Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Still 2011

Christmas Day is over but the sentiments, visiting and good eating are still going on.  Sad how ordinary life crops up in the middle of the fun by requiring cleaning and laundry.  All the ads seem to be pushing us into 2012 while I am still savoring (read getting used to) 2011.  Early this year we were saddened by the death of one of Ron's cousins, Glenn Reece, then at the end of the year lost Ron's mother, Thelma Reece.  Two large losses yet the Lord has carried us through and we are having a great time sharing about these people and old times with some of Ron's cousins & family.

Mother asked me what I would really like for Christmas and I requested a hanging needle holder like she made me last year.  This is the one she made for my longer, 36-40 inch circular needles.  The hanger broke so this year she reworked the top a little.
Lots of room in each pocket so I can put several needles of the same size in each one.

This year I wanted one for 16 -24 inch lengths.  Mother pulled out fabric and zipped out this one for me.

Perfect!  Here is a little closer view of the pockets.
No more having to dig through packages of needles to find the right size then straighten the cables!

By the way, I have learned a trick to straighten the longer cables.  I use a microwavable heating pad, get it hot, clothespin each end of the needle to a sturdy rug and lay the hot pad on top for a few minutes.  Take off the hot pad and let the needle cable cool while pinned straight.  It has worked every time for me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Sweets

I inherited my dad's sweet tooth.  He loved candy, cakes and pies year round but most especially at Christmas.  For some reason we seldom make fudge and other candies except at Christmas.  I was about 8 when our family tried making taffy.  Dad always bought saltwater taffy at the Texas State Fair in Dallas but this time Mother cooked it up and Dad had my brother & me helping him pull it.  I remember how sticky and messy it was but it tasted yummy.  Don't remember ever trying that again.

Another of Dad's favorites and one of mine was fruitcake.  My friend Knitrageous wrote about the famous Collin Street Bakery fruitcakes.  They are really good but Dad's favorite was one his mother always made and Mother, then I, followed suit.  My grandmother would not tolerate wine or liquor in the house except for the bit of wine to season her fruitcakes.  She would wrap the cake in cheesecloth and saturate the cheesecloth with wine.  Then it was wrapped in foil and set aside for several days.  If she thought it was needed, a little more wine would be added.  I have used wine but also used apple cider for a teetotalers version.  Any fruit juice with a little "tang" would work.

I'll share the recipe for Dad's favorite, a dark fruitcake.  I like it very much but my favorite is actually a white fruitcake.

Fruit Cake  
Oven - 275 degrees 
Mix together:
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar - packed in cup
4 eggs 
Beat vigorously for 2 minutes. 
Sift together:
2 cups sifted flour
1 tst baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves 
Stir into oil mixture alternately with 1 cup fruit juice (pineapple or orange). 
Mix 1 cup more sifted flour into
1 cup shaved citron (Mother & I leave out & substitutes green cherries)
1 cup chopped candied pineapple
1 1/2 cup whole candied cherries
1 cup raisins (light are better)
1 cup chopped figs
3 cups coarsley chopped nuts
Pour batter over fruit, mixing thoroughly. 
Line 2 loaf pans with brown paper.  Pour batter in pans.  Place pan of water on lower oven rack.  Bake cakes 2 1/2 - 3 hours in slow oven - 275 deg.   
After baking let cakes stand 15 minutes & remove from pans & cool on rack without removing paper.  Cover & store to ripen.  If cakes are to be kept a long time remove paper & wrap in wine soaked cloth & store in cool dry place.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Loving Mother-In-Law

Thelma Lee Britton Reece

Born, June 19, 1915 in Franklin Co, AL, died December 2, 2011 in Garland, Dallas Co, TX.
Random bits about the woman I knew for more than 47 years as my loving mother-in-law and friend.
Thelma was the youngest child of William Clifton Britton and Mary Amanda Louvon Upton Britton.  Her mother died in the flu epidemic of 1918 when Thelma was 3 and her father and oldest sister died in the measles epidemic of 1920.  Their grandmother and aunt placed the surviving four daughters and one son in the Buckner’s Orphanage in Dallas soon after their father’s death. 
About age 19 when Thelma left the orphanage she joined her sisters in West Texas, working as a waitress in small town cafes in the oil field.  There she met and married Forest William Reece June 18, 1939.  They had Forest William Reece, Jr, Ronald Edward Reece and Angela Kay Reece-Wilson.
Thelma loved music and was in a girl’s singing group while in the orphanage.  She also learned to embroider and decorated some beautiful pillowcases and tablecloths.
She learned a lot of cooking skills from her mother-in-law and enjoyed trying out new recipes.  I enjoyed working with her in the kitchen when we were making some ordinary family meals and when we put on a big spread for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Most of all she loved her family and was so proud of her children’s and grandchildren’s accomplishments.
Thelma was also proud of me and my crafting skills.  She bought fabric and asked me to sew clothing and comforters.  She appreciated butterflies and when I sewed a lapghan using a fabric with butterflies it became a daily-use object. 
She loved both her family of brother and sisters and her extended Reece family.  She was happiest when she was giving and doing for others.  She had many friends in the oil field camps where they lived and in Andrews where she lived from 1966 to 2001.
There was so much more to Thelma than wife and mother.  I am so glad to have known her and had her in my life for so many years.