Sunday, December 25, 2016

Week 53, 12-25-2016

Thoughts and Quotes:  Life is what we make it.  Always has been.  Always will be.
                                                                        Grandma Moses (1860-1961)

We're getting ready to start a brand new year. Let's make it our best one yet. As you look back over 2016, what did you accomplish? Where did you go? What did you learn? These questions are some I asked myself at the end of 2015, and I was amazed that an entire year had slipped by and I scarcely remembered it. That's when I started my blog. It's my memory jogger. In the coming week, I'll go back and read my life and then I'll plan my 2017. I'm not suggesting that you start a blog, but spend $1 on a calendar with a square for each day large enough to jot down your life. Not a journal - just a little nudge. "Dentist", "Planted bulbs", "Washed windows", "Left for cruise", "Ft. Lauderdale", "Playa Carmen", "Grand Cayman", "Jamaica", "Home from cruise", "Made birthday cake for mom", "Tea at Patsy's". You get the picture. I think it's such a good idea that I'm going to do it myself, even with a blog.

Teas: I had Winter Tea for my cooking sisters: 



Sliced Beef, Bacon-Cheese

Ham Biscuits



Ginger Krackles

Coconut Macaroons

Mint Chip

Jello (Cherry and Lime) Don't make these. We didn't like them.

The recipes for Carrot Sandwiches, Quiche Lorraine Bites, and Ginger Krackles are on Week 45. The recipe for the Bacon-Cheese Sandwiches is on Week 50 and Mint-Chip Cookies is on Week 44.

(From Taste of Home Magazine)

2-1/2 cups flaked coconut
1/3 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the coconut, flour and salt.

Add the condensed milk and vanilla and mix well.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheet.  

Bake 15-20 minutes to golden brown.

Note: You can easily double this recipe, as one can of sweetened condensed milk is exactly the amount you need for a double batch.

(aka Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cookies)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (or nuts of choice)
2 cups flour
Powdered sugar for coating

Heat oven to 350°.

With electric mixer, beat butter until light.

Add vanilla; then add sugar, a little at a time.

Beat until light and fluffy.

Add flour and combine well.

Stir in nuts.

Form into 1” balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet an inch apart.

Bake 12-15 minutes to pale golden.

Cool on sheets for 5 minutes and then roll in powdered sugar to completely coat.

Tip: Don't remember if I told you before, but here goes. I keep my recipes in Word files. When I want to make the recipe, I can just print it, slop it up with butter or whatever, throw it away when I'm finished. I save them under My Documents - My Recipes - Appetizers, Beverages, Bread, Breakfast, etc. If you see a recipe here which you'd like to keep, just copy and paste. In case someone asks for a recipe, I can either email it or print it. Or I can just copy and paste it into my blog post. Easy-peasy.

I also keep a copy in a binder on my cookbook shelves in the kitchen for quick reference. If I'm not sure I have enough coconut for macaroons when I'm making out my grocery list, I can get the answer without going to my computer.

Tasting: When Mim came to tea, she brought me some of her Cappucinno Balls, which are a variation of Snowballs. Here's her recipe.


1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsps. vanilla
2 tsps. instant coffee powder
1/4 cup cocoa
1-3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups pecans, finely chopped

Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until light.
Add instant coffee, cocoa, flour, and salt.

Mix well, then add pecans.
Shape into 1” balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 325° for about 15 - 18 minutes.
Roll in powdered sugar while warm.

'Tis the Season: I went Christmas shopping at the mall with Joey and we had a glorius day. We saw Santa, and I loved his minimalist white trees with red balls - so easy, but so striking.

Joey commented that if you bought these, you'd keep adding and probably spend $5,000, and I told her that, yes, it's probably like card making - you just keep adding tools and supplies until you go bankrupt. I tried adding a little video so you could see how all the pieces move, but alas, no success. Sorry, too, because it's rather fascinating how they all interlock and move at once.

Then we came to these stands where they personalize tree ornaments. They're beautifully made and themed to match the receiver if you're giving them as gifts. Joey bought a baby's first year for a new great-grandson. They had sports themes, occupations themes, hobby themes, boys in the service, etc.

Time for Others: My cardmaking friends took time to make me a card, and I love them. It's so fun to see how creative people can be. And everyone has her own individual style. I thought you might enjoy seeing them.

Amy, who sponsors the Five on Friday linky party (see it here) organized a card exchange and I was matched with my blogger friend Carrie (click here) and she made this sweet card with a handmade tiny doily and a vintage pin for wearing during the holidays. She also spoiled me with a packet of cardmaking bits with a cooking theme and a tin of her world-famous sugared pecans.

From Joey, and I'm so sorry that glitter doesn't show up well, because this card has plenty of bling.

Vickie, our Stampin' Up demonstrator (click here)





Give these girls a great big hand and a few bravos!

Thank You: To my chosen niece Terri for my beautiful Christmas flowers. The evergreen makes my house smell so Christmasy.

Teaching and Learning: What do you know about Kwanzaa? It starts the day after Christmas and it's celebrated by African Americans. That's about all that most people know, including myself. I decided to investigate.

Kwanzaa in Swahili means "first fruits of the harvest". It starts on December 26 and continues until January 1. Kwanzaa originated in the United States, started by African Americans to celebrate their heritage.

Here's the celebration: First a straw mat is placed on a table. It has beautiful patterns which represent "tradition". An ear of corn for each child in the family is placed on the mat, along with apples, bananas, nuts, pears, yams, in honor of earth's abundance.

Seven candles are placed in a wooden candle holder: a black candle in the middle; three red candles on one side and three green candles on the other. 

Day 1: The black candle is lit to celebrate unity of the race and of the family.

Day 2: A red candle is lit to celebrate traditions. For example, the women might teach the girls how to braid hair in fancy styles. Some families will teach the beating of drums in African rythms.

Day 3: A green candle is lit to represent collective work and responsiblity. The family joins together to accomplish a chore or project.

Day 4: Everyone saves coins for an entire year to buy a family gift. This is gift day and a red candle is lit.

Day 5: Another green candle is lit and this is the day for goal-setting and planning for the future.

Day 6: The third red candle is lit for creativity: Dancing, singing, artistic projects, or planting seeds.

Day 7: The final green candle is lit to celebrate the faith that only good will happen. This is the day for eating traditional foods like roasted yams and collard greens. To begin the feast, an adult spills a few drops of water from the Kwanzaa cup to honor the ancestors, and then each person takes a sip to toast family unity. After the blessing, the feast begins.

Pretty wonderful, right? Maybe we could all use a little Kwanzaa in our lives.

Tomorrow: Once Christmas is only a memory, it's time to plan for a perfectly exciting 2017. I need a little structure in my life, so I've divised a plan which I hope I can follow, at least for awhile.

Muffin Tin Monday: There are countless things to make in muffin tins. I thought it would be fun to try some of them.

Tidy Up Tuesday: I need to do a deep clean on my entire house, so I'm going room by room and use Tuesday as the day to do the "extras" instead of the usual vacuum, dust, mop routine.

Where Shall We Go Wednesday: I spend entirely too much time at home when there's a big wonderful world out there. Wednesday is out to lunch (and maybe more) day.

Try Something Thursday: So many things just waiting to be discovered - a gadget I bought and never used, a new recipe, a new restaurant, a new card making tutorial on Pinterest. 

Friends Over Friday: This doesn't have to be a soup-to-nuts meal with a special tablescape. A bowl of soup and a game of Scrabble or Chickenfoot Dominoes will work, too. I'm old enough to remember when "visiting" was how we spent our time - not TV and the internet 24/7.

So Long Saturday or Say Goodby Saturday or See You Later Saturday: I haven't decided on a name for Saturday yet. I keep telling myself that I'm going to put things in order, so that when I'm gone my kids will have a written account of everything they need to know in order to settle my affairs. I'll work on this project on Saturdays, along with a real effort to pare down my belongings so they won't have to spend days hauling my "stuff" to the thrift store.

Slow Down Sunday: Afterall, it is the day of rest.

For those of you who would like to join me, I'll have a plan for the week starting January 2 on next week's post.







Sunday, December 18, 2016

Week 52, 12-18-2016

Thoughts and Quotes: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
                                                                     Isaiah 9:6 King James Version

In one week we will be celebrating Christmas. Whatever your religion, this is a time to come together and celebrate the spirit of Christmas - a time of wonder, of magic, of dreams. This is a time to celebrate love of our family and friends, and also our blog buddies. This is a time to pray for a world of peace so that no child has to hear bombs dropping into his city, no wife-mother-father-child has to be told that husband-son-father will not be coming home because he was killed in a senseless war. This is a time for fun and presents and lights and music and trees and special food and all the traditions which fill the holiday season. I hope you enjoy every minute of this blessed time of year.

Time to Celebrate: "She believed she could, so she did." R.S. Grey
That's me! I did it! This post will finish one whole year. I've enjoyed every minute, every comment, every compliment. I think I'll do it again. 

Tablescapes: Sally and Steg outgrew their house, but they liked the location so they moved to a larger house across the lake (not a very big lake in the middle of our subdivision), and lucky me - I got to buy the house they were vacating. Not only do I love the house, I love Sally and Steg.

This week was Sally's turn to host her Bunco group. They serve dinner before they play and dessert after. They usually use disposable tableware, but since this was Christmas, we did her three tables with real dishes. The dining room table and two card tables.

Sally's tree looked beautiful.

One of the desserts was worth a photo.

Tips: I'd like to share an easy and inexpensive way to set a card table. I thing the best place for buying table linens is The Tablecloths Factory (click here). Their focus seems to be weddings and banquets, but I find the perfect things for card tables.

A 70" square cloth works with most card tables (yes, the size can vary), and the corners will come just to the floor. The basic polyester tablecloths come in black, white, and ivory and the current price is $3.74 each. They launder very nicely.

Card tables are not large enough for placemats, so I buy a table runner. Right now they're selling for 76 cents each. They come in thirty colors. They're 12" wide and 108" long. You buy one per table and cut them in half. This means that you need to hem one end on each piece. Hey! It's only 12". Easy peasy. The quality is not good, so you might want to buy two. This way you'll have backup in case someone spills and you want to use them again. I hand wash them because the hems tend to ravel.

The matching napkins come in sets of five for $2.29 per set. Where else can you buy a napkin for 46 cents? They're made of polyester, launder nicely, need only touch up ironing (if any), and match the runners really well. I've bought them in several colors, and always found the color match to be true.

These tables are from a tea at the library, and you can see how well they match.

Or you can use two different colors.

Another library tea where you can see the length of the tablecloths and also how the runners look.

Thrifting: I have service for eight dishes in ivory and white, a couple of sets which look like Autumn and one which looks like Blue Willow. Other sets which serve eight have pink, yellow, or purple flowers, mostly pink sets. Men do not like to eat from flowered dishes. I'm doing Sally's table for Supper Eight in January, so I'll do white and metallic gold, but what next? I decided to start watching Craigslist and found this set for $15. It's not great quality, but no nicks or scratches. It will work. Just what we need: dinner plates, bowls and smaller plates for salad and dessert. No one drinks coffee or tea, so cups and saucers aren't needed. And I might use them for 4th of July.

I knew these bowls were from Portugal the minute I saw them. $1 each at a thrift store.

I thought this little girl would be cute at Thanksgiving. I like her crow. 50 cents at a thrift store.

Yes, this is plastic, but with a white napkin, it will work for the bread on St. Patrick's Day.
Only 25 cents at the same thrift store.

Placemats $1 each at Dollar Tree. They're a sort of tapestry.

In the past I bought holly glasses at Dollar Tree. This year I found plates, bowls, and mugs. I love Dollar Tree because they mean it - everything is $1. They're not bone china, but the quality is decent. And they match the glasses.

Tasting: Martha, Nancy and I went to Cracker Barrel for dinner. Thursday is turkey day - wonderful turkey breast, with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce and corn muffins. And they always have fun things in the shopping area. I found these cute salt and pepper shakers for $1.98 for the pair.They always have cute salt and peppers for $1.98.

And Friday Katie and I went to F-D Grill to celebrate her birthday. We had key lime pie in lieu of birthday cake.

The Pepper Report: So far, so good. No collar yet, and healing is progressing. I tried to get a photo, but he wants to rub against me instead. This boy loves to be petted.

Travel: Time to hit the road. We have a local travel company where I can meet the bus at a Springfield hotel (20 minute drive), leave my car there, and off we go. I've signed up for three trips in 2017.  In July I'll be going to North Dakota - the only state I've never visited. The trip is here

Then five days to visit Cajun Country at the beginning of December here.

One night home and then leave for four days of Christmas Around the World here.

Teas: Winter tea on Tuesday, December 20 for my cooking friends.

'Tis the Season: To set the mood, we had our first snowfall last night.This morning looked like this:

I made more cards:

My niece went to one of those ceramics shops where you paint the item and they fire it for you. She started with this:

And ended with this.

And her roommate, Trish, painted a plate:

And Martha decorated. You saw the dinner tables last week, and you saw her Autumn decorations.

Family Room

Breakfast Area

Dining Room

Living Room


Music Room

Lower Level