Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Pandemic Christmas

 Given the relaxed nature of this year's celebrations, this is the first year in recent memory that I'm heading into New Year's without being completely exhausted. I could have done without the pandemic, but I could get used to scaled-back holidays. 

The boys requested a "real" Christmas pudding this year (meaning made with suet) so I obliged. They enjoyed it, which is good because there's quite a bit of it for them to get through (and a small one in the fridge that needs another steaming to serve on St. Patrick's). Observationally, it is darker than puddings made with butter or vegetarian suet, but otherwise looks more or less the same. They couldn't tell anything different in the taste. If you're wondering why there's a hole in the centre, it is because my pudding basin has a centre shaft. It might look less traditional, but it ensures my puddings are cooked through to the middle. Of course for something like a steak and ale pudding I need to use my old, traditional basin. I dare say, this turned out perfectly. 

I've had suet puddings before, the last time memorably after I had been vegetarian for several years. Growing up with a parent suffering from issues around food (I won't go as far as calling it an eating disorder as I'm not in the habit of armchair diagnosis) meant that she almost never ate anything she actually wanted, and certainly not in a quantity to be satisfying. Until she did, and then it was always a source of guilt, anger, and whatever overreaction she had at hand to cope with demolishing a bag of Doritos. So there was that cycle, over and over and over until she was dead at 56 having never had a meal she actually let herself enjoy. 

The Christmas before she died, we went shopping at Marshall Field's. We'd do that often enough that it wasn't anything terribly out of the ordinary, but that year she wanted to stop in at the restaurant for a cup of tea. She'd mentioned that they had individual Christmas puddings on the afternoon menu, and she'd get one but it would be, "Too much for her." Knowing she'd never get one unless I agreed to split it with her, I came up with  some sort of excuse that it probably wasn't real suet and what I didn't know wouldn't kill me. Friends, it was absolutely real suet. I'd been a vegetarian nearly 10 years at that point and knew the minute it hit my tongue that it was real suet. Know what I did? I ate the pudding, and I'm glad I did. There wasn't much I could do to make such a miserably unhappy woman's life any less awful, but I could eat half of a mini Christmas pudding. It didn't make me sick, it wasn't disgusting, and I went back to my vegetarian diet with no harm done. She was dead by May. I've never regretted eating that pudding. 

I kept my outfit casual and comfortable for Christmas day. I didn't cook on Christmas day because we had leftover seafood paella from the night before. I *thought* I had over-bought fish and that we'd be stuck with leftovers all week. Nah-they demolished it in two sittings. Anyway, I was able to catch a break from cooking on Christmas day. 
Still digging deep in my vintage wardrobe and was delighted to come across this 70s wool skirt I'd forgotten about. I'm wearing it with a vintage sweater from the Aman a Woolen Mills, in Iowa. These days, they don't make clothes-just stadium blankets, but at one time they produced gorgeous pieces like this. I have a tweed suit and another sweater from Amana, and am always keeping my eye out for pieces. As they're sort of local, the stuff does turn up in thrift stores. Not that I've been in a thrift shop since last February! They're open, but I'm not keen. 
I continue to age at an alarming rate. I don't care. Late December is a dangerous time for self-esteem as we're bombarded with New Year's ads for diets, gyms, and plastic surgery. You do what's best for you. I'm continuing my slide into decrepitude gleefully. Expect to see more photographs of my jowls as I keep it real here in 2021. I can shake them and make horse noises which is a rather impressive skill-perhaps I'll treat you to a video in the new year. 
I wore the vintage Woolrich sweater (gift in the 80s) but only for a few minutes because it is much to warm to wear inside. 
But it is a beautifully made piece of knitting and embroidery.
And the embroidered acorns on the hem are cute beyond words.
Knowing I wouldn't last long in it, I had a more practical poloneck beneath it. Still, most years I don't even unpack it, so it was nice to get photos anyway. 

Speaking of 80s sweaters, what do you think of this Bonnie Boerer monstrosity? I bought it new. No, I don't know what I was thinking either.
The tag says 1987, and that seems right. 

As promised/threatened, here are the red velvet flares.

That was a good outfit-I'm pleased with how it came together this year. The velvet blazer is too large, but the giant belt does a good job of disguising it. 

I'll leave you with what I wore today-a velvet caftan with a velvet dress unbuttoned over. 

Tomorrow's a big day for Dan as we're going to take the test for his driver's permit. Then, he'll be able to practise driving. I hope we won't be at the DMV all day (because ya know, we're still in a pandemic and masks aren't required in state office buildings because our governor is a complete piece of shit.) Well, he IS! Anyway, most people are wearing masks anyway, but the idea that it somehow has to be a political statement is just...well, you know. I hope it will be quick. 

Take care and if I don't make it back before Friday, have a very happy New Year. 


Monday, December 21, 2020

Attack of the Christmas Tomatoes


Tomatoes are red and green, therefore Christmas. Don't argue with me. 

If you can hang a gherkin on the tree, surely a tomato wouldn't be out of place. 

In other news, my baby boy turned 16. I made him root beer flavoured and themed cakes.
Bit too much marshmallow foam!
Still learning to master fondant.
The inspiration. 
He enjoyed them, and also enjoyed his gift of an electric razor which he's already put to use shaving off his beard. I'd say he doesn't look like Fidel Castro any longer, but he still kinda does๐Ÿ˜€. I told him Castro was considered good looking when he was a young revolutionary, but I don't think he's convinced. You could do worse, for sure. Anyway, Little Fidel shaved for the first time on his 16th Birthday, and mama resisted following him into the bathroom to take photos for his baby book. I do have some sense of boundaries. 
So that was fun. He requested turkey drumsticks (aka Caveman Pops) for dinner and I obliged. There was of course gesturing with drumsticks because, why wouldn't there be. Hopefully I'm done cooking turkey for a while now-twice in a month's time was lot!

My gaudiest holiday outfits are getting worn, though it looks like I will run out of time for all of them even if I do the 12 Days of Christmas. For someone that hasn't shopped for clothing since February, I am nowhere near running out of things to wear. I'm kind of embarrassed, and need to do a serious cull. 

The skirt is velvet overlaid with an embroidered, attached apron. 
I'm unlikely to see myself coming and going around town in this one.
That is, if I were actually going around town, which obviously, I'm not. 

No, not going anywhere at all. Just sitting at home getting older, and more in need of a haircut. I've been tempted to cut it, but have resisted. For the first time in years, I have the longest hair in the family. 
You didn't really think I couldn't get wackier than the last skirt did you? 
Several sizes too large, and the skirt made of a thin, blowy nylon, it is a bit like wearing a parachute unless belted. I've learned not to wear it on windy days. 
It gets worse. Much, much, worse. Ready? 
I warned you! Want a better look at that bonkers cardigan? 
When I bought it, the woman at the thrift store said, "You're not really going to wear that, are you?" I don't know why she would think this would be a novelty jumper too far for me? I love that the reindeer have pom-pom noses, button eyes and little 3-D scarves. There's design on the back as well, though I didn't get any pictures. 

The red, crushed velvet skirt turned up again in another outfit.
The faux fur headband and beaded jacket are both regular rotation wear each December. 
Just add a big Christmas corsage. 

Finally, the vintage Halston skirt gets a yearly wear. Another heavy, beaded and sequined jacket to increase the gaudiness factor by 100%
I love this skirt so much, but have a hard time wearing it unironically. Perfect for Christmas, but I can't imagine when else. 

Tonight I'll go out to see the Christmas star conjunction, but I know my camera isn't up to the task. Danny's might be. I'm content to enjoy it through binoculars. 

The Christmas stollens were baked today, and they'll be properly stored for Christmas morning. I was worried I might not get to them this year, but I did and there's an extra to give to my neighbour. Time is rapidly winding down, and I'd better unpack those red velvet flares if I plan to wear them before Christmas. We all have our traditions-mine involve trousers. 

Stay safe and well, everyone. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

I Look Like Samuel Gompers But I Feel Like Baby Jane

Last week when I posted it was still unseasonably warm in Omaha and my garden was still thriving. Well, the garden may still be thriving beneath fleeces and tarps (I haven't checked) but we've since had our share of snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. Not that it matters because really, where am I going?

Have I ever shown this pendant turned into a brooch? It is solid silver and adorned with the loveliest foil-backed stones. I wouldn't dare risk wearing it outside the house for fear of losing a stone, but these days that's hardly an issue. 
It has been a similar situation with these vintage bangles adorned with rhinestones. Sometimes it seems silly to own things I don't wear, but finding pristine pieces does make it seem a shame to risk it. I suppose that's something every collector grapples with, so I'm welcoming the opportunity to wear the items, even if only long enough to snap a photo. 
I'm not really a Grinch. I rather like this time of year, but the fun Instagram filters are just too hard to resist. 
This sweater comes courtesy of Dan, who outgrew it along with pretty much every sweater/jumper he owns. At just about 6 Ft. there isn't much in his wardrobe that still fits-not that it matters at the moment because he lives in Adidas track pants and tee shirts. When life gets back to normal he's going to need an entirely new wardrobe.
Meanwhile, I can keep taking his clothes. 
Awww,  practically a baby.
Mine now ๐Ÿ˜€. 
He's free to steal my clothes, which he does (joggers, socks, hats, sweatshirts). As a teenager I "borrowed" many a flannel shirt from my old man instead of buying my own, as he'd already done the hard work of breaking them in. Who wants to wait for a flannel shirt to soften up when you can just help yourself to something from the work clothes cupboard? It was a good thing he had a 44 inch waist or I'd have been borrowing his trousers too. We didn't share genes either (ha, see what I did there?). 
Time for a pie break! No, it isn't squirrel pie. It is mushroom and ale pie. Only did a top crust as it was being served with mash. We'd bought some Belgian ale that wasn't terribly interesting for drinking but just expensive enough that it would be a shame to pour it down the drain. In those situations I re-purpose and either bake a pie or batter fish. I really, really hate to waste, particularly now. I didn't try any, but the boys both enjoyed the pie so now I have a good plan for some of the remaining bottles. 
Happy Chanukah! This year we've been using several menorahs because, why not? 
There were potato latkes as promised. I did get a bit fancy and grated some carrots and onions into the potatoes. Some people do apple, which also sounds nice. 
There's been baking as well. The Lusekatters were delicious this year. Out of 24 I managed to snag one. You have to act fast around here!
An exciting and successful experiment was adapting my toffee recipe to a dairy-free version so Dan could have some. I used Earth Balance sticks and oat milk to great effect. So far, just about everything has worked and while margarine is of course different from butter, there are places where the substitution is less noticeable. I had to make him toffee because what else would he do with his antique toffee hammer?
I've read that suffragettes in the UK would use them to smash windows as they were small and easy to conceal. No joke, you could do some real damage with this thing.  Sharp too-like a tiny hatchet. It is hard to imagine in 2020 letting a child wield one of these at a solid block of candy, but it is equally difficult to imagine sending the wee ones off to labour in a factory or go down a mine. Not to worry though, we'll be back to that sort of standard again soon if things continue on this trajectory. Wow, that got off topic again, sorry. Here, have some Pulla.
Went with a braided loaf this year instead of the buns as I thought making a gooey topping with margarine might be a bit much. This has proved popular as the slices are easier to toast. There's a whopping two teaspoons of cardamom in the two loaves and it smells fantastic when toasted. 
The angel is so over everyone's bullshit. 
There aren't many occasions where white tights are appropriate (I means, unless you're a nurse and even then, I think just about everyone wears surgical scrubs these days). The exception is at Christmastime, when white tights seem almost required against some of the brightly coloured attire. This heavy, wool skirt isn't strictly holiday clothing, mind but that does seem to be when it gets worn. 

The Christmas corsages are making their annual appearance. 
Tempting as it is to get out the glue gun and make a new one, I've resisted as it would be difficult to improve on these vintage ones. Yes, the ribbon has faded over the years, but that is to my mind, why they're so delightful. It continues to surprise me that the fad for these hasn't been resurrected. They're cheap, fun, and can be made from broken bits of holiday tat. Perhaps I'm talking myself into it as I type. Maybe next year. 
So. There's a lot of people on the naughty list this year, and I'm telling Santa. Anti-maskers? Naughty! Neo Nazis? Fucking horrible! Conservatives? You don't even deserve the coal-you probably exploited a miner to get it. Naughty, Naughty, Naughty-the lot of you. 
 I'm ratting you out to Santa...Right after I get my hand out of his pants. Ooh, matron.
Busy week here with Dan finishing up his remote school semester, his Birthday on Sunday and just all the general stuff that needs to get done. Trying to do everything from home can be difficult, but anything that keeps me from being out is worth the trouble. I hope you're all having a good week. Stay safe and well.