Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Hopefully...I'll see you later!
Monday, December 15, 2008
But, please, do come back! I do have a decorated bedroom, just very few pictures of it!
First off, let's visit Tricia's home and see what Possiblitlies she has in store for us!
Next, Jessica has invited us into her holiday dressed home for a little Christmas Whimsey!
Now on to some Memorable Holidays at Brittany's home.
And our fearless leader, Ginger, has some Rudolph Day Ramblings to share with us!
Now Lisa has invited us to visit her Little Corner of the World to see her treasures.
We have another Tricia who is Celebrating Seasons with us....
And for a sweet treat, Candy Cane News is full of sweet yumminess!
Next, my sweet friend Aggy, also known as Adrienne, shares her Love of Christmas!
Tiffani is expecting a Jolly Christmas in Bama and wants us to join her!
Leah knows that Love Grows Best at Christmas!
SnowAngel has some Holiday Memories to show us...
Dancing Elf's home a t 358 Red Oak Drive holds some pretty treasures...
And we have another Cathi, who is celebrating A Quilter's Christmas with us.
Jana is sharing her lovely home also...
Here's a new blog that looks wonderful already! Printersdevil has some pretty things ready to view!
Jinglemom is our final participant! Hmm...seems like I've forgotten someone...oh, yeah, Me!!
If you check the post below, you can see my humble offerings!
Thanks to everyone who has A. Participated, and B. Viewed!!
Come back all week...I'll be showing my decorations all week long!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
So, here's a brief tour of some of my decorations. Check back every day this week and you'll get the complete tour!
Let's start in the master bedroom. Our bedroom is decorated in creamy ivory and cranberry red, so Christmas decorations just look natural in there! I added some soft gold and silver. Here's the tree over the bed:
It has white lights, ivory poinsettias trimmed in gold glitter and the gold glass balls. That's a piece of tulle that I tied around the bottom in a sort of abstract bow....I love the colors with the red and white quilt, which you'll see more of tomorrow.
Now, on to the kitchen! This is the wire planter that I showed you yesterday. It's sitting on the antique desk that matches my bedroom furniture. My mom and dad bought it for me brand spanking new when I was about...um....well, a long time ago. It's now antique. That's all you really need to know. I have plans of refinishing it in the same colors, but we haven't quite gotten to that yet.
And this is the south end of the house. I normally have black and white toile curtains up, but we had to move the denim couch into the kitchen to make room for the tree in the living room, so I took the toile down. I actually used to have this couch in the living room all the time and had slipcovers in toile, but they are buried way back in the storage building, and it truly wasn't that important to me to find them. So I just used this paper banner I made that says "Joyeux Noel" and lighted garland for a valance for the holidays! See the red "gems" hanging from the light?
By the way, those are jingle bells in the jar. I have the jingle bell tree in the kitchen, so be looking for that later in the week!
This is the top of the fridge, with a small collection of white pitchers and red berries. You can see the snow village behind the pitchers.
More kitchen later! Now let's move to the living/family room. It's the room you walk into when you open the front door. I love the cranberry red of the walls.
This is the opening into the hallway. I made this banner too. The pictures are favorites of ours at Christmas.
You'll be seeing more of all of the house as the week progresses. Keep checking back, because I have a little give away planned at the end of the week!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
So, here's the tree BEFORE:
And here it is AFTER:
And, since I've griped so much about it, I thought I'd go ahead and show you my mantle:
Friday, December 12, 2008
Are you ready for the home tour Monday? I've very excited. If you need some inspiration or just want a jumpstart to home touring, check out Tracey's blog and scroll down to the past two days, then follow the links. So much glittery, blingy, Christmasy inspiration you may need two days to get through it. I can't believe how many talented folks there are out there.
Speaking of talented folks, wait until you see my friend Phyllis's house all done up for the holidays. It is nothing short of spectacular. I truly mean that. It is unbelievable, and she does it all herself. She hosted our Bunco Christmas gathering last night (where I scored some sweet prizes...) and she agreed to let me post some pictures of her home. I forgot my camera (duh!) so she loaned me hers, and even agreed to email the pics to me. So as soon as I get them, I'll post them. You honestly won't believe it. It makes my feeble attempts look like a kindergartner's attempts!
Are you still looking for some inspiration for Christmas breakfast or brunch? I got some yummy sounding recipes in my inbox today, so I'll share!! Hope you find something delicious to prepare for your own "Delightful Christmas Brunch"!
What's going on in your world today? We'll be doing that Christmas Tree cutting expedition today, and then tomorrow, it's Finish Up day...what ever is not decorated by tomorrow is not getting decorated! I have to get some photos made to post on the home tour Monday!!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
1 loaf French bread, sliced in half lengthwise (this sandwich is best if you buy the bread a couple of days ahead and freeze it, or use day-old French bread)
1 pound breakfast sausage, browned and drained
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
12 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried mustard
1 small can chopped green chilies, drained
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterrey Jack or pepper jack)
Hollow out the center of the French bread. Layer the sausage, onion and bell pepper into the bottom of the bread shell. Add the salt, pepper and mustard to the eggs and mix well. Pour the eggs over the sausage mixture and sprinkle with the chopped green chilies. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the chilies and top with the bread top. Wrap the sandwich tightly with foil, place in a 350 degree oven on a cookie sheet, and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until eggs are set and cheese is melted. Unwrap the sandwich and let it cool slightly, then cut into slices and serve.
You could substitute a smoked sausage (I like turkey) and cut it up and brown the slices, then sprinkle them over the bread and proceed as above. Ham and Swiss would be yummy, too. You could even crumble cooked bacon in it.
I usually serve this with fresh fruit and coffee. Add a flute of juice and you've got a party!
What are you up to today?
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I'm having the hardest time getting my decorating done this year. Most of my decorations are in the storage shed in the back yard, and it's a mess. I mean a mess. So I need lots of help to get all the boxes and totes out and into the house. I did go out there yesterday and pulled out a few boxes, sifted through them, took out what I wanted and put the boxes back.
I know exactly how I want the house to look, so I'm trying to only bring those things into the house. I put the Snow Village on top of the cabinets yesterday, but I neglected to bring in the extention cords and didn't buy any "snow", so it's pretty dark and bare up there.
I did get a tree up in the boys' bathroom (a tiny little one with white lights and red glass balls) and a tree up in our room (no details-you'll see it on the 15th, but I'm VERY HAPPY with it!), but that's about it. The kitchen is a total wreck and will be until I get finished.
Lynn and I are both off Friday afternoon, so he's agreed to help me get the stuff out of the shed, sort it and get it in the house. And get the outside done. I'm not sure he realizes that part yet...shhh...don't tell him!
I'm looking forward to the Virtual Holiday Home Tour on December 15. My Magical Holiday Home friends are planning to participate. If you want to also, just leave me a message on this post and give me your link and blog name...and a short description of your decorating style, if you'd like. I hope you join us.
I hope I'm ready!
Monday, December 1, 2008
The parade is tonight. The courthouse and downtown area will be lit around 6:10 or so on Channel 7's weather, then the parade will start. It's a fun night! We even let homework slide for that night (Side note-for the little boys. Their homework is not due until the end of the week. Jacob still has to do his, which is due the next day!)
We love going to our hometown parade. I may have told you about it before, but let me just reminisce a little.
We live in a small city, population under 30,000. Recently, the downtown area has been renovated, making it really pretty and quite picturesque. I would dearly love to see the downtown area become the hub of the city again, as it was when I was a child. Most retail businesses are not located in downtown any more, but spread out down the "main drag", which is Military Road, or on the interstate service roads. But, on the first Monday in December, downtown comes alive. Our courthouse is so gorgeous, very historic looking, and the county employees work very hard to get it decorated. A local family donated a whole bunch of animated life sized decorations. I just love them! It is so festive and so fun!
We always take a bag of popcorn and a couple of thermoses of hot chocolate and coffee to have during the parade. Then, we walk to the courthouse lawn and wait for Santa to appear, fresh from the fire truck at the end of the parade. He will visit with kids that night and several more nights during the holidays. There's always a choir singing, some music playing and free cookies and cocoa after the parade. Everyone is in such a good mood, and it's so pretty with all the lights. Our courthouse is on the Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights. If you are in the area, stop by...it's worth the drive!
After we get home, we usually have a bowl of homemade soup, and then try to find something on tv that is Christmasy. No one wants the feeling to go away, it's so festive and jolly.
I can't wait until tonight!
What are you doing today that is fun and Christmasy?
Sunday, November 30, 2008
So much for my carefully laid decorating plans. If you remember, I'd planned to get all the decorations at least stacked in their bins on the back porch for easy access, and the Snow Village (Dept 56 Original Snow Village mostly, but with a few dollar store and other discount store pieces thrown in for good measure!) put up, but I didn't feel up to it today, so I'm resting, instead. This is one busy week coming up, and I don't need to start it feeling out of sorts, so...the decorating will wait until tomorrow!
Are you cutting back on your Christmas gifting or celebrating this year? We are. We have set a budget for the boys' stuff, with "big stuff" getting the bulk of the money and each one getting one "big" thing, a few small things, and a stuffed stocking. Lynn and I are debating on how much we'll spend on each other...I'm thinking that will stay close to what we normally spend, because we don't spend a whole lot on each other anyway. But we'll have stuffed stockings, because that's our favorite part!
With my family, we draw names and then fill that person's stocking (are we sensing a theme here?). We've set a dollar limit this year for the first time. And on Lynn's side, we've decided not to exchange gifts with his extended family (cousins, aunts and uncles) due to several of us having financial issues. And, we may just do small gifts or no gifts with his sisters-still debating that one. I don't want anyone to have to struggle so that they can give my children or Lynn and me a gift. And we're not exchanging with our best friends, Eddie and Melissa this year either. Melissa and I decided that we'll get together to eat and watch a Christmas movie and have good movie snacks together and call it Christmas! I'm going to see if she and I can work in a girls' day out shopping/lunch trip too! We never get to do that, so it would be a gift to me if we could!
I hope this post is not a downer in any way, because honestly, my intent is for this to be good news. It takes a whole lot of pressure off, and makes the real meaning of Christmas to be more obvious and hopefully, celebrated.
After all, He is the Reason for the Season!
Next post: Christmas parade details! Oh I love this stuff!!!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
I think I will. I'm not as far along as I'd hoped to be, but closer than I would be if I hadn't worked on Christmas in July.
Today, Debbie over at Ribbonwood Cottage has some organizing tips for the holidays. She is going to be offering them each day this week...check out her fabulous blog! She is one creative lady!
Here's a few tips of my own to offer:
*Start early. Even if you start right now, you are still starting earlier than most people. When I say that everything you do today to prepare for Christmas is one less thing that you have to do in December, I'm not kidding. I love to have everything done ahead that I possibly can, so that on December 1, all that's left is having FUN for the entire month of December!
*Start by getting organized. Really. OK, this is also what Debbie says to do, but it is so true. Over at Magical Holiday Home there are tons of threads on getting organized. This group of girls and guys are so creative and have so many fabulous ideas. And don't forget Cynthia Townley Ewer's site Organized Christmas is the mac daddy of organizing ideas. (Does anyone still say "mac daddy" or did I just date myself again? Sorry, Jake!)
*Make a list. Make several lists-gifts to buy, gifts to make, food, party plans-whatever. Check it twice, three times...and don't forget to check stuff off when you get it done! Very satisfying!
Very basic tips, but very valuable for getting it all done!
Remember, everything you do today to prepare for Christmas is one less thing you have to do in December, when you could be having lots of Christmas fun!!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The lighter color paper is called "kraft paper" on the label, but it's not at all stiff like a lot of kraft paper is. And the green is actually a sage color. The gold ribbon is a satin ribbon, and I'll be adding in red and green satin ribbon to go with the straw colored raffia and the red raffia. I'll be sure to show you a picture of the finished product after I get something wrapped.
And the best part? I already had the raffia and the paper was only $2 or $3 each roll-it's the first time I've had to buy wrapping paper in a while!!
Remember, anything you do today to prepare for Christmas is that much less you have to do in December!
Will YOU be ready?
Monday, November 10, 2008
Mom used to make all kinds of fudge-chocolate and buttermilk stand out in my memory. She also made what we called Bon-Bons, but I've discovered that they are actually called "Martha Washingtons" for some reason...they are little yummy balls of sugar and nuts, dipped into melted chocolate. Back then, you had to melt paraffin with the chocolate to make it harden correctly...now they make chocolate that does it by itself.
She also made huge amounts of peanut brittle and divinity. I didn't like the divinity but the brittle was good. I remember she couldn't make it when it was too humid or raining...
I have to admit that my candy making is not the caliber hers is...I just melt chocolate and mix in stuff or dip stuff in or whatever...but it's not too bad, if I do say so myself!
Here's a quick, easy and good peanut butter fudge that I make every year.
Peanut Butter Fudge
1 package white almond bark coating (comes in a big block)
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup chopped peanuts
Melt the almond bark coating (follow package directions-I do it in the microwave), stir in the peanut butter and the peanuts and pour into a buttered 8x8 baking pan. Let it harden. Slice it up and eat it. That's it.
1 package white almond bark coating
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
crushed peppermint candies or candy canes
Melt the almond bark coating, stir in the extract and crushed candy, spread out on a buttered (or spray it with non-stick cooking spray) waxed paper and let it harden. Break it into pieces.
You can make all kinds of barks using that coating. I like to make almond bark (substitute almond extract and sliced, toasted almonds for the peppermints in the above recipe) or pecan bark (use vanilla extract and finely chopped pecans).
I like to get the chocolate flavored bark and dip things in it..fruit, nuts, cookies, potato chips-yes, potato chips. The sweet/salty thing makes this so good.
I also have a fudge recipe that is easy and good, and I'll share it soon.
Remember, anything you do today to prepare for Christmas is one less thing you have to do in December!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Out of necessity (have I mentioned that big honking "bargain" tv Lynn couldn't turn down? Have I mentioned that it takes up a lot of room? 55 inches of viewing glory. Have I mentioned that it's where I normally put the Christmas tree? Have I mentioned that I'm a tad aggravated?)we will be moving furniture around to put up the main tree (see post below if you are wondering why I said "main tree"!). We will be moving the big denim sofa into the kitchen again. I know that sounds weird, but it used to live in there, as extra seating at the table, and we all loved it. So, it's going back. I have slipcovers for the back cushions that match the curtains in my kitchen, but they are waaaaayyyy at the back of the storage shed, so that ain't happenin this year. I'm going to leave the cushions that match the living room drapes on there, and just make some new valances for the kitchen to coordinate with the cushions. The living room colors and the kitchen colors blend well..so it should be ok. So now instead of using the black, white, red and silver I'd planned in the kitchen, it'll be a soft gold, red and sagey green. I have big ideas...and you can see them all right here on December 15 when we have the virtual Holiday Home Tour on Magical Holiday Home, hosted by yours truly on that date.
If you want to join the tour, just leave me a message with your link and I'll add you. Should be fun-the fall tour was small but pretty. I am hoping several join in this year!
Remember, anything you do today to get ready for Christmas is one less thing you have to do in December!
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Here's that recipe I promised. It's an oldie but a goodie. I make it in a 9x13 cake pan, in muffin cups or even in mini muffin cups for mini peanut butter cups. It really does taste a lot like Reece's Cups...
Peanut Butter Cup Bars
1 cup margarine
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup peanut butter (either smooth or chunky-I use smooth because that's what we eat on sandwiches)
2 cups chocolate chips, melted
Melt margarine in saucepan. Add crumbs, confectioners' sugar and peanut butter. Mix well. Spread evenly in buttered 9x12 baking pan. Spread melted chocolate over top. Chill until firm. Cut into bars. Yield: 2 dozen.
These babies freeze like a dream, and to tell you the truth, I like to eat them while still slightly frozen. Or thawed...which ever way I can get them!! I think I'm going to make these for gifts this year, put them in the mini muffin cup papers and package them a dozen to a box. I am going to pick up candy boxes at Hobby Lobby and and tie it all up with a sparkly (of course) ribbon...who wants to be on MY gift list this year??
Whatever you do today to get ready for Christmas is that much less you have to do in December!
Friday, November 7, 2008
The picture is actually from last summer, but it's cute and I like it, so I'm posting it again! This Santa works at a place called "Kringles" in Branson, MO. If you haven't ever visited there, you really, really have to go. It is so wonderful!!
If you've ever been to my house during the holidays, you know that I am a deck-the-entire-house-not-just-the-halls kind of girl. I put a tree in every room, on both porches-front and back-and even several in some rooms. Our trees range from 2' to 9'. Last year we had 16 trees, including the ones outside. Not a typo. Uh, huh, 16. No, the house is about 1500 square feet, not big at all. In fact, quite small. But, at Christmas time, I think it looks a little like a Christmas cottage..and since it's not really a cottage at all but I'd like it to be, that's my little treat to myself!
Here's a few little ideas for decking your halls, living rooms and kitchens!
*Use lots, lots and lots of candles. Although you can go to the department stores and boutiques and spend a ton of money on some scented wax that is going to melt anyway, I suggest you go to the dollar store and get them. Or, go to Wal-Mart and get the ones in the Christmas department-they are really cheap and they smell good. Bring them home and put them everywhere...using caution when they are lit, of course. I know that you know not to leave a burning candle unattended and not to let ribbons or greenery or anything else really get close to the flame, but I'm obligated to tell you in writing not to do that. So don't do that. But do this: take a pretty ribbon and tie it around the candle. Or use a wide, wire-edged one and cut it to fit around the candle and doublestick tape the ends to the back of the candle. Gorgeous.
Or, if you're like me and like things a little sparkly for Christmas, thin down a little Elmer's glue with water and brush it on the candle. Then pour some glitter in a bowl and get a spoon and spoon the glitter over the candle, covering the entire thing. Shake off the excess glitter, let it dry a minute and VIOLA! a gorgeous glittered candle to nestle into some pine or other evergreens. Or place three of them on a pedastal cake plate, place some greenery pieces around it and you have a pretty, simple but elegant centerpiece.
*Use quart jars to make outdoor luminaries. I like them just plain, with some rock salt in the bottom, and a ribbon or raffia bow around the neck, and a little tea light nestled down into the icy looking salt. Very pretty and simple. They look great on front porch steps, if you have those.
*And, continuing the candle theme, how about floating candles in the bathtub during a party at your house? I do this often and it never fails to get enthusiastic responses from everyone! Just buy holiday shaped floating candles, run the tub about 2/3 full, light the candles and set them afloat! If you have one, you can even float a fresh wreath with the candles, or get some of those clear Christmas ball ornaments and float them to look like bubbles! Cute!!
I hope you are excited about the 48 days left until Christmas. 48, people!!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Not to worry...we still have 49 whole days to get ready! And if you've been getting ready for several months, it's not so bad!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I have been focusing on Halloween and fall crafts lately, but I do have some ideas for Christmas crafts and more gifts. I still need to finish the countdown clipboard, but I can't ever remember to pick up the little velcro pieces I need to complete it. Sigh.
Only 121 days until the big day! Whoo hoo!
Will YOU be ready??
Sunday, August 24, 2008
This is a table setting at a ladies' brunch I went to last Christmas...isn't it pretty?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
While doing a search today for gift in a jar ideas (you know, those nifty little gifties that you put in gift baskets, stockings, whatever that are jars of homemade mixes-cookies, brownies, soups, whatever...I've done these in the past and they are well received..) I found this link that I think you might enjoy. Lots of good stuff there!
One of the things that I love on this site (and others) are the gifts in a mug...same principle, but in a single sized serving. With single people and college students suddenly on my gift list, it makes sense to make some of these. I'll be looking at this closely in the next few weeks...if you store them correctly, as in an airtight container, they should be fine to make in the middle of September or so...that's what I'm thinking now. I'll add this to my Holiday Grand Plan schedule.
I hope you get some ideas from this gem of a website! Check it out!!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Only 135 days to go until Christmas! Wow-as any good early Christmas planner worth their salt knows, once you hit that 100 day mark, things really kick into high gear...
I can't wait! I love the fall and holiday season build up...almost more than the day itself...so much fun!
I am thinking about Christmas more and more every day, and with the start of the Holiday Grand Plan coming soon...I'm really getting excited!
Here's the "recipe" I promised...it's really more a method than a recipe...you can use any kind of sherbet you'd like, according to the color and flavor you desire!
1 quart sherbet (I like pineapple, but lime or raspberry would be very festive, too)
2 ltr. bottle of ginger ale
Put the sherbet in the punchbowl and pour the ginger ale over it, smooshing up the sherbet until it's all melty and blended with ginger ale...yummy!!!
Ok, that's not much of a recipe, but it's good! And so Christmasy!
Friday, August 8, 2008
I have my own version of a Christmas planning center. My base station is my kitchen table, which is where I'm sitting right now! I love, love, love my kitchen, and have worked really hard to decorate it in a style that suits us, as well as being functional. I'm still working on it...but I do love it! My kitchen is decorated in a loose French Country design, with golden yellow walls and my 28 year old chicken/rooster collection scattered all over the whole area. I was a rooster fan before roosters were cool!! LOL.
My kitchen table was a wedding gift from my (stay with me here-it's complicated) ex-but-still-dear-Sister-in-law's grandfather. He made it, stained it and even delivered it! He put legs on it, but when our family started growing they weren't functioning as well as we needed, so I bought an old table from a flea market and Lynn put the pedestal from it under our current table-viola! leg room! So now, it's my favorite work space in the house!
I can sit at the end of the table with my laptop and still have easy access to the bookshelf, the coffeepot and the laundry room, where my craft items are stored. I like the big double windows by the table, and the fact that I can look into the living room and see the fireplace. It's wonderful when the house is decorated for a holiday (any holiday, really) with a lighted garland of some sort on the mantle, and a fire in the fireplace. I usually put some spices-cinnamon and apple peels or cloves and orange peels are my favorites-in some water to simmer on the stove while I work. I used to be able to see the tv from there, but since Lynn bought his newest toy (55", people. It's a big*** tv!) it's in a place where I can't see it. But, due to the multi-room tv shift that the new one caused, I now have a small tv with a dvd player in the kitchen...perfect for watching "It's a Wonderful Life" or "The Santa Clause" movies....or just listening to Christmas cd's.
My current projects are in a lidded picnic basket, pretty enough to leave out but still have the "clutter" hidden. My Gooseberry Patch books and my Christmas notebook are easy to get to from my Center, and are in fact often stacked on the end of the table while I'm dreaming and scheming...I mean working!
I also can use it write cards, wrap gifts or just read Christmas books.
Consider creating one of these little organizing gems, if you don't already have a designated space!
Thursday, July 31, 2008
This is the divider for the "Food Gifts" section. I have recipes, ideas and magazine clippings here. I even have a few pages from catalogs of food gifts that I think I could duplicate for much less than they are asking for them. An example is a "Snowman Pop" that is just a few marshmallows in a stick, dipped in white chocolate and give mini chocolate chip eyes and an icing smile! I can do that! And, they are charging $15 or so for 6...now I know I can make them cheaper than that, and what a cute stocking stuffer!
This is the Gift Idea section. Same theory as the food gift section. I love that card!
and the Family Tradition section. I like to put notes from what we've done each year in this section, along with notes on what we wanted to do and didn't get around to, so that we can try to plan that for the next year.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I didn't get to a lot of Christmas again yesterday, but I did work on the clipboard again! I had an inspiration and got the numbers done for the Christmas countdown clipboard. I'm hoping to finish it and the drink carrier today.
I made the boys pinky-promise me that they would help me clean their closet floor tomorrow...check out the Hamlet for details on why! It's in the Thank you section of the post! Necessity calls!
But, tomorrow it's supposed to rain, and I love a good rainy day for crafting and planning! If we work hard today, we can play tomorrow!!
So, today's agenda, Christmas wise:
*finish countdown clip board
*paint and embellish drink carrier
*work on notebook, if time allows
Tomorrow is the day I have scheduled to make Magic Reindeer Dust...I have a jar of red and green glitter reserved just for this project! And an empty pickle jar to store it in!
What are YOU doing to get ready for Christmas in July?
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
So, that's what I did yesterday for Christmas in July. Not fun, but necessary. I feel good about it, because I did a little inventory of Christmas things along the way, and now have a clue what's what.
Today's Christmas agenda includes working on another drink carrier (I found one in the laundry room! Yay!!) and decluttering my Christmas notebook, as well as making a schedule for buying gifts and Christmas menu items. If I portion it out over several weeks, it's much easier to get done than if I just haphazardly pick things up. Obsessive? Probably, but it works for me. Well...mostly. LOL!
As July is winding down, obviously so is Christmas in July. I doubt that I'll post here daily after this week, at least until after Thanksgiving, any way, but I'll be popping in here and there, so keep an eye on it for tips, ideas and pictures. But, this week, we'll have a Big Finish to the month, so hang on!!
What are YOU doing to get ready for Christmas in July?
Monday, July 28, 2008
At Day 100, I really kick it into high gear, trying to get things done so that I can get done! LOL!!
I have a lot of unfun regular stuff to do today, like cleaning and laundry, so I'll have to check in later and tell you what I've done Christmas wise. Honestly, I don't even remember what's on the calender for today...but I will look, do it and report back either this evening or tomorrow!
What are YOU doing to get ready for Christmas in July?
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Jonah had a big time at his birthday party...and got loaded....with cash! He thinks he's rich-he has $6o! Not bad for a 7 year old boy!
We had a good time and everyone sat around and talked all afternoon.
Tomorrow I think I'm going to take a break from Christmas in July, then back at it Monday for the last few days. My trip to Chicago is off, due to circumstances beyond my control, so I'll try to think of something fun to do on the 31st so I won't think too much about what I COULD be doing!
What are YOU doing to get ready for Christmas in July?
Friday, July 25, 2008
This is what my Christmas in July tree should look like, if I ever get to it!!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Speaking of those clipboards...they are just not looking like I wanted them to. I had a vision for both of them, but not the supplies I needed...and Wal-Mart has recently totally changed their scrapbooking department, so I can't find what I had in mind. They've added the Martha Stewart line, and it's got some wonderful stuff, just not what I had in mind. Right now, I've got the elements for a Christmas countdown, all except the numbers. I used stickers for the letters, and can't find any numbers to match. I guess I'll drag out my rubber stamps and just make number tags...probably no one else will care if they match or not, but you know that I do!!
The drink carriers, on the other hand, are going well. I have three made now, and the materials for the fourth one..it'll be yellow and red stripes and big polka dots, very country/vintage looking. I really like the papers for it..I think I'll paint it red...or yellow. LOL! I hope to have it done in time to post a picture tomorrow...if not, soon!
Yesterday I made those menu plans, today I'll be working on shopping lists for the non-perishable items for those meals.
Speaking of menus, I thought that since this is Rudolph Day Eve and Christmas Eve is only 5 sweet months away, I'd share a little of my thoughts for Christmas Eve dinner. I am absolutely goofy about Christmas Eve...it's the best part of the holiday, in my opinion!! Up until my grandmother died, we always went to her house for Christmas Eve. Some of my favorite holiday memories center around those gatherings...it all seemed so magical. I'd walk down to my grandparents' house early on Christmas Eve morning and the tree would look so pretty, but bare-just a few gifts underneath. We'd do whatever Mama Lody (my grandmother) needed done that a chubby little girl could do, then I'd go home. When we got back there later that evening (we were always the first ones there!) I'd immediately check the tree...it was just inside the front door in the living room. It would have a few more gifts than earlier, but still not as many as I knew were coming...then, after everyone got there-viola!! Piles and piles of gifts...something for everyone from everyone back in those days!! We had to wait until the adults finished eating before we opened gifts, and it seemed like it took FOREVER!! Finally my Dad would take matters into his own hands and start handing out gifts! It was so much fun and so exciting to see what we got!
The menu was almost always the same...turkey and dressing, ham, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, green beans, several other side dishes that varied from year to year, and lots and lots of desserts!!
After Mama Lody died, we started hosting Christmas Eve at our home. We don't have the crowd she had...that was our whole extended family, 30 or 40 people. We have a much quieter party. I love having our best friends join us most years, and my Mom and whoever else wants to drop by. I haven't really had a hard and fast traditional meal since I started hosting...one year we had London Broil and baked potatoes, one year chili and cheese dip! Here's what we're likely going to have this year:
Anti pasto tray
Hot cider, eggnog and Christmas Eve Punch
I usually try to have a Christmas movie ready in the DVD player for the boys to watch while the adults finish eating. We exchange gifts after we eat, and my kids get to open one gift from us...which is always pajamas and slippers...or footie pjs for the little ones! They love those things..I'd smother to death if I had to wear them!
As our guests are leaving, we go out on the porch and sprinkle the Magic Reindeer Dust (oats and glitter) and then the boys happily go off to bed. Probably not to sleep, but to bed! We allow them to put a DVD in to go to sleep by...usually The Santa Clause!
I can't wait!!
What are YOU doing to get ready for Christmas in July?
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Today is going to be rather laid back, as far as Christmas planning..I will make the December daily menus, but I need to wait on the DIBS until I get more sugar. So, I'm thinking I'll put together the ones I need for Jonah's birthday party/family breakfast on Saturday, then do the rest for Christmas on either Saturday or Sunday.
I picked up another drink carrier yesterday...this one will be red and yellow-my two favorite colors!!
I'm watching "The Holiday" on tv right now..very cute! It's set at Christmas time, but it's not really a "Christmas" movie. Very cute.
Ok, I'm off to make some menus.
What are YOU doing to get ready for Christmas in July?
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Today I'd planned to work on DIBS, but we ended up going to the library and some other errands, then when we got home, it started raining...and you know how I love a rainy day and new books! So, no DIBS.
Tomorrow-DIBS and menus for the entire month of December.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Today I thought I'd share my plans for Black Friday this year...you know, the day after Thanksgiving here in the US, the day all the retailers hope we'll be out at the crack of dawn with our travel cups of coffee and sale flyers in hand, acting like maniacs trying to get the best deals in town. I'm not criticizing anyone-I've been there, done that, bought the t shirt and will likely do it again sometime! But there is a certain craziness to that day that just isn't much fun for me. So, this year, I plan to get in on the craziness in a more sane way...I'll be hosting a Black Friday Brunch for my customers to come by, shop my sale, and have a little breakfast on their way to the Next Big Sale.
I am a fashion director with Jewels by Park Lane, a home party plan line of fabulous designer jewelry. I'll be hosting the first annual Black Friday Park Lane Customer Appreciation Sale of my career! Here's a few little plans I thought I'd share with you. Details will be shared at a later date!
The menu is simple:
mini quiches (so good...actually a South Beach Diet recipe..little tiny crustless egg pies filled with fresh veggies, bits of bacon, ham and cheese. Yummy!)
fresh fruit cups (little totable cups of fruit)
ham and biscuits
muffins-blueberry, strawberry and banana nut is the plan
slices of coffeecake
a selection of juices, coffee and tea
I'll have my jewelry table set up in the living room and the food in the eat-in kitchen on the table and island. The house will still be decorated in it's fall finery, because we'll be hosting the Miller family Thanksgiving on Saturday (you're coming, right, Becki?)
I'll have some door prizes, bonus gifts for booking holiday parties with me and a fun drawing for a grand prize...to be named later!
I also will have some take home favors for everyone! Here's one I'm considering.
Shopper's Tired Tootsie Peppermint Foot Scrub
Peppermint Essential Oil
Mix 1/4 cup sea salt with 3 drops peppermint oil. Rub on feet, then soak in warm water.
Doesn't that sound lovely after a day of chasing bargains?
I'm planning on packaging this in little tiny jelly jars, with a cute little label on each and an instruction tag to go along with it. I might get really creative and add some food coloring to tint it...or I might just end up putting it in little snack sized ziplocks, depending on how my time/money/energy go! And, I use Epsom salts instead of sea salt when I can't find sea salt.
And, before I forget again..here's that Fabulous Five Minute Fudge recipe that I've promised so long!
1 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate pieces ( 2 cups) (I use milk chocolate chips instead)
2/3 c. sweetened condensed milk (one half of a 14 oz. can)
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, if desired (I use pecans or cashews...not a walnut fan)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate pieces, sweetened condensed milk, and water.
Microwave, uncovered, on 100% power (high) for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 1 minute more, or until chocolate is meted and mixture is smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour mixture onto prepared cookie sheet and spread it into a 9x6 inch rectangle, or drop mixture by rounded teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheet.
Chill fudge about 30 minutes or until firm. Cut fudge into 1 1/2 inch squares. Makes 24 pieces.
This freezes like a dream. I've frozen a double batch in October, wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap, then wrapped in foil, and it was very good at Christmas!
Cut it into squares and place them in candy papers (like mini cupcake liners, but made for candy. You can get them at Michael's and Hobby Lobby and probably lots of other places), then put them in a gold candy box (same sources), and wrap it all up with a foofy sheer gold ribbon. It looks fabulous and elegant, and tastes even better!
Hope you got some gems to use today!
What are YOU doing to get ready for Christmas in July?
Saturday, July 19, 2008
By the way...we postponed our family breakfast, due to the heat and the high cost of EVERYTHING. We are going to combine breakfast with Jonah's birthday party next weekend...a little breakfast, a little swimming, a little Christmas, a little birthday cake...sounds good to me! This way, everyone only has to drive here once...and with gasoline at $3.89 a gallon (and I know that's a lot less than some folks are paying), we have to conserve where we can!
Today's Christmas pearls are from another one of the Gooseberry Patch Christmas books, #8 this time. I'm so looking forward to picking up the new #10 as soon as I can find it in paperback!
*For a reminder that Santa's on his way, wire a length of sleigh bells to a fresh greenery wreath...a jolly jingle every time the door opens. (If you have little kids or if my kids visit your house, you might not want to do this one!)
*What's more cozy than gathering 'round the fireplace for hot cocoa and a chat? Stencil pine trees and stars on a large, galvanized tub. Fill the tub with wood and set by the fire to save trips out into the blustery evening. (I do this with a flat basket...decorative and functional! I also have a galvanized bucket that I keep pine cones and fire starters in, tied up with a red bow and some cinnamon sticks peeking out!)
*Write the lyrics to a favorite Christmas carol on a solid color mug using glass paint and then tuck in a package of Marshmallow Cocoa Mix...a simple, one of a kind gift!
Marshmallow Cocoa Mix
25 oz. package powdered milk
1 1/2 c. powdered non-dairy creamer
3 c. hot cocoa mix
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 c. mini marshmallows
Combine all ingredients; equally divide into four, one-quart jars. Attach gift tag with instructions to each jar. Makes 4 jars.
Instructions: Combine 1/2 cup mix with one cup boiling water. Makes one serving.
And here's a recipe that just screams Christmas!
Chocolate Covered Cherries
16 oz. package powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 T. evaporated milk
2 t. vanilla extract
2 10 oz each jars maraschino cherries with or without stems, drained
12 oz. chocolate flavored candy coating
6 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
Blend together sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Wrap each cherry in about 1 teaspoon sugar mixture. Arrange on waxed paper in a baking pan and chill overnight. Melt together the candy coating and chocolate chips in a double boiler. Stir until melted and blended. Use a candy dipper to dip cherries in chocolate, tapping off excess. Place on waxed paper to cool. Makes about 4 1/2 dozen.
And, finally, a great recipe for a mix in a jar gift, or for serving guests!
Creamy Potato Soup Mix
3 1/2 c. instant mashed potato flakes
3 c. powdered milk
1/4 c. chicken bouillon granules
.09 oz. pkg. vegetable soup mix
2 T. dried parsley
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
Combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container until ready to give. Attach instructions. Makes about 6 3/4 cups soup mix.
Place one cup soup mix in 2 1/2 cups boiling water. Stir until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Makes one serving.
I like this with oyster crackers, but plain old saltines are good with it, too! Served with a grilled cheese sandwich, it's a hearty, filling lunch on a cold, wintery day!!
Well! I'm feeling cheerier already!
What are YOU doing to get ready for Christmas in July?
Friday, July 18, 2008
Although it may seem a little nutty, July really is a great time to get things done for Christmas. For one thing, and for me the main thing, is that it's easier on the budget to spread spending out over a few months rather than a few weeks, or in the case of my brothers and other men I know, a few days. Now that's nutty! Anywho...if you know what you want to get someone, you can be watching for sales, and sometimes you stumble upon a stellar Christmas gift that you hadn't even thought of. It can be purchased, wrapped and tagged and safely tucked away in your closet for giving at the Yuletide. How cool is that!
My goal this year is to be done with all my shopping for gifts by November 1. This has been my goal for several years now, and I've never actually accomplished that goal, but here's hoping that this is the year! I usually wait until fall to get the boys' big stuff, simply because they change their minds about a dozen times and I want the "latest updated list" when I start shopping. If I've done the bulk of my shopping early, when they throw a ringer in-like when the visit Santa at the mall a week before Christmas and tell him they really, really, really only want XXX or YYY, and this is the first you've heard of it-you still have a little jingle in your pocket to get it. Hopefully!
Also, by having menus made out for holiday meals and making a "non-perishables" shopping list, I can pick things up as I'm doing my regular shopping. I set aside a big laundry basket in the pantry for these things, with little sticky notes all over them saying things like "for Thanksgiving at Mom's" or "Christmas Eve dinner" or "Halloween chili makings" or things like that. I keep a running list of what I've purchased so that I know, the week before Halloween for example, I need to pick up the ground beef for the chili and the candy for the trick or treaters, but everything else is done, in the bag...well, basket. See how that works!
Another great reason to plan ahead is so that if you have an unexpected emergency just before Christmas, you are still ok. One year I had surgery on both feet, two weeks apart. By the way, I highly DON'T recommend that. Anyway I had shopped early and was prepared with gifts for everyone, and didn't have to brave the crowds with casts on both feet. Another year I had a baby on December 19, but we won't go into that! I was unprepared for lots of things that year! LOL! But, it taught me to be ready for those little unexpected happenings. (Yes, I knew that the baby, who turned out to be Jacob, was coming. I just thought he was coming AFTER Christmas....turned out he wanted to celebrate, too!)
So, hopefully, that explains a little of this Christmas craziness in the middle of July!
What are YOU doing to get ready for Christmas in July?
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Since no sane person wants to read about house cleaning, today I've decided to share more pearls of wisdom from my collection of Christmas books. This recipe comes from Gooseberry Patch Christmas book #2. I keep this made up, in a small jar in the spice cabinet. It is wonderful on French bread, but I've used it on biscuits to make them savory, then served them with spaghetti or lasagna. I also like to package it in those cute little 4 oz. jelly jars, put a spiffy little label on it and give it as a gift. If I have them, I use herbs from my garden, dried, for this mix. So, here goes:
Garden Herb Bread Blend
1/3 c. dried parsley flakes
1/3 c. dried minced onions (I use onion powder, due to the "is there anything weird in this" factor at my house)
2 1/2 T. dried basil
2 1/2 t. dried thyme leaves
2 1/2 t. dried oregano leaves
1 1/4 t. garlic powder
Blend herbs together in bowl. Package in airtight container or bag. Makes one cup or enough for 6 loaves of bread.
The recipe actually calls for putting the mix right into the bread dough, and I will share that recipe with you. However, I usually just brush melted butter or drizzle olive oil on my bread slices, then sprinkle with the mix. Bake in a 350 degree oven, serve with additional oil for dipping, if desired.
3-4 t. Garden Bread Herb Blend
1 pkg. hot roll mix
4 T. margarine, divided
Add Garden Herb blend to dry hot roll mix. Follow the instructions on hot roll mix box for mixing, kneading and resting. Shape dough into regular size or mini loaves or follow instructions on box for rolls. Allow dough to rise. Bake regular sized bread loaves in greased loaf pans for 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees. Bake mini loaves about 10 minutes less, 25-30 minutes. Brush tops with remaining 2T margarine.
Reading this recipe, it's not clear what you do with the egg or the first 2 T. margarine...I guess you need them for the bread recipe.
I might try this as a bread this weekend..it sounds really good.
Now, some ideas from GP#2, as I refer to the books in my notes!
*A fire in the fireplace says "welcome". Keep several dry logs nearby as well as a bucketful of cinnamon pine cones for a quick country fire. The heat from the fire will scent the entire room with cinnamon.
*Don't throw away those beautiful cards. Use them to create your own ornaments and package tie-ons. Cut off the back of the card and trim around the picture, if you wish. Punch a small hole at the top. Lightly coat with spray adhesive and dust with glitter for all-over sparkle, or use a glue stick to highlight certain areas. Sprinkle on the glitter, then shake the excess onto a newspaper. Thread a piece of raffia, twine or ribbon through the hole and you have a wonderful ornament or darling package tie-on!
*Make snow days extra special for the kids....tell stories, go sledding, make cocoa, sing Christmas carols, watch Christmas movies, wrap presents... (ok, this one is wishful thinking on my part...snow in Arkansas is an exception, rather than a rule. However, in the 10 Christmases we've been married, we've had at least 3 white Christmases. Not too bad!)
*Freshly baked coffee cake makes a welcome gift! Tuck it into a round basket lined with a cheery red fabric. Trim the edge of the basket with greenery, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and sprigs of berries. Tie your gift card to the handle with several strands of raffia.
And, here's a yummy coffee cake to go in that festive basket!
Jean's Coffee Cake
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. sour cream
2 c. fresh raspberries, or frozen, thawed and drained
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
For coffee cake, cream butter and sugar; add eggs, baking powder and baking soda. Alternately add flour and sour cream to mixture and fold in raspberries. Pour into a well-buttered Bundt pan. For topping, combine brown sugar and butter, mixing well. Add flour; mixture will be lumpy. Spread on coffee cake batter; bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
I think I'll make this for our breakfast Saturday, but I'm going to sub strawberries for raspberries. Try this and let me know if you like it!
What are YOU doing to get ready for Christmas in July?
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
- Life Happened!
- Change of Plans...
- You could Even Say it Glows!
- Two new additions!
- Holiday Tour of Homes!
- Welcome to the Magical Holiday Tour of Magical Hol...
- Tree Trimming update and a little sneak peek!
- Celebrating Christmas
- Getting there...
- Breakfast Sandwich
- Yikes! 22 Days!
- Downtown Christmas parade!
- Not even December and I'm already feeling behind.....
- Happy Thanksgiving!
- 29 Days-a tiny sneak peek and a schedule, of sorts...
- 30 Day Countdown...and we're off!
- Spy Elves!
- 38 days!
- Wrapping up Christmas
- Christmas Goodies
- 46 Days and Counting!
- Peanut Butter Cup Bars and 47 Days!
- Decking the Halls-48 days left!
- 49 Days of Christmas Fun!
- ► August (6)
- ► July (28)
- ▼ December (12)
- Cathy Miller
- I love to cook, decorate, entertain and plan the holidays. I'm wife to one handsome man and mom to three handsome boys, I love God, my family and my country. I'm the one at the small town parade waving the American flag!! Almost all the holidays are celebrated at our house, and we like it that way!!