Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Last Wardrobe Wednesday Of 2010

As much as I complain about our nearest town and their pushy religious views, they recently did something I love.* This fall they tore down some buildings on the main street and instead of leaving an unsightly pile of rubble and dirt, they flattened it all out and put in an outdoor ice skating rink.

*With the exception of the church music one of the local businesses is blasting from across the street.

We all had to buy new skates, but skating is free, so all this week we've been going at least once a day, sometimes twice.

Poor Mae and Binny's knees are black and blue from falling, but they are really starting to get the hang of it.

Link up your Wardrobe Wednesday posts below!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tree Shopping

A few weeks ago, while Grandma Dee was still visiting, all of us including Flash, piled into the truck to go pick out our Christmas tree. Every year we go to The Gardener's parents' house and select a tree from somewhere in their 80 acre field. Of course these don't come pre-lit like the plastic and wire artificial set-ups, but I'll gladly take a messy, local, real tree over fake any year. Isn't that the tradition of the Christmas tree anyway? To bring the outdoors in? Plus, it's a fun excuse to get all bundled up and drive through the snowy fields in our truck, bouncing around with the 4 wheel drive engaged.

After much scrutiny, we chose this beauty.

Unlike Chevy Chase's character Clark in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, my husband remembered to bring along a saw.
The dogs were of little help.

After I strung the tree with lights (and in the process glued my fingers together with tree sap), the girls hung all of the ornaments. Some had to be repositioned after we found 4 or 5 ornaments hanging on a single branch. Part of me wanted to leave them there because it was so unique and a real work of art, I just didn't want any handmade ornaments to fall and be destroyed by a certain four legged shredding machine.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Baking

I know it seems a little weird to finally be posting Christmas stuff, you know, the day after Christmas. But until now, I have been so busy doing it all, that I didn't have time to blog about it.

So, these are the cookies that were on our cookie trays this year. Also the only gifts we gave out, other than to the kids, of course.

Peanut Butter Blossoms:
Chocolate Crackles:
These are The Gardener's favorite.

Spritz Gingerbread men decorated with royal icing:
The recipe included with my Spritz cookie gun makes a whopping 8 dozen!
Good thing they are so cute and bite size.

I didn't get a photo of the finished cookies but take my word for it, they were cute.

And of course I made a few of these Cherry Coconut Bonbons even though I really didn't have time for it.

I didn't make quite as many sweets as I have in years past, but I chose the favorites, and still have some left that we can nibble on for a few days yet.

Seeing photos of these sweet treats begs the question, what is your favorite holiday sweet?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 Holiday Card

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas from Aliceson, the Gardener, MaeMae and Binny!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wardrobe Wednesday- Smart Wool Socks

I know I'm never going to hear the end of this one from my mom because I'm featuring something she gave to me on my blog, and she'll get the biggest kick out of it and never let me forget it, but here goes anyway.

Earlier this month when we went to Minneapolis, my mom handed me a bag while we were having breakfast and said, "I know it's a little late, but here's your birthday present from me. I bought it on my trip to Seattle... but actually I could have bought it here at home... anyhow, just open the bag!"

Inside were three pairs of socks.

Mom: Look, Honey, they're SmartWool!!!!
Me: Oh..... *confused look* As opposed to dumb wool?

Well, after wearing pretty much nothing else on my feet for the last month, I can say that those 3 pairs of socks were one of the best gifts she's ever given me. Who knew that socks would be so enjoyable? SmartWool socks don't itch against your skin and aren't big and bulky like regular dumb wool socks. They are warm and soft and beautiful and can be washed and dried right along with other laundry, and keep your feet dry, and do something super sneaky with sweaty feet that makes the sweat virtually disappear and make your feet not stink. Basically, they're magical, and I love them. I especially love this pair because they go all the way up to my knees, keeping my legs extra warm during the winter.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Winter Solstice Compromise

It was much too cloudy to watch the lunar eclipse last night, but we awoke this morning to a fresh blanket of snow outside. This time it wasn't even accompanied by 40 mph winds and sub-zero windchills. How about that!

The bottom picture is of some branches sitting on our front porch that I was planning to use as outdoor decorations with some clear lights, but clearly I haven't gotten to that project yet. Maybe tomorrow...

Monday, December 20, 2010

How To Make Lefse

Here in German/Polish Wisconsin, the only lefse I've ever seen in a grocery store is a downright embarrassment to the real deal. Thick and square and cracks when you try to roll it up. That's why when we drove out to my mom's in Minnesota a few weeks ago to pick up my grandmother, we also picked up my mom's lefse grill, rolling pins and other lefse making tools. Plus Grandma Dee of course. Not a Norwegian herself, but one of the best lefse makers nonetheless. My grandfather was the Norwegian of the family and he loved lefse. He also loved Lutefisk but that's one Norwegian food I refuse to eat.

So with Grandma Dee here and all of the lefse making tools, we started by making a batch of 5 pounds of potatoes, yielding 2 dozen sheets of lefse. In less than one week, all of it was gone, so we peeled 10 more pounds of potatoes and started again. (The following photos are a combination of both rounds of Lefse-Palooza 2010.)

After boiling the potatoes until soft, rice the hot potatoes to make sure there are no lumps.
After ricing, mix in the cream, butter, sugar and salt, then chill overnight.

Divide the mashed potato mixture into 4 parts (8 if making a 10 pound batch) and add the flour. The recipe called for 1/2 cup but I think I ended up using a little more than that. Basically, the dough needs to hold together when you squeeze it and not be too sticky.
Next, prepare the tools. Heat up the grill to high or close to high for the first one then adjust accordingly after that. Next prep the rolling surface. The rolling surface would be the big round board with the cotton cover. Slide the rolling pin cover over the grooved rolling pin and flour the hell out of everything. I mean it, lots of flour or the potato mix will stick and leave a wet spot that will continue to stick for each piece of lefse you try to roll out. So bottom line, stock up on flour and get over the fact that your house will be covered in a layer of flour dust when you're finished. So much flour that the red lettering on the rolling board should not be visible.
Take a small handful of the potato mixture and roll it into a ball. Flatten the ball onto the board and start rolling it out into a circle making sure there is enough flour on the board and also the pin. Once the lefse is rolled out thin enough that you can see your hand through it when you lift it up, gently slide the lefse turning stick under it and very carefully lift it up (and make a little wish that it doesn't fall apart in transport) and move it over to the grill, turning the stick to lay it flat.

Cook on the grill until the underside is dotted with golden brown bubbles, then flip and cook the other side.

After both sides are brown and beautiful, remove from the grill and stack the hot lefse between clean kitchen towels.
Sometimes the lefse doesn't always turn out so round and beautiful. Sometimes it looks like Pac Man
But it all tastes delicious!
Lefse Recipe
5 pounds potatoes peeled, boiled and riced.
1 cup cream
3 T Butter
2 T Sugar
1 T Salt
2 Cups or more flour

Combine all ingredients except flour and chill. Divide potato mixture into 4 parts. Add 1/2 cup flour to each part when ready to roll. Flour board and pin well and roll out thin then carefully transfer to the grill turning once then stack between towels until cool. Fold and wrap in plastic then freeze the extras. Makes 2 dozen.

Updated: After all those photos and directions, I forgot to add how to eat the darn stuff. Oops! We like to roll it up with butter and sugar or cinnamon sugar but you could use jam or even thinly sliced ham and cheese for lunch.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wardrobe Wednesday

Yesterday was the second round of what I'm calling Lefse-Palooza 2010- an all day lefse making extravaganza with Grandma Dee. For the event (which I will be detailing further with an explanation of what lefse actually is and more photos in a few days), I prepared 10 pounds of potatoes and called my brother and dad over to help. Dad brought the champagne* and sampled fresh lefse hot off the grill while big bro got his lefse making groove on with me and Gram.

Here is my brother wearing the official lesfe making apron and wielding the lefse turning stick.
Dude cracks me up.

*The Champagne was for drinking. Champagne is NOT an official ingredient in lefse. To my knowledge anyhow...

Link up your Wardrobe Wednesday posts below!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Our little puppy has found his own way of being (somewhat) useful.

For those of you who are re-thinking EVER accepting a dinner invitation at our house, I should add that our dishwasher has a sanitize feature.