The home stretch

Finally, off work until after Christmas. Expected to take it slow today but as usual, there’s always something to be done. Had to finish the Christmas cake and that meant making marzipan for the first time. And, it all worked out as expected!

The recipes I used for the cake and the marzipan are quite traditional. Not sure how it will all be received by 21st century folk but hopefully it is appreciated even though there’s less refines sugar in them. I’d have loved to try it before it goes to my sister’s tomorrow but it’s tough to take a piece of a cake and have it still look pristine. I’ll have to play the royal taster and give it try before handing it out to others.

Having some extra marzipan I decided to fancy things up a bit since I didn’t include covering the cake with royal icing. I used a cookie cutter to make some marzipan Christmas trees with red and green sugar for the top. Those ingredients won’t affect the taste and it looks a bit more festive. Note: the first photo was natural light vs. the low kelvin chandelier light in the second.


The weekend before christmas

Odd that it’s been a month since we’ve really stayed here for the full weekend but with all the events this time of year we always seem to have to leave early in the weekend. Tonight it’s the St, Louis Symphony Holiday concert, an event that’s guaranteed to put you in the Christmas spirit.

So we got here on Wednesday evening and I had to work all day Thursday and Friday which left little time to do a lot around here. I did get the carpet shampooed in the Laird’s Room and washed the remaining bedding so all that’s left from the “Soot Incident” is to clean off the upholstered chair in that room and it looks like that’s going to have to wait until next Wednesday.

We did get one of our Christmas presents delivered. A pair of counter stools for the kitchen. I tried finding some at the antique mall a bunch of times and finally settled for getting some from Wayfair. As has been my luck recently, one of them wasn’t built properly so I had to make a trip to Ace Hardware for screws and wood glue. Not a tough fix and other than that they turned out pretty well.

I also got to put a true tree topper on our Christmas tree. We’ve never really had one of these but there was a great selection at the Chicago Christkindlmart so I couldn’t resist bringing one home.


A Trip to Chicago

We spent Dec 9 – 12 visiting the Rapaport family in Chicago. We hadn’t seen Kathy’s sister since 2019 before the pandemic hit. It was nice to get away even though the case numbers post Thanksgiving and with the omicron variant emerging are going up fast. Kathy and I have both gotten our booster shots so we felt pretty good since we didn’t plan on spending a lot of time in large crowds. Carol, Steve and Max are all vaccinated too so other than a couple restaurant visits and a trip downtown to Garrett’s and the outdoors Christkindlmart (I went alone), our chance of significant exposer was low.

We had a wonderful time catching up with our northern family members. Great food, games and conversation. We look forward to doing this again next year… God willing and the river don’t rise!

Early, before opening on Friday morning. By 15 minutes before opening the line wrapped around the block!

Fireplace is working now but…

The fireplace in the Laird’s Room is wonderful but a bit finicky. It needs to be serviced each year, likely because propane doesn’t burn as cleanly as natural gas so there’s some soot buildup on the igniter. Finding someone to maintain it out here has proved a bit of a challenge but have someone now that can us in with a few weeks notice.

This year he showed up on Dec 3. It took about 30 minutes to get things going again that Friday morning and all seemed fine. It wasn’t until the next morning I realized that virtually every surface on the first floor was covered with a layer of soot! Floors, counters, carpets, window sills, yada, yada, yada. I mean everything. Long story short, the vacuum that our service guy used wasn’t venting right so blew all the soot from the fireplace into the bedroom and it travelled around the house from there.

So the great cleanup began. Mopping floors, doing laundry, cleaning furniture, counter tops and every other horizontal surface in the house. I had to take the comforter from the bed to the cleaners because it’s too big to wash here and told myself I’d need to bring the Hoover carpet cleaner here when we returned next for the bedroom carpet.

It took all day Saturday and most of Sunday to begin to get a handle on things. We had to cancel going home for the symphony and will reschedule that for sometime next year but I had to at least make things livable again so had little choice. The next week we are leaving for Chicago so won’t be back here until mid-December and I didn’t wanted that time to enjoy the Christmas season.

So things are much better now. To his credit, my service man offered to pay for a cleaning crew but I didn’t want it to come to that. In fact, I cleaned many things that probably have never been cleaned before and as such were long overdue for attention. Hopefully by Christmas this is just a bad memory and I’ll have a cleaner place in which to spend my long winter’s nap!

Fortunately I had a painter’s tarp on the ground right in front of the fireplace but you can see the soot on the carpet beyond that area. Something to cleanup when I return.