Hello 2018!

Happy New Year boys and girls, and welcome to 2018! As I’m writing this evening on the first day of this new year, with football serving as back round noise, I have many thoughts dancing in my head and a writing partner by my side….

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There is a fire in our fireplace as we are starting the year off with some wicked cold weather. Coffee and soft leggings have been a staple the last few days. In the south, we are not used to low digit weather!

 

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Family has been gathered together. We’ve laughed, eaten food and eaten more food. We’ve played games and just hung out a lot enjoying each other.

Hubby has been on vacation for these two weeks and it’s been a fun, laid back and a bit  of a lazy time hanging out and doing stuff together.

My thoughts are of the year ahead, the freshness of it, the opportunities and all the new adventures. It is natural for me to look at what I’ve accomplished in the previous year and want to do just… a little bit more… in the upcoming year.

I’m always down for new challenges.

Ah well, I guess I could post the obligatory “new year, new you” stuff. Or the “it’s been an awful year and I’m ready for the next one” or any other sappy mushy quote that’s prevalent right now.

I won’t do that to you.

It is a new year. I’m pretty sure you don’t need to be a “new” you, but if you’re like most of us there might be one or two things you wanna shape up more.

And I never complain about the year gone by because well, first, it’s a year you’ve been given to live and second no one has a year free from difficult things and sails through without any trials.  With joy there is sorrow, with triumph there are trials, with pain there is hope, and with difficulties come days of ease.

It all makes up a year in our lives, right?

I’m already brainstorming ideas for this year. I have my new planner set up ( go me) and important info logged in.

Once I get the household returned to normal from Christmas festivities I have plans to work on some more chalk painting projects ( something I got into at the end of this past year) I will also be working on a now (empty) room my newly married son has vacated ( it was named the Batcave but I’m thinking with my new ideas for it, Batcave might not be suitable haha 😛 ) I have all my grandparents bedroom furniture so I’m hoping to do something cute and vintage looking in there.

Then of course there are my athletic goals and shenanigans that I’m thinking about. It is hard to not want to challenge myself more after tackling my first duathlon in November. ( read about it here….. https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/12/05/duathlon-journey-the-recap/

That being said, it is once again, on my goal list for 2018. I’m eager to cut my teeth on it once more and improve my skills.

I’m also looking at my first ever actual bike race, a cool 60 miler.

And I really want to get back to some distance running so I’m toying with a spring half marathon.

I’m in my element when I’m focused on training for an event, what can I say?

Right now I’m just ready to get back to my athletic activities. With this month and family, schedule, weather etc it’s been minimal maintenance stuff.

I love all the holiday activities but I’m also ready to get back into my “normal” again.

Anyone else? Yeah, raise your little hand.

I used to worry if I missed some days working out that I’d not want to do it again, that I’d be out of the routine and decide it was easier to not do it.

Not true. I’m eager to get back to hard work. My body feels better when I do workout than when I don’t. My mind is clear and focused when my day starts with some hard work.

Exercise has become a wonderful habit and one I’m grateful to have.

In a way, this enforced rest isn’t bad for me. I know rest allows my body to rebuild and replenish after a solid year of hard work. It’s the mental part of me that struggles with it. Yet I know too, my mind needs rest from it as well.

So I’ve rested. I’ve eaten tasty foods and treats and I’m more than ready to get back to my normal eating, another habit I’ve developed and appreciate having.

I just feel better eating healthy foods. I’m more aware of it than ever when my eating habits differ.

Oh. Speaking of habits.

One of the newest posts I’ll be bringing you is my review on the new paperback version of “Lean Habits For Weight Loss”.  I received my copy this week in the mail from Georgie and I’ll be eager to share with you.  I believe this is really the only tool anyone might need for help and encouragement in losing weight. The way to be successful and keep it off is to rebuild  bad habits that sabotage your success. To learn to change your thinking and behaviors with food that will lead to permanent weight loss.

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Did some reading on a recent road trip

 

That’s just one topic I’ll be dealing up here on my blog so I hope you check back.

This year is full of promise and new possibilities. I’ll continue to share sane, practical tips and ideas on nutrition and weight loss, diet and book reviews, personal experiments on products to educate you, exercise hints and tips, as well as my athletic shenanigans and real life stuff too.

Tell me what plans you have for the upcoming year. Anything new or exciting? What are you anticipating most?

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The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

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As the old Christmas song goes… “it’s the most wonderful time of the year….”

This is a disclaimer before you proceed reading anymore :

I’m gonna get all kinds of nostalgic on you so either buckle up and grab a fresh cup of coffee or abandon your computer for higher ground .

You’ve been warned.

I’ve always loved Christmas but I’m pretty sure my mom and grandparents had a lot to do with making that impression on me.

My memories of childhood were of fun, festivities, and family. Of course there were always lots of delicious baked goods and candies, and everything was always beautifully decorated. Christmas music was on and I remember my mom and grandmother singing along with various songs. There were special table linens and candy/cookie trays that were brought out every year to be filled again.

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Speaking of childhood and vintage. How about a couple pics of yours truly age 17 mos. and 6 years. I look thrilled over that baby which I still have…somewhere.

 

Cookies. Can you say… cookies? Of all the ones to be chosen, the cut out cookies still have my heart. All of those fun Christmas shapes in sugar cookie form … is there anything better? That is one thing today my kids all still love doing. Piling in at the kitchen table and decorating trees, Santas, reindeer, angels, sleighs, snowflakes, gingerbread boys and girls. My mom had tons of cool cutters that I enjoy using as well along with the ones I already had.

The season was steeped in many traditions for me.

As a family we always went together and bought a fresh tree. I’m grateful no one had any issues that kept us from having one because to this day it’s one of my favorite things to go do… pick out the biggest tree I can get my paws on… thank goodness I have 12 ft ceilings now! As a child our ceilings were much shorter so we were limited in the height we could drag home.  This years specimen comes in right around 11 ft and it smells soooo amazing. Some years the fragrance isn’t as strong, this year, beautiful AND fragrant.

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The photo really doesn’t do it justice

 

No, I don’t mind a real tree, and no I don’t mind cleaning up at the end of the season. It’s all worth it to me.

My children are adults now ( good heavens… I can’t believe that sometimes) and they too continue to expect a real tree and the married ones plan to carry on the tradition.

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I love looking into the tree when it’s lights are the only thing on. It’s still magical to me.

 

So we had the tree covered in bright lights ( remember those big C7 lights you could line a run way with?? I do have those on my tree but they are the more modern ones that stay cool and wont burn the tree down) and family decorations, amazing homemade treats, beautifully wrapped packages, family, special meals, worship service and of course the celebration of Jesus birth.

I simply grew up immersed in the beauty of Christmas, and not just the beauty, the magic too. The magic of waiting expectantly for Santa on Christmas Eve and the inability to fall asleep from excitement. My family always worked to make sure that the magic was a part of Christmas.

My mom was such a child at heart about Christmas till the day she left this earth. I’m afraid I’m no different.  I still get excited at Christmas and I have a hard time sleeping sometimes.. only now I’m Santa and my kids and grandbabies get to experience it.

It was a sobering moment to me thinking this year that I’m the only one left to carry on all these traditions that have become precious to me. To pass them on to my children and their families.

Let me say I’m fully aware that Christmas isn’t fun for many, especially when they are acutely aware of loved ones that are missing from their lives.

Nothing brings that loss home more than Christmas time and I can fully speak to that.

In the last 5 years I’ve lost my brother, my mother, and this past year, my dad.  At this time of year there are moments that the pain and anguish strike my heart and spirit  so hard it almost takes my breath away.

I deeply miss my people.

I miss the ones who shared those long ago memories with me. I miss taking out certain decorations or ornaments and reminiscing about them. Oh, I still do on many items as I share stories of various treasures with my kids but they don’t have the memories associated with it.

In this last year I’ve also been busy cleaning out my parents entire house and going through years of….life. It has to be done but there have been so many days it’s been an agonizing road to walk.  There were times I went in with the intent to work and only found myself sobbing on the sofa longing for those I loved to be there again.

However, in the cleaning process I’ve found some beautiful treasures that I have brought home to enjoy and to share with my kids. One thing I finally felt emotionally strong to do was go through the various boxes of carefully wrapped ornaments that had been my mothers and my grandmothers. I tried last year but opening the box that she had last carefully packed away was a bit more than I could handle at the time.

This year, I brought everything out. I laid them all on the table smiling, laughing and sometimes crying looking at all of the years of Christmas treasures in front of me. I pulled precious old ones from the mix, ones of my grandmothers that date back to World War 2.  There were treasured delicate glass ornaments that have always gone at the top of tree to protect them, now in my care to treasure. There were silly ones that for some reason I always loved, like these colored glass balls that had big fake eyes and a foam mustache. When my brother and I moved out my mom gave me a blue one and my brother a red one. Two years ago mine fell from the tree and shattered in a million pieces. Yes, I cried.  Going through my brothers ornaments I came across the red one… somehow it was like an old friend was back as I settled it into a position on my tree.

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He’s old and not fancy, but I love him. As a child I named him Oscar.

 

 

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One of several from my grandmother that date back to World War 2.

 

Speaking of trees….

I realized that one poor tree, no matter how big, reaches a point of holding all the memories of Christmas past.  However, I can have several other trees that are fun or have a theme. Of course my kids might secretly be wondering if I’m turning into a crazy old tree lady… 😉

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I love this little pink tree. It’s fun, whimsical and is my gingerbread/candy tree in my kitchen. I add real colored candy canes to it as well.

 

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The tinsel tree is a new acquisition this year. The tree is new but it’s covered in vintage glass ornaments. The little house in front is actually an old light bulb that my great grandmother used on her tree
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I love the rustic look of all of this. The trunk was a great yard sale find years ago for 15.00. It’s an 1800’s steamer trunk.

 

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I won’t lie. I’m seriously in love with this. I picked up the tiny white tree this year and it’s covered in more vintage glass ornaments. The old wooden coke crate contains many more that were on my grandmothers tree.

 

So many treasures are vintage collectibles now. Not just that, it’s the history they hold as well that means so much to me.

AH! I’m vintage.

Ha well in the life of Christmas decorations when they are up and over 50plus years that’s pretty old. I’m fascinated with the Christmases they have seen and sometimes wonder how they’ve survived so long.

My cardboard Christmas houses, so delicate and fragile and originally only pennies in a dime store are now worth hundreds of dollars depending on the era it came from, style etc.

I am completely enthralled with them. However, my love again, was started as a child when my grandmother would place her little village out with the Barclay skater people. It was one of my most favorite parts of Christmas. I was thrilled when my mother let me have the beat up old village when I found it in the back of the loft long forgotten. I took them home and carefully restored them. It was only when I began digging into their history that I found the ones I grew up with were actually the end of an era of these unique houses. The first ones had been produced in the late 1920’s -early 30’s into the 40’s and 50’s and were last made in the mid 60’s a far cry for the original grandeur they had been crafted in.

Today, I have my grandmothers original set I still put out for that is where my childhood memories are.

But I’ve also carefully collected some beautiful, unique houses by shopping carefully and skillfully on Ebay. There are some I have to look wistfully at and let go as they soar in price zones I won’t participate in.

All of the houses in my collection are  70-80 years old. How they have withstood the test of so many Christmases gone by always amazes me. Some I’ve purchased and carefully done some restoration on. Others, I’ve purchased knowing they will stay “as is” in my collection mainly because the coloring or materials would be impossible to find and replicate now.

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Shhh step into my quiet winter wonderland…

 

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Churches are my favorite pieces. The red windowed one is from the early 1930’s.  The one on end hales from the same era. I’ve collected seven unique ones.

 

I wrote a post on them last Christmas, you can learn more reading “Favorite Things Of Christmas”  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/12/22/favorite-things-of-christmas/

I guess I should say for a more modern, trendy girl, I absolutely love and adore vintage Christmas. The new cheap modern day stuff doesn’t have the same appeal to me. I think though, it’s more because my heart is connected to the times gone by with the old items from the past.

But life moves forward, and memories are sweet and dear and keep us connected to those we’ve loved and have been privileged to share the journey of life with. As I’ve decorated this year it has been a sweet treat to incorporate so many things from the past that are old and beautiful with newer things I’ve collected with my family over these past years.

I love being able to create a magical, special season for my family like I knew growing up. It blesses me that they appreciate it so much and enjoy being there. I want them to have memories of special times and special things that they can share with their children.

Traditions. Simple or elaborate I want them to have the history of traditions.

But Christmas is so much more. It’s a time in the year when we should be more mindful than ever of peace, love, and joy. To be mindful of those we hold dear and the treasure that they are to us.  To give those gifts freely and generously back to them.  To embrace some of the simplicity of the season and not be swooped up in the commercial money train it has become.  To enjoy the presence of each other because that isn’t always granted to us.

I hope that you make your own traditions with those you love. I hope you value and embrace the simple things that make Christmas so beautiful and magical. I pray you know the peace and joy that this season is about and that it stays with you all year long.

As I’m concluding this post, and thinking of peace, I can’t help but mention it has been snowing here now for over an hour. I’ve watched big white fluffy flakes tumble from the sky and blow through the air, silently beautiful, peaceful.

It’s kind of a big deal for a girl who lives in south Texas… we rarely ever see snow.

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Do you wanna build a snowman? My adult sons crafted this big guy.

 

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Oh my! Did we get some snow! How beautiful is this?? Our first real snow since 1985. What an exciting day and night it turned into! A bit of a white Christmas for us.

 

 

It’s peaceful and quiet… it’s been reflective for me. I pray you know and experience all of the things that matter most in this Christmas season and that you have eyes of a child to still appreciate the magic and a spirit that receives the peace and hope of the Christ child.

Do you have special traditions or things that make Christmas magical to you? What are your favorite childhood memories?

Holiday Survival Guide

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I’m struggling to grasp the fact we are nearly two weeks into October already.  Like where has the year vanished to? October heralds the start of all things “holiday” in the commercial realm here.

I’m not sure what it’s like in the rest of the world, but here in the U.S. it’s become sadly common place the last few years for stores to just throw all holidays together like some huge smorgasbord you just go in and pick from.

Why yes, I want to look at Christmas trees and lights while I’m picking out orange and black Halloween candy.

Back in the day when I was a wee little girl ( a really long time ago ha) there was a general appreciation for each holiday. It was recognized and then you moved to the next one. The official start to Christmas was after Thanksgiving and you didn’t go get your tree till December.

I’m remember my grandparents being shocked when the neighbor put theirs up before December one year.

One just didn’t break Christmas rules by putting the tree up to early.

And Thanksgiving, well that’s just about swept under the rug and barely given a nod to. If you’re lucky you may find some turkey napkins and fall leaves squished into a small area on one single aisle.

By the way….Do you know Canada has Thanksgiving in October??? Like they just had it… weird… although I was a little jealous they were already having turkey… but I digress….

This isn’t a post about me whining on how commercialized the “holiday” season (Oct-Dec)  has become or how I wish things were simpler, although I do.

No, this is a little post about having a survival fitness guide for the “holiday season”.

I saw the first meme the other day… you know.. one that’s designed to make you feel like a guilty loser for enjoying foods or treats for the holiday? Get out there and work off your food!

Yeah, I think those are awesome too… not really.

I think they are designed to steal your joy over something that should be fun and celebratory, isn’t that what holidays are about?

Family? Food? Friends? More food?

That’s what life is about.

However, all of us want to navigate through these upcoming months and not look like the Butterball turkey come January.  You really can go through these months and not gain weight, I promise.

When I started on my health journey, it was mid October. I stayed the course all through the rest of that year and when I checked in with my doctor in January I had lost 20 lbs.

Yes, you read that correctly. No, I didn’t starve myself or do without. I ate normal almost all of those days, I enjoyed the celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. I baked, I ate cookies, I nibbled on my favorite chocolate treats, and I enjoyed the season.

I also stayed true to my exercise at the time, every day. I didn’t treat each day like it was a party that I needed to over eat on, I ate in moderation. I didn’t eat till I was miserable on the actual holiday.

I wore form fitting clothes to remind me of my goals. Crazy I know but it works. Trust me, you are much more aware of your body and how you are eating.

So I want you to have your own personal survival guide

This is gonna look different for all of us. It will vary by our goals, our lifestyle and what we are trying to achieve. I’m assuming, you really don’t want to add any extra weight to you.. that’s why you are here.

First of all, if you fall in the camp of already throwing the towel in and proclaiming “I’ll start in January!”

Stop. It.

Seriously, stop thinking like that. There are only a few days in these upcoming months that would be out of the norm for eating purposes. You have days of normal life going on there are no reasons to toss in the towel and view these months as an eating binge.

And… I’ve just told you I lost weight through these months so I know it’s possible. Either that or you maintain your weight.

Next, exercise.

If you aren’t yet at least get out and start walking. Regardless, you want to make time in your day for that. It not only helps with the weight issue more importantly it keeps you sane and focused on days that get busy with all the hustle of the holidays.

One of my fav things I’ve done every Thanksgiving since I started getting myself in shape, is getting up early for a sunrise run.  It centers my mind on what the day is about, let’s me think of all I’m grateful for and blessed with, burns off some calories and energizes me for the long busy day I’ll have as Chief cook and Dessert Master 😛

Food.

Oh there are so many delicious things to sample aren’t there? And pie. Glorious, delicious pie.

I eat the things I love the most. I don’t worry so much about the other stuff. I don’t eat it because “it’s there”. I feel no obligation to eat everything that’s put out, you shouldn’t either. If you can’t really stand Grandma’s sweet potato casserole with gobs of marshmallows, for heavens sake, leave it behind!

I don’t feel deprived or left out. I have what I want in small portions.. with so much food available it doesn’t take much to fill a plate.  I detest that over full feeling so I really try and keep away from doing it.

You need to make your plan now

~ determine what you will and won’t do. This puts you in charge and not just being bounced along day to day,

~ on the actual day be mindful of how you eat. Listen to your body. Trust me, there will be food for days so you don’t need to eat it all at once.

~ don’t over eat or eat “bonus” foods on random days. Eat normally and respect your decisions you’ve made.

~ don’t feel obligated to eat everything that’s put out. Be selective in what you want.

~ do try and limit alcohol and keep your water intake up.

~ do commit to daily exercise.

~ do enjoy your family traditions and foods. Don’t get hung up on how many calories are in things.

~ do remember, you can’t “work off” things you’ve already eaten.  It’s done. Move forward and work out sensibly.

~ do listen to your body. If it’s telling you “enough” then learn to stop. Like I said, food will be around for days 😉

~finally, do set a small goal for yourself to achieve at the end of the season. If you have something you’re mindful of, you will be more likely to stay focused on it.

Make sure you check back in the upcoming weeks for a few more tips and motivation to keep strong and fit through this season.

With some planning, awareness of yourself and each day, you can move through these months enjoying yourself, staying positive, and maybe even dropping a few pounds in the process.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to stay on track during the holidays?

 

 

Holidays, Food And Guilty Feelings

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So I’m writing this post pre Easter weekend. I am assuming that the majority of you reading will have just celebrated it in a variety of ways.

I can’t speak to the rest of the world. but in the U.S. it will involve family and faith and  all kinds of tasty foods as well as a plethora of candy.

It is however,  now Monday and you may be feeling guilty over your “self indulgence” of the weekend. You maybe feel like you enjoyed those stolen treats out of your kids basket a bit to much.

Heck, I usually have plenty of left over stuff I don’t need to raid their stuff ( and yeah, I still make my adult kids Easter baskets 😉

Seriously, though. I have a deep appreciation for chocolate although now days, it just takes a little for me, to much makes me feel yucky.

Of course I see things circulating on the internet that always make my skin crawl… meme’s that talk about doing certain exercises to “negate what you ate”

For the love of chocolate bunnies, you can’t undo something that’s already done!

Of course, there are things you can do after the fact…..like… move on and get back to your regular routine. Move forward…life as usual… you know, normal stuff.

Did you enjoy your time with your family? Was the food good? Did you have fun watching the kids experience the day? Whatever your day looked like, was it good?

Life is good. It’s meant to be enjoyed. That means there will be times we have celebrations and food and its food we really love ’cause it’s special to that event.  Life isn’t about constant restrictions and feeling guilty over what we put in our mouth.

A “diet” shouldn’t ruin our holiday celebrations.  On the other hand you shouldn’t use it as open season to just eat like an out of control person because it is a  holiday.

Balance. Moderation. Be sensible. It works.

One thing I’ve learned on my health journey that’s been freeing is that the food is always there. The chocolate is there. I don’t have to just drop into the deep end and gorge like I’ll never have it again.

I know I can. I know I will. I just let myself live in those boundaries.

Will I maybe have more than “usual” of food or treats over the weekend?

Most likely, yes.

Will my body let me know it’s not used to it and get back on track ? Absolutely.

That, my friend is how you need to train yourself too.

After a celebratory weekend you should be focused on getting back to what you do ( which is hopefully eating well) .

You don’t have to throw in the towel.

You don’t have to wait till another day to “start”.

You don’t have to feel guilt or beat yourself up.

You don’t have to go to the gym and workout longer or extra hard to burn off calories you’ve consumed days before.  ( PLEASE! don’t)

What can you do? What should you do ?

Don’t weight yourself! It’s not “fat” you’ve gained but a healthy dose of water weight. If you need to weigh yourself, wait at least one day before you do. You don’t get “fat” from eating some extra calories for a day or two.

Be thankful for the day you had with friends and family.

Be thankful you were able to enjoy good foods and treats.

Pick right up with your balanced and sensible eating.

Do your exercise ( whatever you do) do it how you usually do. Don’t attempt to push yourself harder ( you may get hurt)

Refocus on your goals and remember living a healthy lifestyle also enjoys room to breathe and enjoy life and get back on track again.

Love yourself.  You’re doing a great job.

The key to success is to keep moving forward and staying positive.

I understand this may be a foreign concept to you, but with a little practice and patience, you will learn to implement it into a part of your healthy lifestyle 🙂

Holidays, Traditions And Memories

It’s that time of year when I find myself in my pantry taking inventory. No, I’m not  extremely obsessed with what’s in there or making sure no one has found my hidden stash of chocolate ( admit it, you have a stash too 😉

It’s honestly to check out what baking ingredients I have or still need before I get ready to start all of my Christmas baking and candy making for the season.

We just wrapped up Thanksgiving where I  made a variety of pies and an amazing Pecan Pumpkin cheesecake.

Christmas will be all kinds of cookies, some new recipes, but mostly old, tried and true ones that have been in my family for awhile that everyone looks forward to.

For me, the traditions of the season mean as much as anything else to me. I love that my kids have been raised with certain things that as adults, are now traditions to them. My son is now interested in carrying on similar traditions with his children.

Last week I was whipping up some pumpkin pies, using a batter bowl that had been my grandmothers. She has been gone since 1994, but I know that piece from my childhood, remember her using it.

 

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When she passed away, my mom naturally inherited all of her things. She stashed the “old” dishes away saying she had seen them her entire life and wanted to use different  dishes.

When my mom passed away two years ago, the task fell on me to begin sorting through items in her house. Of course the first things I brought home were some of my grandmothers now “old” dishes.

Now long worn with wear, sporting some chips and an occasional crack, to me they reflect life, use, and the service to family. They reflect a time gone by. Family who is no longer with me today. Memories. Traditions. Shared experiences. Life.

Using these items somehow makes me feel more connected to my mom and grandmother.

I will admit, this time of year, from about October thru the New Year is hard for me since my Mom loved the entire “holiday” season. She loved the baking and freely shared her talents with so many people. She worked so hard to make the holidays enjoyable not just for her family, but those she encountered in her daily life.  I miss her plotting and planning with me for our big family meals, her festively wrapped packages, and childlike enthusiasm for the season.

Being in the kitchen is just a way I feel connected to her during this time. Using dishes that have been passed along are just a soft touch for me to keep my Mom, grandmother, and memories alive in my mind.

It’s my hope to share, teach and inspire the young women in my family to carry on the traditions for upcoming years and generations for their families.

What traditions do you have in your family during the holidays? Have you started new ones or do you carry on ones that have been in your family for a long time?

Below you’ll find the traditional pumpkin pie recipe I use each year.  Enjoy!

(1) 9 inch pie crust. ( homemade or a defrosted all ready crust)

2 eggs, lightly beaten, (1) can 15oz. Solid packed pumpkin, 3/4 c sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, (1) can 12 oz. undiluted evaporated milk

Prepare pie crust, mix filling ingredients in order listed. Pour into crust. Bake in preheated 425 oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350. Bake an additional 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. If necessary cover edge of crust with foil to prevent burning.

Cool and garnish as desired.

 

 

Parades, Small Towns, And County Fairs

So this past weekend we celebrated Labor Day weekend in the good ‘ol  U.S. of A.  This holiday weekend typically signals the end of summer, the start of fall and school activities, and a general wind down of simple, lazy summer days.

The town I’ve lived and grown up in has its county fair all weekend long and on Saturday the streets are literally closed off for the fair parade. This was the 111th year for all the shenanigans.

The parade, like the fair, has definitely changed a lot over the years, but then so has the town. It’s not so small anymore and some of the small town things have given way to a bigger town growth and ideas.

One thing that remains with the Saturday morning parade is the gathering of families, a relaxed fun morning and an opportunity to run into friends you might not see all the time.

Oh, not to mention hanging out at the local bakery, drinking coffee and indulging in a rare pastry 😉

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Hey! I’ve got coffee and that’s most important 😉 and don’t miss that I caught a kid in the act of shooting a basket, quite by chance haha

 

The parade has it’s usual variety of local business advertisements, some actual and real parade floats, bands, dance teams, military representation, and of course a plethora of clowns.

I’ve found over time people fall into two camps with clowns.

They love them… or hate them.

 

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They look harmless enough, right ???

 

Then you have grown men that speed around on things like this…. this is what scares me… well not really… not anymore as they’ve made them kinda tame down their crazy speed circles they used to do…. right at the crowds…

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This is what happens when dads are left unattended on weekends. Their version of a sports car 😉

Ok and you only see a few pictured here… there  really are like… thousands of them… in their loud lil cars, doing donuts and stuff…

Of course it’s not really a country parade without… you know….tractors….

 

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Old school tractors.. complete with the farmer….

 

 

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Why yes, that is a life size fake elephant on a little trailer 😛

 

 

 

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Reppin’ old military

 

It is worth mentioning, we actually roll up the streets like, three times a year, for parades. June is a German heritage celebration, then in December of course it’s a Christmas parade.

I will freely admit the Christmas is my most favorite. Our town is full of white lights and is so beautiful. Every entry in the parade is light covered and there’s just a fun spirit in the air.

Well, wait. Maybe that’s the kettlecorn I’m smelling. And oh my gosh, if you’ve never had it… I’m sorry…. really I am.

It’s this amazing combo of sweet and salty and I always want them to bag it for me right after it’s finished. Truthfully though, it’s always fresh as there’s a line waiting for it.

Some years the weather is the right amount of crisp, cold. Other years, you can wear shorts 😛

Gosh, hard to imagine we’ll be at that parade in a few shorts months…

Ah yes. Small town USA. Even though we’re not so really small anymore, during parades and town celebrations it still has that wonderful vibe.

And no matter what, it’s home, and everything always feels good when you’re home.

Favorite Things Of Christmas

Christmas week. Christmas only days ahead….

Yikes!

I’ve been baking, shopping and wrapping like a wild woman.

My stockings have been hung by the chimney with care in hopes that I’ve been a good girl and Santa will leave me some goodies 😉

Decorating and getting out favorite Christmas decorations is definitely something I enjoy each year. As much as I love adding a new thing here and there with the passing Christmas seasons, it’s the old stuff that’s been around for awhile that really brings me the most joy.
You know how you probably have something that is “Christmas” to you? Maybe it’s a special food or cookie. Maybe it’s a particular decoration or something that’s been hanging around for awhile that when you get it out it evokes memories of years gone by.

That’s cool stuff….things that evoke memories of past Christmas seasons.

This first picture is a little village my grandmother put out every year for as long as I can remember. She would put the Barclay skaters out with the village. ( you can see them in the second picture… the people in this one are definitely more current) That was back in the day when lead figures were made of, well, lead 😉 I would get lost as a child sometimes just sitting and looking at it… that tiny little winter wonderland.

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As time went on and my grandmother passed away, my mom got the village. And after several years she moved on to a newer more modern ceramic one ( I never understood). One Christmas I was up in the loft in my moms barn like some large rat rummaging around for some things for her when back in the corner, forgotten, was the tiny village and winter skaters.

I immediately fell into begging mode… “Please, please, please let me have the village!” ( I can beg quite well when I have to 😉
She agreed and then I pressed again… “and the skater people? and the Santa and sled?” she told me to take them all…

I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. After all these years, the village and skater people with the Santa were mine!

I brought them home and carefully opened up the box taking out each tiny house. They were dusty and dirty and in need of some repair… to which I carefully set out to do… that Christmas they were out again with the lights carefully shining through the back of them (they have little holes for lights in the back)

That day began my quest ( and addiction) to learn about these cheap little dimestore houses and winter village scenes. Much to my surprise I learned the set I had grown up with were actually houses at the end of the era of the “cardboard” villages (mid 60’s).

The Barclay lead figurines were from the early ’40’s. I also learned my Santa is very rare and quite pursued as he was the only style made like this in 1942.

Often referred to as “putz houses” in older times the village was arranged around and under the tree creating often spectacular and unique displays.

As my digging and research broadened I learned these houses had shown up on the scene sometime in the late 1920’s. The most spectacular, beautiful ones were made during that time through about the mid 40’s. Many of these were huge with exquisite details ( and were on ebay selling for crazy amounts of money which quickly left me out of the pursuit of many) and yes, I got the bug.

Once I started seeing some of the unique, and beautifully detailed pieces it was hard to not jump in and gather my own “collection”.

This is the picture below.

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The “youngest” piece is the big white church in the center…it’s about my age haha… It was in horrible shape when I bought it. Someone had put hot pink and bright blue tissue paper in for windows… it had no fence…it was dirty… and I restored it to what it looks like now. The peach church to the left I bought for 9.00 … the windows had been chewed out by mice..it had no steeple… or windows.. the cotton was not on the roof… it was dirty.. but it was so unique I wanted it.( and my family shamelessly laughed at me for buying it) It had an actual little light in the bottom you could turn on. I bought it and carefully restored it… it is the piece I’m most proud of giving new life to. Even serious collectors I sent pics to were amazed at how it was restored.

I think my favorite pieces to find are the “cotton topped” houses, but especially the churches. These seem to have had a time span of only the early 40’s.

All of the houses in the second picture range in age from youngest of 55 to about 85 years old. The small house in forefront with lots of really tiny windows I believe is circa late 1920’s making it the oldest. Houses with the figurines of Santa and the Priest were made during the early 30’s and are most coveted by collectors today.

Given that these were cheap cardboard little pieces that sold for 5-10 cents during their brief time in history I find it totally amazing they are still around all these years later. I wonder about where they’ve been and what history they’ve been a part of. Todays villages are pretty but totally pale in comparison to me when I see the old antique beauty of these pieces.

In the second picture you can see the winter skaters and Santa and reindeer that were a part of my childhood village.

This is a part of Christmas that delights me in that childlike way.

Tell me… what special thing is it for you that says Christmas ?