Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Figure in the Dark...


A figure in the dark, clad in heavy furs, a fierce mask-covered face, a bundle of switches on his back, banging and shouting throughout the countryside...

What could be more frightening to a young child?  The figure trudged from house to house, rattling chains and throwing pebbles at the windows.  He carried goodies for the children in his sack, mostly fruits and sweets, but he also carried switches and threatened to smack any children who hadn't been good.

The figure often carried a sprig of evergreen as a symbol of life amid the deadly cold of winter.  This is the legend of the Belsnickle according to German folk lore which came with the immigrants to America.  The fierce eyed Belsnickle takes his name from Pelz-Nickolaus, which means "St. Nicholas in fur."  

Well, good or bad, kiddies, tonight is the night. Best wishes and "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."  

To all my blogging friends, I hope you have a very

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

See you soon, and take care,


Saturday, December 12, 2020

A Christmas Star... (And, lots of brown)


Watching the night sky on clear evenings, as of late, here on our little hill, has become almost a daily affair.  On the eve of the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year, Jupiter and Saturn will meet and appear as a single point of bright light in the night sky.  It really is a show worth watching for it was way back in 1226, some 800 years ago, that the planets aligned so this would happen.  

There are those who believe the Christmas Star which appeared in the east the night of Christ's birth was the meeting of three planets: Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.  The Magi found the baby lying in a manager by following this bright star.  "And lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was."  

Millie and I have been painting.  I suppose it is only right to say, "Millie and I," for she stayed with me all the while I was at work.  Here, Millie is trying out her newly painted, brown doggie house.  She seemed to notice that it was not the same, but after a bit crawled inside and seemed to go to sleep.  She was tired after a long night of howling at the coyotes who come around just to torment her, I think.

But, the big job was painting the Shanty (and the garage doors).  I am so happy with the new color ~ brown again, of course.  It matches Millie's house.  Thanks to Dan for bringing up the tractor with a front-end loader attachment for me to stand in. It also came in mighty handy for the garage doors job, which I may or may not survive!  :~)  But, for now, I am so done with painting, and have put my brushes away until next spring, at least.  

So, with those jobs behind us, we are now gearing up for Christmas.  The little Alpine trees in my sewing room are decorated with these microwaved aromatic dough ornaments.  They are so much fun and last forever, it seems.  To store them, I wrap them in tissue paper and place them in zip-lock bags.  Each Christmas when I take them out, they still smell like cinnamon, allspice and cloves.  :~) 

And, yet more brown...Dough ornaments.

Microwaved Aromatic Dough Ornaments

Combine 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour, 3/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground allspice, 1 tablespoon ground cloves, and 3/4 teaspoon powdered alum in medium mixing bowl.  Mix well.  Add 1 1/4 cups water.  Mix well to form dough.  Shape dough into ball.  Knead on lightly floured board for about 5 minutes, or until dough is smooth.  (If too stiff; sprinkle with additional water; if too moist, add flour.)

Work with small portions of dough at a time.  Roll dough to 1/4" thickness.  Cut out shapes with 2 1/2 to 4" cookie cutters.  Decorate tops of cutouts with cloves and allspice, or with bits of dough (moisten dough with water-dipped paintbrush and join to cutout).  Store remaining dough in plastic bag.

Push small amounts of dough through garlic press for textured  "hair" or "fur" for animal or people shapes, or use a wooden pick to texture surface.  Using a drinking straw, cut hole )at least 3/8") near top of cutout for hanging.

Spray 10" pie plate with vegetable cooking spray.  Place three or four cutouts in prepared pie plate.  Microwave at Medium Low for 5 to 8 minutes, or until tops of cutouts feel dry, rotating plate and checking ornaments after every 2 minutes.  

Remove ornaments to rack and set aside for 24 hours to complete drying.  Insert thin ribbon through holes and tie for hanging.  If desired, spray decorations lightly with vegetable cooking spray for a glossier appearance.