The weather reports did not look good at all! A wintry mix of ice, snow, rain, and fog was predicted for Saturday, December 14, 2014, the day of my Christmas Open House. Nevertheless, I prepared as if the day would be sunny and seventy.
I had already set up the diminutive Christmas decorations that I have collected just for the gallery space. Some I just picked up in August at the Brown County Humane Society Barn Sale fundraiser and some at a neighbor's Moving Sale. Others, I have had for years, some since childhood.
Since I like deer, despite the fact they eat my garden produce and flowers, I have taken to collecting decorations of deer. A sparkly gold deer hangs in the window. Small wooden deer are set on the ledges of other windows. A ceramic deer arches to the sun on another ledge.
A couple small, golden Christmas trees are strategically placed and a small table top tree is the centerpiece on the food table. A string of tiny lights wind around the bowls and platters of yummy, organic, "living foods". A couple of small nativity scenes are tucked on ledges and tabletops. The big nativity scene with porcelain figurines, made for me by my sister, is in the house and too large for the gallery space. I had made a large wreath
with fresh cut pine boughs and blue ornaments for the outside of the
building and set out the lighted wicker reindeer on a stump out front. A beautiful, bright red poinsettia sat on the floor.
I love the Open Houses because I get a chance to prepare foods I don't normally eat as part of my daily diet. Being a raw foodist now for over ten years, I eat a pretty simple diet of organic, fresh fruits and greens. The dehydrator is the raw foodists "oven" cooking the food at temperatures under 105 degrees and used to create those more exotic dishes. I usually don't eat many dehydrated foods because, well, they make me feel dehydrated.
But the Open Houses give me an excuse to try new and fun recipes as well as tried and true ones. So, I whipped up a batch of the ever popular, spicy, Mexican flax crackers that are always a favorite. I have other flavors I can make like an Italian cracker and a curry, Indian cracker but the Spicy Mexican one is my favorite. I also made a batch of addictive, candied, cinnamon walnuts. Got everything going in the dehydrator by early Friday afternoon to "cook" overnight and be ready Saturday morning. Then I made a big bowl of guacamole that is great with the flax crackers. And cut a variety of fresh veggies and fruits.
I also made a cranberry relish using my Grandmother Marsh's recipe of cranberries, apples, and oranges run through a Greenstar juicer with the blank plate on. She sweetened with sugar but I steer clear of refined sugars and used Agave Nectar. YUMMY! I have noticed that fresh cranberries are only available in the produce section during the Christmas season so it is nice to take advantage and enjoy them while we can.
So all was set and ready. I even turned the heater on the night before to make sure the gallery would be nice and toasty. The temps have been so cold the past week, dipping as low as zero one night! Luckily, Saturday was downright balmy with temps well above freezing.
My neighbor, Tim, drove over with his snowplow to clear the driveway a little bit after noon. Normally, I don't bother plowing as I can get in and out just fine and wear good boots coming and going but I like to have it cleared when expecting guests. He wasn't sure he would be able to make it so I was totally surprised when he pulled in.
And, yes, several groups of people did come! I am so gratified that people came out in the weather to attend my Christmas Open House. One gentleman called in the morning to make sure it was still a "go" and then drove up with a friend from Madison, Indiana! He said the drive up was stunningly gorgeous. I have often noted that the most challenging weather yields the most magnificent scenery.
A big THANK YOU to everyone who attended. I loved seeing everyone and sharing some Holiday Cheer! And to everyone who could not make it (and I am one who would stay tucked in at home by the wood stove when the "weather outside is frightful"!), I want to extend an invitation to please come for a visit at your convenience. And to those who live too far away to visit, please check out the new paintings on my website at www.CharleneMarsh.com
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and Merry Winter Solstice! Have a blessed holiday season and safe travels.