By Eilene Lyon
Here we are, winding down another year, and I must take stock. My blogging output has been down a bit as it took a back seat to my book-writing. I completed the final manuscript for Fortune’s Frenzy at the end of August, and it will be released next summer.
Almost immediately after that, my publisher contracted me to write What Lies Beneath Colorado Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards. This will be the third in a series they are doing. The two earlier works are for California and Texas. Being on deadline is a bit of a sweat! But it’s a topic that fits in well with what I do—writing about dead people from the 19th century.
I have one last post for 2022 that will come out on the 31st. That will mark the end of my fifth year of blogging—a total of 448 posts. Then, please note! I will be taking a break from blogging in January.
You may have noticed that I am no longer sticking strictly to the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” schedule. After doing that religiously for three years, I needed to scale back.
Then there were the posts I considered writing, but never got around to for various reasons.
Ally at The Spectacled Bean shared a link for historic holiday foods. I thought it might be fun to honor my German ancestry with a typical dish. Not wishing to go back as far as medieval times, I looked at the listings for Baroque-era German holiday fare. Only three choices: Lebkuchen, Candy Canes, and Stollen.
Lebkuchen is gingerbread. I do like gingerbread, but that seemed a tad pedestrian. Candy canes—oh my. The 1919 recipe given on the website states, “Now have your helper roll them so as to keep them round and when they begin to get cold crook the angle, then set them to one side to harden. Your helper’s rolling them until they become cold keeps them from getting flat on one side which affects the sale of them greatly.”
My helper? I doubt The Putterer has the patience to stand around rolling candy canes until they cool. Sterling, if he could be trained, would just cover them in slobber and dog hair. Next!
I thought making Stollen would be just the thing. It’s a sort of raisin bread. You can find lots of recipes online for “genuine traditional stollen,” and they seem rather yummy, if a bit complex. In addition to raisins and sultanas, they include candied citrus peel, spices, and a final dusting of powdered sugar. But are these recipes truly “traditional”?
In “Aunt Babette’s” cook book : foreign and domestic receipts for the household : a valuable collection of receipts and hints for the housewife, many of which are not to be found elsewhere (1889) the only fruits are “seeded” raisins and grated lemon peel; there are no spices. The recipe calls for “two pounds of flour” “two cents’ worth of compressed yeast” [?!] and “half a pound of creamed butter” [!!!] among other basic ingredients such as sugar, salt, and milk.
I finally decided not to go to all the trouble, so you will just have to settle for a picture of stollen from the internet, and pretend that I baked it myself.
I also made some craft-y things this year. I wanted to show off how to go about making a birdhouse from a gourd, but all my photos taken during the making process seem to have vanished into the ether. So, here are a couple that are done. I think I may add little perches to them.
A friend and I went to a class to make wreaths and things using a variety of dried flowers, grasses, berries, sticks, etc. Aside from burning my pinkie with the hot glue, I really enjoyed making a small wreath and a wall-hanging. I’ve started drying some things to make more stuff on my own. (The downside being that I have to do my own cleanup—we did make quite a mess!)
MB Henry encouraged me to write a blog about my favorite books I read this year. I even got so far as to put a list together, but just can’t seem to get the gumption to write blurbs for each of them and put it all together. BUT, I just may do that on my NEW blog, which will be part of my author website. Though the site is “live” it is still very basic—a work in progress. I will formally launch it in February (I hope).
On the nature front, last Saturday was the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. My group had a route in town, which has limitations as far as habitat goes. But a woman in the neighborhood showed us where to find a roosting Great horned owl. While we were watching him, I spotted a sharp-shinned hawk. These were delightful finds among the house finches, pigeons, and juncos.
For the past two days, I’ve spotted three beavers sitting on the edge of the shelf ice on the river, munching on cottonwood twigs. I did not have a good camera and tripod, so all you get is this lame picture from my phone.
Finally, I do want to wish you all a very happy holiday season, and thank you for stopping by to read my blog when you find the time. I appreciate every reader and comment. And since I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow blogger this year for the first time (Brandi at Make the Journey Fun), I wanted to add a photo from my roll this year just for her.
See you next week, and after my break, see you in 2023!