Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Scavenger Hunt Hodgepodge

I always look forward to joining in with Greenthumb for her Scavenger Hunt. This month I was going to do a theme but my eclectic nature took over and here's what I found...

My little grandson gives me so much Joy.  He made this collage on the dinette window.  I think I  may just keep it there until next Christmas season!

He also amazes me with his art work.  He's six years old and we both have a love of creating.

We're a small family so we treasure being together often.  This was our Thanksgiving photo.  My son wasn't able to join us this year.  My daughter is the official hostess of Thanksgiving and she does an excellent job.

Here's a photo of our tree in the living room.  This is our fake tree as we have a fresh tree in the family room.  Although, after all these years of use, this "fake" tree is starting to shed its needles!

I bought this tree top ornament the first Christmas we spent here in California.  I love this tree topper although my children think it's hideous.

My son is always sharing photos with me of the places he visits.  I love the light illuminating this church in Kiev, Ukraine.

Here's another of my son's photos showing the Christmas market in Kiev.  How I wish I was there to peruse the shops. 

I was trying to do an artsy photo of my tree and I actually like the way the lights sparkle in this photo.

By giving my grandson my phone, here's what happens; he was sitting in his car seat and took this photo of me driving.  I've since "dyed/colored/stained" my hair.  It's probably the third time in 20 years!  I actually don't mind my mousy, gray hair.  I thought it might be fun to sport a new hair color for the New Year :)

My daughter made this delicious food  for my son-in-law for a special holiday meal.  It turned out beautiful.   She also made this no fuss bernaise sauce.

I think I'm on a roll with speaking of my daughter! Here's her red Christmas wrapping theme for this year's gifts.

I enjoyed making pebernodder in my kitchen this holiday season. 

Whatever I want is peace, harmony and caring this coming year for those who are hurting and in need.  And, please remember our four legged friends, too.  Lilly my cat is a rescue kitty.  She's 10 years old and has been with us eight wonderful years.  I adopted her through Petfinder. Maybe there's room in your home for a new furry friend?
  

I have really enjoyed writing my blog this past year and meeting new friends.  And, I've learned so much from my readers too.  I wish each of you a very Happy New Year.  And, I look forward to hearing from you when you have the time.

Happy New Year Dear Friends,

Pat

Lilly sends her New Year's greetings, too :)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Post Christmas Post

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday.  It's been busy here at Lilly my Cat but today I began to take down all the decorations.  As you can see from the photo below, there's some more work to be accomplished...

Lilly really enjoyed the holidays as usual.  One of her favorite places is sitting under the tree(s) but she also likes this chair...

The Christmas season has always been a special time of year that I look forward to.  But, I find that I have lost a little bit of energy these past couple of years.  Maybe next year we will switch the program to something new.  But, we did have a wonderful time with the family.

I haven't been out post Christmas shopping and I don't think I will.  Although, I always like to go to Pier 1 where I find the most beautiful European glass ornaments at half price or more!  I'm so, so tired of everything being made in China!  My favorite stores, TJ MAXX and Home Goods used to be filled with really quality items. Now, I have to hunt for something not made in China.  I refuse to buy any dishes made in China and the same goes for bed linens and towels.  I watched a documentary the other day where the family was "challenged" to celebrate Christmas without anything made in China.  Yup, they had a hard time.  It started with finding lights for the Christmas tree (which I think they finally gave up on finding).  To find toys for the children not made in China was difficult too.  They paid extra $ for toys made in the old European style.  I really enjoyed  watching this program.

Speaking of programs, the last season of Downton Abbey will soon premier.  I really love everything about that show. And, the historical detail is right on the mark, too.  Last night I watched a new program on the Smithsonian Channel called Million Dollar American Princesses.  It featured the heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt who married the 9th Duke of Marlborough.  Her grandson, the 11th Duke of Marlborough was married to Athina Livanos, the ex-wife of Aristotle Onassis.   There were also a couple of more American heiresses including Mary Leiter who married Lord Curzon of Kedleston* and became the Vicereine of India.  I found this fascinating and after watching the show, I read further about these women.

*Kedleston Hall is where Venetia Stanley Smith (of the NHK program Venetia of Kyoto) was born.  Her mother was a Curzon.

A couple of months ago, I was excited to watch Indian Summers on PBS.  I'm usually pretty good at following story lines but this was so slow in developing the story line and there was so much I didn't comprehend...Finally, after watching about two episodes, I gave up.  I love this time period of the Raj but this show really was a disappoint to me.  

I've rattled on enough for this post.   I'd love to hear from you if you have a chance to comment.  Our skies are clouding up this afternoon as they say we're suppose to get a little rain.  It's been very cold here at night for southern California.  But, we can't complain as I feel so bad for those folks who have been hit by tornadoes and flooding.  My heart goes out to them.  Stay safe if you are traveling and I will be back soon.

My best to you,

Pat

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas


Dear Friends
***
Merry Christmas 
 
Feliz Navidad


Joyeux Noel


Zalig Kerstfeest


Milad Mubarak

Buon Natale

Gl├Ždelig Jul 
Happy Christmas




***
 

 ***

With my best wishes for a wonderful holiday,

Pat  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Card Swap

I had the pleasure to take part in Amy's Christmas card swap.  I received this lovely card from Marlene over at Poppy Patchwork. It was fun to take part in this and I hope Amy will host the card swap again next year.


On Saturday afternoon we went to a local performance of the Nutcracker.  It was put on by the  Laguna Dance Theatre. We have attended professional ballet company performances in the past but I must say this was really my favorite.  The dancers were superb and their outfits were stunning.   The little dancers were so adorable, too.  I hope we can make this an annual event for our family.

On a side note, they were selling raffle tickets for gift baskets.  I never win anything but I did on Saturday!  This is the beautiful gift basket I won.  There's a lovely Clara doll included that I plan on giving to my little granddaughter for her first birthday.


The countdown is on.  Everything is ready here at Lilly my Cat (or at least I think so).  My brother will be arriving tomorrow for join us for the festivities. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I hope that who are traveling, a safe journey.

Merry Christmas,

Pat

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Five on Friday - Christmas Cookies

The cookies are baked (almost), the house is decorated and the presents are wrapped. The birth of our Lord will soon arrive and for me the Christmas season is a time for reflection and blessings.   I grew up in an area where we often had a white Christmas.  I remember one year receiving a silver charm bracelet from my parents for Christmas.  I loved that bracelet but one day, not long after receiving it, I lost it.  When I set out to search for it, it was a cold, late afternoon and the beautiful white snow had covered the tree lined street.  I found my bracelet on the sidewalk in a snow bank.  I still have that bracelet today.   It's Friday so I'm linking up with Amy at Five on Friday.  Fast forward to this past week's happenings at Lilly My Cat...

We traveled down south to San Diego county for an overnight trip to the Barona Resort.  We arrived in the evening and the Christmas decorations were amazing. We awoke to glorious rain the next morning ..

Lots of Christmas parties this past week; we had a fun time at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club on Saturday.  I loved their display of this gingerbread village...

On Saturday night my local lodge* of  Daughters of Norway held their annual Christmas party.  We were at the Marbella Country Club and the setting was so beautiful ...

In the lobby there was a beautiful, tall Christmas tree which was flocked.  It was a perfect evening.  And, when we left, we were greeted by some much needed rain ...

For me, Christmas time means Christmas cookies and I have started my baking this week.  I'm not making so many as in years past but here's what I have on my list:

1.  Egyptian Petit Fours
2.  Green Christmas tree spritz (my dear Grandma always made these every year)
3.  Pebernodder (Danish peppernuts)
4.  Spiced Shortbread
5.  Chocolate Blossoms

I started off making the petit fours   Here they are before being put together with white chocolate.  I made one batch of dough and divided it into thirds; one plain, one chocolate and one colored green for my Christmas trees...


Next on my list was the Danish pebernodder (peppernuts).  MyDanish Grandma used to make these for us each and every Christmas; it wouldn't be Christmas without them.  Since my brother is coming to celebrate with us this year, I had to add them to the list ...


Here is my shortbread. I thought I would change the recipe a bit this year so I added some vanilla and some cardamon along with rose water.  I think I added too much cardamom ...


Last on my list is the Hershey kisses cookies.  The recipe calls for dark chocolate but since I make these for my dear son-in-law, I use milk chocolate kisses.  I plan on making them Friday when my little grandson will be here.  He loves to help in the kitchen and he can easily unwrap (and eat a few, too)  these candies ...

I want to formally thank my dear daughter for the beautiful header photo she added to my blog.  She's an excellent photographer; she snapped this photo of the Eiffel Tower when we were there two years ago.  *Also, in regard to the Daughters of Norway, if you may be interested in attending a lodge near you, please check out their website.  They will take members of all Scandinavian descent; remember I'm Danish and I love my local lodge.

The countdown to the holidays is on.  I wish everyone a wonderful, festive filled weekend.  It's always a joy hearing from each and every one of you if you have the time to comment.  My best holiday wishes to you!

Hugs,

Pat

Thursday, December 10, 2015

It's Friday - Christmas Past*

It's Friday and time again to join in with Willy Nilly Friday and Amy at Five on Friday.   All is well here at Lilly My Cat.  The Christmas holiday will soon be here and I do think that I'm ready.  Next week I hope to bake my Christmas cookies.  There's so many things I would like to share with you but it's the holiday season and I feel my post should reflect this special time of year. 

The other night I called my dear friend in Washington (state).  We were neighbors for over 20 years and we've known each other for 39 years!  I sat in the living room and turned on the Christmas tree.  No one sits in this room except when we have company or celebrate an event; like Christmas eve and Christmas day.  It was fun to reminisce about the old days when we used to bake Christmas cookies together.  The years have been good to us but I feel I'm still the same person I used to be.  It makes me sad when people forget where they came from.  I always tell me children to never forget who they are and to have compassion on others. I'm happy to be who I am...

We went to the annual Christmas tree lighting in our little community for the first time this year.  It was really a lovely evening sitting on a bench and listening to a music group sing Christmas carols.  Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived by boat and turned on the tree.  Hot chocolate and donuts were given out to all and it was such a festive evening ...

Here's my husband and I enjoying the evening.  We were with our grandchildren and my little grandson so enjoyed this special time . It reminds me of years ago when my parents used to take my children to the tree lighting.  The roles are reversed now.  It's an odd feeling really but I'm so thankful that we're here to see our grandchildren grow up...

Lilly is really liking this time of year.  She usually likes to sit under the tree.  I placed some metal bell decorations on the bottom limbs and she likes to make then sing.  This is my little tree which we bought at Home Depot for $24.99.  I don't think you can find cheaper that this now days. I remember one year we bought from the  local Boy Scouts for  under $10.00 and they DELIVERED the tree, too!  Am I showing my age? 

This is my daughter's beautiful tree.  The day we bought our trees, she got hers' home and decided that it didn't look right.  So, her dear husband loaded it again on the car and they came back with this one.  Remembering back many years ago, I recall going Christmas tree shopping with my dear dad.  We (I) found the perfect tree at a little community market and it was a $1.70!  Yup, really expensive..haha.  That would have been like 1969 to 1972.  We brought it home and Dad and I "flocked" it with white snow.  We had a special contraption that attached to my Mom's vacuum cleaner and it sprayed the white snow on the tree.  I remember it being cold since we lived in an area that had real, cold winters but it didn't bother me.   But, the tree was so pretty.  My dad was such a kind, patient man.

I love the Christmas season.  Growing up we used to go to my Uncle's home and celebrate with the whole family.  Sadly, those family members are long gone.  It's just me and my brother now and my dear brother will be joining my family this year for the holidays.  My Mom used to buy (or make) me a Christmas outfit each year along with a new pair of Christmas shoes.  Oh, how I longed to wear those new shoes but they were always put away until Christmas eve.  My Grandma would share with us all her buttery, homemade Danish cookies along with her red cabbage and Danish meatballs which we always had on Christmas Eve.  I've tried to keep these traditions for my family.    I don't have lot of Christmas memories with my Grandfather since he died tragically when I was 12 years old.  But my dear Grandmother lived to 97 years of age; and she was very active up until age 95!

Wherever you are, I wish you peace and joy at this time of year. Although there is sadness in our world, there is always hope.  I've love to hear from you if you have the time.

My best to you,

Pat


*I like the phrase "Christmas Past".  I've been reading Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol with Ebenezer Scrooge to my little grandson and it reminds me of the "ghost of Christmas past"...




















Thursday, December 3, 2015

Five on Friday Christmas Happenings

 Hello dear friends and new readers.  I had this post all written up and saved to publish today but I feel I need to add a footnote.  As you may have heard, a terrible tragedy took place in San Bernadino, CA yesterday.  My heart and prayers goes out to the families who have lost loved ones and those who are injured.  This has hit really close to home.  Our world needs fixing...

It's Friday and time again to join in with Amy for  Five on Friday.   I'm going to share five photos with you this week along with a recipe...

I always try and put up the Christmas decorations the weekend following Thanksgiving.  Each year it gets harder and harder. I think my OCD kicks in and I anticipate about having to take all this stuff down at the end of the holidays.  But, nevertheless, I finished decorating and all is ready for the family to celebrate.  Here's the fake tree in the living room...


It's the family's tradition each year to buy our fresh Christmas trees the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  This year our new little baby granddaughter joined in for the festivities.  And, afterwards, we always go to Starbucks for holiday drinks.  Here's my fresh little tree that I decorated this year for the family room.  Please excuse the messy tree skirt as Lilly loves to sleep under the tree...

In the first picture you can see my fireplace mantel all decked out in gold and white.  This is the mantel in the family room.  I found these poinsetta lights at the bottom of my Christmas box.  I think they're at least 20 years old.  I experimented and this is what I came up with.  The snowmen were made by my daughter, Heidi, when she was in 6th grade.  I shared this photo with my daughter and she told me it was "unique".  When I told her I was going to post it on my blog, she replied "that will definitely attract new readership"....(haha, she was being sarcastic, of course)

I have so  enjoyed reading various blogs about making Christmas cakes.  It's really not a popular item here but I was so intrigued with the recipes that I decided to make one myself.  I read through Amy's  post which was most helpful.  I also read Sue's post and took down some notes.  Here is my first Christmas cake.  I was most pleased the way it turned out.

It's now all bundled up (after having a bath in brandy) and in a couple of weeks I will feed it a little more brandy.  I'm excited to see how the flavors will ripen when I serve it on Christmas day.
 

Besides reading online about baking Christmas cakes, I watched my favorite program, At Home with Venetia in Kyoto.  Venetia is a British woman who has lived in Japan for over 40 years.  This past week she shared her version of Christmas cake along with her recipe which makes two loaf cakes.  I halved the recipe in half to make one loaf cake.  Here is what I did:

Venetia's Christmas Cake (with some tweaks)

 At least 12 hours before mix the ingredients below in a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter until the next day.
1/2 cup almonds
1 1/2 cups raisins (I used small raisins)
1 cup walnuts
1 four ounce container of red glace cherries, cut in half*
1/3 cup brandy

 In a large mixing bowl combine these dry ingredients:
225 grams flour
125 grams brown sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl, mix the ingredients listed below:
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup (scant) orange juice
2 tablespoons molasses
3/4 cup oil
zest from one orange 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Take a 9" x 5" loaf pan and grease and line it with parchment paper or wax paper.  (I used a long and narrow loaf pan and it worked fine).

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then mix in the fruit and nut mixture.  Spoon batter in the prepared loaf pan.  Level the top of the cake and decorate with walnuts or almonds.  Place in the preheated oven in the middle rack.  Bake for 1 hour and test with a toothpick to see if cake is done. If it doesn't test done then continue to bake it for longer.   I baked mine for 1 hours 15 minutes.  Remove cake from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes or so before removing the cake from the pan.  Let cake cool completely and then brush the cake on all sides with 1/4 cup+ of brandy (or alcohol of your choice; whiskey, rum, cognac, etc.)

I put my cake into a tight fitted tin which I lined with plastic wrap.  I wrapped the cake in wax paper and a tea towel.  I placed a layer on plastic wrap on top of the tin before I placed the lid on it.  Place in a cool place and in two weeks time, feed again with alcohol.  

I hope you have enjoyed this post.  I would love to hear about your Christmas cake baking and/or decorating.  (I was confused as to whether I should soak the nuts along with the fruits but I think it turned out ok). 

Until next time my best to each of you,

Pat



*Note:  Venetia's recipe called for only 10 cherries and a 1/2 cup dates.  I omitted the dates and added more cherries instead.  She did not add orange zest to her cake.  Neither does she frost her cake with marzipan and fondant.  I was so confused as her recipe was listed in grams, cups and mils.  A total mind teaser for me as a US baker only using cups!  (I do have a scale now in my kitchen but it puzzles me each time I try and use it :(





Monday, November 30, 2015

November's Scavenger Hunt

Hello dear friends.  It's been awhile since I took part in Greenthumb's Scavenger Hunt.  I hope you like this month's selection.  It has a "Turkish" theme since I just returned from Turkey. 

 A stranger we met along the roadway on our drive up the mountain.  Goats are very popular in Turkey and they have some of the most wonderful goat cheeses I have ever tasted.

Looking down onto Alanya harbour from the castle hill.

Pop Culture is worldwide.  This is the best I could come up with.

The weather was amazing and the best part was enjoying the sunsets each night.

Big bags of tea were spied at the grocery store.  They were marked 5,000 grams - over 11 pounds of tea in each bag!

Sign down the road from our home which actually an outdoor restaurant. It's a great place to experience homemade, authentic, Turkish cuisine.

Bottle(s) of water are popular since many people don't like the taste of the tap water.  It tasted fine for me but I obliged and bought bottled water.

Out and about each day was fun discovering different places.  This is the courtyard of a restaurant downtown Alanya.

My husband wearing his favorite hat and enjoying the view.

This may look like a hole in the wall but it's actually a built in bar-b-que on a balcony.

One more beautiful sunset that I just had to share with you.

Whatever you want....maybe to live in this lovely Turkish villa!

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  I'd love to hear from you when you have a chance.  Have a wonderful week!

take care,

Pat

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope that those traveling to friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving, have a safe and enjoyable trip.  And, for those staying close to home,  I wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving holiday.

 
 Thanksgiving wishes from Lilly my Cat!

Pat

Photo courtesy of my daughter Heidi.  It's her tablescape from last year's Thanksgiving celebration at her home.