I Feel It in My Fingers
(Originally posted May 9, 2013)
December started to pass, and we started to settle in more and more to our new home. We enjoyed exploring Orange, walking in the park by our apartment, and meandering up to Orange Circle occasionally. We also made ourselves at home in terms of figuring out the closest locations of all of the stores and restaurants that we frequent.
The first weekend in December, there was to be a tree lighting ceremony in Orange Circle. They promised music provided by some of the local church choirs as well as a telling of the Christmas story before they lit the tree (which was already being lit every night, but I guess this would make it “official”).
The day of the events (which was incidentally the same day as Tracy’s Fantasmic! audition) was cloudy and dreary. It kept threatening rain but then just misting instead. There was a notice on the City of Orange website that the tree lighting would be canceled in the event of rain, but they finally declared it would happen as planned when it still hadn’t rained by mid-afternoon.
Tracy and I bundled up and headed over to the Circle when the festivities were about to begin. More than just a concert, this was an entire street fair. Complete with carnival games for the kids, booths selling food, and local businesses having representation. Tracy and I bought burritos from one of the stands that were there in support of a local school or church, and we enjoyed a very authentic Mexican dinner.
The entire event made it feel like we were part of a small town. While Orange has a population of over 100,000 and is actually quite medium-sized, the setup just seemed like something they would have in, say, Mayberry. Tracy and I joked that we felt like we had moved to Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow. As we walked around, people near us would strike up conversations with each other and find out that they went to the same high schools, knew each other’s siblings, etc. It was a fun atmosphere to be in.
When it was time for the actual celebration to start, people began to sit down in the hundreds of chairs that had been put into the square overnight. Since the seats were all wet, people were clamoring to find the driest ones possible. Tracy and I thought we had lucked out finding seats that were only damp, but I still found myself with a wet rear end when I sat down.
The concert portion of the evening began with local kids’ choirs and a community orchestra. The choir was what you would expect of elementary-aged kids, so it was fun/funny to watch. The orchestra was quite good though. Most importantly, everything was lit up and felt very festive.
After the first groups were done with their performances, someone from the local government came onstage, welcomed everyone, and counted down to the lighting of the tree. Contributing to the hilarious small town feel, the councilwoman warned that because of the day’s wet weather, no one was sure whether the tree would actually light successfully, so when it did, everyone cheered extra loudly.
At this point, Tracy and I vacated our damp seats to go check out the tree and pose with it.
We were starting to get a little too cold from our wet derrieres, so we decided to head back to the car. The festivities were still going strong, however, with a narrator reading the Christmas story and a good choir singing in the breaks. I imagine it was a lot like the Candlelight Processional at the Disney parks (which we will hopefully get to see this year!). As we walked away, the music was still echoing through the little downtown, and we really felt like a part of the community for the evening.
Back home, we finally caved in and bought some furniture for our balcony so that we could enjoy being outside in the still-fantastic weather. It’s been interesting to adjust to the “seasons” here because contrary to popular belief, they DO exist to some extent. As December passed, the temperatures definitely did start to drop. The highs were more frequently only in the 60s, which sounds absurd to call “cold” to anyone living in a place with real winters, but did feel a little chilly as compared to the usual 70s. We even had to wear jackets occasionally!
The patio furniture we found at Lowes were the cheapest chairs and side table we came across, but they were functional and relatively comfortable, so they would do the job. We quickly got accustomed to sitting outside whenever possible.
In addition, we also discovered that many of the residents in our complex had hummingbird feeders to attract the fascinating little critters. We decided to make the investment (a whopping $5) and see if we couldn’t attract some hummers of our own.
While most of our neighbors seem to have hummingbirds who are content to live amongst each other peacefully, our feeder was immediately claimed by a little territorial bugger who chased off any other birds who tried to come around. We named him Larry and would always begrudgingly greet him when he came around, knowing that he was scaring away any other hummer friends we might be making. It’s extremely difficult to get a good picture of a hummingbird, but here was my best effort to photograph Larry.
In a way, he reminded us of Stupey Doodle. He was adorable and filled the void for a pet that we were looking for, but he was just a little mean-spirited and didn’t want to return our affections. Instead, he just screams at us whenever we’re outside and encroaching on HIS feeder.
Inside, we had a FUN time (read the sarcasm) trying to figure out how to use our ancient oven. We tried baking cookies and found that they burnt to a crisp because the temperature knob is off by about 50 degrees. Once we bought an oven thermometer and discovered the discrepancy, we were able to make some better cookies.
One night in the middle of the month, Tracy and I played a game of Disney Sorry! on the floor in front of the tree.
I played as green and truly had the dream team (Dumbo, Bambi, Pooh, and Simba). Obviously I won with that crew.
In addition to our lights inside, we decided to make our balcony festive and decorate with some lights out there.
There was a decoration competition among the complex, and our measly lights looked like child’s play compared to some of the lengths our neighbors went to. I wouldn’t have expected such elaborate displays in a condo complex, but people still managed to do everything you would see in a neighborhood of houses including the giant inflatable lawn ornaments. We vowed that maybe next Christmas we would be able to do something a little more elaborate.
We continued to get a little more creative with our desserts at home since we couldn’t afford to get Disney snacks as often as we’d like. We made peanut butter cookies and some delicious crepes.
We also began watching our yearly lineup of Christmas movies. Tracy and I love Christmas movies. They are probably some of our favorite movies period. I’ll reveal our whole list a little later, but one of the ones that got our season rolling was A Charlie Brown Christmas. We just love the dancing scene.
As Christmas approached, Tracy put on these candy-striped nail stickers that she had gotten for free from one of the deal sites the previous year but which hadn’t arrived in time for Christmas. They were fun but they didn’t last too long…
We decided to make some Christmas cookies with the holiday on the horizon. I swear we’re not gluttons; all the desserts from this post were spread out over a month or so.
Tracy’s uncle had given us one of his old Mickey cookie cutters while we were in CO, so those had to be the primary cookies. We also bought two other cookie cutters at Michaels.
After the cookies were baked, it was time to decorate.
This one was my prized creation.
The cookies were all delicious and a great dessert to add to our holiday season!