It’s been an “interesting” week. I was feeling marvelous on Sunday, when I got slammed with an ocular migraine that put the “aura” into both eyes, rendering me almost blind. Well, it was very bright in there, but I couldn’t read my text book or write any notes about what I was reading. So, studying had to take a back seat for a while, until my vision cleared. The thing about this type of migraine is that it doesn’t always turn into a headache. Unfortunately, I not only got a bad headache, but I was feeling queasy as well. And when you can’t eat much, for me, being hungry will make a headache worse. Anyway, I fought through it and kept studying, and then survived yesterday’s exam. Not without having lingering aches in my head, but at least I could eat normal food again and stop drinking ginger tea. I say all this to led up to a more cheerful outlook for the week, now that the worst exam is over, in a way, since I absolutely abominate in-class essay exams. Now, I have two take-home exams to write, and one will be long… but at least I can pace myself.Also, I was in bed before nine o’clock last night, though I didn’t turn the light out until about 10pm. No studying, just some relaxing and then a much-needed ELEVEN hours of sleep. Yup, you heard that right. I woke up this morning, feeling amazing, and praying that this lasts for the whole week. Also, as soon as the pressure was off from my first exam, I had time to relax and goof off with my phone. Hence, the selfie that I’m posting down below. But since one method of relaxing for me is still taking pictures, I thought I’d include one that I took on campus, while waiting for my brother to pick me up. That’s one thing that I absolutely love about winter, how the bare branches are outlined against the sky… and then the sky can take on so many colors and even textures. Of course, anyone who reads my posts regularly already knows that I have something of a tree addiction. Hopefully, I’ll be taking my “real” camera out during the break, and having some fun with it.Every Christmas, I manage to start taking pictures of the Christmas tree, even though some of the same ornaments always end up in the shot. I love how the lights reflect on the snowmen and snowflakes… and, of course, I had nothing to do with decorating the tree this year, so I have to help remind myself that Christmas is actually coming. School keeps me so busy that it really doesn’t feel real. So, staring at my pictures does help.Last night, I was playing with selfies and trying to get some reflections of the Christmas lights on my glasses, when I came across a filter that changed my hair color in that lighting. I always wondered what my hair would look like, if it were blue or green, didn’t you? So, here you go, my attempt to be a chameleon and blend into the Christmas tree. Well, that is, if my hair is green. If it’s blue, then I really shouldn’t blend, right? I could’ve put the pic in full-size, but the lighting was quite dim… so, too grainy. Now, I have to stop goofing off and start writing my take-home exam for my South America class. If I get it finished in good order, and turn it in early, then I will have a full 24 hrs to study for my math exam, which is tomorrow night. Have a great week, and I hope to keep coming back on here more regularly over the Christmas break. Oh, and if you are also taking exams this week or next, then I wish you luck on those, also! : )
My Christmas vacation began on Thursday night, as soon as I finished my last geography “report”, which was really just a longer homework assignment. Before that, I had three exams, one each on Mon, Tues, and Wed… and then fiction portfolio was due on Thursday! My two final drafts (for this semester) for that portfolio were so crisp and clean and beautiful. And then it was over!I only just realized that my last post on here was before Fall Break. So sorry about that, I haven’t been swamped, but I do manage to stay busy. At the end, I didn’t have any big papers due for any history or literature classes, but I did have to finish my stories and read one last book for history. That kept me busy during some of my Thanksgiving break, which I spent in Florida. Even though we were in my brother’s place, I still manage to find time to work on a few school things, which was good.Let’s see, what has happened since I posted last? Aside from probably achieving all A’s in my classes again, I mean. We’re taking care of my brother’s dog while he’s away, so Bullet’s getting used to living with us and having four people to be entertained by.
We’ve decorated for Christmas, so all the trees are up and looking cheerful. Oh, at school, they’ve finally gone up “above the fence” while they’re rebuilding Freeman Hall, so I’m sure it’ll look almost complete when we get back from our break. No, we haven’t started any Christmas baking yet.I feel like there’s probably something else I’ve forgotten, but oh well. I’m going to go empty my school notebooks so that they’re ready for next semester and so they’ll stop cluttering the furniture in my office area. I’m assuming that I’ll be back on here before then, but if I get busy, I hope you and your families will have a splendidly wonderful Christmas!
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!”
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.
Some 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.
And 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!”
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)
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. : )
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.
When 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.
I 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.
This 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.
I 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. : )
We 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.
The 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.
While 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.
Looking 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.
The 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!
I 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!
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!
The 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.
But 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!
Did 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.
This 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.
No, 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.
But 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!
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!