Notes on Christmas (Just) Past

Want to listen in on a bit of conversation from our Christmas dinner? The candles were lit, the plates were served, the wine was poured, and the rolls were hot out of the oven. Christmas music, courtesy of Missy M's on-the-spot creation of an iPad playlist, was softly playing in the background. Time for family talk:

Me: So, I wonder...
Mr. T. and Missy M (in unison): HERE!
Me: Well, I guess that settles that!!

OK, so you know how often we have moved, right? Right. Over the years, I just got in the habit of wondering where we would be celebrating the next Christmas. Wondering out loud. At Christmas dinner. And, after the rolling of the eyes would cease, we could chat about it. Now...we just do the shorthand version.

[For the record, I agree...I think we will be living right here at Casa 3917 next Christmas.]

Tree with presents
For the record, it was a great Christmas! Cold and sunny on the outside, warm and toasty on the inside. Even with 5 dogs in residence, we had a wonderful holiday. We watched our favorite movies like White ChristmasThe Bishop's Wife, Christmas in Connecticut, and It's a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve, followed by the broadcast of the midnight mass from St. Peter's in Rome.

I fixed Monkey Bread (recipe below) for our breakfast, which we enjoyed with Kona coffee, hot chocolate, and cold milk between the distributing of the stockings and the opening of the presents. Unfortunately, the Monkey Bread...which looked so beautiful...was consumed before a picture was taken. Here's what the tree looked like after Santa had visited...photo to the right, taken by Mr. T.

I didn't get many Christmas day photos, for one reason or another: foremost, because the elves had confiscated my old iPhone 3, which I use(d) as a camera more than a phone, in order to get me a brand new iPhone 5...and get it activated. [Yeah!! That last part was a huge...let me repeat, HUGE...part of the present, because I detest dealing with "stuff" like that. Hate. It. And not only did the elves go to the ATT store and take care of all the activation rigmarole, the younger elfette set up the new phone, downloaded all my apps, and had it ready to use as soon as I unwrapped the box. All that...and it's a luscious yellow, too!]

Books to read...time to retire!

And even though I received 3 new books (first pic on my new iPhone...left) to read (along with gift cards for Amazon's Kindle and iTunes' iBooks for when I want to download some ebooks), I managed to make rolls and get dinner on the table before cuddling up with W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton. Since we are nearing the end of the alphabet, I'd better read s-l-o-w-l-y and relish every word.

I do feel a little funny, sitting down to read rather than picking up my knitting needles to work frantically on finishing a project for gifting. I have put more than a few hours this past month into stitching up gifts-to-go, as pictured below. One of the projects is not pictured yet, as the recipient hasn't received it...wouldn't want to give away the surprise, now would I?





Projects Completed for this Christmas:


Warm n' Wooly Socks...
knitted for Maredith
Panther's Pride Scarf...
knitted for Julie



















Blocking the points on knitted cowl:
yarn has silver threads!


 
ZuZu's Petals Cowl,
ready to wrap for Maredith

  
In addition to my new phone and books, I got many, many lovely things (sweaters, outfits, gardening-related gifts, etc.) that I will enjoy throughout the coming weeks and months. There were a couple of things I wanted to mention though:

1. Since Mr. T went back to work on Boxing Day, heading off to Raleigh to get the first of his Dealer Development Plans (DDPs) signed (he has to visit ALL of his dealers for DDPs between now and 1/17/14!), I took advantage of the quiet morning to enjoy some tasty Strawberry Jam on toasted leftover rolls. Missy M gifted us with the Jam, along with several jars of home-processed goodies like salsa and pickled tomatoes.



2. And, this is a gift I will be talking about in the coming months of the New Year: Mr. T gave me an "All About Cotton Spinning Starter Kit" complete with instruction DVD from Cotton Clouds



You may remember that for a couple of years, we have planted heirloom-variety Nanking Green cotton (original seeds from the 2012 Seed Exchange at Old Salem). The first year we had 8 seeds and got 8 plants. I hand-ginned the bolls and gleaned enough seeds to plant 32 plants this past year...with plenty more seeds to share at the 2013 Seed Exchange.

Cotton, you ask? Why are you growing cotton? Well, because I want to...because I can (it's plenty hot enough in NC/Zone 7b)...and because I want to grow enough to spin enough yarn to knit...something. What, I don't know yet. A scarf...a hat...a vest...maybe even a sweater. The growing I can do...the knitting I can do...it's the spinning I don't know how to do...yet.

Hopefully, by the time Christmas Future (2014) becomes the new Christmas (Just) Past, I will have learned to spin my homegrown cotton and completed a Christmas project of a knitted cotton...something! Fingers crossed...toes, too!

Oh, one final photo to share...of Duche$$, who claimed the sofa as her refuge from all the activities and all the chaos created by the other Droolers in residence. Five dogs, indeed, says the Diva!



++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Recipe for Monkey Bread:

Please, please, please...don't use a recipe that calls for biscuits. You will sacrifice both flavor AND aroma.
 
Ingredients:

To make bread "ring:"
  • 12-16 frozen dinner rolls (I used 12 Rhodes-brand frozen rolls...plenty to serve 4)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted (not margarine...or any kind of substitute)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pecans, rough-chopped
Icing:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 2-4 T. milk

Directions:
  1. The night before you wish to serve, micro-melt the stick of butter in one bowl; mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. Pour a couple of tablespoons of melted butter into the bottom of a greased Bundt pan, and sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and the pecans over the butter. When you invert the "ring," this will make a nice topping.
  2. Then dip each frozen roll in the remaining butter, followed by rolling it in the bowl of cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place each prepared roll into the pan, starting with the bottom layer of 6 rolls and staggering the placement in any subsequent "stacks". Pour any remaining butter over the rolls and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture. Cover with plastic wrap, place in a cold oven (do NOT heat!),and let sit overnight. (If you use more than 12 rolls, put a cookie sheet pan underneath to catch any drips, as the rolls WILL rise during the night.)
  3. In the morning, remove the plastic wrap, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30-35 minutes. To prevent over-browning, cover top of pan with foil during the last 10 minutes of baking.
  4. When done, remove pan from oven and immediately turn over onto a plate big enough to catch all the syrup that will drip out of the pan. Make sure you get ALL the syrup and nuts from the bottom.
  5. Combine the icing ingredients (powdered sugar, 2 T. melted butter, and enough milk to get the right consistency) and drizzle over the bread. Enjoy warm!







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