Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas !

Wow - hard to believe that Christmas is less than a week away ! I thought that once I retired all the holiday preparations would be SO easy because I would have SO much more free time - HAH!   Now I wonder how I ever got anything accomplished when I was working.  Each year there are new things I want to try or events I want to host - and before I know it the time gets away from me.  But some things are constant...cookies, decorating, entertaining family and friends, and quiet times enjoying the lights on the tree.   Here are some things I have enjoyed this Christmas season...
Our tree...we put our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving.   It is a slim line artificial tree and we love the way it looks in our new place.   Seems to have been made for that corner.  This year we added the red ribbon as garland and I think it really makes the tree pop!   Under the tree is my dear Aunt Mamie's "Queen Louise" doll that she received from Santa in 1906 or so.   We had her refurbished and decorate her so she can enjoy sitting under the tree.
Before we downsized and moved to an apartment home we had several wreaths for various doors.  All but this one were donated to charities...this is our favorite.  Dear friends gifted us the Cat's Meow "It's A Wonderful Life" houses several years ago as it is my dear husband's favorite movie.   He worked in banking and always fancied himself to be George Bailey!   Once we had no windowsill that was perfect for the houses I wired them to a wreath, added a bell (for Clarence) and put a rose and some of Zuzu's petals on there, too.   Everyone comments on this wreath - and I love that it is not exposed to the weather so it should last for years.
St. Nicholas watches for visitors in our hall...
The foyer welcomes guests with our photos with Santa from when we were very well as John's certificate that the bells of Bedford Falls rang for him on his 60th birthday.
I gave up on a live poinsettia years ago...this silk one has held up...and I am loving my Mary Poppin's umbrella as we get ready for the new movie!
The powder room door greets visitors...
and our angel keeps watch as well.
I switch out my wine bottle lamp to a holiday version and add some little touches in the kitchen...

And the champagne is ready to pop for guests!

An elf guards the stocking of the mouse in the grandfather clock...
And the Eagles snowmen are asking Santa for another Super Bowl win!
A simple coffee table wreath adds a candle glow...
And my Uncle Joe's cane adds a touch of "Miracle on 34th Street" to our home.
The reason for the season....John's mother's beautiful Nativity set is on display, but the Baby Jesus does not come out until Christmas Eve.
Table is set for a family brunch with cousins...
with a little ornament favor for everyone to take home.
In previous years I would remove everything from the china closet and fill it with Christmas I just add a few pieces to make it special!
No "elf on the shelf" in our home...but there are elves watching out all over the place!
Our decorations will stay out until New Years...then we take them down the day after and get ready for a cozy January.
When do you decorate your home ?  How long do you leave the decorations out ?   Whatever your traditions - wishing you a wonderful Merry Christmas !
Thanks for stopping by Our New Vista...please leave a message and God bless !

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Banana Cake

 Banana Cake

Love getting together with friends and at our last occasion I brought the dessert. I had not made a banana cake in a long time...and I had some over ripe bananas!

I made the recipe I have been making for years from this cookbook.   My mother bought this for me when soon after I married and I love reading the recipes and trying old traditional dishes (halushky, kolacky, pirohy, etc.)  - and the wonderful cakes.

2 cups cake flour                                2 eggs, well beaten
2 teaspoons baking powder                1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda                      1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt                                 3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup margarine                              1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup sugar                                         
                                                       Mrs. Tony Brenkus, 
                                                       Whiting, Indiana
OK...I just love that each recipe has the name of the person who submitted it to the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association.  The first cookbook was published in 1952...I received my copy in 1977 and I don't believe it was updated much from the original.
I just love that the book is "Dedicated to our mothers and grandmothers in grateful remembrance"!   

That dedication always brings a tear to my eye as I remember the wonderful dishes my mother made in our kitchen.  And, the sifter pictured here belonged to my fraternal grandmother.  I never met her...she died before my parents even met.   But my mother moved into the family home and this sifter was mother used it for years and I am lucky enough to have it today.  Each time I use it I think of them and how their story goes on....and say a prayer for them both!

Sift the dry ingredients, cream the margarine, add sugar, beat until light and fluffy. 
 Add eggs and vanilla, beat again  Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, blend, and add bananas.
The recipe calls to add the walnuts at this time...but I save them for the top of the cake.
Pour into two 8 or 9 inch pans ( note, these are my NEW cake pans!   I had my other pans for years - they were showing wear and cakes were sticking, so I treated myself to new ones!) Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

And they worked great !  The recipe calls to frost the cake with regular white frosting...I decided to make a cream cheese frosting - 
Since I was going to only use one layer today I used a half stick of butter and half of a package of cream cheese.  
Beat well, then add enough powdered sugar to make frosting...add a little vanilla, too.

Then, before I frost the cake, I put strips of waxed paper under the edges to I don't mess up the plate it sits on...
One it is frosted I top the cake with walnuts and dried banana chips.  Then pull out the wax paper and...
There you have it !   I picked up this holiday plate in one of my shopping trips and then used it as my gift to our hostess.   The cake was is a rich, dense cake ( that is why I only use one layer at a time - last time I made it I made it a layer cake with two layers and it was almost too rich to enjoy) and the perfect way to use up those bananas that are over-ripe! I put the other layer in the freezer...well wrapped in plastic and foil - and it is all set for another occasion - just needs frosting !

Do you have a favorite cookbook ?  Or a favorite cake you like to make ?  Please leave a comment below - and thank you for stopping by Our New Vista!

Trip !

  TRIP !!! And not the trip we were looking forward to...out for a walk and waiting for the crosswalk to say WALK.  A tractor trailer turned...