BLOGMAS 2018 – IDEAS FOR FUTURE CHRISTMAS – DAY 19

This is a category I have given a lot of thought to.  Christmas is full of tradition and with tradition comes a cyclic nature in how we do things year after year.  Our traditions and practices though stem from our experiences.  As life progresses things change and evolve over time.  All of this is my round about way of saying that in a future Christmas I would like to revert and try an inverted Christmas tree.
I found several places offering background on the upside down tree. One was, ChristmasCarnivals.com which also has many other links for Christmas history to check out too.

“Christmas is associated with many traditions, of which the Christmas Tree is an inherent part. The history of the upside down Christmas Tree has its roots in the 7th century. It is during this period that St Bonafice journeyed from Devonshire, England to Germany to preach the message of God. He engaged himself in religious as well as social work and spent a lot of his time in Thuringia, a town located in Germany itself, which is the birthplace of the industry dealing with Christmas Decorations.

It is believed that St Boniface, while staying in Thuringia, took the help of the triangular fir tree to represent the Holy Trinity made up of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. As a result, the converted people started to [consider] the Fir tree as God’s Tree. Then St Bonafice, using this triangular shaped tree tried to introduce to the pagan tribes the paragons of Trinity.

By the 12th century, it became a custom, especially in Europe to hang the Fir trees upside down from the ceilings to symbolize the Holy Trinity. The Upside down Christmas Trees was also considered the symbol of Christianity. However, the real history behind the hanging of the upside down Trees remains vague. Presently the trend of hanging a Christmas Tree has changed, because nowadays the tip of the Christmas Tree is made to point towards Heaven, as many think that an upside down Christmas tree is a sign of contempt.”

St. Boniface~Wikipedia
St. Boniface~New Advent
ChristmasCarnivals.com


BLOGMAS 2018 – CHRISTMAS PAST – DAY 18

Christmas Past is a COMPLETELY subjective category. The older I get the more I realize that it’s the traditions and the memories that weave our holidays together. It’s little things like the who puts the lights on the tree or the angel on top of it. It’s the favorite recipes that you only make at Christmas time. It’s the laughter of the munchkins each morning as they discover what mischief AnnaBelle has gotten into. It’s a baking day with the munchkins making your favorite traditional recipes to share on Giving plates to the neighbors…

Last year was an unusual Christmas for us with my surgery and it’s life altering outcome, but we did follow many of our normal traditions like putting up the tree, Christmas Eve service with our neighbor who attended the same church and Christmas Eve dinner at a friends (even if I couldn’t eat anything 😀 ).

This category for me is also subjective based on where we were living at the time. This year being back in the cold of the Pacific Northwest is actually making me remember Snowy Christmases for some reason.  A couple of my favorite Christmases were when we were in Upper Peninsula Michigan.  Maybe it was the trees, water and snow, but for me it was also the old churches.  There was so much history there.  These are 2 of my favorite country churches from Michigan.  I took these pictures in 2011 at Christmas time ON THE SAME DAY. That’s how fast weather changes with lake effect snow!

I JUST LOVE OLD CHURCHES! The bottom 3 pictures are from a REALLY neat stone church in the middle of town.
But, my favorite country church is from a teeny tiny little town called Mansfield. It was once a growing little town until there was a mine disaster.  Now all that exists is the monument to the disaster, the church and a few random homes.
And then while cleaning out some old files I found this OLD Christmas picture from a million years ago, well maybe not a million, but a really LONG time ago!  Just goes to show you how subjective your memories of the past can be


HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY week 51 OF 2018

We took our Christmas “gift” trip last week and went to Seattle where it rained, but LOL we expected so there were no BIG surprises. We came home to GORGEOUS weather here only for it to literally change into a serious storm while I was out getting the errands and groceries done – or at least trying to – the storm was so severe it knocked out multiple trees which in turn knocked out multiple power lines which turned the city into a parking lot with no working traffic lights and closed down virtually EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE!  It took me hours to get home and then I had to go back the next day to finish.

Be sure to link up with
Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy homemaker Monday

and with Laura at I’m an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE & WHAT I’M WEARING – RAIN and yet MORE RAIN.  Oh and add in some cold – typical Pacific Northwest weather, but I really do love it.  As usual I’m wearing Levis with my favorite gray and pink plaid flannel shirt.

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE – While it’s boring, it agrees with me so I’m having hot tea (huckleberry this morning) with a banana and peach yogurt

CRAFTS / PROJECTS – Nothing much til after the holidays

FUTURE IDEASHave y’all seen this? I saw it on Facebook over the weekend and fell in love with the idea. Each kid has their own snowman to unwrap and the bottom gift is a toy, the middle gift is clothing, the head is a favorite snack, and the card is either cash or a gift card! Super cute idea and keeps you from going overboard!

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA –  We ate at a fun Italian restaurant when we were in Seattle at PIKE PLACE MARKET last week.  I LOVE that they are so sure of themselves that there wasn’t even a sign for the business name.  We found them online while researching the market and used GPS to get there.  We were so surprised to find no sign, but were confident we were there since the name of the restaurant is THE PINK DOOR. We had a GREAT lunch and if we lived closer would go back regularly.

INSPIRATION

AS I LOOK AROUND THE HOUSE / WEEKLY TO DO LIST & HOUSE PROJECTS /  APPOINTMENTS

  • LAUNDRY… just a couple loads
  • LIVING AREAS... need to vacuum
  • KITCHEN… pretty clean
  • YARD… nothing much
  • BLOG… preparing BLOGMAS and AnnaBelle Elf on the Shelf posts to get through Christmas,
  • PROJECTS… nothing until 2019
  • APPOINTMENTS… dermatologist, baking with the munchkins
  • TO DO

I’M READING – I just finished Fatal Invasion and then started Yours after Dark, both series by Marie Force

WHAT IS ON THE DVR OR LIST TO WATCH – Baking shows and Christmas movies of course!

HEALTH & BEAUTY TIPS

HOMEMAKING/COOKING TIP

MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK

BREAKFAST

LUNCH

DINNER

DESSERT

MONDAY – FRIDAY

GREEN TEA,

BANANA & YOGURT

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

MONDAY

R.E.D. recipe experiment dinner WHISKEY MUSTARD MEATBALLS

TUESDAY

CHICKEN with TOMATOES & HONEY

WEDNESDAY

C.O.R.N. clean out refrigerator night

THURSDAY

STIR FRY CHICKEN & SNOW PEAS

FRIDAY

CHICKEN POTATO CAKE

SATURDAY

BRAISED HORSERADISH BEEF

SUNDAY

C.O.R.N. clean out refrigerator night

SUCCESSFUL RECIPE LINKS FROM LAST WEEK

BLOGMAS 2018 – COOKIES & DESSERTS – DAY 17

There is a bit of overlap in this category as some of these are ALSO my favorites that we did a couple days ago. But, I reward you at the end to the links for other favorites that are great for cookie exchanges or neighbor plates.

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.

Now there is much debate over Gran’s cranberry salad recipe, but one thing was for sure, she’d have to make a double batch, one for my mom and aunt and another for everyone else.  Now while I usually helped prepare the above recipe, I hated it!! One year she even decided the grapes needed to be peeled – need I say more? And recently Jean from SO NOT ORGANIZED pointed out that the grapes in the recipe seemed strange, but I’m here to tell you that they really MAKE the recipe. 😀

I much prefer the recipe below.  Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but I’ve already eaten a whole batch by myself.  In my defense it was while I wasn’t feeling good and had a sore throat.

HOLIDAY SALAD
1 package (3 ounces) cherry Jell-o
1 package (3 ounces) black cherry Jell-o
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 can (14 ounces) whole berry cranberry sauce
1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, undrained
2 cups seedless green grapes, quartered
chopped pecans (optional)

  • Dissolve the jell-o in the boiling water in a large bowl.
  • Fold in the pineapple and cranberry sauce.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Fold in grapes and pecans if desired.
  • Refrigerate until firm.

Now on to the REALLY yummy stuff!

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CHUNKY MONKEYS
3 cups crushed pretzels
1/2 cup sugar
scant 1 cup butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Line a 13×9 cake pan with heavy duty foil, leaving plenty on the edges to use as handles later.  This will make clean-up so much easier.
  • In a medium mixing bowl stir together the pretzels, sugar and melted butter until well blended.
  • Press the pretzel mixture evenly into the bottom of the cake pan.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
11 ounce package caramel baking bits (or 14 ounce vanilla caramels, unwrapped)
2 cups honey roasted peanuts

  • In a medium saucepan melt butter over a medium heat.
  • Whisk in the whipping cream and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved.
  • Stir in caramel bits, stirring constantly until bits are melted and sauce is smooth.
  • Add in peanuts to coat well.
  • Immediately pour over pretzel layer, spreading evenly.

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup Heath milk chocolate toffee bits

  • Scatter each of these over the caramel layer.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until edges are bubbling.
  • Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  • Lift foil edges to remove bars from pan.
  • Cut into bars.
  • Layer between wax paper in an airtight container.  I store them in the fridge, but the can also be frozen for 3 months.
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My great aunt who I only got to see a couple times a year used to make these every year special 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.

A few more favorites are:

BLOGMAS 2018 – LAST MINUTE GIFTS – DAY 16

I’m a Virgo and as such tend to make lists and be over-prepared as the general rule.  So, the only last minute gifts I tend to need are a couple extras for those unexpected visits that come up like a surprise gift from a neighbor.A few of the “things” I keep on hand (with a festive ribbon already tied to them) for those occasions are:

  • Coffee gift cards
  • Homemade applesauce
  • Homemade jam
  • And closer to the actual day a plate full of homemade goodies

Here are a couple of recipes I make most years that are great to have around and NEVER EVER go to waste whether they are given as gifts or eaten in house LOL.

CARAMEL BUTTERSCOTCH FUDGE
1 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup Kraft caramel bits
1 can Eagle-Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Fisher’s Cinnamon Pecans
  • Line a 9×9 pan with heavy duty foil leaving enough foil overhanging the edges to use as handle to lift the foil out of the pan after the fudge has set.
  • Using a double boiler over medium heat melt the chips, caramel bits and condensed milk together until smooth.
  • Immediately pour into the foil lined pan.
  • Top with pecans using a piece of wax paper to press the pecans slightly into the fudge.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 can Eagle-Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Crushed Honey Roasted Peanuts

  • Line a 9×9 pan with heavy duty foil leaving enough foil overhanging the edges to use as handle to lift the foil out of the pan after the fudge has set.
  • Using a double boiler over medium heat melt the chips and condensed milk together until smooth.
  • Immediately pour into the foil lined pan.
  • Top with peanut pieces using a piece of wax paper to press the pecans slightly into the fudge.

DUCHESS POTATO CASSEROLE

Duchess potatoes in the traditional sense can be a lot of work to make them look right so this casserole is a real time saving alternative that looks just as pretty!
DUCHESS POTATO CASSEROLE
3 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2/3 cup half and half
1 LARGE egg separated plus 2 egg yolks
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 3/4 teaspoons FRESH ground sea salt
Pinch of FRESH ground black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Grease a 13×9 baking dish.
  • Place potatoes in a large saucepan covered 1 inch by cold water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and simmer 20 minutes or until tender.
  • Drain potatoes.
  • Whisk together the half and half, egg yolks, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set aside.

 

  • Rice the potatoes into the sauce pan.
  • Stir in 8 tablespoons of the melted butter.
  • Stir in half and half mixture.
  • Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.
  • Combine the egg white with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter and pinch of salt.
  • Pour over potato mixture, spread smooth. At this point you can draw a pattern or just leave plain.
  • Bake 45-50 minutes until golden brown. Rotate baking dish half way through.
  • Cool 10 minutes before serving.

BLOGMAS 2018 – STOCKING STUFFERS – DAY 15

Stuffing stockings is one of my favorite things to do.  I’m always on the look out for special little items that I tuck away all year long waiting for just this day.  Since the kids are grown hubby gets my FULL attention and he hates it (sort of) because he says he isn’t as good at reciprocating the stocking processs.  But he tries hard and is getting better at it every year.
This was a couple of years ago (I never give away this year’s items in case he reads this posts 😀 ) but gives you the idea:
  • 2 new Wii U games (Amazon had an awesome Black Friday sale I could do from home in my PJ’s)
  • fun snacks – M&Ms, cashews, pistachios and DILL peanuts.
  • some camo carbiners
  • some camo notepads
  • an Army magnet
  • new winter gloves
  • Mason jar shot glasses so he’ll quit using my REAL mason jars
  • a couple of additional watchband choices to accessorize one of his gifts from mom
  • .50 caliber pocket knife
  • lottery tickets
This year I already stuffed his stocking, but guarantee it will be full of ALL sorts of fun stuff again including some of his new favorite flavors of Dr. McGullicuddys!