Wednesday, December 25, 2013

merry christmas 2013!

The Tom Sinn family minus Jesse & Laura
Our Christmas picture (since I didn't send any out this year, just in case you were wondering why you didn't get one...)
The hazelnut crepe cake I made for Christmas dinner (for my sisters! I'll let you know how it tastes)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

the smell of oregon

Someone once told me that if they could reduce Oregon down to a smell, it would be woodsmoke on a piney breeze. "How romantic & poetic!" I thought then, in the midst of a beautiful summer. And then, then fall came & I instantly understood what they'd meant. It is a smell of times past. It means the homes that start beaming their lights out in the hills after sunset are full of families winding down for the night, tucked around a cozy fire. Many of the homes I've been in do have woodstoves. We have our own little stove, (albeit propane:/) and we do our share of cozying up to it. The gray outside doesn't seem so dreary then. This year has been uncharacteristically sunny so far, in case you were worried about my mental coping:) & for that I have been thankful. But it isn't so bad when you get to end your day with a crackling fire & steaming cup of tea. 


Braetzle, a thin, crispy Swiss cookie, was something my Grandma Kathryn (and what a lady she was!) made every Christmas. I didn't love it as a child, I thought it was a little flat & unexciting as far as cookies go. The history & culture behind it were lost on me too. I ate one dutifully every year because Grandma made them & it was my one chance to.  But now, I don't mind the cinnamony wafer-thin braetzle & even if I did, I'd eat one anyway for memory's sake. To be part of the same tradition here in Oregon 2,000 miles from where I learned braetzle, (and I've never met anyone else who even knew what they were), made me feel a sense of belonging & comaraderie. An "oh! You too?" kind of moment. It's silly little things like that that make me feel at home out here. Things like seeing Slagel kids at the local fertilizer co-op's customer appreciation dinner. Or scotcheroos at church lunch. Anyway, braetzle: we got together with the family & made it a multi-generational event. Grammy was the all important braetzle iron timer, I was a section shaper, Tom ran the iron, Edie rolled logs (& made the dough). The rest? Taste testers. Lots if them. It was terribly fun & nostalgic.
It's quite a production making braetzle (not sure what the plural of braetzle is...) 
1) roll out chilled dough in quarter wide logs
2) cut into 1/2" sections

3) Press in braetzle iron
4) let cool
5) enjoy (don't tell Dar this photo's on here. Thank you.)
Maybe this will make him feel better.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas decor

Here are some promised photos of what our home looks like this Christmas along with some bits & pieces of the process.
The greenery all came from the Sinn's backyard (got lots of help hacking off "fir" boughs:) Uncle Lynn, are you reading this?). I made the wreaths and garland myself --don't look too closely!  The other decorations are curtesy of my mother, the queen of all things festive. She's a wonderful gift giver & has contributed vastly to my supply of Christmas accouterments. For example, while she was here last weekend, (I sadly & uncharacteristically took no photos of her while here, so you will just have to take my word for it that she was) we went shopping at the antique shops in Silverton, and I eyed this jar full of vintage dice. Dar and I however, have just gone over our spending since our marriage and regretfully, jars full of vintage dice are not in the budget plan. But my mother, that dear sneaky soul, somehow bought it from under my nose, snuck it home, and put it on my bookshelf without me noticing it. 
Anyway, I've thoroughly enjoyed having a whole house to dress up for the holidays instead of just a bedroom. Maybe someday that will change, when I have my own kids who use my felt and bottlebrush Christmas trees as bowling pins, but for now I will enjoy it.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Snow in the Willamette Valley causes quite a stir. I have to confess I was right there with the rest of the Valley, giddy with excitement and awe over the scant inch of snow dusting the landscape out my window.  There's something about snow during the holiday season (which is in full swing now) that is so satisfying and right. There always ought to be snow at Christmas time. The fields here my still be green and not need the beautifying white snow to blanket it, there may be buds on the trees and crocuses cautiously poking their way out of the frozen ground, but to see snow is still enough to send us all into flurries of festivity.

The college boys got even more snow and as proudly as if they'd manufactured the weather themselves, told us it was "too snowy and dangerous to come home for the weekend, so if we wanted to see them, we have to come down there." With promises of inches and inches of snow we made the trek on Saturday. It was a gorgeous drive; limbs mounded with snow, the sun glinting off the blinding whiteness, geese by the hundreds winging their way across the icy blue, then orange and pink sky as the sun set.
We walked around the campus by the light of the old-fashioned lampposts, a velvety night sky overhead, cupping steaming cups of coffee and hot chocolate. It was so festive (Mom, that's for you). Between San Diego and a lack of snow last Christmas in Illinois, I think it's been years since I walked in snow deep enough that it made that lovely squeaking noise. I forgot how the cold stings your lungs when you breathe and how nice it feels to thaw out in front of a fire. How easily we forget the blistering heat of summer!

It put me in a real Christmas mood, and then we could drive back up to Silverton where the snow had mysteriously disappeared (I say mysteriously because it hasn't gotten above freezing for days) and have the convenience of a clear driveway. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

easy Christmas project

As much as I adore fall--the earthy, deep flavors, slowing down from summer, crispy mornings--I start craving Christmas music, citrus, creamy smells before November's even over. After looking around my house trying to decide how to make the transition from browns & gourds to sparkle & fir boughs, 
My eyes lit upon this window sill arrangement I had & saw potential in those pine cones...visions of sparkly, glittery pine cones danced through my head.
And against all odds, I happened to have everything on hand to make some sparkle happen. All I did was spritz a little regular white spray paint on the cone, then sprinkle fine glitter over it: the wet paint acted as glue. (I'd initially tried painting each seed on the cone with modpodge, but this was MUCH easier & faster. The modpodge had an annoying habit of drying in spots before I'd finished the whole cone.) They were so fun & easy, I made them till I ran out of spray paint.

Now I've got a veritable army of them to scatter artfully around. I'll post more photos soon of the rest of my decor.