Christmas Decorating: Mom’s Influence – The Advent Calendar

Sometime before I had kids – I’m thinking late 1970s, I was visiting my parents and mom was making an Advent calendar that she copied from a friend. She bought enough of everything ahead of time so I could make one too. We worked on our calendars at her kitchen table – soon covered with felt, scissors, glue, sequins, thread, paper, pencils, sharpies, burlap and with her sewing machine nearby.
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I still have the instructions that I wrote from her copy.

Advent Calendar instructions 1Advent Calendar instructions 2Advent Calendar instructions 3Advent Calendar instructions 4

And the pattens for the ornaments and tree.
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I didn’t finish all of the ornaments during my visit, so it was up to me to finish on my own. I didn’t understand a few of the ornaments – like the owl, for instance. A Christmas owl? What’s that about? I understand the imagery of the fish – but this one is maybe a little too “fishy” for the Christian connotation…
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And how about the pig?
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In the creative comfort of my own home, I didn’t always use the designs provided. I got the designs for the doll and the teddy bear from coloring books.
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DSCN3311 - Version 2I don’t know if you noticed, but I never finished the Advent calendar. See that pocket with the number 1 on it? It’s empty. Over 30 years later and I still have one ornament left to make. Typical.

Here is a look at our almost fully decorated Advent calendar.
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The missing ornament is supposed to be a reindeer, but I didn’t like the one in the pattern. As I was preparing this post, I found several ideas I had considered for the last ornament. Living in Texas, these included an armadillo and a pair of cowboy boots. Hey – unless you can explain the owl, I think the armadillo and boots are just as relevant. Besides, my husband used to collect armadillos, so it would have had meaning for us at the time.
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That armadillo is traced from one of my husband’s signature armadillo doodles. He drew the cowboy Santa too. :)

Leave a comment and suggest what I should make as the final ornament.

Or should I just leave it as it is – a testimony to imperfection?

When we only had one child, she got to put each ornament on the tree to count down the days to Christmas, but with the birth of two siblings, it was necessary to evenly divide the task – which did not divide evenly among three children since there were only 23 ornaments. These days I hang the calendar on the pantry door in the kitchen and I alone have the privilege of counting down the days on our Advent calendar.

Thanks, Mom!

Mom also made the tree skirt that we use under our tree every year. You can read about it (and get the directions) here: Christmas Decorating – Mom’s Influence: The Tree Skirt.

Family Recipe Friday – Mom’s Pumpkin Bread

Mom newspaper recipes copyHere’s my sweet mama showing off some baked goods in the newspaper. Mmm-mm, she was a goooodd baker!

Mom newspaper recipes copy 2I love that cookie jar! It still sits on the refrigerator in Mom’s and Dad’s kitchen. It’s at least as old as I am – guess that’s why I like it so much. Of course, this old newspaper photo doesn’t do it justice.

We had recently moved to Joplin when this article appeared in the paper. I don’t know how it came to be. Guess I need to ask Dad if he remembers. Being a small city, I suppose it was pretty common to have news about the movers and shakers in the community – like the new assistant manager of the Sears store and his wife – featured in the paper. lol

I’m not going to post the whole article as there is just a little too much personal info that I don’t have permission to share, but here’s the headline.
Mom newspaper recipes copy 3. jpgMom shared two recipes – Pumpkin Bread and Maple Butter Twists. I don’t know what the third thing is on the counter, but it could be a second Maple Butter Twist with a slice cut out and shared with the newspaper person.

In our ESL class the day before Halloween, we had a discussion about the different ways pumpkin is prepared around the world. When I mentioned that I make pumpkin bread, one of the students asked if I would share the recipe. I’m going to share it on our group Facebook page today in hopes that some students will follow my lead and share some of the dishes they talked about in class – pumpkin curry; a pumpkin dessert made with fruit, cinnamon and milk; honeyed pumpkin seeds …. I hope they will!

Mom newspaper Pumpkin BreadOnce Mom found this recipe, she made it every year – mostly in the fall and at Christmas. She liked to frost her pumpkin bread with buttercream icing. At Christmas time, she would add a few sliced candied red and green cherries on top to decorate. Many loaves of decorated pumpkin bread were given as gifts at Christmas.

I make it every year too. It’s just so good and must be made. But I usually don’t frost it. It’s fine just the way it is.

One thing I notice her recipe doesn’t say is to grease the pan. I usually line the bottom with waxed paper or parchment paper too, so that it pops right out.

Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:
3 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 eggs
1 teaspoon each of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon
1 cup salad oil
1 cup water
2 cups mashed pumpkin
3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Method:
Add ingredients, one at a time, in mixing bowl and blend well with an electric mixer. Bake for 1 1/2 hours at 325 degrees in a loaf pan, 9 by 5 by 2 3/4 inches. Turn out of pan at once. Frost with powdered sugar icing flavored with almond extract.

I usually use canned pumpkin – the slight difference in measurement doesn’t make a difference. Mom and Dad would often cook and freeze fresh pumpkin to use for pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie.

I’ll share the recipe for Maple Butter Twists another day.

What is your favorite pumpkin recipe?
Family – let’s hear every story you can think of concerning pumpkin and pumpkin bread!

Family Recipe Friday – Blender Custard Pie

I recently renewed my subscription to a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm. Besides a weekly delivery of fresh, organic veggies and the occasional fruit, I decided to add eggs to my subscription.

I’m going to have to cancel the eggs.

When I placed the order, there were three of us living here and all of us ate eggs. Then my daughter started eating vegan, making only two of us. Now she’s at college, so vegan or not, there would still be only two of us. And the two of us just don’t eat a dozen eggs in a week. I keep forgetting to cancel the eggs a week prior to delivery as required. Oh well.

Blender Custard Pie

Blender Custard Pie

I’ve been thinking I’ll do a lot of baking and fill up the freezer. Hasn’t happened yet – but there is always hope.

Today I was thinking about all of those eggs that should not go to waste and decided to make a custard dessert that my mom frequently made. I’m not sure where she got the recipe. I’ve made it many times myself. One reason we like it so much is because it is SO easy – and it tastes good.

Blender Custard Pie

Butter and flour pie pan.

Put in blender:
4 eggs
5 or 6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup coconut
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1 teaspoon coconut flavoring

Blend and pour into pie pan. Bake 1  hour (sometimes 50 minutes is enough) at 350 degrees.

4 eggs down! Dozens to go!

DSCN3470Meanwhile – butternut squash are taking over the counter in our kitchen while I have directed my attention to veggies with a shorter “shelf” life. Mom’s recipes will be of no help. I don’t know that Mom has ever cooked (or eaten) a butternut squash.