Believe it or not 2012 was the first year that Mike and I had our own Christmas tree. This wasn’t due to lack of interest, cost or logistics. It was due to Collina. Our sweet-faced kitty’s devilish ways would surely result in her grabbing a branch with her teeth and pulling the entire thing over or worse yet, chomping through the light string and getting electrocuted. So I put the possibility of housing our own piney, sparkling, natural tradition out of my mind and just set my sights on enjoying the tree at my parents’ home.
As of early November, Collina became a Wisconsin resident bunking with Mike’s parents and their two other cats. I can’t thank them enough for taking her and know she’ll be happy and well cared for. Although I miss her greatly, I’m making sure to do all the things we couldn’t when she was around.
We passed handful of tree farms on our trip back from Santa Barbara last weekend, and fully intended to stop, until an idea came to me. Mike’s parents had bought us a beautiful little redwood seedling during their last visit. We kept it out on the balcony and it had now grown to a respectable 2.5 feet. We should use that. And after Christmas, we’ll return it to the deck.
So we had our tree. Hurdle number two was ornaments. Anything we had received as gifts to date were left back in MN and WI.
I weaved a few Swedish paper hearts and also remembered my mom making cinnamon ornaments when I was a kid, so I decided to create a few of my own.
As I was mixing the ingredients together I told Mike the story of why I remembered my mom making these ornaments so vividly.
As they were cooling on a wire rack my dad passed by, picked one up and took a HUGE bite.
“Shari,” he said, “these cookies don’t taste right.”
My mom replied, laughing, “That’s because they’re made with cinnamon and glue.”
Cinnamon Ornament Recipe – Non-Edible
- 1 cup ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
- 3/4 cup applesauce
- 2 tablespoons glue
- In a medium bowl, stir together the cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Mix in the applesauce and glue. Work the mixture with your hands 2 to 3 minutes to form a ball. If mixture is too wet, add more cinnamon. If mixture is too dry, add more applesauce.
- Lightly dust a clean surface with cinnamon. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and use a toothpick to make a hole at the top for hanging with a ribbon.
- Dry in a slow oven 200 degrees F (100 degrees C) for several hours, or air dry in a sunny spot for 4 or 5 days
Minnie-Apple Bourbon Pie – Edible 😉
We were also lucky enough to catch the last weekend of U-Pick Granny Smith Apples at a farm south of Solvang. I had picked up a bourbon apple pie recipe at the Minnesota State Fair this past Labor Day Weekend and knew that was exactly what I wanted to make.
- Your favorite crust recipe (makes two crusts – 1 for bottom crust and 1 for the top). I used a shortening based one that I wasn’t crazy about.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 TBS flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 6 cups cored apples, slides (I always leave the skin on for the extra nutrients)
- 2 Tbs bourbon
- 1/2 cups raisins plumped in additional bourbon for several hours
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans or walnuts (I used walnuts)
- Additional 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon for sprinkling
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl.
3. In a large bowl mix apples and bourbon. Add dry ingredients, nuts and raisins. Mix.
4. Place mixture in your prepared pie crust, cover with second crust and sprinkle with additional cinnamon and sugar. I would also cut slits in the top crust to release some of the steam. My apples were over baked.
5. Bake 15 minutes then lower temperature to 375 degrees for an additional 35 – 40 m minutes. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!
Making pie with the last apples of the season and decorating our first Christmas tree – I’d say it was the perfect transition of the seasons.