Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tamales, Tamales, Tamales

I'm dreaming tonight about....tamales! Actually, I've been thinking about this for months, then we had the Vintage Winter Gathering to work on, then I had all the baking, and of course Christmas to prepare for...and now, it's almost New Years!! And in this next new year, I have some projects in my head dying to be a reality!
My first project? Tamales of course! I want to invite some friends from church, some friends not from my church, some people who maybe don't even know how to cook- to learn to make tamales together! I was telling Natalie, my friend who I just found out is also a tamale-maker, about what I want to do, and she said she'd teach us!

Tamales remind me of the time we went down to Baja to work in a Christian orphanage for a month (Foundation For His Ministry). This was a wonderful experience for our family! No vacation could have compared, and I've always wanted to go back and do this, which is actually a goal of ours. But tamales....I remember driving into Encinada with my kids and laughing b/c there were so MANY tamales shacks along the road. I mean, how do you decide where to eat?? There must be a code about this or something.

I've always wanted to make tamales, and I'm going to learn together with friends. Should be a great time. Some other goals I have for this next year like the tamale-making day are:
1. Kristin and I want to teach people to can for their families. I'm surprised how many people don't know how to do this, but you can save a LOT of money, and provide some food that you know is good for them because you know what is in it. I don't understand why there aren't more programs out there to teach women about nutrition, preserving food, cooking, gardening???? I really think personally that things are going to get a little tough for a lot of people, and I'd like to help in this small way.
I guess I just listed some of the other things I want to work on! I don't have a lot of time, but I do have a little time to share what I can share, find someone else who can share their knowledge on things and is willing to help. So, now you know why I'm dreaming of tamales! It will beone of the first things on my list of things to accomplish this year.

So Natalie, I'm going to be in touch soon, to plan a day for this!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And So This is Christmas.....

I've enjoyed this rushed, busy holiday season! I've had a very busy winter of baking, just this Sunday I baked 56 loaves of bread (in a rush to try and make sure the power didn't go out)! My hands feel like they always do this time of year, as if I were working in cement. Pretty dry on the hands, and no, I don't actually knead this bread by hand, I have my wonderful Bosch mixer.

This year, with all the business, I've made a real concerted effort to make sure to enjoy the days. There are a lot of people hurting, a lot of friends have people who have been sick or dying, people with lots less hours on their paychecks, or no paychecks at all. These are in some ways uncertain days; no one really knows what tomorrow will bring. But have we ever? I've made it a priority to try to enjoy the days we are in, to be thankful for what we have, to really experience all that it going on in our lives. There is not one thing that comes our way that God is surprised by, and He is the One who gives us all we have, and gives us strength to pass the tests that we have in our lives.

So many people celebrate Christmas in different ways, I know that. But for our family, I am always awed by the story of Christmas, the Virgin birth, the Messiah born to bring us life. It's kind of neat to me that we celebrate at the end of one year and the beginning of another, as a new beginning. I love that we celebrate his death and resurrection a few months later. We can't do without either. They hinge on each other.

The weather we are having here in Oregon is just crazy. I know across the nation we are all having some unusually cold weather. I can only remember one winter in my life here that we had so much snow. I love the snow; I think it slows life down a little. I didn't get everything done, as far as shopping goes, but who cares? I didn't get a lot of things done, barely got my Christmas cards out this year, the decorating didn't even get totally done the way I wanted. I laugh thinking that the snowman heads that Natalie told me how to make, and Ethan and I worked on, are stuck out in my car in a box. I have so much snow on the car I haven't made the effort to get them out of the car! Randy's had to drive me anywhere I've gone.

We went to finish some things up in Longview today. It was so crazy with people everywhere. I went into the entrance to Fred Meyer and as a man was coming out he said, "Good Luck!" I wondered what he meant, until I looked up and saw the lines of people at the checkstands. At first I thought, oh well, so I have to wait in line, then I thought, "What in the world is so importand that I have to be here doing this?" The day was at it's end and I knew the trip home was going to be dangerous. The Rainier hill was pretty scary coming up and Randy had taken off his chains earlier. I was glad to get back to our own home town of Clatskanie! I was very surprised to see how empty the store was. Not empty of people, but of food! No milk on the shelves, not a potatoe in the place. They haven't got their frieght in all week I guess. I had Randy call our little Quincy Story out in our little neighborhood, and see if they had milk. Sure enough, Debbie came through! Kinda fitting, since we seem to be having a very simple, old fashioned Christmas, just enjoying the holiday. Randy isn't even going to work this week, since the house he's finishing has 2 feet of snow on a very steep drive. So, this too, is adding to our "Christmas to Remember". It's all good. The snow's just an added gift, a very beautiful gift, too. I know it's treacherous, I know the kids are getting housebound away from all their friends. It will be memories for another time we're making, so let's make them good ones.

Keep safe and healthy and have a wonderful Christmas celebration. It's a Wonderful Life!

Friday, December 12, 2008

When do the days slow down?

Got your shopping all done? Not me! I have hardly started! Have someone in mind who would just love one of these handmade boats? I'm putting in a plug for our friend, Jeff, who crafts these old workboats and paints them in a way that they are really durable. Kristin and I used to sell these for Jeff when we were doing our little shop and they make wonderful toys that really do float. Men loved them, too, to put in their windows. Lots of work for a really nice gift! If you are interested, here's their Etsy shop. His sister, Jennifer, makes wonderful fairy things, too! They have no idea I'm telling you about them, but if you do get one, please tell them I sent you! They're really nice people!

I'll bet there are thousands of posts with the titles "Where do the days go?", "Time is Flying", "I'm too Busy". It seems like that's too often one of my first thoughts! Stuff just happens all the time! My kids had started to decorate for me while I was baking bread one day, I didn't really say much, but the lights they hung were driving me a little crazy. Luckily, yesterday, my daughter Chantel mentioned she didn't like it, either, so YES!, we took them down. I really liked the idea in the Martha Stewart magazine where they hung a ribbon garland and put Christmas cards on it with clothespins that were trimmed with pretty Christmas paper. Probably sounds weird if you haven't seen it, but it's pretty cute. Actually, there were a lot of neat ideas in there MS this month.

I feel like I haven't exactly recuperated from the Vintage Gathering yet! I did get to get that laptop, though. That's another story. I got it after the salespitch the guy in the store gave me, he told me that I could download some drivers off the internet and then send the new computer back to XP version. Wrong! UNLESS, I'm a guru, I guess I'll be learning vista, which, so far, I'm not really very impressed with. I've spent the last few days trying to get the PC, the older laptop, and the new one networked. Long story with a long ending, one of those tear jerkers, I'm not kidding!

I'm pretty impressed with Laurie's cookie exchange! It all looks so pretty, so restful and relaxed; my idea of a neat holiday fun thing to do. Chantel and I did go to a girls function put on by Christian Women's Club in our town last Saturday. It was in the evening, and I couldn't get my camera set (due to system failure on the part of my left or right brain, can't remember which) (I guess one half of my brain wasn't being creative, the other half wasn't remembering LOL) It was held at "The Castle", which is owned by the Senior Citizens. It was all decked out for Christmas, they had some really neat antiques, I love the architecture of the building, too. That was another restful thing to do with my daughter and our friends.

Last Friday I found a bazaar I will never want to do again! It was a three hour sale, at 5-8, at the title company building in Longview. They basically gave over all the desks to use to put our wares on, no way could you put together much of a display. It wouldn't have been worth the trouble anyway, b/c across the room was a beer and wine tasting table, and everyone was turning in their tickets for their free glass of wine the title company sent them. It was for a good cause, I think it was ACS, but..... I'm not kidding, NO ONE was walking around looking at anything. They were all standing in clusters talking business, drinking, etc. It got so loud, which was actually good, b/c Kristin and I were talking and laughing about the whole thing in complete freedom of speech! Finally, I called my gorgeous son and told him, hey, you owe me a favor! You come over here and sit with Krisitn and I, and we'll be able to get all the women to come over and buy our stuff! He lives over there, so it wasn't like I was expecting too much, right? The more I thought about, the more I laughed, telling Kristin her I could make bets if we could get more attention. Well, maybe it was a corrupt thought....he wouldn't do it anyway, not even for his mama!

Tonite we (all five of my kids, Randy and I, the four grandkids, and two friends of the family), went to "Journey to Bethlehem" in Longview. There were so many people, the place was packed. If you've never been to it, and you live anywhere near, it is playing through Thursday at the 7th Day Adventist Church. They have acres of land where they set up a huge scene depicting the flight to Bethlehem, complete with tents, wonderful costumes, city-life with people selling their wares, Roman soldiers, real animals, campfires, etc. They make it really serious, my grandsons were stepping back away from soldiers, they were pretty believeable for them. And of course, there was an angel on a hillside telling the Good News and Mary and Joseph and the Babe. It's kind of a family tradition to go each year, remembering why we are celebrating in the first place.

Why City Folk Shouldn't Move to the Country

I had to share this, from an email a friend sent me. I have no idea who to give credit to for it, but it was just so funny. Don't you agree?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh shoot, I missed a great idea again!

In the sale we just had there was one of these dust pans, bright red even! I'm now kicking myself b/c I could have done this with that dust pan! Isn't it just the cutest idea? Junk Camp has lots of good ideas, huh?
One great thing, though. I sold the stove!!! Yippee! It's been hanging over my head for a year now, sitting in storage at my dad's, needing to be gone. The lady who bought it just loved it, and it's nice that it will have a good, loving home to go to. I would have kept it, except that I already have a wood cook stove. Now if I can sell the mangle I'll be really doing great! Those were two heavy things that are just really heavy to try to haul to shows.
I'm getting really holidayish feeling! I want to get my house all finished (in some cases redone, where the kids did a few things) and be able to rest and enjoy the season. I only have to real busy baking days this month to bake for, so the hardest part is behind me. I'm anxious to make some Bratzeli cookies; they're a Swiss cookie my Swiss grandmother used to make. They're along the lines of a hard cracker-type cookie, taste a little like a waffle cone. I have memories of Grandma making hers on a cast iron mold like a wafle maker, but real thin and they had a neat design in them. I would have loved to have had that bratzeli press, but no one in the family admits to having it, sadly. I just hope someone who has it appreciates it like I would have! But, we did get an electric type iron that works (probably easier) and so we can still have Grandma's traditional cookie.
Tomorrow I need to get up early and make a bread pudding with left over cardamom bread. I'm taking it to a ladies luncheon. I think I'll take some caramel sauce to drizzle over the top. Doesn't that sound good??