Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tradition and Celebration

I simply love traditions. It's not a tradition to frost your own birthday cake but that's exactly what the *Farmer's Daughter* did. Look at how fast her hand was moving.


A birthday celebration shortly before Thanksgiving is a good excuse to have a practice run creating a tablescape.


That's the Other Mother's dining room furniture. It's not my taste but it's precious to her. The dinnerware is a brown English Royal Staffordshire called "Stratford Stage". The entire set of service for eight was under $20 at my local Goodwill Store. I was surprised that my family all commented on these dishes. Perhaps they were just astonished to have something other than my plain old white. These just seemed so perfect for fall and Thanksgiving.

I also took the opportunity to begin placing decorations for Christmas. In this case I've draped the dining room chandelier with a pewter colored fabric. Clear crystals of different shapes will be suspended from the arms.

As the holiday approach I'll pass along some of my decorating ideas. Baking Christmas cookies is a big tradition, and so is entering the local Gingerbread House Contest. Here's our 3rd prize winning entry from last year:

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The Nightmare Before Christmas Gingerbread Haunted Mansion

A close up:

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Would you like to see a gingerbread house tutorial in the near future?

I'd love to hear about your holiday traditions. Anything unusual?


Vanessa said...

A gingerbread house tutorial would be great! We don't have any unusual traditions for the holidays. We always read Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve, and the story of Jesus' birth on Christmas Day even though the kids are in their late teens! They love doing the same things each year.

chocolatechic said...

I want to know what is on the table in the clear boxes~~in the first picture.

Christmas traditions....when the chips were little, starting on December first, I'd get a box of straw. I'd removed the straw to another location.

We all would do something anonymous for others...sweeping the floor, making the bed, putting away laundry, picking up a room, writing an encouraging note.

Whenever the anonymous person would do something thoughtful or kind, they would secretly place a piece of straw in the box.

Then on Christmas day, we would lay baby Jesus in the box of kindness.

We also make a big production/meal out of decorating the tree. The chips and Superman always go pick one out and bring it home, whilst I make goodies.

Superman and Chefboy get it all set up and they string the lights.

Then we decorate the tree only by the light of the tree.

chocolatechic said...

Oh...and we have always only given the chips 3 gifts.

Jesus only got 3, why should they get more?

Heidi said...

You have a real eye for elegance dont you!! Me - throw the food on the table, say a prayer and hope the lights dont go out!!! LOL A gingerbread house would be great!!!!

Laura said...

Yes Please! I've always wanted to make a gingerbread house, but have been too afraid to try.
I love the gingerbread house you showed!

belladella said...

Okay, second try. Blogger is acting up on me this morning. The gingerbread house is amazing and I would love to see how to do it. Your table is absolutely lovely.

And I am sorry to tell you but there is another store post today :)

Chris said...

Suzanne, the table is beautiful! (I love transferware dishes.)

Gingerbread houses are so much fun, and a tutorial would be great.

P.S. My daughter turns 35 today and always wants to bake & frost her own cake...a task she loves any time!

ginakahle said...

happy birthday!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Yes! I'd love to have you do a gingerbread tutorial.

Your tablescape looks very impressive. I've been puttering this morning with table tops, etc., and I think you've given me a few good ideas starting with what you did to the light over the table. Hmmm...

Princess S said...

We spend our Holidays in the car but I think that tradition will be broke this year. I am going to have to say......yipee!! Our Families are scattered all over but our son and a buddy came to live with us this year so we want to make it special for them. I might even try making a turkey....I have never ventured into that realm....this could be interesting!!!

Thirkellgirl said...

I want to see your dishes!
I read an article in Country Living, years ago, in which a woman was told by someone older that she needed to pick colorful, interesting dishes, buy them cheap, and use them up, letting the kids hand wash them. The idea is that those dishes make their way into your kids' memories. When the first set is destroyed, buy another yard sale set and use those up. I thought that made a lot of sense. My children will forever remember our Blue Willow, as well as our "Dixie Paper" patterns. Lol.
Hey, dh brought me bubble wrap but what I was planning to wrap is now under ALL my china and glassware because I had to empty the furnace room in a hurry yesterday when the heat exchanger cracked to pieces. Soon.

Louise said...

Yes, a gingerbread tutorial! We've made two with relative success, but I think there is MUCH room for improvement!

StitchinByTheLake said...

I'd love to see a tutorial for this - I'm not sure I'd make one but I might if I could see how it's done. :) blessings, marlene

Jenni said...

Danny's paternal grandmother always has a taffy pull after Thanksgiving dinner and gives peppernuts (pfefferneuse) at Christmas. Both are traditions started by great grandma when grandma was a little girl.

Diane said...

It takes us all day to trim the four trees we put up each year. By the time we finish the tree trimming its usually dinner time. After dinner, we always watch "It's a Wonderful Life" in the family room with the lights off, the fire going and the tree lit up. With a big bowl of popcorn, of course.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Ours have changed so much since my daughter has her own family and my son is now in college.

We used to have lots of traditions but all centered around the children.

I have always started decorating the day after Thanksgiving but I may do so a little earlier this year.

Perhaps it is the bad news in the economy but I feel like that song, "We need a little Christmas, right this very minute." :)

PatQ said...

First off, your table is beautiful. Then I need to know where the gingerbread competition is held? You can email me. And lastly I'd love to see a tutorial on making gingerbread houses.

Cottage Rose said...

Hey Suzanne; I would just love to see a tutorial of how to make a gingerbread house. At our house we all get together and make all kinds of Christmas cookies, and candy. All the Kids and Nieces bring a couple of recipe's to make and then we make up all the platters so every one can share in the different ones. It is a crazy long day but very fun.

jan said...

The gingerbread how-to would be great!

One thing that somehow became a "tradition" in the '20-somthing's minds only happened once or twice. At my sister's we ate around the ping pong table in the basement (the only table that would accomdate 20 or so). Whenever my mom went upstairs to get a forgotten item from the kitchen, someone said "let's hide" so we all ran into a basement bedroom. Mother came back to an empty table. We all came out and laughed. I think it happened again the next year - we all laughed again.

As I said, it only happened a time or two, but youngsters are very impressionable and it became family lore! Even showing up under "How My Family Celebrates Holidays" projects at school open house! What must the teachers have thought!

Good memories, though!

Mary said...

A Christmas tradition that happened every year was before the Midnight church service I would put an egg/sausage/cheese strata in the refrigerator.
Christmas morning we would open gifts and enjoy every thing leisurely while the strata spent its hour and more in the oven. It filled the house with yummy smells and then we retired to the kitchen for a family breakfast.

Unfortunately adult children, lactose intolerance and time have made it harder. But last year I asked everyone to come over early early and we re enacted the tradition. I even made a strata with soy cheese especially for the daughter.

PS I snickered when I noticed that your daughter uses the same frosting recipe that I do. LOL

Suzanne said...

Vanessa - Those sound like great traditions. The Farmer read the Night Before Christmas when the kids were little.

Chocolatechic - The clear boxes are my recipe card files. Don't ask how many I have. It's ridiculous. Add those card files to the many, MANY cookbooks in the library and you've got even more ridiculosity...because I cook the same things over and over. The straw in the manger is the most creative and wonderful idea ever. Wow. Decorating the tree was also big around here. I love doing things by the light of the tree. The idea of three gifts holds alot of symbolism. You have really created such a close family relationship and I love to hear the stories from Pothole, Ohio. Sounds like the title of a great book, Tales From Pothole, Ohio.

Heidi - I don't have little ones running under foot, that's the only reason that I can go all Martha. When they were small I was lucky to be dressed in something more elegant than a sweatsuit.

Laura - Don't be afraid, it's just steps.... step by step we'll build the house.

BellaDella - I'll save you a seat even though you insist on making me miserable by posting those images and stories of the old store. How much do you think it would cost to have the thing moved halfway across the country? I want it....bad.

Chris - Mary over at the Little Red House got me out scouring the countryside for transferware. I almost fell over when I walked into Goodwill and saw these. They make for a nice fall presentation.

Ginakahle - The daughter had a great birthday. Thanks for the wishes.

Vee - I steal most of my ideas. The way in which I decorate the sideboard was stolen years ago from a swanky craft fair. Wait till you see that.

Princess S - I spent many a holiday driving from one side of the family to the other. We put a stop to that years ago. It wore us out and we couldn't enjoy anything.

Thirkellgirl - I really love that idea. I will take a close up photo of the dinnerware and post it. I think I actually featured it way, way back at the beginning of this blog. I'll have to dig through the archives.

Louise - As you do this you develop little shortcuts and I've actually gotten lots of good tips online from people who are serious gingerbread house creators.

Marlene - You don't actually have to make one, it;s fun just to follow along and make suggestions.

Jenny - Taffy pull???? I haven't heard about anyone doing that for years. I've eaten pfefferneuse but it's not my favorite. They're an acquired taste.

Diane - That sounds like fun. We do multiple trees also and it takes alot of time.

Brenda - Our traditions have changed as the children have become adults. I try to follow their lead as to what they want to see continue.

Cottage Rose - I love the idea of an all day cookie baking festival. We do something similar and my son loves it.

Jan - What memories you bring back. We used to have dinner in my aunt's basement, also on the ping pong table. There were so many of us that only the adults sat at that table, the kids were relegated to the dreadful kids table. I really hated it when I got to be a teenager.

Mary - I try to make a breakfast casserole for holiday mornings. It certainly takes alot of stress off when you know it's waiting in the fridge. Yes, my daughter used the special frosting in the can!!!

Thanks everyone for stopping in at the farmhouse. I've been terrible about answering the comments but I promise to improve!!!

- Suzanne

Cindy L said...

Wow -- Halloween nut that I am, I love the "Nightmare" gingerbread house! How cute is that?!