Sunday, December 28, 2008

All the Trimmings Have Been Packed Away

And what a job it was! This is today's stack to haul down to the basement. Yesterday was even worse.

I am just happy it is finally done.

I have also been busy turning all of my holiday leftovers into new dishes. On Christmas I cooked a ham with a bone. I told DH to skip the trendy spiral hams (I find that they dry out pretty quickly) and get me a plain old ham with a nice bone for flavor. He did and we were not disappointed.

I took the leftover spinach dip and cheese ball from Christmas Eve and put them in my filling for twice baked potatoes. There were only four of us for Christmas dinner, but I made 20 potatoes and froze them. I think twice baked potatoes are pretty labor intensive and why do all of that work for just four potatoes? I now have numerous side dishes for future meals. After a nice dinner and a very tasty day-after-Christmas breakfast of ham and eggs, I took the meaty ham bone this morning and made navy bean soup. I soaked the beans overnight
and the soup turned out delicious.

For dinner tonight, I tossed my leftover meatballs into some jarred spaghetti sauce and made a quick,easy meal.

Boy, do we have the snow this year! Doesn't it looks like DH was making a maze in our front yard? He snowblows paths all around the house so the meter readers can get to the meters.

Tomorrow I go back to work. Actually I worked much harder this past week than I ever do at my job, so it will be like a vacation to get back!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's Christmas without a Wreath?

I had a bare mirror in the dining room that really looked stark with no holiday adornments. I decided to make a quick wreath since I hadn't done one yet. There's one of Santa's elves hiding in the wreath. He must be checking to make sure I am being a good girl.

I don't think I've shown you the dining room chandelier either.
Here is a full view, except that the tree hides the mirror.

Here is where the mirror is.

I never did get back outside to cut fresh greens, so I used a second wreath to make a centerpiece for the extra table. I decorated it with those candy ornaments that I forgot I had. They were in the gingerbread man tote like I expected.
This gumdrop/candy cane tree is right near the table with the gumdrop centerpiece.

All I have to do tomorrow is bring up the white linen and skirt the food table.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm no Prude, but I Don't Like Seeing Naked Necks

I went to the library today. Then I went to the mall. It was only 9 degrees outside, but I purposely parked far back so I could walk and enjoy being at the mall at 1:00 p.m. on a work day. I can guarantee you that this was the only Monday of the year that I was at the mall at 1:00 p.m. There were people everywhere. I literally bumped into an old school friend in the Walden book store. I was trying to walk and look at books at the same time.

When I got home mid afternoon, I thought I would while away a few hours snuggled up in an afghan, with my big stack of books.

The chair I chose to relax in faces my garland. I rarely sit in this room, so I made sure to turn on the lights so I could enjoy the holiday scene whenever I looked up from my book.

Unfortunately every time I looked up I saw the bare necks of all the reindeer. I've been ignoring them all season because I just didn't have time to do anything about them.

Today I had time, so I hopped up and went to the basement to gather some reindeer neck attire. So much for sitting down with my feet up.

Do you remember when I painted these lily seed pods last summer?
I bet you (nor I) never expected that they would end up on a reindeer's neck!

But they worked nicely with the pine cones I used, and the black color matches the lampshades in the room.

In less than an hour with a pair of scissors, a glue gun and a bag of basement junk, I had all the reindeer necks properly bedecked.
Now maybe I can relax.

2008 Christmas Slush Libations

I had fun making my slushes yesterday afternoon. This year I was my own mixologist and made up my own recipes.

Doesn't this flavor combination look interesting--Cranberry, raspberry, strawberry and orange?

Zoey’s 2008 Very Merry Berry Slush

3 oz. pkg of strawberry daiquiri jello
12 oz. frozen cranberry/raspberry concentrate
12 oz. orange juice concentrate
2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
3.5 cups (1 bottle) of Raspberry Vodka

Mix it all together and freeze.

To serve, scoop out ¾ glass of slush and add a splash of 7-up or Vernors.

What a rich jewel-tone color it turned out to be!

This is what it looked after it froze overnight. I think it will freeze a bit more solid before Wednesday night. This one packs a little kick as it has a high alcohol ratio.

Zoey’s 2008 Golden Splendor Slush

3 oz. pkg. of apricot jello
12 oz. frozen pink lemonade concentrate
12 oz. orange juice concentrate
8 cups water
3.5 cups (1 bottle) of Peach Schnapps
1 tsp. orange extract (I threw this in just because I had an almost empty bottle and I wanted to make sure I had enough flavor. If you don't have it, just go without it)

Mix it all together and freeze.

To serve, scoop out ¾ glass of slush and add a splash of 7-up or Vernors.

This one has a lot more water and it froze more solid. It will be much less potent than the red one and won't need much (if any) soda added.

Most of my family likes drinks that don't taste strongly of alcohol, so I think they will like one. It is sort of like a fuzzy navel.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Busy Day

But aren't all days extra busy this time of the year?

I was at Joanne's this morning and they had these lime green sparkly sprigs for 60% off, which made them only .40 each. I bought all they had - 10 of them--to go on my aqua tree. I am not sure if you can see the color here, but to the left of the bird is the green sprig. My computer shows everything too dark and I never know just what you see.

Anyway last week I received a Coldwater Creek order for some Christmas ornies that I thought were a bronze color. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and I had 3 pkgs. of 6 each of these lime green sequined balls!

The error was mine as I did not notice that they had only lime green left. I never return anything because it's too much of a hassle, so I decided to open them up and see what they looked like with the bronze garland.

I was pleasantly surprised that I liked it! So I put all 18 of them on the garland. When I saw those sprigs today, I thought they would work nicely to tie in the aqua tree with the green on the garland (it would look like I planned it that way). I discovered that Aqua and lime green go quite well together.

Later in the afternoon I got out the silver cleaner and spiffed up my appetizer serving utensils.

Even though I keep them in a box, they were pretty tarnished.

I also spent some time making up my treasure hunt list in Microsoft Word. It took a bit of time to remember how to put in check mark boxes. I finally figured it out and printed off 20 of them.

Then I wrapped all of my little gifts for the games. I don't take any extra effort to wrap these. I have a couple of dozen of them and I just cover them with paper and throw them under the tree. If they are odd shaped they go into bags. My Mom and sister will also be bringing game gifts. We will have 30 - 40 of them. Everybody loves to get gifts and I like to make sure they get plenty of them! I buy gifts all year as I find things that are drastically marked down.
I have wrapped everything from body lotion to holiday spatulas!

I called all of my siblings to see what members of their families were coming and what they were all bringing for food. So I think everything is pretty well underway.

After dinner tonight we will go down to the basement and bring up my old dining room table and six chairs. I am so glad I saved that as it comes in very handy for events like this! Shoot, I didn't make a centerpiece for that one....I guess I will have to make another trip out in the snow for greens.

It's amazing that it's only 4 days away!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Rearranged the Kitchen Corner Cabinet

Do you have china or curio cabinets that you never rearrange?

Do you find that you walk by them and don't even notice what's inside?

Well, that's what happens to me if I leave the same items inside.

Today I decided to remove everything from this oak corner cabinet in my kitchen and fill it with some of my glassware that I have behind closed doors.

Now I will be able to enjoy the glassware for awhile.

and I will have some space to store that cupcake holder I bought over a month ago. Do you remember when I used my 50% off at JoAnne's and bought it? Well, it's been quite some time now and I have not made any cupcakes, nor have I had a place to store that thing--it does take a pretty sizable amount of space.

To accommodate it, I have been planning to move the glassware from a shelf on my storage wall of cabinets. So today instead of reading my book as I said I was going to do in my previous post, I made space on the top shelf of one storage area.

by removing all of my Capri Dot glassware. That's the turquoise glasses that you see in the cabinet. They match my tree which you can also see when you stand in front of this cabinet.

Today I needed some place to put the 5 or 6 dozen kisses cookies I made. I decided that the cupcake holder would work for the dozen I want to save for my Christmas Eve party. They fit quite nicely in the mini cupcake side of the holder. I have those tins under the cupcake holder full of cookies, too. I stuck them all in the garage where they will probably freeze.

I was pretty happy when DH came home and ate 6 of my cherry cookies. He loved them! He thinks even without the chocolate they would be great. That's wonderful because I have over 4 lbs. of cherries to use up, so I can make more cookies without the chocolate and freeze them.

When I cleaned out all of the stuff I had in the corner cabinet, I had to remove the few bottles of hard liquor we have. I thought it might be nice if I had a little Green Apple Martini to celebrate my vacation.

Is that beautiful or what? It matches all of the glassware I have in my cabinet! I swear it's only a coincidence. Who knew vodka came in cobalt blue glass that matches the shot glass I got free from the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas? The vodka was a gift.

This cabinet is very close to my kitchen Christmas tree.

This is my third post today. I guess I just have a lot more to post about when I don't have to work all day!

At the moment I have to go finish my sweet and sour pork for dinner. Who knows what I will do tomorrow? I have a full 10 days before I have to go to work!

For the moment, the world is my oyster.

Cocoa Creme Gingersnaps

I just finished my second cookie. This one is the same style as the cookie below, but a very different flavor. If you like spicy gingersnaps and molasses,
then you will like these.

I used another new Hershey kiss. This one is filled with a chocolate creme.

Cocoa Creme Gingersnaps

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2-3/4 c flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. allspice

1/4 c sugar
approx. 35 Hershey Kisses

In a mixer bowl combine brown sugar, shortening and molasses; beat until smooth.

Add egg and beat well.

Add flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and allapice -- beat until well mixed.

Shape into small balls roll and roll lightly in sugar.

Place 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 375 for about 8 minutes or until tops are cracked and edges are set. Immediately press a kiss in center. Cool 1 minute and remove from sheets to wire racks. Makes 35 cookies

Now I am going to spend the rest of the day on the sofa covered in my
Christmas quilt reading, Jennifer Chiaverini's, The Quilter's Kitchen. I have been looking forward to being able to do this for the past month.

Cherry Chocolate Cookies

We are in the midst of another big snow storm and I am loving every minute of it!


Because I am home today and I love to be snowed in while baking Christmas cookies.

I do not know what propelled me to buy that HUGE jar of maraschino cherries. I guess I thought I needed more than I did.

While shopping last weekend, I saw these new Hershey kisses with cherry cordial filling. I immediately thought of using them for a cherry cookie topper.

The snow was falling, the trees were twinkling, and Kenny Rogers softly crooned Christmas carols as I started baking my first batch of cookies at 6:00 a.m.

This is the first time I made these and after the first batch, I needed to taste them to see if I wanted to do a second.

It was only 7:00 a.m. and I am not really ready to eat a cookie at 7 a.m., but I did... and, oh my, that filling was just like the inside of a chocolate-covered cherry.


I did a little tweaking of a recipe and ended up with this:

Cherry Chocolate Cookies

1 c powdered sugar

1 c butter, softened

3 tsp. maraschino cherry liquid

1 tsp. strawberry extract (if you don't have it, just use vanilla)

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries

about 27 cherry filled chocolate kisses (or more if you make smaller cookies than I did)

Combine powdered sugar, butter, cherry juice & strawberry extract .

Mix well.

Add flour & salt.

Slowly stir in until well combined.

Stir in cherries.

Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour if you have time. I did not do this.

Shape into walnut-sized balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10 -12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Let cool one minute before removing from baking pan.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Piece of Junk, some Greens & a Bread Pan

Now Here is Some Red that Does Not Clash with My Holiday Decor
I was reaching for a coffee pot filter when I glanced out the window and saw Mr.Cardinal sitting snugly inside this shrub. I think he is trying to stay warm in our below zero windchills.

We had rain this morning so a lot of the snow hanging from the trees disappeared. I need some greenery to make a centerpiece, but when I first got home, I decided it was way too cold to go out and cut down greenery.

After about an hour I changed my mind. If I don't get the greens before the next snowfall, I may never get them. So I threw a long coat and boots over my jammies and braved the -3 windchill factor. Here I am returning with my bounty. See the jammies poking out of the coat?

I set the greens aside to absorb water while I prepared dinner.

After dinner I made the centerpiece. It didn't take long at all.

It's just a bunch of greens with a few sprigs of faux pink flowers and one silver taper candle to match the chair covers.
It goes nicely with the tree. You would never guess by looking at it that the vase is a bread pan! I needed something high enough to hold water and this was the first thing I saw that fit the bill.

The candle sits in an old rusted holder that I shoved lightly into the foam and then stuck greenery branches in at an angle to hold it down.

It doesn't take much to make a nice centerpiece.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wrapping Paper Pinwheel Bow

I was looking through my Christmas binder today

(What? You don't have a Christmas binder?) and I came across a gift wrap idea that I had saved from last year.

I do believe it's from Martha Stewart.

It's very easy to do and I thought maybe some of you might like the directions to make one of your own. So I photographed all the steps.

There are a lot of steps, but really it only took about 15 minutes and that included taking all of the pics.
Step 1. Wrap the package.

Step 2. Take a matching piece of gift wrap and cut it long enough to go around the center of the package. The width will depend on how large your package is. Mine was pretty small so I cut it about 4 inches wide.

Step 3. Fold both sides in to the center.

Step 4. Wrap the band of wrapping around the gift and secure with tape on the backside.

Step 5. Cut a square of the wrapping paper and the band paper the same size. The size of the square will depend on how large your package is. I cut about a 4-inch square for my small package.

Step 6. These two pieces need to be glued as one piece. Instead of glue, I used some iron-on interfacing. It worked great. If you don't have this, just use glue and wait until it dries to go to the next step.

Step 7. Fold the square twice, to look like this.

Step 8. Cut on the 4 lines created by the folding to about 1/4-inch from the center. Make sure you stop the same distance from the center on each cutting line. Don't cut all the way through!

Step 9, Fold every other point over to the center. Tape each one down.

Step 10. Glue something in the center to cover the tape. I used a jingle bell.

That is all there is to it! You now have a beautiful package with a bow that cost next to nothing. Have you ever bought a single nice bow? They are not cheap. And they certainly are not unique and made with love as this one is.

Have fun and if you make one, I would love to see it! Leave me a comment so I can go to your blog to see it.

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