December 23, 2017:

Hola!

It's COLD here and getting colder by the day, brrrrr. By December 26th the high may be only 3 degrees above zero. Yuck! But it's nice and cozy inside, and filled with the scents and sights of Christmas and Yuletide!

Today I made a crock pot full of my easy-peasy Beef Burgundy, made with a soup can full of sweet red wine (to rinse out the soup can, of course), and four other ingredients: beef (this pot I used beef already sliced in the package for beef stroganoff, and then cut the long thin strips into bite sizes), a can of Golden Mushroom soup, an 8 ounce package of whole button mushrooms cut into halves and thirds (depending on cap size), and a packet plus a little extra of a second packet of dried onion soup/dip mix. I also added a generous helping of ground pepper, dried thyme and dried - and aged (a year and three months, yikes!) of whole basil leaves that I ground up in between my fingers. Then the pot cooked on the "low" heat setting for 4 hours, with only one stir half-way through. The scent permeated the house and even managed to waft out to the street - wowsers - guess I need to get some additional insulation in these 1956 walls! My mouth was watering by the time I made up my first dish (over on-purpose a bit dry mashed potatoes) and gobbled it down, then had half a second dish as well! Now I want a nap.

I have my dark chocolate covered Queen Anne brand cherries (a Christmas must!), Beringer White Zinfandel wine, plenty of new fuel for my gel fuel fireplace and a host of Christmas movies to watch. Best of all, Solstice is done and we had a bit of sunlight day, late this afternoon. Every day, although it is not noticeable right now, it will get lighter a few minutes earlier and the Sun will sink below the horizon a few minutes later each day until the Summer Solstice on June 21. The worst is over, except for the bitter cold of January and February. I think I will go visit my friend Isis in Las Vegas in March - that always perks me right up :)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all, and may the Season's blessings shower you with good fortune for all of 2018.

Jan

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Cardinal Christmas Tree!

Hola darlings!

My yard work fantasy for this weekend has been blown to smithereens (literally!) by a strong northwest wind bringing temperatures with wind chills of 10 above zero F to zero!  And tonight, down to 10 below zero, brrrrrrr!

My plans for the weekend being blown away, I decorated my Cardinal Christmas Tree instead. Prior post, with pictures.  Here is the finished tree:




I had intended to keep the tree as it was, with pre-wired white lights that are plugged into an outlet.  So, earlier this week, I decorated the tree with ALL of the cardinals (one dozen).  I loved how it looked!  But that cord.  Oh no no no.  I want to use the tree as a centerpiece on my dinette table.  Short of cutting a hole in my tablecloth and running the cord underneath it (with resulting bulge), and then taping a very long extension cord across, underneath the table, down the center support and across the floor to the nearest outlet - well, just wasn't working for moi. 

I briefly thought about putting the tree on the peninsula that separates my kitchen from dinette (there is a convenient outlet), but that's not what I wanted.

And so, Thursday lunch hour I ran to Walgreens downtown and hunted for battery-operated lights.  I did not want to order them on the internet - too expensive (I had done a lot of checking around).  Last year Walgreens had advertised three sets of 15-LED lights, battery-operated, for $10.  And sure enough, Walgreens had them again this year and I found them!  YAY!  I'm not a fan of the blue-ish/grey-ish light of LEDs, but for the price and convenience of being able to move my Cardinal Christmas Tree wherever I want to, I decided I would use them. For the price, it's worth it. And, if I get ambitious, I will pull out my watercolors and paint the outside of the lights with yellow/brown mixed to create a warmer glow of light.


Tree before being decorated, but with burlap wrap trimmed.
 
The mess I made - I tried to take the lights off the tree, but they were glued/
wired on, so in the end I snipped them off.  I saved the bulbs.  I did not want
the clutter of the existing lights in addition to the two sets I intended to add, not
on such a small tree, that's why I cut the original lights off.  As I worked,
tugging and snipping, one of the berry branches came loose and fell off.
Some of the "snow" also came off along with assorted greens that I wasn't
careful enough to poke out of the way of my scissors.
 
Battery-operated LED lights from Walgreens (I used 2 sets, but they were
3 for $10 so I bought 3) and small ornaments I picked up at the downtown
TJ Maxx on the way back to the office, just the right colors I wanted!

Lots of photos of the finished tree (I may tweak the ornaments a bit, you know how that goes):


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The battery packs for the two light-sets I put on the tree are taped underneath the overlap of the burlap wrap and hidden beneath the French wire ribbon I added.  I think next year, or even this year if I can find it, I will look for a suitably sized container (not an urn, they were too expensive!) in which to set the base and also tuck the battery packs, then I won't have to tape them to the burlap-wrapped base of the tree.

I'm very happy with how it turned out, but it really doesn't look much like my inspiration Cardinal Christmas Tree from Gump's (top image):

 

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