Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Festivus for the Rest of Us!

Yesterday morning the sunrise over Europe was quite beautiful:

Then the sun finally appeared on the horizon, officially kicking off the morning:

Back in the fall, I went to a wine festival here in Weisbaden Germany. But in December, I really enjoy the Christmas festival. The weather was nice the first night I went. I hunted down my favorite greasy treat. I call it a fried potato thingy with applesauce, but it might be called kartoffelpuffer. At least that's what the signs say at the stand. Here's a picture of the guy cooking them:

He said something to me in German when the camera flashed - I almost ran off, but I wanted a kartoffelpuffer! And here it is:

(I had to sneak off into an empty area to take a picture. I was by myself and I didn't want anybody to think I was crazy.)

Another treat I enjoyed here was oven baked pizza. This woman is checking the pizzas in the wood burning oven:

Gluhwein (pronounced glue-vine) is the drink of choice at the festival. It is a mulled wine and many stands have souvenir glasses that you can keep or you turn in for the 2 euro deposit.

Here is the glass I got the other night:

I didn't actually drink all the gluhwein, because I didn't like it very much. Maybe if I could speak a little German I could figure out which type tastes the best...

There were lots of tents with vendors selling their wares. Here is a cookie stand:

This artist welded really cool characters out of pipes, nuts and bolts.

This woman's "fairy" stand gave me the creeps so I didn't get any closer than this:

Candles, candles candles! There were a lot of candle stands. I saw a lot that I liked but only bought a couple bee's wax candles:

Here's a big Christmas tree with a manger display in front of it. There is no war on Christmas here!

The fair also has kiddy rides. I had to take pictures of the creepy carnival statues in front of this one.

Do you like how they "Christmased" them up? A red coat and a green holiday rope lights is all you need!

There was also a very large double-decker merry-go-round.

Here are the treats that the kids were very excited about.

A couple of years ago I brought home a big long box of these, labeled the "Dick-o-meter". Yes, it was about 1 meter long and full of these Dickmann marshmallow treats. Even the Germans were laughing and pointing at the box as I carried it through the airport. Apparently, these are a holiday treat because I found these boxes at a store in the train station, and I have not seen them any other time of year. (Unfortunately no Dick-O-Meter box this year.) They are sold individually at the market, but they don't travel well.

Cranky and I need to go stuff some stockings now. I'm so happy to be home!

I wish everybody and very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cookie Recipes

Jessica asked if I would give the recipes for the cookies I posted. Here they are!

Wreath Cookies
1 stick butter

1 pkg marshmallows (I use mini-marshmallows because they melt faster)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

green food coloring

4 cups corn flakes

cinnamon things

Melt butter and marshmallows over medium heat until completely melted. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and food coloring. Mix well. Fold in corn flakes until they are all well-covered. Make wreathes on waxed paper or lightly greased cookie sheets. Decorate with cinnamon things. Allow to firm up. ( I like to put them in the refrigerator so they are less sticky when we eat them.)

Italian Cookies

4 cups flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

4 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 sticks margarine

1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix flour, baking powder, and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs, margarine and vanilla and mix with hands. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Roll pieces of dough until about the thickness of a pencil and about 7-8 inches long. Twist and place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until bottoms start to brown. Frost with sugar cookie icing. (Sometimes I use frosting, but it doesn't firm up as well.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Peace and Cookies

Cranky and Mary made a peace wreath for the house. It's not as big as the controversial one in Colorado, but I think it came out great!

Here it is all lit up tonight:

I thought I'd add a picture of the reindeer hanging out in front of the house also.

In other news...I made the Italian cookies today. Here they are before I baked them:

And here are some of them after the kids frosted them. Bob was mixing the red and green frosting, so his are the purple cookies. He was also demanding blue sprinkles. *

My friend Lynn came over to have some of my fancy boxed Sangria (see post below). She brought the munchies and her daughter frosted cookies with my kids. Overall a festive afternoon!

* He didn't get them.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Saturday Night?

I made Christmas cookies earlier tonight, but now Cranky and I are watching a Muhammed Ali documentary and drinking this box, yes box, of Sangria I bought in Madrid last weekend. It's pretty tasty actually. Best $1.25 I spent all week! We also had some chips and guacomole.

Are we getting old or WHAT?

Looks like we have Mad TV and Saturday Night Live up next. Can you stand the excitement?

I almost didn't get the picture before Cranky took a swig...


Pies = Thanksgiving & Cookies = Christmas

When I was a kid, my family spent Thanksgiving with our friends, the Mells. They lived in Massachusetts and we spent the entire weekend at their house. We ate, drank, watched football and had a great time. My mother was in charge of bringing the pies, and boy did she bring pies! They are a big part of Thanksgiving for me now too, although I only make a couple, unless we have company. The other tradition I've taken from my childhood is making fried dough Thanksgiving morning. My mother never made it at home, so it was a big treat to eat it at the Mell's house. You wouldn't believe how much Bob ate this year!

Christmas, however is a time for cookies. My mother made lots of great cookies, including "snowballs", which were my father's favorite, made from his mother's recipe. I haven't made them yet -- my mother still sends them to me. I might this year if I find time. So far I've made a few batches of Tollhouse cookies, including a new type this year made with chocolate mint swirled chips. Not bad!

But my all-time favorite cookies are wreath cookies. They are made with corn flakes, marshmallows, butter, vanilla and food coloring. Wicked easy, but very sticky! My mother thought these cookies were ugly and refused to make them, so I had to make them myself. I still use the recipe card that I wrote out when I was like maybe 12 years old. (It's funny to see my "kid" handwriting.)

Here's the batch I made tonight:

The last type of cookie I will need to make this week (before I go fly 9 out of the 10 days before Christmas day) is Italian cookies. When I Cranky and I were first married, his Grammy (who died last month) gave me this recipe. My kids love making these. They are a twisted cookie that we decorate with green and red icing. They will have a special significance this year...

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow...

Last night it started to snow. It had been a little warm yesterday, so it started out as big, mushy flakes, but as it cooled off, the snow began accumulating. Our guest dog, Toby, seems to like the snow. He is a southern (WAAAAYYY southern, as in Brisbane Australia) dog and we were wondering what he would think of the snow. Cranky took his picture out in it last night:

Do you see how well-trained he is? He's sitting in the snow, posing.

This morning I let him outside and he didn't want to come in right away. I guess he likes it!

Last night was also "decorate the tree" night. The kids put the ornaments on the tree without bickering and nothing was broken!

Bob primarily decorated this part of the tree. How many ornaments can you put on one branch?

Here's the finished product, complete with a couple "presents" under it:

With all 3 kids under it:

I was having a hard time getting a picture of Mary with her eyes open, but here is the third picture of a series of three. Success!

This morning Mary grumbled as I told her she needed to wear boots and gloves (with fingers) to go out to the bus stop. She suggested her brother might want to shovel a path down the driveway so the boots wouldn't be necessary. Yah right! She wore her combat boots with her jeans tucked in the top ("I don't want my pants to get wet!") and followed Raymond's tracks out to the road. She's not as thrilled with the snow as the rest of us.

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Friday, December 01, 2006


I think this is a great wreath. I just heard this woman interiewed on Free Speech TV. Her husband thought their wreath this year should be in the form of a peace sign. Her homeowners' association sent her a letter stating that "Loma Linda residents are offended by the Peace Sign displayed on the front of your house." They were instructed to remove it or pay a $25/day fine.

It's not anti-war, it's pro-peace! This is not the first time "Peace" has been wished for during the holidays.

They've received a lot of support and similar wreathes are popping up all over their town. I think it's great.

Cranky wants to put a peace-wreath on our house...