Candy Cane Day

We’ve gotten through another Christmas, but still have New Years and Epiphany to go.
 One of the nice things about the SCA is that we celebrate 12th Night- reminding us that that’s the way they used to do it. (Romans big gift giving holiday was New Years.) I expect that not only did it feel more medieval to the early medievalists, but it prevented having any sort of conflict with getting together with family and friends. It also gives us an extra nearly two weeks to finish hand-made gifts as well as allowing us to shop for bought gifts at post-Christmas sales. Wins all around!
The weather is back to chill, although we have no snow except where it was piled up back three weeks ago. We are still keeping the cats in at night. But Gretel spent a whole day downstairs. (Not that Zoloft didn’t try to get at her, but we gave her catnip and tried to keep them separate.) She mostly huddled in a corner. I guess she wasn’t young enough when we got her to get the tolerance older cats extend to kittens. Oh well.
Sadly, Willow is still sick. It sounds like bronchitis, but she’s not sure a doctor can do anything, it could be viral, so she’s accepting that the cough may be here for the long haul. She did help Avi move last week, and will be going over to Keene a couple times a week to help the kids transition.  We are hoping that they are improved enough that Avi can find someone who will help with them.
The Open House format has been working beautifully. We are hoping we may still get a few more visitors- as their schedules allow. Saturday was our most “crowded” day: Joanie and Raye and their mothers, Barbara and Lee and Lee’s new husband Jerry came up (although Lee and Jerry went off for most of the day to visit their relatives), and Maria came in the evening. Raye gave me the cutest set of glasses with Tomte or Nisse on them! She also brought an amazing cake (I can’t find a picture of it, but it was gorgeous!) One of the layers was filled with lemon curd and she had made lemon curd roses on top! It was so rich you couldn’t eat a big piece at a time, but we have been eating it for breakfast ever since. And it was on a cool cake plate that is intended to be circulated under a series of food people share. If I’d seen plates like that, I’d have so gotten them! Brilliant!. She also brought her famous deviled eggs!
Other than boatloads of cookies, we had a “nugget party” with those fresh chicken nuggets Market Basket is still selling (with fries). This, at least, got some protein into us.
Thes are our severely raided cookie trays. I haven’t yet tried to make a proper display of “one of each” and will have to pretty soon if it’s going to happen!  I can see one lonely fattigman each of the cinnamon and powdered sugar, with the last lebkuchen,in the front bottom, and behind them are the coconut macaroons, I think the hidden bottom corner has the Ganesha’s treats (sesame and saffron), and there seem to be two linzers, no one’s gotten to. Up top is the mandlemilanderli, gingerbread men (mostly hidden by the Christmas candle, and ginger cookies, in front is the last peppermint spiral (all the candycanes seem to be gone, sharing space with the needhams, that may be the last mint cream cheese tree with white chocolate drizzle.
The domed cake has a chocolate cupcake, and mince pies (we have learned this year that you don’t put mint brownies under the same dome as less flavored cookies, or they will become tinged with chocolate and mint flavoring. Those are Greenman Nut Balls (pistachio) in the jar. (Krumkake are under their own cover- disappearing fast.) I’ll admit that I made the Needham’s because Liz said she’d done it, and I felt quite disconnected from family this year. It’s not that I miss singing Rudolf the blank blank, but I feel a bit at loose ends. Traditions are our anchors to the past, and the older I get the more I feel I’m missing. I also remember when I had a bunch of kids (as Kate does now) it’s just another stress to drag them out, another activity to schedule when you’re already busy. But I haven’t seen Liz since she started chemo and have only been following her posts “three down, one to go!” And haven’t seen Kitty and Trish since Kate’s wedding. Somehow doing what Liz was doing made sense at the time.
   Willow split her time between helping Avi and resting up. Kat finished- mostly- her commission. When it was done she sent the final picture and the customer wanted MORE lace, more than having it for Christmas, so she’ll be doing that now. She did finish this year’s Billy and Zoe Story, and the other thing she did this week was an art exchange on some forum doing that as Secret Santa gifts. She did an image of the sixth doctor and Perry in a Wild West AU (alternate universe). The link takes you to a progression of the various steps, which I think is really neat. Willow gave Kalen the stuffed Titanic she made him, and he is, as expected, hugging it a lot.
 So we have been really doing not much at all, which isn’t a bad thing. Steve came up on Sunday, and we had a quiet meal, but he didn’t come to Christmas dinner as he’d been invited to a co-workers. I did find him another deck of tarot cards that he doesn’t have. He has over 600 now, and I think one room in his house is dedicated to tarot cards alone.
We had Swiss (pounded) steak and mashed potatoes. (Another tradition I did to connect with the past- remembering when we had Swiss steak for Christmas Eve gatherings because Bob liked it.) It is SO much easier to make it for 6 than for 30! But I like it, and having been reminded that it’s not as hard as I remembered. (I do remember fondly one year utilizing Ælfwine’s squires to pound the 2” cubes of beef into 1/4” thick pieces. That was fun to watch.) And we maintained tradition by breaking the cutting board we were pounding on, however having remembered that in time, we’d selected one I didn’t mind losing.
For Christmas We had roast beef and popovers. I was very pleased to note that the popovers work beautifully when the oven is up to heat. A few weeks ago I got a new “hang in the oven” thermometer, which we use to check the oven heat. If we want it at 350º, we have to set it to 408º, if we want it at 400º, it needs to be nearly 500º. It was trying to cook at too low a temperature that has been messing up my popovers for the past year. (I keep thinking about how good cooks must have been to be able to get the right temperature in a wood stove!
In the morning we had our traditional breakfast of eggs, bacon, and fattigman, followed by exchanging gifts, followed by going to our separate computers to relax. I had participated in the Facebook boycott called by the NAACP, (which gave me more time, I’ll have to admit), but I did enjoy seeing what others had been up to while I wasn’t looking. 
I was very pleased, this year we didn’t get too much. I got a hand made artisan cutting board at Pennsic made of 7 woods. It came with instructions for oiling it (once a week for a month, then once a month…) Willow cleverly suggested putting the instructions in the calendar as a reminder. I was trying to figure out where to put it. She also found me a tasseomancy teacup, and some very pretty yarn (and other knitting supplies). As usual, John got videos, which he is watching his way through. They include new ones like Wonder Woman and the Black Panther, but also old movies like Total Recall, and B movies like Theadore Rex.  We also got him a few art supplies, since man does not live on brain candy alone.  Willow got a new heavy duty sewing machine, some (VERY mini) posable artists mannequins,  and a cedar mirror box, and some oracle cards.  Kat got an electronic drawing tablet, silver brooches, and earphones with cat ears, and the 13th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.
I think I sent you a picture of the sealing wax melter shaped like a deer I got for St. Nicholas’ Day. I used it to wrap presents this year. I have come to the conclusion that string goes with sealing wax. First you tie the paper on with the string, then you add ONE wax seal to make sure that it doesn’t come apart. I think it looks cool.
And I guess that’s about it. We haven’t done much- I’ve made cookies and read. Willow’s coughed. Kat’s drawn and written, and John’s watched every Christmas movie ever made (not true, but he’s done his best). Zoloft spends almost all her time sitting outside Kat’s door glaring at it, and occasionally manages to slip in and savage Gretel who REALLY doesn’t want to come out. (Big surprise!) Pyewacket has gotten much bigger since Ambian disappeared- perhaps Ambian was eating all his food. Oh, that reminds me- the Psychiatrist got DNA profiles of the girls that gives them an idea of what medications are liable to be problematic for them. We were not surprised that Willow has problems with most- we know that she has atypical drug reactions of many sorts. (I probably would too if I ever got one.) This is a cool thing- especially if it works, which I expect it does, if imperfectly. Time marches on, and we keep making new discoveries.
This week I regret to report that I watched One True Thing with Steve. It had wonderful performances by Meryl Streep and Kevin Costner, but it was about a husband and daughter watching a woman die of cancer. It was painfully accurate, and was the growing awareness that while her father cheated on her mother, but they loved each other anyway enough of a discovery for the daughter to justify the whole depressing piece? I don’t know. I didn’t care for it. I enjoyed Mean Girls more (although I’m not sure why I asked for it. Willow described it as The Craft, only without magick, and that’s a pretty good description. I think I requested Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights because I wanted to see a Hannukah movie after all the Christmas movies. Oh my goodness it was AWFUL! I forgot how much I dislike Adam Sandler, and this was worse than most. Avoid it if anyone suggests it- which they probably won’t because apparently it’s old, the kids had it inflicted on them when they were back in school.
This week I read a couple of paranormal romances: The Ghost in the Cellar and the Ghost Upstairs. As with the Haunting Danielle books, the author is a bit too fond of people falling into inheritances and finding sacks of old gold coins for my taste. (Or maybe it’s just jealousy). She did show how lack of money can rip your life apart, and I liked that the second book, being about the son of the hero of the first, had as one of his problems that he had money issues. Having seen his father suffer over money, he refused to every take on any debt. I do wonder how he managed to live without a credit card in the modern world. I suppose if you have enough money you never need one. I also liked that when he had a huge party he discovered that there CAN be too many kids at a party to control. I also thought they had too much sex- it wasn’t necessary to further the plot. Sex can be important, but it can also be pointless, and this was. Still the stories were fun, and the ghosts were well handled. I will read more of the series. That done, I am now re-reading Saturnalia by Lindsay Davis, who is always good. (With occasional chapters of non-fiction, but really, I’m practically hibernating.
That’s it for this week, hope your holidays were what you’d hoped, exciting, restful, or whatever.
Aloha: To love is to be happy with
Holidays to celebrate this week:

Thursday: Fruitcake Day, Visit the Zoo Day, Make Cut-out Snowflakes Day
Friday: Box of Chocolates Day, Call a Friend Day, Card Playing Day
Saturday: Pepperpot Soup Day, Get on the Scales Day, Tick Tock Day, “Still need to do” Day
Sunday: Bacon Day, Baking Soda Day, Festival of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
Monday: Champagne Day, Vinegar Day, Make up Your Mind Day, No Interruptions Day
1 (2019!)
Tuesday: Black Eyed Peas Day, Bloody Mary Day, Global Family Day, First Foot Day, Hangover Day, Z Day, Copyright Law Day
Wednesday: Swiss Cheese Day, World Introvert Day, Buffet Day, Cream Puff Day, 55 MPH Speed Limit Day, Science Fiction Day