Monday, December 7, 2015

In Honor of Euphorbia pukerrim

Is it really Christmas time? I asked myself that this evening as I looked the Christmas tree that I decorated yesterday. Every year the holidays seem to sneak up on us. I love Christmas and New Year's, the magic, the joy, even the hectic business of the all that we have to do. I must admit, though only to myself  (and now you), I feel myself slowing down. The week end was busy as Monday's Mosaic shows the highlights.

I devoted Saturday to setting up the village and decorating the tree. What a project the village was, taking me most of the day to assemble. I haven't photographed it yet; I'll share it with you next week. I did lay it out a bit differently this year, struggling to get all of the pieces on one small area.

For the tree, I drug out the container that held a lifetime of Christmas decorations, nearly a 100 years worth. I have decorated a pink tree for a long time, but this year I decided to give the grand kids an old fashioned Christmas tree decorated with their great, great grandmothers' decorations. I bought new LED lights in the traditional multicolors. No pink this year. I may even put the old fashioned tinsel on the tree. Dare I? Such awful stuff it was to clean up at the end of the season. Did your mom save hers to use year after year? Poor as we were, mom didn't. I have an unopened box that I am really contemplating opening.

Today I spent most of the afternoon with the little girls decorating cookies. What a kick that was. Their mom had already made the cookies, so we rolled out the dough, baked the cookies and let the fun begin. I just stood back when they frosted the cookies, directing them on the best techniques--that went virtually unheeded. The HG stayed home to watch the Broncos (10 and 2. Manning still out).


They are quite the little artists. I did have to remind them not eat the raw dough, telling them that the sugar would make they act goofy and it did as they began to get loud and silly. But we had a grand time. Notice the cookies are all fish? They also cut out a pig, a horse, a rooster, a bunny...., not your traditional Christmas cookies and that was just fine. 

Since I was early, I stopped at the Planetarium,  one of our favorite garden centers near the kids' house, mostly to kill time waiting for them to get home from church, but I did come home with a pretty, fresh wreath, painted in Waterlogue on the iPad for the center of the mosaic. 

Usually the greenhouse is full of our favorite garden annuals and perennials, but this time of year it is full of poinsettias. Using my iPhone I snapped these photos that I thought you might enjoy.

Some years ago I began buying two poinsettia plants from a local antique store. The proprietor, Gertie, had the most wonderful selection a deep red poinsettias, moderately priced. In those days buying two was a splurge, but I loved them so much. Gertie eventually closed the shop and sadly is no longer with us either.  I didn't buy any plants today because I found two gorgeous ones at the super market last week. But take a look at this variety of beautiful plants:

These deep red are my favorite. First brought to America from Mexico in 1825, they have become a standard holiday tradition. Generally they only last through the season, especially here in my home--I forget to water them often enough. Some who are diligent can get them to last through the year., thought they will lose their color.  Experts say to get them to bloom again they must have cool temperatures and darkness weeks before Christmas. Mine never last  that long.

Native to Mexico, the Aztecs used them as a source for their red dye.

In the 16th century, according to legend, a young girl too poor to bring a gift to the church to celebrate Jesus' birthday was told by an angel to pick the roadside weeds to place on the church alter. The weeds then produced a wonderful red flower.

In the 17th century the French friars in Mexico added the poinsettia to their Christmas celebrations. It is said that the star-shaped leaves represent the Star of Bethlehem and the deep red represents the blood sacrifice of the crucifixion of Jesus.

Now, I know where to find a pink poinsettia when I return to the pink Christmas next year.

Or orange?

Maybe blue?

Purple, perhaps?

Never have I seen such a variety of color. And yes the little nursery grows its own poinsettias.  They must use sets because the nursery lady said the plants are only about 3 inches when they start them.

Which on is your favorite? Actually, I'll chose the brightest red ones every time. And no glitter, please. In any color, though, the poinsettia is a beautiful plant.

Toxic, you ask? According to Wikipedia, it is not. A child weighing 50 pounds would have to invest 500 bracts or leaves to get sick. Some may have an allergic reaction to the leaves, but they are not poisonous. None the less, with a dog that seems to think he has an iron gut, I have mine out of his reach.

Poinsettias always get me in the holiday mood and since I don't buy a fresh tree every year, I feel that I can spend a little extra to buy very nice ones.

The semester at the university is over, except for finals this week. I won't meet with the students in the class, They will come to my office Wednesday and Friday to pick up their last paper and get their semester grade. I had so much fun; I really did enjoy my time teaching once again, but I have to say that it didn't take me long to realize that it was after all a job. Will I do it again? I don't think so. But who knows? I still have essays to grade and final grades to decide, so I am not done just yet. The end of the semester is always bitter-sweet. I have a general sadness that I won't see these unique individuals again, most likely, and when I have good, receptive classes I always enjoy sharing my knowledge with them. The sweetness: knowing that I have impacted the students' young lives in some minor part coupled with relief that the job is now over.

Santa comes next Sunday, so there so much to do get ready the Santa party. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks so much for visiting. I'll be linking with Mosaic Monday.  Make sure to pop over to Lavender Cottage to have a look. Have a wonderful week.


  1. Hello, your tree and mosaic is pretty. It looks like a fun time with the girls making the sugar cookies, YUM! The poinsettias are lovely, the dark red is my favorite color. Lovely images and post. Happy Monday, enjoy your week ahead!

  2. Goodness! I had no idea the Poinsettias had become so colorful! Such fun making cookies with the kids!

  3. Oh look at all those differently colored poinsettias...gorgeous and I would have to get a few. You had fun decorating those cookies...I miss that. And oh my 100 year old ornaments. I would have to put up a tree just to display those.

  4. I didn't make it to our nursery this year for their open house and wonder if they have all the wonderfully coloured poinsettias you're showing here? I've had pinkish ones in the past but like you, prefer deep red ones.
    The cookie decorators did an awesome job!

  5. A post full of joy Anne. Sounds like you had a good time decorating the tree - I would love some antique baubles but they ones I had were so brittle they practically disintegrated. I have never seen so many different coloured poinsettias - not really to my taste though - I much prefer the red ones. interesting story behind them I think I have read about this before. Sad to think your teaching job is almost finished but it sounds as if you enjoyed the whole experience again after your time away. Hope you enjoy the Santa Party sounds like fun.

  6. Those cookies look so YUMMY!!!! and Those poinsettia's are gorgeous!

  7. I just miss time with my mom.

  8. These are the best moments with grandchildren having fun with them making cookies for instance. I´m doubtful about the poinsettias, don´t like them so much and when I buy one it´s a deep red one, a real Christmas colour. As I live in a country full of commercial (glasshouse) growers, we have all those different colours too and the plants are really very cheap to buy, but......I'm not fond of them.

  9. Sweet photos of the cookie making and your photos of the various poinsettias are wonderful. I have never seen such a variety of color. Yesterday at the supermarket I saw the traditional red and there were some white. This year for the first time I even saw a specked one that reminded me of a bird's egg. I enjoyed the interesting information you gave and I guess my favorite will always be the red poinsettias. Thank you for visiting me. I have enjoyed your blog immensely :)

  10. Well, I can see why you think you're slowing down! You DO SO MUCH, Ann!
    The poinsettias are amazing! Happy cookie eating!