Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Road Trip - Part III - The 18th Century

Firecrackinmama's World: Christmas Road Trip - Part IV - Inside Colonial Williamsburg

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has truly made Williamsburg one of the best places to visit over and over again. We started going to Williamsburg regularly when there was hardly anything to do except walk along the dirt streets using our imagination of what it may have been like and eating the fine food in the Taverns. However each time we returned to this experience new buildings had been restored and re-enactments of historical events became part of the program. Both volunteers and employees of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation step into their characters and interact with guests as though they were in the 18th century. So for those of you who might plan to go there, brush up on your history.

As you can see above the British were in control of Williamsburg but the colonists still decorated for Christmas.

Issues surrounding the Stamp Act were discussed everywhere around town.

In the picture below a young man walking by posed for his picture.

He was very much into his character. Between the appropriate 18th century apparel and historical knowledge each of the diverse people we met along the way naturally refreshed our memories of historical events that led to this great nation. We learned long ago that our kids loved the engaging events that immersed them into the times thus appreciating what they have now to a greater degree.

I recall one trip, and should find the pictures, when my mother and all three kids were selected to fire the cannon. Our youngest had on a Mickey Mouse shirt, therefore was called "rodent". I think my mother was called the "worm" while the other two had nicknames as well. To be honest if hubby reads this Blog I'll be back to put the correct information in it. For now it was a memory to behold. The four of them lined up behind the canon while the Sergeant yelled out commands and informed them of their duties. They each did as they were told stuffing whatever it was down into the canon, another using the long stick to push it down even further and then the firing of the canon. Maybe I shouldn't describe what I remember. It's definitely clearer in my mind. The kids and my mother couldn't wait to come back. I don't think they have that for folks anymore.

Back to our stroll. We slowly walked along taking in each of the structures and their variations in decorations.

The wreath was made from evergreens and fruit. We were told that Thomas Jefferson would have had a fit if he had seen these fruit wreaths hung. He was of the opinion that fruit was a valuable food and should be eaten not wasted on decorations.

Maybe if he had seen how beautiful they were he might have made an allowance.

We definitely had to check out the Governor's Palace. It sits at the end of a mall area majestically reaching up into the sky and this day the sky was beautiful.

In Christmas Road Trip - Part IV - I'll be covering "The 18th Century Inside". For now though I'll continue with our stroll through Colonial Williamsburg.

As you can see the streets are now surfaced which have probably been that way for the last couple of trips.

This picture brought back memories of another year when we visited during the summer months, my mother, the kids, hubby and myself were eating at King's Arms when a very nasty thunder storm came up. We had been seated and awaiting the arrival of the food when the electricity went out. Fortunately candles on tables were always lit but the kitchen ran on electricity. We were part of the last sitting to be served. The storm continued through dinner. Normally no cars were permitted on the Duke of Gloucester Street but that night because of the storm they were. Hubby and my oldest daughter ran through the storm to fetch the car and pick the rest of us up. It was still raining cats and dogs when we ran down the front steps and jumped into the mini van. One of my lasting memories was how muddy the street was - hence I guess they decided to pave it. However when we arrived back at the motel there was no electricity there either. To solve that problem they handed out glow sticks - the kids loved it!

The Capitol sits at the end of the Duke of Gloucester Street. Unfortunately when I took this picture it was raining but you can still get an idea of their decorations.

We passed the famous Raleigh Tavern on our way down to take the picture of the Capitol.

I only recall touring the inside of the Tavern once however behind the Raleigh Tavern is the best bakery in the world and a stop we make more then once. On this trip the kids placed their order before we left. To return without their goodies was not an option. Pretzel knots, cookies and root beer were among the requests.

We continued our stroll through the afternoon, broke for dinner and then resumed. The pictures really don't do justice to how beautiful the homes and businesses looked.

Dinner at Christiana Campbells

As we headed back to our bus stop, yes I did say bus stop, we happened to catch the end of the fife and drum parade.

This officer took off heading for a warm place. He said he was one very cold soldier and I have to say our entire stay was very cold. We waited for the rest of his corp.

We headed on back to the hotel for a good night's rest. Wait until you see tomorrow!

Still have to advertise my "Ghosts of the Revolution" 2010 calendar

For now have a Firecrackin Great Day!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Our Blizzard of 2009

In another life time when I was young, very young, it seemed to me that it snowed here in New Jersey every winter. I'm sure I'm wrong and am really only remembering the significant storms that allowed me to earn some pretty good extra money shoveling the neighbors' sidewalks. Back then people didn't have snow plows or snow blowers readily available; they didn't work seven days a week or past five o'clock; and they thoroughly enjoyed a reason to be cooped up in their houses all day. It was a time when people enjoyed life. Perhaps that sense of feeling was because I was very young in the 50's, not long after World War II and during the Korean War.

When I married and had children, hubby and I started some of our own traditions related to snow storms. We always had a fire in the fireplace and he shoveled while I made hot chocolate and meatballs and spaghetti. Obviously the hot chocolate was for after he had shoveled and on many occasions I helped. We would bundle the kids up in their snow outfits, like the kid on Christmas Story, Ralphy's brother, and take them out with us. When my oldest daughter was around three years old it snowed so deep that hubby made a snow chair for her to watch us shovel.

We've definitely had some pretty good snow storms over the years. 1996 was our turning point. Age was sneaking up on us and shoveling was becoming very difficult so we made the kids help. I mean after all why do you have kids? :) Eventually they realized that shoveling was hard labor and in an attempt to preserve their mom and dad, they bought hubby a snow blower. What a wonderful and thoughtful present - he couldn't use it until two years later - never snowed.

Hubby has used his snow blower several times now. Every year around Thanksgiving he starts it up to make sure it will work and fills the gas container. He did it this year too. However our middle child son stopped by about a week prior to our 2009 blizzard and found he had run out of gas right in front of our house. You guessed it he used the snow blower's gas! Not only that he was caught filling his tank as hubby was coming up the street just in the nick of time. That was not a good thing at all.

As the local weather stations carried the anticipated news of our most recent storm's fury, we geared up. I went to the grocery store while hubby got more gas for the snow blower. We stacked wood on the inside deck and battened down the hatches. My greatest concern was that the next day I had an appointment to have my hair done. I was determined to go as Christmas was only a week away!

I normally wake up early. I wish I could sleep in but I developed this biological clock back when the kids were young - I needed some time during the day for myself. At any rate I was once more awake very early Saturday morning. I looked out and sure enough the snow had started. The weather people had said it wasn't going to get really bad until around noon. That would give me plenty of time to get my hair done and back home. So I leisurely enjoyed my coffee while working on my mother's Christmas gift.

Around 7:30 a.m. I went for another cup of coffee and happened to look out on our back deck. It was lighter out now and I could see. It was definitely snowing and it was accumulating rather quickly. I think the storm was ahead of schedule as by 8:30 our back deck looked like this. Hmmm...

No lie - 8:30 a.m.

It was awesome. From here I took pictures throughout the day and night.

I kept watching the snow pile up on that table. Even better check this picture out.

That would be the step down to the above deck. I could barely get the door opened.

By now I was into making my rum cakes and meatballs. The fire was softly crackling and the silence the snow brings was deafening. The kids were all safe in their respective houses. It was definitely an enjoyable day.

Not too much longer after I took the above updates, the blizzard part of the storm showed it's beautiful face.

This is our neighbor's house behind us. The snow was piling up out front too.

It was absolutely beautiful. The snow was unspoiled presenting as a soft warm blanket over our small part of the world.

By now the house was filled with the aroma of rum cakes. The fire was still softly crackling and hubby and I were enjoying a totally free day.

As the afternoon moved on I decided it was time to make the meatballs. I had the blinds opened and watched the snow continue to accumulate.

It was definitely getting deeper as I had to push the snow away with the door to open it.

Our neighbors next door were as socked in as us.

Hubby and I both took naps. By the time we awoke it was time for our spaghetti and meatballs with a Caesar Salad and of course garlic bread - I had red wine too. Then it was time to check on our storm.


Had to check the front of the house too.

In case you're wondering, there are three steps that lead up to our porch. As you can see they no longer are.

The storm was still in force as we went to bed for the night. After my first sip of my morning coffee, I braved a look at what was to face us for the day.

We decided the back deck was on it's own.

The front however was another story. Hubby wanted to know if we could get the snow blower out of the house. I had to lean out the front window to take a picture.

That was enough for him to get the snow blower going and hopefully make some progress in digging us out.

Going out the front door was a different story.

No problem. I planned on shoveling the porch and steps. Why is it sometimes things just don't go as you plan? I went into the garage to get the shovels but quickly found that I had never moved them from the shed to the garage. This meant going out the back door and forging my way to the shed through the very, very deep snow :(.

Scuba dog was gung ho to help me out. It was one time I didn't have my camera as she quickly exited through her doggy door and plopped in over a foot of snow. She quickly recovered and started down where the steps once were. I think that's the only time I've ever seen her panic a bit. She went completely under but recovered quickly. I had to run and get my camera.

She saw me following her path down the steps and quickly realized I was coming into the yard. I could see it in her face - she wanted to play ball. When I finally had to blaze my own trail I found the snow came up to above my knees. All I could think was that if I lost my balance and fell, I wasn't sure I'd be able to get up again. I finally made it to the shed but opening the door was another matter. I really couldn't believe how much snow we had really gotten.

Scuba dog truly loves snow. At one point she plowed through it, her head buried beneath the snow. When she came up she was covered in white. I played ball with her. She was able to retrieve it each and every time.

Due to extreme problems this snow storm brought to our area, work was canceled for the two and a half days prior to our Christmas break. I can't remember a Christmas ever that I was so well prepared and rested.

Exactly one week after our blizzard we had over two inches of rain. Our peaceful beautiful white landscape has been washed away. However we did have a white Christmas.

For now have a Firecrackin Great Day and a Boomin Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Christmas Road Trip - Part II - Food Porn

Traveling back in time to relive the way it may have been is awesome. Although the times then were more tumultuous then now, the ambiance of Colonial Williamsburg restores the mind to the true meaning of Christmas. Many of the customs we associate with the season today were yet to be practiced in the 18th century. However the restoration of multiple taverns provides great food and entertainment from another lifetime. I'm sure the presentation of food was nothing like it is today. See what you think from our food porn pictures!

Hubby made all the eating reservations with King's Arms our first night and Christiana Cambell's the second night. Lunch was a walk-in at Chownings

King's Arms Tavern

Ah, my King's Arms' Mint Julep - somehow I don't think
it looked like this in the 18th Century

Hubby's Rum Punch - yum

Our table was set for two but I thought this other table set for a larger party coming gave a better presentation of the atmosphere in which we ate.

Relishes and delicious biscuits and rolls were served first.

This has changed over the years. The
servers used to come by your table and place
a spoonful on a small plate. As you can see we
can help ourselves now.

I didn't take a picture of the biscuits but they were very good. Ordering dinner is always a big deal. I usually ordered the duck but it wasn't offered this year. The closest I could come was the Colonial Game Pye - yep, I ate Donald Duck, Bambi and Thumper. It was difficult but very, very good - sorry guys.

Tender Venison, Rabbit, and Duck
with tavern Potatoes, braised in a fine Port Wine Sauce
with Mushrooms, Aromatic Vegetables, and Bacon Lardoons
put forth under a flaky Pastry Crust

Hubby stayed with his usual and ordered Roast Prime Rib of Beef.

The favourite English Joint with Popovers,
grated fresh Horseradish, and Claret Jus

Normally we would not have dessert but since we were planning to walk around after dinner we went ahead and made the decision to over indulge.

Everyone's eyes widened when hubby was served his Meringue Shell-Baked Egg Whites served with Vanilla Ice Cream and fresh Strawberries. Tell me this isn't food porn??!!

I stayed with my usual - Williamsburg Pecan Pie!!

I wasn't so good about taking food porn pictures at Christiana Cambell's. We were so hungry that I actually forgot. I did however take a picture of hubby's Rum Cider and of course my Mint Julep.

Christiana Campbells

Rum Cider

To start our trip off home in the right frame of mind, hubby set up reservations for a brunch at King's Arms. Oh, how good could it get.

I started off with one of their famous Bloody Mary's.

followed by of course Eggs Benedict - hubby got that too.

Oh, was that a great meal!!

Then it was off for a 5-6 hour trip home.

In A Christmas Road Trip-Part III I'll show and tell you about the seasonal spirit we enjoyed while walking through both Colonial Williamsburg and Merchant's Square.

Meanwhile I'll give you a sneak peek at some of the ways I'm using the beautiful images that we took while there.

New Williamsburg Season's Greetings Card card
New Williamsburg Season's Greetings Card by FCM_Christmas
This is a business located in Merchant's Square. I thought it was a great shot so I made into this Christmas card.

As we strolled along we noticed that most houses and businesses decorated with fruit wreaths. This is just one of many that we took a picture.

Then of course I love my Ghosts of the Revolution 2010 - 12 month calendar

For now have a Firecrackin Great Day!!!