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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas At Our House

We spent last Christmas and New Year's Eve at our vacation home in the sunny south.  It was wonderful but I really missed our family and friends.  When my husband was making plans for December's trip to our vacation home, I insisted on being home here for the week between Christmas and New Year's.  It's been a year of turmoil so it only seems fitting to end it out surrounded by family and friends.  We left for Wisconsin on December 4 where we spent a couple of days before flying out to Florida where we stayed until December 21, arriving back at our house the following day in the late evening.  That gave me two days to prep the house for the holidays!

dining room ready for Christmas
We moved here on September 1 and took legal ownership possession on 15th then off to our vacation home from the 18th to October 6.  Needless to say we are still in the settling in stages having done no painting or decorating.  For the most part, we are fairly organized though.

Pictured is the dining room from the stairs at the top of the entrance (bi-level house).  The palm trees to the right and over the stairs going to the lower level was the Christmas tree for the upper level.  There's a funny story behind it!

The dining room seats six comfortably.  There is a candle arrangement on the table, a vase with glitter sticks and a ceramic reindeer that I made.  Nothing fancy.  Two of our kids, parents to oldest and youngest Grandchildren  arrived for lunch Christmas day.  We enjoyed baked chicken fingers, homemade fries,  as well as a fruit and vegetable tray around the dining room table.  They left to visit in-laws returning in the evening.  Another of our kids parents to the middle Grandchild had arrived.  By then the dining room table was laden with goodies and had become a catch spot for sipping coffee while the little ones played.

the orange and nut bowl in the family room
My Mom always had a bowl of oranges on the coffee table along with a nut bowl.  I've continued that tradition much to the delight of the kids and Grandkids.  A very dear friend who passed several years ago made us the lamp (matching lamp and pole lamp not shown).  It is very much treasured.  It's hard to see but under that lamp sits a rectangle shaped vase I turned into a candy dish for one of our kid's favourite M&Ms - mint.  They are only available at Christmas time.  Not pictured is the must have ribbon and satin hard candies I put up for adults only because it could be a choking hazard for little ones.

serving cart loaded with Christmas goodies in the games room
The utility cart I used in the kitchen at our former house is now getting a lot of use in the games room.  This room is set up to comfortably seat 25 - 30.  The games room was set up with another Christmas tree laden with gifts (to the left out of camera range).  To the left is the entrance to the utility room.  Immediately above the cart is a wall hung television and behind the wall is a full sized refrigerator, the one we bought about five years ago.  Beside the refrigerator is a new bank of cabinets creating a dry bar.

I should have taken a picture of the cart as soon as the tinfoil came off the trays but little hands were already helping themselves.  Grandma and Papa have one rule regarding any of the treats set out.  The Grandchildren are allowed to help themselves as long as they ask one of their parents first.  On the top shelf of the cart the were homemade mincemeat tarts and a fruit bowl.  The second shelf held holiday Hershey's Kisses and a tray of mixed bars.  The bottom shelf held the Christmas gingerbread train kit that was intended as a craft project for the Grandchildren.

hubby and SIL made butter tarts
We are a family that loves to cook.  Each one brings a special culinary element to the mix.  We are sitting in the family room, grazing here and there on various snack Christmas night when my husband and SIL decided it was a good time as any to make butter tarts.  They did not use my recipe but rather one my daughter loves which is fairly close.   AND... they used two pounds of butter in that pastry dough!  Right from the start they were modifying ever her recipe and that's what cooking is all about.  When they ran out of muffin tins rather than do what most cooks would do, they collected up as many of my glass baking dishes as they could.  I have to give them kudos for this ingenuity as most of my glass bake/storage ware was in use at the time.  Oh and they did cook all those tarts at once because there is no sense waiting cook another batch.  I can see from the looks and tastes of that pastry crust I might be tweaking my tried and true, favourite pastry crust recipe.

baked brie topped with honey and walnuts
We celebrated Christmas on December 26 starting with breakfast.  The little ones loved sitting up to the breakfast bar in the kitchen but I was scared they would fall off the tall stools.  The oldest Grandchild helped tear up the bread for stuffing the 22 lb turkey.  Once the bird was tucked safely in the oven and a couple more of our kids arrived it was time to open presents followed by a catch-all lunch focusing on dippables (vegetables, nacho chips) with hummus, salsa and cheese sauce.  Other dishes included classic crab meat dip, jumbo shrimp with home canned seafood cocktail sauce, and a new dish - baked brie topped with unpasteurized honey and walnuts.

Dinner was served in the games room set up for dining for 11.  The meal consisted of turkey, stuffing, corn niblets, baked potatoes along with a pickle and condiment tray.  We shared a lot of laughter, enjoyed good, home cooked food and made a lot of memories for our first Christmas in our new home.  We enjoyed a final cup of coffee then the kids packed up, two couples and little one heading home with the other couple stopping overnight at inlaws before heading home.  The following day we had company for the afternoon that went into evening.  I am so glad I insisted on being home for the holidays!

2 food lovers commented:

Anonymous said...

Hey mom,

can you email me the buttertart pic? Thanks!

Garden Gnome said...

But of course :) I sent the edited picture but if you want the raw one I can send that too.