Happy New Years!!

This year we will be celebrating New Years Eve with snacks, drinks, and games with friends and as you know we love games ( for proof see The Game Chest).

img_0499 img_0491 img_0523

Today I am prepping a large batch of guacamole from the box of avocados my parents brought with them from SoCal and chocolate covered cheesecake balls to snack on at the party. Getting hungry?

IMG_2468 IMG_2466

We are grateful after being in Corning a year that we have been invited to two New Year’s Eve get-togethers. It’s amazing how much can change in a year and we are looking forward to what changes 2014 might bring!

Unknown

Have a safe and happy New Years!!!

A Handmade and Heirloom Christmas

This Christmas came with many wonderful surprises and most of them didn’t come in brand-new packaging. Because my parents drove to Corning NY they had room to bring along some meaningful items. So we had a wonderful handmade and heirloom Christmas.

IMG_2235

As I mentioned earlier (see Oh Christmas Tree ) this year my parents have passed down their Christmas tree topper angel to Luke and I. It was exciting the night they arrived to open that old box and stick the angel on top of our tree; it made me feel at home.

IMG_0623IMG_0625

But the heir-loomed gifts did not stop there. We were also given my great-grandmother’s (or older) 8 inch cast-iron pan that my mom has had hanging in her kitchen for years. It was immediately seasoned and  used to cook bacon on Christmas morning and green beans for Christmas dinner. It now sits on the kitchen stove alongside Luke’s cast iron skillet as if it has belonged there all along.

IMG_0720IMG_2392IMG_0734

On top of these wonderful sentimental gifts we were also given several handmade/homemade items. My mother made Luke a new pair of Star Wars printed PJ’s which she gave to him early so they would be hemmed and ready to be worn Christmas morning.

IMG_0631IMG_0733

In turn, she made me a retro 40’s style apron covered in a fruit print that matches the colors of my kitchen: blue and brown.

IMG_2312IMG_0678

Alongside these, my mom also made me some crocheted pot holders to accompany the ones she made me last winter.

IMG_2427IMG_2428

Also crocheted Luke received a beautiful afghan to keep us warm on our leather couches in the winter.

IMG_2291IMG_2297IMG_2299

My dad also made us something very special. Taking an idea from a Scandinavian artist, my father made a wood Christmas Tree out of the lath boards from my  childhood home. When my parents did some maintenance and remodeling to their home, my father stripped the old lath and kept them for a project. He made one of these trees for me and my brother so we will literally have a piece of our childhood home with us displayed every Christmas.

IMG_2379 IMG_2381

The whole piece folds into one 1 1/2 foot triangle so to be easy to store. The boards are kept in placed by tightening the glass knob (also from our childhood home). We will have to decided where this tree will go in the future and how to decorate it.

IMG_2452 IMG_2454

The last bit of homemade goodness we received was a jar of apricot jam and pomegranate jelly from some friends of the family and relatives an orchard. They will both be great on toast and yogurt! Yumm!!

IMG_0711

These wonderful handmade and heir-loomed gifts were what made this Christmas special. I am grateful my parents were here this winter to celebrate with us, but with all of these wonderful well-loved items a piece of them and home are with us for future Christmas we may not spend together and year round.

A Very Corning Christmas Present

My parents came into town on the 19th and after hours of catching up, eating dinner, and sharing a few early gift surprises Luke and I gave them their Christmas card. The card explained their Christmas Present: a trip to the Corning Glass Museum and chance to make one of their own Christmas ornaments at the Glass Studio (for more on this see Sparkle). After looking at the weather we decided to go on Saturday while it was rainy and cold.

Corning Glass museumIMG_0633

We started by walking through the lowest level; the museum store looking at Christmas ornaments  on sale and other artistic glassware items. Then we went up the escalator, got our tickets for the museum and ornament experience then toured the second level taking in the modern art exhibits.

IMG_2247IMG_2248

Next we circled up to the main historical glass exhibit. My father enjoyed the glass making examples and collections from history starting with Egyptian perfume bottles, to Venetian glass, all the way up to modern windows and lighting. Here also he enjoyed learning about  how Corning became a center for glass production and about the glass processes at the time.

IMG_2254IMG_2251

My parents especially enjoyed seeing the arts and crafts movement stain glass pieces of Frank Loyd Wright and Greene and Greene.

IMG_2261IMG_2260IMG_2258IMG_2262

After this, we toured the demonstration level of the museum. My mom enjoyed watching a glass maker create a bright orange glass pitcher in the Hot Glass demonstration room. We then toured other demonstrations learning about how glass for car windshield are made, and how fiber optic glass works to carry information and light.

IMG_2265

Then it was time for the main event: we took my parents over to The Studio to make their own glass ornament. Once there my parents jointly decided on a spiral design and tear drop shape combining lime green and cobalt blue colors.

IMG_0640IMG_0639IMG_0644

My dad was beyond excited to make the ornament. While watching all of the kids make their snowmen and ornaments  it was obvious my kid-at-heart father was fascinated by the process as he impatiently waited for his turn. When it was his turn my dad was throughly involved in the process, enjoying every minute as the glass ornament was blow, shaped, and then taken to the oven to cool.

IMG_2370

The finished product

Afterward we took my parents to Slammin’ Jammin’  BBQ for a late lunch/early dinner ( see racefever and local bbq) then decided to take a stroll showing my parents downtown Market St. We stopped in  some of the glassworks boutiques and several antique shops  then enjoyed a cup of rich hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows from Poppleton Bakery and Cafe .

IMG_0645

IMG_0647

It was a great Corning Christmas activity day and I’m glad I had the chance to share it with my parents.

How about you? You get a chance to share a local holiday outings with your family?

Merry Christmas

IMG_2238

Our tree with the family angel topper on it

Today I am excited to have my parents  here to celebrate Christmas with us. This morning we will open stockings in our PJ’s while enjoying coffee and then have our Halvorson style Christmas breakfast of Blueberry Buckle and Smokey Links (or bacon) with scrambled eggs.

Corning Glass museum

Corning Glass museum

We will open presents and enjoy a slow day at home, playing games, watching Christmas shows, skyping family, and looking out at the snowy winter weather enjoying each other’s company.  In Corning New York holidays are purely to be with family so it will be quiet in the neighborhood and we will be making our own Christmas Dinner: steak , green beans, and twice baked potatoes. We have already taken my parents to a few local places including the Corning Glass Museum and on some beautiful drives. I am looking forward to sharing even more of our Christmas events with you soon!

Corning Glass Museum

Corning Glass Museum

Whether you are enjoying a day out on the town, are on the road to be with family, taking a sunny vacation away from it all, or braving the snowy weather I wish you all a joyous Christmas!!

IMG_2232

Our dinning table with view of the Christmas Tree

The Lamppost

Well this is a first, up until now I have not shared any of my creative writing or poetry on this blog. But today, Christmas Eve, I thought I’d share a new poem I wrote. I was inspired by Reliant K’s Christmas song “Like a Lion” which was inspired in turn by C.S. Lewis’ Lion Witch and the Wardrobe as well as by my mother-in-law’s newest book I edited called Winter Has Passed . Here is The Lamppost: Enjoy!

images

The Lamppost

I’ve wandered through a long dark winter

A child lost in the snow

The blizzards blind me

The ice cuts to the soul

The winter never ends here

It lingers never melting

The sun never shines

The snow endless, drifting

I wait for Christmas

For joy in the dark cold

For old St. Nick and reindeer

Like all the stories told

But presents never come

No stockings ever fill

I have forgotten: what is spring?

The trees lie dead and still

Until one day after months maybe years

I squint my eyes to see in the distance

A faint small light appears

Is it a star? Will it grant my wishes?

As I come cautiously near

It is a lamppost; that becomes clear

A flaming light protected in glass

Held high by iron metal clasps

I stood in wonder in the glow

I could feel it’s warmth in the blinding snow

And a surprising memory begins to grow

Of a thing I think called:

Hope

A smile stretches across my face

As I take in this small space

And in the distance I could almost hear

The sound of jingle bells drifting through the chilly air!

days of snow winter 08 124

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve!!

Infinity Scarf Life Hack

I have collected many scarfs since college from cheap target finds, second hand shop beauties to international wares from my travels to Italy and countries through the Middle East. The trends of how to wear scarfs continually change but one thing I knew: I was not going to buy more scarfs to fit-in with this  infinity scarf craze. So I decided to find a way to turn my normal scarfs into infinity scarfs. So what did I do?  Here’s my Infinity Scarf Life Hack.

IMG_2208

1. Buy a small container of small/medium size safety pins.

IMG_2211

2. Lay your scarf out full length on a table, floor, or bed.

IMG_2212IMG_2215

3. Place safety pins 2-3 inches apart leaving a 1/2 inch on either end unpinned.

IMG_2217

4. Fold your scarf in half.

IMG_2221IMG_2224

5. Open your pins and pin through the other side.

IMG_2226

6. You should now have on large loop of scarf.

IMG_2227

7. To fit to wear, place the safety pinned end at the base of your neck. Twist the bottom of your large loop up around your neck covering the safety pins. Adjust and fluff as needed.

IMG_2229

Yep it’s that easy.

So far I haven’t had any issues with the safety pins coming undone and layering the scarf with clothing makes it so no one would even notice you did not buy the scarf that way to begin with.

IMG_2162

The greatest thing is if and when the infinity scarf craze ends you can undo your pins and have your old scarf back again!

So are you a big scarf fan too? How do you wear your scarfs?

Christmas Candies

As I made clear earlier this week, I am a baker but some great holiday goodies such as Christmas Candies don’t require the time, ingredients, or effort of baked goods. So this post is for all of you procrastinators who still want/need to put together dessert plates, goody bags, or fill up stockings with easy to make  and clean up homemade treats.

IMG_2199

1. Peanut Brittle: As I mentioned in my November post The Great Pumpkin I had found a great wanna-be See’s candy peanut brittle recipe I wanted to try out this winter. I made some for my cookies and cocoa night (see post-parade cookies and cocoa) gave some for Luke to take to work, and have kept the rest in a christmas tin for people to snack on through the season.

IMG_2196

Each place I took this crunchy brittle to the container came back empty-I’ll take that as a good sign. The recipe calls for the perfect balance of butter, salt, and caramelized sugar. Even though the recipe provides specifics about temperatures of candy thermometers I had no problems following along without one. For the original recipes click on eatsybitsydaisy.com.

IMG_2111IMG_2190

2. Chocolate Covered Candy Cane Joe Joe’s: I got in the habit of making chocolate dipping Oreos and to give away as cheap Christmas gifts back in Junior High and have been making them ever since.  This year I went to Rochester and bought Trader Joe Candy Cane Joe Joe’s to chocolate dip.

IMG_2189IMG_2192

I have no specific recipe but I can walk you through what I do: After lining baking sheets with wax paper and clearing room in either the fridge or freezer for the sheets I slowly melt a bag of chocolate morsels with 1 tablespoon of shortening in a medium pot, stirring with a spatula. Once the mixture melts I quickly take it off the stove, drop the cookies in the chocolate one at a time, then scoop them up with a fork.  I let the excess chocolate drip off back into the pot then let them slide onto the wax paper. With white chocolate I have to use double the shortening,  longer/slower melting time, as well as I double dip them because the mixture is thinner. In the end they are stackable and easy treats to store in a bin in the freezer.

IMG_2184

3. Haystacks: I grew up making these with my grandmother who always had a Christmas tin available of these crispy butterscotch treats at our holiday get-togethers. Last Christmas I found out that haystacks are Luke’s favorite Christmas treat. He also grew up with a grandmother who would make them for him at Christmas as well. Last year I made the haystacks and hid the tin until Christmas morning. This year Luke  expected them. For these goodies I use a whole bag of butterscotch chips melted with a 1/2 C peanut butter and stir in peanuts and crispy chow mein doodles. I then stick spoonfuls on baking sheets covered in wax paper to let them cool. If you want a more formal recipe you can find it on the back of most nestle butterscotch chip bags.

Do you have a favorite Christmas goody or candy?