Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dickens Festival in Holly, MI

I've visited the quaint village of Holly, MI on several occasions and have blogged about it, but I've never been there for the Dickens festival until last Saturday, Dec. 13.

I made 2:00 p.m. reservations for Afternoon Tea at the Holly Hotel, and my girlfriend and I were on the road shortly after 10:00 a.m.   It was an unseasonably mild day, which was nice since festival activities were outside.  The village was beautifully decorated for Christmas.

Holly has a lot of history and Michigan Historic Sites.

There are three antique malls in Holly, and we shopped in two of them last Saturday.  The antique mall pictured below is in Battle Alley - a Michigan Historic Site.

There was outdoor entertainment throughout the day.  Below is a Brownie Troop, and the little girl in the blue coat and black hat was adorable.

~ Village Reenactors ~

~ Puppet Show ~

~ Ready for tea at 2:00 ~

We were given the lunch menu instead of the Afternoon Tea menu.

Lori and I chose Twinings Mixed Berry Black Tea.  The server brought a delicious herb bread and whipped butter as a starter.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, and a Petite Filet of Beef with Mashed Potatoes and Mixed Vegetables.

Dessert was a Chocolate Yule Log.  The photo on the right is the hotel lobby.

We were seated in the main dining room, which was very busy because of the Dickens Festival.

~ My girlfriend, Lori [R], and Me [L] ~

What a fun Christmassy Saturday!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Tea at Greenmead Historical Park

Last Thursday afternoon [Dec. 11th] I attended a Christmas Tea at Greenmead Historical Park in Livonia, MI.  

My first visit to Greenmead was in July 2013 for the celebration of Henry Ford's 150th birthday. You can read that post here.

~ The tea was held in the Alexander Blue House ~

~ A sell-out crowd ~

~ The room was beautifully decorated for Christmas ~

~ Festive table assigned to my friends and me ~

~ Dulcimer music ~ 

~ My tea friends ~

[L-R] Jennifer, Judy, Barbara, Linda, Me [standing]

~ Menu ~

~ Sandwiches ~

~ Bite-size Scones ~

~ Desserts ~

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Downton Abbey Season V Preview Screening

Sunday was a busy day, but very fun.  After the children's Christmas program we went back to Jeremy & Samantha's house for a few hours, then we were off to the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, to watch Downton Abbey's Season V, Episode 1 preview screening, sponsored by PBS.    

There was a lengthy line - or should I say queue - of excited fans on E. Liberty Street waiting to get in at 7:00 p.m.  Parking was horrendous.  We drove to the 8th deck of the parking structure before we found a space, and then discovered the elevator wasn't working!

Below is a daytime Internet photo of the theater.  Built in 1928, it seats 1700, and I think every seat was taken for the preview screening.  The theater is listed in the U.S. Register of Historic Places [2009]. 

Beautiful lobby decorated for Christmas.

Only one other time have I seen a movie theater with tea at their concession area. Impressive!

There were many men were in attendance.  Maybe they were good sports like my hubby who accompanied me, even though he had never watched a single episode prior to the preview screening.

The organ pictured below is an original 1927 Barton theatre pipe organ.

Several movie-goers came dressed in period costume.  The lovely lady below was seated in our row, and allowed me to take her picture for my blog.

Tickets were free.  You can't beat that!

The Downton Abbey cast was on the large screen until the preview began. There'll be no spoilers here except to say that Maggie Smith is still as good as ever!  She got several rousing laughs from the audience.  Tune in on Jan. 4th and take it from me, it'll be worth the wait!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The "Grands" Christmas Program

Yesterday my hubby and I drove to Chelsea, MI to attend our three youngest grandchildren's Christmas program at church.   Children make the Christmas season beautiful!

Grandson, Landon [L], going up on stage to ring his bell with the children's bell choir.

Landon [far left].

 Ellie [age 2 1/2] with her blue bell.

The older children's performance.

~ Isabella [R] ~

~ Isabella ~

~ After the Program - Ellie, Isabella and Landon ~

~ Jeremy, Samantha, Ellie, Isabella and Landon ~

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Reflection...

I first heard the true story, "Trouble at the Inn" several years ago.  It moved me to tears then, and it still has the same effect on me today.  The boy's name is Wallace Purling, from a small Midwest town in the United States. Though mentally and physically challenged, he grasped the true meaning of Christmas.  

This post is longer than my usual Sunday Reflection, but it's worth the time to read it. It's based on The Birth of Jesus recorded in Luke 2:6-7  "While they were there [Bethlehem], the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

"Trouble at the Inn"

Wally was nine that year [1966] and in the second grade, though he should have been in the fourth. Most people in town knew that he had difficulty keeping up. He was big and awkward, slow in movement and mind.

Still, Wally was well liked by the other children in his class, all of whom were smaller than he, though the boys had trouble hiding their irritation when Wally would ask to play ball with them or any game, for that matter, in which winning was important.

They'd find a way to keep him out, but Wally would hang around anyway -- not sulking, just hoping.  He was a helpful boy, always willing and smiling, and the protector of the underdog. If the older boys chased the younger ones away, it would be Wally who'd say, "Can't they stay? They're no bother."

And so it happened that the usual large, supportive audience gathered for the town's yearly extravaganza of crooks and creches, of beards, crowns, halos, and a whole stageful of squeaky voices.

No one on stage or off was more caught up in the magic of the night than Wallace Purling. They said later that he stood in the wings and watched the performance with such fascination that Miss Lumbard had to make sure he didn't wander on stage before his cue.

Then the time came when Joseph appeared, slowly, tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the inn. Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door set into the painted backdrop.  Wally the innkeeper was there waiting.  

"What do you want?"  Wally said, swinging the door open with a brusque gesture.

"We seek lodging."

"Seek it elsewhere."  Wally spoke vigorously.  "The inn is filled."

"Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain.  We have traveled far and are very weary."

"There is no room in this inn for you."  Wally looked properly stern.

"Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary.  She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest.  Surely you must have some small corner for her.  She is so tired."

Now, for the first time, the innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary. With that, there was a long pause, long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.

"No!  Begone!"  the prompter whispered.

"No!"  Wally repeated automatically.  "Begone!"

Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary, and Mary laid her head upon her husband's shoulder and the two of them started to move away.  The innkeeper did not return inside his inn, however. Wally stood there in the doorway, watching the forlorn couple.  His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, his eyes filling unmistakably with tears.

And suddenly this Christmas pageant became different from all others.

"Don't go, Joseph," Wally called out.  "Bring Mary back."  And Wallace Purling's face grew into a bright smile.  "You can have my room."

*  *  *

I so want there to be room in my heart for Jesus at Christmastime, and throughout the rest of the year as well. 

May God bless your week!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Gifts from my Kitchen

I enjoy giving gifts from my kitchen at Christmastime, and this year's first tin of English toffee was made yesterday.  

English Toffee
1 cup butter [2 sticks]
1 cup sugar
Dash of salt
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz. milk chocolate candy wafers [I use Merckens]
1 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds

Melt chocolate in double boiler.  Set aside.

Melt butter in large heavy saucepan on low heat.  Gradually add sugar, salt, and water. Increase heat, and stir constantly until mixture reaches the hard-crack stage [300 degrees on candy thermometer].  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Spread on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  

When toffee begins to set, spread melted chocolate evenly over entire surface.  Sprinkle with chopped nuts.  Allow to set until chocolate has hardened.  Break into pieces and store in container or tin.