Friday, December 7, 2018

Here's a little more

detail about my wreath...
It's kind of giant, y'all.
But I guess I decided if I'm going to have a natural wreath
 I like it big and wild a
 So... I started with a layer of cypress... I just love how it feathers out everywhere..
I tucked the branches in the wreath form and kind of wove them all together in the back, 
if that even makes sense...
Then I added in some cedar around on top and in between...
Next I just stuck some of the spruce here and there... 
Honestly, I used very little wire.. 
Lastly,  I tried my bow on, then added holly 
[and agree with my friend that the holly LEAVES add a great textural element] 
and a bit of cotton...  
I almost added in some of those pinecones you see there on the table...
But you've gotta stop somewhere...  lol...
Its hanging on our laundry room door so I get a nice Christmasy smell 
every time I'm on the carport... 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Tomorrow is St. Nicholas' Day, y'all -

[an edited repeat from past years...]

Pere Noel, Christkindle, Father Christmas, Kriss Kringle, Sinterklas,
St. Nicholas
I was first introduced to St. Nicholas as a freshman in college when my dear friend Grace [whose grandparents on both sides of her family came to the US from the Netherlands] put a wooden shoe, filled with candy, outside my door on December 6th. [Still have that shoe, btw.]
I’ve loved the idea of St. Nicholas ever since!
There’s a lot of fact and folklore about him today, but most believe he was a real person and that the idea of Santa Claus came from the acts of goodwill that he did.
[Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, if you will - ]
Here’s a link that tells his story briefly.
I’ve always wanted to have “Santa Claus” visit our boys on December 6th and keep Christmas sacred [or, practically --at least spread out the gift-receiving a little for them], but differed to C’s wishes. So instead, for the last 27 years, our boys have always received a chocolate Santa on December 6th. [Granted there were some years when I was out at 5 a.m. to get these Santas because of our crazy schedule! – But it was done!] 
This year? Let's just say they're on their way!
So, Happy St. Nicholas Day to you!
At our house Santa has always been pretend.
Our boys were never taught he was real, but more just a character of the secular celebration of Christmas [kind of like Mickey Mouse = celebration of magical place] who left gifts for them on Christmas morning. They’ve always known that Mom and Day were “Santa.” We’ve had a few Santa photos through the years [we have those Mickey ones too!] and we’ve had fun with it, but have always, always tried to help our boys see that
Jesus truly is the reason we have anything at all to celebrate in this life.
We hope that in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas Season you can take the time to see a tiny baby lying in a manger who died so we might live eternally.
What a hope we have because of Him!

Monday, December 3, 2018

For the past several years

 I’ve wanted to have a little wreath making party the first weekend in December… 
But time, y’all.
It gets away from us all, doesn’t it? 
Fast forward to 2018 and Jen Schmidt’s book – JUST OPEN THE DOOR – 
all about hospitality [which I love, and believe I’m gifted in, but let’s be honest, haven’t been practicing as much these past few fast-paced years] 
and the fact that I was asked to 
based on the book – 
And well… it’s time to practice what I preach, right? HA.
Plus I do love a good gathering of friends.
So I just went for it – invited about 30+ people to come over and create [natural] wreaths together. Whoa. Thirty? Yes. - 
We all know only about half respond and are able to attend
... despite giving a few weeks heads up – that’s just life folks. 
Plus… where do you cut off the friend list? 
[And still, I forgot some…so sorry]
I’d really planned for this little soiree to be held in our cute back yard area with tables and decorations and eating outdoors in the 60 degree southern winter weather we enjoy, but
And, in the end... rain did not fall during the entire gathering. 
Thank you Lord!
At first I thought I’d try to  BRING IT ALL INSIDE… 
Then my sweetheart came home with a truck load of fir  / spruce cuttings…
And what a mess anyway…
So we cleaned off the carport at the last minute and set it up out there…

Let me just give kudos to my sweet husband 
who always help make my ideas happen!
He’s helped me set up, clean up and forage and gather for the past couple of weeks…
Here’s how it all ‘went down’ as the millennial newscasters would say… 
[and that drives me CrAzY by the way – ]
We, and by we, I mean mostly my sweetheart, started a week or so before the date… 
I gathered pinecones from the yard that were closed tightly against the fall rains
and put them in the oven [200 – 250*] to warm and wake them up 
[plus it killed the critters – ha.] 
Next, while we were at brother’s house during Thanksgiving we notice his Leland Cypress might need a trim and he was ALL ABOUT letting Craig do the trimming. 
[Seriously – he was gracious enough to let us take all we wanted.] 
While out and about during Thanksgiving weekend we gleaned cotton 
from one of the many fields in our area that already been picked… 
My dentist quickly agreed that I could cut all the holly I wanted from his landscape [we only cut from the area next to the building so it wouldn’t cause an eyesore – ha.] 
Then I trimmed some boxwood in our yard and my sweetheart cut down a small cedar tree someone wanted to get rid of; and lastly, he visited a local Christmas tree lot who kindly gave us a few [???] scraps of spruce – LOL.
Next came the arranging [and re-arranging – and RE-arranging, if only in my mind.] 
And I used the planner sheet I shared a few days back…
As I said, we ended up on our little carport – and the plus of that was that I quickly decorated Lottie a bit for a cute back drop.
Frosty welcomed everyone to the area 
as he kept watch over the Christmas tree cuttings…
Oh. My.
The cedar and cypress were on a table ready to go…
with tables were out for friends to work on.
And everyone quickly got to work!
I provided greenery, wire, some decorations, [and guidance. HA.]
Guests brought their own wreath form, clippers, gloves 
and things they wanted to share, as well as use on their own wreaths.

It was a wonderful way to spend a dreary rainy afternoon!

I loved honoring my sweet mama as I shared how she taught me 
to make the big fluffy bows she made each Christmas!
And you'll see in a minute that everyone did a great job!
I had coffee, water, and that sinful hot [crockpot] cocoa that’s all over the internet this time of year. We also had tomato basil soup and chicken vegetable soup as well as brownie brittle [ha] and good ole southern chess cake [Paula Dean calls it gooey bars]…

I create the Invite, scanned it in, and sent it out via text groups – 
and again, sorry I missed some of you. 
[I’m already planning for next year and 
looking for a bigger location that might work, rain or shine…]
I think a little decorations always add to the festivities so I pulled some tables ‘round and added a few things here and there. 
Can you believe this table actually came out of someone's trash?
[We've had the coke sign since before we got married...]
 I set a few things out on the tool / cat food shelf...
things I already had...
Tip: use plastic table cloths to conceal things as needed. LOL
Here are some of our wreaths – 
As always – whenever I’m involved in a group activity – 

 Every single one is beautiful – 
Fun was had by all!
[I hope!]

I love every one of them!
[The wreaths AND the people!]
I wish we'd gotten more photos - but it was SEC Championship weekend... 
and the game was coming on soon, lol...
But here's the thing: I had so much fun just being together with friends!
The wreaths were a bonus in my book…
Let the Merry [MERRY] Christmas 
season begin!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Some of you know that way

back in 1987 we created a family cookbook....
Recipes tried and true and from each of our nine aunts, 'the sisters'
and more than a few from 'the cousins' too.

And there so, so many favorites in this book -- 
One that I'd forgotten about until recently is this Spinach Ball recipe from my Aunt Gail, although I mostly remember my sister [and mama] loving it for more than a few holiday seasons...
I was asked to bring a finger food to a little [?] event at church recently - 
and there would be NO FORKS... so I thought of these...
So I got everything together, popped it in the food processor, and gave it a whirl...
Then rolled it in walnut sized balls before placing on a foil covered baking sheet 
that I sprayed a bit with oil... 
These really are SO, sooooo good.
And, as a friend recently pointed out, you could probably replace the bread crumbs with some keto alternative and have them be zero carbs.
And okay, here's the thing... our cookbook is old and products have changed and one bag of bread crumbs in 2018 is not the same size as a back in 1988...
So I found this more updated recipe...
I wanted to be sure I had the proportions right...
And yes. Yes I did.
They are every bit as good as I remembered.
[But honestly, I can't help but think they might be more delicious with a little bacon chopped up and thrown in... or even walnuts for a more pesto like taste... 
Let me know if you're adventurous enough to try that!]

Thursday, November 29, 2018

I wanted to share

some planning goodies for you... 
I'm not not tech savvy enough to give you a pdf,
but you can copy and paste these photos and print on the computer to use.. ha.
I've gotta say, I kind of love them.
And as a character in a recent book said,
 "The key to relaxation is planning."
(Susanne in The Christmas Sisters, by Sarah Morgan)
After printing and folding, trim the edge off one edge
and punch holes in the other...
This is a general one to plan for decorating or events at your house...
This is the one I'm using for each event I'm involved with...
I've actually printed this one for each (family) event we'll be involved with - 
It helps me keep things separate in my mind. Ha.
We'll talk about it more in a minute...
I'm using this one as a general overview of the season... 
Listing events we hope / must to attend and notes regarding special outfits, 
meals, goodies, gifts, etc. I might need to take...
I love that it folds and fits right in my planner after I punch the holes...
and maybe add a bit of Washi tape
This is how I use them...
(and yes, I'm sharing two pages because, hey, 
I'm ocd enough to need to re-do one when things change --)
Looks like it's going to be a stormy day for the upcoming wreath party and we don't have a huge house, so I'm adjusting the plans to make it work.
 (I hope. Ha.)
In using it, I obviously write out plans for the meal 
with the shopping list to the right  (when the page is opened up.)
I used a bit of space at the bottom to list needed serving supplies...
Again, listing those things I need to purchase on the shopping page...
But here's what I love most...
Having this space inside to write
Things like cleaning lists, decorating ideas, invitation lists (and those who replied / plan to attend), and set up ideas... gathering of extra gloves, clippers, etc...
(You can see this was originally planned for our patio area,
but I've got to have a second plan -- for indoors -- since we live in the south 
Hopefully not, but a girl's gotta plan...
So. Print them, use them to your little heart's desire... tag me if you want... @JudyinHuntsvilleAL
And Merry Christmas planning to all!!