ONE: Christmas baking. In the US, fruitcake is the butt of many holiday jokes. But I can tell you that Spousal Unit's fruitcake (we call it Christmas cake) is no joke. Currants, sultanas, raisins, glace cherries, dried apricots, candied peel, almonds, treacle, lemon rind and orange rind join the normal flour, margarine, eggs and spices in a Mary Berry recipe that has tantalized dozens of our friends and family who had sworn off fruitcake forever! Maybe it's the brandy that is brushed onto the cake every week from Thanksgiving to Christmas that 'takes the cake'.
Monty the Moose is in charge of
quality control - small cake
is for my Mom
The cake is first served on Christmas morning - accompanied by a healthy slice of cheddar cheese. And coffee, of course! Only three days until we get to dive into this beauty!
With our retirement this year, time is a ready resource. This December, some of that time was plowed into cookie-making for neighbors - the launch of a new tradition! #1 Daughter pitched in with her culinary talents - clearly inherited from Spousal Unit. What a joy it has been to deliver these bright packages!
TWO: Christmas cards. Traditionally, Spousal Unit pens the Christmas missive, summarizing our year, and a personalized card jumps in the envelope as well. This year, our log-home-in-construction was a no-brainer for the card.
Josie as lap cat is a new
Miss Josie insisted on helping Spousal Unit with his cards.
THREE: Christmas shopping. For the last decade, Spousal Unit and I dedicated a day in early December for shopping. (Of course, I was working then and this meant a vacation day for me!) Santa's elves made the rounds of the stores and then capped off the day with a late lunch, complete with an adult beverage or two. Call it a Christmas date!
Clockwise from top right: Early morning sky; festive
store decorations; a snack at Starbucks
Shopping has changed dramatically since the kids were small - the advent of on-line sources combined with their interest in fewer but bigger-ticket items diminishes the need to invest a whole day playing elves. But it's still exciting to come across those one-of-a-kind surprise presents. And nothing gets in the way of our Christmas date!
Pizza and peanuts at Moose's, a Kalispell institution.
Drop those shells on the floor with the sawdust,
carve your name in the table,
and you'll fit right in
|Whitefish Mountain Resort as viewed from our bedroom window
FOUR: Winter sports. A family that plays together stays together! We have been blessed with many winter skiing vacations, and now that we reside in Montana, we have several ski resorts within driving distance.
Whitefish Mountain Resort is known for "inversion" days. Inversions occur when the cooler air gets trapped in the valley, bringing fog or even rain to the valley, while up above on the mountain, things are sunny and clear.
There is a lot of humidity in the air here, in spite of our cold temperatures. That is due to the influence of Flathead Lake. So, on days where the air is super cold, the humidity causes vapor to freeze immediately onto whatever it comes in contact with (also known as rime). Most of the time that is our trees, our lifts, and sometimes...our goggles.
|#1 Son bundled up!
So, if you think this is really deep snow on our trees ... it is actually many layers of rime - locally, we call these trees snow ghosts.
FIVE: Christmas decorating. Always a family occasion for us, including the furbabies!
Come on in!
(The deer have since nibbled the evergreens on the left
post - at least as high as they can reach ...)
This year involved some compromise - #1 Daughter flew home on December 3 but #1 Son would not follow until 2 weeks later - we just couldn't wait that long for ALL the decorations. So, with #1 Son's concurrence, we decorated everything except the tree prior to his arrival.
When the kids were toddling around, I created cross-stitch stockings for them. The masterpieces for the parents came much later! Can you guess which is which?
|Upper left - mine; upper right - #1 Son; Lower right: #1 Daughter; Lower left: Spousal Unit
And now for the tree! In Montana, pine trees can be harvested from public lands for a whopping $5. You just have to go out and find it!
|Over the river ...
|OK - maybe it's a creek ....
|Onto Scarlet (my car) for the trip home
|#1 S adds the angel for the finishing touch!
Willy Nilly Friday