This is one of the simplest of recipes, but oh so tasty!
6-7 hard boiled eggs
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons FRENCH’S mustard
+/- 1/3 cup mayonnaise

  • Grate eggs into a mixing bowl.
  • Stir in pickle relish and mustard.
  • Fold in mayonnaise a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.


It’s been a whirlwind of weather changes around here.  Back at Thanksgiving I would have told you we were definitely in for a white Christmas, but sadly I think that chance has passed. 🙁  Last Friday we had a fluke warm up (65°) that only lasted the one day and then Friday night brought an unpredicted wind storm that had us scrambling to save the blow up from scurrying away despite his guide weights, but seems to have also influenced this next week.  ALL the predictions from before Friday have now warmed up a bit and even the rain amounts have decreased.  That said, I really don’t put much stock in the predictions anymore and take each day as it happens 😀



This recipe was originally written to serve 6 over at It uses dried herbs and a can of diced tomatoes. Unfortunately, diced canned tomatoes don’t come in small enough sizes for 2 so I adapted the recipe to make my own using cherry tomatoes AND use FRESH(er) herbs.  I also don’t particularly care for olive oil so I substitute avocado oil and instead of onion I substitute shallot for a little extra flavor.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
FRESH ground black pepper
garlic salt, to taste
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 large shallot, sliced
1 ¼ cup quartered cherry tomatoes
¼ cup QUALITY balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Gourmet Garden “squeeze” Italian herbs
1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden “squeeze” Basil

  • In a small bowl whisk together the balsamic vinegar, basil and Italian herbs.
  • Fold in tomatoes, cover and refrigerate until dinner.

  • Generously season chicken breasts with FRESH ground pepper and garlic salt.
  • Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.
  • Add shallot, cooking until browned. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Add chicken to skillet and sear each side, about 3 minutes per side.
  • Top chicken with shallots and tomato mixture.
  • Bring to a QUICK boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Turn chicken to coat well in glaze.
  • Serve over pasta or mashed potatoes.
  • Garnish with FRESH herbs.


When does your family open their presents?

This category has changed a lot over the years for me as I got older. 

My family traditions as a kid were of a BIG Christmas eve open and that carried on through college, but as we (cousins) all got older and began getting married with families of our own, our grandparents passed on, blended families (with their own traditions) were formed, etc… getting together for both Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day became harder and harder to do. 

Eventually Christmas eve became a much smaller event for immediate family for a small dinner and to open our gifts to each other.  Christmas morning was for being at our respective home with our kids opening presents and then the larger family get together much later on Christmas day for dinner at just one place, usually my mom and dad’s house which became our house after my dad passed away.


I found this recipe for BANANA UPSIDE DOWN CAKE over at TrickNTreat. I love banana in any type of cake, but this recipe takes bananas to a whole other level. The caramel topping is truly the “icing” on the cake!  I added a small amount of cinnamon to help enhance the flavors.


3 small VERY RIPE bananas, cut lengthwise
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup brown sugar

  • Melt butter in a skillet, remove from heat and add brown sugar, stir until sugar is melted.
  • Pour butter mixture onto 8 in pan, arrange banana, cut into 2 lengthwise  on top of sugar mixture.

1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup milk
2 VERY RIPE bananas mashed
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
8 tablespoons butter
1 LARGE egg

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray an 8×8 baking dish or a loaf pan with non-stick spray.
  • Sift flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking powder.
  • Beat butter and sugar until creamy.
  • Add salt, vanilla and egg.
  • Fold  in half of the flour, mixing well.
  • Add mashed banana, milk and remaining flour, stirring until well incorporated.
  • Spoon batter over sliced banana topping and spread evenly.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan for 10 minutes.
  • Invert into a serving plate and serve.

NOTE: IF you prefer a different look, the bananas can be cut into chunks or rounds instead of lengthwise. I PREFER a lot of small rounds myself.

While I’m glad I tried this recipe and it was good, I really prefer my regular Banana Nut Bread.


I mentioned yesterday that I LOVE our tree this year.  We bought all new LED lights this year so I worry a lot less about the lights getting too hot. and it’s full of all our favorite ornaments.  I would still like to find a lighted star or angel that I really like. 😀

In reality how I decorate each year changes based on my mood, weather, where we are living, etc… so it will never be the same twice! But, it will at least be the same components.

This is my Snowman Family arranged from 2 different years.
We made candle yule logs for Advent craft night at church one year and they were a HUGE success and soooooooo easy to do.  The decorations below are a few of my all time favorites.
The ornaments below are some of our homemade bulbs.  Several years ago I made quite a few and then did them with my girl scout troop also.  Hubby liked them so well that we have now donated all our store bought bulbs and made enough of these for the entire tree.

My cousin that passed away in 2014 made the ornament below for me.  It will always be hung by my shooting stars in her honor even though I’m still mad at her for leaving the mess called A HOUSE FROM HELL for me to deal with.
And our handmade ornament by Design Chick Creations.


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup PACKED brown sugar
1 LARGE egg
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla
1 cup AP flour
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
4 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup KRAFT caramel balls
¾ cup toast walnut pieces
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper (leave plenty of paper hanging over the edge to use as handles) and then spray with non-stick spray and flour.
  • Whisk together the flour, fine sea salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • In your mixer bowl beat the melted butter and brown sugar on medium until combined.
  • Add vanilla and egg, beating 2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
  • Gradually add flour mixture to the mixer, beating JUST until combined.
  • Fold in the milk chocolate, caramel balls and nut pieces.
  • Spoon batter into pan.
  • Bake 20-22 minutes until lightly browned and BARELY set. Add flaked sea salt after 10 minutes.
  • Let cool 1 hour.
  • Remove from pan and cut into squares.
  • Store in airtight container.

BLOGMAS 2019 – DAY 19 – 2020 IDEAS

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. This year we decided to “downsize” or streamline our decorations to only those that really mean something to us.  I honestly used the Feng Shui method on every decoration and ornament.  I have already donated the discards so I can’t change my mind.  So my ideas for 2020 are to decorate almost identically to how I decorated this year.  I LOVE our tree and am going to try and quit trying to invent the wheel with changing things.  There are still a few boxes to go through, but I see even more donations in the future 😀

This is a category I have given a lot of thought to OVER AND OVER, year after year, and while I no longer really want an upside down tree, I find the story of its origin very interesting. 
I found several places offering background on the upside down tree. One was, 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


Ironically I’ve been a bit under the weather this past week and am no trying to play catch up on BLOGMAS.
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

Navy Bean & Ham Soup

Tomato Dumplings

FRENCH Onion Potato Soup

FRENCH Onion Potato Soup serves 2
3 tablespoons butter, divided 1 + 2
1 small Vidalia onion, halved root to tip and sliced thin
2 sprigs FRESH thyme, minced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced small
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 slices baguette, buttered
1 cup grated gruy’ere cheese

  • Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in saucepan.
  • Add onions, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions are tender and light golden brown, 10-15 minutes.
  • Add garlic, cooking a minute or two until fragrant.
  • Add wine and cook until almost evaporated.
  • Stir in potatoes and broth.
  • Season to taste.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally until potatoes are fork tender, 10-15 minutes.
  • Using an immersion blender puree the soup.
  • Stir in the heavy cream and remaining butter until melted and well blended.
  • Preheat broiler.
  • Pour soup into oven proof boils.
  • Top with baguette slices.
  • Sprinkle with grated cheese.
  • Broil until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown, 2-3 minutes.


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 process.  But, he tries hard and is getting better at it every year.  EVERY year though he complains about having to actually make things ‘fit’ into something stocking shaped.  So NEXT year, we’ve agreed to use these cute bags I found on Amazon.
The picture below was a couple of years ago (I never give away this year’s items in case he reads my posts 😀 ) but this 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 alcohol flavors!