WOW there are so many! My very first personal desk when I was 9, my aunt coming to visit from Texas around that same time and sitting on the floor in a leather dress playing Barrel of Monkeys with the younger kids or maybe the year I got my first bike, whoops wait that was the birthday before Christmas.

My grandfather worked for General Electric as an X-ray technician of sorts (he oversaw the installation and calibration of X-ray equipment) and one year he brought home a GE Snow tree and ornaments (I still don’t know the correlation between between being an X-ray technician and Christmas trees). Anyway this tree had a HUGE cardboard base and once the tree was up and decorated you filled this base with thousands of tiny Styrofoam balls and when you turned the switch on the tree would make it’s own snow.  As a kid I thought it was pretty cool, but as an adult I look back and realize what a MESS it made!! Especially when the wind was blowing and static electricity was high – those damn balls stuck to EVERYTHING!

But wait, that is not my favorite memory.  It turns out that my favorite memory is of trying to stump my dad each year with his gift – it became a mission of sorts to be the first to stump him.  I swear the man was Carnac when it came to knowing what was inside a box. We tried EVERY year to stump him and I don’t remember ever being able to do it.  We tried adding bricks, taping a silver dollar with duct tape to the bottom so it would flip back and forth to make noise when you shook it, adding a pair of shoes… but he ALWAYS guessed!  I don’t know how he did it.


So far this year, we’ve been VERY wet, but not white yet so I’ll show you the pictures from Winter 2013.  This was our first snowstorm of the season, just before Christmas.

Hubby made this for me to wake up to in the back yard before the snow got too bad.
The house across the street usually looks horrible, but NOT when it’s under a blanket of snow.

Unfortunately, being in a cul-de-sac, delivery tracks leave MANY tire tracks at this time of year to mar the beautiful snow cover.
Even Rudolph was shivering!
The first day after he storm was absolutely gorgeous though!
The duck pond behind the neighborhood was truly a work of art.
Obviously we hadn’t gone anywhere – no tire tracks!
The fish ladder was like glass with the cold and ice.


I’ve been looking forward to this day! I have many many recipes, but these are the closest to my heart. Grab a cup of my SIL’s homemade hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows and join me while we chat.

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.

(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.

Many Christmases ago I stood in my childhood kitchen watching my dad prepare the stuffing for dinner.  Daddy never stuffed the Turkey, but instead made the “stuffing” like a big casserole.  The stuffing was always my favorite part topped with daddy’s giblet gravy – YUMMY.  I can taste it like it was always those years ago again.

Several years ago my brother asked me to try and reproduce the recipe as a scratch recipe and VOILA’, I did it! This wasn’t easy since daddy started with a box of Mrs. Cubbinson’s cornbread dressing cubes and then started winging it from there.

10 slices Brownberry or Oroweat OATNUT bread, cut into bite size chunks
1/2 loaf sourdough French bread, cut into bite size chunks
1 large sweet onion, chopped fine
1 small bunch celery (leaves and all), chopped fine
1/2 bag baby carrots, chopped fine
1 box mushrooms, chopped fine
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon white pepper
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 cups hot water
2 tablespoons Better than Bouillon Chicken base
2 tablespoons Buttery Herb & Garlic Mix (I believe McCormick makes it)
4 teaspoons minced garlic, Jar

  • Cut bread into bite sized chunks and spread out in a thin layer over cookie sheets.
  • Bake at 200 degrees for 3-4 hours until pieces are actually hard.
  • Chop all the vegetables.
  • In a large cast iron pan melt 1/4 cup of the butter.
  • Add the onions and saute until translucent. The add the celery and carrots and continue sauteing until crisp tender. Add the garlic last as it will burn first.
  • Whisk together the water, better than bouillon chicken base and all of the seasonings.
  • Add the melted butter.
  • In a large pan toss the bread slices together.
  • Add the sauteed vegetables and toss again.
  • Add the liquid mixture and toss again until well absorbed.
  • Fold entire mixture into at least a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Bake uncovered 1 hour.
  • At this point I use a small portion for our dinner that night and freeze the rest.
  • When it’s time to cook it again, I defrost it, put it back in the same baking dish and bake it again, but this time covered with foil until the last 15 minutes so it doesn’t dry out. We like it crisp on top so I remove the foil the last 15 minutes.

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?

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.

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!

    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.

    Ritz crackers
    creamy peanut butter
    almond bark

    • Spread peanut butter on ritz crackers and top with another cracker. 
    • Melt almond bark in the microwave. 
    • Dip each cookie in the almond bark and set onto wax paper to harden. 
    • If you’re using sprinkles do so before the almond bark hardens.

     A few more favorites are:


      Today we are listing what we CANNOT live without in winter. There are, I’m sure many many more 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.

      More entries over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom’s BLOGMAS.


      Funny story here – I had herb savers on my Amazon Christmas list for the past 2 years.  So this year I decided to buy myself a Christmas present and get the herb keepers so I could quit using a glass covered with a plastic bag.

      So, a couple days ago, hubby holds up one of the new herb keepers and asks, what’s this?  So I begin explaining what an herb keeper is and he’s like, “No why did you buy them?”  Long story short he was getting them for me this year for Christmas.



      Over the years I have made everything, and I do mean everything at one time or another to create a handmade Christmas. I’ve made rolls and rolls of butcher paper into wrapping paper, cut grocery bags into handmade tags, made enough fudge, candies and cookies to feed a small country, as well as jams, jellies, soup mixes and Snowman soup!

      My award winning jams were requested one year at the Church Christmas Boutique and I ended up selling for another 10 years before we moved.  Now I make just enough for gifts for neighbors and family.  I started making Snowman Soup about 20 years ago for the girl scouts and it was a HUGE seller at our gift wrap days and later for the Church Boutique.

      Last year I missed the big Christmas Crafts Festival at the fairgrounds because of an ice storm, but this year I made it!  For the things I didn’t make myself, I at least bought from local crafters.

      As for receiving, I love ANYTHING handmade.  I’m a BIG believer that it’s the thought that counts and that caring action ALWAYS touches my heart though I’m partial to cotton crocheted dishcloths, my brothers photographs, my mom’s quilted totes and ANYTHING food.


      BLOGMAS 2014 – DAY 6 – When do you open presents?

      This has changed a lot over the years.  My family traditions of a BIG Christmas eve from when I was a kid carried on through college, but as we got older and got families of our own, parents 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 for me it became more and more Christmas morning only which is fine by me.


      This is another easy topic.  The one thing I am noticing as I type each entry is that by doing this, I am remembering so many silly stories and anecdotes about aunts, uncles, cousins and such that keep bringing a smile to my face.  These memories are part of what this season is all about to me.

      I’d like to say that our table looked just like the one in the picture. Well Christmas day was close, but Christmas Eve was much more casual.

      One of my earlier memories is of a very warm Christmas Day, a backed up sink/garbage disposal (I don’t think we ever had a holiday in that house where the garbage disposal didn’t have an issue of some sort) and having to transport all the prepared food from my parent’s house to my granparent’s house via my  grandmother’s RED (kind of like a Christmas sleigh) Chevy station wagon (remember those?) while my uncle and I sat in the back keeping the food from toppling over.

      CHRISTMAS EVEServed Buffet style since this was the night we did most of the present opening and the adults didn’t want to spend all their time in the kitchen – in later years we would have it catered (so to speak – they prepared the food, we picked it up and displayed it) from Rattler’s BBQ.  We also began to use “FINE CHINA” as hubs calls it aka as decorated paper.

      • Sandwich makings – roast beef, ham, cheeses
      • Potato Salad
      • See’s Candy boxes
      • Wintergreen ribbon candy
      • Chocolate covered cherries

      CHRISTMAS DAYThis is where we dug out the REAL fine china and crystal as well as the silver.  I loved setting the table for this meal. There were always enough people that we had a KID’S table too.  I hated the kid’s table – all the good stuff was sitting at the grown-up’s table.

      • Roast Turkey
      • Daddy’s Stuffing – now recreated from scratch to taste virtually the same as my Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing
      • Mashed Potatoes from scratch – it was these potato peels that were one of the biggest garbage disposal problems
      • Giblet Gravy
      • Cranberry Sauce – they used Ocean Spray from a can but we now use one of these 2 homemade recipes – Cranberry or Cranberry Pomegranate Tangerine
      • Baked Ham – in later years it was always HONEYBAKED HAM and I loved making Split Pea soup with the left over bone.
      • Glazed Carrots
      • Green Bean Casserole
      • Gran’s cranberry salad – she’d make two, one for mom and aunt Liz and one for everone else.
      • Rolls and butter
      • Traditional pies like pumpkin, Cherry and as well as Cherry Pineapple Dump Cake.

      When we go to my SIL’s family for Christmas (or any other big family get together)  we do Hor’deouvres style.   The family is so big that over the years we have found that if each person brings an hor’deouvres to feed 10+ people that we can make a HUGE feast.  We just serve it buffet style and mingle and play – it is ALWAYS the best time.  

      More entries over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom’s BLOGMAS.


      More entries over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom’s BLOGMAS.
      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!

      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

      BLOGMAS 2014 – DAY 3

      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!