December 2010 Archives

So Long 2010

2010 was a good year for Clan McWessels. But this is really just an excuse to post this happy picture I took on our trip to Grand Coulee Dam earlier this year.


Lewiston Winter Spirit

We visited the Lewiston Winter Spirit display Christmas Eve.

Winter Spirit, perhaps most well known for the display of lights on trees in Locomotive Park, was started by my awesome Uncle Larry many years ago. It was initially himself plus a few friends and volunteers hanging lights on trees. These days is a full-fledged organization with a board-of-directors, corporate sponsors, and all the rest. It has grown in size each year such that by now every tree in the park is lighted in one way or another. Larry always tells us how much he enjoys working with the "red shirts" -- local prisoners on work release who help decorate the park.

I was particularly excited to bring my fancy camera and try out the new tripod I received as a gift earlier in the day.


The park's locomotive is a huge draw, especially for kids. They get to pull the rope and ring the engine's bell. The lights are animated so that it looks like the wheels turn and clouds of smoke rise above the boiler.


If you find yourself in the region between Thanksgiving and New Year's, you should make a point to visit the park at night!

Colin's Christmas Crafts

Colin has been spending some time at a winter break kids camp, where he's been getting his craft on:



They were supposed to make gingerbread houses, but the dough wasn't ready in time, so they made graham cracker houses instead!

Grandma Tillie's Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Okay, still in the recipe sharing mood, this time from my Dad's side of the family. A Christmas tradition at Grandma and Grandpa's house was shrimp cocktail. I try to make it every year. The hardest part is just finding all the ingredients at the store.

1 quart tomato juice 1 quart clamato
24 oz ketchup (2) 12 oz seafood cocktail sauce
3 oz horseradish sauce 1 cup chopped celery
2 lbs cooked, tiny shrimp salt, pepper, Tony Cachres cajun seasoning

Getting the right shrimp can be tricky. Ideally they should be fresh, not pre-cooked. Don't be fooled by a bag that says "small shrimp." You want the tiniest shrimp possible, so that three or four of them will fit on a cracker. You might have to go to two or three stores before you find the right kind.


Cook the shrimp and then mix it all together in a large pot. Makes about a gallon.

My Dad likes his shrimp cocktail with a little extra punch, so he adds more than 3 oz of horseradish sauce, probably twice as much.

Let the mixture soak overnight, in the refrigerator. Serve chilled with Ritz Crackers.


It is unlikely that a single family will be able to eat it all before it begins to get funky, so plan to share it with friends!

McChristmas Lights 2010


That is an enhanced version of this photo, but I still don't like it as much as last year's, probably because of the clouds this year.



DW says "Astrophotography is hard!"

It's cold, it's dark, it's cloudy, it's late, and the earth won't hold still! My li'l zoom lens is at the limit of its range, and this is about as good as it gets.

2010 Christmas Card

Merry Christmas from the McWessels Family!


Grandma Bertha's Christmas Cookies

Today we visited Grandma's house to check another Christmas tradition off the list: baking and decorating sugar cookies! Santa hats are mandatory, but smiles, apparently, are optional.


Before starting, Colin read the following blessing:

Gracious God, giver of every good gift, bless these cookies we are about to prepare and share. Make of our home a little Bethlehem, a house of bread, where your love and forgiveness are always celebrated and honored. Open our hearts to welcome one another as you welcome us at your table; open our hands to serve one another as Christ served us; open our spirits to care for, comfort and forgive one another as you do for us without limit or condition. Bless us with your joy as we bake and decorate these cookies today. We pray that our efforts will bless those who eat these cookies prepared with love. We pray that Grandma Kopczynski's generous spirit surround us today as we make a mess of this holy kitchen. We offer this prayer in the name of Jesus, the ever present guest in our home.

The recipe comes from my Grandma, Bertha, and has been handed down via the family cookbook:

2 eggs 1 cup sugar
1 cup margarine ½ cup sour cream
1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp lemon extract 1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour  

Cream the margarine and sugar well, followed by the eggs and sour cream. Then add the remaining ingredients.

Ideally you should refrigerate the dough for a few hours or overnight so that it is cold and easier to work with. Roll it flat (being generous with additional flour) to about ¼ inch thickness.


Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Don't forget to "dust" the edges of the cookie cutters in flour and give them some extra wiggles before extracting.


Place the shapes onto a greased (margarined) cookie sheet. If all is well you'll be able to shake the dough out of the cutter and plop it onto the sheet. If the dough is too sticky you'll need a spatula to move it.


Bake for 10 minutes at 350°F. If you have Grandma's touch, they'll come out just right. Not crispy, but firm enough to hold shape and apply frosting.


Whip up some basic frosting with powered sugar, milk, and a little butter. Apply sprinkles right after the frosting.


Pro-tip: If you're trying to show them off (rather than just eating them) take the picture before they suffer being transported in a box!

Trip Report: San Francisco

I spent three days in San Francisco at a (poorly attended) conference, which was at a fancy hotel at the top of one of the downtown hills. I had some free time on Thursday afternoon so I walked through Chinatown toward the wharf. Since the weather was decent I thought I might rent a bike and ride across the Golden Gate bridge.

I set out about 4pm, knowing that the good light would almost certainly be gone by the time I got to the bridge. On top of that, some fog was flowing in to hide the bridge.


I took my time getting to the bridge, so it was pretty dark.


The fog relented a little and the city became visable.


After dropping off the bike near the wharf I rode a cable car back up the hill toward the Ritz-Carlton hotel (with the large blue Christmas tree).


Hand-me-down Nativity

Many years ago my Mom gave me the nativity set that was always on display in our house this time of the year when I was growing up. She probably knew that it's not the kind of thing I'd go out and buy on my own. It really means a lot to me and alway brings back good memories of past Christmases.

I remember that it always had a little blue light bulb in the top. And the plastic socket for the bulb must have been missing some pieces, or not been the original, because it just sort of hung there loosely. Today I went to the hardware store and bought a blue bulb and a night light and hot-glued the light to the back of the manger.


Mom also liked to add straw to her display, to give it an extra boost of authenticity. I didn't go that far yet. Also it used to have more moss on the roof. And I'm not quite sure how the angel is supposed to work. It hangs on a thumbtack, but always tilts to one side.

For a long time I kept the original box, even though it was pretty worn out. It still had the $9.95 price tag. I finally gave up on the box when we moved here, but liked it so much that I took a picture of it.

Thanks Mom!

Sleeping Under The Bed


A few mornings ago Colin woke up early, grabbed his warm blanket and Vandals pillow, and made himself a bed under the bed. He's been sleeping there ever since.

He reads using the light attached to the bed above the mattress and turns it on and off with the power strip.

The Barn

Today I finally did something I've been thinking about for a long time. There's an old falling-down barn that you can see on the way to Pullman. I can hardly drive by it without thinking about taking its picture.

After a couple weeks of snow and cloudy skies, the sun was out for most of today. I had to drive to Pullman a second time to pick up some furniture, so I took my camera. Just a shot from the road. I wasn't brave enough to trespass through the snow. Maybe some other time.


The Lost City


A flip through book.

A 2 page story.


Once opone a

time there was

a lost lost city

nobody livd in

it but later in

the days somebody

named it Idaho

sttes of America then

people started going

to America it got crowded

(rotate a half way

arownd to see more)


then the revolutionary

war then abaot 1,000,000 people

were in america they

had more and more

stuff but then even

later in the days

there was abaot 4,000,000

people Now they stopt coming

to america even people

were at other conteres asha

was the crowded one

anartca was the

little one today we have 1,000,000



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This page is an archive of entries from December 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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