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Posts Tagged ‘piano’

We did not decorate much this year.  After grandson/son #2 (Army Guy) went off to the Army, the boys moved bedrooms and I am left with the extra bedroom on the main floor.  It will eventually be my workroom, but right now is just a mess.  The first thing I did though, was move grandson/sons #3 (JCountry) piano out to the dining room. 

We have an L shaped main floor, with 1/4 of that square (that’s not an L) being that bedroom, now workroom.  The other parts of the L are the kitchen, the dining area, a tv, a couch collection (my mother likes to replace her furniture and we have inherited quite a few extra pieces), and a computer area.  Trust me, this is NOT a big house.

Which I really realized when it was time to put up the tree.  There just isn’t anywhere to put a Christmas tree.  Heck, there’s a comfy rocking love seat in the middle of the floor.  I did consider hanging it (the tree, not the couch) but there was no room for that either. 

I took my trusty Menard’s rebate and got a 24″ tree and a can of spray snow (Any tree I have is having snow on it.) and I went to Hobby Lobby, and for 50% off, I bought a fake garland (which also now has snow on it) and a cloth runner to protect the ancient piano from the fake snow.

In our first house we had a fireplace and I did this every year on the mantle, only with real boughs and fake snow and shiny ornaments and (when we were in the room) lit candles.  Now, I have two plastic battery candles.

It’s in a pinch.  The guys are older now and not so excited about going into the attic for decorations.  I just wanted something up.   I used to decorate every square inch but this house put a stop to that.  I really need to declutter more; which I have been doing for the last seven years actually and still have more to go.

I have another reason for decorating.  On my facebook (http://SAVanVleck.Wordpress.com) a couple of people have mentioned not enjoying Christmas because they have lost a loved one. 

I know the feeling.  When my brother died, I just wasn’t sure I would ever enjoy the holidays again.  Then, Dad died and I was left with this horrible guilt because we thought we were doing him a favor by taking down the tree before we left their house after Christmas.  He got up and was not happy.  He wanted to look at it for more time.  That was his last Christmas.

So, what I tell people and firmly believe now, is do not deprive yourself because you feel lonely, or sad, or guilty or whatever.  My brother and father were both big on Christmas and, by decorating, it is more a reminder of that joy and a tribute to the ones you love who loved the holidays.

Happy Holidays to everyone.

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Hope you all had a tremendous food fest, that is called Thanksgiving, here in the U.S. 

TV is on and I just HAVE to say this.  Just how sick is Bridalplasty.  The whole idea makes me sick.  What a sad state this country is getting itself in.  Enough digression.

My fond memories of Thanksgiving are from my childhood, when we traveled to my grandmother/aunt’s house and I spent the day being hugged and kissed by comfy aunts and spent time with my sister (she lived with my grandmother). 

My grandmother was a quiet woman.  I really wish I could remember her voice, but I don’t.  I do remember her whispery reading (something my dad did also) and her piano playing.  I also remember that, if she knew you had a favorite dish that was just a bit different from norm, say the lemon filling in lemon cream pie but without crust (Now who in the world would want to do without homemade pie crust?).  I’m just saying, that if that was what you liked, Grandma had it there waiting for you.

Grandma’s house was full of people and conversation and laughter; especially when the ladies went out to do the dishes while the men slept on the couch.  They were mostly laughing about the men, I think, but they were sure having a good time.

Then, came the time when dinner was at mom’s house and I was one of them helping  with cleanup (when mom would allow anyone to help) and laughing.  It was always extra good when unexpected relatives arrived to crowd the table.

This year, Thanksgiving was particularly quiet.  It was just five of us and we catered it from Cracker Barrel.  After two weeks on my Vegan heart diet, I decided to join in and eat just regular food.  The best was the pizza and chips we had for lunch.  But, they weren’t quite as good as I remembered.  Everyone enjoys Cracker Barrel’s cooking, but I was actually wishing I was still eating Vegan.

Surprised me!  Something about this diet makes me feel lighter inside and like all my insides are working properly.  I know that isn’t a very scientific way to put it, but I’m glad to be back on my diet. 

STATS:  By Wednesday (that’s actually a week and a half) I have now lost five pounds.  Thursday’s meal put it to four.  Since I cannot see inside my arteries, I cannot tell you but I imagine little blocks of them floating downstream.    I made a great three bean soup and adjusted the War Cake recipe (follows).  It is one of the most moist cakes you can make.  It is from World War I and has no eggs, milk, nor butter in it.

This recipe is from a Dear Heloise column, when someone asked for the “eggless, milkless, butterless cake her mother made around 1918.  It is dark and heavy but ohhhh so good.

Mix 2 cups brown sugar
2 cups hot water
 and 2 teaspoons shortening (I used 2 teaspoons of apple sauce) in medium saucepan.

Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins (I used chopped up dates). 

Add 1 teaspoon each of salt, cinnamon and cloves.  I RARELY add salt and did not for this cake.

Boil the above for five minutes after it first bubbles.  Remove from the stove and let it cool.  Let it cool completely.

After it is cool, add 3 cups of flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat but was then out of whole wheat so had to use 2 cups of white.  I would normally at least do 50/50 on that but am now going heavier on the whole wheat.

And, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 2 teaspoons of hot water.

Mix well

Pour into greased bundt pan

Bake 1 hour at 350 to 375

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 XUP’s post *XUP* brought up another side of the large family debate.  To recap, there was dad, mom, brother(10 years older) and me in our house.  Quiet does not even begin to describe our house.  If television had never been invented, we could have lived in a morgue.

I loved going to my sister’s house (she lived with my grandmother and my aunt) for holidays.  On Christmas, Mom always worried that we had to leave our toys, but I think that set up for me that holidays were about family.  They were not about money spent on gifts, or the size of the turkey.  They were about sharing.

I loved picking out which gift/s I was going to take and show my sister.  She is ten years older than I am.  I loved opening the car door and waving to my aunt, with her movie camera going.  I loved going into the house and having all the aunts hug and give me a sloppy kiss and then into the kitchen where grandma , who would play the piano on rare occasions, would sneak me bits of my favorite food (generally desert).  I only have two cousins on that side of the family.  They are both male and both older, so there was not a lot of interaction going on.

In the summer, we would have a rare treat of a small Dairy Queen cone, on the way home.  Every season had it’s own special treat and memories.

I only remember one or two family gatherings with my mother’s side of the family.  I was very close to one cousin, out of eighteen, and being a loner do not really remember doing much there. 

That side of the family has some wonderful people and then some truly unbalanced ones who insisted on starting a fight every gathering.  I am sure that put a damper on the whole “get together” thing. 

The fun parts though were when my uncle played fiddle.  I loved his scratchy cigarette voice and also the humor of one of my aunts.  The really sweet, large family aunt made the best apple desert in jelly roll pans and I would go, fights or no fights, purely for her cooking.  Gosh, we have a theme going here; my need for desert.  But, that is for another post. 

I am a loner, but I would not give up the large family gatherings, fights and all, for anything.  It was the exclamation point on a long quiet sentence.

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gram-s-r-lydia

This is my grandma, with her pearls, Master’s Daughter, daughter-of-eleven and my Aunt Lydia.  Aunt Lydia never married.  She said she was never going to do what a man told her to do and, since the Bible said she had to, she just was not going to get married.  After helping her put a new door up at their house once, my father came home and said that she was the most difficult, bull-headed person on earth. 

 

My mother said that was like the pot calling the kettle black.

 

 

Grandma was a quiet, uneducated woman and once asked her son, when he came home on a visit from the military, “Do you have any of them G.I.’s in your camp?”  Everyone has a story or two about things grandma said.  She did not understand a lot of the world as it moved on past her.

 

She was not a real big talker anyway.  I mostly knew her from observing.  But, she always took the time to play the piano for me.  Her right hand had a huge tumor on it and it amazed me how she could make such beautiful music. 

 

I remember her ironing too.  She had this whispery whistle that accompanied her as she worked around the house and she was always working around the house.  I rarely saw her sit down and rest.  Even with a house full of company, she was always moving and cleaning. 

 

My aunt lived with Grandma, so I am not sure whether some of the things I remember were the result of my aunt or my grandmother.  I know when paper plates came out, they had to buy a pack.  We ate our meal on those plates and they gathered them up and took them to the kitchen. 

 

The next time I went into the kitchen, there was a clothes line of paper plates hanging out to dry.    

 

It did not matter how many children were there either, grandma always made their favorite food.  She would save out lemon pie filling for the child that liked it without the crust.  She watched and listened and, whatever food was the favorite of a child, would be waiting for them, the next time they arrived.

My funniest memory, of grandma, was walking in the door one time and hearing her yelling out, “Get Him!” Gorgeous George was wrestling on her little black and white tv and my quiet grandma was cheering him on.

This is a picture of grandma with three of her four children.  The fourth child, was a girl who died at the age of six.  Left to right is my uncle Clifford, my grandmother in blue dress (Flossie VanVleck) my father Harold and my Aunt Lydia. 

 

 

clif-gram-dad-lydia1

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