Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Record Food

I love the title of this post--Record Food. It can refer to the record amount of food we have eaten in the past 5 days. Monday was soup and pie day. It was delicious, and the scales are showing it!

It can also refer to recording music. We practiced all day Monday, and spent Tuesday recording. We were very pleased to finish five songs! Afterwards we left the studio for a day on the town.

We took the family to Hillwood Mansion, to visit the beautiful home of Marjorie Post.

It was so elegant all decked out for the holiday season!

The spacious dining room was all set for Christmas dinner.

There was even a Christmas tree in the bathroom! It's giving me ideas for next year!

We finished with a great meal at Tony's Hibachi Grill. Nothing like a little fire and smoke to whet the appetite!

The food was delicious and plentiful. I'd feel more guilty, but it's the holidays! We'll worry about our waistlines in 2015!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pearl Strings Family and Friends Concert

The Pearl Strings had a full house Sunday evening for their annual family and friends performance. There is nothing like playing for a friendly crowd! We loved it. Here are some of our songs!

I loved Birthday of a King, because I got to play the cello while Jen played the clarinet!

This was about the fastest we had ever taken God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings. It really took Barb and me for a ride! We loved it and, happily, both ended at the same time with the singers!

Every year we find new and beautiful Christmas songs we've never heard before. One Small Child was a perfect example!

From the sublime to the ridiculous! You have to be from Baltimore to truly enjoy Crabs for Christmas!

Don't Take Down the Mistletoe was another new song for us. We loved the sentiment of wanting the holiday feeling to last all year long!

We haven't had snow yet this year, but this version of Let it Snow got us into the spirit. I especially enjoyed showing off my expertise with 6 bells in hand and one under the armpit!

We called this song The Whitest Christmas, but I believe it is really The Lord's Bright Blessings. It is my favorite song from Mr. Magoo's Christmas carol. Barb sings the part of Tiny Tim as the Cratchett family sits around the table and dreams of a brighter Christmas, but also showing gratitude for the gift of family.

The Big Bush Basement Band (B4) meets monthly and is open to anyone 12 and over. We were down a few members on Sunday, so Barb and I played along with them.

This year they played This Tree's on Fire at the Pearl Strings concert. Joannie sang the lead as Joannie Cash!

I'm glad the Pearl Strings have a family and friends concert. It gives Whistling Prairie their one opportunity to perform live, now that we only have a week together to learn and record our album for next year.

Whistling Prairie gave a sneak peak at next year's Christmas CD. We had just enough time to put together a few numbers. I Heard from Heaven Today gave us the perfect chance for the girls to harominize. We are joined by our newest band member, Nolan Hauta on guitar. I get a solo on the accordion, an instrument I don't play! It was great having the band together again!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Belated Christmas Day

We celebrated Christmas day on the 27th, while the rest of the world was out at Kohl's exchanging their gifts.

Crystal won the prize for the coolest wrapping job. She made our names in wrapped wire on each gift. That's some wrapping you can't throw away!

After opening our gifts we were serenaded by Amanda plying new Christmas songs on the accordion.

Brittany and I both got hammered dulcimers. It was a two person job tuning them both up.

John and Nolan figured out how to pair their new wireless headphones.

After we finally got dressed we moved down to the basement for our first Whistling Prairie session. We worked on Heard From Heaven Today and Go Tell the Fox, both great song choices by Crystal.

Afterwards, because it was my fake Birthday, everyone got in the kitchen and cooked dinner for me. I liked that a lot!

The Mexican pozole turned out even better than last year's attempt. It is a fun Christmas tradition we've borrowed from John's family.

Someone had too much fun! Imagine my surprise when I downloaded my pictures this morning and found the family had taken pictures of me sleeping by my dulcimer instruction book. It was a Merry Belated Christmas and Birthday!

Belated Christmas Eve

Friday when the rest of the family arrived we celebrated a belated Christmas Eve. It was great to be all together again!

We had a small program where Amanda and Nolan played Sylvia's Christmas Carol for us. Amanda also showed us how her fancy accordion works.

I sang The Little Cradle Rocks Tonight in Glory to see if they thought singing lessons this year had helped my voice. Although it appears I'm not ready for Carnegie Hall, I have made significant improvement in confidence and intonation!

Ed read the Christmas story from Luke 2. Crystal stayed awake the whole time, despite working on only a few hours sleep, a time change and an adjustment from working the night shift the night before!

Afterwards we introduced Nolan to the joys of Farkle. We had a rollicking game, full drum rolls and loud screaming! Crystal was a big winner because she was willing to risk it all!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in a Low Key

I had a happy Christmas birthday yesterday, which started out with Amanda and Nolan making waffles for us! We didn't open our presents, as we're waiting for Brittany, John and Crystal to arrive today.

We had a bit of a musical day, getting ready for Whistling Prairie to arrive for our marathon recording session.

Amanda and Nolan practiced for a special duet. Coda is saying, "No, Mom, not the accordion and the trombone--TOGETHER!" It was a bit disturbing for her!

We took a leisurely walk along the fire trail. Despite a little slipping and sliding from the mud in the path, it turned out to be a great day to be outside. Coda was especially happy after being cooped up on Christmas Eve!

Amanda and Nolan gave us a little concert in the afternoon. They are playing a Finnish Christmas song in tribute to Nolan's ancestors. His last name is Hauta, and the family immigrated from Finland in the late 19th century.The song is entitled Sylvia's Christmas Song.

We recorded the song in the basement. Nolan is not exactly wearing the cone of shame here, but we felt bad to exile him to the kitchen, as the trombone was loud enough to bleed into the other mics when they sat together.

We ended the day with a lively game of trivial pursuit, in which, I'm happy to say age, experience, and luck of the draw triumphed!

We opened one Christmas present, from our neighbor, Kay. It was a Christmas angel sparkly snow-globe lava lamp. It was the perfect present to open, because we could just sit on the couch and stare at it and watch the colors slowly swirl and change. It felt like Christmas. We're excited about tomorrow to have Christmas again!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Capital Christmas Eve

We celebrated Christmas Eve in our nation's capital. It was a misty, rainy day with very few tourists out and about.

We wouldn't have been there, either, except for the fact that we're delaying our Christmas celebration till the 27th when Brittany, John and Crystal will be here.

Fortunately, Amanda and Nolan arrived Tuesday and we were able to spend the day showing Nolan around. We started with a walk through the Roosevelt Memorial.

The rain was pretty constant but not cold or blowing, so it was fine being outside. Amanda and I had wet feet by the time we visited the Martin Luther King Memorial.

We got to go inside the Lincoln Memorial and dry out for a bit. We happily met a nice tourist couple who really knew how to take a picture. They lined us up perfectly for this shot overlooking the reflecting pond and the Washington Monument!

The Vietnam Memorial looked especially poignant with the rain drops on the granite.Even with the overcast we could still see ourselves in the wall!

None of the fountains are on in the winter, but the WWII Memorial was still impressive! I caught Ed peeking in on this photo of Amanda and Nolan!

Ed and I did some car shuttling while Amanda and Nolan went to the American history museum. We were able to park right across from the Smithsonian. We then joined them in the museum. They were able to also see the National Archives, the Air and Space Museum and the Library of Congress, all in one day! It was nice for them that we were able to drop them off and pick them up  a little. We were happy to oblige and give our feet a rest. We ended up with over 19,000 steps!

On the way home we stopped at the LDS temple outside Silver Spring, MD. It was fun seeing the spires disappear into the mists. The rain stopped, and we were able to walk around without umbrellas finally!

We saw Mr. Krueger's Christmas and The Nativity. They also had some creches on display as well as some beautifully decorated Christmas trees.

By the time we came outside it was dark, and the temple and the Christmas lights were all on. It was beautiful!

The seemed to have more lights than normal. Either the mild weather gave them a lot of time to get the lights up, or the mild weather let us enjoy walking through them more. Either way, we enjoyed the display very much.

And what Christmas Eve wouldn't been complete without a Mexican dinner! We stopped at Cafe Rio on the way home. It was the perfect end to a really memorable and unique Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pearl Strings in Ellicott City

The Pearl Strings had a gig at the Ellicott City Ward Christmas party Saturday night. A friend of Jen's noticed she had a band because of a Facebook link, and invited us. We were happy to go. Anywhere someone will listen we're happy to sing and play!

Helen brought Bina along and we were thrilled to have our own roadie for the evening. She was very helpful!

We played six songs, ending with a sing-along. We had some nice comments afterwards and were happy the ward enjoyed the program. We could tell they liked it because they smiled and tapped their toes!

Bells at Carrolltown

I played the bells at the Carrolltown Elementary School Thursday. It was so much fun to go back to school for a day. I got to listen to the orchestra and band perform first.  It was fun seeing what a great music program they have here.

The choir teacher was particularly impressive. I loved her entire program. She had four of us ring handbells on one song, but in addition she had kids in her 4th and 5th grade before school choir playing instruments, singing solos and dancing. They were fantastic! I wish I had a child so she/he could sing with them!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

There's Always Time for Romance

The Book It Sisters and Friends met last night to review Intertwine by Nichole Van. I hosted it and prepared a Bush version of High Tea to go along with the theme of the book. The last scene takes place in the Pump House in Bath, the quintessential place for High Tea.

After filling our plates we gathered around the TV where we did a Google Hangout with the author, my very talented niece, Nikki. It was fun asking her questions about the book and publishing process. 

The book was a perfect December pick, a fun time travel romance with a spunky protagonist! 

Happily, the second book was released last month, so if you haven't had your fill of romance and adventure, you can purchase (or download) Divine, as well! I enjoyed it just as much as the first book in the series!

To check out the Book it Sisters review of her first book, go to