Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chocolate "Lembas Bread"

Beware fandom speak.

We played Hobbit this evening, Sis and I did.  She was Legolas (always) and I was first Tauriel and then Gandalf, because she said I made a better Gandalf (I'm going to just let that be.)  We were on a journey, from the Lonely Mountain to Bree, to find Aragorn, heir to the throne of Gondor, which is where last night's movie left off (before the "next" movies start--the LOTR/Hobbit order in reverse-chronology is going to present the same problems as SW!) 

Anyway, we had our weapons, her cloak, a horse (not Shadowfax, though), and of course Elven lembas bread.  But not just any lembas bread, no.  This was CHOCOLATE!

Yep, straight from the tin of fudge we made last night as part of our Advent activities.  Lord Legolas told me that it takes more chocolate lembas bread to fill up, unlike the one bite of the plain.  

And I'm sure it helped us in our journey, though we broke off before we found the Ranger.

I have long told the kids about fudge and how I went through a fudge-making period before they were born.  I became quite adept, well, as much as a home-amateur can (no marble Mackinac fudge tables for me, though.)  And I made lots of different kinds.  But boiling sugar with children was never my idea of a good time.  I burned my finger last night just a little to prove that.  But they're older now and follow directions in the kitchen and so we cooked it up.  I know, I know, the "no fail fudge" is not true fudge.  But I'm okay with that.  It tastes good enough and is a good start.

'Cos, you know, the journey through Middle Earth is long and hard and no doubt we're going to need more lembas bread . . . . in various flavors.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-


Chocolate "Lembas Bread" aka Never Fail Fudge from the Fluff Jar
I don't think I had ever actually used the recipe on the back of the jar before, especially because we didn't have Fluff in Texas, but another brand.  Anyway, it works well as a first fudge and, because we probably over-caramelized the mixture, it had a richer flavor than I expected.  Sis loved making it and used it as a prop when we played Hobbit (Dec. 2014.)

2 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 small (5 oz) can evaporated milk
1-7.5 oz jar Marshmallow Fluff
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1-12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate

Combine first five ingredients.  Stir over low heat until blended.  Bring to boil over medium heat, being careful not to mistake air bubbles for boiling.  Boil slowly, stirring, for 4 minutes (use softball test.)  Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla and chocolate until melted.  Pour into a buttered 9x9" pan and cool.

Fluff label


Creamsicle Fudge

I put this together from a couple of sources to make one of my favorite flavors—creamsicle!  It was one of the four fudges I made for holiday party 2000.

1-12 oz. bag of white chocolate chips
2 ¼ cups sugar
7 oz. (1 jar) marshmallow crème
¾ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup (1/2 stick butter)
½ tablespoon orange extract

In heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine sugar, marshmallow crème, evaporated milk, and butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in orange extract.  Immediately stir in white chocolate chips.  Spread into prepared (foiled and greased) pan.  Cool at room temperature and cut.




Double-Decker Fudge
The first and most famous of my fudges!  Never fails.  And the marshmallow crème base can be adapted for other fudges.  The peanut butter part reminds me of Miss Betty’s mother’s peanut fudge but it is not quite the same.
About 5 dozen pieces or about 2 pounds fudge.

1 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter chips
1 cup chocolate chips
2 ¼ cups sugar
7 oz. (1 jar) marshmallow crème
¾ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup (1/2 stick butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

            Line 8 inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan.  In medium bowl, place peanut butter chips.  In second medium bowl, place chocolate chips.  In heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine sugar, marshmallow crème, evaporated milk, and butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.  Immediately stir half of the hot mixture (1 ½ cups) into peanut butter chips until chips are completely melted; quickly spread into prepared pan.  Stir remaining hot mixture into chocolate chips until chips are completely melted.  Quickly spread over top of peanut butter layer.  Cool to room temperature; refrigerate until firm.  Use foil to lift fudge out of pan; peel off foil.  Cut into 1-inch squares.  Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.


Miss Betty’s Mother’s Fudge
Miss Lorraine lost all of her recipes in Katrina, when she lost her home, and so tried to recall the recipe from memory for me after Miss Betty died.  I remember having this back when the World’s Fair was in New Orleans and we went over to Waveland to visit Miss Lorraine (and Jeff Davis’s house).    I haven’t tried it yet and so don’t know if this recipe works.  And, in some ways, it doesn’t have to.  It doesn’t say how much peanut butter—I’m going to guess ¾ to 1 cup.  I can guess at the vanilla, too (1 teaspoon).

4 teaspoons cocoa
3 cups sugar
1 small can cream (5 oz)
1 stick oleo
Peanut butter
vanilla

In large Pyrex measuring cup (64 oz), mix sugar, cream, and oleo and cocoa.  Microwave on high 3 minutes.  Stir.  Repeat 3x.  Microwave on hi 1-minute.  Remove from microwave and add vanilla and Peanut butter.  Beat by hand 2 minutes—pour into buttered cookie sheet.  Let cool and cut into pieces when fully set.

Miss Lorraine


Eggnog Fudge
From the Skaarup Laboratories fudge website, I made this for our holiday party 2000.  It’s a little brittle but tasty.

1/8 cup butter
3 cup sugar
1 cup egg nog (no “light”)
6 oz. white chips (or 6 oz. butterscotch chips, gives extra zing)
1 ½ cup mini marshmallows
1 cup almonds, chopped (optional)
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon

            Line a 9 x 9” pan with aluminum foil and set aside.  Keep butter chilled in the refrigerator.  Spray sides of a large saucepan with butter-flavor non-stick spray.
            Heat egg nog and sugar at medium setting.  Bring to a rolling boil (medium to medium high heat) while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Boil for 2 full minutes by the clock.  Now fold in the marshmallows, cinnamon, and nutmeg; the boil will probably stop until the marshmallows are completely dissolved.  Bring back to a rolling boil for another 6 full minutes by the clock.  Stir continuously.
            The mixture will start to turn brown during the boil.  If you get brown flakes in the mixture then turn down the heat a little.
            Remove from heat and add the butter, chips, and nuts.  Stir like crazy until thoroughly mixed or until it starts to lose its glossy appearance.  Pour into prepared pan.  At this point you may want to sprinkle a little nutmeg on the surface.
            Cool at room temperature.  Remove from pan, remove foil, cut into squares. 


Festive Fudge

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1-14 oz. can chocolate or original sweetened condensed milk
dash of salt
½ to 1 cup chopped nuts, optional
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

            In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt chips with condensed milk and salt.  Remove from heat; stir in nuts and vanilla.  Spread evenly into a wax paper-lined 8- or 9-inch pan.
            Chilll two hours or until firm.  Turn fudge onto cutting board, peel off paper, and cut into squares.  Store covered in the refrigerator.
Makes 2 lbs


Irish Cream Truffle Fudge

Miss B brought the makings for this, which she’d seen on the internet, and we made it when she and Miss J visited our house for the first time.  I’d seen the recipe on the internet too and had wanted to try it.  It was okay, not a true fudge, but fun to make together while Miss J and Mama trimmed trees and did other house things.  So stereotypical!

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
¼ cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup Irish Cream liqueur
1 ½ cups chopped nuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup white chocolate chips
4 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur
2 tablespoons butter

            Butter an 8 x 8” pan.
            In the top half of a double boiler, melt 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, 1 cup white chocolate chips, and ¼ cup butter until soft enough to stir.
            Stir in the powdered sugar and liqueur until mixture is smooth.  Stir in nuts.  Place mixture in the prepared pan and lay a sheet of plastic wrap over top; press and smooth top down.
            In the top half of a double boiler, melt remaining chocolates until soft.  Remove from heat and with a fork beat in the butter and liqueur until smooth.  Spread topping over cooled fudge with a knife.  If a smooth top is important, place plastic wrap over the top.  Refrigerate until firm, 1-2 hours at least.  This fudge can be easily frozen.

allrecipes.com

 

Key Lime Fudge

Another in the holiday 2000 fudges, Houston series.  This is incredible stuff!
7 oz. (1 jar) marshmallow crème
¾ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 ¼ cup sugar
12 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup key lime juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup toasted almond slices

Line an 8 inch pan with foil; grease. 
Place white chocolate chips and toasted almond slices in a large bowl.
In heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine sugar, marshmallow crème, evaporated milk, and butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in lime juice and lemon extract.  Immediately stir into mixture of white chocolate chips and toasted almonds.
Allow to cool at room temperature and then cut into 1-inch squares.

Oh, Fudge!

Lemon Butter Fudge

Just incredible fudge.  Very much like Mackinac Island fudge—kinda sugary crust and then melt-in-your mouth.  And the butter/lemon mixture is amazing!  The first fudge of Christmas 2001.  And the first one I’ve made from the book Oh, Fudge!

2 cups sugar
½ cup (5 oz. can) evaporated milk
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
1 x 3 inch piece lemon zest (or zest of one lemon)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

Optional:
½ to 1 teaspoon lemon extract
½ cup chopped nuts
4 drops yellow food coloring

            STEP 1:  Prewarm thermometer; use 2-quart saucepan; butter upper sides of saucepan; measure all ingredients except butter, food coloring, and optionals, and dump into saucepan.  Grease and, if necessary, line a 5 x 10 inch pan.  Freeze all the butter.  Fill glass with ice cubes and water, and fill sink half-inch full of water.
            STEP 2:  Dissolve sugar.  Mixture may look curdled, but it will turn out fine.  Stir constantly with wooden spoon over low heat until gritty sounds cease and spoon glides smoothly over bottom of pan.  Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. 
            STEP 3:  Boil after washing down any crystals that may have formed with pastry brush dipped in hot water from thermometer bath, using as little water as possible.  Introduce prewarmed thermometer.  Reduce heat while retaining boil.  Stir no more than necessary. 
            STEP 4:  Test in ice-cold water when mixtures thickens and bubbles become noisy.  Ball, formed in ice water, should hold its shape until heat from your hand begins to flatten it and should be al dente—slightly chewy.  Approximately 236 to 244°F.
            STEP 5:  Shock by placing saucepan in sink.
            STEP 6:  Seed by adding, without stirring, frozen butter.  Then allow to cool.
            STEP 7:  Stir when lukewarm and “skin” forms on top (110°F).  Return thermometer to its hot-water bath to soak clean.  Add food coloring and check flavoring, adding optional lemon extract if desired.  Remove zest (or leave in if grated), then agitate with mixer and not by hand.  Pause frequently to allow fudge to react.
            STEP 8:  Watch for fudge to thicken, lose its sheen, become light in color or streaked with lighter shades, give off some heat, suddenly stiffen.  If mixing in food processor, fudge will flow sluggishly back to center.  By mixer, mixer waves will become very distinct.  By hand, fudge will “snap” with each stroke.
            STEP 9:  Add optional chopped nuts like pecans just before you pour.
            STEP 10:  Pour, score, and store when cool in airtight container in refrigerator or at room temperature.

Oh, Fudge!


Mexican Orange Fudge
I made this for the museum but found it very sugary and sweet.  I might try it again with less sugar.
Makes 45 pieces or about 1 pound

2 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup boiling water
½ cup light cream
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel

            Line 9 x 5 x 3 pan with foil; butter and set aside. 
To caramelize sugar, in a heavy 2-quart saucepan heat 1 cup sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly, till sugar melts and turns a rich brown color.  This should take 10-15 minutes. 
            Remove pan from heat.  Slowly add boiling water, stirring carefully until sugar dissolves.  Add the remaining 1 ½  cups sugar, cream, and butter.  Cook over medium high heat to boiling, stirring constantly to dissolve additional sugar.  This should take about 5 minutes.  Avoid splashing mixture on sides of pan.  Carefully clip candy thermometer to pan.
            Cook over medium low heat stirring frequently until thermometer registers 240 (softball stage).  Mixture should boil at a moderate, steady rate.  This should take about 8 to 10 minutes.
            Remove pan from heat.  Cool, without stirring to 110, about 55 minutes.  Remove thermometer.  Beat vigorously until just beginning to thicken; add orange peels and pecans (optional).  Continue beating til very thick but still glossy.  This should take 4 to 5 minutes total (or less, keep an eye on it).  Quickly turn fudge into prepared pan.  While warm, score into squares.  When firm, lift out of pan; cut into squares.  Store tightly covered.

Better Homes and Gardens Candy


Orange Chocolate Fudge
I made this as part of the holiday 2000 fudges, Houston series.  MMmmmm!

2 ¼ cup sugar
7 oz. (1 jar) marshmallow crème
¾ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup butter (1/2 stick butter)
2 cups chocolate chips
1 teaspoon orange extract

Line an 8 inch pan with foil; grease. 
In a medium bowl, place chocolate chips.
In heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine sugar, marshmallow crème, evaporated milk, and butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in orange extract.  Immediately stir mixture into chocolate chips.  Pour into lined and greased pan.
Allow to cool at room temperature and then cut into 1-inch squares.


Peppermint Fudge
The candies turn the white fudge pink!  One of the holiday 2000 fudges (and my favorite, I think), adapted from Taste of Home.

2 ¼ cup sugar
7 oz. (1 jar) marshmallow crème
¾ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup butter (1/2 stick butter)
1 cup white chocolate chips
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
¼ cup crushed peppermint candy
1 cup chocolate chips
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Line an 8 inch pan with foil; grease. 
In one medium bowl, place chocolate chips and vanilla extract..  In another bowl, place white chocolate chips, crushed peppermint candies, and peppermint extract.
In heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine sugar, marshmallow crème, evaporated milk, and butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in almond extract.  Immediately stir half of mixture into chocolate chips and the other half into white chocolate and peppermint candies.  Pour chocolate mixture in pan first, then peppermint mixture.
Allow to cool at room temperature and then cut into 1-inch squares.

Taste of Home magazine


White Christmas Fudge
Very yummy, especially with the new adaptation, which was tested in the museum.  Mom’s note (10/01):  “Mom’s Favorite!”
Makes 36 squares

2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
2/3 cup milk
¼ cup butter
12 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon almond extract
¾ cup dried cherries, cranberries, or apricots, coarsely chopped
¾ cup toasted almond slivers

            Line an 8 inch pan with foil; grease.  Mix sugar and milk in heavy saucepan.  Over medium heat, add butter and bring to a boil; stir constantly.   Without stirring, boil constantly for 5 minutes.
            Over low heat, add chocolate and almond extract.  Stir then whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.  Stir in dried fruit and almonds.  Pour into prepared pan.
            Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.  Invert pan, peel off foil, and cut into 1 inch squares. 
           
            To toast almonds:  Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350°F for 5-10 minutes, shaking pan occasionally, until they begin to brown and turn fragrant.

Alternate:  White Christmas Fudge

7 oz. (1 jar) marshmallow crème
¾ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 ¼ cup sugar
12 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon almond extract
¾ cup dried cherries, cranberries, or apricots, coarsely chopped
¾ cup toasted almond slivers

Line an 8 inch pan with foil; grease. 
In heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine sugar, marshmallow crème, evaporated milk, and butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in almond extract.  Immediately stir into mixture of nuts and berries.
Allow to cool at room temperature and then cut into 1-inch squares.


Mocha Fudge
I made this fudge for our second holiday party in 1999 but no one could taste the coffee.  Perhaps increase?
Makes 2 lbs.

3 cups chocolate chips
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

            In saucepan over low heat, melt chips and condensed milk.  Remove from heat.  Stir in syrup, coffee, and vanilla.  Spread evenly into foil-lined 8-or 9-inch square pan.  Chill two hours or until firm.  Cut into squares.




Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pulling a Gommie

When I was in junior high, Gommie did something that meant the world to me then and still resonates quite a bit now:  she took me out of school, during the day!, to see Return of the Jedi the day it opened.  I went to first and second period, if memory serves, while she went and stood in line for tickets.  As she told it later, someone even approached the long line and asked what it was for and she asked (or thought) if they'd been under a rock!?!  The hype was phenomenal and I was a huge fan.  And I saw ROTJ in its second showing on the first day and LOVED IT.  She knew I would and she was game to take me out of school and go with me, embracing the craziness of it all--those were the special gifts that have stuck with me three decades or more later--generosity, fun, embracing the experience, support, and encouragement.  That's the kind of parent I want to be.

And so we pulled a Gommie tonight.  The Hobbit:  Battle of Five Armies opens tomorrow and we'd long told the kids we'd take them to see it,just like Gommie did for me, possibly even pulling them out of school.  But with Mama using up her days off for the holidays, we weren't going to be able to see the film during the day.  So, somehow, Mama learned about an advanced release showing today.  And got us tickets.

Except we didn't tell the kids.  I even rushed them through dinner and told them we all had to go to Home Depot with Mama.  We even pulled into the movie theater parking lot and told them ha! ha! we were going to see Penguins of Madagascar since the Hobbit wasn't opening yet.  And then . . . we handed them tickets to the Hobbit!  Bud actually didn't believe us and was a mite disappointed that we weren't going to Penguins . . . until it dawned on him that we were going to Hobbit tonight.  And then the cheering and dancing began.

Which is all very well and good because, it being the culminating film of the series, with sadness and death of some major characters (for which we were prepared) and a violent battle of five armies, it wasn't super cheerful.  But we liked it anyway and did managed to laugh at the funny bits and amazing stunts.  (Cos Legolas always has the best moves.)  And I loved the morals of the tale--friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, courage, love.  As Thorin Oakinshield says in the movie, ""If more of us valued home above money, it would be a merrier world."  That's all I'm going to say. No spoilers, we warned the kids about talking to their friends.  Only gloating that we saw it early. 

We got home late, almost 10 pm, and we'll all have trouble getting a move on in the morning, but it was well worth it.

Thanks, Gommie.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Advent Activity: Piano Performance

Yesterday, the kids participated in a concert at a local nursing home, organized by our piano teacher.  Sis played "Good King Wenceslas" and "Good Night, Ladies," while Bud played "Linus and Lucy."  They did well and seemed to enjoy it.  I know the residents did--lots of clapping and thanking them afterwards.  I'm glad the kids have the chance to share their talents.  And I'm proud that they do.

Advent Activity: Guess Where We Were, II

Saturday
7:30 a.m. up and about
8:00 a.m. leave the house in the car
9:15 a.m. arrive, meet up with grandparents
9:30 a.m. see the creche, talk about how new the Cathedral looks
9:45 a.m. Lego store!!  Best to go with grandparents.  (Bud made me a mini-gingerbread house we saw on display there.  And the kids each got a set.)
10:00 a.m. take pictures in front of the big Christmas tree
10:45 a.m. great lunch at 'wichcraft--turkey sandwiches with onion relish, pb&j on multigrain, grilled cheese with bacon, Cuban pork, potato chips, lentil soup, hot chocolate, coffee
11:30 a.m. get special chocolates, flown in from Switzerland regularly--orange peel in chocolate, marzipan in chocolate, chocolate cats, champagne truffles.  Ma and Gong even got me some for my birthday.
12:00 noon head to museum--see the creche, visit "Death Becomes Her" (I love the exhibition of 19th-century Euro-American mourning clothes), Astor Court, Greco-Roman--the kids were ready to stay longer; it's the adults who wore out first.
2:00 p.m. say goodbye to grandparents
3:30 p.m. eat early dinner at fondue restaurant--Alpine cheese, court bouillon, milk chocolate with extra dippers, and special blackberry lemonades, and a boozy coffee for me!
4:30 p.m. home again

Yep, our annual holiday trip to the city with my in-laws.  Wonderful tradition, wonderful time.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Guess Where We Were

I had a very special birthday celebration tonight.  And here was our (8th annual!) menu:


  • Pork belly, cheddar, fried egg on brioche
  • cinnamon doughnut
  • "pig in the blanket"
  • vegan sushi roll
  • "Raclette," melted cheese under a roaster on fingerling potatoes, pickled beets, smoked ham, pickled string beans, roasted cauliflower, carrot, and toasted baguette
  • Macaroni and cheese, three ways:  1).  four cheese with bread crumbs; 2).  truffle oil (my second favorite) and 3). Italian sausage and peppers (my fourth favorite--yeah, still lapsing)
  • Swedish meatball in gravy with lingonberry (my third favorite)
  • jerk chicken skewer
  • veggie empanada
  • kale salad with vinaigrette
  • escoviche fish tacos
  • caramelized Belgian waffle with chocolate drizzle
  • orecchiette with butternut squash 
  • brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds and chestnuts
  • beet burger with feta
  • slider with tomato jam
  • tater tots with truffle aioli!!!!!!!  MY FAVORITE
  • short ribs
  • scallion salad
  • Japchae noodles
  • s'mores cake
  • s'mores
  • s'mores liquid shots
  • whiskey apple cake
  • white chocolate trufffle
Whew, and that's just the food we ate!  There was more we didn't even try (salmon, steak, grilled cheese with peppers, boozy snow cones, one little appetizer in this flaky egg roll, fondue).  Plus full open bar, whatever you want, but we're so boring that we just drank soda.

Thanks for a wonderful night!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Catching Up

Advent
For whatever reason, we have fallen behind in our daily Advent Activities.  I don't know if it's because we are distracted by and focused on the new cats (more on that in a bit), or because we have lots of activities--cookie decorating with GS troop at senior center, piano performance at nursing home, Piano Guys concert, various office parties, two friends' birthday parties, birthday lunch at German restaurant with visit to British grocery store, our annual cookie decorating party, and other things, plus are regularly scheduled activities.

Cats
We've had first contact!  We couldn't tempt the new boys upstairs after we locked up our original cats last night, so we let our cats visit them in the basement.  We were ready with treats, which worked very well--Albus and Hermione approached Mojito, but nothing happened as they all munched away. Later, Hermione and Mojito hissed a bit at each other, but separated.  Mojito even went to eat while Hermione was still hanging around.  We ended it soon after, since it had been pretty promising.  And no one seemed the worse for the wear last night or this morning--no hiding, no litterbox accidents, no obvious stress.  We'll try again.  We realize the basement isn't the best place for them to live, but under the circumstances, Mojito (Mojo) and Patron (Tabby or Petro) are pretty lucky.  And it is temporary.

Colonial Lecture
I gave that lecture to a local AAUW (American Association of University Women) chapter last weekend.  And it went really well!  My light beige body sock arrived the day before so that I didn't feel quite so exposed in my chemise.  'Cos I started out in nothing more than my shift, which is a very flimsy nightgown (and would've been used as such), and stockings.  I then tied on garters, slipped on my leather Merrills (the most obvious anachronistic bit I have--reproduction colonial shoes are too expensive for my needs), and kept going.  A volunteer helped me lace up my stays/corset, skipping every other hole to make it go faster--she used my spiral bobbin to help thread it (the spirals help twist the bobbin through.)  Then pockets, petticoats, bodice, cap.  They couldn't believe how many clothes I had on--are you hot?  can you breathe?  can you bend?  I'm pretty comfortable in my colonial clothes, even the corset, which is a nice brace for my back.  I spoke a bit about the development of the corset as a foundation for heavy petticoats and as a way to achieve the straight silhouette they desired (their clothes were much more fitted than now, tight, and so you really get these amazing lines, esp if you have wide skirts, a bum roll or panniers, an early side hoop.)  Since it's all cotton--the other main anachronism, for it would've been mainly wool, linen, or a combo linsy-woolsey here--I don't get as hot as I could (though I get warm faster than usual), and, of course, now the historic house has AC and heat; it would've been so much colder in the 18th century and you would've needed the wool, quilted petticoats, and numerous layers.  The talk was short, only about 20 minutes, and I could've covered a lot more.  I would definitely do it again, longer and more detailed. And when I changed back into my civvies, I just felt ordinary again.  I like the way I feel, physically (the corset, the change in how I move--sit, walk, even gesture) and mentally (i.e. thinking about the past, getting a different perspective.)  Regular clothes just don't do that for me (mind you, if I wore colonial clothes more often, I probably wouldn't feel that way anymore, either.)

Birthday Celebrations
Mama set up this great present for me--a Lyve app that allows me to manipulate all the digital photos we have in chronological order, updates any of our new photos, let's me share them.  So, I can look back on all the photos we've taken on my birthday through the years.  Or, look at all the photos in a month or year.  And she bought this digital frame that scrolls through them.  Right now, there are pictures of us at Mystic Seaport going past.

Mama went into work late so we could all have breakfast together--egg sandwiches she fetched from the deli!--and treats (yummy pastries from a special bakery she'd snuck home.)  Sis had hung up a birthday sign telling me I was awesome.  Feeling lots of love from my family today.

And family and friends, far and wide.  Gommie, Aunt Banana, and Lambeth and Mrs. Lambeth have called--it definitely sets the day apart and makes me feel special.  And several of my local friends came over for coffee and cake this morning, bringing treats to share (and some gifts, though I had said not to, which was sweet and appreciated.)  We chatted for two hours, having not gotten together in awhile.  I never get to talk to everyone as much as I'd like, but they're all interesting and seemed to enjoy getting to know each other (there are definitely different spheres, like a Venn Diagram of my life, and they crossed over today.)  I even played a few songs on the piano to show off my new skills!

Tonight, Mama and I are going to a big holiday party and tomorrow we're meeting up with my in-laws to do holiday things.  And Sunday, the kids have another piano performance.  So, all in all, a very special birthday.