Hello there! The weeks keep clipping along, and as we start the second week of December, I have the rare experience of not feeling hurried or panicked in the least. In a typical year the holidays would be bearing down along with Dan's birthday on the 20th, but these days I have nothing but time.
Armed with a sense of humour (and a mini Christmas tree) we're getting through this pandemic holiday season the way we get through most holiday seasons-by avoiding people! Trust me on this, the holidays are much nicer when you don't have anyone around disrupting your peace. When I think of all the years I spent putting up with and catering to other people's holiday expectations, it makes me a little sad. If anything good can come out of this pandemic, maybe people who feel manipulated into doing the whole holiday hoopla every year can finally catch a break.
I did the early morning grocery run Monday. It was fine, and the store was largely empty. I have a good system, and I always bring a detailed list, so it goes as quickly as possible. Leaving the house when it is still dark is an unpleasant part of winter, but if not for that, I'd hardly notice it is winter at all. Our temperatures have been more like spring than autumn. It isn't every December I can go out without a coat. The sensation of driving alone in the dark when I only get out once every few weeks is strange to say the least, but I get used to it after a few minutes. I can't remember the last time the car needed fuel. The sun is up by the time I emerge from the store, blinking at the brightness and disbelief at the still green grass. My garden is still very much alive, though I cover it with tarps at night as we do get light frosts. So much strangeness for this very strangest of years.
This bulky but warm outfit looked better in person than the 6 AM photos would suggest.
1950s wools skirt by Sporteens-Hand-Me-Ups
Scarf-something my mother-in-law brought back from a trip to China in the 90s
Dior earrings-Thrift World
When I do wear a coat, I'm spoilt for choice. This red woolen coat from the 60s is a good choice most days as it is neither too warm nor too light and has ample room to accommodate layering.
The birds have been making the most of the mild weather. This red tailed hawk was bothering a group of crows and they were not pleased
. I stood watching them as the crows would try over and over to knock the hawk out of the tree. Eventually another hawk joined in and for several minutes it appeared there would be serious war being waged. In the end, the crows gave up and flew on, but not before registering their displeasure.
Dan isn't very interested in presents, but I did want to get him something for his birthday, so we settled on a new weather station. Our old one wasn't working well, and it was something we purchased for his 8th Birthday-so it was time to upgrade. The new one has all sorts of sensors for UV light, pollution, etc. I was pleased to see how quickly it set up and how accurate it was for registering both inside and outside data. He's linked it up online as a local weather station so everyone in the neighbourhood can see the readings. I'm glad he likes it because he's worked so hard this year and I wanted to acknowledge it. It was trickier trying to figure out a theme for his birthday cake. I like to do novelty cakes based on his particular interests. Over the years this has been everything from movies, to sports, to that one time I did the Periodic Table in decorated cookies. That was challenging. This year, about the only thing he's found enjoyment in stuck at home since March is, root beer. The soft drink. I should explain. When I do the grocery shopping I try to get things that are a little special to try and make being at home a little less miserable. For Mr. ETB that's a package of beef jerky. For Dan it is root beer. There's so many different brands of root beer/sarsaparilla that I just started buying an assortment. While 2020 hasn't had much to look forward to (other than it being over) every couple of weeks there's some fancy soft drinks. Maybe you can tell where this is headed, but yeah-I'm baking a cake in the shape of a can of root beer. A Swiss roll decorated to look like a can of A&W shouldn't be too difficult. I bought some root beer flavoured extract to bake the cake and flavour the icing. Anyway, I have a couple weeks to work out the details, but no matter what, it will still be easier than the periodic table was!
These were very, very good. I wasn't sure how this would work using margarine rather than butter, but they were fine. I couldn't tell the difference. The oats in the mixture gives it a more substantial feel, and a small bar is more than enough. Unless you're my husband or son and then you'll need three or four. I made my own mincemeat, but the prepared kind is fine too. I always give the bought sort a few splashes of brandy, but that's me. It is a quick recipe:
1 1/2 cups plain flour (AP)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup regular sugar
3/4 cup cold margarine (or butter) cut into pieces
1 1/2 cup oats (regular or quick)
Enough mincemeat to cover a layer-about 2 cups
Line a 9x13 pan with parchment or grease well. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugars. Cut in the margarine until crumbly. Mix in the oats. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the pan. Top with the mincemeat, and then gently press the remaining crumbs onto the top.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in the pan, on a rack. Makes about a dozen squares.
Dressed up to stay home-same old story.
Vintage Nolan Miller Dynasty (the TV show) collection jacket-Goodwill
Skirt-K Mart, years ago
Vintage velour poloneck-Jordan Marsh, 90s
You're likely beginning to notice I own quite a few holiday themed clothing items. This vintage Leslie Fay skirt is one of the more wearable pieces. It isn't that I mind velvet with faux fur and sequins, but sometimes something a bit more sedate, while still festive is appropriate. The embroidered jacket is home sewn (not by me) and very nicely done, though it is unlined.
I can't imagine why someone would donate a jacket like this after putting so much work into it unless it was perhaps a gift and the recipient didn't want it? Anyway, it was one of the better .99 cent tagged bargains I've come home with.
Jacket and skirt-Goodwill
Handbag-New Life Thrift
Years ago, I bought this sweater for Danny. He's since outgrown it, so I've reclaimed it though it is a bit large in the arms. I only bought it because it had a tag from Carson Pirie Scott and Co. a long-gone Chicago department store. I was always more of a Marshall Field's woman for clothing, but Carson's had a better perfume counter. Anyway, the sweater is a lovely acrylic that does a very convincing job of looking and feeling like wool, but with the ease of laundering in the machine and tumble drying. By the label, I'd guess it was late 60s/early 70s.
Vintage Carson Pirie Scott sweater-New Life Thrift
Vintage reindeer brooch-Goodwill
Back to the gaudy velvet and sequins for this outfit. Velvet leopard print boots? Sure, why not?
The beaded and sequined silk blouse from the 80s is in remarkably good condition for something I've been wearing casually for years-usually with jeans or denim shorts. I did think it was time however to give it a proper dressing up for a walk around the block.
The earrings are the very best part of the outfit and yes, the bell at the bottom does jingle pleasantly whenever I move.
80s beaded shirt-Can't remember
Velvet skirt-K Mart, years ago
Earrings-Big Lots years ago
Black tunic under shirt-Dots-about 20 years ago (That's getting your money out of fast fashion)
Ann Taylor boots-Goodwill
Something Goth for the holidays?
The earrings are made from old Christmas tree lights and are heavy glass. I can't wear them all day as they're a bit too much for my ears.
Fishnets, and a better look at the lack and pleated hem on the taffeta skirt. The shoes are black patent and tartan.
Ultimate December shoes, or not? I love a good square toe.
80s shirt-Thrift World
Belt-New Life Thrift
Earrings and brooch-Goodwill
Tights-Filene's retail 90s. They're still holding up!
I've never decorated with lights, but something about this year seemed to demand it .Danny was keen to try it out and there was a rather good buy one, get one sale so I bought two boxes for the house and a few boxes of mini lights on wires for the tree. The photograph doesn't quite capture how beautiful this makes everything look. I'm going to leave them up until the pandemic is over because they make me so happy.
Our local garden centre was selling Omaha themed ornaments. As we live along Dodge Street (the front of our complex is on Dodge, the rear on Burt) this was pretty much the perfect item for our "fancy ornament of the year" purchase. I only buy one retail ornament a year-I'm stubborn that way. It is glass, and very fragile. I also came home with a large poinsettia that was so perfect the boys thought it was fake(!) and a large rosemary plant topiaried into the shape of a Christmas tree. I buy one every year and then they go out into the garden in spring. They typically last a few years before getting too woody, but I enjoy a fresh one for the sunny kitchen window to keep everything smelling nice all winter.
We don't have an angel or a star on our tree. We have this snowy owl that Danny made when he was six. I'm probably biased, but I do think it is as fine a tree topper as anyone could ask for. We do have an angel though...sot of.
Anyway, Hanukkah starts tomorrow night which means we get to drag out all five
menorahs and light them up. There will be potato pancakes because I would have anarchy on my hands if I didn't make them😁. There will be dreidel playing (a spinning top) and I'll drag out the antique Yiddish records to play on the crank-up Victrola. No, I can't understand a word of it, but maybe Danny can make sense of it. He's always been good at learning languages. He's studying French at school, but has also picked up a few others on his own. I think that's partly due to a love of opera, but also a love of daredevil videos on YouTube. We've all learned a few Russian profanities thanks to Danny's ability with languages. I shouldn't need to point this out, but leaving a car on the railroad tracks and escaping seconds before the train hits it is very, very, stupid. Don't try that one at home kids. But do learn new languages-that's always good.
I foolishly forgot that wearing this hat makes any child that sees me think I am Mrs. Claus. Dressed like this, I guess that's a reasonable reaction. I had several children excitedly waving to me from their cars and throughout the garden centre, which was nice. I'm glad though, given the pandemic that none tried approaching me or worse, trying to hug me.
Well that's it from me for now. I hope you're all doing well, staying safe and having as nice a holiday season as possible given the circumstances. Take care.
This post is literally a holiday buffet of treasures to admire!
Brava! Brava! for both the effort and the result you achieved with the ensemble for shopping on a Monday at 6:00 AM. Dior earrings? But of course! What else would one wear with the skirt, the sweater, the beret and scarf?! One hopes the kid stacking frozen pizzas into the coolers was suitably impressed and the lass who rang up your purchases, inspired.
Persons whose cats set their floofy tails on fire around decorative candles appreciate mini-lights. This year I've hung strands on bookcases and patio trellises, and I agree there's no reason to take them down after the holidays this year. Let's light up the dark night of the pandemic!
(And I'd gladly offer the snowy owl a perch atop an old Winthrop secretary desk. He's a hoot.)
I envy your having a murder of crows to observe. Corvids are amazing birds. A birder headquartered in the grounds of an historic Indy university told me he's seen them hold trials and conduct funerals. And he swears they recognize and greet him.
What a range of fabulous outfits! I loved the Mrs Claus look and the maxi skirt with the plaid top was particularly lovely. I am in love with your leopard boots...
Happy Channukah to you and yours; it sounds like you'll be having fun! I may have a go at your mincemeat bars I need to use the mincemeat up pretty soon.
Danny will be 16 - how time has flown. he's almost a man. My grandson follows on 5th January. He's already applied to a local sixth form college and picked his subjects.
Take care and stay safe
I'm pleased to hear you have found a positive among all the negativity, and find that an unhurried Christmas can be very enjoyable. That's how I've been doing Christmas for years!
I've been enjoying all your festive outfits, my favourite being the last one. Well, I hope not the last: do keep them coming!
Danny really deserved that new weather station, as well as the root beer treats. Not sure that I ever tasted root beer. Do they even sell that here in Belgium, I wonder? Can't wait to see the cake!
Your living room does look very atmospheric with all those lights. Why limit them to Christmas indeed, especially as they make you happy. We do need all the happiness we can get! xxx
My overactive imagination has me wondering whether your Farrah Fawcett Angel will now try to knock Danny's snowy owl off the top of your Christmas tree, just like the crows tried to harass the hawk, LOL!
All your outfits are beautiful, especially the red and black plaid one with the perfect plaid shoes. I'm now convinced that every woman needs to own a few red and black plaid items because they're so versatile and fun. Depending on how it's styled, it can say "Merry Christmas" or "Catholic schoolgirl" or "lumberjack" or "1900s grunge rocker" or "Scotswoman." And it can even be styled conservatively to go to work in an office building (but where's the fun in that?).
Any mom who makes cookies with a periodic table theme deserves an award. He's so lucky to have you.
You did a great job decorating. The lights look beautiful. I may have to get a rosemary mini-tree myself. What a smart idea.
if you were near me - you would be my favourite party guest - because your wear the most fabulous outfits!
did i say i love your humor?!
your living room looks very cozy with the string lights - and will still until end of february.....
stay safe! xxxxx
What an array of outfits! You put me to shame - I've used the same bag since March, that's how often I need to carry anything these days!
Love Danny's snowy owl tree topper and the sound of a weather station. I'm tempted to get one for us as the BBC never gets it right.
As usual Xmas has taken me by surprise, I try to ignore it but it comes back and bites me on the bum in the end. I suppose I'd better start scouring eBay for gifts.
Stay safe! xxx
Loving your holiday-themed ensembles!
The leopard boots, the gaudy gold top, and the square toed plaid shoes are my faves. That hand made jacket looks perfectly tailored to fit you.
Your home looks so festive & cozy.
IU never noticed you Iris Apfel/ Mr Magoo glasses have sparklies on the temples - divine!
A root beer themed yule log sounds amazing, do take pics. Dr McGillicuddy's Root Beer liqueur was a fave of my first husband's = might be worth searching for?
The crows were flying and cawing overhead this morning as I dug my car out of last night's snow. I'm certain they know who I am and were laughing at me.
They do grow up fast, which seems strange as we haven't aged a day ;)
That's exciting for your grandson to be off to college-we still have a couple years to go before that happens.
Have a good week!
Root beer sounds disgusting on paper with things like wintergreen, clove, anise, liqorice, plums, etc. but somehow it all sort of comes together into an herbal/sweet concoction. I don't drink it, but when I was younger I could be tempted by a root beer float which has the addition of a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Again, it is better than it sounds! If you ever get the chance, try it though every brand has a different concoction of herbs. The better ones are brewed with yeast like a ginger beer.
I am now a week out from baking the cake and the panic is just starting to set in! Fingers crossed that my vision meets up with the execution.
I also have a Mimi from the Drew Carey show doll-but I think she'd easily win any fights for pride of place on the tree!
The cakes are fun, and some have turned out better than others. One year for his half birthday he just wanted a cake in the shape of a bottle of elmer's glue (no idea why). Hopefully this will turn out well.
We would have a grand time together at a party.
Stay well and safe.
I have my "Going out bag" that wipes clean with antiseptic. There's no way on earth I'd take my precious bags out in a pandemic. Weather stations are fascinating-you can really nerd-out and get lost in the minutia of data. Because everything goes online, the data can be tracked across months and years, which is also fascinating. It has however been a challenge keeping the squirrel from swinging off the wind metre.
The sound of root beer liquor is...not good, but it might be ok for baking? I'm glad Danny found a hobby with plenty of choice. If he'd been into grape soda we might have run out of options by now ;)
I'm with you on hoping people are able to make up their own Christmas traditions - the number of parents I've spoken to who are so looking forward to not having to haul their kids all over the place this year is really high. All the normal fuss seems to make everyone stressed at what's supposed to be a happy time.
How cool to have an ornament with your street's name on it.
Those tartan shoes are ace.
We live off of Dodge, but close enough. It is the main road through town running East/West.
I'm really late!
Anyway, you look fabulous in every outfit, love some goth-plaid inspiration (oh, those shoes and cheeky fishnets!) and love all the velvet and sequins, and particularly glorious Dinasty collection jacket (always a huge fan of Alexis!), and the stunning embroidered jacket!
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