Sunday, 9 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas

We went to our local Christmas fair yesterday, a large room above our local bookstore. Perhaps 40 vendors filled the long room. The baking tables were the busiest by far. They were laden with stollen and Christmas cakes, mince pies and shortbread. We bought a lovely stollen and tucked it into the freezer for Christmas morning.

Later with a hot cup of tea I sat surrounded by recipe books planning what to bake for this year's Christmas baskets. We usually do up about a dozen baskets for friends and neighbours.  This year we will put a jar of honey in each one, as the bees gave us our best crop yet, over 200 pounds of wildflower honey.
I decided to bake a few different quick bread recipes so I will have an assortment. The older ladies like traditional quick breads like date and nut loaf, or banana walnut bread, but younger set like lots of chocolate, so I'll have to see what I can find, perhaps a marbled cocoa cake.
I spent the evening making an assortment of Christmas tree decorations.  I took crepe streamers and cut them into long strips and ran a thread through the top to draw them into a circle and then pasted a pretty piece of Christmas ephemera into the center and dipped the edges in glitter. 

Then I made a series of little framed pictures using little brass frames I purchased online. Each one comes with it's own glass, and I put a two pictures back to back, so no matter which sides faces the front, there's something pretty to look at.

 This morning I finished a beaded necklace, a Christmas gift to a friend. I like to make as many of my gifts as I can. I knit, sew, crochet and do a bit of beadwork.  If none of these things seem appropriate there's always something from the kitchen that will do. 

 For the gift baskets I have been making raspberry jam from my frozen raspberry crop and later on perhaps a few bottles of chutney too.  I have a lot of black plums set aside, so perhaps I can make something using them.

I have about 100 pairs of beeswax candles that I made in the early fall and I have been wrapping each pair in white tissue paper and using a bit of ribbon and a pretty picture that I use to glue the paper closed. I  think all that's left to worry about are a few batches of Christmas cookies and perhaps some truffles for the chocolate lovers.
Trying to split my working days between research and writing for the website, which is pretty much ready for its debut and keeping up with Christmas preparations.

But weekends, especially Sundays are set aside for pleasure: driving to the beach to watch the waves roll in while wrapped up in a warm coat; hot cups of tea or apple cider; a soothing bathe, an evening by the fire, a new book to savour,  starting a new book.  Hope you have time to relax and do something enjoyable too!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


Have sorted out most of the layout of my website. Not perfect but I'm happy with it so far.

I am now concentrating on inputting recipes, trying for 4 or 5 a day. Depends on how short the recipe is and what life throws at me.

Today I rose early thinking first a shower, but D. was in the shower, getting ready for a meeting 50 miles away. Then he had to print something off. Guess what, printer error! So I did some trouble shooting and found the wireless router was unplugged. Okay, great, plug it in. Then I get an error that the printer driver cannot be found. (How do things delete themselves?)

So I downloaded the printer driver, it took 30 minutes. Installed it, presto, one page printed. My tea is cold, I am feeling funny because I haven't eaten and Dad is hovering because he can't find the Vitamin E ointment he's been putting on his scraped arm. At 90+ you need all the help you can get growing new skin, it's just like tissue paper.

I find the Vitamin E, job done. Then D. leaves and says on the way out the door, "Oh, I forgot to walk the dogs. Sorry."  So, clothes on, dogs out.  We get halfway across the lawn and Nico takes off.  What's up? The goats have gotten out of their paddock and are frolicking in the long grass.  Yikes!

Get dogs into the trailer and shut the door.  Lure goats back into the paddock with some fresh oats. I release the dogs from the trailer and we're off for our walk.  Finally at 10:00 I get in the shower. Joy, hot water, clean soap, heat and comfort. I get out and notice all the towels are damp or grubby. Laundry, I wasn't planning on laundry.

So the laundry's in and the dogs are resting and Dad's got his Vitamin E and D. is halfway to his meeting and it's nearly noon and here I am just sitting down to input the first recipe for the day. Sigh.

On the upside I have learnt so much this month about setting up websites, backing up documents and databases, installing widgets and small applications and programs, testing them, deleting them if they don't work, asking for support, tweaking layout, creating menus, changing colours, tweaking photos. It will all stand me in good stead. I think the folder on my computer labelled Wordpress Tips and Tricks where I've stashed all this info probably contains more files than my website. Maybe one day I can teach someone else how to do all this, save them from reinventing the wheel.  Go ahead, make your own mistakes, but here are 50 I made that you can skip altogether!

In spite of setbacks, delays and problems I still feel successful. I may be progressing in small steps but I am progressing.  The most important things are the small ones anyway: 5 minutes of sunshine on your face during a cloudy day; a chance to hug Dad and kiss the top of his head while he's reading (how many people still have their Dad at 90?); the smell of wet dogs resting by the fire; the hot pink (true cerise) of the fresh blooms on the Christmas cactus; the funny song of the chickadees at the feeder....chick-a-dee-dee-dee; laughing at the goats as they race about the lawn playing hard-to-get, until they see the bowl of oats; the comfort of an ancient cashmere sweater and old jeans. I think this is why we're here, to enjoy these small things, to savour them, to appreciate all the precious tiny things that make up our lives.