Saturday, December 26, 2009
Here are some pictures (mostly taken from inside).
This is the outside Christmas tree at night. I hosed up this picture.
The pudge made a snowman out on the rear deck. He used left over (from the summer) water balloons for the buttons and eyes.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
My all time favorite Christmas Song (the video isn't much but the lyrics are all there).
Christmas with a great punk band - The Vandals, Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies
I love this guy - Mr Mojo's Christmas
Try to keep in mind that Christmas is about family, faith, magic and eggnog. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and keeps their priorities straight.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Here is the wreath for the front door. The Mrs and the pudge made it. She bought one of those wire rings and used scrap branches from the Christmas tree and some holly branches that the pudge and I cut in the woods behind the house. There are a lot of Holly trees (with berries) back there but no fir trees - all broad leaf trees. They made a 2nd, smaller wreath for the mirror in the hallway.
Years ago, my brothers and I had a tradition where we would go into a tract of woods we knew (we use to deer hunt there) a couple of weeks before Christmas and cut greens to make wreaths. It was actually started by our father and we stopped for a while after he passed away. Once my brothers and I had families and homes of our own, we started the tradition again and would go to the woods and cut pine, spruce, holly and laurel and make a bunch a wreaths for our houses. And our mother's house too. The last few times we went we started taking our boys with us. We stopped the tradition about 6 years ago when the woods were developed. The Mrs decided she wanted to start our own tradition with the boys this year - hence the door wreath. We'll see how long this lasts.
The Christmas Tree
Another tradition is getting the Christmas tree. Through most of my childhood, we had an artificial tree that sat in a revolving stand that played electronic Christmas music. Because of this plasticy Christmas, when I set out on my own with my 1st house, I vowed to have a real, cut tree - which I have done every year for the last 25 years.
A friend of mine use to sell them on a vacant lot every year and I would purchase from him. They weren't very good trees but he was a friend. When he stopped selling them, I found a small tree farm (through another friend) that we would take the boys to and cut our own tree. This was a very small farm that you wouldn't know was there if you didn't know it was there. It sits on the side of a pretty good hill and one of our best memories was the time we went after a good snow storm. The boys were able to sled on the hill (with sleds the farmer provided) and we have a great picture of the 2 of them on the sled (Christmas 2002). After a few years, the pickings at the farm got slimmer and the 1 hour ride just didn't seem worth it any more.
At this point the boy was in Little League and their big fund raising event for the year was selling Christmas trees. So we volunteered to help unload the trucks, set up the fencing and tree sands, and sell the trees for several years. As a result we bought our trees there too. The trees were fresh cut from a farm in upstate Pennsylvania, so we knew they were fresh. One time the tractor trailer with the trees got there and was covered with snow. I can't tell you how much snow I had down my back by the time we were done unloading. And the trees were always really nice. As volunteers we could pick through the hundreds of trees (usually 400 - 500) and get really nice trees. The prices were very reasonable and I would even get my mom's tree there too.
Now because it's for Little League, the boys would help sell the trees with their fathers and people would generally tip the boys. So my boy has been selling trees for the Little League (up until this year) for the tip money. He's 16 and hasn't played in the league for 4 years, but they appreciate the help.
So this year we didn't volunteer but we still went there to get our tree. And this is probably one of the nicest trees we've ever had. The boy strung the lights with his girl friend and the Mrs and the pudge put up the ornaments. The best description I can give for the theme of the tree is - eclectic mess. It's just all sorts of different ornaments that weve collected over the decades.
I set up most of the Christmas Village. The village was another tradition started when the Mrs and I were first married in that I would buy the Mrs a new piece every year. I had to stop when the shear volume started getting out of control. The boys like to set up the figurines around the village.
Here are some dark shots that came out so-so.
So that's Christmas decorating at the Buzzkill for 2009. We'll see what traditions we have next year. I hope everyone has a nice holiday.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
They're green when summer days are bright;
They're green when winter snow is white.
O, Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!
By the way, we don't actually sing this song around the Christmas tree - ever.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
For this throwdown I thought I would brine my Thanksgiving Turkey. Then I thought that brining a turkey is only one step in the whole turkey cooking process and really doesn't showcase salt. And the fact that I got sick and didn't do the turkey (the Mrs did) pretty much nixed that whole idea. But I still liked the brining idea. So what to do.
Flash back about 2 months ago for background as to how I arrived at my entry. The pudge and I love pickles. The boy not so much and Kosher Dills are the best. We eat them on hamburgers or just as a side when we have something on the barbecue. The Mrs, on the other hand, hates pickles and knows nothing about them. So when we ran out and pickles ended up on the shopping list, she bought some kind of bread and butter pickle. The pudge and I weren't too crazy about them but we have a full jar to work through.
Present day. I got the idea to make my own pickles being that the Mrs doesn't let me food shop much because I "buy too much junk food". For her information, pie is not junk food - but I digress. Anyway, I found a recipe for Ukrainian Dill and Garlic Pickles over at Allrecipe.com.
I went to Produce Junction but they didn't have pickling cucumbers. They did however, have Chinese Cucumbers that looked good to me. I only bought 2 pounds because I didn't want to make too many in case it didn't turn out.
Here are all of the ingredients, I omitted the red chile pepper because the pudge doesn't like spicy.
This is an easy recipe and the toughest part was cleaning all of the garlic.
I got out the old mason jars and decide to do 2 cans and one extra for the refrigerator. The recipe calls for 4 to 10 days of brining before they're ready.
If nothing else, they look good. I really like the green and white (garlic).
I did them the morning of the 5th of December. So by the 9th of December they should be good to try. I opened the refrigerator jar and the brine smells great. Smells like Kosher dills to me.
Update: The pudge and I tried a pickle with dinner Monday night (December 7th) and they were great. The intensity of the pickle flavor is almost there. They taste almost as good as the pickles you get from a Jewish Deli. A couple of more days and they'll be there. I'm curious as to how the canned pickles will be a couple of months from now. I'm also curious to see how they'll taste with pickling cucumbers instead of the Chinese Cucumbers. And I may try slicing the cucumbers so that more will fit in the jar.
This is a keeper. The pudge and I won't have to rely on the Mrs' pickle judgement (or lack there of) anymore.