12/21/2008

Christmas Cookie Nirvana

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Well it's that time of year again...the annual Decorating of the Christmas Cookies.

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Mr. Bill snowmen. Vividly realistic images of our animal menagerie.  Everything and everyone was represented-from true love to inaugurations- it was all there.016

 

 

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The scent of cookies wafted through the house and sent the littlest schnauzer, Boo-Boo Baby, into a coma of foodie ecstasy.

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It seems Christmas may finally come together around here...Maybe.

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12/18/2008

Hanging Chicken Wire Light Balls

When it's time to hang your chicken wire light balls the goal is to hang 'em high- as high up in the trees as you can possibly get them.

Some folks use fishing rods. Others go for slingshots. But around here, the gun is mightier than the rod. We use a potato rocket launcher.  Nothing like overkill for the holidays.

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We load a specially made "bullet" into the gun. The bullet has one end of the big twine ball attached to it. The weighted bullet shoots the wire up and over the tree limb.

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The gun makes a loud "burp." It frightens neighborhood joggers- but that's just a side benefit.

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It is a manly art- the hanging of the balls. There is shooting, smoke, bullets, cussing and spitting...

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With 20 balls to hang, the process can go on for hours, especially when the bullet gets hung up on a branch.

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People get a little crazy...

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We plug and juggle circuits.

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Night falls. The moon rises.

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And eventually there is light....

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12/07/2008

How to Make Chicken Wire Christmas Light Balls

Making chicken wire light balls is really easy.  Really.  I am craft-challenged and got a D in Art in Fourth Grade, so when I say something's easy- trust me.  I know.

But as so many readers have written in asking me to explain the exact process in greater detail, I decided to make a step-by-step How-to post- complete with pictures.

My buddy, Mertis, has gladly volunteered to show and tell...

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First- Measure out about 3' of chicken wire.  All measurements are approximate here. You can make your balls larger or smaller.

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Then cut with tin snips or wire cutters.

 

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Roll the wire into a tube and twine the snipped edges together to form a closed cylinder. 

 

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Mert says you might want to use pliers or wear gloves as the wire's a bit tough on gentle fingers.

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Now comes the fun part.  Begin bending and folding the ends to shape your tube into a closed, rounded top- you're trying to form a ball- a rounded dome...but you're working with finicky chicken wire.

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Use the clipped pieces of wire to hold the top of your ball in place.  Some times Mert mutters words of encouragement to the wire, as if she could somehow coax or threaten the oblong cone into the appropriate shape- but I can't print the exact wording.  This is, after all, a family project.

 

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When she is satisfied, she begins the process of weaving the strand of lights around the ball.  At this point your "ball" looks more like a rectangle than a really circular ball but I tell Mert the light strand will help mold the wire into shape.  Actually, from 50' in the air, a cone looks pretty much like a ball to me.

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Mert ties the male end of the plug to the top of the ball, then begins winding the strand of lights around the ball.

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Mert says one of the secrets is using cable ties to secure the lights to the wire frame and to keep them from slipping out of place. The wind can play havoc with your light balls so they need to be tightly secured.

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Mert uses two hundred lights per ball.

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A bit of mashing, a little shaping and voila! You've got a light ball! Start to finish- maybe 15 minutes.

 

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Next post we'll cover securing your ball to the extension cord and how to "hang 'em high" in your trees.

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11/30/2008

Thanksgiving- Will Bathe for Food

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A lot goes in to getting ready to be thankful.  Some of us were not so thankful to be a part of the process.  But when it was time for the clean-up, we snuck right on in and took full advantage of the chaos...

 

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The humans wasted no time getting down to the heart of the matter...My sister and I were mainly glad we only cried once over Dad.  That came when it was time to say grace, his job. She couldn't remember the exact wording but was willing to say them...only I couldn't say them without crying.

We miss him bad.  But all in all, Darlene said, looking skyward, we're doing all right.

11/24/2008

Preparations and Procrastinations

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A trace of snow Friday morning put me in mind of confectioner's sugar and from there it wasn't a big leap into The Cookie Files...Luscious Lemon Snaps- a thin butter cookie coated in lemon glaze and sprinkled with tiny white candy dots, then Chocolate Toffee bark followed by good old Chocolate Chippers. 

All a part of the huge procrastination process leading up to The Monster Cleanup Before Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow the Eldest and Lovey get in from school for the long Turkey weekend.  My sister, "Darlene" drives in from New Bern on Thursday and her daughter will drive in from somewhere just outside Boone. 

By Thursday night the festival of food will be in full swing and the gauntlet signaling the advent of the Holiday Light and Retail Season will have been flung to the ground.

The retail angle will be smaller this year but the lights...well, there's no need to buy anything when the entire attic and the cabin barn are filled to the goozles with lights and reindeers. 

The potato gun is dusted off and ready to fire high up into the trees- the first step in hanging the chicken wire light balls.

It's time to move on- past the brilliant scarlet and orange flame that was fall and into the cold gray and white blaze of winter.

11/18/2008

11/15/2008

Life up at the Cabin- Misty Mountain Friday

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Yesterday was a good day for walking in the misty rain, then settling back in my armchair for a quiet day in the little cabin.

 

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While it's true a lot of the leaves have dropped, up on the hilltop the color peeked out at me through the swirls of low-hanging clouds.

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Deer tracks were everywhere, even by the front door- some brazen hussy must've tip-toed right up to the window boxes to nip a bit of the orange pansies.  Oh well. They were just pruning up the scragglers.

I took a path I hadn't walked along before and what should I find?  Just like the teapots, this bucket's bottom had rusted through. I don't know what the original cabin owners had going with sticking strange things on posts and in trees (an iron) but this way by far the most "normal" find to date.

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When I got back to the cabin, I made a pot of tea and settled down with another slew of "how to really write a best-seller" books. 

Before long, the day had passed and it was time to make the  drive back into town.

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