Gini's Research Toolbox

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Christmas wishes to all of you~



~ Happy Holidays and warm Christmas wishes to all of the genea~bloggers and your families ~ and to making many new memories in the New Year for generations to come . May all your genea~wishes come true ~

~The Webb Family~



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Victorian Santa : A visit from Saint Nicholas card is from: The Graphics Fairy

Joyous Noel card is from: The Feathered Nest


Thank you both for such beautiful images.


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All other images are held and owned by Gini Webb 2009~


Victorian Christmas card is from my Uncle Adi. Frohe Weihnachten tag is from my cousin Marion, and in the two lower corners on each side are the inside and back of a Christmas card I made in 2007 that holds a square piece of chocolate inside.




Monday, December 21, 2009

Advent Calendar ~ Christmas Music



Christmas music was always a part of our Holidays when I was a child but I do not recall what particular artist or songs played. My mom was and is very much into classical and choir music so I am sure the music would have been of that genre and very German.




I do remember getting my first record player for Christmas and I know the one record I wanted was "Frosty the Snowman" and I also remember getting "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas".





For me as an adult, my favorite Christmas/Holiday music is the "Manheim Steamrollers" and their version of Silent Night is my favorite song. Manheim Steamrollers versions of traditional Christmas music is done beautifully and is wonderful to listen to - every Christmas I bring out each and every CD I have of theirs to listen to. I have just about all of them.



Music is a big part of my life year around but Christmas music is special and I love listening to most all of it. While I clean or decorate for the holidays - at times I will put the cable music channel on, there is a channel dedicated to just holiday music with a variety of old and new and in-between. It's fun to listen to. I have to say that I very much love listening to Christmas Choirs and each year attend Church Christmas shows.





Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Calendar ~ Christmas Gifts




I remember as a child, I didn't place alot of importance on gifts. Don't get me wrong, I was just like all the other children, but I just didn't expect much in the way of presents . Maybe it's the way I was brought up.




For as far back as I can remember, it was just mom and I. Mom and my stepfather separated when I was young. Mom always made sure I had gifts and usually gifts I wanted or needed. Spending time with my mom and enjoying the spirit of Christmas as it is intended to be, meant much more to me. Mom and the memories became the gift.


I do recall three special gifts that I received as a child that are quite memorable:



Abt: 1959
I wanted a baton and I was so proud to get one! I ended up in a few parades twirling my baton with blisters on my feet from the new white majorette boots.








I wanted a record player. I was so happy when I unwrapped the present to find the neatest record player. I remember the color being a minty green! Mom had given me several records to go with it. The record I remember the most is "Frosty the Snowman". I played that record over and over! abt 1959 >>



My Oma's home with a few relatives I don't have names for. I am sitting next to mom holding a little mini stein I was given as a Christmas gift. It had a photo of my birth city, Augsburg, Germany.




The third and most memorable gift was the trip that mom and I took when I was thirteen years old to Germany for Christmas. What a gift that was in itself. Making memories with all of my German relatives was an experience I will never forget.





Augsburg, Germany




I had been wanting a pair of ice skates so badly. My Oma and mom had made sure I got them ~ they were beautiful! To me they were special because they came from my grandmother, my mom and while I was in Germany. To me, they were different than American ice skates. At some point on our trip, mom took me to an outdoor ice skating rink, it was the best Christmas gift I could have ever imagined. I was a pretty lucky girl.




Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of those skates and the skates have come and gone. I actually had those skates up to a few years ago. I am sorry I had let them go, however, those skates are etched in my memory forever.



I love giving gifts, always have. I love to see the expression on my daughter and grand kids faces, or others when you know it's just the right gift. That's what it's all about, again, the experience becomes the gift.



I also like to participate in a program for children that are in need of clothes and toys. It's such a good feeling knowing that a child out there will have a new jacket to stay warm by.






Photos held and owned by Gini Webb 2007



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday ~ Brookery Elliott~Ewing




1949 ~ 2005
Brookery Elliott~Ewing

On this day four years ago, Brook passed away suddenly. We miss you deeply Brook, may you rest in peace.

This photo was taken just hours before Brook passed, who would have known. Her photo was taken at work for her ten year celebration that was coming up. Brook is my daughter's step mom.

Original of photo held by her two daughters Mashell and Victoria and her son, Myles. My daughter and I have a framed copy under my framed generation chart, Brook was a big part of our family.



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Advent Calendar ~ Christmas Cookies ~



~German Spritz Cookies and Nita's Banana Bread~

Christmas Cookies are a very big part of our Christmas. In November, mom starts baking and stores them in tin containers until a week before Christmas. Mom would have platters full of each type of cookie on the table for when friends and family stop by.

My favorite cookie as I had posted about in the Advent Calendar Holiday Foods post, is mom's Spritz Cookie! They are so good. I am a hardcore tea drinker, when I get to mom's, the electric kettle goes on, mom and I sit and chat while I enjoy several Spritz cookies. These cookies always bring back such loving memories of Mom and home.

Mom still uses a cookie press that she brought with her from Germany when we came to the states. I have tried to make these cookies. It's pretty comical ~ the modern cookie press I have is a nightmare to use and my cookies come out disastrous each time! Until I inherit the German cookie press, I leave the Spritz cookie making to mom.

Mom's German Spritz Cookies

1 cup of butter (2 sticks) softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup toasted sliced blanched almonds finely ground

Optional: toppings (sprinkles, cherries, etc.). In the last few years, mom has dipped half of the cookie in chocolate, which is my favorite.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cream butter, add sugar, beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and extracts. Gradually blend in flour and almonds. Using either a cookie press or pastry bag, pipe different shapes (mom makes an S, or a round or straight 3" cookie, it's up to your imagination) onto un-greased cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes or until a pale golden color. Remove cookies and cool on wire racks. Decorate as you please.


Enjoy ~

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I have also started my own baking tradition: Banana Bread. It's not a cookie but I wanted to share it here anyway. It is the best banana bread I have ever tasted. The recipe is from my childhood best friend, Sandy's mom (my second mom), Nita. This recipe is a huge hit around our house and I take a loaf to our friends that have a Christmas morning breakfast every year at their home. Nita's banana bread is wonderful and each time I make it, it brings a smile to my face with many wonderful memories. Thank you Nita, I love ya!


Nita's Banana Bread


(published with permission)

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 or 2 cups sugar (I use 1 cup and its just right)
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all together, then add:
1 1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 8oz can of crushed pineapple with the juice
3 mashed bananas
Chocolate chips (optional - I always add chocolate chips, the are a nice addition.)

Bake in a greased and floured tube or bundt pan at 350 for about an hour. Keep checking with a toothpick to make sure you don't over cook it. Makes 2 loaves.


Enjoy~




I don't have any photos of mom's cookies or Nita's banana bread. As they are made this year,  I will have photos to share.














Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent Calendar ~ Holiday Parties ~

As a child, I don't recall mom having holiday parties. I do know that we would have close friends over for a traditional turkey dinner and opening our gifts Christmas Eve, but not what you would call a party. Mom knows how to entertain too, she would have a full on dinner, and everything would look beautiful from her German tablecloths with Christmas china to the Christmas tree and decorations thru-out the house ~ I do remember that.

Mom did say that after I left home she would always have holiday parties at her apartment complex, thanks mom you wait till I leave!

My husbands employer would hold quite lavish Christmas Balls. We wouldn't attend every year but every few years we would get formally dressed up ~ hubby in a tux and all! I always enjoyed just sitting back observing and people watching! This particular group would always be interesting with lots of stuff going on!

My (former) employer always had their Christmas parties in January and always held at the same restaurant: The Butcher Shop. We would rent the back room, the food was excellent. I chuckled when reading Amy's post over at We Tree and her description of her husbands employer, "There was a ton of dysfunction in that place" was an exact description of our Christmas parties! I too would sit back and observe at all the drama unfold in amazement. Come Monday morning, several would just stay in their offices and be very busy! Thank you Amy for giving me the perfect description, I was searching for the words!

As for parties here in our home, we really don't have any. Our culdesac does get together almost every year. We each bring a dish to share. Sometimes if it's not too cold, we will bring chairs and set up tables right out in the street with a big fire pit in the middle. If it's too chilly, we will meet at one of the neighbors home. We just attended one two houses over last Sunday and it was nice to chat and catch up with everyone instead of just waving as we all back out of our driveways in the morning! We have a tight neighborhood and it really is more like a big family.

Christmas Eve, all three girls come over with our grand kids and we open gifts. It's easier this way because they are all grown and have their own families and traditions now and Christmas Day is their time to do that. For dinner I will make a big pot of chili, making it casual and simple.

Advent Calendar 2009

Advent Calendar ~ Santa Claus~


Santa Claus....in our home, it was St. Nicholas. To be honest I have very little memories of Santa Claus. That I recall, I did not write a letter to him at the North Pole, nor did I get one from him.


I do know that at a very early age, intuitively I knew that Santa was not real! Especially when you would see one in every shopping mall. Knowing this, I never said a word to my friends or other children at school, I didn't want them to know that I knew and also I didn't want to ruin it for them.

Growing up it was just mom and I. She worked alot of hours so that we had a good life. Mom always made Christmas special and I know she worked very hard to make sure that I had a Christmas to remember and several gifts ~ she was my Santa and I am forever grateful to her. For me, it was not about the gifts, it was about being with family.


With my daughter and my grandchildren, Santa is alive and well and we all believe!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Advent Calendar ~ Day 5 ~ Outside Lights




The beginning of Christmas lites ~

In 1882, an associate of Thomas Edison, electrically lit a Christmas tree for the first time.

In 1903, the first set of lights for a Christmas tree were offered to the public by General Electric.

In 1906, about the first time figural Christmas lights were introduced to the United States, imported from Austria and Germany.

In 1910, General Electric begins to change the shape of their Christmas lamps from traditional pear shape to perfectly round.

A full timeline (1800 ~ 1970) and history of Christmas lights are available at this great site.

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I don't have alot of memories of my stepfather putting up outdoor Christmas lites, my memories mainly consist of interior decorating. I know he did put lites up, I just don't remember seeing him actually doing it.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

As a child and well into the 70's, I remember the sort of lites that were used: a C 7 or C 9 lamp, the NOMAS or MAZDAS famous bubble lites in bright colors. These would be the ones that my stepfather put up as well as others in our neighborhood. Kids use to steal them because they would pop when thrown on the ground!


I know that these lites were also used on Christmas trees as well, in fact, my father-in-law still has a set of these lites that he uses on the tree every year! He is very old fashion and loves his lites. Each time I see them, it's a flashback in time! Christmas lites have certainly come a long way.

Currently and reluctantly, my husband does put our outdoor lights up. He waits until the last minute too! We use the icicle lites and they really do look pretty. Our neighbors put up their lites so our cul-de-sac is very well lit.

Each year, we take a drive with our grand kids to a neighborhood known as Jingle Bell Hill in El Cajon that goes all out! It is absolutely beautiful. In Chula Vista we use to have Candy Cane Lane, now replaced with Christmas Circle. I do love outdoor Christmas lites, this year, I am bugging hubby to put ours up earlier than usual. I of course always have my Christmas wreath on the front door.

Advent Calendar 2009