“Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.”
New York Sun, 1897
Late Christmas Eve, noticed Kiddo, who is at the age of tottering on the fence of belief, in a flurry of activity. Grabbing cup and plate, rooting around in the fridge, searching for paper and pen, amassing a variety of Christmas hats – our matching Mickey & Minnie Mouse Santa hats, the Green Bay Packers version, the Christmas tree hat we’d picked up at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe over Thanksgiving. Final preparations before heading to bed.
Close inspection of the note brought a smile to my face. Not just cookies and milk, but also apples for the reindeer (and an apology that Mom wasn’t currently stocking carrots in the fridge). The hats to give Santa a bit of creative ideas.
Santa did seem to enjoy the feast…and left a snowboard for Kiddo, a shovel for Grandma, and treats for all.
Of course the family gifts were beckoning, too. Kiddo did the usual duty of sorting them out. A pile at one end of the couch for Grandma, at the other end for Mom, by a chair for Dad, and of course, another pile for himself. I was charmed by the sight of him wearing the new RoadID Santa had stuffed in his stocking, the Packers hat from his big Sis, the snow goggles from Mom & Dad while playing with the hockey goal light and horn from Uncle Jeff.
I was thrilled with my stash…a perfect set of presents. Books (the best kind: a gardening one, a biking one, and a cooking one) plus a Nook from Hubby, gift cards from Mom, along with the LeCrueset prep bowls I’d fallen in love with over Thanksgiving and an orchid for my new windowed office from kiddo.
Soon the wrapping carnage covered the floor.
But where was kiddo……..outside, of course, trying out the snowboard under the watchful eye of Kutya the Wonder Dog. Two days ago the yard was an MTB trail, today a snowboard hill.
Where’d he go now? Oh I see Kutya found him in a heap at the bottom of the hill. Can’t wait to do some shredding on a real hill.
Decided to get a little fresh air and outdoor fun into my day by riding the mountain bike around in the snow. Kutya loves to play in the snow, and gave chase as I went round and round the yard, up and down little hills, over any bump I could find.
I was surprised by how much more effort it takes to ride through snow. How after several times around I was breathing pretty hard. Took me three times to make it up the side “trail” without stopping, or at least dabbing my foot down. Needed to trust my momentum, keep pedalling, shift slightly forward. Good practice for riding real trails.
Spent about thirty minutes making tracks all through the yard. Wiped out once crossing the driveway, my back tire sliding out from under me. Made me laugh more than anything. All the while Kutya by my side.
As I suspected when Kiddo got home, saw the tracks and realized what his Mom had been up to, he also had to give snow biking a try. And discovered exactly what I had, it’s hard work.
On Thursday, I got in my first winter ride. Roads were wet and slick with many more icy patches on the bike path than I expected. Will take a bit more riding to get comfortable riding in winter. Did a mere 3.5 miles around the neighborhood. It felt great to ride.
This year I didn’t do my usual Christmas tree in every room thing. Skipped my obsession with every tree has a theme, a color scheme. Instead, just went with one real tree. Real tree, real sentiment. Using the ornaments that have some meaning to us. Kiddo and I enjoyed unwrapping each one from their tissue, lots of “oh, I remember this one”, “oh, this is my favorite”, followed shortly by “No, this is my favorite”
These really are some of my favorites.
These are new this year. Purchased from SpokenSitch’s Etsy store. Stars (Kiddo calls them snowflakes) made from bike chain. These and their matching key ring make me smile.
This Noah’s Ark ornament(s) has been a sentimental favorite of mine for years. They’ve been through several moves, several life changes with me, probably 15 years old. Little pairs to hang together – Noah and wife, Mr and Mrs Penguin, Lion, Deer and Sheep.
The Dr. Suess collection was built over the years after Kiddo was born, and we were reading our way through the books. Started with One Fish, Two fish (which is still my favorite), now includes Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears a Who, The Grinch. Like with the Noah’s Ark group, I enjoy finding a spot of the tree to hang them en mass.
Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, one of my favorite words to say. Represents Maui, one of my favorite places on earth.
Kutya the Wonder Dog gets mentioned or pictured in this blog often. But Princess Bijou does not. A rare chance to catch a photo of her. Like Kutya, she’s a rescued pet. Pretty and petite. She’s a great hunter, helping to keep the house mouse free. Or at least that’s what we hope.
Merry Christmas! Wishing you all the blessings of the season.
When I was a child my family would travel
Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there’s a backwards old town that’s often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn.
And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away
–John Prine, Paradise
After 10 years away from Kentucky, I found myself once again back in the Bluegrass state for the second month in a row. The first trip is written into two blog posts – Lexington
Ok, so maybe we weren’t in Muhlenberg county, but it was a trip back to Western Kentucky, a visit to Mammoth Cave along the Green River and a stop at Paradise along the way. Not the Paradise Mine referred to in John Prine’s song, but Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, in Louisville.
Last time we were at this fun and eclectic (not to mention yummy) restaurant was to celebrate Kiddo’s 1st birthday. He’s now 11. It’s been a while. First discovered when I was working for a wine & spirit distributor in Kentucky. Occasionally had lunches there with customers, or bites with co-workers when I was in town for a meeting. When we moved to Louisville, we discovered how great a place it is for brunch. Bobby Flay did a Throwdown with Lynn. (WTF, my second Bobby Flay mention in two days, and I’m seriously not *that* big of a fan)
Don’t let these pictures fool you. The place is usually packed. This was mid-morning on a Monday. Not exactly prime time. As we were leaving the lunch crowd was beginning to arrive. Love how every inch is decorated. Even the bathrooms! Fun touches (and puzzles on the tables). Kiddo and I enjoyed a nice game of Would you rather…
Kiddo, Mom and I had fun from the second we pulled in the parking lot, right through brunch and a trip to the gift shop. The gift shop seems to be an addition (to the building) since we moved from Kentucky. Kiddo couldn’t resist the fun Christmas hat.
After brunch we began the last leg of our drive to Nashville (this is the post on that part of the trip
). Along the way we made a stop at Mammoth Cave. Kiddo has been asking to visit a cave…swears he’s never been to one. Doesn’t seem to remember that he did visit Mammoth Cave as an 8 month old in one of those baby pouches.Looks like they are re-modeling the Visitor’s Center. Mom hung out in the Mammoth Cave Hotel while Kiddo and I enjoyed the 2 hour “New Entrance” (new in 1921) tour.
The tour is marked as moderately strenuous due to about 500 steps. Pace was leisurely, but we were always going up or down steps or ramps. Kiddo was suitably impressed. Which makes me glad.I love visiting caves. Kiddo and I want to go back and do one of the longer spelunking tours – a bit of crawling and climbing and exploring.
Who woulda thought such unassuming entrances and exits would hide such natural wonder. If in the area, a must visit. Because despite what John Prine sang, Mr Peabody didn’t quite haul off all of Paradise!
Just back from a Thanksgiving trip to my brother’s in Nashville. Great city, great company. Love visiting them. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, my brother hit the jackpot when he met his wife, Gina. In fact I said exactly that last year, when I wrote about the Thanksgiving 2009 trip here
. The confirmed bachelor is now married, and a father. Last year my nephew was a newborn, this year a new walker.
Adding to the enjoyment, Gina’s aunt is a great hostess – and from day one has welcomed us as extended family into her gatherings. For most of these gatherings, we are in charge of bringing the drinks – beer, wine, a bit of spirits. For the Thanksgiving feast, Jeff and Gina do prepare quite a bit of the food. Last year I did my part entertaining 2 week old Jack while his parents cooked, this year, kiddo had that duty….providing me an opportunity to help with the cooking.
Preparations began Wednesday evening and continued through Thursday morning with an eye on our 1 pm deadline. Thursday morning found four of us in the kitchen, and we quickly developed almost a dance…weaving between each other, passing ingredients, stirring while another measured, one manning the sink – washing the dishes. Lots of mumbling under our breaths, reading the recipe’s next steps, thinking about what we needed next.
I’d suggested to Gina that we do the Roasted Brussel Sprouts with pomegranate
I’d seen on the Thanksgiving edition of Throwdown when Bobby Flay took on one of my favorite bloggers, Pioneer Woman. Gina put me in charge of making this dish. Highly recommend. Very highly recommend this dish. Even folks who think they don’t like brussel sprouts will love it. As delicious as it is beautiful.
Also on the menu was a homemade version of the classic green bean casserole. Created without a single can or bit of processed food. the best green bean casserole I’ve ever tasted, and tons of fun to make. From sauteeing the fresh mushrooms to creating my own onion straws. So good, so worth the effort.
Gina and Jeff (with the help of her young cousin) made a fabulous pumpkin cheesecake- which had all of us licking the bowl. The bourbon laced sauce really, uh, topped the cake.
When the cooking was done, it took two cars to load up all the goodies and head to Gina’s aunt’s house for our feast. (Yep, plenty of my fav, Blue Moon)
We started with appetizers of artisan cheeses, homemade pumpkin hummus and babaganoush, spinach artichoke dip and lots of crackers and veggies to dip them with.
Then quickly moved onto the main course which even my little nephew loved!
After dinner, in a slight food coma, we all retired to the family room. Some watched the football game. Though electronics also came into play – folks in the same room texting each other, “Angry birds” being played simultaneously on the iPad, an iPod and an iPhone. Even the little ones got in on the fun.
Through it all, I was very impressed with kiddo and how good he did with his cousin. Makes me proud to be his mom.
I’ve started to make a bit of a tradition out of Halloween pumpkin carving w/ kiddo. A review of last year’s Halloween post showed we had more pumpkins, and I took a more of a leading role in the carving. This year, kiddo did them all….I just cleaned out the insides and roasted the seeds.
We only had three carved ones this year. Kiddo did one “freestyle”, the others following a pattern. Must say he’s getting the hang of things. Only one type of pumpkins seeds this year – the more savory with a touch of garlic olive oil, garlic salt, hint of pepper. These came out quite well. My kitchen tho, did not fare as well. Apparently, I attacked the scraping out the insides with a fury. Bits of pumpkin flew everywhere. Must have needed to work out some aggression or something…dunno.
Admit to in addition to slacking a bit on the pumpkin carving, didn’t really go all out on the outdoor decor. Used all the fun motion sensitive stuff, the scary music, fog machine, new talking face in the tree, but no spider webs, not a bunch of lights. Few pieces out in the garden, under the watchful eye of Kutya the wonder dog. (which reminds me, I never put his costume on either…what was I thinking???)
This year we did stop by a party for a bit. Kiddo even got second in the costume contest for his “when the Brewers slaughter the Cardinals” costume. Found the food names a great touch – shredded rat sandwiches (pork), moldy fruit pizza, maggots (a great coconut and banana rice pudding), vampire bat wings (homemade tortillas shaped like pumpkins and bats. WOW), blood soaked deviled eggs, bat guano, mummy wraps, witches fingers.
Looking back at last year’s post, made me realize another Halloween weekend tradition….tackling the leaves. The job was somewhat helped by last week’s wind storm, moving a good part of the masses of leaves covering our lawn into the woods. The rest were piled around the driveway farm pots, my potting shed. Hubby and son pile the leaves onto a tarp, and drag them to our woods. Kutya supervises all outdoor activity. In the woods, Mt. Leaverest is about 4 feet high by 12 feet in diameter, and growing. Should have a good bit of leaf mold for the garden in a year or so.
While checking out the pile had a thought….maybe we could make a little bit of singletrack through the woods. Kiddo and I had been practicing riding over rocks and logs last week in the yard…. may have to add this to our yard skills area 😉