Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's WHATEVER Time or Christmas Comes to Lilydale

It's that time again to share The Whatevers photo and our own creative storytelling take on it!

It seems like time has flown by since Mama and Papa made the decision to move our family to Lilydale, NY. So many visitors, most importantly Auntie Esmeralda and her two daughters. That was a huge surprise for us all! I think Mama and Papa have accepted their arrival and enjoy having them here. I love having other girls to play with around the living quarters of the hotel, not just my brother.

Fall has come and gone and Christmas is right around the corner. Mama and Esmeralda have been busy getting the hotel decorated, cookies baked and all the necessary preparations. Even though they would be humming and singing as the busily worked I could tell something was wrong…they couldn't hide it. It seems since moving to Lilydale I can see what others are thinking…it's a weird feeling and I try to hide it.

I was soon to find out what the worry was about. Grandma Effie, a widow and her sister Belinda, my maiden great-aunt announced they would be coming for a Christmas visit. Mama  was worried because Grandma never thought she did anything right and Esmeralda hadn't seen her mother since she ran away with the Gypsy prince. I wasn't sure about them, they seemed larger than life to me…they were very stern and really disliked noise and fun. They would say that children were "to be seen but not heard".

They arrived dressed up like the "Queens of Sheba" …at least that's how Mama described their outfits. Grandma Effie and Great-aunt Belinda expected everyone to wait on them. They were stern with us, even when we were just sitting. I dreaded their arrival just like everyone else in the hotel. The only good thing about their arrival is they would bring with them my favorite Christmas treat.

Christmas finally arrived and after opening our gifts a very grand dinner would be served. I didn't really remember what we had to eat because I was saving room for after dinner desserts. There would be roasted chestnuts and dried figs, a variety of cookies and a huge plate of my favorite, STRUFOLI, a Neapolitan dessert that is traditionally prepared at Christmastime by my Grandma Effie.

Although the time they stayed with us was tense it seemed like they were happy to have Esmeralda back. Of course they spent several hours in adult conversations that we were always sent out of the room. Grandama tried unsuccessfully to convince Mama and Papa to move back to NY city. She told Mama and Papa that Lilydale was not the place to raise children with all the strange going's on. Everyone had a sigh of relief the day Papa took them back to the train station. Mama and Auntie Esmeralda fell into each others arms laughing and giggling and we went back to all our mischievous fun before the visit. Christmas had come and gone and we did survive the visit.

Here is the recipe for STRUFOLI. Since my grandmother never wrote this recipe down I was able to find this recipe from Franco Lania }.

In Italy, Italian home cooks traditionally make large quantities of these tiny honey balls for friends and family. When one visits relatives during the holidays, a plate of struffoli often is brought along as a gift to spread holiday cheer and in keeping with the theme of Christmas as the season of giving.

Struffoli: (serves: 10-15)
Ingredients: for the dough
Sugar - 1 cup
Butter - 2 oz. (unsalted)
Eggs - 5
Vanilla - 2 teaspoons
Flour - 4 cups
Baking powder - 2 teaspoons
Lemon - 1, grated
The honey syrup:
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Honey - 16 oz.
Cinnamon - 1/4 teaspoon
Vegetable oil - 6-8 cups
Candied mixed fruit - 1/2 cup, chopped
Sprinkles - 1 tablespoon
  • In the bowl of your electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment in place, blend together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. This should take 5-8 min on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl down from time to time as needed.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.
  • Add the vanilla, flour, baking powder, grated lemon zest and blend well until a soft dough is formed. (If dough seem to sticky, add a little additional flour in order to achieve a workable dough that will not stick to your hands.)
  • Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece on a lightly floured board into a long rope the diameter of a pencil. Then cut each rope into 1/2 inch size pieces. Lightly roll between the palms of your hands to create small ball shapes.
  • Heat the oil to 350 F.
  • Fry the dough pieces in the hot oil about 12 at a time. Cook until golden brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a sheet pan lined with absorbent paper to drain. Repeat until all dough had been fried and drained. Then transfer all to a clean bowl and reserve until needed.
  • In a medium pot, combine the sugar and water. Stir over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then add the honey and the cinnamon. Continue to stir until mixture reaches a simmer.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and pour into the bowl with the fried dough balls, mixing and tossing the balls gently and simultaneously with a spatula to make sure that all are coated well.
  • At this point, you can toss some of the candied chopped fruit into the bowl and mix in reserving the rest of the candied fruits for the garnishing.

Here are links to the other creative stories about The Whatevers. Please stop by and see what these fabulous artists have created.
If you would like to play along it's not to late to join in. Here are all the details that you need to know.
Here is how it works ~
  • Vicki, Cat, Cuchy (Carmen), Nathalie and I have made a one-year commitment to each other and picked twelve photos with Whatevers whom we will give a story.
  • Every month – if possible always on the 15th –  each of us will do a post with an individual story that goes along for us with the same photo.
  • If you want you can play along and we will have the photo for you to download and show us your version of The Whatevers. The photo will be posted at the end of our blogposts- not on Facebook!
  • There is no rules to the story itself- it can be funny, sad, uplifting, breathtaking- WHATEVER
  • There is no rules on the length or the form of the story- it can be a short sentence, an essay, a poem or a soap opera – WHATEVER
  • There is no rules on the artform you choose – it can be a scrapbook layout, an altered art project, an artjournal page – WHATEVER
  • Here is a rule though: if you take the photo you have to link back to us and show us your story.
  • These pictures are from our personal stash and are for personal use for you only! If you want to use them for a publication whether a book or magazine in print or digital form please ask for permission!
  • If you want to participate we’ll have a linky list for each Whatever Post.
  • You can also join our The Whatevers -Facebook Page


Thank you so much for taking time of these busy, hectic days as we prepare for the upcoming holiday season. 

If you would like to share your Whatevers here is the link:


  1. LOVE your story and your Queens of Sheba
    Never heard of that dessert. It looks yummy

  2. oh, that sounds so delicious! I love your story, it looks like they are conspiring to cook something delicious in the kitchen!!

  3. LOL- so fun dressed like Queens of Sheba - that made me giggle. Gorgoeus recipe and page!!!

  4. Love the inclusion of recipes - made the peach-cantalope jam from last time and it is really great!

  5. Martha, just wanted to wish you and your family happy holidays and a creative new year. Hopefully we will meet up at the Queen's Ink again one day soon. Sue

  6. Awesome story and always look forward to the recipe! Gorgeous page!!!

  7. well done on your Christmas theme what - ever, always fun to see where everyone takes their stories, will be catching up on a few projects during the holidays and thinking up some fun themes

  8. Oh, Martha! I love your story!!! As for the recipe . . . . YUMMMMMM!!!! Thank you!!! Thank you, too, for stopping by my blog for a visit and for your comment! Warm hugs, Terri ♥


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