Advent Calendar: Christmas Tree Ornaments

December 3 – Christmas Tree Ornaments
Did your family have heirloom or cherished ornaments? Did you ever string popcorn and cranberries? Did your family or ancestors make Christmas ornaments?

When I was growing up, I don’t believe that we had any ornaments that were “heirlooms”.  But I consider those same ornaments (which my mom gifted to me a few years ago) heirlooms now.

We bought a lot of the collectible ornaments from Hallmark on the day after Christmas.  I like them, but the ones I cherish are the homemade ones.

We never strung popcorn or cranberries, but that sounds very quaint.  Like it belongs in a Land’s End or Pottery Barn catalog.  Do people still do that?  Don’t the cranberries get old?  I think that my kids would eat the popcorn.:)

The ornament I love the most is this pair of mittens that was always hanging on our tree.  Yes, 1981 wasn’t THAT long ago, but I was only 5 then, so it seems like ages. :)  I honestly don’t know who made these.  They are knitted though, so it must have been my Great Aunt Elvy.  Aren’t they pretty??

My mom (and her mom) went through this needlepointing phase in the 1980′s.  Was it a fad or something?  I’m not sure.  Anyway, I have a few gallon ziploc bags full of needlepointed ornaments which I consider heirlooms.  I have enough to pass down to all 5 of my kids!

Along with the handmade heirlooms, our current tree is covered in ornaments from the various places we have lived and traveled.  I have been buying ornaments as my souvenir when we visit a new place.

Here are some from when we lived in North Pole, Alaska:

Monterey, California:

I picked this one up earlier this year when we were in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania.  It matches the quilt I bought for my bed!

When we lived in San Antonio, Texas:

And from Washington State:

The mixture of souvenirs, handmade heirlooms, and paper ornaments made by my kiddos makes for a very eclectic mixture on the tree.  No, it’s not picture-perfect gorgeous.  Nothing “matches”.  And I let my kids hang the ornaments themselves, so they aren’t always places perfectly.  I think that’s what makes it special though. :)  It’s a mixture of memories past and memories that we’re making now.

I wish that I had some heirloom ornaments from beyond my parents’ generation.

  • Amy Coffin - December 3, 2010 - 9:21 am

    We have an oyster shell Santa, too, only it’s from Louisiana.ReplyCancel

  • Diana Ritchie - December 3, 2010 - 11:39 am

    I think the “eclectic look” is what makes the tree so special and uniquely yours! My childhood memories are filled with trees just like that – decorated by my sisters and me. Just think, some day all those needlepoint ornaments will be “heirlooms”!! :-) ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Cayemberg - December 3, 2010 - 3:58 pm

    Eeeh…cranberries? Sounds potentially moldy! :) I love your ornaments! We do some very similar things. Everyone gets a new ornament each year. This way when the boys leave home they have some of their own to take with them! It’s. In my unposted blog! I need to finish it and get it up during a freebie day!ReplyCancel

    • Jen - December 4, 2010 - 12:05 am

      That’s a good idea Cherie. My mom kind of did the same thing with the ornaments – for a little while at least. They were all the Hallmark ones. I had a volleyball player and a saxophone-playing Santa (I played sax in middle school). I don’t know that she did it as much as my brothers got older though. They probably don’t care, because they’re guys. :) ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Palmer - December 3, 2010 - 4:23 pm

    I was in that 80′s needlepoint boom apparently as I made the same mailbox (mine is in red) and I made pointsetta coasters which are very similar to your ornament. I have my mailbox still, on the tree. At least you have some ornaments from your parents generation, I don’t have any.ReplyCancel

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Wordless Wednesday:Grandma Eleanore

This is my grandmother, Eleanore Sonia Bergman (Sanchez, Thompson), when she was a child. The picture is very stained, but I am thankful that her face is nice and clear.  What chubby little cheeks she had!:)

I think that maybe I should read into how to use Photoshop a little better and maybe I can clean it up a bit.

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Advent Calendar: Holiday Foods

First of all, I want to thank my husband’s brother and his wife for giving us a great present when we got married.

They contacted our family and friends and collected up recipes into a binder and gave us a family cookbook to start our years of marital bliss with. What a wonderful idea, right?  If only they could have given me some cooking skills also….

Among those recipes is one that I would like to share today.  It is for Scandinavian Kringler.

My great-grandparents were from Sweden, so I like to think that maybe they made this before.  It was probably just something that my mom got from a cookbook somewhere though.  I suppose that I should ask her!  Anyway, she would make it sometimes for the holidays and it’s delicious.  I’ve made it a couple of times for Christmas and I have to say that it’s much easier than it looks.  The instructions make it seem difficult, but it’s really pretty simple .  Trust me, if I can make it, then anyone can!!

I hesitate to show this picture at all. It’s awful.  It was taken a couple of years ago in our Alaskan cave – well that’s what our home felt like in the middle of winter!  The lighting was bad and it doesn’t look all that appetizing, but it really tastes good – (if you like almond flavor).  You can tell, because half of it has already been devoured!

And here is the recipe:

Ok, this is embarrassing.  I can’t find the recipe – presumably since I pulled it out of the plastic cover to make the above batch of Kringler.

I am posting a version of it instead which I found on Food.com. I will have to dig through my cabinet to see if my copy of it fell out or else get the recipe from my mom again before Christmas rolls around, because I plan on making it this year!

So, here is the Food.com version of the recipe:
Ingredients:
1 c. flour
1/2 c. butter, chilled
2 tablespoons icewater

Puff Topping:
1 c. water
1/2 c. butter
1 c. flour
3 eggs
1/2 tsp almond extract

Frosting:
1 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbs butter, softened
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2-3 Tbs milk
sliced almonds, if desired

Directions:
1. Measure 1 cup of flour into mixing bowl
2. Using a pastry blender, cut 1/2 cup butter into flour until particles are size of small peas.
3. Sprinkle with water. 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly with a fork until the flour mixture is moistened and soft dough forms.
4. Divide dough in half.
5. On ungreased cookie sheet, press each half into a 12X3 inch strip.
6. In medium saucepan, heat water and 1/2 cup water to boiling.
7. Remove from heat; immediately stir in 1 cup flour until smooth.
8. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.
9. Stir in 1/2 tsp. almond extract
10. Spoon over crust, spreading to 3/4 inch from edges.
11. Bake 50-60 minutes until golden brown and puffy. Cool.
12. Blend powdered sugar, butter, almond extract, and milk until smooth.
13. Frost, sprinkle with nuts.
14. Slice and serve.:)

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I have the golden ticket!

I feel like Charlie, who just won a ticket to the Willie Wonka Chocolate Factory.  I want to sing “I’ve got the golden ticket!”

And no, I didn’t win anything.  I’m not usually that lucky.  I had to pay for my ticket.

The NGS Conference tickets are now on sale and I bought mine!!

That means that I’ll be in Charleston for four blissful days this coming May.  I am so excited!

I was absolutely drooling over the conference brochure.  It’s going to be very hard deciding which sessions to attend when there are so many great ones to choose from.  I even signed 2 of my kids up for the Saturday morning “Kids Kamp!”

Are any of you planning on attending?  I’d love to meet up with some fellow bloggers while I’m there.:)

  • Linda McCauley - December 1, 2010 - 1:50 am

    Jen, I’m so glad to know I’m not alone. I’ve been studying the program for an hour and thinking the whole time that I’m crazy since it’s over 5 months away. I haven’t registered yet but I do have my hotel reservations made.ReplyCancel

  • Jen - December 1, 2010 - 7:42 am

    I still haven’t made hotel reservations. Probably not a good move on my part. If worst comes to worst though, I’m only 2 hours away and I could drive.ReplyCancel

  • Liz O. - December 1, 2010 - 2:18 pm

    Congratulations! We hope to see you there, and would love to have you swing by our booth to see what we’re up to at http://www.AppleTree.comReplyCancel

  • Amy Coffin - December 1, 2010 - 2:36 pm

    I’m not going to this one. Blog often so I can live vicariously through you!ReplyCancel

  • Shaz - December 2, 2010 - 9:19 am

    You are really going to enjoy the days at the conference. I still recall my first one many years ago in Jacksonville, FL. I learned so much as I was fairly new to genealogy. I’ve been to many since, but that one still stands out. My big suggestion: TALK TO PEOPLE.ReplyCancel

    • Jen - December 2, 2010 - 11:19 am

      I promise to be social!! :) ReplyCancel

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Advent Calendar: The Christmas Tree

I grew up in the woods, on a small island in Puget Sound. The nearest town dubbed itself “The Christmas Tree Capital of the World”.  I don’t know how true that was, but I do know that Christmas Trees and wreaths were big business.

The bridge to the island I grew up on

So, after having said that, do you think that we used a fake tree?  I would have felt a traitor.:)

We always had a real tree.  Always.  Sure, they can be a little messy with the needles falling off and such, but nothing beats the smell of a real tree.  It fills the house.

In my entire life, I have only done a fake tree one year – while Andy was deployed in Iraq.  The thought of getting the tree home and into a stand when it was negative 20 degrees out (with 5 little kids in tow) didn’t appeal to me.  I cheated and bought a cheap tree-in-a-box.  I regretted it.  It just didn’t feel very Christmasy without it – or without him. It was a fake Christmas.

When I was growing up, sometimes we would just go out back and get a tree and other times we’d go to a Christmas Tree farm down the road.  We normally didn’t get our tree until about 2 weeks before Christmas – usually just after my sister’s birthday.

I broke from tradition this year though.  We put our tree up this past weekend.  Here is my youngest daughter, who got the honors of putting the star on this year.:)

Unfortunately, I don’t have any stories of my ancestors’ Christmas Tree traditions.  I wish that I did!

  • Cheryl Palmer - December 1, 2010 - 2:47 am

    I LOVE this picture! It is wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • Diana Ritchie - December 1, 2010 - 9:09 am

    Great picture!! And I loved the part about putting up the tree after your sister’s birthday. My sister, my dad and I ALL have December birthdays and my sister’s is the earliest – we would also put up the tree right after her birthday.ReplyCancel

  • Amy Coffin - December 1, 2010 - 10:04 am

    Great photos. It looks like a lovely place.ReplyCancel

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