BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 10 ~ ADVENT CALENDARS

There are literally thousands of different advent calendars. These days most are promotional items and come in every form from daily chocolates to beers. You can make your own, find them on ETSY, EBAY… but what do they stand for? What is advent?

Advent itself is Christian followers remembering the birth of Christ in celebration of His birth and the anticipation of His return. Advent originates from Latin meaning “coming” or “arrival. Advent begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas.

This year the first Sunday was November 28th, the second IS TODAY, December 5th and the third one will be the 12th. The third one is also known as Gaudette Sunday and is a time of rejoicing that the fast is almost over.

Advent calendars are a cute little way to help kids not only countdown to Christmas, but also learn along the way. Many families offer up a daily scripture or devotional reading to go along with the chocolate treat as a way to stay focused on the reason for the season.

Many families also use an Advent Wreath, burning the candles as they countdown to Christmas. Each week features a different liturgical theme. Traditionally the first week features hope and expectation of the Jewish people as they await the Saviour’s arrival and reminding Christian believers to wait for Jesus’ second coming. The second week focuses on preparation and the third week celebrates the coming of the Messiah while the final week celebrates God’s peace and love.

Both royal purple and Sarum blue are used to symbolize the preparation, penitence and royalty to welcome the new king at Christmas time while purple is also used as the color of suffering during the week of Lent and Holy Week. Most churches have shifted their emphasis to the Sarum blue for Advent and reserving the royal purple for the Easter season. Pink replaces the blue in week 4 as a shift happens to lessen the emphasis of penitence and turn the attention to the celebration of the season.

Red and green derive from old European practices using evergreens and holly to symbolize the ongoing life and hope that Christ’s birth brings to the world. Red and green are NOT actually liturgical colors for the season.

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 9 ~ CHRISTMAS CARDS

I DO try to make my own Christmas cards every year, and I PLANNED to do homemade again this year, but years like this last year full of COVID and the years before full of health issues, surgeries and issues from the HOUSE FROM HELL sometimes finds me sending out box cards. The carpet cleaning and the BIG Christmas decoration sort was a bit more time consuming and adventurous this year adding to the not getting to the Christmas card making.

They box cards are pretty cute and I’m glad to be using them up!  I WILL do homemade again next year 😀 I did try an annual letter a few times, but ended up in just doing a few paragraphs eventually hitting the highlights from throughout the year since.

I do still send Christmas cards out, but I fear they are becoming a thing of the past. Unfortunately I receive fewer and fewer each year it seems. Vitual cards just aren’t the same. AND I can’t reuse virtual cards the next year as gift tags.

Here are some more cute wrapping ideas.  I have been wrapping presents as I go this year and able to spend a little more time decorating.

LOADED FRIED MASHED POTATOES

LOADED FRIED MASHED POTATOES

Yields: 4

Avocado oil, for frying
2 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1 LARGE egg, beaten
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
All-purpose flour (optional)
Sour cream, for serving 

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add enough oil to fill pan a third of the way up.
  • In a large bowl, stir potatoes, cheese, egg, chives, hot sauce, and salt until combined. If your mashed potatoes are a little runny, add flour one tablespoon at a time until you can form dough balls.
  • Working in batches (DO NOT CROWD PAN), scoop heaping tablespoons of mixture and drop into hot oil.
  • Fry 2-3 minutes per side until golden on both sides.
  • Top with sour cream and chives before serving.

NOTES: Everyone makes mashed potatoes slightly differently. If you make yours on the looser side just add a little flour to thicken them up so that they’ll fry better.

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 8 ~ WINTER MUST HAVES

What I CANNOT live without in winter is many many things, but these are my top items! The one thing I am absolutely sure of is that if I have a sore throat, dry skin, cold feet or hands, cold food or catch a cold I am NOT happy.

I drink a cup of green tea every night and try to make very balanced comfort food meals to warm up my family from the inside out. I also have a favorite new hot toddy, a Lemon Aval Pota Hot Toddy courtesy of McMenamins one of our favorite resort chains.

LEMON AVAL POTA HOT TODDY

2 ounces Aval Pota Whiskey
2 bar spoons QUALITY honey
Juice of 1 small FRESH squeezed lemon

  • Pour ingredients into a coffee glass or mug and top with hot water.
  • Garnish with a lemon zest twist.

Here are a few of our favorite soups and stews links for you.

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 7 ~ REAL TREE or ARTIFICIAL?

This is one of those categories that should be easy, but it’s a bit complicated for us. We always had a REAL tree. Until we didn’t.

In 2003 hubby’s National Guard unit was put on alert in September and by Thanksgiving they were shipping out to IRAQ. They left sunny southern California and headed to Washington to be integrated into the Army, which for hubby was easy because he had already served in the Army and then joined the National Guard so it was like going home for him. I was lucky because in the end he was named the Rear Detachment Commander and sent home to man the Armory and remaining guys.

But, I digress. While he was gone I needed to put up the tree and just couldn’t talk myself into doing a real tree by myself so I purchased a really nice artificial one. I put it up and decorated it that year and the next while he was still deployed. The following year we went back to a real tree. The year after that we moved to the north woods and REALLY enjoyed live trees again for a couple years.

During that time the artificial tree stayed boxed up. When we were in Texas live trees were exorbitantly priced so we used the artificial tree again for several years. When we came back to Oregon we went back to live trees until last year – the year of the COVID pandemic and the local tree farm closed early leaving us live treeLESS so we pulled out the artificial tree again.

LOL this is my long winded way of asking you if you can tell the difference between the trees below?  😀 Live or artificial doesn’t matter to us – being decorated with all the sentimental ornaments is what makes either tree special.

A LIVE tree smells good, but honestly a nice artificial tree is easier and a whole lot less mess. We did buy a LIVE spray for inside and a couple wreaths for outside!

 

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 6 ~CHRISTMAS COOKIE EXCHANGE

Remembering back to being a kid always seems the same to me.  Dad would buy all sorts of nuts by the pound during the holidays and of course bring out the nutcrackers. There was always a box (or 2 OR 3) of See’s candies (I just loved the milk chocolate Bordeauxs and since there were only 1 or 2 to the box I always tried to be the first to find them) and there would be tins and tins of butter cookies, snickerdoodles, peanut butter fudge, chocolate fudge as well as the sugar cookies that us kids iced and decorated.

Here are a couple links to some favorites and a few recipes for even more favorites!

One of our new favorites though for Christmas are GOOEY CARAMEL TOPPED GINGERSNAPS.

Whether you use homemade or store bought these cookies turn out swoon worthy of ANY holiday goodie platter. They are sooooo simple, but look and taste sooooo decadent.

GOOEY CARAMEL TOPPED GINGERSNAPS
42 gingersnap cookies, (homemade or store bought)
14 ounces KRAFT caramels
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup + 1/4 cup finely chopped honey roasted peanuts
12 ounces combination of white and dark chocolate
Sprinkles of choice (I like chocolate for the holidays)

  • Arrange cookies on cooling rack line baking sheet.**
  • In a microwave melt the caramels with the heavy cream, stirring until smooth.
  • Stir in peanuts.
  • Spoon about a teaspoon over each cookie.
  • Refrigerate until set.
  • Alternately melt white and dark chocolates.
  • Coat each cookie halfway with one of the chocolates, return to the rack allowing the excess to drip off.
  • Sprinkle with sprinkles and/or crushed peanuts.
  • Refrigerate until set.

NOTE** Wax paper or parchment paper works well also.

GINGERSNAPS
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup CRISCO
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoons ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
sugar for rolling

  • Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and ground cloves. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and crisco together until smooth.
  • Add sugar and molasses, blending until smooth.
  • Add flour mixture gradually until well blended.
  • Chill dough for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Roll dough into small balls
  • Roll balls in sugar and place on cookie sheet.
  • Bake 8 minutes for soft chewy cookies and 12 minutes for crisp cookies.

Then there are the tried and true favorites of the past!

PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE DROPS
2/3 cup HOT water
10 ounces Land of Lakes cocoa mix
2 cups JIF creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 cups C&H powdered sugar, divided 2cups + 1 cup
2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
2 cups crushed ginger snaps
72 Hershey Kisses (I like the cherry cordials)

  • Whisk together the hot water and cocoa mix until smooth.
  • Add peanut butter and corn syrup. Blend until smooth.
  • Add 2 cups powdered sugar and stir until well blended.
  • Stir in cookie crumbs until well blended.
  • Spray wax paper with PURE (these will be sticky so don’t forget this step).
  • Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of dough onto the wax paper.
  • Place the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar in a shallow bowl.
  • Roll each piece of dough into a ball and dredge in powdered sugar.
  • Press your thumb into the center and fill with a Hershey’s kiss.

The category is cookies, but cookies come in many forms as far as I’m concerned 😀 These are some of my favorite Christmas “non-cookie” recipes.

My great aunt’s corn flake wreaths are not technically cookies, but they are a treat that I try to make at Christmas time. My great aunt who I only got to see a couple times a year used to make these every year, special just for me.  My cousins and I would wait out on the front steps for her arrive just to see them, the wreaths that is. She always made them soooooooooo pretty and perfect!  Aunt Louise was just plain crazy it seemed to me.  I can’t pinpoint any one thing that made me think that, but as the years wore she continually proved it.  Let’s just say if the made a movie of her life, Shirley MacLaine would play her part.  Aunt Louise reminds me of Shirley’s character Ouiser Boudreaux in Steel Magnolias.

CRAZY AUNT LOUISE’S HOLIDAY WREATHS  (these are better when they are made a few days ahead)
30 LARGE marshmallows (or 1 jar marshmallow cream)
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon green food color
3 1/2 cups cornflakes
Red Hots

  • Combine marshmallows, butter, vanilla and food color in top of double boiler. Heat and stir frequently until well blended.
  • Gradually stir in cornflakes until well blended.
  • Drop onto wax paper and arrange into wreath shapes. I plop them onto the wax paper and then push out from the center to form the wreaths.
  • Decorate with red hots.
  • Let cool.
  • If your house is warm – chill in refrigerator until set.

Another fun recipe that can be dressed up with colored sanding sugar are SEA SALT & CARAMEL RICE KRISPY TREATS.

SEA SALT & CARAMEL RICE KRISPY TREATS
8 cups Rice Krispies
50 Kraft caramels
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup + 1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 bag mini marshmallows
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • In a medium sauce pan over  a low-medium heat stir together the sweetened condensed milk, the caramels and 1/4 cup unsalted butter until smooth.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Line a 9×13 baking dish with foil, extending over the edge.
  • Spray with non-stick PURE or PAM.
  • Melt butter in large sauce pan.
  • Add marshmallows and stir  until just melted.
  • Add vanilla, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of caramel sauce and stir until smooth.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in rice krispies until evenly coated.
  • Press into pan**.
  • Cool completely.
  • Pour remaining caramel over rice kripy treats and spread even with a spatula.
  • Sprinkle remaining sea salt over top.
  • Enjoy!
  • Store in an airtight container.

NOTES:  **I use a stainless steel spatula that has been sprayed with PURE to keep it from sticking.  It helps to press down firmly to get an even level.

CINNAMON BUN CUPCAKES
CUPCAKES
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 LARGE eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

  • Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  • Line cupcake tins with papers.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  • Whisk eggs for about 1 minute. They will become frothy and lightened in color.
  • Add oil and whisk again until combined.
  • Add sugar and whisk for about 1 minute.
  • Add vanilla extract.
  • Add sour cream to the batter, whisking until combined
  • Now add the sifted dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk gently. Whisk batter until JUST until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX!

CINNAMON SWIRL
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar

  • Make the Cinnamon Swirl: mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of white sugar. Set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  • Now start by pouring about 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter on the bottom of each cupcake tin.
  • Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the Cinnamon Swirl mixture.
  • Top with another heaping tablespoon of batter.
  • Now, sprinkle another 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon Swirl mixture over batter.
  • Top with another heaping tablespoon of batter.
  • Using a toothpick, swirl the batter a few times to create a swirl effect.
  • Top already swirled cupcakes with one final 1/2 teaspoon of the Cinnamon Swirl mixture.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, checking halfway to rotate pans.
  • Remove from the oven once cupcakes are lightly golden brown and puffed.
  • Cool 10 minutes.

GLAZE
+/- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
+/- 2 tablespoons milk

  • Mix powdered sugar and milk together.

NOTES:  There are many factors that will affect your glaze consistency.  The brand of sugar you use, whether you use a scale or a measuring cup…  If your glaze is too thin and runny, add more sifted powdered sugar and test for consistency again.  If the glaze is too thick and not spreading, add a very, very small amount (1 teaspoon) of milk at a time, until you achieve your desired consistency.

GRASSHOPPER BROWNIES
11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces
1/2 cup butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Creme-de-Menthe Filling (BELOW)
Dark Chocolate Ganache (BELOW)

  • In a medium saucepan, melt and stir 4 ounces (3/4 cup) of the dark chocolate pieces, butter, and the unsweetened chocolate over low heat.
  • Remove from heat; cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Grease foil; set aside.
  • Stir sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture in saucepan.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon JUST until combined.
  • Stir in vanilla.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring just until combined.
  • Stir in the remaining 7 ounces (1-1/2 cups) dark chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  • Spread Creme-de-Menthe Filling over cooled brownies.
  • Place uncut brownies in the refrigerator while preparing the Dark Chocolate Ganache.
  • Spread slightly cooled Dark Chocolate Ganache over Creme de Menthe Filling, spreading to the edges with a spatula.
  • Cover and chill about 1 hour or until set. Using the edges of the foil, lift the uncut brownies out of the pan. Cut into bars.
  • Place brownies in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

CREME-DE-MENTHE FILLING
3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons GREEN creme de menthe
Milk (optional)

  • In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and butter.
  • Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.
  • Gradually beat in 1 cup of the powdered sugar.
  • Beat in creme-de-menthe.
  • Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. If necessary beat in 1 tablespoon of additional milk to make the filling slightly thicker than a frosting

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces

  • In a medium saucepan, bring whipping cream JUST to boiling over medium-high heat.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add dark chocolate pieces (do not stir).
  • Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.
  • Cool for 15 minutes.
  • Pour over brownies and QUICKLY spread evenly.

NOTE: You can substitute 2 tablespoons milk, 1/2 teaspoon mint extract, and several drops of green food coloring for the GREEN Creme-de-menthe.

THANKSGIVING LEFTOVERS ~ THANKSGIVING CASSEROLE, THANKSGIVING EGG ROLLS & TURKEY TETRAZZINI

There really isn’t a recipe per se, but these are some favorite ways to use leftover turkey besides the obvious and mandatory cold turkey sandwiches while you decorate the Christmas tree and the open face hot turkey sandwiches after you’ve spent the day outside in the cold putting up the decorations.

For the casserole I start with dressing followed by small pieces of chopped turkey. Then I put a layer of mashed potatoes followed by a layer of homemade cranberry sauce. I finish it off with another layer of dressing. I bake it for 30 minutes and then serve with a ladle of hot gravy. BUT, you can be as adventurous as YOU’D like with yours. Maybe you want a layer of sweet potato casserole, marshmallows and all or green been casserole. Hubby had jalapeno cranberry sauce in his! You could even top it with another layer of crispy onions 😀

The other dish I saw on Facebook or Instagram a few years back. You start with a regular egg roll wrapper. Start with a nice thick strip of white meat turkey followed by a scoop of dressing, a SMALL spoonful of mashed potatoes drizzled with a tablespoon or so of both cranberry sauce and gravy. Roll them up like a traditional egg roll sealing the finally edge with a brush of water. Deep fry in hot oil and serve with more cranberry sauce for dipping. And then again is my tried and true Turkey Tetrazzini. 😀

When I was a kid, tetrazzini was a dish made from leftovers. In our house it could be from left over roast chicken, turkey or ham. The cheese back then was not of my liking either, usually Velveeta or American singles – YUCK!! Personally I only like it made with chicken and I prefer it with fresh seared chicken not the traditional boiled or stewed. 😀 One of the recipes I found was a much newer version that used “canned” products that I discarded immediately to lean towards the old fashioned version of scratch.

I have seen a bunch of recipes in old recipe files and brand name pamphlets for canned chicken. I even found one that must have come from a lunch lady’s files as it called for 20 cups of cooked chicken, 24 ounces of spaghetti noodles… honestly I quit reading at that point since I knew it would never for for the 2 of us and was giving me a headache to try and convert it to serve 2!

I ended up taking the parts I liked from each recipe AND my memories to make my new one!

TURKEY TETRAZZINI ala MEMORIES serves 4-6
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in half
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 2 cups cooked chicken or turkey pieces
3 tablespoons butter
1 LARGE stalk celery, sliced thin
1 shallot, diced
1 small (mini) red pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons Wondra flour
3/4 cup chicken (or turkey) broth
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Cream Sherry
2-3 sprigs thyme, leaves only
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Mozzarella
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
  • Generously season chicken pieces and sear 3-4 minutes per side in hot oil until cooked through and golden brown.
  • Remove chicken and small dice OR shred. Set Aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray baking dish with non-stick baking spray.
  • Prepare noodles per package directions.
  • Add butter to skillet.
  • When butter is sizzling add celery, shallots and peppers to skillet and saute 2-3 minutes.
  • Add flour to skillet, stirring to coat until golden.
  • Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to a simmer and stir in the heavy cream, apple cider vinegar, cream sherry and thyme leaves. Simmer until starting to thicken and slightly reduced.
  • Stir in cheeses, reserving a small amount for garnishing.
  • Fold in spaghetti noodles and chicken pieces.
  • Season to taste.
  • Transfer to baking dish.
  • Top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake 20 minutes until heated through and all cheese is melted.

NOTE: I have been known to throw in a can of drained petite peas 😀 to make it an all in one dish.

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 5 ~ BIG CHRISTMAS? QUIET CHRISTMAS? TRAVEL PLANS?

BIG CHRISTMAS? QUIET CHRISTMAS? TRAVEL PLANS? Which of these applies to you this year? Is it the same most years? Has the pandemic altered your plans at all?

We’ve always been pretty much homebodies during the holidays. Then again we always lived fairly close to family so traveling was only short distances.

Personally I cannot fathom traveling through a airport or train station with BIG crowds even before the pandemic. The one time we did travel over the holidays, we made a trip out of it leaving well before the holiday and going home long after it.

When I was a kid one of my favorite traditions was that we did a BIG family get together with a buffet of food and opening our family presents on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, after my dad passed, this tradition fell by the wayside.

Then on Christmas Day we did Christmas morning at our respective homes with “Santa” gifts and just the immediate family and then we would do a BIG turkey with all the trimmings including my dad’s old fashioned stuffing and giblet gravy with the entire family as well as extended family and friends, which included crazy Aunt Louise and Uncle Herb. I replicated dad’s stuffing recipe a few years ago (Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing) and that is now a MUST TRADITION for the Christmas meal no matter what the protein is.

Christmases for us now are MUCH MUCH smaller and our newest tradition in the last several years is watching our favorite traditional Christmas movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street as well as Hallmark Christmas movies and dreaming about moving to every small town depicted in them, kind of like Stars Hollow from the Gilmore Girls.  We loved that show!

This year again we will be having a quiet Christmas with just the two of us. There are several Christmas events leading up to Christmas we will be participating in with friends though.  We are also hoping some friends will be able to join us for New Years, but there are no plans set in stone yet.

So what are your plans?

HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY with RECIPE LINKS week 49 of 2021

Be sure to join us for Happy Homemaker Monday and link up
with our host, Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Did you enjoy Thanksgiving? Ours was quiet, but good. We had some good food, watched some football and Christmas movies. We also started and completed 

of the Christmas decorating. On Friday I had an appointment with a local mom & pop shop for their open house and again on Saturday did the Shop Small Rediscover Downtown with 4 of my favorite shops for most of the rest of my Christmas shopping.  I have a few items left that I can accomplish on Friday when I go to the Christmas Craft Fair at the fairgrounds.

Don’t forget I started the BLOGMAS 2021 posts. I hope you join in where you can.

DAY 1 ~ Holiday Schedule
DAY 2 ~ Elf on the Shelf / Gnomes
DAY 3 ~ Christmas Movie MUST Watch List
Day 4 ~ Christmas Music Playlist

It’s supposed to be cloudy all week, but reasonably dry which will be wonderful since the past couple weeks have been seriously “wet” cold that was settling in my bones. I’m hoping to dry out this week a bit.

Temperatures are supposed to be in the low 50’s for highs and high 30’s for lows. I’m loving the flannel and UGG’s weather.

Hot water and organic applesauce squeeze

THIS WEEK’S TO DO LIST, PROJECTS & APPOINTMENTS
  • LAUNDRY & CLEANING We did MOST of the decorating over the weekend so now I need to vacuum and pick up all the clutter! We’re also planning on downsizing for the garage sale in the spring so I need to seriously go through ALL the ornaments and Christmas decorations. We have soooooooo many that one of the things I’m going to do is label some totes as “USED in 2021” and the others as “USE IN 2022”. Everything not chosen for those categories will be going into the garage sale. Hubby is going to finish the outdoor decorations today, but even some of those have been chosen for the garage sale bin 😀 I NEED to do a DEEP clean of the pantry and laundry room to get an end of the year inventory for menu planning.
  • GROCERIES & ERRANDS I have 2 early appointments on Wednesday with the dermatologist and to get my hair done so will do all my errands and grocery shopping after those.
  • PAPERWORK & PHONE CALLS I’m working on this category today and tomorrow – the worst will be dealing with the insurance company trying to get things approved that have been previously denied and trying to do it with all my doctors leaving the area and leaving me in the lurch 🙁
  • RECIPE RESEARCH & MENU PLANNING It’s that time of year to clean out the freezer too so will work on recipes for December that do just that 😀

WHAT’S ON THE DVR/TV
  • REDBOX 13 MINUTES about a tornado and OLD about a science experiment gone awry – 13 MINUTES was done really well with a lot of detail and OLD was good, but really weird at times.
  • DISNEY+ HAWKEYE
  • CABLE HALLMARK and LIFETIME CHRISTMAS movies as well as Christmas baking shows – BUDDY VS. DUFF, HOLIDAY WARS, CHRISTMAS COOKIE CHALLENGE, HOLIDAY BAKING CHAMPIONSHIP

A friend recently posted this The Tourist Map of Literature site on facebook and it’s pretty interesting if you’re looking for new authors to read. Check it out if you’re looking for a new read.

I’m still working on some seasonal recipe magazines and tagging the recipes I’d like to make this winter. I also started a new series called Five Island Cove by Jessie Newton, Book number one is ‘The Lighthouse’.

We were at the local family run Christmas Tree Farm to get our Wreaths when they opened on Friday. I just love being in a small town! 😀

We did a charcuterie board with a lot of our favorite things for Thanksgiving eve and really enjoyed it.


with the links to last week’s posted recipes, featured party links for the week and upcoming recipes to be posted soon.

MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
SUNDAY
DINNER
THANKSGIVING EGG ROLLS
TURKEY TETRAZINI
REUBEN EGG ROLLS
C.O.R.N. CLEAN OUT REFRIGERATOR NIGHT
GRILLED CHICKEN SKEWERS with PEANUT BUTTER SAUCE
GRILLED SHRIMP PASTA
PAN FRIED STEAK & BAKERS
DESSERT
BLUEBERRY SOUR CREAM CAKE

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 4 ~ SOUNDS OF THE SEASON ~ MUSIC PLAYLIST

What are your favorite Christmas songs? Do you have a regular playlist?

I’m all over the place with Christmas music – it really depends on the day, the occasion, my mood, what food we’re eating – there are just sooooooooo many factors!

BUT, I do like to wait until at least the day after Thanksgiving!

I LOVE so many of the old standards, but I also love country Christmas and Mannheim Steamroller. I LOVE Christmas carolers, not that you see many these days. I was even part of the hand bell choir at church for Christmas programs many years ago.

As for some of MY favorite songs I have a few that top the list:

  • It’s Beginning to Look A Lot like Christmas
  • Silent Night
  • White Christmas
  • Jingle Bell Rock
  • Last Christmas 
  • Born on Christmas Day
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Little Drummer Boy the version with Bing Crosby and David Bowie
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • Deck the Halls
  • Baby It’s Cold Outside
  • Hard Candy Christmas
  • Come All Ye Faithful
  • It Came upon a Midnight Clear
  • We three Kings of Orient
  • Joy to the World
  • Rudolph the Reindeer
  • Do You Hear What I Hear
  • The Most Wonderful Time of Year
  • It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas
  • Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 3 ~ CHRISTMAS MOVIE MUST WATCH LIST

Today’s category has ALWAYS been an easy one for me. It’s also one that really doesn’t change much from year to year either. I start taping Christmas movies on Lifetime, Hallmark and INSP as soon as they air so I can watch them ALL year long. I’m a sucker for a happy ending and let’s face it, Christmas movies ALWAYS have happy endings.

So this list could be reallllllllllly long, but I will just keep it to the top 10 (used to be 5) MUST watch each and every year movies.

It’s a toss up for me about whether White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen and Danny Kaye or It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart, Lionel Barrymore and Donna Reed is my absolute favorite, but I think I’m leaning towards It’s a Wonderful life! As I believe the majority of people do.
Which Miracle on 34th street version (the original with Natalie Wood or the remake with Richard Attenborough) is the best? BOTH versions of course! But, the old version is getting REALLY hard to find.
The Santa Clause with Tim Allen quickly became a favorite – who could resist visiting the North Pole every year?
Now Home Alone is just silly, as is Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase but, they never fail to make me laugh! A new favorite is the Christmas Chronicles with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.
In addition to those above, I also LOVE While You were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman.
Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby, Marjorie Reynolds and Fred Astaire and is also a wonderful nostalgic oldie.
Little Women (whether you watch the 1933 with Katharine Hepburn, the 1949 with June Allyson and Peter Lawford, the 1994 with Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder and Kirsten Dunst or the 2019 version with Emma Watson) is also a fun movie for Christmas as is A Christmas Story.
And for my “11th” choice DIE HARD with Bruce Willis and Bonnie Bedelia is always good. I know there is A LOT of controversy as to whether it is a Christmas movie or not, but I like it – I’m diverse like that 😀

BLOGMAS 2021 ~ DAY 2 ~ ELF on the SHELF? GNOMES? NISSE?

The munchkins are growing up fast! 2 of 3 of them “KNOW”, but the youngest still believes so we are keeping the elf/nisse tradition alive at least one more year! 😀

I’ve discovered Julenisser, a Nordic tradition, this year to replace our previous Elf on a Shelf.   I can’t find that a Julenisser is actually given a name, but I’m winging it here. 😀 The nisse is one of the most familiar creatures of Scandinavian folklore. Last year we had Bailey, but this year we’re bringing back Annabelle and her pet reindeer, Alvin.

In Solvang, a Danish community, they actually do a Nisse Adventure like a scavenger hunt and Danish style JuleFest celebration throughout the month of December.

In Denmark there is a serious subculture regarding the Christmas elves and gnomes known as Julenisser. They live in forests and eat fruits and berries throughout the year before they come spend the month of Christmas with your family. They have BIG hearts and ARE magical! They love to play tricks on you and your family.

I know some people begin the day after Thanksgiving, but for us December 1st is always the beginning. For several years we did an Elf on the Shelf for the munchkins. Each year since we’ve done a “cousin” elf so it wasn’t the same elf every year. I know many parents are dreading that darned elf every year and having to come up with 24 DIFFERENT scenarios that are different from the previous year!

So when do you begin? Do you have unique names for your elf? Or do you have a Julenisser?