Friday, January 1, 2010

The House With All The Lights

There is a house in my town that is often referred to as, "The house with all the lights." It is called this for good reason. It is actually three houses combined with the one in the middle showcasing the main display. This is no ordinary show of Christmas Spirit and excitement throughout the season.

Mike, the owner of the main house, begins his work of art in September and spends 5 hours a day for 9 weeks putting the lights and decorations on display. His wife also helps him in the task putting in long hours as well. Mike works the "graveyard" shift--which my daughter couldn't get a grasp on that meaning he worked from about midnight to about 8 the next morning. No, she was set on the term "GRAVEYARD." He works maintenance at the local Casino. I digress. Mike and his wife spend 9 weeks on the houses along with some help from their grandchildren and children.

The house with all the lights has a show with music and lights set to the music. The show begins with, "O Come All Ye Faithful" and a half size manger scene, complete with hay in the front part of the garage. Next, comes "Let it Snow" complete with a snow machine for the kids that blows tiny collections of soapy bubbles to mimic snow falling onto their delighted heads. The fun doesn't end there. The show continues with more lively songs as you stroll around between the three houses and across the street trying to see every display. From children making snow angels, to snowmen, and a North Pole scene.

The grande finale of the show is a moving tribute to our service men and women. A slide show of family they have serving and have lost along with special thanks to each branch of service. During our national anthem, the garage door closes to reveal the American flag. If this isn't enough, feel free to make your way to their backyard, but make sure you look at their electric meter first. It whirls around so fast you can barely keep up with the marker. The city actually graciously gives them a stipend for the 45 days that the display runs.

In the backyard you see a train that is the first battery operated train that could support up to 30 pounds. Directly above the train set is Santa and his reindeer in flight on their yearly journey. Santa and his sled are about 1/3 the size of real life. The reindeer are the animated lit reindeer. Eight reindeer with Rudolph in the lead. In the middle of the train display a tree made entirely of lights.

The doors are open, please come in and see our display. Into their living room you are welcome to see their 8 foot tree with its lovely twinkling multi-colored lights and beautiful decorations. Turn to your right and see the entire village and two trains that run simultaneously throughout its entirety. Next to the tree is another Nativity. This one is truly beautiful. The Wise Men in their ornate costumes have fantastic detail. The outer wall of the mission looks like what one might imagine the scene to have been all those many years ago. A plaque below the Nativity reads: We hope all our guests who enter our home leave as Friends.

And friends they have made, far and wide. Mike and his wife share their home and displays with over 32,000 visitors each year. The week of Christmas they see at least 9,000 people. These numbers do not include the people who simply drive by. And if you drive by, you are missing a lot. They have had visitors from Nevada, Arizona and even New York! The three houses have 125,000 lights and 1300 extension cords. He uses one quarter of his garage for those extension cords.

Nine weeks and 45 days later, Mike begins the dismantling process which takes him about 3 weeks. He told me every year he moves parts of the display into different places so that guests will find them and think or say, "Hey I don't remember that !" Next year...errr this year, he plans to create a second show so that he can alternate between the two. Here is just a small taste of his display(not mine) complete with a view of that meter.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Year In Review

It is true what they say, that the older we get the faster time seems to fly by us. Christmas came and went so fast that I barely had a chance to even see it. My baby is now 4 years old. I have been married 16 years now. It feels like "forever!' haha. So what has happened?

I made a new friend. And because of her, I have been inspired to keep up my blog. Hmmmm is this a good thing?
Kristin made honor roll twice
Emily was student of the month
Ryan had some spills and thrills
There was a family reunion
School started back up with no time to recover from vacation
Halloween had lots of fun and new adventures
Thanksgiving was huge!
December has been crazy.

We are in the final stages of escrow now. We should be closing within the next two weeks. It's a grand way to end a decade and start a new one. I am not sure about making resolutions I can't keep, but I am sure I would like to improve upon myself so that next year I can truly say, "Wow! Look how far I have come!"

I hope you all have a safe and happy new year!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Peanut Butter Cups

If you dared attempt the butterfingers, then the peanut butter cups will be a breeze. While they are also time consuming, there is no cooking involved--except for heating the melting chocolate of course.

Here is what you will need:

Peanut Butter
Powdered Sugar
Graham Crackers
Melting Chocolate
mini muffin cups
mini muffin pans

2 Cups peanut butter
1 cup margarine (softened)
1 pound ( 3 & 3/4 cups) powdered sugar
1 package (11 sheets or 1 & 1/2 cups) graham crackers crushed fine

Mix together

Roll into logs then cut into small pieces. I don't have a measurement here. I just kind of eyeball it. Place a small amount of melted chocolate into the bottom of the muffin cup. Place the peanut butter center inside and cover with melted chocolate.

Like the butterfingers, I put them in the fridge for a few minutes to help with cooling. This recipe makes over 100 cups.
For some reason this year, my peanut butter center mix was a bit dry and crumbly. I simply added butter (melted) about a 2 tablespoons to reach the proper consistency....think playdoh.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Homemade Butterfingers

As promised I am going to be sharing some candy making with you this week. Normally these candies are made before Christmas, but this year that was just not an option. We got a call on Saturday morning that the appraiser was going to call us and make an appointment for Sunday. As it turns out, he is leaving town this week so it had to be done the next day. No rest for the weary. All of us scrambled all day long to clean and make the house presentable. We ended the day with some much deserved pizza. Sunday came and he quietly did his job. I have no idea if it went well or not. This appraisal is for the VA. They need to see if the house is worth what we are paying for it. It is. But they get the final say. Then after he left, I got the urge to start on the butterfingers.

The butterfingers take at least two hours to make. It's time consuming yes, but I promise they are so worth it. Here is what you will need

White Karo
Peanut Butter
Melting Chocolate
Candy thermometer

3 1/4 cups of sugar
1 cup water
1 3/4 cups of white karo
4 cups of creamy peanut butter

Put peanut butter in a heat resistant bowl--I use metal--set aside. In a large pan pour sugar, karo, and water. Bring to boil. Let boil to "hard crack" stage--just under 300* Pour mixture over peanut butter. Stir with wooden spoon; quickly. Notice there is no picture of this process. Please use an oven mitt to hold your bowl. This stuff is 300 * and sticks like hot glue. After mixing, lay and spread out on a flat surface. (Spray your counter or work area with cooking spray--this will make clean up worlds easier!)

Near the 300* mark

Looks kind nasty I know. Work fast as it will harden quickly. Use the pizza cutter to cut into squares
It makes a lot!!

Dip into melted chocolate. I like to put a layer in the fridge for quicker cooling.
They are soooo yummy!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christams Rocks!

I have never been so unprepared for Christmas as I was this year. Okay, so we are buying a house. Like that should make a difference. The week of Christmas involved a lot running around, signing papers, making copies, writing checks, scrambling and juggling the money and bills. So who had time for anything Christmas??? I spent the 23rd and the 24th wrapping and finishing up last minute shopping. I felt harried at times. But the thing is, Christmas comes just the same. Remember how the Grinch tried to steal Christmas? And it somehow or other it came just the same.

I didn't get a picture on Christmas morning, but I did take one on Christmas Eve before Santa's visit. The kids had specific instructions not to wake us before 6:30 and not to wake their brother. I did say that if he was awake that would be ok. Well, according them he was up at 5:18. They did their best to keep it to 630. Next year we may have to push it back.

Most of Christmas is on video. And I am far too lazy to upload all that and edit and so on. So instead I will bore grace you with some photos.
Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
Traditional Christmas cookies
One cool Scooter

Monsters vs. Aliens on Blu-Ray and in 3D
Pretty as a picture

What did Santa bring you?