Monday, December 28, 2009

Peppermint Torte

Last Christmas, mom posted a recipe for Peppermint Torte. She was unable to post a picture of it however. I finally tried out this dessert over the weekend and took a picture of this lovely and tasty dessert. My kids were thrilled with this and Peter and I sincerely enjoyed it and felt rather decadent eating it. Follow this link to find the recipe. I believe mom suggested green food coloring with green sprinkles on top. You could also leave it white, with no food coloring and put chocolate curls or sprinkles on top. Lots of fun ways to make this simple, but festive and delicious dessert.
(By the way, I couldn't find chocolate wafers for the crust and so I crushed up chocolate teddy graham cookes.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve!

Yesterday I read on another blog about the adventures of being a mom to toddlers. As I read the story of a two-year old all ready for a Christmas party, deciding to baptize herself and the one-year old in powdered sugar, it made me smile and remember those days. It also made me remember to rejoice in being just the two of us these days. Back then, I was looking ahead to when they would grow up and we could have some alone moments. Now they are grown up...and we are very proud of the productive wives and woman our three daughters have become. is still a season to remember to rejoice in our blessings, and one of those is a few free moments together. To that end, I fixed up a table in front of the fireplace, with the tree glowing on one side, and cooked a special dinner for two. The insurance man and his wife quite enjoyed themselves.
Before the delight of family and friends today and tomorrow it was good to share the quiet and joy. May you all have a wonderful Christmas with the special people in your lives, and celebrate the greatest gift ever given. Jennie

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Early Present

Last week we bought ourselves an early Christmas present. Like many folks of our age, we have a collection of old vinyl records...some we purchased but many our parents owned. There are a good many Christmas ones, with lots of good music that is no longer available in any other format. For several years I have longed to be able to play this music. We do have a 35 year-old record player, but many things went wrong. First came the Christmas when I inadvertently left the player on and the needle was worn out by morning. It was a good deal of work to find a replacement on line. Then when the replacement came, it was only to find that the turntable no longer turned in the right timing. It was determined to be a worn-out belt. All that to say that for many Christmas's we have not been able to hear our records.
This year I noticed that our local Fred Meyer had a good selection of record players for about $100 on sale. Then last week I noted that these 'on sale' prices had dropped another 50%. After picking each up to see if it was compatible with our older speakers, we found one was. And that one came home with us for $49, cheaper than replacing the belt.
Every day I have been enjoying the lively and beautiful music coming from this record player. I haven't even put on a CD since we got it. There is a complete older version of the Messiah, sung by a London choir and accompanied by the London orchestra that is quite wonderful.
Strains of Andy Williams, Julie Andrews, Perry Como and Percy Faith have been heard in all parts of the house. Today, this morning, I am extremely grateful for the gift of a (very pretty) new record player.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fresh Greenery

On Saturday I went out and raided my winter trees and bushes for some foliage to make arrangements with. Since I had used my garden all summer and fall, I thought I could probably find enough even in winter. I found pine boughs (some even with small cones), arborvitae for a soft feathery green, variegated boxwood, holly (although my bushes have no berries). To create the effect of berries, I used decorative crab apple branches with small shriveled crab apples and rose hips.
I think the pine is my favorite as it just looks so festive with a few pine cones.

I picked up a cheaper bunch of white roses at Safeway, and added a few to each arrangement. It really made a difference in elegance... I had enough to make four 'bouquets' for the table, mantle, piano and bedroom, real extravagance!

I had one rose left over, so added to my tea service for a smile every time I see it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Red and White

I guess everyone's aware of the storm that hit my side of the country. I think we got about 8-9 inches of snow here at my house. Our friends out of town got more like 13-14 inches. So, here's picture proof of the snow. But I also thought it was a lovely shot of this cardinal at our bird feeder. His red color is so striking amid all of the white. Beautiful.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Piano Recital

As promised, here are a few photos from our piano recital last night. I hope it brings back a memory for each of you readers...of your own recitals, or attending one as a proud parent. This is Nathan, our first performance. He did very well, as did his sisters.
This is Danice, a proud Aunt, and Grandma.

Next up was Amanda, and sitting on the love seat behind her were her proud and diligent parents.

I played duets with each of the performers, and here Allison and I are playing the 'Hungarian Dance' together.

Afterwards they breathed a big sigh of relief, and posed for a picture with me. I am very proud of their accomplishments this fall.

This was our refreshment table. I got the idea of offering plates of cookies and candy at differing heights from a photo I had seen. I used upside down goblets and vases for pedestals. Fortunately I had six glass Fostoria plates to tie it all together.

We had several different kinds of cookies. This is chocolate crinkles.

These are sugar cookies that I made from the recipe over at Femina. I used our own recipe from Grandma Brown, but their frosting. It made some for some fun decorating.

The insurance man made these spritz. You just can't beat a good butter cookie.

These are molasses sugar cookies, that I make every year from my good friend Mary's recipe.

Afterwards, everyone hung out in the kitchen enjoying hot spiced cider and sparkling cider. A very successful evening and lots of fun!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I have the delightful task of teaching two young ladies and a young man piano lessons each week. They are siblings, and home schooled by their parents. I am adding in a music class for them. We decided to have a recital before Christmas, and I asked them to make invitations. This is what they came up with: I was so pleased with the beautiful results. We are asking their grandmother, parents, and aunt and uncle to join us tomorrow night at our home.
Yesterday however we had a 'dress rehearsal'.

This is Amanda, age 17.

This is Allison, age 14.

And this is Nathan, age 12.
All are doing extremely well, and we have a fun program planned for our recital. Among the selections will be Brahms, Grieg, Handel and two Christmas carols.
I will post some photos of our recital on Saturday (hopefully).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Saturday JoAnn and I got busy and decorated the Christmas Tree. The insurance man had put it up right after Thanksgiving, and since the pretty white lights looked nice we had not been in too big a rush to do this job...but waited for a nice relaxed afternoon together. It's always so much fun to get out the ornaments from past years and remember them like old friends, each filled with memories.
JoAnn is holding up the egg she made for me in second grade, with her school picture included. I always cherish this one, and am grateful the egg has remained intact.

Here is the completed tree. It looks just like a Christmas postcard, with the snow out the window.

Afterwards we sat down by the fire with a glass of eggnog, and enjoyed the fruit of our labors.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My House This Evening (Thursday, December 10th)

We got around to adding a little more decoration to the house. I spent a good deal of time fixing up my dining room and this evening I have the reward of enjoying the effect. My welcome lights.

The front porch garland and lights.

Of course, the welcoming wreath on the front door.

Below stairs, Peter and Will are playing Chess.

Sam is perusing a book and sick Amelia is lying very still on the couch. A nice quiet evening.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Evergreen Gentleman

I know everyone has probably had their first snow by now. Ours was very late this year. We didn't see a flake until last Saturday, December 5. We got several inches rather suddenly and it inspired us to run out and chop down our Christmas tree. We've cut down Christmas trees in the past with both snow and no snow and it's, hands down, more fun with the snow. While we were out, I snapped a picture of this cute, six-inch tree amid all of the tall, stately Christmas trees. Not only was it tiny, it had on a little white cap and looked to me like he was almost bowing and tipping his hat.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another Hike

I don't know about your house, but it's brrrrr-cold around here. Our lowest temps were 9 degrees for a high and -10 degrees for a low on Tuesday and Wednesday. This was following a beautiful snow storm on Sunday, where we accumulated about 10 inches of a very light dry crystal snow. Normally I would be out taking photos of all the beauty of a frozen landscape canopied by a brilliant blue sky and winter sunshine....but I came down with a very weird kind of virus I think. We traveled to Washington to help celebrate Kory's 16th birthday, and I was sick all the while. I don't think I was contagious though, as no one else has/had any symptoms. The jury is out as to what it actually was, although I am very glad it was of short duration. Today (Thursday) I am almost back to my normal self, and trying to get caught up on a few things. I noted in Mom's email that she was mildly complaining about a lack of blogs to look at, so I am trying to help her out.
I am almost out of stored up photos, so will start taking some new ones. But for now I have one last hike I haven't blogged about yet. I am still into fall...although I had better get busy about Christmas! My friend Jane Ford is an avid outdoors woman. She grew up in the Central Oregon outdoors, and has taught hiking, snowshoeing and skiing for many years. She offered to take me on a hike, again at the very last moment of our glorious fall. We decided on the Metolius River, as it is one of my favorite destinations. It is west of Bend, towards the Santiam Pass. We drove out in the morning of a beautiful day, and parked at the fish hatchery there...shown above. The hatchery is one of the places I really want to take my grandsons the next time they visit. It's a lot of fun there. However, on this day we decided to start hiking south of the hatchery right away.
Here's the view of the river as we began hiking south, along the right side in this photo. I have been on many hikes along this river, but never on this particular trail. The river has an extraordinary quality to it because it flows over lava, and where there are cracks and crevices in the lava the color changes to the beautiful aqua you see in the photo. All along the trail we were treated to views of this amazing water.

Here's the trail we followed, and we were just getting into the fall color among the vine maples in this photograph.

When everything is just right, the vine maples turn an almost neon color of red and orange. Stunning next to the blue river and against the blue sky.

Here is a photo of some of the small trees and river rapids. Jane told me she had a surprise for me...

and this was it. Another river, flowing from underground on this hillside empties into the Metolius. It has no name, since it is so short, but comes out with force and beauty. It's pretty wide, with about 6-7 streams emptying into the bigger river.

Here it is again, looking back after we had passed it. No picture could do it justice, it was just wonderful to stand and watch it. I read recently on anther blog that God gives so richly and abundantly. He fills mountainsides with wildflowers, though there are no human eyes to see them. He gives beautiful sunsets that only the whales will see...and in this case a river that flows where only a few will ever see it. I feel privileged to be one of those few...

We stopped and ate our picnic lunches, then turned and retraced our steps back. On the way we saw this fly fisherman, and I thought it was a good photo of the river and the way we were all enjoying it. Don't you wish it was you out there Samuel?
It was a great day and hike...thanks for letting me share it with you!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sparks Lake Hike

Late this fall I took a last hike up into the Cascade Mountains. I went with my friend Grace Miller, who told me about an easy hike I had never been on. It skirts Sparks Lake (one of many mountain lakes in the Cascades) and features the lava common to our volcanic area. For most of the hike I didn't even see the lake, just piles and piles of broken lava...
in hills and valleys, with large deep crevices.

This photo shows some of the height of the hills and also our pine trees that grow all around the lava. The trail does a great job of skirting the lava, so there isn't much climbing in it.

As we came around one corner the beginning of the lake came into view. At this time of year, with the snow gone, the water level was extremely low, and there was algae in the water giving it a green appearance. You can see how the water has filled in between the lava flows.

There were two Kayakers out that morning on the peaceful lake. There are no motorized boats allowed on this lake. We saw a doe and her twin fawns, and I tried to get their picture...but no such luck.

This is a fairly famous view of South Sister from Sparks Lake, and is the reward towards the end of the hike. There was a lot of smoke in the air that Thursday, and South Sister is shrouded with it. I think it was from a forest fire around Oak Ridge.

This is another of our Central Oregon peaks, this one called Broken Top. This was at the end of our hike, as we were coming back into the parking area. It was so great to get out, stretch our legs, breathe some fresh air, and visit as we hiked on this beautiful fall morning. This area is only about 25 minutes from our house, and we are so fortunate.
We were anxious to get this in before the snow, and come to find out it did snow that very week-end and this would have been closed off to us. Thanks Grace for a great fall hike!