A site for my handmade cards, accompanied by my photos and written meanderings which are occasionally witty, often tongue-in-cheek, and rarely profound. Beginning in June 2013, you'll also see lots of NBUS, which is an acronym I coined for Never-Before-Used-Schtuff. Note: my Privacy Policy can be found at a tab below and you can find my NBUS Challenge online. I hope you'll join in the fun there! Thanks for coming by! Have a beverage and enjoy!

November 30, 2012

So Where Was I? Oh, Yes, Christmas This n That and Rum Cake (No Card)

Oh, No You Didn't
Oh, yes, we did.  I can't remember if I told you, but after a 35-year-old tradition of going to various local tree farms and cutting down our fresh Christmas tree every year on the day after Thanksgiving, we succumbed to buying an artificial tree in an after-Christmas sale last year.

Here's a photo from 2011, the end of a tradition.

We didn't want to do it, but sadly, the last few years the fresh trees have lost their pine scent and stopped taking on water within a few days, at which point the needles began to drop. By the time Christmas arrived, we had a Charlie Brown tree with dunes of needles circling the base.  What is causing these changes in Mother Nature's trees?  When these types of things occur, I always wonder, "Is anyone doing their thesis on this subject?"

So this week we opened the box and put up our fancy-smancy Martha Stewart pre-lit-7.5-ft-Paley-Pine-tree.   It took me an hour to comb it out, which made me feel like I knew what it was like to have a girl after all.   The Mister and I have to agree that she is a beauty.   We are going to buy some of those evergreen-scented car fresheners to hide up her skirt and then it's as good as real and we don't have the guilt of cutting down a living thing. 
In all her glory:
One thing I do miss, however, is the ritual we went through with the real tree where Mister laid on his belly like a snake under all the low-hanging boughs and slowly and manfully rotated that heavy pan filled with water, degree by degree, until I was satisfied that the "best" side faced out.  I must say he was quite patient as he rotated it around and around, never saying a word until, inevitably, on the third time around to right back where we started, I declared it to be perfect.


Mr. Murphy, him of the infamous "Murphy's Law," comes to help me decorate every year and he brings with him three phenobarbital phenomenon.
I tenderly unwrap each ornament from the tissue paper bed I had so tenderly wrapped it in the year before. I always wrap the ornament with its hanger. Yet when I unwrap them, why do some have hangers, and some don't?  Hmmm? I wonder, "Is anyone doing a thesis on this subject?"

So now I need some hangers.  Where are they?  I've unpacked all ten giant black totes of Christmas decorations and there are no boxes of ornament hangers.  How can this happen every  year?  (I've run out of paper clips.)  Every year I buy another box of hangers.   Apparently, every year I put them in a "special" place so the next year I won't have this problem.  Obviously, Mr. Murphy moves them out of my special place when my back is turned.  This is a very small house which makes this a very big mystery. 
Okay, whatever.  I've extra hangers now that I've bought more, so, finally, the tree trimming can begin.  It's a scientific fact that I have a 50-50 chance of placing the hanger over the branch in such a way that the front of the ornament faces out.   You would think.  So why is it that 100% of the time I hang it up wrong the first time?  I can't help but wonder, "Is anyone . . .   !"

I'll bet Mr. Murphy visits you, too!  But in the end, we prevail over his ant inks, everything gets bedazzled and festivized and the house and its wall are happily beaming with Christmas joy, from the musical snowman who rocks out, "I'm a SNOWman":

to the uber cool gorilla who sings, "Ho's on the Rooftop,"

to the serene mother-of-pearl nativity set, a gift from Mister's parents on our first Christmas together, reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas:


Moving outside, here is an adorable bird-on-a-birdbath ornament,

which I thought would be cute hanging from the birdhouse this year:

And I wanted to show you this whimsical wind chime pre-Christmas present I bought myself.  Hopefully, you can see it better if you click on it.  I'm sorry I cut the label off quickly in my excitement to hang it, so I can't tell you who manufactures it.  I got it in a local store, not online, and it was the only one.  Along with the froggies, it makes happy Playhouse entry art.


And, finally, here is the rum cake recipe I mentioned in yesterday's post.  I have no idea who to attribute it to; it was passed around our office years ago.

Christmas Rum Cake

Before you start, sample the rum and check for quality.  Good, isn't it?  Now, go ahead.
Select a large mixing bowl, measuring cup, etc. and check that rum again for quality.  It must be just right.  With an electric mixer, beat one cup butter in a large fluffy bowl, and add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again.  Meanwhile, make certain that rum is still the best quality.
Add two large eggs and two cups dried fruit and beat well until bery high.  If fruit gets stuck in the beater, pry it out with screwdriver.  Sample rum again, checking for consistency.
Next, sift in three cups of baking powder, pink of rum, one seaspoon toda and one cup of pepper.  Or is it salt?  Anway, don't fret, just test the rum again.  Sowie . . .
Now, sift in half a pint of lemon juice, fold in chopped buttermilk, and add strained nuts.  Rample the sum again.
Now, add one bablespoon srown tugar or whatever color is around.  Mix well.  Grease oven and turn on cake pan to 350.  Now pour the whole mixture into the oven and ~ oops ~ now where did I put that mop?
On second thought, gorfet it, check the rest of fa rum, and go to bed!


Enjoy your day!   No, seriously, enjoy your day.

As always, thank you for stopping by to visit. Special thanks to you if you take the time to join as a follower or leave a comment!


Kathyk said...

Your tree looks fantabulous Darnell and ..... must try your rumcake recipe! Hic!


Bonnie said...

I see Mr. & Mrs. Murphy aren't just annoying me! I haven't even started on the decorating. Course I have a Jack that will dismantle everything he can reach. Bath & Bodyworks has a plug in oil called Fresh Balsam that has a wonderful, natural Christmas tree smell. Smells more like the real thing than my kid's real trees. I'm phobic about fire and have always had an artificial tree. Now we have one prelit so we are now speaking to each other when we do put up the tree.

Ardyth said...

I found Orvis' Frasier Fir room spray - it's WONDERFUL! Actually, the brand is THYMES, but I found it at Orvis in Milwaukee. I'm definitely going to be googling it to find more!

stampwithsandy said...

Hey, Darnell, your tree is beautiful! I broke down and bought an artificial one after having the same problem, too. At least you didn't have my problem this year. I unpacked one of my big Santa's from the garage to find out a family of mice ate part of him and then moved inside. EWWWW!

Geri said...

Seriously, tears running down my cheeks! How in the heck did you manage to type that recipe? Spell check must have been having a heart attack!

Beautiful tree! Love the bird bath ornament!

Amanda said...

Wow gorgeous tree, hav ad an artificial one for years now as was forever sweeping up the needles, even found them months later lol. I thought I was the only one who murphy visited regularly lol. Absolutely love the nativity set. His, Amanda x

Anonymous said...

That Murphy sure does get around! We have a real tree courtesy of Home Depot, it's always good. I saw in either the Acorn or Signals catalogs that they had lovey decorations that you could put pine scent in, if you wanted something purdy looking. I can't imagine Christmas in a warm climate, I need cold weather and snow for it to be "right" for me. Are you having a lot of rain from that storm? I heard Mount Shasta will likely get over 200" of snow in four days!


Unknown said...

Wow Dippy - it's like a different world over there. I'd give anything to be able to go out, choose a tree and bring it home. Not something that is readily available in the UK, unless you live in the back of beyond next to a Christmas tree forest.......! Ours come mostly from large D-I-Y stores.....or we succumb (sir come??? think it's catching....) and buy an artificial one but it just doesn't have the same feel - but maybe your "smellie" will make a difference. Your Mr Murphy doesn't show up in the UK - we have a very kind gentleman called Mr Nobody (all face and hands you understand) and boy does he move stuff around. I reckon we must have had the same grandparents/ancestors as my Xmas cake recipe is exackerly - hic - t'same as urs......


Karen x

Redanne said...

Fabulous post today Darnell, you really had me giggling! Your tree is so beautiful and so BIG, must take hours to decorate (especially if each bauble has to be put on twice). My Dad used to always offer to 'baste' the turkey with sherry, but more went in him than on the bird. Mr Murphy definitely visits our house too, he certainly is a trans-global kind of guy....... Hugs, Anne x

Unknown said...

I love your blog!! I so identify with so many things you say. But the ornament hanger thing really got me. One year I even bought the hangers and put them my kitchen utensil drawer so I'd see them all year and would know where to find them. Ha! They got shoved to the back and I still didn't have any come Christmas. Great decorations!

Kim Heggins said...

As always love your stories and these are just too cute. I love your tree, so beautiful and I have to admit I have the same problem with my ornament hooks, every year I end up buying more and never seem to find the missing ones. I too have a Martha Stewart tree, the one with the flocking and pine cones, I love that I can hang heavy ornaments on it and the branches don't bend over.
Your rum cake story brings back memories of my mom and our neighbor growing up, they were the Lucy and Ethel of the 60's and they would get together and make rum cakes and always seem to drink more than ever went into any cake! Thanks for bringing back those fond memories!

MaryH said...

Hi Darnell, Finally got myself over here for a visit. I am behind on blogsurfing once again! Read & giggled, identified with a lot of what you wrote, loved your decorations. (Can you find a can of the Aromatique Scent of the Tree...that's what we spray on our tree - WHEN we put one up. We aren't home, so many years now, no tree effort is made). Then I read your Rum Cake, and oh, you cleaned it up a lot! I had one very like, but had a lot of Navy talk in it...so I dared not to post! Loved yours! Thanks for making my day with lots of chuckles & giggles. DH wonders what I'm up to. He just shakes his head. Hugs

Sandy said...

Tree is up at my place too BUT. We brought new lights and tonight when I turned them on they are so dim you can hardly see them at all.. We left them on for a while as we thought maybe they will get brighter and nope they are a dud... Went to turn them off and the little transformer box that they plug into was so hot it was incredible.. So into the bin they will go. So will have to undecorate the tree and do it all again when we get new lights.. :( So Mr Murphy must have visited here as well.. Love your Christmas rum cake must make that this year when its all getting all a bit to Argghhhhh Sandy :)

Anonymous said...

Hi there, thanks for another rib tickling episode from your home to ours ! I love your Christmas tree big and beautifully decorated, looks fabulous ! Like the idea of the pine fresheners up how positively original.I too have a case of the dissapearing ornaments so last year I made about three hundred felt hearts for the tree and it looked dreadful. So I bet you a ton of money I will be able to find those ones this year and not the ones I really want.


Anonymous said...

Forgot to say thanks for the recipe but I just cant seem to get past the Brandy tasting stage for some reason !


Kim S said...

I really hate to burst your bubble,BUT....

We went to a pre-lit tree about 4 years ago due to severe pine allergies in the house. It is amazing the first year and maybe the second year. But wait until the third year. Have you noticed how beautifully wrapped each string of lights is on the branches? By the third year, one of those strings will be dead - and you will be tasked with the horrific task of finding which bulb is dead - OR removing the tightly wound string from the branch.

I'm already afraid to plug mine in this year. Today's the day!

Jean said...

Beautiful Christmas tree ~ Funny Mr. Murphy does the same thing at my house with the hangers! Some day when I have every box unpacked I'll have twenty boxes of hangers ;). Thanks for the rum cake recipe ~ I'll add to my baking list!

Victoria said...

Happy start of Advent! Your home is looking wonderfully festive!

Bobby said...

Ho's on the roof? What kind of a Christmas are you having out there, anyway? ;)