Friday, December 31, 2010

From Me And My Cats

I bought this vintage cat bank online just recently. It's exactly the kind of thing that I have just been DIGGING on lately. A very groovy cat. Love his expression, love the colors, love that he's from the 60's or 70's.
And besides, he looks so great with this one I found at a thrift shop in Placerville earlier this year. I like his colors, too - and HIS sweet little expression:
And then there's Dizzy. He doesn't mean to be sticking out his tongue at you - really. He doesn't EVER do that - and one day he was sitting there and something startled him outside the window, and it was as if he simply forgot that his tongue was not inside his mouth - you know, where he usually keeps it! I figured there was no way he would keep it there long enough for me to go and get my camera, but he did. I didn't get a very good picture, though.
I guess you really had to be there - but, trust me, it was pretty funny.
Goofy little Dizzy Kitty.
So, from our house to yours - be it ever so humble, there's no place like home. And how ever you happen to celebrate it: Happy New Year's Eve to You!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sean, Our Famous Young Friend

Our friend Sean was on the front page of our local newspaper two days before Christmas. Pretty cool, huh? He is quite the terrific young man, and we were delighted to see this article, all about how he is such a railroad buff. For a youngster, he already knows a good deal more about the railroad's history than most adults! Since my husband happens to be one of the local railroad experts around these parts, he and Sean have quite a lot to talk about when they get together!
Sean is a regular down at Railtown 1897 State Park in Jamestown, and he was also on PBS in an episode of Huell Howser's "California's Gold" program just last month. I'd say he's had a pretty good year. We are all very proud of him, and I don't know if it gets much cooler than being front page news when you're eleven!

Not sure about you - but I wasn't ever on the front page when I was his age!
Way to go, Sean!
(If you are interested in reading the article - and come on, why wouldn't you be? - please click HERE to read it online at

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

About those Christmas pies...

After writing the post last Thursday about pies, I couldn't decide which pies to make for Christmas dinner. So I decided to make all four of them. I shopped for the ingredients on that Thursday, but couldn't find mincemeat anywhere. On Christmas Eve (the next day), my hubby went to four different stores and found it at the last store. Thank you SaveMart!
On Christmas Eve I started by mixing the pie dough so I could get it into the refrigerator to chill. Then I started on the cranberry nut pie.
Yummy. Cooking the cranberries until they pop. What a wonderful scent, warm cranberries and lemon.
My chopping, grating and juicing were done in the living room while I watched TV Christmas movies, one of my favorite 'activities' of the season.
Six nicely wrapped dough packets waiting their turn in the refrigerator.
Since I have tile counters, I had to be creative to find a way to roll out my pie dough. I have an old enameled kitchen table which I used for this purpose for years, but I wanted to be able to work at the counter, it is a better height and less messy. I found this large wooden bread board for $1 at an estate sale in Placerville. It is perfect. I keep it in the laundry room when not using it to make pies, biscuits or bread. My 'cherry pie' recipe plate is one of two that I have had since the early 1980s. They are ceramic and very sturdy.
The Cranberry Nut pie comes out of the oven. I love its tart/sweet flavor. The hard sauce which I made Christmas morning for the mince pie also goes well with this pie.
This is the crust for the California Lemon ready to bake for 8 minutes before filling. On the right is my vintage juicer. I bought this art-deco masterpiece from our neighbors at a garage sale about 25 years ago. I use it often. A lemon yields about 1/4 cup of fresh juice.
The pumpkin pie crust starts to take shape in one of my favorite pie pans.
A slightly blurry California Lemon Pie overflows a bit in the oven, good thing I had my cookie sheet underneath. This cookie sheet has a twin, and I use them when I make the biscuits for the Kelsey Community breakfast once a month. They are double thickness with a space in between. It helps to keep your cookies or biscuits from burning on the bottom.
The California lemon cooling on the rack. I made this and the cranberry nut Christmas Eve. I was done for the night.
Christmas morning, starting in again on the pie baking. Mincemeat mixed with extras: two chopped granny smith apples and over a cup of walnuts. This rolling pin is one of my vintage rolling pins. It has been used so much the red has worn off the handles. I also have a handmade wooden rolling pin which I bought at an estate sale in Garden Valley. The lady's son had made it for her. It has several different kinds of wood, and it is very beautiful and useful. It is a bit heavy though, and I decided I wanted the lighter one this go around.
The mince pie goes into the oven.
I got so busy making the pies, I forgot I was trying to photograph each step. So I grabbed the mince out of the oven to show it unbaked.
I love the smell of just-baked mince pie with its unique spices. My niece told me the reason she doesn't care for mince pie is because of the raisins. But she was willing to try a taste just for me. Three pies down, one to go. It was Christmas morning and only about 7:30 am, so I was doing well.
The sour cream pumpkin pie ready to bake.
And cooling fresh out of the oven. All done, except for the hard sauce for the mince pie. I guess I can go open my presents now!
This recipe for the pumpkin pie is a lot thicker and fluffier than most. It is because you whip up the egg whites separately and then carefully incorporate them into the filling.
We live off of a very curvy highway, and sometimes it is difficult to transport our addition to potlucks in our car, unless we can hold them in our laps. I have had several mishaps, one involving chili, which I don't even want to think about! My dear husband gathered as many bath towels as he could find and tucked our Christmas pies into the back seat of his car, and they barely moved as we made our way down the hill to civilization. Gosh did our car smell wonderful!
Over the river and through the woods, to our niece's house we go. The pumpkin was the favorite, the California lemon got rave reviews, the cranberry nut was a surprise hit to those who tried it, and some courageous folks even tried the mince.
Next year, if I make the pies, I think I will only make two.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Know.....But..

I know Christmas was three days ago - and maybe some of you are tired of Christmas now - but...well, before Christmas I was busy getting ready, and there were some things I didn't get to show you. And I still wanted to. So here goes...
I found this cute little candle-hugging pair at a thrift shop about a week before Christmas. Pricing at these shops is crazy sometimes. Some things will be ridiculously high and then, these ? Fifty cents for the pair:

And here's another sweet little pair I found. They're bigger, and I paid a little more for them:

Another thrift shop find about 5 days prior to the big day - this cool vintage burlap wall hanging with yarn trees that I just love:
And I wanted to show you my deco deer centerpiece:
And my dollhouse tree all decked out in lights:

So - like I said, I WAS busy with preparations - but I did have a little help decorating one of the trees, as you can see:
And one last snapshot - my friend Jamie from Mid Century Madness gave me these sweet little vintage teapot ornaments! I've never seen any like them before, and I am so happy they managed to survive all these years without damage - amazing! And I also received an Alice In Wonderland china cup, straight from Disneyland! Makes me feel like a princess when I drink out of it. Thanks, Bob and Alisha!

A Christmas To Remember, for sure.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Susan Branch Calendars

I usually have my calendars by now, but not this year. I'm hoping that I will be able to find a Susan Branch 2011 calendar. I'm a freak about saving calendars, and hers are too special to toss. I guess I really do save almost everything!

I fell in love with the artwork of Susan Branch the very first time I saw something she'd done. I'm not sure when Country Living Magazine first began featuring her pages. I saved them, and I just recently came across a couple of them.
Gingerbread Men:
And Blueberry Cobbler:
I was such a fan that, of course, I had to have her books. Since her very first , "Heart Of The Home" in 1986, I have purchased nearly every subsequent book she has written and illustrated, and I'll definitely do an entire post about them one of these days.
I love her style, and the fact that she hand-letters all of her text, as well:
Such detail, and just beautifully done.

Yes - I'm definitely going to have to try to find one - and SOON!
(I will probably end up ordering one from Amazon.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Family, Friends, Bloggers And Why I Feel Lucky

We had a fabulous Christmas Day with our family, culminating in a wonderful Christmas dinner at the home of my niece and her family (after traveling over the river and through the woods). The picture above is their lovely Christmas tree.
I hope that you all were blessed with the same kind of lovely day.
Sometimes I truly I cannot believe my luck - I won Amy's fabulous giveaway over at Into Vintage!

Her generosity astounds me - and I decided to wait until Christmas morning to open my package from her, because it felt like a big wonderful gift to me - and I was as excited as a little girl anticipating Santa's arrival!

I LOVE everything!

Thank you SO much, Amy!

My friend Faith sent a photo of her home (below) in Michigan tucked inside of her Christmas card this year. Isn't it gorgeous?? We used to work together at the post office, and when she and her husband retired they moved back to Michigan. I am delighted that we are keeping in touch again on Facebook, and through her sweet - and, I'm happy to say frequent - comments here on our blog.

I also thought I was pretty lucky when I won this eBay auction for this absolutely beautiful angel. Isn't she a true beauty?

I am hoping that maybe within the coming year, I may be lucky enough to meet some of you bloggers who live in or around the Gold Country, and as always, I look forward to reading, enjoying, and being consistently inspired by all of the wonderful fellow bloggers who live farther afield.
I already feel like a very lucky, lady, indeed to have my two wonderful sisters and my good and dear, closest friends - I only wish that I were able to see them all much more often!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas full of sweet and special memories, and the happiest of "Holly" Days with these 100 or more year-old post cards from my collection:

Merry Christmas from us here at Gold Country Girls (and "from Aunt Clemmie"!)