Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Daughter the Drag Queen

The Child is a social butterfly. She has work friends, karaoke friends, high school friends, college friends, etc., etc. Many, many of these friends are gay men. What can I say, like mother like daughter. I, too, bore the half epithet-half honorific "Fag Hag". I spent many of my weekends in high school and college at gay bars and specifically drag shows. And I was surprised when my former fiancée came out. I have impeccable gaydar - except for that one time. The "ladies" enjoyed dressing me up and doing my hair and makeup - I was like their own personal living Barbie. They loved my long hair and smooth skin and real boobies (such as they were). Of course, drag queens aren't known for restraint, so when they 'did me up', I ended up looking like....a drag queen. An amazingly feminine one, but a drag queen. Once, in the rest room, one of the ladies said I had beautiful skin asked who had done my electrolysis?

I said all that to tell the story of how I ended up spending the last two Thursdays and will spend this Thursday (The Child's 27th birthday, BTW) in a drag bar. In understanding this story, it will help if you are aware of the cable show RuPaul's Drag U. Of course, if you are only AWARE of it and haven't ever actually WATCHED it (like me) you may end up as confused about The Child's involvement as I was at first. Seeing only commercials, I always thought that the contestants were budding drag queens - i.e. men. According to Wikipedia, the contestants are average women who "compete in a series of challenges to unleash their inner diva". it makes sense that The Child (an actual female, if not actually average by ANY measure) would be a contestant in this local version. I am truly a dim bulb when it comes to current culture. And I have been for a while now. I am MUCH more familiar with songs and musicians from the 1940's than from the 1980's. I could not name one Duran Duran song if I were tortured.

So, are you still with me? The Child was asked to be a contestant in the first ever Richmond version of Drag U at Nation's Bar. Since I was confused about the whole Drag U gender thing, I couldn't get my head around why she was doing this - other than the whole fun part. But, really, do you need any other reason to do something when you are in your twenties and single?

Week one was a complete triumph! She was ahead during the entire performance. One of the judges told her that she was making his job very difficult since he was supposed to give her pointers about improving for the following week and he didn't have any to offer. The theme of the night was Dolly Parton and my girl and her already gigantic gazongas augmented even further ruled the night.

This picture shows her Mae West-esque voluptuousness:

Is she gorgeous, or WHAT??

Here she is dressed for her second number of the night with the other ladies:

It was a lot of fun - full of laughter and silliness and memories. And reader…she WON!

Second week, different judges. Comedy was the theme – all the girls did parodies of current songs (none of which I recognized, so the effect was a bit lost on me). Here’s her costume for the first number:

I never got a good shot of her face in this one, so you are missing the incredible Jessica Rabbit red wig. But, oh, that HAT!

Here she is in her second costume:

How about that make up? THAT is classic drag queen. A cross between Divine and Ursula the Sea Witch.

Momma and her drag queen daughter:

She was adorable, but one of the other girls came out with an amazing number and just played the crowd and stole the show. And one of the judges made some comment to The Child about how she shouldn’t let her drag Momma’s fake boobies upstage her real ones. (!!!!) I took him out to the parking lot. Not really. But I wanted to. Grrrr. The wonderful Andrew (a best bud of The Child’s and one of my honorary sons) said, “Did he really just say that fake boobs are better than real ones?” I never loved him more than at that moment.

So tomorrow is the last night. Not to mention her birthday. Wish us well. What a weird little family we are.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bad Blogger, That’s Me!

I’m still having to let blogging and my internet involvement fall to the wayside in favor of my ‘real life’ obligations. But I might be starting to see a teeny-tiny speck of light at the end of the tunnel.

This is what my living room looked like last night:

Those boxes covered an area 10 x 7 feet and higher than my head in some places. Mr. Kim says that this is 350 cubic feet (I have to trust him on this as I am number challenged). This is basically all of our Christmas decorations and tree ornaments. Jonah liked it:

This is what it looked like this morning:

(No, my house is not on fire – I have no idea what the cloud in the lower left hand corner of the photo is – perhaps the ghost of my great-grandmother beginning to materialize to tell me that soap is cheap and elbow grease is free and I need to get cracking). It still needs dusting, vacuuming and some loving care. By then it will be time for:

Good Grief.

P.S. The Child is trying to kill me. She’s found an apartment. In a city neighborhood. A basement apartment. With no front door. The entry door is around the back of the house. Which you have to go through a little alleyway between two houses to get to. Ack. Gun shops sell mace, right?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Year of Dazed and Confused Blogging

It is 9:30 pm on January 8, 2011. And I just realized that tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the start of my blog. And I don’t have one thing prepared to say to mark that anniversary. How very typical of me. No topic, not one single idea in my punkin head. Actually it is very similar to my style of entertaining. I go around WEEKS ahead of time making lists and timetables. I set out the dishes the night before and put 3M stickies in the serving dishes so that I know what goes where. I get up at the crack of dawn and start checking off things on my printed out timetable. And, somehow, when the first guest arrives I am running around like a crazy person, no makeup, hair wet and half nekkid. Sigh. And I suspect that when midnight arrives – when I was planning to post my witty, poignant and thoughtful remarks – I’ll be posting the virtual equivalent of that pasty faced and damp crazy person.

Instead of thinking of ideas for posting, my mind is full of the horrifying events in Arizona. I wish that I could believe that this will start people thinking. That it will make public figures and the media realize that the violent rhetoric needs to stop. That it will make private folks stop spewing hatred of their fellow citizens just because of differences of opinion, religion or color. But, instead, everyone seems to be lining up on one side or the other. Reading the comments on the news sites is depressing and discouraging. Listening to our ‘leaders’ distancing themselves from responsibility is not surprising, but very sad.

When ideologues don’t have truth and facts on their side, they turn to stirring up emotionalism and fear. We don’t ever seem to learn this.

I’m sorry to be so somber. This is not the anniversary post I was hoping for.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This Book BUGGED Me!!!

I was given a book for Christmas. The title is “Simplify Your Christmas” subtitled “By Not Having Any Fun at ALL and Being Selfish as Hell”. Not really. The actual subtitle is “100 Ways to Reduce the Stress and Recapture the Joy of the Holidays.”

I think that the author, Elaine St. James, has very good intentions. She recognized the problem of stress during the holidays and is trying to address it. The problem, in my opinion, is that she goes WAY too far.

I find that whenever I read ‘advice’, be it Ann Landers or a book like this, I always contrast the ‘expert’ advice with Miss Manners. I admit that Miss Manners is my idol and can do no wrong in my eyes. My mantra is ‘WWMMD’ (what would Miss Manners do). If they disagree, they are wrong. End of discussion. St. James talks about the problem of grandparents overgifting grandchildren. She suggests having your children write Granny a letter saying, “Thank you for the beautiful doll. Since I already have so many, I decided to give it to a little girl at the homeless shelter who’d never had a doll.” First, good freaking luck getting any normal child to voluntarily write such a letter. Second, isn’t it a grandparent’s privilege to spoil the kids? And, finally, it’s just RUDE (Miss Manners would NOT approve). It isn’t up to us to decide what others give us. Our only job in that exchange is to be appreciative and gracious.

Another thing that she finds stressful is all the celebratory food involved in Christmas festivities. She suggests a simple meal. Well, I can certainly identify with that. In the past few years, I’ve simplified my Christmas Eve meal a lot. My last post goes into this very subject. But then she goes on to say, “Have only fresh fruit or fresh fruit juice on Christmas day…Or you could have fresh vegetables – raw, juiced, steamed…” How very….festive. Now I know that I am a food obsessed fatty, but I don’t know anyone who would feel that sitting down to a meal of sliced bananas and steamed beets was a sufficient recognition of the joy of Christmas.

Some of her ideas are simply a rehashing of the ladies magazine annual Christmas issue ‘tips’. Handmade gifts are precious and priceless, but only if they are appropriate. If you are just making them at home to be ‘green’ or ‘frugal’ without a thought to whom they are being given, they are really no better than the pre-wrapped gadgets that abound in stores in December every year. She also drags out the hackneyed wrapping paper options – newspapers, wallpaper, catalog covers. I always wonder if the people who give out these ideas have ever actually tried these ideas. Can you imagine trying to fold stiff, unwieldy wallpaper around a box?

Along the same lines of thinking only of oneself and not what others might need or want she says that if family gatherings are stressful, just don’t go to them. Well, if one comes from a truly toxic family, I would agree. But what generally happens is that you might get a little aggravated. Is it really worth hurting your grandma in order to relieve a little stress?

The gist of this book seems to be get rid of the tree, the decorating, cooking, gifting. I think that this takes ‘simplifying’ way beyond healthy and certainly beyond happy.

Some of her suggestions include ‘touchy-feely’ activities, which, frankly, tend to make me itch. She mentions conducting a Native American ‘arrow ritual’ with your family. Aboriginal traditions and ceremonies are rich, dignified things. But the idea of a bunch of tubby white folks conducting them in their living rooms seems a tad ridiculous to me.

I confess to feeling harangued by this book. This is the kind of thing that immediately gets my back up. I do things the way that I do them because I want to. Because they mean something to me. Don’t tell me to stop doing them. Either help, or get the hell out of my way!

As silly as I found parts of this book, there is actually a lot of good information. Making the holiday more meaningful, less commercial and family centered is an admirable goal. But somehow, the book ends up actually losing the meaning. It seems to be promoting self-centeredness and a ‘me first’ attitude. I can’t believe that is a good thing to teach our children. Our family motto is ‘Suck it up’. People always take that as a joke, but, actually, I mean it. Sometimes we have to do the things that we don’t want to do in order to make life work for others. There are people who need things from us – attention, time, money – that may be hard for us to give. But we still need to give them. I’m not sure that The Child fully appreciates the motto yet. But I believe that she will.

Christmas Food 2010

Well, that might be a tad bit specious. The fact is that I took almost NO pictures of the food this year. Something happened to me this year. I always complain about not having enough time at the holidays, but this year, I just gave up on some stuff. Like posting stuff here and at the websites that I usually frequent. I haven’t ever done that before. I haven’t decided yet if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Is it a bad thing because it means that I let go something that I love and that gives me pleasure? Or is it a good thing because it means I’m finally a grown up and realize that I have to prioritize and that I can’t do EVERYTHING? It is a perplexity.

NOTE: This ended up being a MUCH longer post than I had intended. I planned on just posting the pictures and a little explanation of each item. But, as usual, I’ve run on and told stories and reminisced. If you still want to read this, you might want to take it in nibbles!

Anyhoos – what is specious about this post is that a lot of the pictures are from last year. But I won’t post anything that I didn’t actually make and serve this year.

I break down my menu into three groups – goodies, Christmas Eve food and Christmas morning food.

Goodies include:
Jessica’s Chocolate Chip cookies (didn’t get a shot of these)

Peanut Butter Cookies w/and w/out Kisses:

These cookies are one of the few things that I actually boast of. I’ve been perfecting the recipe for years.

What we call Sponge Monkey candy:

This is a lovely, crackly candy. The consistency is similar to one of our favorite English candies – the Crunchie bar!

Happy Accident candy:

The result of breaking up the sponge candy is a ton of delicious, but seemingly useless shards and crumbs. One year I had some leftover melted Cadbury milk chocolate and was inspired to mix in the bits from the sponge candy with the chocolate. The name of the candy is perfectly descriptive.

Peanut Brittle:

(This is one of the cheater pictures because I didn’t dip this in chocolate this year)

Iced almonds:

With fleur de sel on top. I always do a regular batch and then a spicy batch – this involves adding a tablespoon of Frank’s hot sauce at the end of cooking. This year Mr. Kim tried sprinkling the spicy ones with some Penzey’s Arizona seasoning. Neither of us felt that it added much.

Turtle candy:

The world’s easiest candy – just pretzels, Rolos and pecan halves. And it takes longer to unwrap the Rolos than it takes to cook the candy. These never last very long.

Decorated Sugar Cookies:

Most years I cheat with rolls of Pillsbury sugar cooky dough. I’ve never made a plain sugar cooky from scratch that tasted much better than those, but I’d really like to find a recipe that makes good sharp edges on the baked cookies. I tried a new recipe this year – something called ‘No-Fail’ sugar cookies. They tasted fine, but I still didn’t get those good edges. I’ll keep trying, I guess. I love beautiful sugar cookies at Christmas.

Aunt San’s Fudge:

I’ve loved this fudge all my life. I got the recipe from Aunt San over 35 years ago and have made it ever since. It is classic, creamy milk chocolate fudge – my favorite kind. Mr. Kim’s family fudge is the dry, gritty kind. Not my idea of fudge at all. I’ve tried to make it a couple of times, without much success. What I believe is that this evil fudge knows in its gritty, bitter little heart that I despise it and just refuses to work for me.

Reeses Cup Fudge:

I have always affirmed that if God made anything better than chocolate and peanut butter, He kept it for himself. This is fantastic fudge – a layer of peanut butter creaminess with a thin layer of Aunt San’s fudge on top.

Cinnamon Pecans:

I always make lots of these – they live in the freezer through the summer and make great additions to all kinds of salads.

Christmas Eve Menu

Turkey breasts:

I used to make a whole turkey every Christmas Eve, stuffed with a sublime, traditional oyster dressing just like my paternal grandmother, Bebo, did. But with up to 50 guests, that just got to be too much to do last minute. A couple of years ago I decided to try to find a way to cook it ahead of time. So, on the 23rd, I cook two turkey breasts in the Nesco. We slice them and put them in a plastic bag with some chicken stock and store it in the fridge. I warm them up in a slow cooker on low on the 24th. Turns out to be the most moist, tender and flavorful turkey I’ve ever served. Do I miss the beautiful, brown, crisp skinned bird on my holiday table? Yep. Enough to go back to it? Nope.


I also cook the ham ahead of time. I bake it the way that I always do – in the Nesco with some Cocola in the bottom for about 2/3 of the time recommended. I slice and store in a plastic bag with some more Cocola. I usually serve the ham cold.


The other culinary item that I boast of. I make damn fine gravy. I’ve gone from a new bride that made the most insipid, floury, lumpy mess of a gravy. It was like a Spry shortening ad: “Oh, Aunt Jenny, Mr. Kim’s boss is coming for dinner and I’m ashamed of my gravy!”. With a lot of reading and practice and some wonderful advice from my MIL, Jo, I was able to finally GET the making of gravy. And I’ve perfected my turkey gravy to be one of the best things that I make.

My version of Paula Deen's Oyster Dressing:

This is one of the changes that I made when I was trying to make Christmas Eve easier and more ‘make ahead’. As I said before, I used to faithfully make Bebo’s oyster stuffing – the stuffing I’ve eaten every Christmas of my life. Dark, deep and rich with oysters, it is the best stuffing I’ve ever tasted. But this is very, very good. Especially since it is ‘dressing’ (baked in a pan) rather than ‘stuffing’ (baked in a turkey). Momma and I used to joke that turkey is really just a very, very good vessel for making the best stuffing in the world (neither of us is wild about roasted turkey).

Sour Cream Cheese Potatoes:

Not the most elegant picture, but it was all that I could find. My Christmas Eve dinner is basically a replica of the meal that Bebo traditionally served for Christmas night dinner. It was always one of my favorite meals. Bebo was NO cook. Spending the night with Bebo was a treat, but NOT because of the food. She was fun and had wonderful stories about wild parties in pre-WWII Washington. She had dance cards from White House galas and the most amazing assortment of old peek toe platform shoes and costume jewelry from Lord and Taylor. But her refrigerator only contained lemons, olives and maybe a pint of milk for morning coffee. If I wanted a cooky, my choice was between vanilla and ‘chocolate’ Metrical cookies. Does anyone even remember Metrical? It was the ancestor of Slim Fast. Diet shakes and ‘cookies’. Breakfast for Bebo was coffee and a Lark. She ate workday lunches in restaurants and dinner was out or ordered in. I guess the Metrical was for when she was too lazy for even that.

Anyway, Bebo cooked once a year. And knocked it out of the park every year. Bebo’s potatoes were always twice cooked cheese potatoes. You know the ones – baked potatoes with the innards scooped out, mixed with a little butter and Cheddar and mounded back in the potato skins and then baked again. I love these and made them for years for our Christmas Eve dinner. I’d make them ahead of time and freeze them. Then I’d thaw and heat them up to serve. Well, one year instead of the potatoes melting down, I did. They were still basically frozen when I went to put them in the oven a half an hour before dinner and I had a hissy fit. I mean a grande mal hissy fit. The children learned new words kind of hissy fit. Sigh. So I took a recipe for sour cream mashed potatoes and experimented with it. I added Cheddar and came up with something that I could freeze then reheat in a slow cooker on the day I want to serve them. These are easily the most popular item that I serve on Christmas Eve. No matter how many I make, the dish is scraped clean before the end of the evening. Even Ted loves them (he is a very picky Englishman).

Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon Syrup:

Another traditional Bebo dish. I make and serve the bourbon syrup separately because I am a bad GRITS and don’t like bourbon. I grew up thinking that I didn’t like sweet potatoes and it turned out that I like them just fine – what I didn’t like was the bourbon that Bebo always added. Momma always said that you could walk in the door Christmas night and tell how good the sweet potatoes were going to be by how tipsy Bebo was. Every time that she gave the potatoes a toot, she gave herself one, too.

Bebo’s Fruit Salad, orange cranberry sauce and relishes:

I have made some changes from tradition here, too. Bebo’s fruit salad consisted of canned fruit cocktail, Miracle Whip and a few chopped walnuts. I use fresh bananas, grapes, pears, apples, pineapple and frozen peaches. The only canned thing is mandarin oranges (I love them and besides, I have no interest in supreming oranges on Christmas Eve!). I also use tons of maraschino cherries – with fruit cocktail you were lucky to get one half of a cherry. I stick with the Miracle Whip and chopped walnuts – they are key to the flavor of this salad.

Bebo’s cranberry sauce was straight from a can – complete with the little can ridges on the side (Chris would have been very happy, Rachel). I make an easy sauce with fresh cranberries, orange zest and orange juice subbed for the water. And the stuff next to the celery in the green glass dish? Ambrosia. But its ambrosia made with cheese and mayonnaise rather than grapefruit and coconut. That is Rachel’s sublime ‘Paminna Cheese’. It’s the best pimento cheese that I’ve ever made and I’m so glad that she is so generous with recipes!

Green salad w/ two dressings and homemade croutons:

Green vegetables don’t interest me unduly on my every day dinner table and for a holiday celebration they seem positively out of place. Bebo always served green peas, straight from a can. Well, obviously THAT was out. For years I served yogurt marinated cucumbers and onions. I liked them a lot, but I’m not sure that everyone else did. Every year I ended up with a huge amount leftover – and they don’t save well. So a couple of years ago, I started serving a very simple green salad with two different salad dressings. The change was extremely popular – the salad bowl gets emptied every year. The dressings are bleu cheese and a sweet and sour paprika. The bleu cheese recipe came from Marlene at and the other is from Daddy. Both are fantastic.

Sister Shubert Rolls
The bread choice seems to change every year. I don’t remember, but I’m quite sure that Bebo’s rolls of choice were just supermarket brown and serve Parker House rolls. Mr. Kim’s mom makes phenomenal yeast rolls and some years she has brought them. Gerry, my mom’s best friend sometimes used to make brioche rolls when she was still with us. I also used to buy brioche rolls from Ukrops – a sadly defunct Richmond supermarket. Last year was a giant bag of rolls from Costco – ok, but nothing special. This year I had great plans to make Dorie Greenspan’s exquisite brioche rolls. I made a test batch of them after Thanksgiving and tested freezing them. They were wonderful and I was planning to make enough for Christmas Eve. Somehow that didn’t happen. So I went to the Sister. She makes really good rolls and they went down a treat. The last pan of rolls was the ‘forgotten dish’. Rachel, my Lawn Tea friend says that at every celebratory occasion there is a ‘forgotten dish’. The thing that you made earlier and tucked into the fridge to chill that never makes it to the table. Or, in my case, the final pan of rolls that went into the oven to replenish the table and were forgotten until they had turned into giant croutons. Sigh.

Lemon chess pie – no picture of this. I love chess pie and I love lemon, so this traditional Southern dessert is always a part of our celebration. Sweet, tart, toothsome.

Christmas Morning Breakfast

Quiche Lorraine:

My quiche this year didn’t look like this. For years I’ve made these in little individual tart shells that I’ve always found frozen. Not one store in Richmond had them this year, so I just made regular sized ones. They were just as good, but not as cute.

Sausage Rolls:

I confess that I don’t make my own puff pastry (a retirement project, if I ever get there), but Trader Joe’s brand is darn good. I think this is probably a hand me down from the English branch of my family, because we are the only folks that make them that I know of. Lots of people make pigs in a blanket, but those are always with hot dogs or polish sausage-type piggies. These are made with breakfast sausage links.

Jo’s Candy Cane:

This tradition is from Mr. Kim’s family. It is his mother, Jo’s, sweet roll. Sweet dough stuffed with dried apricots and maraschino cherries and topped with a sweet glaze after baking. Jo makes these every year. One year, when we lived in Indiana, I tried to make one and it was NOT the thing of beauty that you see above. All my little dough points flopped out during baking and with the apricot and cherry filling it looked like some curled up eviscerated creature. Not nice.

Orange Roll Christmas Tree:
This is a silly thing that I started making when The Child was little. It is made from two rolls of Pillsbury Orange Danish rolls baked in the shape of a Christmas tree. It MUST be on the Christmas breakfast table, though no one professes to love it. However, I rarely find any left when I go to toss the leftovers a couple of days later!

Everything Bagels and Cream Cheese
Momma brings these. She has a café in her little NC town that makes some of the best bagels I’ve ever tasted. Go figure.

So that’s the story of the feasts. I didn’t mean to run on and on, but once I got started, I just couldn’t stop the stories and the memories!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Some Corrections and a Confession

I got a great email from my cousin Butch (Aunt San’s son) and he gave me some information about the origins of the cooky jar that I showed in my last post:

One thing that I did was to misspell my family name – it’s Tirelli, not Terelli. That was just a typo. But I got the name of the maker wrong, too. What threw me was the name “Antonia Tirelli” on the bottom of the jar. The sister’s names, as I knew them were: Mary Rose (not absolutely sure about this one – but she was known as Dink), Ada Louise (Tut), Ruth Ann, Clarene Ann (Aunt San) and Pauline Louis (my grandmother, Bomo - that IS Louis, BTW – not Louise with an E – named after two uncles). So ‘Antonia’ threw me a bit. I figured that it was Tut, the piss-elegant sister, who must have come up with that name. But Butch corrected that assumption. He says of Ruth: “Ruth started out, I think, as Ruth Ann Tirelli. Somewhere along the line it morphed into Ruth Antonia Thurman Tirelli, I think. I definitely remember 4 names for her in her later years. When we would visit we always went fishing. Ruth had a very large straw hat that she wore fishing and always had a long cane or bamboo fishing rod with a bobber on the end. It was great fun for me as a kid. She always had a loaded shotgun in the corner of her bedroom also.”

Butch also reminded me of Aunt San’s legendary eggnog: “Don't forget about Mom's Egg Nog. I do not believe she ever, to my knowledge, used less than a fifth of Old Granddad in it, except what she saved for the kids.” Since I was one of the kids, I never had the REAL eggnog. As I’ve mentioned before, bourbon is not one of my favorites, so I probably wouldn’t have appreciated it anyway.

He also gave me a bit of a tease: “Someday I'll tell you about maybe the funniest and possibly the one of the best Christmas' ever, in Merrifield, VA. It was one hell of a good time. As best I can remember all the sisters and husbands were there, I'm not sure about "Tutsie", and what a time it was!!!” I can’t wait to hear THAT story! Butch was also the only one who ‘Christmas Gifted’ me this year – and it was the first time it had ever been done by email!

Butch’s email meant a lot to me. I appreciate all of the folks who come here, but I didn’t know that anyone in my family came and read. To know that some do and to be given more family stories is a real gift.

Now for the confession. After all of the wonderful responses about my beautiful Christmas house, I was feeling a tad puffed up. You know – yes, yes, I have such a lovely home; I am such a wonderful homemaker, such an organized hostess, blah, blah, blah. Then this little voice whispered, “But you didn’t show it all”. Hmmm. This is actually true. No one sees the mess that usually rules here. I don’t show all the boring, pick up meals that are the norm. And I certainly haven’t ever shown the chaotic process by which I arrive at those rooms that everyone has been so kind about.

So here it is, warts and all. Living room, partway through the process:

And in the spirit of total honesty – in the foreground, on the chair back is a pair of jeans. Downstairs…nowhere near a drawer or a washing machine. I have no idea what they are doing there.

The other end of the living room:

The dining room:

And – more honesty here – a LOT had been accomplished before I thought to take these pictures. It looked much, much worse before this.

As Ree would say, “Just keeping it real”. Martha, I am NOT!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My tree is still up, so it must still be Christmas, right?

Just wanted to post some pictures of our holiday home.


Most people come in the side door, though

Our tree

I love bubble lights:

Every year we say, “This is the best tree EVER”. And every year we are right! I am of the “put everything you own on the tree” school. Here again, is an example of my ‘collage’ style of decorating – if a few look pretty, then dozens will be fabulous!

We actually have more than one tree (of course). Here’s a little vignette that I put together when The Child was a little girl:

It’s a Teddy bear tree with miniature ornaments and a merry band of bears caught in the midst of adorning it, complete with the poor fellow teetering on the star.

Another tree is the one that The Child gifted me with a few years ago:

It’s an Oz tree with green lights and a sparkly ruby red skirt for all of my Oz ornaments.

I treasure this one so much – both because of the giver and because I finally have somewhere to display my ornaments. They ended up getting lost in the myriad of ornaments when I put them on the big tree. Now you can see and appreciate each one.

Some of Mr. Kim’s Christmas village collection:

These are charming, but hard to display to their full potential in a small house. I once knew someone who set up her village under her tree, but I love the pile of vari-colored packages and bags under there, so our village just gets spread around everywhere.

Even the kitchen gets bedecked with elves in the window, plate racks with Christmas themed china, a little tree adorned with lemons and Banshee’s cabinet:

Our centerpiece:

Pristine and perfect. It is sadly spotted and be-crumbed now. And surrounded by all the clean serving dishes that need to be packed away – SOON.

The living room:

Avaricious collectors that we are, we ALSO have a treasure trove of Santas:

These, too, are spread all over the house – two of my favorites are in the dining room:

This painted ceramic tableau is one that I painted when we lived in Indiana. I have always loved the hominess of the scene – Santa perusing his list, the elves busily at work and the Mrs. bringing in a sustaining treat for everyone.

This cooky jar is one that I really treasure. My great aunt Antonia Terelli (Tut – pronounced like ‘put’) had a ceramic shop in Little Rock. In 1969, when I was 10, Aunt San and Pop Denson ordered one of these for every individual family in the Terelli branch of the family. We all got these cooky jars on Christmas Eve at their annual celebration. On his book that he’s writing in it lists “Aunt San, Pop, Marty (Momma), Kim, Teddy and Chuckie (cousins)”. Each jar was personalized for the family that it was going to. Setting this out for the last 40-some years has been a wonderful ritual. Momma and Ted spend Christmas with us now, so last year she gifted it to me! Aunt San and Pop are gone now, but looking at that cooky jar I can remember beautiful Christmas Eve parties – Aunt San’s cold buffet with her delectable sugar cookies and fudge (which I still make every year), being blinded by the lights on Pop Denson’s big movie camera (you saw spots for the first quarter hour in the house – and if he wasn’t ready for you, you had to troop back outside and do your big entrance again) and the sheer VOLUME of our big Italian-Southern American clan. I remember going out into the clear, cold night – with snow, if I was lucky – followed by “Merry Christmas”, “We’ll come by tomorrow and see your Christmas” and “I’m gonna call you and ‘Christmas Gift’ you before you even get the sleep out of your eyes!” (Do you know this tradition? It’s good luck if you can say ‘Christmas Gift’ to someone before they can say it to you – if you talk fast, you can ‘Christmas Gift’ a whole room full of people in one breath – especially if they all have their mouths full of ham biscuits!) Some nights, before going home, we would circle through Washington DC and drive by the magical decorated windows at Lord & Taylor, The Hecht Co. and Woodward and Lothrop – beautiful stores! If you went to the Pageant of Peace at the Mall before Christmas you would see the reindeer. But on Christmas Eve they were gone – off at work! These memories are exactly why I do my Christmas Eve dinner and celebration for family. After growing up with such a wonderful tradition, what else could I do? I couldn’t bear the thought of a quiet, contemplative Christmas Eve. I needed too many people, too much food and a raucous, riotous party!

I’ve done my darnest to spoil The Child rotten (another cherished family tradition – Aunt San used to joke that other people’s children might be brats, but ours were just overtired or hungry), so she has TWO stockings. The regular one for Santa to stuff with candies and trinkets and a big tangerine in the toe:

And this one for the overflow:

So – a belated Merry Christmas from me, with much love and appreciation!

Up next - the FOOD!!!