All Things Andrea

All Things Andrea

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ricky's 2011 Christmas Ornaments

Here's the picture of the banana-octopus ornament I gave Ricky,

and the Old World ornament to commemorate his love of sushi (how many 8-year old kids do you know who love sushi??!!).

2011 Christmas Memory Ornaments

Hands down, this is my favorite ornament for 2011!!  My nephew gave it to me for Christmas, commemorating our shared love of pomegranates.  We discovered this line of Christmas ornaments last spring at Shady Maple's gift shop; each one is a vegetable recreated as an adorable animal.  We oohed and aahed over every single one!  I had bought a little banana-octopus ornament for Ricky for his present, and he in turn surprised me with this delightful pomegranate bird. 

I love the detailing, including the turned-up tail which reveals the luscious pomegranate seeds inside,

and the fun little crown on his head.  :)

This was the animal/vegetable ornament I had selected for myself that day.  It's perfect - 2011 marked my first-ever garlic harvest, so this ornament helps me remember that milestone for me wonderfully.

I absolutely love Old World ornaments.  And, to find an acorn squash sealed the deal!  This was my first year for growing this fun little squash, so I was delighted to add this ornament to my collection.

Last, I purchased this lovely little lighthouse lantern ornament at the Heceta Head lighthouse on the Oregon coast this summer.  I will never forget that fabulous vacation....

Our family hosted an AFS exchange student from Thailand during the 1977-1978 school year.  He sent each of us children a tissue box cover with these elephants stitched on them last Christmas.  I decided to turn it into an ornament instead, and it serves as a reminder of his time with our family.

Christmas Reading

Can't wait to get started on reading these books I received for Christmas!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ricky's Wassail Recipe

My nephew recently did a presentation on Christmas in Great Britain for his 3rd grade class.  As part of the presentation, he made wassail for his classmates.  Since he now is hooked on the beverage, I had him bring it for Christmas dinner.  :)  It is good!

Here's the recipe (adapted for a classroom):

1 gallon apple cider
1 whole clove per child (20-35)
1 whole allspice per child (20-35)
2-3 cinnamon sticks
2/3 c. sugar
1-2 slice oranges or apples (optional)

Put cider in a large pot; add spices and sugar.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.  Strain out spices and pour into a punch bowl.  Float orange or apple slices on top.  Serve.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I love how Ricky mounted this Willow Tree angel; he didn't realize it was an ornament, so he wrapped the tree branches around it to "hug" it and hold it secure.  :)

And, this just makes me smile every time I look at it - Ricky created a scene with a little doll ornament (purchased during my trip to Austria), a sheaf of wheat (representing my involvement at Harvest Community Church), a wheelbarrow (reminds me of my Great Aunt Mary who was an avid gardener) and some garden tools (represents some major landscaping projects soon after I bought my house).

Country Living Christmas

I had my heart set on a real Christmas tree this year, but just couldn't justify the expense since I already have an artificial tree that will do.  Plus, even though I hate artificial anything, they are so much less hassle than a real tree, especially when you leave the lights on from year to year!  So, I thought maybe I could help disguise the tackiness of my artificial tree by setting the stand in this galvanized tub, just like a picture out of Country Living magazine!  However, it just didn't fit, and I couldn't figure out how to retrofit the tub or the tree stand without ruining either, and without a trip to the hardware store for supplies to rig up some kind contraption the would probably still result in the tree tipping over. 

So, I settled for tucking a few poinsettias in a galvanized bucket instead,

and swapped out the traditional burgundy brocade tree skirt I normally use with some fabric with more of a rustic feel.

I'm going to keep my eyes out for a larger galvanized tub for next year!

Worth Contemplating

"The lives that are getting stronger are lives in the desert, deep-rooted in God."
- Oswald Chambers, as quoted in Inspiring Thoughts for Gardeners

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Crafting

I just completed this funky chicken pincushion for my sister for Christmas.  (Don't look, Renee!!)  The fabrics are from our family scrap bag, left over from clothing Renee and my mother had sewed for themselves, and the buttons are from my mother's button jar, hopefully making this a meaningful gift.

I wish I could take credit for the idea!  Instead, we first saw some of these pieced pincushions at the Stichin' Post quilt shop in Sisters, Oregon when we vacationed there this summer.

With the help of a quilting blog, I was able to figure out how to make one without too much trouble. 

I used a paper piecing template from one of my quilt books,

making sure I set the stitch length super short to make it easier to tear the paper away.

A felt beak, comb, and

tail complete the look!

After filling with rice, I simply whipped stitched the bottom shut.

Merry Christmas, Renee!  Hope this will always remind you of our fabulous trip to Sisters, OR ....

Glimpses of the Season



Ode to Chard

Believe it or not, I picked the last of my Swiss chard today!  I said farewell by enjoying it in a yummy breakfast salad.

OK, I'll admit - I have this strange affinity for Swiss chard.  While I can't say that I love the flavor, I am intrigued by a green leafy vegetable that can be planted first thing in the Spring, is able to endure the ravages of Summer's heat and insects, lasts into the frosty stages of Fall and only barely misses making it to Winter.   For just pennies, it feeds me the entire growing season, whether I use its tender, young leaves in a salad, blend the heck out of it in a smoothie,  cook its stalks, or wilt its greens.  Because of its noteworthy character (not to mention its beauty!), I'm determined to learn to like its flavor, and eat it because I enjoy it, not just because it's inexpensive and healthful.  I'm not quite there yet, but I'm getting there.  And, I'm convinced it's more about me needing to learn how to prepare it tastefully vs. demanding that it please my palate.

So, here's to you, Swiss chard!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Worth Contemplating

"You can be broken, or broken open.  That choice is yours."
- Erica Bauermeister in Joy for Beginners

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Worth Contemplating

"Adults need to have fun so children will want to grow up."
- Erica Bauermeister in Joy for Beginnners

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tonight's Dinner

This is a great recipe from Everyday Food magazine that does double duty. The leftovers make a great lunch - simply chop the broccoli, flake the salmon and toss with the rice. Yum!

Glazed Salmon with Spicy Broccoli

2 t. olive oil
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. rice vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 t. red-pepper flakes
1 T. apricot jam
1 skin-on salmon fillet (6 oz.)
1 1/2 c. broccoli florets
cooked brown rice, for serving

Heat broiler, with rack in middle position.  In a small bowl, combine oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and red-pepper flakes.  Divide mixture in half and stir jam into one half.

Place salmon on a broiler proof rimmed baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray.  Brush salmon with jam mixture and broil until fish is opaque throughout, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, set a steamer basket in a saucepan with 2 inches simmering water.  Add broccoli, cover and steam until crisp-tender, 4 minutes.  Toss broccoli with remaining soy sauce mixture; serve with salmon and rice.

Serves 2 (or 1 serving with leftovers)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kinda hard to think about Christmas when...

... I just harvested the last of my carrots this afternoon,

finally finished planting the spring bulbs,

the coral bell leaves look like they think it's spring,

the forsythia is blooming, and...

...I picked some Swiss chard and beets for dinner!