BLOGMAS 2018 – DAY 5 – WINTER MUSTS

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

Split Pea Soup  

Red Chicken Chili

Black Eyed Pea Chili

Tomato Spinach Soup  

Navy Bean & Ham Soup

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo  



BLOGMAS 2018 – DAY 4 – CHRISTMAS MOVIES

Today’s category is an easy one for me.  I start taping Christmas movies on Lifetime, Hallmark and INSP as soon as they air so I can watch all year long.  I’m a sucker for a happy ending and let’s face it, Christmas movies have happy endings.

So this list could be reallllllllllly long, but I will just keep it to the top 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!
Which Miracle on 34th street version (the original with Natalie Wood or the remake with Richard Attenborough) is the best?  BOTH versions of course!
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, but it never fails to make me laugh!



BLOGMAS 2018 – DAY 3 – CHRISTMAS MUSIC LIST

I’m all over the place with Christmas music – depends on the day, the occasion, my mood, what food we’re eating – just sooooooooo many factors! BUT, I do like it to wait until at least the day after Thanksgiving!
I love 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 handbell choir at church for Christmas programs.
As for favorite songs I have a few that top the list:
  • Silent Night
  • White Christmas
  • Jingle Bell Rock
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • The twelve days of Christmas
  • Deck the Halls
  • 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

All this aside, I’m really ticked off that so many people are creating issues where they shouldn’t exist to begin with.  The banning of BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE this year is ABSOLUTELY ridiculous! When the song was written in 1944, it was a different era. The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended, and in my opinion reading too much into something that at the time was innocent enough.

Here are the lyrics.  You decide for yourself and remember the song was written 74 years ago! The song was written by Frank Loesser as a duet for him to sing with his wife at parties.

I really can’t stay (Baby it’s cold outside)
I gotta go away (Baby it’s cold outside)
This evening has been (Been hoping that you’d dropped in)
So very nice (I’ll hold your hands they’re just like ice)
My mother will start to worry (Beautiful what’s your hurry?)
My father will be pacing the floor (Listen to the fireplace roar)
So really I’d better scurry (Beautiful please don’t hurry)
Well maybe just a half a drink more (I’ll put some records on while I pour)
The neighbors might think (Baby it’s bad out there)
Say what’s in this drink? (No cabs to be had out there)
I wish I knew how (Your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell) (Why thank you)
I ought to say no, no, no sir (Mind if move in closer?)
At least I’m gonna say that I tried (What’s the sense of hurtin’ my pride?)
I really can’t stay (Baby don’t hold out)
Baby it’s cold outside
Ah, you’re very pushy you know?
I like to think of it as opportunistic
I simply must go (Baby it’s cold outside)
The answer is no (But baby it’s cold outside)
The welcome has been (How lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (Look out the window at that storm)
My sister will be suspicious (Gosh your lips look delicious!)
My brother will be there at the door (Waves upon a tropical shore)
My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious (Gosh your lips are delicious!)
Well maybe just a cigarette more (Never such a blizzard before) (And I don’t even smoke)
I’ve got to get home (Baby you’ll freeze out there)
Say lend me a coat? (It’s up to your knees out there!)
You’ve really been grand, (I feel when I touch your hand)
But don’t you see? (How can you do this thing to me?)
There’s bound to be talk tomorrow (Think of my life long sorrow!)
At least there will be plenty implied (If you caught pneumonia and died!)
I really can’t stay (Get over that old out)
Baby it’s cold
Baby it’s cold outside
Okay fine, just another drink then
That took a lot of convincing!



BLOGMAS 2018 – DAY 2 – THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

Christmas is the most important holiday to me and not because Santa comes, though that is pretty important to the kiddos, but more importantly, it’s a caring spirit, a sharing feeling, an attitude that I try to practice all year long.  I truly feel good about giving – whether it’s the Angel tree gifts I select for kiddos, the reverse advent box I put together or the smile from the Salvation Army bell ringer as you put your money in their red bucket and wish them Merry Christmas.

For 10 years I chaired an Angel Tree Program for FISH and I loved doing it! I prepared for it every year and I truly believe each year got better and better.  The night before we distributed the gifts I would go shopping for the teenage girls.  We were ALWAYS lacking in gifts for the teen girls no matter what we tried to boost things up for them.  So now when I choose the angels from the trees in the community I seek out the teenage girls specifically.

Christmas means lots and lots of memories of family, some no longer with us, but always in my heart when I hang an ornament they made especially for me like my cousin Beth who we lost in 2014 or a recipe that they always prepared like my dad’s Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing or Gram’s Christmas box full of goodies picked out just for each one of us or…

One of the things I try to practice is to make at least one homemade gift each year – nothing extravagant, but just something that says “I MADE THIS with LOVE JUST FOR YOU“.

The years that I host Christmas include a lot of family recipes.  But, most importantly, Christmas is the spirit of Love and Giving and it must be felt and shared. Christmas is a gift from above and each year as I grow older I realize more and more that Christmas is about Love, Peace, Sharing, Caring and just being together.


May we ALL carry the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all throughout the year by remembering the REAL reason for the season.
I found this story years ago over at Heather’s blog Family Forever, now a closed blog, but I kept it to remind me to remember this for the future.  Each year more and more of my gifts will be given in the same manner as my family really doesn’t ‘need’ anything, but so many others do. Don’t forget your tissue box as you read this story.
THE SIMPLE WHITE ENVELOPE
It’s just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas –oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it — the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma — the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth.. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended.

Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, ‘I wish just one of them could have won,’ he said. ‘They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.’ Mike loved kids — all kids — and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition –one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknown to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope. Mike’s giving spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always.


ANNABELLE’S LIFE – ELF ON A SHELF – DAY 1

One of the things I love about this season is the innocence of children.  Every year for the past several years I join in on Elf On A Shelf for my favorite munchkins.  My elf is a;ways a “cousin” to their elf, Tuck and magically appears under their tree every Christmas despite the fact that for the past 3 years we were 2000 miles away.  This year we’re right next door again so I have to be a bit craftier in our Elf posts.  Meet our new elf, AnnaBelle.  Her friend is planning a visit soon too! 😀

BLOGMAS 2018 – DAY 1 – HOLIDAY SCHEDULE

Christmas is such a busy time of year.  I find getting through the season is ALWAYS easier with a basic schedule.  While this is not a detailed extensive list, it IS a basic guideline for me to stay focused with.  There are a lot of little things like making a list of the ELF on the SHELF shenanigans and things of that nature that don’t make this list, but still needs done.

I hope you’ll join me and have some fun this holiday season.