Monday, December 23, 2013

Sisters Christmas

It may come as a bit of a surprise to find out my sister and I never celebrate holidays together anymore!  With our growing families it just became too difficult ---- and too "peopled."
This year my husband's side of the family will spend Christmas with us in our home and we will number about twenty folks from age 4 months through (shh!) 87 years of age.  She will have close to that number in her home.

So what do we do?  We celebrate BIG TIME on another date: just the two of us.
We give each other themed gifts --- a lot of gifts from silly to serious, small to big and with our usual ornament exchange.  It is one of our favorite holiday traditions!
Her theme to me this year was SISTERS.
Each gift was accompanied by a little card tag with a picture of the two of us somewhere or doing something together and a related gift.  For example: on one of gifts the little card opened up with a picture of us downtown wearing aqua and blue clothes (unplanned) and the same exact shoes (purchased independently).
The words inside the card were  
As sisters we....

sometimes wear the same clothes.

The gift was a sweater just like the one she had on in a different color.  Maybe you will see us out and about one day looking similar and you will wonder why we are dressing like twins.  We don't do this  on purpose, it's just a freaky sister kind-of-thing!

My theme gift to her this year was Glamour. 
She used to love that magazine in her college days and, as younger sister, I "borrowed" her magazines to find the page with black rectangles covering the faces of fashion violators.  When I grew up I would strive to be a fashion "do."  Ha!

The lightbulb moment for her theme, though, was when we attended the Swedish Covenant Hospital Gala Benefit Dinner earlier this fall at the Field Museum.  The theme there was Glamour Gala and the event certainly was glamorous.  I made a photo book for her with the pictures from this event all done up in black and white.

The gifts given were all meant to give her glamour within the confines of her own home...a plush horseshoe-shaped travel pillow, a box of paperwhite flower bulbs, a monogrammed accessories tote, etc.  When she left home, there was a blingy pair of sunglasses to disguise herself from paparazzi!

See?  Doesn't she look like the epitome of glamour already?

Merry Christmas to all you sisters out there!

(Note the hair colors of
the cover girls...I tried 
to match them to the
real-life colors
we sport.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How to Recover from a Gingerbread House Mishap

Last year Miss E and I started a new tradition of making a gingerbread train from a kit.  This year I thought we would graduate to making a gingerbread house.  The cute little kit was purchased from IKEA and we needed to supply the candies for the house and the frosting to hold it all together.
No problem.

The candies were saved from Halloween: JellyBellies, Smarties, gummy shapes and colorful gumballs.  ABC cookies were purchased recently.

The problem was how to make the Royal Icing to "glue" all the pieces together and hold the candies in place.  I found a recipe online that didn't call for egg white powder; egg whites would work just fine.  We donned our aprons and got to work.  Miss E wanted to crack the egg and whip the rest of the ingredients together.  All seemed to be going according to the recipe but the mixture never got stiff!  What was the problem???

Think.  Think.  Think.


We forgot to separate the egg white from the yolk!  Maybe it would work as frosting, but the house would never hold together with this goop mess.  Glue gun to the rescue.


Using a glue gun is not appropriate for a three year old.  She handed me the pieces of the house and the hot glue hardened in front of our eyes leaving gaps galore in this gingerbread house construction.


Go back and make the Royal Icing the right way and glop it all over the gingerbread house.

The Recipe
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/8 t. cream of tartar
1 egg white BEATEN

In bowl, sift together sugar and cream of tartar.  Beat in the pre-beaten egg white.
It will take about 5 minutes to reach the desired thickness to work on the gingerbread house as glue.


No need to use a glue gun  when you make the Icing as directed --- this stuff is great!

Ready to see the finished product?  It was quite a success!

Wishing you success in your holiday food preps!  
(Remember to follow instructions the first time.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The "Vera" Christmas Tree

December 19 would mark my Mom's 92nd's hard to believe she has been gone from this earth for over five years now.  Mom liked to accessorize back in the day with larger-than-you'd expect earrings.  It was a BIG deal for her to get her ears pierced once all the kids left home!
(You might like to know that my sister sneakily pierced my ears when I was an 8th grader and she was home on college break...and the holes are a bit off-kilter to this day.  What can you expect from a black marker dot on the earlobes with a hat pin acting as piercing device and ice cubes numbing my ears before the procedure?)

Here's Mom on her 85th birthday.  Do note her festive crown and costume jewelry gold earrings.  We also decked her out with a hot pink birthday ribbon which she has attached to her necklace.

Sadly, most of her earrings were not exactly my style and taste.  They sat in a box and waited for my inspiration on how to use them.  And, this Christmas season I figured it out.
While out shopping, I stumbled upon a green fuzzy-coated Styrofoam cone shape.
I think I can poke Mom's earrings into that.  The earrings won't be destroyed as they have the posts still attached to the earring fronts.  Maybe my tastes will change after a few more years of life and
eccentricity?  No worries!
So, I started with pinning on a necklace of Mom's to act as tree garland on the cone shape.  No harm came to the necklace, either.  A long, gold (fake) chain was looped around the tree next.  It was in Mom's collection, too. Now came the time to just poke the earrings into the tree.

See what I mean about the style and sizes of the earrings?  

 Here's how the whole tree looks:

 It won't win any awards for beauty or design, but my "Vera" Christmas Tree is certainly special to me.  Each time I see it, it makes me smile to think of my Mom and her collection of accessories.
She would really really not like to see all the fuss over her pierced ears.   
Sorry, Mom!  I always was a bit of a stinker.

Love you and miss you.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Lucia Trifecta

December 13 is the real deal day to celebrate the Swedish tradition of Santa Lucia. However, this year we celebrated not once, not twice, but three times!
#1: Friday, December 6
We were invited (thanks, Charlie and NPU!) to attend the very festive celebration at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago.  This was lovely in every sense of the word.
#2:  Saturday, December 7
This time we brought along our own little Swedish flicka, Miss E. to the pageant at North Park University in Chicago - the place where her parents and grandparents met their spouses and where her Papa currently is employed.
She was pretty excited to meet Lucia at the end of the program!
#3: Saturday, December 14
No real pageant this time, but a home experience in which the little girls got on their costumes and passed our pepparkaka cookies after the adults made korv - a Swedish potato sausage delicacy.
This time the action took place at the home of my sister and her husband.
And, this time, all THREE of our Grands were in attendance!
Our youngest little pojke who has just turned 4 months old:
Our little 1 year- old busy, busy, busy flicka:
And our nearly four year-old Lucia-in-training:
Care to take a guess as to which Lucia gathering was my personal favorite??

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

An Outing for Two and A Party for Many

To kick off the holiday season, my sister and I always go to the Walnut Room (thank you, Macy's for not redoing the dark paneling and gutting the center fountain) for lunch and the "Signature" drink with commemorative mug.
First, though, we check out the holiday windows outside on State Street.  DeJaView.
They are the same as last year!

Then we go to visit a certain Mr. Claus.
Again, we ask for World Peace and no hungry children in the world.
We get double the wishes with the Snow Princess in the Walnut Room sprinkling glitter in our hair
as we close our eyes and wish, wish, wish away before our SC lapsit.
(Actually, we do NOT sit on his lap, but rather on the armrests of his rather large chair...we are seasoned older women who know a thing or two about Santa, you know!)

It could turn out to be quite the year in 2014 with our secret wishes!

Speaking of wishes, it is always a surefire wish to get invited to the President's house for the annual
faculty staff party...and that came true once again this year.

I always get a kick out of the food themes for these parties...we have had tamales and fixin's, desserts aplenty and this year the President's spouse was inspired by a wall of chips at TJMaxx!!
Many types of chips and dips were served:  mango salsa, hummus, guacamole, corn/veggie salsa, etc.
Quite delicious.
The dessert was just the right refreshing finish with a choice of raspberry or lemon sorbet.

But my favorite thing of all?
Hearing two very talented musicians play duets on guitar and violin and
finding out that they are actually real-life sweethearts making beautiful music together.

May your holiday gatherings bring a song to your heart, too, no matter if with two or in the midst of a big party crowd!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thankful Everyday

It isn't just this time of year to make lists and count blessings.  It's a year-round endeavor. 

We have been blessed beyond measure.

H a p p y    T h a n k s g i v i n g
to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How to Use a 2000 Purple Prom Dress

There's a bit of a tradition going down these days as the Grand-daughters celebrate their birthdays.
They pose in their Momma's formal dresses!
Miss E uses the blue bridesmaid dress that Anne wore in the wedding of her cousin (and in which  Jed was a groomsman).  
Because Miss M just turned one, it was her turn to be wrangled into Anne's favorite dance dress:

The Purple Prom Dress
Anne actually went to two (different) proms in the purple dress: Brett on the top left and Chris on the right.

I might add here that this took some serious wrangling as Miss M is one wiggly, squirmy young lass.

 Front view:
Back View

Action View 1:
   (Note the twists in the dress)

Action View 2:

Action View 3:

And finally
Take-a-break from all the action:

The thought on the dress posing is this - a picture line-up of the birthday girl wearing the dress each birthday until it eventually fits!  A reason to hang on to those formal dresses from the past because they certainly aren't going to dances these days.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Golden Day

Our little sweetie, Miss M, has just celebrated her 
(The golden birthday deal is this:  when your age matches the number of the day you were born,
it's your "golden" birthday.  Example.  I had my golden birthday when I turned 27 on the 27th.)
Doesn't she look like she is holding up one finger?
Keeping the gold trend going, her Mama thought goldfish would be a great theme for the party and I couldn't agree more! 

Back in the spring, we had a reunion party for our Argentina travelers.  Paper globes hung from our ceiling and would make the perfect goldfish with a coat of paint and orange fun foam fins.

Here's the laundry basket full of stuff to bring to the party.
Party favors?  Little fish bean bags were made for all the little guests.
 The labels for the bags were self-printed and matched the invitations that Anne worked her special magic to complete.
Clear cellophane bags had a piece of blue cellophane added inside for the water effect.
When the day of the party arrived, Miss M had two very busy parents --- making the cake and getting the foods prepped.

Is this goldfish made out of orange segments, blueberries and a cheerio mouth cute or what???

Before the cake and snacks were enjoyed, there was a little "program" for the wee guests...two goldfish flannelboard stories, a book, and music about goldfish (The Wiggles Goldfish) with some bubbles being blown in the directions of the floor crawlers.

If she likes her cake as much as she likes the bubbles,she will be in for a treat!

Anne made Miss M her very own "smash" cake as well as a cake for the other guests.

Her cake.
Cake for the rest of us!
She was so much fun to watch as she started in on her first birthday rushing here.
A right hand dip into the frosting.  A slow intake of its contents, and back for some more.

Her face and left hand were barely messed up - but the cake was pulverized!

Present opening followed with one of ours being a gift to her of  real gold: 
a pair of her Great Grandma Vera's earrings.

Oh, how I wish my Mom could have met this little sweetie.
The party was almost over and it was time to put together the most active group of little ones together for a photo.  Whew...this was tricky yet highly hilarious!

Happy Birthday, Dear Little GOLDEN One!!
We love you!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Family Halloween 2013

No signs of growing out of Halloween merriment for this family just fact we have added two more merry-makers to the group since last Halloween!

#1:  The Gnome

 #2: The Candy Corn Fella

Add to the mix: Cinderella
 Now let's get this party started!
Food: chili and sandwich fixin's

Cookies: made by Cinderella and her MeMo.

Then its time for stories, fun and games!

Whoa, Baby...did we have f-u-n!
Don't I just have the best family for humoring me in my love for Halloween?
They all wore costumes involving hats or headbands --- and no complaining this year from Wes as he wore his tae kwon do outfit to match me in my mine. (It was comfy and nice to  let off steam with random kicks and grunts every now and then in the sake of keeping character.)

Happy Halloween to One and All!