Thursday, December 31, 2009

No Champagne For Us!

Although there is debate as to whether this is a "real" Blue Moon, since it doesn't fall within the same astrological sign, it is still fun to think about, and rather significant that it falls at the end of the year.

We won't get to see it though, nor the lunar eclipse that is also occuring tonight. All we'll get is snow, and more snow!

But we'll still enjoy the Blue Moon. .THIS Blue Moon! 

They even have a special label for this event!

Everyone have a safe and joyful celebration!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Lights

Why is it, when I have the most to share, I don't have time to share it!  Maybe I should re-name my blog Cat In The Blue Moon! :-)  I only get to post on those special, rare occasions!

Since there is a Blue Moon appearing tomorrow night, I thought I would start catching up, by showing you the outdoor lights in my garden!

Aren't they pretty?  Actually as you have probably figured out, they are not in my garden, but in a park.  In my town, we have a bluff that is about a half mile long, that is a lofty perch over Lake Michigan and the river that runs into it.

Remember that old photo I had of my Grandparents in the header of my blog last Summer?  This is the very same park! 

We came out on a night after a cold rain that melted all of the snow. But if we were to venture out tonight, it would all be buried in white again, with a lot more on the way!

I found that the halogen lights are so lightweight, that even the slightest breeze will move them, and when you have this many, it is impossible to wait to take a photo when they are all still. 

And when the wind, not a breeze, but a wind, is blowing off of the lake at night, in December, it also gets too chilly to stand around waiting and hoping for a lull. 

Hopefully, I'll be able to go back and get some more photos before the lights come down for the season.

I also want to get some of the main shopping street, a block over, because it is decorated with the old fashioned lights in green garland, wound around the lamp posts.

But here in the park, every tree truck is wrapped, there are lighted arches every few feet, with large lighted snowflakes hanging from branches, or dancing over the ground.

In between, there are familiar faces, and animated figures!

The gazebos and shelters along the route are also covered in lights, as are every shrub and fence.

So we start at the South end, and meander our way up to the North end, where the generations old fountain is waiting for us!  The lights on it are continually moving downward, to mimic water falling, and the flakes take turns flashing, which makes them look like they are falling too. 

I hope that you have enjoyed your journey through the park with me!

Now it is time to head across the street to the warm restaurant for a bowl of their baked potato soup, which is SO good, and maybe later, a little hot buttered rum!  After all, it IS cold out!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wizard Kitty

Last Fall when I first posted a photo of my Wizard Kitty, several people expressed interest in her/him. 

I wanted to let everyone know that one is now listed on eBay.  I don't know the seller, nor have I ever done business with her. I also am not benefitting in any way for sharing this listing with you. I'm simply telling you that one is available.

Besides the votive candle holder in the cauldron, there is another one in the basket on Kitty's back, and when you light the candle, it makes the eyes glow. I replaced the clear glass holder with a red one so that the cat's cornea's glow red with just daylight shining through!

Right now, the bidded price is a steal, and the shipping is reasonable, considering how heavy this piece is.

You can find it by putting Windstone Editions Pena Wizard Kitty 1999 in the ebay search.  Or use item number 200422230123.

Good Luck!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Souper Saturday!

It is snowing again, most of the decorating is done, and baking is going to be starting later today, so I decided that a nice big pot of soup would be perfect! It can be simmering while I am doing other things, and I set my timer to remind myself to go and give it a stir every once in a while.  Then into the fridge it goes, to cool down. 

This is one of those soups that is even better after it has chilled, giving the flavors time to blend and get some depth to them when it is reheated.  It can also be successfully frozen, and reheated, with a little extra beef broth. That is, IF you can resist eating it right away! The fragrance is always luscious, and makes your mouth water! :-)

My Hubs is already nosing around the pot, "just giving it a stir", so I have a feeling that this will be for lunch instead of supper.  Even my daughter, who will not touch stuffed green peppers, loves this soup! And corn bread is an excellent choice to eat along with it!

I didn't take detailed photos because this is an easy, straight forward recipe.

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

2 lbs. Lean Ground Beef
2 Onions, diced
1 - 28 Ounce Can Petite Diced Tomatoes, undrained
1 - 28 Ounce Can Tomato Sauce
2 Large Green Peppers, diced
96 Ounces of Beef Broth, either homemade, or purchased.
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
4 Tblsp. Cider Vinegar
1 Teasp. Seasoned Pepper
1 Cup Raw, White Rice
1 Small Bag Frozen Corn

In a large soup pot, brown the ground meat and diced onion.  Drain excess grease from meat.  Quickly add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and green peppers. Add broth. 

Blend in the brown sugar, vinegar, and seasoned pepper. 

Pour in the rice and corn, and bring soup to a gentle boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until rice is cooked and flavors has a chance to blend.

I hope that everyone enjoys this soup as much as we do!

Everyone stay warm, and stay safe! I'm thinking especially of those on the East coast, with all of the snow that is expected!  An excellent day to snuggle in with a bowl of hot soup, and a good book!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dept 56 Log Cabin Village

Living in a tourist haven creates a difficulty only other collectors can appreciate.  How to spread your dollars among all of the merchants who create Utopian environments to both ease your stresses, and heighten your delights!

I'm talking about year around Holiday Shops!!  What on earth did you think I was describing? Wait! Don't answer that! This is a G rated blog! :-)

For years, 5 such shops have successfully existed along the shoreline here in Michigan, in little towns just a few miles apart.  Each has their own personality, and specialities, and all are delightful.  And all sell Dept 56 village pieces.  Some had more elaborate displays than others, and another shop, The Townshop, down in Shipshewana, Indiana, has a HUGE display, but all make you feel like a kid again to see them set up!

I could never decide which village I like the best, so I never bought a piece. Silly, I know, but I could look at any one of them, and think of the direction that I would take it, and each had their own charm. It's that Libra in me again. .hard to make a decision!

Santa got so frustrated with me, he took matters into his own hands, and brought me a little tourist shop made to look like it is made out of logs.  The type of shop that you find up North, selling souvenirs and bait.  It made me think of the little settlement where we have some land up in the U.P.  Gatherings of similar buildings are common everywhere in the north, and have a unique charm. 

Then, the gifts started coming my way for birthdays, and Christmas's, and the log village grew.  Unfortunately when we moved, I no longer had room to spread the whole village out, so I now display it, as I did with my Halloween pieces, on my Baker's rack. 

Dept 56 is no longer making pieces in this series within a series, but I'm still looking for two more pieces. .the Fisherman's Nook Resort and the two cabins that go with it.  They are on my watch list on ebay! :-)  And coincidentally, there is another space left on the shelves, that is just perfect for them!

Unless someone wants to see any specific ones, I won't show each one individually, but this one is for my friend Pam. 

She and her hubby live in a log home, and she has her own green house too.  And like the people who live in this log and stone home, they love to feed the birds, and they are visited by skunks who come in to feed at night!  You can barely see the ones here, because they are buried in that snow blanket stuff that looks rather tacky. I'd love to use Mica, but with our cats, I'd be having a continual snowstorm inside the house!  I don't even want to think about the consequences! {shudder} :-)

I guess the villages feed a creative part of me though. And my inner child too, if I am to be honest. They make people smile when they see them on display, and that is exactly what they are supposed to do! 

Now, I guess I had better go get some more decorating done! Much to do, and so little time to do it!

Wishing everyone a great evening!

The Porch Is Done

I think . .I keep "tweeking".  As I'm getting older, I'm getting worse about finding something "just right", and having to add it into the mix.  Which sometimes means rearranging and exchanging things to make it look what I feel is better and more complete.

Out of necessity, I have to put some things in the same place each year, but I'd love to be able to be more creative in my layout, and try to change things around, at least a little bit.  The rest of my family is more "complete tradition" oriented, and will feel that it isn't as it "should be".

This was the first year since we've lived here, that I was able to put furniture out on the porch, and actually enjoy it as a room.  There is still more work to be done, but at least it is useable now, and therefore, was my new canvas to decorate.

I love old fashioned decorations the best, and if I can't find, or afford the true vintage pieces, I'll use repros.  True collectors would shudder at that statement, and I understand, but when it is either that or alternatives that I don't care for, the answer seems to be an easy one! :-)

I also love new hand created one of a kind pieces, but they still have to have that vintage, or primitive look for me to buy them.  Most of the things I use to decorate with, I've had for years, adding a little each year.  Others have been gifts from family and friends.

And there are exceptions to everything, as usual! The tree on the front porch is a prime example.  It is all new. .totally new, all snowflakes and icicles, with a few sparkly deer wandering through the icy woodland. Fantasy, and nothing less.

I love cotton batting pieces, and wish that I had more.  I've had this one for several years now, and it is still one of my favorites.

Here is our front door, into the rest of the house. I'll be sharing some photos of some of the other decorations in the next few days.

Please don't step on any of our kitties, as they mill around the front door. They always like to assess new visitors, and a pinch of a tail under the sole of a shoe wouldn't make a good first impression! :-)

The temps are dropping again, and more snow is in the forecast. If you are getting the same predictions, please stay warm and safe!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Decorations Are Going Up!

We had to be gone until the day before Thanksgiving, and now I've got a pinched nerve in my back, so I feel sooooooo far behind, I many never catch up!  But I'm working on it.

A short time back I mentioned a book that I had recently read, "On Strike for Christmas" by Sheila Roberts, about a group of wives that go on strike to get ready for the holidays, and how their hubbies are amazed and challenged to get everything ready.

Well, now I'm having my own little chuckle, because of my limited movement, my own darling hubs is having to pitch in a lot more than he normally does.  He loves the decorated house, but is more of a reactive particpant, giving his opinions after the fact.  The most that I've even been able to get him to do is hang a few ornaments on the tree, as long as I'm doing it too, but then he quits after a few minutes, preferring to "watch". 

And a couple of years ago, he helped me decorate the sugar cookies, but I quickly caught on to him intentionally messing them up, or breaking off a piece, just so he could eat as many or more likely, more than he frosted! :-)

But this year, he is having to help me bring down boxes from upstairs, more up from the basement, lend a supporting arm to hang garland, etc. I'm still having to do the actual decorating, but he is doing the grunt work, and I've heard the words, "I had no idea. . " muttered more than once!  Wait until he realizes that he has to help me put everything away again!

This is the first year since we've lived here, that I have been able to completely decorate the front porch.  I've hung snowflakes in the windows each year, but that lent a festive look to the outside too. 
And because the porch, althought it is enclosed, is unheated, it was the first room to be dressed for the season.  Right now, it is darn cold out there!  It is currently 25 degrees, and the high for the day!
And in keeping with the frosty atmosphere, a lot of the decorations have snow embellishments on them or look pretty close to the real thing. 
I've still got a few things to go out there, like some of my Snow Village pieces, but the tree is up!  And before it started snowing, we had some sunny days, which made the tree sparkle from the tip to the bottom.  I wish that the camera would have captured every intricate nuance.

And at night, it sparkles like crystals on snow during a full moon. My own private Faerieland. 

Now I'm off to hang some garland and beads on the windows, then put up another tree! With a great deal of luck, I may get the main decorating done this weekend! (I know I'm dreaming, but humor me!)  Then I'll be able to sit here and finally catch up on everything that everyone else is doing!

Have a great weekend, and if you are in the North, keep warm!