Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bakewell Bake-Off

Well, this has to be the 20-somethingth
annual Bakewell Bake-Off.

 It was also the biggest.  12 kinds of cookies!

 I wouldn't even venture to calculate the quantity by dozens.

 The porch served as our walk-in refrigerator.

Auntie Barb checks on a batch.

 Chelsea and cousin Lauren discuss design strategy for the sugar cookies.

 Gotta have a Packer snowman.

 Rocky visited from Horicon and helped us keep the floor clean.

 Grandma Bakewell wraps dough around snicker bar chunks.

 Applesauce cookies baking.

Last cookie-of-the-month tray features a wide variety.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Stick to the Code ∑ߧ¥∆∂

I blame my sister.  She was the one who was too curious for her own good about Christmas presents.  I remember once when I was about 12-years-old, she quietly motioned me to join her in the bathroom where she had meticulously and surreptitiously unwrapped one of her Christmas presents with a razor blade.  Her curiosity had driven her wild.  It was a jewelry box.  Anticipation and excitement completely over, she carefully rewrapped it.   

We were all excited as kids.  I remember sorting piles of presents with my sister.  "Wait, David has two more than me."  "Ooh, listen to this one when you shake it?"  "Look, can you read the writing through this paper?"  "Oops, I accidentally ripped this one..."  

This must have been the type of behavior that first caused my father to inaugurate THE CODE.  For many years he did not put names on our Christmas gifts.  He labeled them with codes.  Until we cracked the code, we had no idea who those tantalizing boxes were intended for.  His codes were always numbers.  Any number 0-50 is Kathy, 51-100 is Barb, 101-150 is Brad, 151-200 is Dave, 201-250 is Mom and 250 to infinity is for the whole family.  That was just one of his numerical methods to madness that kept us guessing at Christmas time.

Skip to a generation later.  Four young children are stacking, shaking, and squeezing presents under our Christmas tree.  Time to commence with the code.  Oh sure, it started out easy enough with the every 50 numbers breakdown, but soon I was spending more and more time concocting a code each yuletide season!  Last year's code was something like -- the name on the gift would have the same initials as the recipient but not necessarily in the proper order.  Example:  Shiny Jingle Nose would suffice for Nathan James Shurilla.

The codes seem easy.  Of course they always do to the person who knows their secret.. but they never fail to stump.  The best code breaker in the family has always been my oldest, Lars.  Sorry Nate, Chelsea and Keaton - you know it's true.  Just look at him - he's practically a secret agent now.  Codes have been broken from college and Taiwan with the help of big brother.  Will this year's code get cracked in China?  We'll see.  How can all these random names mean anything?  "Heh, heh, heh!" she laughs, as she maniacally twists her mustache.  "It's just too simple!  Need some help?  Skype Lars!"

WARNING young parents:  Be careful what you start!  I'm probably on my 15th annual Christmas code.  And once started, don't even think for a minute about letting that tradition slip by the wayside.   The offspring won't have any of that!  Just try and suggest that maybe we don't need to have a code this year.  "What???  We HAVE to have a code!  It's tradition!"  My husband just smiles, "You started it."

No, my father started it... and I still blame my sister!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas at Monches Farm

Let's go on a field trip!

I'd like to show you my favorite shop for the last 20+ years 
decked out in all it's annual Christmas finery... 
Monches Farm

Ten miles down the road and past Lake Five on a cold, clear, crisp day,
I head out with my mother and sister.

We arrive at Monches Farm in Colgate, Wisconsin.

Scott Sieckman purchased Monches Farm
29 years ago and began creating the wonderland it is today.  
Zannah, gave me permission to take photos for RubyLemons blog.
Click here to visit the Monches Farm website.

There are so many reasons to love Monches Farm.  Artsy touches and unexpected surprises are everywhere.  Here's a giant metal rooster sculpture.  In warmer weather, real chickens and roosters  roam nearby.  As a gardener and former interior design major, Monches Farm satisfies my every wish for a creative and inspiring shopping experience.  Today's only problem is that there is so much to see and so many pictures to take.  Will my blog hold them all???

An antique sleigh filled with wrapped presents.
Someone's got a gift for creating beautiful vignettes with poetic imagination.

The statuary for sale is graceful and ethereal.

The gift shop entrance is surrounded by naturals of all kinds
including boxwood wreaths, mini evergreen trees and bunches of mistletoe.

The large window display at the entrance holds wonderful treasures.
I hope my pictures capture that irresistible and inspiring ambiance
Monches Farm has created in their shop.

A metal tree holds cute wool owls and sheep while
underneath lay boiled wool fingerless gloves.

Monches Farm is primarily a perennial farm featuring all kinds of flowers and plants.  I love finding buckets of real winterberry and holly in the shop... sends the gardener's imagination soaring.  After seeing all the beautiful naturals, I'm thinking the boxwood bushes in front of my house need a trim so I can make a wreath... maybe throw some of that winterberry or holly in...

Absolutely love, love, love this box of small Mercury glass ornaments.
Can't stop thinking about them.

Ornament on a gold feather tree... monkey?  cat?  dog?

Spun cotton originals

So many of the gifts in the shop have a nature theme.

Natural wooden birdies.  So sweet.

Very antique looking clip-on tree candles.

More goodies upstairs

Primitive style stockings and pillows

Large table top sheep.  Love them.

A wondrous display of glittery mica houses, trees,
and churches can be found upstairs.
I'm awed by the detail in the church on the right.
See the tiny mushrooms in front of the deer?

More mica buildings

Father Christmas contemplates the domed tree.

My interior designer side loves the many unusual and beautiful light fixtures Monches Farms offers for sale.  This one is soooo cool silhouetted against the winter sky showing through the huge palladian window.

Boiled wool elf shoes

Gold and (my favorite) silver/gold feather trees

Here we go.  Only at Monches Farm - a bird sporting a gold fez.

Intriguing antiques are sprinkled throughout the shop.

Glass king ornament

Tally Ho!

Another cool light fixture

There's something charming about this little twisted wire tree.

Vintage inspired Santa and that gold/silver (that I love) on a fairy ornament.

I have a thing for lambs.

Christmas morning Santa alarm clock and sweet book.

Red glass pine cones.

Cool sweatery purses.

Glass vase toting giltter bird.
A gathering of... quail?

More gorgeous feather trees.

Blue vintage.

 Will Santa fit down the Chimney?
Soft Sculpture

On Dasher!  On Dancer!

Upstairs is a huge, spectacular, curly tree.
I have no idea what it is... too curly for a curly willow.
I suspect it must be something Chinese.

Woodland creatures

Large Victorian bird cage with glass ornaments

More birds and unusual garland

Wire card holder

Paper board church with handwriting

Crowns seem to be kinda 'in' right now.

Antique white feather tree and unusual platform tree.
Click on the picture to enlarge.

Lovely wreaths of berries, naturals, vintage Christmas items and boxwood.

And don't forget to hide the Christmas pickle on your tree!

I hope you enjoyed our field trip to Monches Farm.
Can you see why it's my favorite shop of all time?
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