pasta doings…

Pasta is in the works, once more. Two times in a week is exciting! Well, at least to us “kids” that don’t see pasta get made very often, and don’t remember it much from when we were little.DSC_1076

DSC_1083DSC_1079But we had leftover chicken cacciatore from earlier this week, so more homemade Italian bread and pasta was made to go with it, and we have some friends coming over to share it.DSC_1092

DSC_1093DSC_1095This time around, Jon and I both gave a hand in holding the dough and occasionally threading it through the machine, but mostly, Dad’s in charge of this process. But when you have a loooonnng piece of flat dough that you’ve just run through the machine, you don’t always have a free hand to switch to the pasta cutter machine. And no, I don’t know if there’s a snazzier name for the attachments.DSC_1089

DSC_1085DSC_1100When we were growing up, my parents cranked the noodles through by hand, with a different attachment, but Kitchen Aid makes a great set to attach right to the mixer. But the pasta drying tree is from the old set. We either need a taller one or another one, though, because we ran out of space to hang the pasta, this time around!DSC_1113

DSC_1115DSC_1125So, we cooked up all the fresh pasta, and it was awesome! In case you’re wondering, we make egg noodles, but I don’t really know much about the recipe used to make it. If anyone wants to know more about it, though, I can find out.DSC_1137DSC_1141DSC_1142

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

This is the time of year for…DSC_0794

…cookies and other treats to share with friends and family.DSC_0785

DSC_0801…Christmas ornaments to decorate the tree, full of memories of years past.DSC_0808

DSC_0816…watching someone else decorate the Christmas tree, because you have too many papers to write to be able to help. : )DSC_0834

DSC_0947…cozy dinners of toasted open-face grilled cheese sandwiches on Christmas Eve.DSC_0865

…presents under the tree, and tired, not-morning-people that are still happy to be awake, even without little kids to squeal over boxes and wrapping paper. DSC_0872

DSC_0880…debates over cinnamon rolls and pancakes that are solved by having both for Christmas morning breakfast.DSC_0900

DSC_0907…Christmas presents that might just be bigger than you are.DSC_0917

…gifts of books to catch you up on all the books that you haven’t bought this year.DSC_0929

…delicious Christmas dinner of turkey and all the trimmings!DSC_0987

…remembering Who came on that long ago night, was laid in a manger, and how the wise men found Him by the light of the star of Bethlehem.DSC_0845

seeing the only great light…

A friend of mine posted pictures on FB of her toddler, after his daddy carved the Halloween jack-o-lantern. He was fascinated by the candle they had lit and put inside of Jack Pumpkin. Understandably so, I think this must be where every child learns to think their parents are superpeople. And then, not long after that, he gets to see the magic of the Christmas tree, glowing with its beautiful lights! We can’t know what is actually running through their heads, but I’m sure part of it is “That’s so awesome!” and also, “My parents are awesome!”DSC_0643

I think of this whenever it’s late at night, and the only lights lit are the Christmas lights. Out of the darkness, the colored lights from our big tree, and the white lights from our little trees are shining in the darkness, and it’s a beautiful sight. I now know that my parents did not invent Christmas lights for my personal benefit, as I might have thought when I was little, but I am still fascinated by the magical quality of the lights.DSC_0649

DSC_0648Some people may think that Christmas trees are pagan or that they’re all about encouraging children to think of what they can GET out of Christmas. Maybe they are, and maybe some families don’t teach their children any better. But no matter how old I am, just as when I was a child, I am amazed and fascinated by the small beauties of Christmas, like the lights on the tree.DSC_0647

DSC_0646And you can be assured, that when I was old enough to understand, I learned about the truly amazing reason why we celebrate Christmas, and why our joy at Christmastime should be in giving to others. Because what more wonderful and amazing gift could have been given to this world, but God in the form of the man, Jesus Christ? As some people might put it, in this day and age, “Best. Christmas. Present. Ever!”DSC_0645

Or as the Bible puts it, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” –Matthew 4:16 (which was Matthew’s quote from Isaiah 9:2)DSC_0644

P.S. Assuming the video works, I hadn’t actually intended to say anything while filming, but then I forgot I had the video camera on, and commented on the tree being pretty to my aunt. I was afraid it would be SO loud on the video… now I can’t understand how that’s even my voice. I must’ve been whispering AND getting over my respiratory infection, still.  : )

cookies galore…

With Christmas vacation officially begun, I had a license to goof off. But there are other things still need going, like making Christmas baking, so my mom mixed up the dough, over the weekend, and got started. By the time she had made several types of dough, I had joined in the process, if only getting cookies in and out of the oven, for a time.DSC_0655

DSC_0673When the pecan tassies had finally come out of the oven (they take the longest to bake, it was time to make the press cookies. A week or so before this, I had attempted a batch, and for the first time since Australia, it was a failure. You see, press cookie dough has to be pretty stiff, but if it’s too dry, it won’t press into the shapes you want, or stick to the tray. I’m still not certain what happened, because my measurements were right. And for the record, I am a cookie pro, and this had only ever happened once before.DSC_0663

DSC_0667DSC_0678I finally decided that it might have been like when I was in Australia, it was too warm and humid at the time. Usually, when we make Christmas cookies, it’s rather cool out and the heat is on, just enough to keep things comfortable. That day, it was unseasonably warm, too warm to have the heat on, but not quite warm enough to have the windows open. And it was rather humid. So, with no way of proving it, I blame the weather.DSC_0701

DSC_0679DSC_0709This time, all the dough came out perfectly (it wouldn’t dare do anything else, when my mom’s in charge), and I took charge of most of the pressing, for as long as my hands held out. While not quite a science, you have to keep twisting the handle on the press, press out the dough, and then… well, sort of jerk the press to the side, in order to get the dough to “cut” off from the rest. A couple seconds too little, and you don’t have enough cookie to stick to the tray, a second too much, and you have a fat cookie with a print on it, but not an actual shape to the dough.DSC_0686DSC_0714

DSC_0690I whipped out several trays worth, and then my hands got tired. I blamed it on all the writing from my exams, but it occurs to me that I twist with my left hand (and have a bruise on my palm to prove it), so I guess that didn’t really make sense, after all. Mom and Matt each took a turn, and then I finished off. But people can say what they like about modern cookie presses, with buttons to push. I wouldn’t give up using our Mirro presses for anything, and I even have several I’ve picked up at yard sales and antique shops, waiting for when my brothers are ready to bake their own, in their own homes.  : )DSC_0718

DSC_0731We finished the peanut blossoms earlier in the day, so that the Hershey kisses would cool off enough to be put away. When you first put them on a smoking hot cookie, they melt, so if you try and store them immediately, you’ll get chocolate smeared all over everything.DSC_0733

DSC_0736The following day, for similar reasons, we began icing the cookies in the early afternoon. You want to give them several hours for the icing to dry, so you can store them without getting the icing everywhere. I remember some years when we waited until too late, and I did storage duty, somewhere around midnight, because the cookies hadn’t been dry earlier.DSC_0744

DSC_0747While we continued to debate whether the icing was too runny (me) or too thick (my dad), we managed to ice them all, with all four of us working away at them. The press cookies are dipped into a bowl of thinner icing, and then you put sprinkles on them, while you use thicker icing to spread on the cut-out cookies, using a knife.DSC_0752

DSC_0758Looking at that table, it looks like a lot of cookies, but I think this is a smaller batch than some years. But maybe not. They really look like a lot of cookies, once you put them away in the cans and boxes.DSC_0762

DSC_0764The snowballs (Russian tea cookies) and Scandinavian cookies were put away last. If you’re not familiar with the look of the nutty Scandinavian cookies, with the hole in the middle, when we fill up a tray with those, we load them with raspberry or blackberry jam. So yummy!DSC_0742

DSC_0771I hope you are enjoying the Christmas activities in your own home, with your family, whether it involves baking or not. I will probably say this again, but in case you forget to check back, I do with you and your family a most wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year!DSC_0776DSC_0778

snowmen peeking…

When I woke up again, the second time this morning, I could hear the rain coming down and checked the weather report. I say I woke up AGAIN, because it’s normal on Saturdays for me to wake up earlier, once, check a few things on my Kindle and go back to sleep. This time, I slept until almost noon, but that’s ok! Because not only is it raining, it’s Christmas vacation!DSC_0557

DSC_0556The weather report looked rather odd… I couldn’t decide if that neon blue cloud hanging over Pennsylvania (I used to live there, so I keep it listed on my weather app) looked like that, on purpose or not. Turns out, my weather app uses a bright blue color to denote snow clouds… and this one seems to be hanging all over Pennsylvania, New York, and the surrounding states, until it runs into bright green and yellow rain clouds (what if they really looked like that?) in parts of Virginia. That rainy weather front lasts all the way down the east coast.DSC_0558

DSC_0559But all that snow and rain hanging in the air, hiding us from the sunshine, or the sunshine from us (depending on how you look at things), reminded me of some snowy little fellows that are all over our house. Yes, we have a lot of snowmen hanging on our Christmas tree, and a few scattered in different locations. What better place to share them, on this dreary day… when I’m free to do it!DSC_0572

DSC_0573DSC_0580Did I mention it’s vacation? : )  Honestly, it has been years since I haven’t been working a job where I had to work over the holidays. Christmas break for students never really caught my attention, because I was working right up until just before Christmas. Well, last year, Fernow Street closed for two weeks, and I was “laid off” for that amount of time, but it wasn’t a very cheery, free feeling, because I didn’t get vacation pay, and didn’t dare to go anywhere on money I didn’t have.DSC_0588

DSC_0590This year, it’s back to that feeling we had in high school, and before, from being free from school on the Christmas break! And since it’s college, it’s so much better than Thanksgiving break, because if I didn’t tell you this before, the only day I had off during Thanksgiving vacation was on T-day itself. I spent the two days leading up to it, working solidly on my final English Literature essay, and the day AFTER Thanksgiving, I not only came down with a cold (that developed into an upper respiratory infection), I had to give my entire attention to my military history paper. DSC_0600

DSC_0602DSC_0603No, I take it back, I had to get up in the mornings (no excessive sleeping in) to work on my Chemistry homework and a take-home quiz, and then in the afternoons and evenings, I devoted myself to my paper on the battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam), during the American Civil War. Three solid days of it, almost, and when school started on Monday, I worked on it between classes and as soon as I got home, until late. English Literature essay? I got an A. Military History paper? I got an A. With some really nice comments from both of my teachers, about my writing skills. So, it was worth it.DSC_0605

DSC_0608DSC_0615But now? Freedom! I can go to the movies (and plan to)! Read books all day, books that I WANT to read! Bake cookies! Sleep in! Watch DVDs and listen to Christmas music, now that I don’t have to study anymore (I can’t study with music on, if it has words)! Hooray!DSC_0624

DSC_0632I hope you enjoy our snowmen. : )  We certainly do. DSC_0636

two down, two to go…

Survived the lengthy essays on my Western Civ exam, and managed to get through the Chemistry exam. Not so cheerful about that one, but the grade should be alright. Just glad I have another whole day to study for my last two exams. But here are a few brightly colored pictures from before the leaves finished falling. These photos were taken by the Clemson Union Starbucks, where the two Japanese maples were red and orange, while the sugar maple displayed its golden colors against the blue sky. Aren’t the leaves beautiful? Enjoy, while I continue to prepare for my German and Military History exams.          DSC_0256DSC_0251DSC_0252DSC_0257DSC_0258DSC_0259DSC_0264DSC_0266DSC_0268DSC_0282

blooms now faded…

Actually, these photos were only taken a week or two ago, but between the rain and the ever-changing weather, I’m assuming the blooms don’t look this nice anymore. I haven’t even had time to see which kind continues to bloom into November and December, but feel free to tell me, if you know. The leaves, of course, are long gone. I think they fell within two days of my taking these picture. DSC_0312 DSC_0293 DSC_0308 DSC_0272 DSC_0316 DSC_0310 DSC_0321 DSC_0309 DSC_0318 DSC_0327DSC_0276

a touch of Christmas…

While I continue studying for final exams, here’s a little bit of what Christmas looks like at our house. I can’t wait for the end of this week, so I can fully enjoy it, catch up on sleep, and get started on the cookie baking part of things! Also, getting completely over being sick would help, too. : )  Enjoy!DSC_0486         DSC_0480DSC_0487DSC_0494DSC_0506DSC_0511DSC_0517DSC_0530DSC_0531DSC_0532