Happy New Year-2017

“What will this year bring? I wonder…”

New Year’s Day in our house marked the end of another Christmas season. Much of the day was spent packing away the decorations, lights, garlands, linens and dinnerware. totes-1As these tasks were dealt with, we took time to reflect on the highlights and lowlights of the past year. Using  a large white cardboard and markers, we drew up  a 2016 balloon chart with various categories as a challenge to our memories.  This chart was placed on the dining room table and added to as memories came flooding back.  It’s a fun activity that brought with it moments of sadness as we recalled those who are no longer with us; lots of joy as we recalled funny things, friend and family events, and travels. The categories of weather and current events had an extraordinarily large number of memories!

Now that Christmas has been packed away, both of us are preparing to indulge in “binge reading”.

 

book_stack-1                              Hubby’s stack of books to read is 2 feet (60cm) tall!

I have been saving Patrick Taylor’s latest book “An Irish Country Love Story” just for this time when I can savour every word. If you are not familiar with the Irish Country Novel Series, I highly recommend it for a joyous escape. It is also a good teaser for my upcoming trip to Ireland!

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The Halls are Decked …a little

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It is fun to decorate the house for Christmas. Some years every nook and cranny is filled with trees, garlands, candles, ornaments, wreaths, ribbons,  plants and other items that reflect the “spirit of the season”. 2015 was one of those years. This year I restrained myself from putting out every Christmas item we have. To me, the house still looks festive.

 

A silver bowl filled with glittery grapevine balls, topped with a plaid ribbon, sits on the coffee table. The tree provides all the light that’s needed to brighten the early evening dark of winter.

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The fireplace mantle is decked out with our collection of reindeer, most of which have been made and given to us by dear friends. Family photos, stockings, and garland complete the mantle display.

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A collection of tiny birdhouses sit on a shelf above the sideboard in the dining room.

The bathroom gets a festive touch with an LED candle placed on the toilet tank and hand towels that reflect the season.

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To me, the halls are decked enough!

But I’m not as sure that my furry child agrees!

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Our Favourite Ginger Snaps

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There are many recipes  for ginger spiced cookies. A few years ago I found this particular one in the newspaper and have baked it every Christmas season since. They have been so popular this year that I have made three batches!

Ginger Snaps

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups white sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup fancy molasses

2 teaspoons white vinegar

3  3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1  1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Sprinkles

Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the molasses, eggs and vinegar.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Then mix into the butter mixture, making three additions. The dough will be soft and sticky.

Roll dough into 3/4 diameter balls between the palms of your hands, dipping into a saucer of sprinkles, before placing on a parchment lined baking sheet. Use your hand to flatten the balls slightly. (Tip: Have a pan of cold water, and a hand towel ready so that you can clean your hands when they get too sticky.) 

Bake in a preheated 325 degree F oven about 12 minutes. Cool the ginger snaps for 10 minutes on the baking sheets, before transferring to wire racks. (Tip: Bake two sheets at a time, trading their position halfway through the baking time.) 

These cookies freeze well. This recipe makes about 90 cookies, great for gifts!

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Beautiful, but…

They can be the “bane of my existence”, slight exaggeration, there. Their beauty brightens the dull December days leading up to the 25th, if I can keep them alive that long!  I am referring to the classic flower of Christmas: the poinsettia.

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Every year, as far back as I remember, we have ordered three or four poinsettias from a local service club to support their fundraising efforts. The plants are delivered a few weeks later, wrapped in clear plastic sleeves, often on the coldest day of the season. Every year we admire their beauty and quality and colour. Usually, I place them on the floor in front of the Christmas tree to disguise the fact that the tree has no skirt. They really look lovely. Daily, I mist them and check if they need to be watered.

Today, I saw leaves were shrivelling and drying up and dropping; their beauty quickly fading! I really just want them to make it through the season, to December 31st! Did they get frost bitten? Poinsettias definitely don’t like the cold.

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They can also be annoying. There is always one that straggles through the winter, continually needing to be watered and misted, long after the others have been relegated to the compost bin!