Friday, December 24, 2010

An OLDIE But a Goodie

I can't let the season pass without sharing my favorite picture of all time, once again.  I still laugh every year when I see it. 

Poor Matt.  He was a little bit stressed out, to be sure.  And I think Santa wanted to kill him.  But I had my candy cane and all was good.

Merry Christmas and love to you all.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Roasting on an Open Fire

Have you ever eaten roasted chestnuts?  I never had, but it was cold and I was hungry the other day when I came upon this stand selling roasted chestnuts and roasted ears of corn.  Sounded good to me.

When it was my turn to order the older gentleman with a very thick Slavic accent who was working the stand said in his loudest broken English Seinfeld Soup Nazi voice, "YOU LOOK LIKE A CHESTNUT PERSON!".

*blink* *blink*


I'm not exactly sure what that meant, but who was I to argue?  So I said, "You're right!" and ordered my bag of holiday cheer.

Then the chestnuts promptly burned my fingers off.

The one I'm holding here was so hot I could barely hold on to it.  They are slit before roasting so the steam can escape.

You peel the shell off and pop out the chestnut.  It is really hot and very soft.  The texture of the meat is what you might expect if you boiled a walnut.  I had always imaged a roasted chestnut would be crispy, but it's just the opposite.  Very, very soft and very sweet.  No salt at all.  A very unique flavor and quite tasty.

This lead me to wonder what other legendary Christmas treats I might be missing out on.  I wonder if I look like a figgy pudding person?

I suspect yes.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Making Merry

Randy works hard and has to be away from home a lot.  Many negatives about that, for sure.  But the positive is that when he is home, we try and have fun.  Actually, we try and catch up on the ever-growing to-do list around the house, but then we try and have some fun.

When he returned from a mission a couple of weeks ago he was looking really good from working hard loading those planes, and he was ready for some Christmas cheer!

 So, we headed out to the Eatonville Christmas Parade.

Thankfully, it was a clear night and not raining...but super the upper 20s!  I had on five layers of clothing and for the first time since I was a child in Montana I had on long johns.  Nothing makes a girl feel prettier than rockin' some thermal underwear!

Small town parades are awesome.  Lots of people on main street cheering everyone on.  Every school, church group, business and organization decorates their car, truck, trailer, flatbed, tractor, ATV, bike, motorcycle, dune buggy or whatever else they have and gets in on the action.  

After the parade we ate dinner at the Big Timber Pub and while walking to the car, passed the Pour House Pub, where we noticed there was a little karaoke going on.  We may, or may not, have joined the fun...

We had to pack a lot of fun into that weekend because Randy was leaving again for a few weeks, so the next morning we hopped the train and headed...

To a Seahawks game!  They played the Carolina Panthers, and thanks to some kind of do-it-or-die half-time threat talk somehow turned it around and won!  I do love going to football games.  This one was cold...but fun! 

It was "Canada Appreciation Day".  Lots of kanucks up here, you know, eh?  When we went in the club house the Canadian Royal Mountie guys were there and they were being treated like rock starts with everyone wanting to get their pictures with them.  It's the awesome red uniforms and memories of Dudley Doright always saving the day.  Believe me, had the line to the ladies' not been a  mile long, yours truly would have been right there saying cheese with one of those guys.

A happy Christmas elf...Go Hawks!  Every single piece of clothing on Randy's body was emblazoned with a Seahawks something or other. 

I hope you are finding ways to make this holiday season merry, too.  Seasons greetings to you all!

Next up?  Dot's most dreaded event of the year...the holiday photo shoot!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

Many, many Christmases ago I caved. 

I chucked childhood tradition and gave into the ease and convenience of an artificial Christmas tree.  It was so easy!  So simple!  So perfect and lovely!  I never looked back.

But Randy has always stayed true to being a real Christmas tree person. 

So in the spirit of compromise (that has become the bane of my existence these past three months as we have merged our two households into one and almost every single decision on what stays and what goes requires the SERIOUS negotiation skills!) I agreed to a live Christmas tree.


I LOVE our live Christmas tree.  I forgot how wonderful it is to walk by and smell that fresh pine smell, and seeing the quirky imperfections make it more fun in my eyes. 

But I do have to say that it is so much easier up here in the Pacific NW to get a live tree because they are EVERYWHERE.  Washington isn't called the Evergreen State for nothing!  The live Christmas trees are so fresh and green because they were basically just cut down the day before you bought yours so they stay healthy and beautiful through the entire season.

But what I noticed immediately after Thanksgiving was that Christmas trees in my part of the world are big business!  There are Christmas trees for sale literally everywhere you turn.  I still can't believe it.  So many more people here buy live trees that I guess supply is simply keeping up with demand.

So...yesterday morning when I opened my eyes I flinched and my retinas almost burned out of my head when I looked out my window.  That strange, intense glare...what was it?  IT WAS THE SUN!  It has, literally, been storming and flooding here for weeks and I haven't seen the sun in many, many, many days.  I kind of freaked out a little bit.  Like I jumped out of bed and kept shouting oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!  Randy is off flying so I only had Dot here to get happy with and she was mighty excited, too.

I knew I had to get outside and grab the sun while I could so I thought I'd try and take some pictures and explain this Christmas tree phenomenon.  Disclaimer...horrible pictures lay ahead that don't really do my story justice, but honestly friends I was in such a panic not to lose the sun that I was barely focusing the camera before racing to the next place on my beautiful, glorious, SUNNY Saturday morning drive.  It is THAT CRAZY here when the sun shines. Sure enough, it was storming by noon, but it was wonderful while it lasted.

But I digress.  Back to the point of this story.

I've learned that lots of people up here plant Christmas trees as a retirement business.  They will plant their main crop when they are in their 40s and by the time they are in their 60s they start selling trees.  Case in point are our neighbors who live about three miles down the road from us.  They basically planted Christmas trees in their front yard and now sell them on the weekends during the holidays.

But drive another three miles down this same road and you will see one of many huge, commercial tree farms in this area.  This picture taken across the road is not pretty by any means, but I'm trying to give you the scope of this farm.  We're talking hundreds and hundreds of trees of every variety.

Christmas tree businesses are so close together that you see signs like this everywhere.  Should I turn left or right? Competition is fierce!

I'm serious when I say that you see Christmas tree farms everywhere around here.  Here is a brand new farm just getting started down the road from our house about eight miles.  It will take about 10-12 years for these trees to reach six feet tall. 

 The elementary school outside of Eatonville is raising trees.  Their crop is a little further along.

Then there are the pre-cut Christmas tree stands that are even more plentiful then the cut-your-own tree farms.  Many people just set up the business in their front yards.

Lots of kids and teenagers were working the tree shops in their front yards.  Kind of like yuletide lemonade stands.  Some worked really hard on their marketing materials.

Others, not so much.

I saw a number of set ups like this one and they were actually my favorites, but I could only get this one lame picture because of the multi-car pile up I was causing behind me while trying to take the shot quickly.  Basically, families bring in their trailers and campers and tents and set up a big camp around the trees.  They had bonfires going, grills and smokers smelling delicious, lots of great music, some serious eggnog action...basically big old Christmas parties going on while they were selling trees.  It looked fun.

Then there are the many, many, many do-good organizations selling trees as fundraisers for their causes.  I was thrilled to see that the Eatonville Lions Club only had three more trees to go before a total sell out!

The Lions would also flock your tree for you.  I had to snicker.  I guess for the kitsch factor, a flocked tree might be kind of fun.  In the same vein as me wanting a silver, aluminum tree on our porch someday.  Goofy.

Because Randy had to be gone quite a bit this month, we got our tree pretty early, on December 1, and we bought it at Ft. Lewis Army Base.  Thanks to Randy, I have become a real supporter of businesses who support our troops so it was a no brainer that this is where we would get our tree.  The bummer?  I didn't have my camera with me that day.  So yesterday I went by there and took this picture and was happy to see that they were almost sold out.  They had tons of trees the day we were there.

We got our tree home and commenced with decorating!

And there is no better example of the compromise in the blending of our two homes that I mentioned earlier than our Christmas tree.  I was used to decorating my tree in a certain way and Randy was used to decorating his in his way so this year we just decided to put up whatever we wanted.  Over time, I know that the lines of "mine" and "his" will blend and become "ours" but right now we are still new at this and we each have our individual tastes and things that we prefer.

So see if you can guess whose ornaments are whose:

Shiny Vintage Santa

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Cute Cowboy Santa

Darth Vader

Supporting the troops with a festive, ribboned-up C17


Pretty gold-covered Aspen leaf

Princess Leia

Okay, I kid, but you know what continues to amaze me?  Even though our tastes are pretty much polar opposites in so very many areas, it all somehow comes together and works for us.

Next year we want to get a permit from one of the National Forests in our area and go cut a tree from the wild.  But as I was driving home yesterday I thought that might be harder than it sounds given that the scale is so much different in the woods around here.

How lovely are your branches, indeed.

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