Wednesday, December 25, 2013

How Old Is Santa Claus? (And other discoveries on our Christmas stroll.)

You know you are in America when you see this "nativity" scene on a front lawn.

And this tableau proves a couple of things that have been disputed recently on cable tv.

One question: Is this pink car for a large doll or a very small child?

And one of many hydrants "watered" on Flip's Christmas stroll.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hark, Hark. The Dogs Do Bark!

We are back in the Big City for a couple of days. Christmas lights, barking dogs, tennis courts, swimming pools, manicured yards, and traffic.

I still love it. 

But just for a change. 

A chance to get back to a neighborhood. Even if I do not see many people, I know they can't be too far away. The lights are on in the kitchens and once in a while there is a hint of an aroma of something cooking. 

I am glad Flip needs his daily walks in the Big City.

Merry Christmas from the neighborhood!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Have I the Real Spirit of Christmas ? -anno 1938


    Christmas, you know, is the holiday that everyone celebrates in some way. One person might celebrate it one way, while another celebrates it entirely differently. Some people lose the real idea of Christmas in the maze of parties and gaieties they attend and give during the holidays.
     The idea of gifts at Christmas was originated when the three Wise Men brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ Child. They gave these to Him, thinking that He would benefit by them. Through centuries and generations this thought has come down to us. We help those who need help, and in doing so we make ourselves happy.
      The celebration of Christmas is stressed in every country for the same reason, but is different in some way in each. Still the spirit is the same.
       During this whole holiday season ask yourself this question: "Have I the real spirit of Christmas?"

(By C. -Editor Chapman)

On Facebook yesterday, my dear brother published this piece written by my dad when he was the editor of the sophomore journal publication in January 1939. I took the liberty to transcribe it above for easier reading. [As a side note, Daddy's father (our grandfather) passed away on December 24, 1940.]

Hugs to all my readers and a very Merry Christmas <3, Linda

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Welcome Back. Otter

I borrowed this photo, but we have a guy (or gal) like this otter in our pond. Don't think we have any catfish, but who knows. Our renovated pond has been full now for one year, so we should not be surprised that "Spooky"Otter has returned. Or maybe this is a new visitor.

I have named the otter "Spooky," since both Flip and I are spooked out by this animal that spends a lot of time trolling our waters.

This animal is so long, that it is our Loch Wetcreek Monster!

According to
"Interesting Facts about the River Otter
  • Otters are part of the weasel family which includes minks, skunks and badgers.
  • Although happy to play, river otters are solitary animals. Males do not associate with females until mating season. Only then will you see pairs chasing, diving and cork-screwing through the water as a sort of mating ritual.
  • The otter loves to swim and can hold its breath for up to 8 minutes. Its eyes are even adapted for underwater vision, leaving them nearsighted when out of water. On land, otters rely on their sense of smell, hearing and touch to get around.
  • Rivers otters are land-bound most of the time; its tail gives it balance and can run as fast as 18 mph. 
  • When at play or way to get around, otters are often seen sliding down riverbanks on their stomachs.
  • River otters are territorial and will mark their territory with feces (or spraint) as a warning to others. Though not a fighter, it will charge and scratch those who get to close."

Friday, December 13, 2013

Would the World Have Christmas Without Women?

I know that I should not let what my immediate family do influence my beliefs about most things, but I have been wondering.

Wondering what Christmas (or most celebrations/holidays, for that matter) would be like without WOMEN?

Especially at this time of the year, I see women busy with shopping for gifts and groceries, decorating Christmas trees and homes, cooking delicious meals and holiday treats, wrapping oodles of gifts, creating homemade gifts and decorations, writing notes and sending Christmas cards, and wishing everyone  "A Very Merry Christmas."

Would there be Christmas without women?

If you have ever wondered about this question, please pour a cup of coffee or tea and read these two enlightening articles from two different parts of the world:


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advantages of Gloomy, Gray, Cold Days

The sun is out today. 

Glorious? Well, I am not so sure.

Have you ever noticed how dirty your windowspanes look when the sun shines through? 

And what about the dusty furniture both inside and out?

Once the sun is shining, even the sad little flowerbeds beg for some sprucing up.

But it is December, and tomorrow may be cloudy and dark and rainy. 

And if you are warm and cozy in the grayness, you don't see the work that needs to be done.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Shiny Brites at Memaw's

Some of the bloggers I follow are Shiny Brite shoppers. Nothing makes their thriftying days better than finding a box of Shiny Brites. Well, today I not only found shiny Brites, but I found them in my mother's Christmas stash. 

And now those shiny bright balls from over 50 years ago are adorning her Vintage Christmas Tree.

I dropped (and smashed) only one gold ball.

The most expensive box was 99 cents.

Love the Pinks! Bet that was pretty on a silver or white tree.

This box was only 49 cents. Special price.

There is the gold ball that bit the dust.

Flocked one.

These are the oldest decorations. Probably over 60 years old.

If this decoration could only talk.

We couldn't find the string of lights for these flower bulbs.

The Vintage Christmas Tree with my late daddy's string of lights that he used on his Christmas tree even before he and Momma married in 1947. 

Memaw and I spent several hours putting this masterpiece together. 

Merry Shiny Brite Christmas!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Upstairs Thrifting

Our upstairs "box room" has boxes on shelves. As most boxes are labeled, I know (more or less) what is in the boxes. But boxes with Christmas ornaments and decorations are always a surprise.

Some years I never even open the boxes and avoid decorating for Christmas. Yesterday I opened the boxes and even set up a few lights in the kitchen and dining room window. Maybe today I will get to the mantle and piano with some tinsel and nutcrackers that I picked up for pennies last year.

But I did visit the Catholic thrift shop yesterday to see what I have been missing the last two months. 

Here is what came home with me:

This cardinal music box was 25 cents. It "cleaned up" well, and the music box works! Only one flower petal missing. Sweet!

Here you can see the missing petal.

And this angel was only 75 cents. She has a "heavy bottom" and sits by herself. May be a doorstop.

She makes me smile.

A doll from this great California company.

Got her back.

One Santa was only 10 cents and the other was 5 Euros. Bet you can't pick out the 10 cent one. It is the one on the left that I bought on Saturday.

I also found Oshkosh baby overalls (they are in the wash) and Oshkosh baby slippers for 25 cents each.  As the cashier said, "She always finds the cutest baby clothes here."

I can have a great hour spending just  $5 at the Thrift store!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thirty Loves for Thirty Years

(Happy Birthday to the most important 30 year old in our life--our son J.)

1. You are our one and only child.
2. You are you and no one else.
3. You are loving.
4. You are kind.
5. You are truthful.
6. You are witty.
7. You are serious.
8. You are sympathetic.
9. You are fun-loving.
10. You are smart.
11. You are level-headed.
12. You are nerdy.
13. You are good-looking.
14. You are clean.
15. You are thoughtful.
16. You are lazy.
17. You are normal.
18. You are Dutch.
19. You are American.
20. You are a home owner.
21. You are a Cowboy's fan.
22. You are an automobile lover.
23. You are a doer.
24. You are an over-achiever.
25. You are a boyfriend.
26. You are cousin.
27. You are a nephew.
28. You are a grandson.
29. You are a son.
30. You are our son.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wouldn't Be Sinterklaas Pakjes Avond Without Almond Paste Filled Speculaas!

All little Dutchies are snuggled warm in their beds, but here in the Deep South it is evening tea time. And in honor of Sint Nicolaas, I made speculaas filled with almond paste.

Gevulde Speculaas (Filled Gingerbread)


Speculaas dough- 
1 package of Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix (17.5 oz/496g)
1 stick (1/2 cup) Butter, Margarine, or Spread, softened (not melted)
1 tablespoon water
1 egg

Almond paste filling-
1  300g  package Dr. Oetker Amandelspijs (almond paste)
1  egg (lightly beaten)  


Heat oven to 350 F. 

Stir cookie mix, softened butter, water, and egg in medium bowl until soft dough forms. (I forgot to add the water, and I used unsalted butter zapped in the microwave for just over 1 minute.)

Divide the cookie dough into two halves and press 1/2 into a greased/floured 9 by 9 inch square pan. 

Mix with a fork the beaten egg and almond paste until egg seems to disappear.

Press that paste mixture on top of the first cookie dough layer.

Then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 of the cookie dough evenly over the paste mixture.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.
(To dress it up, you can lightly glaze with beaten egg and then add slivered or sliced almonds before baking.)
Let cool to almost room temperature before serving. 
Enjoy this rich December treat!

Hij Komt, Hij Komt

Exactly 30 years ago today, my hub and I went to the hospital in preparation for the birth of our child. 

And yes, I had had echo and amniocentesis readings, but we had no idea that a little BOY was ready to be born. The gender of our baby was never an issue. That our baby would be healthy and happy was most important to us.

As 5 December is Sinterklaas gift evening, my roommate and her newborn had a real party with all of her welcoming family members, while my hub and I waited for our special "gift." Our present could be "unwrapped" the next morning on December 6 when all of the doctors and staff came to work.

My Dutch father-in-law was annoyed that our baby was due to be born at such an important time of the year. But that birth of our son never seemed to ruin any festivities. In fact, it seemed to make Sinterklaas more meaningful to us.

On that night 30 years ago, I slept well until around 4:00 AM. Then the real party began with only me, the night staff, and our baby boy. After the waters broke, the staff gave me meds to slow everything down to wait for my doctor and his staff to get to the hospital for the scheduled c-section delivery time at 8:00 AM. I telephoned my hub who was sleeping peacefully at home, and he came before they rolled me into the operating room.

Our healthy, happy "gift from Sinterklaas" was born at the tail end of the dear old Sint's route.

He saved the best for last! 

He came.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dog Gone Mad!

Our beagle Flip spent six great weeks with our bachelor son while we were doing our apartment remodeling in The Netherlands. Our dog got lots of attention, but I am sure he missed his hunting and his "neighborhood girlfriend" Kara. 

Since Flip has been back home with my hub and me, he has really been confused. The first night back, he paced the floor and even walked around in circles. He barked when he heard the heater click on or when the wind blew or when the sun came up at 6:00 AM. 

Since two days ago, he has started sleeping upstairs. Alone. In the hallway. 

Flip avoids his bed like the plague. Yesterday I washed his mattress and cover the second time in a week, thinking there was something "bad" on them. That did not help. Plus he avoids stepping on the large Persian rugs in our hallway. That is a funny sight when he skirts the rugs and tip-toes across the ends.

Then this morning after his early morning hunt, we found him asleep on our table on the front porch. Enjoy the shots:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

25 Ticks, 3 Turtles, and 1 Sweet Baby Boy

Today I was at home all day! Doing more or less just as I pleased! 

What a great "vacation day!" 

Oh, I know I am retired, but the last two months have been hectic. And today I finally just did what I wanted to do. Unfortunately our beagle didn't know I wanted to sleep late, but he sat at the doorway to our bedroom and waited an extra 30 minutes this morning.

Later he came back from his "hunt" in the forest and brought his catch--over 25 crawling ticks! He was immaculately clean, but covered with ticks! When I put him outside every single day I buckle on his tick collar. Not a cheap one from the Dollar Store, but a real jewel from the Vet. Maybe that is why the ticks are dancing around in his clean fur.

While I was combing out the ticks on the front porch, I noticed three huge turtles sun bathing on the banks of our pond. I even had to get out the binoculars to make sure what I was seeing in the distance. I am so glad those three turtles have a good home in our pond. Now if the fish would just jump high enough for us to see them, that would be worth all the distress we experienced with that pond.

And the icing on my day was the birth of Sweet William, my youngest brother and his dear wife's first grandson. This little baby boy is actually William the IV. 

Sweet William and a super sweet day!