Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advent Calendar-Christmas Music

My grandmother could play the piano, and she played with spirit! My mother played the piano even better than that! At Christmastime, my mother drug out all her Christmas sheet music (suffice it to say there was a LOT). Silver Bells, Jingle Bells, Let It Snow, Frosty the Snowman and more. While growing up, I also played, but it wasn't something I enjoyed as much as my mother and grandmother did. But I love the memory I have of them playing this piano.

The piano pictured here was made in 1914 and has been in my family since about 1935. My grandmother, Esther Durfee Fitzwater, could play the piano with passion! The Fitzwater family farm house burned down in the early 1930's and my grandmother lost her piano and of course all the family photos in that fire. They rebuilt, but my grandmother needed another piano, so she bought this 'used' one from one of the neighbors who were having as especially hard time during the depression. She then gave piano lessons to help pay for the piano! Family story has it that my grandfather, David Holten Fitzwater, was none to happy about this purchase! My mother grew up playing this piano. (Her first goal in life was to be a concert pianist, but that didn't work out, so she became a nurse instead.) When my grandfather, David Holten Fitzwater, died, the family lost the farm and my grandmother and mother moved into town to live with my aunt, Francis Agnes Durfee Gassaway. Francis and Esther were sisters, but not friends. These would be hard years on my grandmother, and music was a way to keep herself happy. When my mother, Celia Jane Fitzwater, was settled in her own adult life, she got this piano, and I grew up with it in my childhood home.

After my mother died in 1976, my father banished the piano from the house as he couldn't look at it. It went to a cousins home and sadly saw some abuse after it left our care. It took 25 years and help from an uncle to get the piano back. Because of my mother's brother, David Durfee Fitzwater, I got my piano back! I paid a small fortune to get it here, and an almost equal sum to get the playing mechanism repaired. It is loved and wanted here! The top is filled with family photos of all sizes and eras, and the music is beautiful. My daughter is to receive this piano when I'm done here. She is a music teacher and she too is passionate about the music. I love this piano for the memories it holds in my heart, most especially at Christmastime.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oreo Truffles

Today was the day to make Oreo Truffles and a double batch of pumpkin bread. You can find the recipe for Oreo Truffles at Thomas MacEntee's site, And I helped. (He calls them Reindeer Balls.) They are wonderful! If you do use the white chocolate to drizzle over the top, use 1/2 to 3/4 of a tbsp. of white crisco to thin the chocolate so that it will drizzle. If the white chocolate gets hard, it's over cooked and you need to start again at a lower heat for less time. About the time I got the hang of the drizzling, I'd run out of truffles!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Food Traditions at Christmas

Thomas MacEntee over at "And I Helped" blog got me to thinking about family food traditions at Christmas. When I was growing up my mom did all kinds of sweets, much like Thomas does at his blog. One of the favorites was fudge, and after the fudge was done, it was always put in this crystal serving dish, ALWAYS. Mom also did Peanut Brittle, Divinity, pies, cakes and more. This was the first year in a very long time that I even thought about doing the fudge. Now that I've read all those wonderful recipes that Thomas has, I am in a baking mood! Look out neighbors, this stuff has to go somewhere! Thanks for the inspiration Thomas! My house really does smell good!!! Here are photos of the serving dish filled with fudge and mom's recipe book.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

China for the holiday meal

Does your family bring out the crystal and china for the holidays or other special events? It is tradition in my family to bring out these dishes.

I've never located another piece of this set, and it's not from lack of trying! :) I have registered with every china replacement facility I can, none of them have ever found a single piece of this pattern. My kids fear washing these dishes as none of them want to be 'the one who dropped' a single piece! Can't blame them, but I pray none of us is every 'that one.' This is a beautiful setting of 12 (!) with more pieces than I've ever used, but I'd still like to know if there were other pieces that I might not have. The set originally was my mother's wedding china pattern back in 1956. I recall my parents talking when I was a child about my brother dropping a cup and getting it replaced at that time.

If you ever see this pattern, I'd sure like to know about it! Here is the back of the dinner plate with the pattern number.

It says Fukajawa, ARITA, Pattern No. 804. (Made in Japan and handpainted.)

Chocolate Fudge Cookies

From the recipe box of Celia Jane Fitzwater Brinkley, 1932-1976. For the record, my mother loved sweets, and this one has its share of splatters on the page, so I'm guessing it was one that was made often enough!

Chocolate Fudge Cookies
1 ½ C flour
4 eggs (unbeaten)
2 C sugar
2/3 C shortening
½ block unsweetened chocolate (melted)
1 C chopped walnuts
2 tsps vanilla

Mix shortening, sugar and add the 4 eggs. Add flour & vanilla and last add melted chocolate and walnuts. Mix. [Her directions say to pour in large flat pan. You can chose a cookie pan or whatever other item might fill this need.]

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or more. When done and partly cooled, cut into squares.