Festive Pretzel Rods

I decided to let a couple of the granddaughters try their hand at decorating pretzel rods today. I had never done it before so we were all learning by trial and error.

Charlie and Kenzie started out very serious, carefully painting their rods with melted white candy wafers.

They coated the melted candy with coconut, colored sprinkles, crushed candy canes and red sugar.

Elly had to try her hand at it too. She wants to be part of the big girls' fun. I gave her the broken pretzels and dipped them in the white for her and she had fun stirring up the sprinkles with them.

At times the girls were at cross purposes, with left-handed Kenzie reaching over right-handed Charlie in order to roll the pretzels in her choice of topping.

And Ellie just admired her own handiwork.

It was a bit challenging for the little girls to use both hands together - they weren't sure which hand to hold the pretzel in and which one to paint with. They soon figured it out though.

And were proud to show off their creations.

Elly ended up with as much candy and sprinkles on her face and hands as on her pretzel rods.

The girls got very giddy and giggly as they got more confident about what they were doing.

Just look at Elly's face - she feels very big and grown-up working with her big sister and cousin.

The finished product on display.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Lloyd's Favorite

The other day I made Lloyd's favorite Christmas cookies - Thimble cookies (or some people call them thumbprint cookies, depending on how they're made).

Here's the recipe for those delightful confections.

1/4 C. Margarine (I used butter)
1/4 C. Shortening
1/4 C. brown sugar
1 egg, separated
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 C. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350. Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla.
Work in flour and salt until dough holds together.

I didn't have any shortening so I used butter instead. I found it made a nicer, softer cookie. I also doubled the recipe.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Beat egg white slightly. Dip each ball into egg white. Roll in nuts or coconut. Place 1 inch apart on sprayed cookie sheet.

Make indent in center of each with thimble (or thumb if you don't have a thimble collection).

Bake about 10 mins. Cool. Fill indent with jelly. I usually use grape, crabapple, and mint so I have three distinct colors, but this year I didn't have any mint jelly so used raspberry, crabapple and grape instead.

And here they are. Don't they look good. You can imagine how festive they'd look if some of them had mint jelly centers. Melt in your mouth goodness.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ann and Arthur Murray

Back in Edmonton in 1969-70 one of my roommates was a girl named Ann Fahner. My other roommate, Cheryl (my soon-to-be sister-in-law) and I decided to help her find a good man to marry. We had a friend in Fredericton, 3000 miles away, named Arthur Murray, who we convinced Ann to begin a mail correspondence with. They seemed to have a lot in common and after a few months Arthur came to Edmonton to begin courting her in earnest and they were married a few months after Lloyd and I were.

Ann in 1969

Ann and Cheryl 1991

We used to tease them that they could go on the road with their song and dance routine - after all Ann Murray is one of Canada's most popular female singers of the time, and everyone knows about Arthur Murray and his dance studios.

They settled down and raised a family of four children and are now happy empty nesters like us and just live a few blocks from us.

We enjoyed a fun evening with them last night. Ann was excited to show us this picture:

The two Ann Murrays.

The singer, Ann Murray, was in Edmonton in November to sign copies of her new book at a local bookstore. Our Ann went there to have her book signed and to introduce herself to her namesake (they are only three months apart in age). It was a very exciting meeting for Ann and Ann reports that Ann was very sweet and gracious!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Syd's Nativity

Four-year old Syd was playing with my small nativity set last night. (I brought her down today so I could take a picture of her playing with it)

I didn't pay much attention to how she set it up. When she left she said "I set it up in a different way than you did", and I just said ok and didn't check it.

Until this morning....

And I laughed...and laughed.....

Do you see it? There at the right of the manger?

What is it? Could it be....???

Yes! It's an outhouse! With a moose sitting in it reading a paper!
What a thoughtful little girl to provide the necessities of life for the holy family and its entourage.

I hope they were able to get the moose out!

Do they even have moose in Bethlehem??

Monday, December 14, 2009

How Cold Is It???

Edmonton, Alberta, has lots to brag about...our beautiful river valley, our music, heritage and arts festivals all summer, our world-class university, and much much more (not to mention being the home of most of our family ;))

However, this past weekend we gained more bragging rights...check this out. For those still on the Fahrenheit temperature scale, keep in mind that 40 below zero F is the same as 40 below zero C.

Second only to a city in Siberia, Edmonton was the coldest place in North America. I feel so proud...NOT. Luckily, I stayed inside all weekend, not venturing out from Friday night till this morning when I went to work. It was 'only' minus 32 C this morning....still bitterly cold. But, hey, we chose to live in Edmonton so we tough up and take the good with the bad. Luckily by Wednesday we'll warm up to minus 6C.

Needless to say, Arizona is looking pretty good right now.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Homemade Christmas

Back in 1978 I found instructions in a magazine for making Christmas tree ornaments out of eggs. It involved carefully blowing the centers out of the eggs, leaving them hollow, painting them, decoupaging pictures onto them and turning them into lovely, and surprizingly strong, christmas ornaments. I made a bunch every year for 8 or 9 years, putting the kids' names on some of them so they'd have their own personal egg ornament. I don't have many of them left because as each child has grown up and left home, they've taken 'their' ornaments with them. It's nice to visit them at Christmas and see these treasures on their own trees. Here are a few that I have left.

I stored them in styrofoam and cardboard egg cartons and discovered that in the humidity of Nova Scotia, the styrofoam and cardboard stuck to the eggs and ruined a number of them. Now I wrap them in tissue before storing them.

I used to look for Christmas gift wrap that had small motifs on it that I could cut out and use to decorate the eggs.

I had made so many eggs that one year our tree was decorated entirely with the eggs. One year a child crawled under the tree and knocked it over. Not one of the egg decorations was damaged (and neither was the child).
After awhile I used other mediums for my homemade ornaments.

There was the cross-stitched ones...

...and the knitted bells...

...knitted socks...there were also knitted mittens but I don't have any of them left...

...and beaded stockings....

There were also plastic canvas ornaments, thimble angels, and others, that haven't lasted through the years.
These days I prefer the old fashioned blown glass ornaments like we used to have on our tree when we were kids, but there's always at least one egg, one knitted ornament, and one cross stitch treasure hanging on my tree.
Traditions are great, especially at Christmastime.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Cherry Balls

These few ingredients make Sara's favorite Christmas treat - Cherry Balls. Every year she asks me to make her a batch of them. So this is what I did today. This recipe is easy enough for the kids to help with, as you'll see.

The first step is to drain the cherries on a paper towel covered plate, and cut them in half (each batch makes about 24 cherry balls)

2. Combine the icing sugar, coconut and dash of salt in a mixing bowl.

3. Add one stick (1/2 cup) softened butter. Mix well. I start out using a fork to break up the butter but end up mixing it with my fingers.

4. Flatten about a tablespoon of the coconut mixture in the palm of your hand and center a cherry half on it.

2-year old Elly got into the act by placing the cherry on the coconut mixture.

5. Roll the mixture around the cherry forming a small ball.

6. Drop the ball into a bowl of crushed graham wafer crumbs.

7. My 7-year old granddaughter, Kenzie, was in charge of rolling each cherry ball in the crushed graham wafer crumbs and placeing the finished product on a plate.

8. Our production line.

9. The finished product. Refrigerate to let them set, then eat. Delicious.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nuts 'N' Bolts

What happens when you toss these ingredients together with butter in the oven?

Just the yummiest snack food ever..........Mum's Nuts 'N' Bolts.

Nuts 'n' Bolts
9 cups Cheerios
4 cups Shreddies
4 cups pretzels (I only use 2)
2.5 cups peanuts
1.5 cups butter
1 tbsp. garlic salt
1 tbsp. celery salt
2.5 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Melt butter, add salts and worcestershire. Pour over remaining ingredients which have been mixed together in a large roaster. Cook for 1.5 hrs in open roaster at 250 degrees. Stir often. Cool and eat.
I usually end up making a couple batches of this before the holidays are over.