Monday, December 24, 2018

The Stockings Were Hung

To the banquet of real presents which was waiting downstairs...the stocking toys...were only an aperitif; but they had a special and exciting quality of their own. Perhaps it was the atmosphere in which they were opened--the chill, the black windowpanes, the unfamiliar hour.
Jan Struther in Mrs Minerva

It always surprised me to see how our children loved exploring the contents of their stockings, considering that all the real loot was waiting for them under the Christmas tree.

One of my treasured memories that I pull out with sloppy sentimentality is of the Christmas when our firstborn had recently turned three. He brought his red felt stocking that his great-aunt Etta had made him to our bed while it was still dark outside, his little sister still asleep at a year and a half. He was trembling with excitement.

Ever so seriously he said, "San-Santa brought me a re-red truck." To this day I still see his flushed little face and his thick dark eyelashes fluttering as he held out the cheap plastic red truck in his chubby little hand. He held it up as if it was the Koh-i-noor diamond.

Mercy! At that moment I understood exactly how the Grinch felt after his transformation because I felt as if my heart was going to burst with joy.

Perhaps it was this memory that used to motivate me to put as much thought into guiding Santa with his stocking stuffers as with the "important" gifts under the tree.

As Mrs. Minerva understood, Christmas is "one of the moments...which paid off at a single stroke, all the accumulations on the debit side of parenthood."

When I was a high school senior, I told my mother that I wanted to help her and my father "play Santa" to my younger sisters. Mama turned a deaf ear to me and did not let me stay up to help on Christmas Eve.

When RH and I had our own children, I understood why Mama hadn't let me help her and Daddy. I was attempting to poach on staked and claimed rights, private property. 

Because on Christmas morning, after twelve months of parenting, comes one of the most rewarding times of the year, seeing the joy in your children's faces as they find what Santa Claus has left them. 

It's been quite a few years since RH and I helped Santa stuff stockings on Christmas Eve. 

But we have all those wonderful memories, beginning with when a little blonde haired boy in his yellow flannel Dr. Denton-footed pajamas climbed into bed with us and said:

"San-Santa brought me a re-red truck."

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Dear Nora,

My dear granddaughter, I know you've grown so much since your daddy took this photograph a few years back. Now you share this little white Christmas tree with your little sister. Your mommy and daddy gave it to me before you were born, and I gave it back to you the year this picture was taken. 

That look of wonder in your eyes as it's lit in your bedroom makes your Mimi's heart skip a beat.

But someday you will be your mommy's age, or even my age, as hard as that is to imagine. So here's a little advice about Christmas from someone even older than your Mimi that maybe you'll find handy when you celebrate Christmas as an adult someday.

Christmas is not the time for attending to one's duty; it is the time for having attended to it. If duty must be done, do it early. If there are letters that ought to be written, cards that should be exchanged, packages that must be gotten off, do all these things in that first burst of Yuletide spirit engendered by the merchants in late November.
Abbie Graham
Time Off and On

So just remember, dear Nora, do what I say, not what I do. Don't save everything that should have been done in late November and early December for those final few days before the Christmas festivities begin. 

I wish someone had told me that way back when I was near your age, lying under our Christmas tree.

My love to you and your little sister,  sweet Nora! See you soon,

To my dear friends reading Dewena's Window, I know all of you are just as busy as I am this near to Christmas, probably more busy. But I am so behind in preparing for Christmas that I ask you to excuse me from the wonderful world of blogging until after Christmas. 

I do have a Christmas Eve post already scheduled, put together one night when I couldn't sleep, and I'll let it run as it's about family and for family, but please know that I want each of you to devote yourselves to your own holiday celebration and the family and friends around you and not even think about having to leave a comment here then, or just a hello if you feel so inclined.

I will return to visiting everyone after Christmas and RH and I wish each of you the most joyous times with your loved ones.

Love to you all as I pause to celebrate the birth of Christ with dear ones,


Monday, December 17, 2018

1968 House & Garden December Issue

This 1968 House & Garden magazine is a star in my large collection of vintage magazines, although it's difficult for me to think of anything 1968 as vintage. if you were born as early in the 20th century as I was, you would understand what I mean.

I thought it would be fun to show you a few things featured in this December 1968 issue.

There is a fabulous article on Christmas tables done by designers--we used to love those before bloggers took the world by storm with their own tablescapes.

This pretty one above is a Christmas Eve supper done by interior designer Chessy Rayner and Mica Ertegun of Mac II. I'm afraid I didn't even get to Mica as I completely fell down the rabbit hole researching Chessy Rayner. Just google her name and you'll find lots of photographs of her interiors and the newspaper account of her life as a fashion and designer icon. 

Her table above brought to mind one I did, among three others, in a December 2013 post called 'Tis the Season to Set the Stage.

I went back myself and read the post again--do you bloggers ever do that?--and saw sweet comments from many of you there.

RH and I had so much fun doing those four tables for a Christmas link party, but I have to confess that I've not done a single holiday table yet this month. I know some of you have, I've seen some lovely ones.

I may not follow through on everything that inspires me from my vintage women's magazines anymore but I love to spend an hour at night looking through them, notebook and pen in hand, jotting down ideas, ideas that I may never get around to doing. 

These old magazines are as comforting to me as a beloved classic holiday movie. 

This issue had a section on seasonal light displays across the U.S., like this one on Alamitos Bay near Long Beach, California. Do any of you readers live near that and know if the annual practice has been continued?

There was a fascinating article about Broadway star Joel Grey showing his apartment in Manhattan designed by Albert Hadley, who grew up in Nashville, while Grey was starring in Cabaret. 

Zebra rugs, chinoiserie, and trellis design must have been very popular that year. 

I loved the bedroom of his eight-year-old daughter Jennifer--didn't she star in a little film with Patrick Swayze when she grew up? 

The magazine also featured a beautifully iced fruitcake, something I've been researching because RH and I love good homemade golden fruitcake (well, he'll eat almost any store-bought fruitcake too, not me) and this year I really want to ice mine.

Maybe try something simple like this one I saw on Pinterest...

I'm smitten by the ones on Pinterest that use marzipan and then fondant icing, the only problem being that I've never used either of those products before.

Have any of you ever baked with them? Would a novice make a complete mess of it? And I also have to think about this fruitcake lasting us a long time, at least until Easter, because no one else in our family will eat fruitcake. How will the icing hold up with the cake refrigerated? I welcome any advice from you!

Meanwhile, it's getting drizzled with Calvados every few days and kept in a cool room. I'm thinking that we'll save it for Epiphany to let it season longer so maybe I have time to watch a lot of fondant videos before trying it.

How about you? Do you like, love or loathe fruitcake?

If you don't care for it, maybe that's because of the citron in it. I never put citron in mine, citron should be banned from the planet! And I buy my cherries from the King Arthur people.

I hope you liked a glimpse into what the magazines were like in December of 1968. I got out my first Christmas family scrapbook and found only one page from 1968, we just didn't take many photos back then. And our little girl was almost hidden by the toy box, her older brother with a big smile.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Knock, Knock!

Me: Knock, knock!

You: Who's there?

Me: Orange.

You: Orange who?

Me: Orange you glad to see me? 😁

I guess I'm pretty lazy to leave a Veteran's Day post up for three weeks, but it turned out to be a blessing for me because I got to read more of your own stories in the comments than if I'd jumped to the next thing and I loved each one of them. 

Even now when everyone is all over the subject of Christmas and the holidays ahead, here I am lagging behind with what should have been posted in October.

Because I'm talking orange today, orange and UK Christmas magazine issues, specifically my dreamboat of a magazine, Period Living.

(I don't know about you but I am head over heels in love with this tangerine and white kitchen with touches of hot pink.)

Years ago when all the fancy-smancy US shelter magazines started ignoring Christmas in their December issues--yes, I'm talking about you, House Beautiful American version--I gave up on them and started buying the British magazines' December issues. 

I won't link to it here because there were only a few comments and one of them was from my son, but I even wrote about it at my other blog back in 2012 in my first month of blogging.

(I adore artist Vanessa Arbutnott's kitchen in her 1890 house in Gloucestershire, England.)

I've saved many of the British December issues over the years, those that are timeless, and many of them are.

But the one I search high and low for each December is Period Living, the one I discovered just a few years ago. I don't even pack them away with the other December magazines as they inspire me all year round.

The Period Living shown in the first three pictures above are from this year's October issue. RH brought it home to me as a surprise when I was so sick that month and I loved the touches of orange featured in the issue. 

I don't really have much orange here in my rooms but at Valley View I indulged my love of it, as you can see from this picture of our family room. (Look at the partial wall behind the two hanging light fixtures.)

Our last Christmas there in 2015, I even incorporated orange into my Christmas decor, not ready to toss October's pumpkins. The purples and pinks of our Christmas tree took on a new zing with the orange.

Now, on with more orange!

Years ago I saw this ad in one of my vintage magazines.

I was going to make this dessert of Caramel Bavarian Mold and post it back in 2014, even bought two copper melon molds.

It never happened, but this year I bought two bags of the Kraft Caramels and in early November I finally made it!

I worried about those 3 raw egg whites, would I give us all salmonella by folding them in raw? I couldn't risk it and folded them into the hot custard gradually which meant my mixture was not as glossy as the picture. Still I stuck the two molds into a glass casserole to hold them upright and put them in the fridge and poured a small bowl of the leftover custard to chill too, sampling it later that night. Delicious!

Supper plans with some family members got cancelled and there the Caramel Bavarian molds sat in the fridge, uneaten for a week. RH couldn't eat the dairy in it and I wondered if I really wanted to eat all of that high fructose corn syrup that was in the Kraft caramels.

Seven days after making it I unmolded them and posed them on a silver tray and took pictures.

And then I slid the blasted things into the trash can.

If I ever make this recipe again I will buy my caramels from the Duck Fat people here...

Of course the caramels then would cost me $40--what!! 

That's my serving of orange for you, dear friends.

I'll pack away this old woven spread that we found years ago for $24 and move on to catch up with the rest of you knee-deep in Christmas colors.

But how can I resist first doing a little name dropping and saying that a year after buying the spread I saw it in a full-page color Ralph Lauren room, draped over a hassock! And then the next year I found another one in an antique shop in Mount Dora, Florida for over $300. What!!

I take good care of this woven spread of orange, red, and green and hope one of my children will some day--don't you dare donate it to GW, kids, or I'll haunt you every October. I'll leave my melon molds to you too. Ha, those will get tossed, or maybe not as I have one daughter-in-law who has a wall of them. 

I wonder who will claim my Spode collection, like my stack of 11 old plates that I've never been able to identify the pattern name. Anyone out there know it?

Orange you glad this is the end of my post?