As I write this I’m currently trying in vain to keep my lap cat-free. It’s not working. Just thought you should know.
The days leading up to Christmas were super busy for me (and, I’m sure, for other holiday knitters and crafters ’round the world 🙂). Then I was off work all last week, and Dr. Who is on Netflix streaming, and I have all this lovely stash yarn to knit up, and…you know how it goes. Not a lot has gotten done 😀
This was our first year hosting the big family Christmas Eve dinner (and, since we’re moving to California next year and then DC after that, it may have been our only shot at the gig). My parents came into town on 12/23, so Roxie got to have some quality time with her Granddad…
(I think they were both happy with that arrangement)
and I enlisted Mom into indentured servitude, making a table runner from a length of fabric I’d picked up at Hancock:
See how happy she looks about driving 250 miles and then immediately being forced to slave over a temperamental sewing machine?
The next day (Christmas Eve), Dad taught me how to prep a turkey:
That’s also when I learned that for some reason, turkeys come with severed necks in their chest cavities:
This is the most awesome picture ever and I think I’m going to ask it to be lasered onto my headstone. With the caption, “Julia Child she ain’t.”
(Err…what’s the past tense of “ain’t”?)
The finished table, complete with Mom’s runner:
Isn’t it pretty? I’m so proud 🙂 The white tablecloths were borrowed from Mom, and Jeff’s cousins brought a bunch of folding chairs when they arrived later that day. The holiday china was a gift five or six years ago, and I got the sage green napkins at World Market (they were half the price of the IDENTICAL Christmas napkins; the only difference being that these didn’t come in a pack with a cartoon reindeer on the label.)
I made those namecards – the snowflake stickers from Target are all matchy-matchy with the pattern on the runner. And the thingies on the plate were Mom’s idea (via Pinterest, I think): “reindeer noses” of Whoppers, in muffin papers wrapped in baggies.
(Yes, that is where I get “it” from)
And of course, my little Type-A self had to plan – and label – each serving dish before cooking!
I don’t know where the Zoloft post-its came from, but I giggle a bit every time I use one.
I’d been looking for a small, non-tacky garland for the dining room hutch, but I never could find one. So I kept it simple:
While Mom was making the runner on Friday night, I baked a red velvet cake. And then on Saturday morning, I frosted it. Like so:
The brown flecks are toffee crunch bits from the cake decorating section at Michael’s. Alicia gave me the idea for the red velvet cake – originally I was going to do another turtle cheesecake, but I was sort of tired of those, having made three in as many weeks. Then I was going to make a plain chocolate bundt cake, but decided I wanted to do something just a bit more special. Then I was going to make a pumpkin cake, but was out of canned pumpkin. So…red velvet it is! I’d made red velvet layer cakes before, but not a bundt cake. So I used this recipe, though I was initially dubious about the lack of sugar and chocolate. I also threw out their cream cheese frosting recipe and went with my own. I was really happy with how it turned out! 🙂
While I was cooking, Dad and Jeff chilled out with Roxanne:
and Mom found Macbeth, then actually persuaded him to let her pick him up!
Six years we’ve had that cat, and that’s the first time he’s let Mom hold him (and only the third time she’s even seen him!).
Shy cat is shy.
I was pretty busy cooking all day. Our final menu ended up being:
- Nasty 1970’s-esque pinwheel things that everyone descends upon like locusts on the wheat crop
- Cranberry-covered goat cheese with sweet-salty crackers
- Bean dip + chips from Jeff’s cousin
- Turkey (yay! It worked! Nom.)
- Mashed potatoes (family recipe) and gravy (Dad’s recipe)
- Sweet potato casserole (adapted from here. And I will never reveal the secret changes. But it was good.)
- Green bean casserole (adapted from here – no onion crunch topping; I use pearl onions instead and just sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.)
- Olives (TJ’s finest, yo)
- Hot rolls (Grandma’s recipe – it’s like the cinnamon rolls, but not rolled out and just cut into 15, then baked the same)
- Brussels sprouts (loosely based off this; a vast improvement over my usual method of “just steam the fuckers”)
- Salad from Jeff’s cousin
- Red velvet cake
- Snowball cookies (I make mine with Ghiradelli mini chocolate chips, and pecans.)
None of these people starved to death on Christmas eve:
After dinner was over and gifts were exchanged and Roxie made an impassioned plea to run away with her new best friend (sorry, Dad. Roxie’s got a new love, and it’s Jeff’s cousin Paul)…
Then everybody left but Mom and Dad, and Jeff and I washed the dishes and settled in for this:
(Christmas Vacation, of course),
(Two Buck Chuck, of course)
Well, in no time flat, I was out.
Mom and Dad got here at about 9:30 on Christmas morning, and we did our presents then. Highlights included a dinosaur-bone-sized-rawhide:
We only let Wozzie nom half of that, because (TMI, but she’s a dog so it doesn’t count) OMG those things give Roxie what we affectionately call The Ass of Doom. We may be ready to give her the other half sometime in June. Or maybe next time she’s at Grammy and Granddad’s, so she can stay out in the yard. 😛
But she’s happy, so that’s all that matters.
In the realm of “gifts which don’t make the recipient fart”, here’s Dad with the rug I latch-hooked for him (to add to his vast collection of elephant stuff):
Funny story, this.
I got the kit to make that when I was a young teenager – ’round 2000 or so. EVERY SINGLE YEAR since then, I’ve undergone the same process:
1)Take out partly-finished elephant latch-hook rug
2)Vow that “This year’s the year!” to finish elephant latch-hook rug
3)Work fervently on elephant latch-hook rug for period of time lasting between two hours and two days
4)Lose all interest in elephant latch-hook rug shortly after realizing latch-hooking is incredibly dull
5)Sort out another Christmas gift for Dad, and stash elephant latch-hook rug away for next year
This rug – in its unfinished state – has accompanied me on no fewer than FOUR discrete moves and to THREE separate cities.
Funny thing is, though, that when you work on something in fits and starts over the course of eleven (!!!) years, it *will* eventually become finished. Somehow. And that’s what happened this year: with just 1,500 threads left to place, it only took two evenings’ effort to finish.
And now I don’t have to move it to California.
My parents really outdid themselves this year on our gifts, too: I got an ice cream maker for my KitchenAid, a Tibetan singing bowl:
(which I’ve lusted after since forever ago)
and a bunch of cute clothes from LLBean (have I ever mentioned I like LLBean?) and Life is Good. Life is good 🙂
I gave Mom a donation to their favorite animal shelter, and collars for Maxie and Eliza (it’s tradition).
Jeff gifted me with a framed print of one of my favorite PRB paintings:
and some bling (yo!):
and I gave him a personalized bookplate, some handknitted socks (photos forthcoming), books, and assorted video game paraphernalia.
Before Mom and Dad headed back to KC, we had cinnamon rolls (Grandma’s recipe), eggs and turkey sausage for brunch, and then Jeff and I spent the rest of the day knitting (me), playing video games (him), and annoying the dog with the singing bowl. Turnabout is fair play, after all.
Of course, there were handknits too (oh so many handknits), but I’ll save that for another post: this is getting ridiculously long as it is, and I need to get off my duff and go put away Christmas decorations 🙂
Happy new year!