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Since last Wednesday (mind you this is less than one week), I have baked 12 loaves of bread, and 48 cinnamon rolls plus unmentioned amounts of cookies. Last night I baked one loaf of bread for dinner and it was gone in a flash. Tonight, I baked two loaves and there is barely any left. I figure that should be up to at least four or five loaves of bread a day by New Year’s the way this crowd is eating and the adults haven’t even shown up yet. Plus I haven’t even had a chance to christen my new pizza stone or loaf baker. Maybe a bakery is in my future?
New Year’s Eve here will literally be once in a blue moon. The partial lunar eclipse will cause a ‘blue moon” to occur on New Year’s Eve. “Blue moon” is actually a misnomer since the moon will not be blue, so do not look for any blue to be showing on New Year’s Eve. It is actually the second full moon in any calendar month. This occurs but does not do so often. Normally there is a new moon every 29.5 days. Sometimes, like in the month of December, we are actually lucky enough to have two full moons. What makes this so special is that the last time a full moon occurred twice in one month was back in May 2007. The last time that it occurred on a New Year’s Eve was 1990. The next time it will occur will be 2028. The history of the term “blue moon” is explained on NASA’s website.
So, should you be fortunate enough (weather permitting – us in New England are scheduled for a Nor’Easter) to see the moon and stars on your New Year’s Eve and maybe receive your New Year’s kiss underneath that moon, consider yourself fortunate, it only happens once in a blue moon.
For those of you who have been burning with desire to know, here is what it looks like outside our window in the dead of night. This is a picture of the Christmas cactus as we affectionately call our little maple tree in lights. Looking more like a cactus, although there are those among us that swear it looks like the Christmas Chicken from a certain angle, the little maple glows in the LED lights against the snow.
Out the front, here’s a view of the porch and its lights. Very peaceful, very quiet. We are expecting wind chills today of -25. Nice day to spend indoors. And don’t ask why I’m taking pictures at 4 a.m. – that’s just another post all together.
Here is the snow that we missed last week when it seemed that the entire rest of the East Coast got dumped with snow. We had a nice snow day today. The boys headed out to go snowboarding and skiing at Pico and came home to homemade chili and homemade bread. Seems like I will have to ramp up bread production, which is nice since I like to bake and it seems that the gang likes to eat.
It has been windy all day today and therefore hard to tell exactly how much snow we did get. We were forecast to get about 6 inches but there are bare spots in the drive and snow drifts that cover your boots. Go figure, I guess that we will just have to get out and enjoy it.
So, if you got a Kindle for Christmas and are wondering what to do with it, may I offer up a suggestion? Read my blog! Yes, I figured out how to put my blog online through Amazon and you can subscribe to the blog via Kindle. Pretty neat, huh? Makes me feel like I am somehow a little bit more important in this world. In any event it is a pretty neat thing.
We picked up my nephews from the train station this evening. The five boys are all happily comparing Christmas presents and snowboarding stuff and reconnecting. Everyone is anxious to get to the mountain tomorrow and do some snowboarding and skiing. The boys will be with us through New Years when their parents come up for the holiday. Lots of testosterone in the Ts house this week, clearly I am outnumbered – like that’s anything new around here. The dog and I may run and hide, but it’s all good. Lots of kids to cook and bake for. Loving it since I get to try out some of my new Christmas goodies in the process.
There is something very bland about the day after Christmas. All of the excitement and anticipation is over and all that is left is the aftermath of all those gifts. Boxes and tissue paper, gift bags and plastic wrappers. This morning we piled the pickup truck high with all of the Christmas debris and headed off to the transfer station. There, we were joined by many others, also dumping the remains of Christmas Day into dumpster and cans.
Today is a day to re-gather. Make room for the new gifts and put away the new clothes. Pick up the remains of the packaging and re-assemble ourselves. We will have a big week ahead of us, filling with family and friends. My nephews are arriving by train this evening, we are picking them up at the train station. They are coming in early to snowboard with the boys, a treat that all of them are looking forward to enjoying. My inlaws are still here visiting with us and then my sister, brother, mother and a couple friends will be showing up, in drips and drabs until New Years, when we expect a full house.
It is interesting. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were quiet, even noticeably absent the ruckus that used to surround my Christmases growing up. These last few days were reminiscent of Tom’s growing up, as an only child, not much ruckus in his house on Christmas. New Years will be reminiscent of my holidays, lots of people (only a much bigger house to put them all in) and lots of laughter, noise and kids. That was my Christmas, chaotic. Christmas was always my father’s favorite holiday and his love of the season and the surprise and anticipation carried us through. Since he passed away, that holiday is definitely not the same, so it is kind of respectfully appropriate that we don’t celebrate it in the same way. But I do miss it sometimes, it is a part of me and while I can be very Cybil-like about liking the quiet, to a part of me, the chaos is the way I remember the holidays, the way I lived them through a substantial portion of my life and the way that it should be.
I enjoyed Christmas but I am looking forward to New Years, while over the next week, I may be grumbling on the outside at times, somewhere, inside, I will be smiling, thinking this is the way it used to be.
We were woke up this morning at 6:02 a.m. by our youngest who announced that it was time to open gifts. I was in such a sound sleep that I had no idea where I was, much less that it was Christmas morning. “Go take a shower” we told him. He already did. “Call your grandparents to come over” he did that already too. Poor Obby & Poppy, they evidently got awakened before us. Last straw – go wake up Tyler. Tyler can’t be pulled from bed on the first try with a crowbar. But there is something about the magic of Christmas, soon little or in this case, not so little feet, stampeded down the stairs.
When it was finally light out, we were treated to a sparkling Christmas morning. Something magical in the form of ice or snow fell last evening and it turned an already white Christmas into a magical winter wonderland.
These are some of the pictures we took outside the house this morning. Merry Christmas!
Christmas Eve Day was spent mostly baking. It has been a very relaxing day. Calm, peaceful, the way it is supposed to be. I baked bread, several loaves of sourdough and made the various dishes that we ate this evening for dinner – we have a fusion of Italian and whatever. Tonight it was a delicious maple glazed pork loin with rosemary. Delicious if I do say so myself and simple.
I also made two batches of cinnamon buns. One for tomorrow morning’s breakfast and one for giving away to our friends as gifts. Since this recipe is too simple, I cannot imagine anyone opening an exploding can of something resembling cinnamon buns.
Cinnamon bun recipe (adapted from Whatscookingamerica.net)
1 cup milk heated for one minute in microwave
1/4 cup warm water
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. butter at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
3 t. yeast
5 cups bread flour
1. Mix all above ingredients in your stand mixer with dough hook until a dough forms.
2. Knead with dough hook for approximately five minutes. Turn dough into greased bowl.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.
4. Mix Cinnamon filling – 1 c. brown sugar with 5 T. cinnamon.
5. After 10 minutes roll dough into a rectangle about 18 inches wide by 10 inches long.
6. Melt 1/2 stick butter and brush over dough.
7. Sprinkle cinnamon filling onto buttered dough.
8. Cut into 18 pieces and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment.
9. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour.
10. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until light golden brown.
11. Mix about 2 cups of confectioners sugar with about 2 T. milk until you have a paste. If it is watery, add more powered sugar until you have a glue-like consistency.
12. Pour sugar mixture over buns after removing from oven.
This is a picture of the auditorium at the boys’ high school. On the first day of Christmas vacation I lugged myself out of my nice warm house to witness a pretty cool sight. There were about 40 high schoolers who had also dragged themselves out on a morning with a wind chill of -6 and snow to come to school on the first day of their vacation. They were there to finish putting perishable items into food boxes that would be delivered by these same students all day long until each of the 100 “baskets” of food had been distributed to the families on the list.
Every seat in this auditorium was filled with a box of food. Each recipient family received between 4 and 5 boxes crammed full of food for a week. Turkey, potatoes, carrots, eggs, bread, milk, butter, apples, oranges, dry goods and personal hygiene items crammed the boxes which were all festively decorated by the students. Every year since 1976 the National Honor Society at the Mill River has been doing this – delivering food baskets to needy families. They started out with 5 baskets, this year they did just about 100. I am telling you that it was an awe inspiring sight. These kids were happy, spirited, helpful and polite. They came with cars, trucks, SUVs. They divided up into teams of two or three and loaded up their vehicles, got their assigned recipients and directions and took off. When they would finish delivering what fit in their vehicles, they would return to do it all over again, from 10 until 3 or 4 this afternoon – whenever the last food boxes were delivered.
To accomplish this, they worked to raise monies. They had a bottle drive, a car wash, a raffle and a benefit soup luncheon. They solicited donations from area businesses, they raised the $10,000 needed to accomplish this task. The entire school got into the spirit with each homeroom adopting a family to donate non-perishable items to and some of the TAs even came up with their own mini fundraisers to help the cause. One class sold tiny rubber duckies; another had a raffle of guessing the pieces of candy in a jar. Faculty members were on hand to help deliver baskets and to help coordinate the delivery and finishing touches this morning. It was an encouraging sight to see when you only read about the miserable things that happen in this world.
It is nice to know that these kids gave up the first day of their Christmas vacation, the whole day, to get up early and come and do this for other people. They are an inspiration and truly demonstrate the spirit of the season.
Kudos goes out to the young men and women who dedicated the start of their holiday to making other people’s holiday just a little merrier.