Saturday, December 31, 2016

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on December 31

 In a quest to preserve the spirit of Christmases past number 1 son and I laced up our walking shoes, got ourselves a smartrip card and headed into Washington DC to see the sights of Christmas - something we have not done in several years.
 We took the metro and got off at Union Station. The tree gifted to the people of Washington to symbolize the friendship between Norway and the USA is always a grand sight against the wonderful backdrop of Union Station.
 From Union Station we strolled briskly down Delaware Avenue to the North facade of the US Capitol.
 On the western side of the Capitol building they have been hard at work for several weeks now preparing for the upcoming Presidential Inauguration.
 Next stop was the Botanic Gardens where we had hoped to see the model train exhibit but the line of people waiting to get in (estimate was a one hour wait) was offputting so we headed into the main front spaces of the Conservatory where the display, Seasons Greenings, is a delightful mix of models of many of Washington's most iconic buildings created using plant materials by Applied Imagination from Kentucky. The choice of the theme was in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
 Okay, who knows what this tree is? It is real - and amazing. It is a Theobroma Cacao plant aka the chocolate tree.
 Walking out of the Conservatory we decided to ditch the plan to metro down to the Ellipse and to instead walk  down the National Mall.
 Alongside the National Gallery of Art I was intrigued by a structure which I first thought was an outdoor sculpture. But once I spotted a large logo for AT&T I realized it was more preparations for the upcoming inauguration.
 Arriving at the intersection of 14th and Constitution you cannot miss the very newest of the Smithsonian Museums, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is a very intriguing sight from the outside as it appears as a see-through facade. Opening in late September this year it is still very difficult to get tickets to see inside because of the popularity of the Museum so we contented ourselves with the outdoor view before heading off to our final destination, the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in front of the White House.
 Washington DC is always refreshing, rebuilding, renovating and more so trying to get the best views (and photographs) is often challenging. When we first got a glimpse of the tree it was behind a large fenced off area and looked a little insignificant. But by the time we skirted around the fence and got closer the lights had been turned on. Like the museum we had just walked past, this tree also has a see-through facade - in this instance a tight weave of the electrical cords holding the vast number of blue and white lights.
 True to tradition, the Volunteers of the National Christmas Tree Railroad, have again delighted us all with many trains chugging to and fro around the tree.
 By now we were getting weary so we headed up 17th Street seeking the Farragut West metro station. Along the way we passed by the PNC Place building with it's very simple symbol of the season. Finding the entrance to the station took some sleuthing (we are not frequent metro riders) but we made it and settled our tired bodies into the seat for the ride home.
Our closeout view for the outing was this portion of the display at Reston Station, outside the terminus on the silver line.

Lastly I do apologise if you have visited here on the past few even dates looking for my posts. We made a short notice overnight trip on Monday and came home on Tuesday to be welcomed by water dripping from the ceiling (fortunately it started after we arrived home). But it seems the balance of the week has been taken up with moving things out of the way and waiting on various tradesmen to attend to the situation. There are two more themed posts still to come in this series intended to Preserve the Spirit of Christmas so keep checking back to see what else I have in store.

Happy New Year to all - may it be a happy, healthy, safe and more uplifting one than 2016 has been.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on December 24

 No need for the preserving jar tonight - I'll let my tree skirt say it. A line from one of my personal favorite Christmas Carols. And it really is a starry night tonight in the skies above our home.
 Some weeks ago I saw that a nearby barn and other outbuildings were being dismantled. I thought it would be great to be able to get an old barn door to use as a background for some photos. Of course I needed to do this correctly by asking the owner. But it seems she didn't really understand what I wanted. On the day she said we could come get the door the one she had in mind for us was so big and heavy I had to turn it down Looking quickly round I thought this door might be better; it did fit in the car but alas it is too heavy for me to move by myself. But for tonight I want you to imagine the star hanging over the stable, that little stable all forlorn.
 Fun with a few stars.
 More cookie making happened today.
Stars light the way.

And heav'n and nature sing....

Let the stars guide us towards the true meaning of Christmas so we may preserve it in our hearts.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on December 22

 We'll call this one the jar of good intentions. I bought these peppermint Hershey's Kisses intending to use them on cookies...but so far the opportunity to get in the kitchen and make them has eluded me.
 This afternoon number 1 son had set aside time to make his "M & M Bars". He works in a methodical way getting all his ingredients out, measured and ready before he hits the "start" knob on the mixer.
 Cream the butter and sugar and now beat in the eggs one at a time.
 Put the dough into the baking pan and smooth it out.
 And, after it has cooled you can cut it into serving pieces. He made two pans of the recipe today, each with a different sort of M & M. They are to be given away to friends.
 Last Saturday number 2 son held court in the kitchen all day long. We are great fans of the food section of the Washington Post when they publish their annual issue of Holiday baking recipes. 2 son had chosen three recipes and this one, Chai-spiced Snowdrops turned out the best.
 This recipe for Cinnamon Pretzels needed work. But with perseverance (and the addition of another egg and a drop of milk) they were able to be rolled and shaped and baked.
 They turned out okay and, true to the recipe note, they are good for dunking.
 Here's a plate of finished treats from last weekend - a couple of my angel slices (see the angel post), the snowdrops, pretzels and the vanilla cookie (in it's basic form as a cut-out cookie).
Venturing outside I found this very delicious looking chocolate log...well, it did look very edible but, as you can likely tell, it is a Christmas tree trimming after the ice storm of this past weekend. The way that ice melted looked just like frosting dripping off a chocolate log to my eyes.

In the pursuit of preserving the spirit of Christmas for you I have just had to resort to a lot of calories. sigh.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on December 18

 We having a red and white candy cane sorta nite tonight.
Some got out of the jar.
 Red and white...
White and red.
 Calorie free of course.
 Who'll buy my candy canes?
Close-out special on the red and whites!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on December 16

 Angels we have heard on high
 Sweetly singing o'er the plains
 And the mountains in reply
 Echoing their joyous strains
(A quick aside here - I don't know when or why this particular angel came into my collection but she does look a little startled don't you think? Somewhat surprised by the echo maybe.)
Gloria, in excelsis Deo.
 Confession time - I have been waiting to make this slice and I needed the angels to carry it out. It's a recipe from my older copy of "The Joy of Cooking" and it is one I have always enjoyed. Alas I have had to wait for others to decide that it is safe to eat coconut, pecans and lemon icing...
 I set up my evening "tea for one" tray and worked quickly so I could enjoy the tea. It really does taste quite more sophisticated drinking it from the limoges cup than from the mug I usually use.
While our hearts in love we raise. Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas on December 14

 For this post we are inspired by the outdoor Christmas tree and thinking of the birds that need feed and shelter to get through the winter. This jar of safflower seed will be welcomed by the tiny visitors to our yard this winter.
 There are a few birds and birdhouses that sometimes go on the outdoor tree.
 In the landscape cleanup this week certain stands of echinacea seed heads were left up for the birds in case they have missed a few seeds.
 My version of tweeting...
Who put those in my nest?
The poinsettia in the old olive bucket caught the camera eye but first it had to be relocated to a lighter spot to photograph.

And for those who wondered what happened yesterday (the even day) I was busy during the day and it was after 10pm before I got to the computer to start this post. It was about that time that the lights flickered and went out - something to do with the very cold weather front which arrived last night. This morning we are below freezing with a strong breeze albeit the sun is shining. Again I sat down to try to post and the lights flickered once more.sigh. So while I waited I moved the poinsettia around to let it pose for the camera; an activity that did not require the electricity.