Thursday 2 December 2010

Decorating the tree . . .

Well, it's official. The Christmas Season is upon us and my lounge now looks like a Santa's grotto at the mall. I am just waiting for the kids to start lining up. They're going to be dissappointed as he will either be very short and look suspiciously like a fat Canadian woman or really skinny and look like Todd. Normally I try to rein him in a bit, but this year I let Todd go full out and decorate the lounge to his heart's delight. All the walls are festooned with garlands now and there are a few bells hanging here and there, and I have to admit it does look very festive and pretty. I did the tree. It's not a real one of course, but there's a definite gingerbread theme going on there.

We always had a real tree when I was growing up, well at least until I was in my late teens anyways. Dad would bring it in and he always had to cut some of the trunk off so that it would fit. My mother would drag out the Christmas ornament boxes and we children would sit on the couch and watch. Dad always got the job of untangling the lights and putting them on the tree. I loved the lights . . . they were those big fat ones of long ago, not the tiny twinkly ones of today. The lights was always a very long and frustrating operation. Inevitably one or two would be burnt out and he would have to check the whole string, one light at a time, to see which one was a dud and replace it before they would all work. Once the lights were on the tree and all was in preparation, my mother would begin to decorate it. I don't actually remember helping her so we probably weren't allowed to until we were older. There were gaily coloured blown glass balls, some with pretty sparkled snowflakes painted on them. There were also blown glass birds that clipped onto the branches. My very favorite ones were these little tin ones that looked like small tin pie plates and had little red mushrooms in the middle with white polkadots on them. There were little bits of greenery on them as well. I absolutely loved those and used to run my fingers over them when my mom wasn't looking. (Sounds like I was a sneaky child doesn't it!) There were tinsel icicles and sparkly garlands and bunches of angel hair. The tree was so beautiful when it was done . . . special and magic to my child's eye.

The box that the Christmas ornaments were stored in smelled all Christmasy and wonderful. There were a few things in the box that had nothing to do with Christmas, but it was the only time we got to see them, as my mother stored them in there the rest of the year. I don't suppose they were ornaments really that anyone would want setting out. There was a little cardboard box that had an old fashioned porcelain potty in it and a toilet with an actual lid and seat that went up and down. I remember there was some poem as well printed on the box having something to do with old fashioned and modern, although I can't exactly remember the words. The other thing was a little ceramic German girl that they had gotten in Germany. She was squatting down, holding up her skirts. There was a hole in her bottom and there were these little funny tinfoil looking things that if you put them in the hole and lit them . . . she would go to the toilet. Naughty I know, but it just wasn't Christmas for us kids unless my mother set the little girl on the table and lit one of them for us. We were absolutely fascinated with it! (small minds you know)

My Aunt Freda had a beautiful Christmas Tree each year. It was easily as tall as the ceiling and then again as wide. I'm not sure where Uncle Harold got it, but it was always the most beautiful tree ever. She would spend hours decorating it, sometimes days. It was covered with the most beautiful ornaments, most largely handmade and going over to see it was always one of the highlights of my Christmas's. I believe my Aunt Freda probably loved Christmas more than anyone I know. The other day I was talking to my mother on the phone and told her I couldn't find the presents I had bought for my dad for Christmas, that I had put them somewhere and couldn't remember where. She said that sounds just like your Aunt Freda, she would do that all the time . . . I especially miss her at Christmas. It is hard to believe she has been gone some 3 1/2 years now . . . She is our own special Christmas Angel now.

After the tree went up yesterday I spent the rest of the afternoon baking some Christmas goodies and listening to Christmas Carols on the computer. Here's another entry for your Christmas Goodie tray this year!

*Snow Pillows*
Makes 30
Printable Recipe

These tender little bites are also known as Mexican Wedding cookies, but I like to call them Snow Pillows . . . it just sounds more festive. In Austria they are called Kipel, and in Greece, Kourabiedes. Snow Pillows is definitely my favourite name . . . but in any language they are just plain delicious.

1 cup plain flour
1 cup pecan meal (finely ground pecans)
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar, divided
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F/gas mark 4. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.

Stir together the pecan meal, flour and salt. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and 1/3 cup of the icing sugar until fluffy. Stir in the vanilla, then stir in the flour mixture, mixing it in well. Chill the dough for 20 minutes.

Shape pieces of the dough into 1 inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake about 12 minutes until light brown and firm to the touch.

Have the remainder of the icing sugar waiting in a bowl and immediately upon removing the cookies from the oven drop them a few at a time gently into the icing sugar and roll them around until they are well coated. Remove with a slotted spatula to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat until all are well coated.

The icing sugar melts and makes a sweet coating. Once they are cool I repeat the process, which is what gives them that snowy look.

Over in The English Kitchen today, I'm baking Candy Cane Cookies!


  1. Beautiful pictures Marie!! And those cookies look so good!!

    Keep warm my friend! Jeff said that the airport is shut down and he doesn't know if he can get home tomorrow. It sounds terrible!


  2. I love the pictures. I also sorely miss my box of beautiful glass oranments that my ex has. I used to buy the children a special glass pretty every year and he hasn't seen fit to give the girls theirs. However I have found some hand blown birds just as you described and bought some more pretties. Pip has decided the tree is not going up until Christmas Eve and that we will do the 12 days and take it down on Epiphany.

    Stay warm and well and I hope the pain pills are helping.

  3. How did the tree lights do that eh? They used to work fine when they were put away but when the next Christmas came round dad (it was always dad) would have to go round the whole string to see which bulb didn't work. One out, all out!

    In our house us kids were charged with putting the silver "icicles" on the tree - lametta, I think it was called - and then cotton wool "snowflakes" were thrown at it. Where they landed was anybody's guess!

    Doesn't time fly when you're enjoying yourself? We need some photos of you decked up living room.......

  4. What a beautiful tree. I love it when all the decorations go up. I hope your Thursday is a great one!

  5. Firstly I hope you are well Marie -the house is looking fantastic I love your tree! Are you feeling more settled now - I hope so. My visits have been so few and far between to all my favorite blogs these past few months. I have some big changes coming next year so I am hoping to have some time before then to catch up on everyone's posts! Kisses Kitty p.s. loving those little cakes!

  6. hi marie! i've missed visiting your blog the past week-we were visiting our families down in south texas. hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving-oh wait, scratch that, i'm thinking you don't celebrate that? i'll probably find out as i scroll through your older posts:) anyways, hope you are having a great day. can't believe Christmas is upon us already! i love this time of year.

  7. Marie:

    How I have missed you and your daily blog/journal. Reading this today has really put me in a Christmas spirit! So many treasured memories and stories are told during this time of year...

    Thank you for posting the recipe too. My mom used to make those cookies, and she did refer to them as "Mexican Wedding Cookies". I always loved them.

    Gerushia's New World

  8. What lovely memories Marie. Todd has done the room beautifully..Just wish I could see it in the "real" so to speak...
    I havn't started yet to decorate other than the advent calander...which is actually a box Mary and I treated ourselves to couple of years ago (from the Lakeland shop)There is a lovely manger on top of the 25 boxes we each open one every morning till the "big day" Also now got up the advent candle that we light each evening at dinner..
    Perhaps next week when Margaret and Mitch come over we will look out some other things. My heart really isn't in it this year, however I will have to try if only for Mary's sake as she gets so excited at Christmas.
    Love Sybil xx

  9. love it...we too had real trees growing up...until we got older my Mom got fake trees....Tony and i have had our share of real and fake trees throughout our marriage...there is nothing like a real tree smell though... Yet fake ones don't die and they sure do make the fake ones look real these days...Happy decorating... Are these pics. from your home or a magazine...which ever they are sure pretty...Mica


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