Friday, January 6, 2017

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on January 6

 Today, whether you think of it as Epiphany, Three Kings Day or Twelfth Night, marks the end of the Christmas season and thus, the end of my Preserving the Spirit of Christmas series. I have had a lot of fun trying to create my posts and I hope you have enjoyed following along.
 Back at the beginning when a list was being made of different things to focus on each day "snowflakes" was written down in the expectation that we would surely have some of them. Last night finally came the prediction of snow - and this morning came the reality of the very light dusting. Not even enough to make a good photograph. Oh well.
 The ornaments on the front porch Christmas tree got changed out in the hope that it can remain out there for a few more weeks yet with a new title of winter tree.
 Downstairs I had to resort to setting up a winter vignette.
 The time for over-indulging in holiday candy is nigh but
 the hot drinks season will continue for a few weeks yet.
It's time to pack away the decorations and tidy up ready to move on to a new topic. What will that be? Maybe we will finally get some snowflakes! Watch this space.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on January 2

 On the Eighth Day of Christmas it is New Years Day. From the kitchen we had a very tasty pork roast with apple sauce, risotto and a warm kale salad with sweet potato garnished with pomegranate seeds.
However, this post is intended to be all about what we drink at this festive time of the year. With that in mind you might notice that we had a pleasant pinot noir with dinner.
 Hot cider warms both body and soul and is good for dunking cinnamon pretzels in too.
 Mulled wine was tried at home...alas, no appropriate drinking cups for it
 And again when we were invited out to spend the evening with friends. Note to self, watch out for punch sets at barn sales and second hand stores.
 Around December 25th it was good to sit down for a quiet cup of afternoon tea and the chance to reread some Christmas cards.
 Hot chocolate with all the trimmings - just what you need when the weather turns cold.
And for a cold drink well, you can't beat the Real Thing, available for a short time only in this seasonal can.

The Spirit of Christmas continues.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on December 31

 In a quest to preserve the spirit of Christmases past number 1 son and I laced up our walking shoes, got ourselves a smartrip card and headed into Washington DC to see the sights of Christmas - something we have not done in several years.
 We took the metro and got off at Union Station. The tree gifted to the people of Washington to symbolize the friendship between Norway and the USA is always a grand sight against the wonderful backdrop of Union Station.
 From Union Station we strolled briskly down Delaware Avenue to the North facade of the US Capitol.
 On the western side of the Capitol building they have been hard at work for several weeks now preparing for the upcoming Presidential Inauguration.
 Next stop was the Botanic Gardens where we had hoped to see the model train exhibit but the line of people waiting to get in (estimate was a one hour wait) was offputting so we headed into the main front spaces of the Conservatory where the display, Seasons Greenings, is a delightful mix of models of many of Washington's most iconic buildings created using plant materials by Applied Imagination from Kentucky. The choice of the theme was in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
 Okay, who knows what this tree is? It is real - and amazing. It is a Theobroma Cacao plant aka the chocolate tree.
 Walking out of the Conservatory we decided to ditch the plan to metro down to the Ellipse and to instead walk  down the National Mall.
 Alongside the National Gallery of Art I was intrigued by a structure which I first thought was an outdoor sculpture. But once I spotted a large logo for AT&T I realized it was more preparations for the upcoming inauguration.
 Arriving at the intersection of 14th and Constitution you cannot miss the very newest of the Smithsonian Museums, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is a very intriguing sight from the outside as it appears as a see-through facade. Opening in late September this year it is still very difficult to get tickets to see inside because of the popularity of the Museum so we contented ourselves with the outdoor view before heading off to our final destination, the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in front of the White House.
 Washington DC is always refreshing, rebuilding, renovating and more so trying to get the best views (and photographs) is often challenging. When we first got a glimpse of the tree it was behind a large fenced off area and looked a little insignificant. But by the time we skirted around the fence and got closer the lights had been turned on. Like the museum we had just walked past, this tree also has a see-through facade - in this instance a tight weave of the electrical cords holding the vast number of blue and white lights.
 True to tradition, the Volunteers of the National Christmas Tree Railroad, have again delighted us all with many trains chugging to and fro around the tree.
 By now we were getting weary so we headed up 17th Street seeking the Farragut West metro station. Along the way we passed by the PNC Place building with it's very simple symbol of the season. Finding the entrance to the station took some sleuthing (we are not frequent metro riders) but we made it and settled our tired bodies into the seat for the ride home.
Our closeout view for the outing was this portion of the display at Reston Station, outside the terminus on the silver line.

Lastly I do apologise if you have visited here on the past few even dates looking for my posts. We made a short notice overnight trip on Monday and came home on Tuesday to be welcomed by water dripping from the ceiling (fortunately it started after we arrived home). But it seems the balance of the week has been taken up with moving things out of the way and waiting on various tradesmen to attend to the situation. There are two more themed posts still to come in this series intended to Preserve the Spirit of Christmas so keep checking back to see what else I have in store.

Happy New Year to all - may it be a happy, healthy, safe and more uplifting one than 2016 has been.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on December 24

 No need for the preserving jar tonight - I'll let my tree skirt say it. A line from one of my personal favorite Christmas Carols. And it really is a starry night tonight in the skies above our home.
 Some weeks ago I saw that a nearby barn and other outbuildings were being dismantled. I thought it would be great to be able to get an old barn door to use as a background for some photos. Of course I needed to do this correctly by asking the owner. But it seems she didn't really understand what I wanted. On the day she said we could come get the door the one she had in mind for us was so big and heavy I had to turn it down Looking quickly round I thought this door might be better; it did fit in the car but alas it is too heavy for me to move by myself. But for tonight I want you to imagine the star hanging over the stable, that little stable all forlorn.
 Fun with a few stars.
 More cookie making happened today.
Stars light the way.

And heav'n and nature sing....

Let the stars guide us towards the true meaning of Christmas so we may preserve it in our hearts.



Thursday, December 22, 2016

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on December 22

 We'll call this one the jar of good intentions. I bought these peppermint Hershey's Kisses intending to use them on cookies...but so far the opportunity to get in the kitchen and make them has eluded me.
 This afternoon number 1 son had set aside time to make his "M & M Bars". He works in a methodical way getting all his ingredients out, measured and ready before he hits the "start" knob on the mixer.
 Cream the butter and sugar and now beat in the eggs one at a time.
 Put the dough into the baking pan and smooth it out.
 And, after it has cooled you can cut it into serving pieces. He made two pans of the recipe today, each with a different sort of M & M. They are to be given away to friends.
 Last Saturday number 2 son held court in the kitchen all day long. We are great fans of the food section of the Washington Post when they publish their annual issue of Holiday baking recipes. 2 son had chosen three recipes and this one, Chai-spiced Snowdrops turned out the best.
 This recipe for Cinnamon Pretzels needed work. But with perseverance (and the addition of another egg and a drop of milk) they were able to be rolled and shaped and baked.
 They turned out okay and, true to the recipe note, they are good for dunking.
 Here's a plate of finished treats from last weekend - a couple of my angel slices (see the angel post), the snowdrops, pretzels and the vanilla cookie (in it's basic form as a cut-out cookie).
Venturing outside I found this very delicious looking chocolate log...well, it did look very edible but, as you can likely tell, it is a Christmas tree trimming after the ice storm of this past weekend. The way that ice melted looked just like frosting dripping off a chocolate log to my eyes.

In the pursuit of preserving the spirit of Christmas for you I have just had to resort to a lot of calories. sigh.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on December 18

 We having a red and white candy cane sorta nite tonight.
Some got out of the jar.
 Red and white...
White and red.
 Calorie free of course.
 Who'll buy my candy canes?
Close-out special on the red and whites!