Category Archives: Christmas

Dilemma

Jillian here.. I was in a dilemma about what to post this month. While I don’t want to ignore what’s happening here in the USA, I don’t want to make this post a political one. Suffice it to say, I am sad and disappointed about the way things have been going here. I am also sad about how my UK friends have gone back into lockdown. It’s just a weird time to be alive. Praying for us all world-wide.

I thought I’d share a couple of photos from Christmas. I don’t like pics of myself so I’m posing my sister, my mom, my dad, and my son. All with the grandson. I am also posting pics of my December 28th big day. 🙂 Some of the photos are taken at my parents’ house on Christmas and some at my house where we celebrated my big one! The one with Benjamin and his dad (my son) was taken at the park.

Hope everyone has a blessed January. Stay warm. It’s supposed to be in the 20s here tonight- that’s minus 4 for you in Celsius land. 🙂 BRRR!

The strange ‘in-between’

Firstly, I hope everyone managed to have a good Christmas, despite the less than ideal circumstances we all find ourselves in. We had a lovely time, but it was hard not meeting up with family and friends. All I can say is, thank heaven for Zoom!

This year, the ‘in-between’ week from Christmas to New Year is a strange one. The normal things that happen during this period aren’t taking place. Here in the UK we are basically in lockdown. So there has been no trips to the post-Christmas sales; no outings to the cinema; no festive evenings with friends… There’s a kind of stillness in the air, a flatness in the the lead up to New Year. It’s as if the world is holding its breath in the hope that better things are coming.

This week always finds me in a reflective mood (I suppose it’s the same for most of us). I think about the year that’s rapidly coming to an end and take time to look back on the good things… what went well, what goals I managed to achieve, etc. Also, the things that didn’t go so well, the goals I didn’t achieve, and the things that didn’t get done. I tend not to dwell too much on the later, except to resolve to do better in the future.

While I’m extremely grateful that my loved ones have come through the year and have remained virus-free, there has been one major family health challenge that came out of the blue and has left me reflecting on the fragility of life. It has certainly put things back into perspective, making me realise that my distinct lack of writing focus in 2020 (caused by major procrastination issues – no excuse) is really, in the bigger scheme of things, not that important. I failed big-time in meeting the goals I set, but there’s always next year.

But regardless of meeting goals or not, it’s always a good idea to set them. It is our goals that can help keep us rooted when life is especially challenging. They push us forward into the great unknown where all kinds of possibilities exist. I’m reminded of the wonderful Desiderata with its instruction to “keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”

As the New Year approaches, I wish you everything that you wish for yourself. Stay safe, my friends. We’re getting there!

Gallery

Cranberry Chutney Recipe

Our granddaughter made this dish for Thanksgiving. Not only was it a new recipe she embellished it. The original called for brown sugar but after a taste test we all knew it didn’t need it. I can see Cranberry Chutney … Continue reading

‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly

And suddenly Christmas is almost upon us once more. Despite the difficulties of the past year, it has crept up seemingly faster than ever. I should have been more prepared, after all the shops were playing seasonal music since November, cards and decorations and seasonal food on sale back in September and the Christmas movies on TV since the summer! Not that I have much to prepare. As it has been for the past 20 years, ours will be a quiet time, just Dave and me and my mother, who finally decided yesterday she did indeed want to come to us again. No presents, no fuss, no crackers, just enjoyable food and a little drink or two and even more enjoyable company with the Christmas tree twinkling in the corner, and hopefully a good movie or two to watch on TV.

Talking of TV, the Christmas advertisements haven’t been up to their usual standard this year, in our opinion, although there is one that has moved me to tears. No silly song, indeed, no dialogue whatsoever but the sentiment is so strong it brings a lump to my throat every time I watch it.

https://youtu.be/yg4Mq5EAEzw

With my mother being German, we were bought up with many of the German Christmas traditions, from the Christmas tree never being put up until Christmas Eve, when us children were in bed so it became an extra special magical Christmas morning, to the Advent Calendars, sent from Germany by our grandmother (Oma), years before they became available or popular in the UK. They were simple affairs, a little religious scene behind every dated window or door, and lots of glitter. No chocolates or treats or perfume or even bottles of gin that are so popular nowadays – the ones for adults, that is. These came each year in a large parcel sent from Germany at the end of November, along with a homemade Stollen, Lebkucken, iced gingerbread hearts, packets of Dr Oekter vanilla sugar (because Mum couldn’t get any in the UK), special coffee beans, our presents from Oma, along with other items for Mum and Dad. I will never forget the aroma that filled the house those days when the parcel arrived and opened. Now Stollen and Lebkucken and other German treats are readily available here, much to my family’s delight although nothing yet beats Oma’s baking.

Lovely memories of childhood Christmases fill me each year, and for many a year I have been on a quest to find a recipe my mother would make just after the festivities were over. Years ago you couldn’t buy beer in the supermarkets like you can now. If you wanted to drink beer at home, especially for parties, you bought glass flagons of it from the off-licence section in the pub. When you needed more supplies, someone had to take the empty bottles to the off-licence to be refilled. Of course, the beer went flat very quickly if not drunk and, rather than waste it, my mother would use some of it in beef stews and casseroles and as a special treat, make beer soup! I can taste it now, in my mind. But I have never been able to find the recipe for it. Mother cannot remember the recipe now, nor can she find her German cookery book in which it was written. All I can remember is she used to put custard powder in it.

I have spent many years trawling recipe books and the internet to no avail. Yes, there are recipes out there, but they all include cheese and made with lager, all claiming to be the original German beer soup, but cheese nor lager was ever used in ours or in that Oma made. Try as I might to recreate it adjusting from those recipes, I failed every time. However, a few days ago I came across a site that had many old German recipes from a cookery book dated 1897 and low and behold, there was one for beer soup that sounds very much like the one I know.

Beer Soup
1 cup dark beer
1 cup water
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Pinch salt
1 egg yolk
1 heaping tablespoon flour
Place egg and flour in a heat safe bowl; set aside. Heat beer, water, sugar, and salt until just before boiling. Pour beer slowly over egg and flour, constantly whisking.  Return to pan. Serve hot.

I haven’t tried making it yet, but I intend to.

Of course, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a carol or two, so here is one of my favourites “Oh Holy Night” sung by four gorgeous hunks to sign off with. But before I go, I want to thank you all for your friendship and support during this difficult year and wish each and every one of you a Happy, Safe, Merry and Enjoyable Christmas, no matter how you are celebrating yours. See you in the New Year.

https://youtu.be/a5j_XuATgRU

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Christmas – In Song

Jillian here. I promise I had my idea for this post before I saw Lavada’s Elvis song. 🙂 I thought I’d share some links to some of my favorite Christmas songs.

My all time favorite is Do you Hear What I Hear by Bing Crosby

Michael Crawford (the original Phantom of the Opera) has a fab Christmas album. My two favs on there are Mary Did You Know and Strange Way to Save the World. The second one always makes me tear up.

Harry Belafonte’s Mary’s Boy Child is another one I love.

A bouncier song is Vince Vance and the Valiants All I Want for Christmas is You – It is def not the Mariah version and I like it much better.

I adore the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Their song, Dream Child is one I listen to over and over. I could only find a live version of it, so I am linking to the words as they are so beautiful.

Seth McFarlane can be vulgar in his comedy, but he does have a wonderful Christmas album. His gift for voices shines in the album songs.

What about you? What are some of your Favorites? And let me know if I screwed up any of the links! Happy December!

Decorating for the Holidays

Every year at this time, getting the Christmas boxes out is like a rite of passage. I smile as I open the boxes and view the things I haven’t looked at since the prior year. I smile as I pull each old friend out. Some of them are new, some have been with me for years. All are things I treasure. And as I put them around the house, I think about how I picked this one up at a bazaar with my sisters-in-law.

How Kris Kringle, a gift from my sister, smiles back at me from his corner by the bookcase.

How my husband, who doesn’t like decorating but puts up lights on the house for me, lets me put a few small nick-nacks and color in his corner of the family room.

The nativity set my daughters always loved.

The crafted reindeer a friend gave to my Mom while in a rehab facility to cheer her up.

How old traditions and new meld each year, turning our house into a beloved family history lesson. Decorating for the holidays makes me nostalgic and happy and is more important this year than any before. A lot of people put up their trees weeks ago and I applaud them for doing that. Because now is the time to slough off the stress and just enjoy. From a distance, but thankfully, there are electronic ways to be together. Even 50 years ago, the isolation would have been so much worse.

I hope that, whatever holiday you celebrate, that you have treasures to unearth and smile at for a while this year.

Happy Holidays, everyone! And remember, 2020 is almost…nope. Not going to say it until it’s a done deal. 🙂 Instead, I’ll leave you with a picture of hubby and me on Thanksgiving. It might have been just us, but we dressed up (I even put on makeup!) and got the good china out for dinner.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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It’s That Time of Year Again.

Another year, another family cabin. This one, our 17th, was just as much fun as any of them, even if we were shy 4 of our family members. We still had 17. Yikes. When did my family get so big? From an aging perspective, it’s wonderful to see everyone thriving and the family growth. Sometimes, it’s a little daunting, too. We started all that? 🙂

One of the fun things I do to prepare for our 3 night adventure in the snow is to add pictures to the digital frame. I raid everyone’s FB pages and my own pictures and there are now over 1500 pics on the frame. Baby pics to current. We always set it on the kitchen counter at the cabin and it becomes the focal point of the weekend. People stand around chatting and oohing and oh-no’ing as their lives are encapsulated within the frame. We love it.

Anyhow, thought you’d like to see a few pics…

Wildlife… (deer and wild turkeys)

We do a jigsaw puzzle, bake cookies, play games…

The kids LOVE the half-court gym where we stay…

And the snow…

We have Christmas (finally)…

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And we paint wood and rocks. This, by the way, has become one of the highlights of our weekend. (And I hope to do a March blog inspired by this.)

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And through all this, we talk. Catch up. Reconfirm how strong this family is and how much we love each other. It’s…awe-inspiring to be part of it all. I am so lucky to have the family we have.

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I hope each and every one of you have special memories to bring a smile to your face.

And an early Happy Valentine’s Day!

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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And Breathe….

Yes, 2020 is here. A Happy New Year to you all. A new year, new beginnings. I was certainly happy to see the back of 2019, as were so many people I have spoken with, all of whom equally had a bad year for one reason or another. We had my mother stay with us for Christmas week despite my not being able to stand up for long and none of us in the mood to celebrate for various reasons but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. Dave, bless him, did all the shopping, prepared all the veg, cooked Christmas lunch (with me supervising), and cleared away everything, looking after us both brilliantly. I say both, as Mum also had a bad leg, caused by being hit on the shin by a recalcitrant supermarket trolley back in October, causing a cut on her leg that went septic, the dressing having to be changed every two days. Thankfully, it had now healed.

Still, that is all history now and I am starting the year back on my feet, no crutches, only the occasional painkiller needed, and able to walk properly and drive again. Things are not quite recovered but I’m certainly well on the way, walking more each day as the weather permits as there is so much to look forward to this year. Starting with next month, when Dave and I are off on holiday again, this time to mainland Spain. And boy, am I looking forward to it as last year’s was tinged with sadness and illness.

Once we are back from our trip, we must do some work revamping our kitchen. The ceiling needs replacing, a new floor laid and we would like a new cooker. Not that there’s anything wrong with the freestanding one we’ve got but we want an eye-level oven because bending down as I get older is slowly becoming a problem. To fit one in requires a lot of rejigging of the current units which we don’t want to replace as there is nothing wrong with them.

I’m busy working on my new novel which I intend to see published this year. It’s already written but I have decided to introduce another main character into the story, so a fair amount of rewriting is necessary. I’m also programmed in to run a second art course at my painting group in March, and trying to decide what to demonstrate etc. I missed not being able to paint whilst I was laid up but finally managed to complete a painting I began back in the summer, something large and colourful to brighten up a bare wall, so I came up with “Tulips”. It is currently hanging in our lounge until such time as it sells… if it sells.

The best part of this year so far for me is, in fact, the garden. The weather here is currently very mild, though windy, but already the snowdrops are out and the crocus in the lawn up with many in bud, enough to see their colour. The daffodil bulbs are growing tall and dotted around the garden the hellebores are about to burst into flower. Seeing everything emerging is a sure sign the world has tilted and turned a corner, like me, and Spring is well on its way.

That’s all from me for the moment, folks. Next month, on my due date for posting, I will be jetting my way back from holiday thus my post may be a day or too late, so apologies in advance.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

Gallery

Settling Back Into Normal…

This gallery contains 3 photos.

It was a much more involved season of celebrations for us this year. Our daughter was in town over Thanksgiving and we had two 12-13 people dinners in one week at our house. Then Christmas came, with my sister in … Continue reading

Fave Festive Ad

For the last few years, I’ve always posted my favorite festive TV advert as my December blog post. The accolade usually goes to John Lewis, a large department store here in the UK and known for its great Christmas ads, but this year I was underwhelmed. IMO there wasn’t much to choose from amongst the other superstore offerings.

There was one ad that stood out for me, and although it isn’t from the big guns it is very close to my heart. We puppy-walked and fostered for Guide Dogs for the Blind for several years and continue to support them. They do really amazing work, and the training they do with the dogs is truly inspirational.

Untitled designVivvy, our own gorgeous girl came to us as a withdrawn puppy. We had fostered her and had fallen totally in love with her. During her assessment, they found she was too jumpy to be a guide dog, although in our opinion she is certainly smart enough! It didn’t take much for us to put our hands up and adopt her.

 

So in the spirit of tradition, here’s my 2019 favorite TV Christmas advert:

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous 2020!