Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Having a wonderfully perfect day thanks to my darling DH!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas traditions

For many years after I first came to the United States, I was often a guest in someone else's home at Christmas. When I eventually got married it was really nice to finally be able to celebrate Christmas in my own home and start creating some of our own traditions as a family.

Some things we do a little differently to when I was growing up. We leave the stockings downstairs, but Santa always delivers one present upstairs to each of the kids. Breakfast on Christmas morning is cinnamon rolls. (Although this year it may be banana blueberry muffins as they are already made!) Lunch is never turkey, as we have turkey at Thanksgiving and for some reason DH thinks it's too soon only a month later to have another turkey. Not really - we just choose to have something different. As DH had to work until the end of the day this Christmas Eve, he is not making beef Wellington as he did last year. There will still be beef though, and salmon for those of us who don't like beef very much. No Christmas pudding or Christmas cake. After my recent attempt at making mince pies, I'm thinking I should try making a real English Christmas cake next year and am hoping my mother still has the recipe she used when we were little. I do make a 'kid's trifle' - with jelly/jello instead of sherry, but mostly I'm the only one who eats it. (Trifle makes for a yummy breakfast on Boxing Day!) DH surprised me this evening by producing a box of English Christmas crackers - the kind that go bang and have silly paper hats in them.

I got the following via email from friends a couple of days ago:

1st Annual Christmas Day Open House
Friday December 25th, 12:00 noon -10PM

For Kids & Childish Adults ▪ Dress Exceedingly Casual ▪ Light Fare Served All-Day
Leave your present-opening mess at home & come mess up our house, instead!

Although we've always considered Christmas Day a family day, I think we will take them up on their invitation. There's room in the routine for a new tradition!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Where is Mr Kipling when I need him?

Mince pies are not easy to find here in the US, and when you do find them they are often quite expensive. Most Christmases I just go without, although occasionally I do find some imports and decide to indulge in a box. This year, inspired by Karen, I decided to try making some.

I'm not sure when the last time was that I made mince pies, if ever. I think I need to practice. The store-bought mincemeat was acceptable, but the pastry left something to be desired. They did look quite nice though:

Maybe if I master making mince pies, another year I'll try making a real Christmas cake.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Search terms

Here are some more of the search terms people have used that brought them to my blog in the last few weeks. Some are fairly obvious. It's gratifying to see at least one person (probably my mother) was clearly specifically looking for my blog.
  • almost american blog
There was the usual handful who appear to have an agenda they are looking to reinforce:
  • why americans shouldn't travel
  • americans should only speak english
  • no one is more american than anyone else
  • americans only speak english
Others who appeared to be looking for the answer to a specific question
  • my license photo does not look like me, should I get it retaken?
  • why americans only speak one language
  • why do americans only speak one language?
  • how to know what turkey to shoot
  • why is there february vacation
I didn't understand what some of them were after or why Google would have brought them to my blog in search of it:
  • Wednesday in hat
  • tornado american hat
  • out of office humping-mania
I don't believe I have ever mentioned humping on this blog before, let alone any kind of humping mania!! (DH wants to know "Is there an in-office humping mania?")
  • m&ms vs smarties
was back, along with
  • m&ms vs smarties vs skippers
Never heard of skippers, but I assume it must be another kind of candy.
Apparently at least one Russian-speaker was in search of information about Doctor Who:
  • доктор кто
This one I thought was somewhat scary:
  • shooting my own thanksgiving turkey in supermarket
I hope this person found out that it is NOT OK to shoot your own turkey in the supermarket. Indeed, there should never be any need to shoot the turkeys in the supermarket as they are always dead already!

I wonder if this one was an American living in the UK:
  • britain has too many rules
So do a lot of places. Some of the ones without rules aren't places I would want to live!

Monday, December 07, 2009

All true!

When I got home from work today, I found a message on our answering machine from President Bill Clinton. Yes, the man himself! Of course, it could have been someone impersonating him, but I very much doubt it. We also got a Christmas card from President Jimmy Carter and his wife today! Less impressively, I just hung up the phone on Governor Dukakis. (Hey, it was bedtime for the kids and reading a story to the kids was more important!)

Of course they all wanted something - our votes, our money . . . I will be glad when both the primary election and the seasonal fund-raising are over!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Birthday party food

A while ago Parent Hacks website posted a 'wonderful' idea one of their readers had come up with: serving jello (jelly) in individual serving sized paper cups. Hmm - we were doing that years ago in the UK for birthday parties. I've never seen jelly (jello) served at a birthday party in the US. Over here, the food at kids' birthday parties is usually pizza followed by cake served with ice cream.

When I was a kid in the UK, we had sandwiches (cut into little triangles), jelly in little paper cups with whipped cream on top , and 'fairy cakes':
(Picture from citybumpkin's blog.)

I remember chocolate blancmange rabbits on lime jelly grass too. I don't think they sell blancmage in the US, not that I've ever looked for it. (No Angel Delight either, which I remember we often had for dessert - I loved the butterscotch flavour!) Here's a picture of a blancmange rabbit, though the red jelly looks weird to me - it really should have been green!

(Photo from howarew's photostream at Flickr.)

The actual birthday cake might or might not have been eaten at the party, but guests were usually sent home with a slice wrapped up in a paper serviette. Americans I've mentioned this too all think that is really weird!

What do you remember about the food served at children's birthday parties when you were growing up? Has kids' birthday party food in the UK changed?
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