Saturday, November 26, 2016

The story of my Christmas Tree and how I make it happen!!

I have been collecting Christmas ornaments for 42 years. I was inspired by a tree I saw with all different types of ornaments and finished with plastic icicles. I loved it. This was in a time when everyone's trees were decorated by colour. For example, you would have blue lights, with blue and silver shiny balls and finally some tinsel. So this unique tree fascinated me. I immediately started looking for different ornaments. I was about 18.

There weren't any Christmas stores near me, so I found some wonderful Hallmark ornaments. We have the first rocking horse in their long running series.

Once there were Christmas stores, it all became much easier. I began collecting in earnest, and then discovered Glass Icicles. I think I have about 300 of them. I buy at least one ornament per year. I have gotten choosier as the years passed and the tree became fuller. All the ornaments are wrapped in tissue and stored in Rubbermaids, so it takes me two days to decorate the tree.

The recipe for this wonderful tree:

1. Start by putting on all of the hanging ornaments. I begin with the German Glass, new and Antique. They are exquisite and I place them in special places. In the first phase I place the really special decorations as well. Like the little pecan mouse sleeping in a walnut that my son Noel made in Grade 2. I love it with all my heart and place it front and centre every year.

2. I then place the old hallmark ornaments.

3. Next, the Snowbaby, Wedgwood, and other quality heavy ornaments.

4. Then come the heavier ornaments. The mercury glass and the sturdier ornaments. {They are packed in the Rubbermaids by these categories}

5. Then I put on the filler ornaments. They are the small ornaments that can fill those tiny spaces where nothing else will fit.

6. Next is the little ice ball garland. I had several and cut them into two foot lengths and place them on the branches. They look like ice on the branches.

7. I have some branches of red berrys that I cut into smaller pieces as well. They were large and many branches per stem and I cut them into three branch pieces. They get placed here and there in the tree.

8. The last step is the most satisfying. Glass icicles. The more you have, the better. This is the part that makes the tree come alive. My tree has 800 lights on it, so this makes the tree sparkle. Literally. I would buy new icicles every year on sale after Christmas. I have about 300. Many have broken over the years, as kids and cats knocked them off, so maybe it is about time I grabbed another 20 or so to make up the missing.

I hope this helps you start your own traditional family tree. It will be wonderful for your own family to stand around the tree and reminisce over the stories that surround the ornaments. That, my friends, is the absolute best part. Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 14, 2016

It's Butternut Squash Soup day!!!

It is our annual ritual making enough Butternut Squash Soup to last the whole winter. This year is especially special!!! These are our home grown Butternuts, the apples came from our tree and the herbs were from my garden. Next year I am going to make my own vegetable stock. My mother has a wonderful method. She keeps a bag in her freezer and all year tosses in clean peelings and scraps. So rather than using fresh vegetables to make stock, she uses what would normally not get used. There are a few things that you don't use, like beets for obvious reasons. I will post the method at some point.
When I went to pick some rosemary, look what I saw. Lots of lovely purple blossoms and it was buzzing with honeybees. HONEYBEES!!! I had to run for the camera to show you. Anything you can get flowering into the late fall and winter, helps our little foragers.
Here is the soup pot full of beautiful, yummy and healthy ingredients. There is something deeply satisfying about making soup. We love to have it for supper on winter nights. Allan likes his with Toast that he dunks in it. I prefer...just the soup.

Butternut Squash Soup ~ I doubled it this year

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, minced
3 lb butternut squash {peeled and diced}
1 sweet potato {peeled and diced}
2 Apples {peeled, cored and diced}
6 cups vegetable stock
1Tbsp rosemary, or 1 tsp dried
1 Tbsp thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
A pinch of cayenne {optional}

Heat oil in a large pot. Sauté onions and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add squash, sweet potato and apples. Stir to combine. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until squash is very soft. Purée soup. I use a stick blender, but you must be very careful if soup is hot. I still manage to splash molten soup on myself every time. I'm going to let it cool first this time.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The burgundy orchids that are in the store every year....

The burgundy Cymbidium Orchid that blooms every year in December is budding!! Doesn't it look wonderful. We are going to have four huge spikes of large flowers. I put them into arrangements I make for the store for Christmas every year. Everything comes from my yard. The cedar, the green Holly, the variegated Holly and of course the orchids.