Monthly Archives: December 2016

Season’s Greetings!

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is all but over now and we’re nudging another new year. Where did December go? Let alone the whole year? But it’s once again the time for reviewing what has gone before and for planning what will be. To take stock of goals, aspirations, and what we hope to achieve in the coming year. Some of my goals seem to get transferred from one year to another, with not much in the way of progress being made on them. So this coming year I’ll be tweaking my approach to achieving them in the hope that next year they’ll be off the list! After all, didn’t someone once say that “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”? 🙂

I know that 2016 has been a tough year for many of my friends here at the Fence, as well as a challenging year for the world at large, so I wish everyone a Healthy, Happy, Prosperous and Peaceful New Year. I’ll end this short post with my favourite TV Christmas Advert this year, which is a reminder that despite adversity it is always possible to emerge triumphant and find our way back home.

A treat for Christmas

orange-almond-cake-3Merry Christmas to you all on this special Christmas Eve.  It has been quite a year for many of us and I am sure this Christmas will be full of memories as well as creating new memories and traditions. We are gathering together on Christmas Day at my eldest son’s house with his wife, my grandsons, my other son and his wife.  It is becoming a bit of a new tradition for us as in the past everyone came to our house. Now I sit and sip champagne, play Lego and relax whilst my daughter in law spoils me.   Christmas Lunch is always a tasty vegetarian feast which takes about two hours to enjoy whilst chatting around the Christmas table.  Later we have coffee and cake, a favourite has become a bit of a tradition, a  Spanish Orange and Almond Cake I first made when living in Spain. In those days I picked the oranges from the tree in the garden then made the cake so lots of memories there including of the friend who gave me the recipe.  I’ve made it so often I rarely use the recipe but have found it for you to try yourselves. Apologies for mix of measures which can be adjusted to taste but it is foolproof!

Ingredients  (Serves 10)

2 Oranges, about 280grms (10 ozs) total weight, scrubbed and roughly chopped (with skin on)

5 eggs separated

200grms/(7 ozs) caster sugar (approx 1 cup)

225grms/(8 ozs) ground almonds (approx 2 cups)

2 tablespoons flakes almonds

Sifted icing sugar to decorate

Preparation Method: Prep: 1 hour. Cook: 55 minutes

Put the chopped oranges in a small saucepan, discarding any pips. Add 1 tbsp water then cover and cook gently for 30 minutes or until the oranges are soft and excess liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4. Line the bottom and sides of 23cm/9inch springform cake tin with baking parchment. Finely chop the cooled oranges in a food processor or with a large knife.

Put the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Gradually whisk in half the caster sugar, then whisk for 1 minute. Using the same whisk, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar in another bowl for 2-3 minutes or until pale and quite thick.  Whisk in the finely chopped oranges, next carefully fold in the ground almonds. Stir in 3 spoonfuls of the whisked egg white to loosen the mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites with a large metal spoon.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and level the top. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Check the cake after 20 minutes and again at 30 minutes, and cover lightly with foil if it is browning too quickly.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then turn it out, peel away the lining paper and transfer to a serving plate (delicious warm). Dust with icing sugar before serving. The cake can be kept in an airtight tin for up to two days.

Whatever Christmas treats you at planning enjoy yourselves. I hope to have a few new books and some good wine.  Happy Christmas and good luck in 2017.

 

Gallery

Winter Solstice

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Today, Winter solstice, is one of my favorite days of the year. From this day until June the days will start being longer. I took the picture here yesterday around 5:00. It’s dark out there, really dark. I’m not a … Continue reading

Gallery

Happy Holidays

This gallery contains 2 photos.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  And wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. It’s been busy around my house.  Thanksgiving was a family event that lasted most of the day, then came the recover time.  The … Continue reading

Gallery

Happy December!

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Jillian here- nope. I haven’t fallen off the edge of the world. It just seems that way. Laurie is always telling me she doesn’t see how I can do all I do and alas, she is right. I can’t. Things … Continue reading

Heirloom Crocheting…maybe?

p1120167I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on this blog, but I’m crocheting a baby blanket. It’s absolutely beautiful (I think) and is all single crochet, so it’s very dense and warm. This blanket has become somewhat of a family heirloom and I’m not even done with it.

How could that be? you ask. Well, because I started it with the intention of giving it to our eldest daughter in advance of our first grandchild’s birth. Ummm, that grandchild turns 25 years old next month.

Yep. I’ve been working on this baby blanket for 25 years. 26 if you count that I started it while she was still pregnant with our grandson. Sigh. I’m clearly not the most prolific crocheter. Lol. Honestly, it’s not that I hate crocheting or knitting, I’m just not…well, honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t finish it. I think I get frustrated. The picture doesn’t show my uneven ends or screwed up stitches (I hope), only the beauty of the pattern.

It’s kind of a beloved family thing, though, as I take it to our winter cabin weekend each year and work on it some more. They all enjoy seeing my progress. And I really am about one skein away from completing it. Good thing, too, since our grandson has had a steady girlfriend for about two years now.

But the thing I really need to explain is this picture:p1120156-3

Yep. You guessed it. I started ANOTHER crocheting project. 🙂 Our cabin adventure is coming up next month and we have a couple granddaughters who I thought would love to learn to crochet.  *crazy person speaking here* So silly me, I thought maybe I could teach them. Since they love football (different teams, though) I thought I could show them how to make beanies in their favorite team colors.

Before I can show them, I need to know if I can actually crochet one of these buggers. Hence the weird yarn in my hand. I’m happy to say that four days into it, I haven’t thrown it into the fire and grabbed the bottle of wine. (Not glass, mind you…bottle.) I’m still plucking away at it and I think it’s going pretty well.p1120164

And six days into it, I’m feeling a bit more confident. It doesn’t quite fit on my head yet, though…img_20161204_184746081

So wish me luck. If I can get this one done, I’ll be able to kick start their adventures into the world of crocheting. Maybe they’ll like it, maybe they won’t. But I’ll have shown them something that may well become an extinct practice one day soon. And I’ll have done something totally Grandmother-ish, which  makes me very happy.

I hope you all have an awesome holiday season and complete all your projects in time. Have a safe and happy entry to the New Year, too!

It’s That Time of Year Again

So, here we are again at that time of year when everyone seems to go crazy, often completely overboard just because it’s Christmas. A special time of year, yes, but Christmas is only 1 day. One day, not 3 months, which is how it now seems to be. It was back in August when I first spied Christmas cards and mince pies for sale in the supermarket; mince pies with a use-by date of 31 Oct 2016! And as we hit December running, I can’t find my usual things in the supermarket, because shelves have been reorganized for Christmas stock – row upon row of chocolates and sweets and all the good things to eat. Horrendous queues at checkouts; one would think we’re going to be snowed in for 6 months with the amount people buy “just in case unexpected visitors arrive!” The stress and worry, never mind cost, usually on credit cards that take over a year to pay off, of buying gifts for everyone including neighbours, the cat, and anyone else who happens to pass or ring the doorbell. Houses in our town decorated since October with icicle lights blinking from the guttering, and Christmas trees on sale in November, which will have shed all their needles by 25 December.mr-mrs-snowman

I may sound a bit of a grouch, a kill-joy, Scrooge, a person who hates Christmas, but I am not. Quite the contrary. I think it is a magical, wonderful time of the year. I just wish it didn’t start so early, that the commercialism wasn’t so intense because nowadays, that sparkle, that anticipation has been killed. It just isn’t the same any more.

In my childhood home, the Christmas tree didn’t go up until Christmas Eve, long after we kids were in bed so that in the morning, there it was in all its glittering glory with our presents – mostly handmade by my parents: clothes and toys, just a few each, stacked underneath. As children in the 1950s and early 1960s we were extra lucky, although we didn’t realise it at the time.

Every year my German grandmother would send over a large parcel to us in England. It would be packed with all the lovely, delicious treats of Christmas that were then unobtainable here: glittering Advent calendars, iced gingerbread hearts and Lebkucken, and Pfeffemusse, marzipan filled Stollen, and so much more. I think it was smell of that parcel I remember most, that wonderful spicy cinnamon and ginger smells that said “Christmas is coming.”

tree Christmas in the Domino house is a very quiet affair now. We do have a tree, an artificial black one with gold baubles and one two other little sentimental decorations. We stopped doing presents years ago, except for the littlest children, and how much simpler and more enjoyable it has become. We’d rather folk spent their money on themselves, not on us. We don’t have turkey to eat, we don’t like it. We might indulge in a Christmas pud and a few mince pies, but no crackers to pull on the table. No fuss, no hassle, simply a large enjoyable meal in good company in an atmosphere of calm serenity to relax in.

Don’t get me wrong. I love large family gatherings. The noise, the laughter, the company, and I do so wish I could have all of my family at mine one year, but we are many and scattered far afield. Thank goodness for the telephone and internet so we can at least speak to each other even if we can’t share a hug and a kiss. The thoughts are with family. With friends. With those we have lost and those who are new to the fold. With memories. To me, this is what Christmas is all about: Family. Not the gifts, not the food, not the decorations, as much as I love seeing them. It’s also about magic. Father Christmas and sleigh bells, and the Christmas movies to make you laugh and perhaps shed a tear.

I’ll leave you with what is one of my favourite Christmas carols. Apologies if you’ve heard it before but I’m sure many haven’t. Whatever Christmas means to you and whatever you do this Christmas, do have a good one. A safe one. A warm one, from the heart.

Silly me: I meant to include the English lyrics. These are the closest and best I’ve come across for translation.

The Bells Never Sound Sweeter

The bells never sound sweeter
Than at Christmas-time.
It’s as if angels would sing
again of peace and joy,
How they sang at blessed night!
How they sang at blessed night!
Little bells with their holy ringing,
The earth chimes along!

Oh, when the bells ring out,
As soon as the Christ child hears them,
He swings from the sky
Hastily down to earth.
He blesses the father, the mother, the child
He blesses the father, the mother, the child.
Little bells with their holy ringing,
The earth chimes along!

It chimes with a sweet sound
Far across the seas,
So that all will take delight in
The blessed Christmas-time.
All rejoice with beautiful song,
All rejoice with beautiful song,
Little bells with their holy ringing,
The earth chimes along!