Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Keep the Home Lookin' Warm

The Christmas decor is down and snuggly put away. The floors are clean, furniture dusted and order is brought back to the home. However, I like to keep a little holiday warmth around all the time.

I kept out a few red candlesticks to transition from Christmas to the next holiday. The tablecoth was removed from the table however the gold chargers remain. I removed the Christmas dishes and replaced them with the white dinner plates with a gold rim. I'm still using my red cloth napkins and gold flatware. The stemware is still at each place setting, too. The Christmas arrangement was removed and replaced with a tall crystal vase. I added a few glass marbles to the vase. Rather than stems in the vase I simply sat a rose ball. Then on either side of the vase I placed a red rose ball. The red candlesticks remain on the table. Then to finalize the array I sprinkled rose petals, a few flat glass marbles, and a few tiny red glass hearts. Yes, I'm ready now for Valentines!!! In the living room I sprinkled in a few valentine themed picture frames.

I was not quite ready for my 'normal' arrangement on my kitchen table either. There I left 2 red candlesticks and added a red footed bowl I inherited from Mamaw Ingram. I placed a few rose petals in the bowl and added a 3 or 4 inch white pillar candle. Yes, it's simple but the kitchen is ready, too.

Being Southern is being warm. I try to keep my home a warm and cozy place. I absolutely am not Victorian, I just can't be that sweet and warm! lol My drapes are deep shades of red with heavy trims. Both of my tables and chairs are mohagonny. They came with white cushioned chairs. That was a litle too bright for me. We recoverd the dining room in a deep gold/tan. The kitchen is a deep red with a deep gold print. All my furniture is deep mahoganny. While the color scheme is warm I feel warmth from adding holiday cheer through out the year.

A southern girl never needs a real reason to celebrate! I mean I LOVE birthday cake. Sometimes we get birthday cake jsut for dessert. Having a warm and inviting home just helps me feel better. Hopefully in a day or two I will sit back relax and enjoy my Valentine issue of Southern Lady and my newest copy of Reflection. I love both of these magazines.

I hope these tips will help inspire you, too!

Happy New Year....

Monday, December 29, 2008

Easy Lemon Pasta with Chicken

1 pound dried penne
3 chicken cutlets, cut into fingers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, until al dente. Drain well. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large grill pan over medium high and add chicken. Grill until golden and completely cooked. Remove to a plate and slice.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to a saute pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute until fragrant. Add the cooked pasta and turn heat off. Mix all together.

Remove pasta to a large bowl. Add chicken to the warm pasta and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle in chopped parsley. Add the juice of 2 lemons and mix. Before serving top with Parmesan.

Serves 3

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's Christmas

You've planned, prepared & prayed now enjoy your day with friends and/or family!!!

Nothing compares to a hostess who is adequately prepared for the day.

Remember be gracious and don't stress.....

Blessings for a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tips on Being a Good Hostess

Help your guests have a good time. It sounds easy enough, but what’s involved in making that happen?

  • Be comfortable. Your guests will take subconscious clues from you. If you’re laughing, talking to people and having a good time, chances are they will. If the party is at your house, do as much housework as you need to in order to feel the place is presentable. If you’re hosting a gathering at a restaurant make sure you’re confident the coordinator understands your needs. Your comfort will also come from what you’re wearing. Fidgeting and adjusting is distracting for you and your guests.
  • Divide labor. You don’t want to be doing everything or you won’t have to time to spend with your guests. For gatherings held at restaurants or halls, sharing the workload is easier because they staff. For house parties, you’re going to have to do a little recruiting. But there is usually someone who would be glad to keep the music playing; another will make sure there’s enough ice, etc. If you know someone who is exceptionally gregarious, ask them to help you keep your guests mingling.
  • Do your homework. Have a good idea of who your guests will be and what you can do to help them feel comfortable. For example, if many of your guests are elderly have enough places for them to sit. Remember it’s hard to cut meat or eat soups from your lap. Think ahead and plan table space. Card tables work great! They are inexpensive or you can borrow a few from friends.
  • Mingle. As the host, you are bringing these people together. It is your job to help them interact. Don’t spend all your time with the people you know well. At a family function, make an effort to get to know your nephew’s new girlfriend. At an office party, strike up a conversation with the newest employee. Help everyone become acquainted.
  • Essentially, if you are relaxed and have made the comfort of your guests your top priority, most people will have a good time without ever knowing why. That’s another key to being a successful host. Despite all the effort, the party feels natural and easy. Even if you’re feeling anxious before guests arrive once you see your guest having a good time, you will enjoy yourself more.
  • Being an outstanding host or hostess comes naturally for some, but it is a skill that can be learned.
  • A bit of caution: You can’t make people have a good time. If someone is determined to be miserable.

I hope this will help if you plan to host guests the next few days.

Merry Christmas to each of you, my friends!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Party Recipes

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled (about 45)
½ tsp garlic powder
15 slices of bacon

Cut each slice of bacon crosswise into 3 pieces. Sprinkle shrimp with garlic and salt. Wrap each shrimp with 1 piece of bacon. Arrange on a broiler pan. Broil turn occasionally for 8 -10 minutes. Serve with cocktail pics.

Mini Cheeseburger Puffs
1 pound ground chuck
2 teaspoons steak seasoning
Garlic salt, to tasteBlack pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 package puff pastry sheets
20 (1-inch) slices Cheddar
Crisp fried bacon, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the first 5 ingredients. Hand-form patty to 1/4 normal burger size, about 2-inches in diameter. Cook burgers to medium. Do not overcook.

Roll out thawed puff pastry. Cut 10 (6-inch) even panels. Place burger in center of square and top with 2 slices of cheese. Fold edges up and twist on top. Bake 20 to 25 minutes and serve warm.

Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks
1 24-4 1/2 inch long sesame breadsticks, package
12 slices bacon
2 teaspoon garlic salt or powder
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine the parmesan cheese with garlic salt and set aside. Cut the bacon slices in half so they are approximately 5-inches long. Wrap each bread stick with one slice of bacon, starting at one end and ending at the other. Place wrapped bread sticks on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 15 minutes or until bacon is browned. Remove from oven and immediately roll bread sticks in cheese mixture. Let cool and serve at room temperature.
Yield: 2 dozen

Mexican Bar Dip
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese
1/4 cup Thick 'N Chunky Medium Salsa
1/4 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 Tbsp. sliced pitted black olives
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

PLACE unwrapped block of cream cheese on microwaveable plate; top with salsa, shredded cheese and olives. MICROWAVE on HIGH 45 sec. - just till Cheddar cheese begins to melt. Sprinkle with cilantro. SERVE with RITZ Crackers.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Games, Gift Exchange, Etc

Several have emailed and even a couple have posted comments the past month or so questioning about various games etc. I have included a few but I need games, too. So if you know a good game please post it in the comments. If you post annonymously please type your name at the end of your post. Even though you have to give your name to post annonymously it doesn't share it unless you leave your name in the comment section.

Let me know what you think!!!

Gift Exchange

  • Everyone draws a number
  • Number 1 chooeses 1st gift, ornament, etc
  • Number 2 can either take 1st persons unwrapped gift or choose his own under the tree
  • Number 3 can take from 2, 1, or a new gift
  • Once a gift has been taken 3 times it is dead and can't be taken again. For instance the 1st time it is taken counts as 1 time PLUS it can be taken by 2 persons
  • The last person can choose a gift from the tree or any gift that isn't 'dead'
  • Once a persons gift is taken by someone she can choose a new gift from under the tree or from someone. If from someone then that person has to choose a gift from someone or the tree, etc.
  • The more people the more fun.
  • Encourage people to not be 'Christian' and to take from people rather getting a gift from the pile, tree, etc. It makes the game more fun.

  • Christmas Carol Quiz
    Read the descriptions below and then write the name of the carol.
    1. Bleached Yule
    2. Castaneous-colored Seed Vesicated in a Conflagration
    3. Singular Yearning for the Twin Anterior Incisors
    4. Righteous Darkness
    5. Arrival Time: 2400 hrs -- Weather: Cloudless
    6. Loyal Followers Advance
    7. Far Off in a Feeder
    8. Array the Corridor
    9. Bantam Male Percussionist
    10. Monarchial Triad
    11. Nocturnal Noiselessness
    12. Jehovah Deactivate Blithe Chevaliers
    13. Red Man En Route to Borough
    14. Frozen Precipitation Commence
    15. Proceed and Enlighten on the Pinnacle
    16. The Quadruped with the Vermillion Probiscis
    17. Query Regarding Identity of Descendant
    18. Delight for this Planet
    19. Give Attention to the Melodious Celestial Beings Top of Form
    20. The Dozen Festive 24 Hour Intervals Top of Form

    Answers: (Don’t include these on the quiz . . . duh!)
    1.White Christmas
    2.Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
    3. All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth
    4. O Holy Night
    5. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
    6. O Come, All Ye Faithful
    7. Away in a Manger
    8. Deck the Hall
    9. Little Drummer Boy
    11. Silent Night
    12. God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen
    13. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
    14. Let it Snow
    15. Go, Tell It on the Mountain
    16. Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer
    17. What Child is This?
    18. Joy to the World
    19. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
    20. The Twelve Days of Christmas

    Christmas Poem Mad Lib
    Ask your audience for the parts of speech in order of the parenthesis. Then read “’Twas The Night Before Christmas” like a Mad Lib. Don’t let the audience know what you are doing. Just simply ask them to give you a noun, another noun, a plural noun, in order of the way given in parenthesis. After you have collected all the parts of speech then insert them in the proper place as given and read the story. It will be funny!

    ‘Twas the night before Christmas and all the the (noun),
    not a creature was stirring, not even a/an (noun).
    The (plural noun) were tucked, all snug in their (plural noun),
    while visions of (adjective) plums danced in their heads.
    Then up on the (noun) there arose such a clatter.
    I sprang from my (noun) to see what was the matter.
    It was St. Nicholas with his little (adjective) belly,
    That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of (plural noun).
    He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
    And filled all the (plural noun), then turned with a jerk.
    And laying his (noun) aside of his nose
    And giving a nod, up the (noun) he rose.
    I heard him exclaim as he (past tense verb) out of sight,
    “(adjective) Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

    Christmas Wrap

    • Pick 2 teams (2 persons per team)
    • Provide each team with the identical items of each of the following: tape, scissors, gift wrap, box, & a bow
    • Each team plays with only 1 right hand and 1 right left hand
    • provide long scarves to tie other arm behind their backs
    • The team that wraps their gift first (fully wrapped) wins!!!!!

    Name that Christmas Song
    Play a few lines of a song and the person that guesses the Christmas tune first, wins a small gift. Or the person who guesses the most songs wins a gift. It is ideal to try and find old songs that are rarely played so that guests have to put their thinking caps on.

    Right Left Game Exchange

    Read fairly slowly pausing at punctuation.
    The group forms a circle or sits in a straight row.Each holds the gift he brought to the party. While the poem is being read, each person passes his gift to the person on his right when reader says RIGHT; when reader says LEFT, each passes the gift he has to the left. The gift each person has in his hands at the conclusion of the poem is his to keep. We have done this @ our Christmas Banquet. Rather than everyone bringing a gift one gift per table was provided. Each table passed one gift and the person who ended up with the gift was the winner. For a party where boys take a boys gift and girls take a girls gift you can form two circles - a male and a female. Use your creativity and fit your audience!

    Twas the night RIGHT before Christmas when RIGHT through the house Not a creature was LEFT stirring, not even a mouse--The stockings were hung RIGHT by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be RIGHT there. The children were nestled RIGHT snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced RIGHT in their heads, and mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled RIGHT down for a long winter's nap, When RIGHT out on the LEFT lawn there rose such a clatter, I sprang RIGHT from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the RIGHT window I LEFT like a flash; tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow LEFT a luster of midday to objects RIGHT below. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,but a miniature sleight and eight tiny reindeer. With a little old driver RIGHT lively and quick; I knew RIGHT in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came; and he whistled and shouted, and called them RIGHT by name: "Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On Comet, on Cupid, on Donder and Blitzen! To the RIGHT top of the porch! To the LEFT top of the wall! Now dash away, dash away, dash RIGHT away all!"As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly when they meet RIGHT with an obstacle, mount RIGHT up to the sky, So up to the housetop the coursers they LEFT flew, with a sleighful of toys and St. Nicholas, too. And then in a twinkling, I heard RIGHT on the roof,the prancing and pawing of each little RIGHT and LEFT hoof.As I drew in my head and was turning LEFT around down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.He was dressed all in fur, RIGHT from his head to his LEFT foot,and his clothes were all LEFT tarnished with ashes and soot.A bundle of toys he had flung RIGHT on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. His RIGHT and LEFT eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was LEFT drawn up like a bow, and the beard LEFT on his chin was as white as the snow. The stump of a pipe he held RIGHT in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a round little belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. He was RIGHT chubby and plump, a RIGHT, RIGHT jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself. A wink of his LEFT eye and a LEFT twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word, but went RIGHT straight to his work, and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk. And laying his finger to the LEFT of his nose, and giving a nod, he LEFT up the chimney he rose. He sprang RIGHT to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all LEFT like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he LEFT--out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!"

    Christmas Artists
    This game is fun for ages 5 - 95

    • Choose several artists.
    • Provide each artists with a pencil and a sheet of paper.
    • Have each artists place their paper on top of their head.
    • Then give the artists an item to draw something relating to Christmas - stocking, snowman, tree, etc.
    • The audience can vote on the best artists.
    • Of course a small prize can be award or 1st place & 2nd place winner ribbons.

    Hum the Carol Game

    This can be a good ice breaker. Write Christmas songs on slips of paper. If you are playing at a small party you can have two slips of the same song. If played at a larger party or banquet you can have several of the same song. Let each person draw a slip of paper out not showing it to anyone. Instruct the people that they are to begin humming the song on their slip of paper when you say "go". The object of the game is to locate the other person humming the same song that you are humming. When the partners find each other they hold hands and begin to sing the words to their song! They win the prize! It's great fun with a large group. Make sure you spread everyone around the room to begin with and mix up the slips really good. Have fun!


    • Divide the group into two teams
    • Provide each team with a white board and marker
    • Have slips of paper with Christmas carol titles or items relating to Christmas.
    • Have the players to take turns being the artists
    • Each artists drawing for a particular round is given the same thing to draw
    • The artists then draws without using words, letters, sounds, or jestures what was on the paper for his team
    • The team that guesses correctly first wins the round
    • Keep score

    Sing Along

    This one gets wild and crazy

    • Have a list of words
    • Divide the group into two teams
    • Call out a word
    • At the same time each group sings a chorus or verse to as many songs that they can think of with the word in it. The group that can think of the most songs for a word wins the round.
    • Then give another word
    • Keep score to see which teams wins!
    • Careful don't let the teams make up songs! lol

    For instance the word "Mary" the teams could sing

    • We wish you a Merry Christmas
    • Have yourself a Merry Christmas
    • Mary Did you know
    • Instruct the singers they can sing any song it doesn't have to be a Christmas song

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008


    I omitted a MOST necessary ingredient from the Blueberry Salad recipe

    1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

    Ladies Social Recipes

    Creamy Chicken Pasta Soup
    1 medium carrot shredded
    Minced onion to taste
    Course ground black pepper to taste
    2 cans cream of mushroom soup
    2 cans cream of chicken soup
    1 can cream of celery soup
    1 1/2 cups half and half
    1 whole chicken
    6 cups chicken broth
    1 can green beans, drained
    1 cup penne pasta

    Boil chicken and debone. Return broth to medium heat. Add soups, cream, green beans, minced onions, pepper and carrots to chicken broth. Cook until bubbly and green beans are tender. Mix in chicken.

    Cook penne pasta as directed on package until tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta and add to soup mixture. Simmer until ready to serve.

    Mandarian Nut Salad
    1 bag Spring Mix Salad Greens
    1 small can Mandarian oranges, drained
    1 cup walnuts

    Mix all ingredients well. Serve with various dressings: Poppyseed, Raspberry Vinaigrette, etc

    Cheese Ball, Cheese Sread, Cheese cubes & Crackers
    Last night I cheated and bought cheeseballs but I do have several delicious recipes I'll share!

    Zesty Cheese Ball
    16 oz cream cheese
    1 jar shredded, dried beef
    1/3 cup zesty Italian salad dressing

    Mix all, chill, shape and cover with pecans. Serve with Townhouse crackers. When I take this out I have to give everyone the recipe

    Ranch Cheese Ball
    2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
    3 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
    1 (1 ounce) package Ranch-style dressing mix
    2 cups chopped pecans

    In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, and dressing mix. Form into one large ball or two smaller balls. Roll in chopped pecans to coat surface. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

    Blueberry Salad
    1 can Blueberry Pie Filling
    8 0z cream cheese, softened
    16 oz Cool Whip, thawed
    1 can sweetened condensed milk
    1 can crushed pineapple, drained
    3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

    Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Serve chilled.

    Chocolate Heath Bark
    1 package chocolate almond bark
    1 package heath toffee bits
    1 cup chopped walnuts

    Melt bark according to package directions. Mix in toffee bits and walnuts. Spread thin onto wax paper. When cool break into bite size pieces. Store in airtight container.

    Andes Bark
    1 package white chocolate almond bark
    1 package Andes Mint Bits (in store near chocolate chips)
    1 cup Wilton red dipping chocolate discs

    Melt bark according to package directions. Mix in Andes chips. Spread thin onto waxed paper. When cool drizzle with melted red chocolate. When red is set break into pieces.

    Snow Drops
    1 package white chocolate almond bark
    2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
    1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

    Melt bark according to package directions. Mix in coconut and nuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper.

    Easy Peanut Butter Kisses
    1 tub peanut butter cookie dough
    Mini Baking Chocolate Kisses (available near chocolate chips)

    Roll cookie dough into small balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake per pkg directions. Immediately upon removing from oven insert one mini kiss. Remove cookies from pan and allow to cool.

    Easy Peanut Patties
    1 package chocolate almond bark
    3 cups salted party peanuts

    Melt bark according to package directions. Mix in peanuts. Stir until peanuts are well coated. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper.

    Bedtime Story Tea
    4 Lipton Bedtime Story Tea Bags
    2 cups water
    1 1/3 cup sugar

    Boil tea bags in 2 cups of water. Put sugar in 2 quart pitcher. Pour hot tea over sugar to dissolve sugar. Finish filling with water and stir well. Chill. Serve over ice.

    Hot Spiced Wassail
    1 gallon apple juice
    32 oz ginger ale
    16 whole cloves
    2 cinnamon sticks
    1 cup red hots

    Pour juice and ginger ale into large coffee pot. Place cloves, cinnamon sticks, and red hots into coffee pot basket. Perk for 15 minutes If you do not have large cofee pot simply place liquids and candy in large stock pot. Tie cloves and cinnamon sticks in a peice of cheesecloth and place in pot. Cook over medium heat until wassail comes to a boil.

    I also served the following:
    Sam's Chocolate Triple Ecstasy ( I removed from cardboard and garnished with crushed peppermints)
    Sam's Coconut Cake
    Sam's Pecan Pie
    Sam's Brownies
    Sam's Creme Puffs
    Fruit (strawberries, grapes & pineapple chunks, drained) with Chocolate Hazelnut Nuetella
    Water with lemon slices

    I have found that most of Sam's desserts are very good. I remove from packing and garnish. For instance I sprinkle confectioners sugar over a bowl of creme puffs. I would never serve all bought desserts at a party. I have found that people really enjoy homemade candies. Mixing in easy homemade candies with some tasty traditional bought desserts makes everyone happy!

    For approximately 45 persons I quadrupled the soup receipe. I had about 4 cups of soup left. The soup was served in 9 oz clear 'squatty' punch cups. Several got seconds though! We prepared 7 recipes of salad. I had too much salad left. I should have prepared only 5 recipes. I made 3 gallons of tea. I had some left but not much. I had 3 gallons of water. Probably 1.5 gallons were consumed. I have the double restaurant supply drink dispenser. Each side holds 3 gallons. (Great investment!!!) I doubled the wassail recipe. It was a great hit! The ladies enjoyed the wassail as they arrived. We actually had a wintry Texas night!!! I bought the 3 assorted 3 pack cracker barrel cheese slices from Sam's. Most all the cheese was eaten. Most all the cheese ball and the 16 oz cheese spread was consumed.

    Hopefully I didn't leave anything out! CUPC girls if I omitted a menu item from this recipe list let me know. Each of you know I love to share. I will be happy to post the recipe.

    Try some of these and let me know what you think!!!!

    Have a happy happy holiday!!!!!!! I love CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Pickle Ornament Tradition -- Materialism

    Legend says that the pickle, a symbol of good luck, was the last ornament to be placed on the tree in Germany. The first child to find the pickle on Christmas morning was rewarded with a special blessing to begin the new year. The blessing would be an extra gift.

    Redonia enjoys looking for our pickle ornament through out the season. It's usually hid several times. Of course the extra gift can be something of value or simply another stocking stuffer type gift. My children and their Daddy enjoy getting chocolate drinks in their stockings. One year the extra gift was simply another bottle of drink. One year when the kids were in high school I had a gift card for McDonalds, a favorite breakfast place, enroute to school.

    Each year Kent and I purchase gifts for the full-time church staff. One year I included a pickle ornament and a small wrapped gift with the teacher's gift. I included the legend of the pickle ornament. I felt I was a part of each families Christmas morning since I provided not only the pickle but the reward for the person who found the hidden ornament. Still some of the staff talks about their fun each year with hiding the ornament. This year the Blair Family plans a twist on the pickle ornament. The children are going to hide the ornament for Mom and Dad to find.

    The pickle ornaments can be found at most stores. They are found with the Old World style ornaments. This year I've seen them at all the major department stores. Target, Hobby Lobby, and Garden Ridge sells them, too. This is just another way of having fun with your family.

    I am concerned that Christmas has become too comercialized. Christmas should be more than buying the latest video game, the most sought after doll, or the 'fastest' tennis shoes. Yes, I buy gifts for my family. When my children were little they always had nice Christmas gifts but we have always endeavored to make sure the gifts weren't the priority. Most of my children's growing up years we were in home missions. While the children were very blessed most years we were not able to afford the latest and greatest toys or gadgets.

    One year we purchased Nintendo for the children. It was such a sacrifice. We bought a used monitor and even a few games from a pawn shop. Sure years later they upgraded to PlayStation but it wasn't a Christmas gift. Most years our Christmas was bought with money given to us from our church or church families. Some years the church gave us gifts rather than money. In those years Christmas was very lean. Did Redonia or Trent even realize it? No because Dad nor Mom made a big deal about it. Only a few years ago when Trent was 16 I went to Dollar Tree on Christmas Eve for a few more stocking stuffers. I felt Trent needed one more nice gift but we couldn't afford anything more. I begin to search Dollar Tree. Remember the gift would only cost $1.00. Much to my amazement I found sportscoats for $1.00. Trent got 2 more nice gifts. This was when 'retro' was popular. Trent thought he received a $100 gift. I remember standing in Dollar Tree being hugged by Kent hugged. We both had tears knowing God gave this Mother the desires of her heart. From that day to this I have never seen sportscoats at Dollar Tree. Kent nor I can recall the brand of the sportscoats but they were a real expensive name brand. God has always been faithful to us!

    Today I sit in my recliner thinking of God's blessings. Since Thanksgiving Trent has received $950 above and beyond his salary. $50 was for a belated wedding gift, $200 from church families, some from a preaching engagement the weekend after Thanksgiving, and various places. I sit here with tears streaming remembering several Christmases as a teen that Trent would give of his resources to our church that may be struggling or a visiting minister. Once the Vyvial's preached for us in December. Trent felt compelled to give them $100. He was in high school and working part-time. I KNEW he really didn't have the $100 to give yet he gave. Several other years he would give extra so we could help others. Last week when his Dad handed him a check Trent said, "Dad I don't want to take this check form the church." With tears in his eyes he remembered that Christmas time around a a church is tight. Kent insisted Trent take the check. I didn't even realize the amount of extra $$$ Trent and Calah have received until yesterday. Deadra came into our office and begin to cry. She was telling of a conversation of gratitude she over heard Trent and Calah having. She said then Trent explained to her his many blessings.

    Last week Trent asked me for a gift list. Of course I couldn't think of a single item. I told him I just wanted he and Calah to be blessed and for us all to be able to spend some quality time together in a few days. Deadra's report to me yesterday was my gift! I'm a blessed Mother. I'm glad my boy has grasped the meaning of Christmas. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive. I know his giving has brought his blessings. Some give out of obligation but I've observed Trent give out of love.

    This year make Christmas what it should be -- a time of love and happiness. I believe if we endeavor to have the best Christmas ever God will make sure we have it! But remember I'm not talking about the best Christmas ever in terms of the most or latest and greatest.....

    Merry Christmas to each and all and I mean 'merry' .....

    Monday, December 15, 2008

    It's Almost Here....

    Come on girls.....It's Christmas...It really is almost here!!!!!

    Keep the charm in your home this week. Often as the Christmas draws near the pressure strengthens. Make a list today. Go ahead and write it on a full sheet of paper. I keep one going in a opened Word document on my desktop. List the things that must be accomplished today and for the rest of the week. If you finish today's list begin tomorrows. Sometimes it is easy for me to complete part of one day's list and a few items for later in the week. Marking things off a list seem to help my 'feelings'.

    Here's a sample of my list....

    Make grocery list for ladies social
    Buy groceries
    Buy paper products
    Make homemade goodies
    Cook dinner ---- have to put it on a list or it doesn't happen
    Wrap a few items for gifts for tomorrow night
    Reconcile my checkbook
    Wrap last 2 gifts for toy drive
    Wrap the remaining gifts for nieces and nephews
    Doctor's appointment
    Go to the office
    Address Christmas cards to friends/family

    Tomorrow & later in week:
    set up tables for party
    decorate tables
    set up tree for ornament exchange (will be # 6!)
    have KENT vacuum!!!!
    clean bathrooms
    prepare meal for party
    Christmas shop for my immediate family - finally!
    Church Wednesday night
    Go to outreach kids homes and remind of toy drive (like they'll forget!)

    Ok this is just a start.......the PRIORITY on my list is to ENJOY the week and spread holiday cheer. Regardless the size of the list I will fit in time fto enjoy Christmas. Kent's whistling mixed with singing "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year". Yes, it is!!!!!

    Saturday, December 13, 2008

    A Southern Home

    Southern homes are usually filled with laughter, food and photos. I'm glad I'm a southern girl! Tonight 3 teen girls are staying the night with Redonia. They just scurried upstairs like little mice with plates, bags, and cups. The plates are filled with brownies, chips and salsa. The bags are filled with candy. One bag was a 3 lb bag of M&Ms. The cups are filled with water and coke.

    Here I sit at my laptop. I've been enjoying some of the pics we took yesterday. Of course across the room is a digital frame scrolling with many great pics. On my coffee table are pics of nieces and nephews with Santa. I enjoy pictures of those I love.

    Enjoy the following pictures....

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Staff Party Recipes

    Poppyseed Chicken
    6 - 10 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    1 can of cream of mushroom soup
    1 can cream chicken soup
    8 oz sour cream
    1 tablespoon of poppyseeds
    black pepper, to taste
    1 sleeve Townhouse or Ritz Crackers, crushed
    1 stick margarine, melted

    Preheat oven to 375. Spray casserole dish with Pam. Place chicken breasts in dish. Mix soups, sour cream, poppyseeds, and pepper. Spoon over chicken. Top with crushed crackers. Drizzle with melted margarine. Bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour. I bake until internal temperature of chicken reaches 170 degrees

    Buttery Corn
    frozen corn
    1 stick margarine
    1/2 cup sugar
    salt & pepper to taste

    Melt margarine in saucepan. Add sugar, cook till disolved. Add corn, salt & pepper. Cook until corn is tender.

    Green Beans Almandine
    Frozen whole green beans
    1 stick margarine
    1 pkg sliced almonds
    minced onion, to taste
    salt, to taste
    coarse ground black pepper, to taste

    Melt margarine. Saute almonds. Add green beans, onions, salt & pepper. Cook till beans are tender

    Baked Carrots
    Olive Oil
    Mrs. Dash Original Table Blend Seasoning

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and cut the ends from carrots. Cut each carrot in half. Place carrots on pan and drizzle with Olive Oil. Sprinkle with Mrs. Dash Original Table Blend. Turn carrots and repeat on other side (adding more oil may not be necessary). Bake for 30 minutes.

    I served hot buttered rolls, tea, water with lemon, and several desserts. Everyone seemed to love the menu. In fact the recipes are posted at the request of several guests!

    Sunday, December 7, 2008

    Gifts...Door Prizes...Presents....Drawings...

    Tis the season for giving to those we love. Often even gifts to those we may not know at party gift exchanges. I love pretty wrapped gifts! I also love stockings.

    Hence a great idea for giving gifts is to place a few items in a stocking. Cute stockings can be found at Dollar Tree, Everythings a $, etc. For my families stockings I use nice stockings. However, for gifting in place of a gift bag or wrapped gift the cheaper version is great. In fact at the dollar type stores you can find nice things for stuffing the stockings. People enjoy 'digging' thru the stocking for their surprises! Following are some examples I have for the stockings that will be used for the drawings @ CUPC Christmas Banquet:

    cheese spread

    Christmas mug
    2 pkgs of hot chocolate
    dis towel
    Little Debbie christmas tree cakes


    All the items were purchased at Dollar Tree. I know most people will be excited to be a winner.

    My family loves receiving their stockings on Christmas morning. Kent even fills one for me. I put some fun, some useful, and even some necessity items in the stockings. One year we put several gift cards in the kid's stockings and finished filling with their favorite snack itesm.

    Each year I edeavor to think of new things....If stockings aren't a part of your family tradition, try it. Everyone will love you for it!!!

    Merry Christmas!!!

    Friday, December 5, 2008

    Great Cold Weather EASY Meal

    Creamy Taco
    1 lb hamburger meat
    Minced onion, to taste
    Chili seasoning
    1 tall can evaporated milk
    1 can crushed tomatoes (I use 1 can tomato sauce)
    1 lb Velveeta cheese
    1 can Rotel
    1 can Cream mushroom soup
    1 can Ranch style beans, drained

    Brown & crumble meat with minced onions, drain. Combine all ingredients. Simmer until hot. Serve over Fritos.

    Peach Cobbler
    2 sticks margarine
    1 large can peach slices, undrained
    1 butter flavored cake mix
    3 Tablespoons sugar
    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    Melt 1 stick margarine in 9x12 casserole dish @ 375 degrees. Add peaches. Sprinkle cake mix over peaches. Slice stick of margarine into small pats. Place ontop of cake mix. Mix cinanamon & sugar and sprinkle over margarine. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

    Note: can use 2 cans apple or cherry pie filling in place of peaches

    Wednesday, December 3, 2008


    Check these out and let me know what you think....if you have something you think other's would enjoy please feel free to SHARE!!!

    Bacon Crisps
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
    1 lb sliced bacon, cut in half
    1 sleeve Waverly Wafers or other buttery rectangular crackers

    Preheat the oven to 250 or 350 degrees. See following note!
    Place 1 teaspoon of the cheese on each cracker and wrap tightly with a strip of bacon. Place the wrapped crackers on a broiler rack on a baking sheet and put the baking sheets on the oven rack. Bake for 2 hours, or until the bacon is done. Do not turn. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot or at room temp.

    NOTE: You can also bake at 350 for 40 minutes if in a hurry!
    Yield: 24 Bacon Crisps

    Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks
    1 pkg of 24-4 1/2 inch long sesame breadsticks (usually on grocery aisle near salad toppings)
    12 slices bacon
    2 teaspoon garlic salt or powder
    1 cup grated parmesan cheese

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    In a mixing bowl, combine the parmesan cheese with garlic salt and set aside. Cut the bacon slices in half so they are approximately 5-inches long. Wrap each bread stick with one slice of bacon, starting at one end and ending at the other. Place wrapped bread sticks on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 15 minutes or until bacon is browned. Remove from oven and immediately roll bread sticks in cheese mixture. Let cool and serve at room temperature.

    Yield: 2 dozen

    Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball
    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
    2 tablespoons brown sugar
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
    3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

    In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in confectioners sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Shape chilled cream cheese mixture into a ball. Wrap with plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Roll the cheese ball in finely chopped pecans before serving.

    Cream Cheese and Pecan Stuffed Berries
    20 whole large strawberries, hulled
    8 ounce cream cheese, softened
    1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
    2/3 cup chopped pecans

    Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each strawberry so the berries stand upright. Place berries, cut side down, on a serving platter. Carefully cut the berries into 4 wedges, cutting almost to, but not through, the bottoms with a criss-cross cut. Fan wedges just slightly, taking care not to break them. Set aside.

    In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until combined but still stiff. Using a teaspoon or pastry bag with decorative tip, fill the strawberries with the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of the stuffed strawberries. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Mini Cheeseburger Puffs
    1 pound ground chuck
    2 teaspoons steak seasoning
    Garlic salt, to taste
    Black pepper, to taste
    2 tablespoons minced onion 1
    package puff pastry sheets
    20 (1-inch) slices Cheddar Cheese
    Crisp fried bacon, optional

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Combine the first 5 ingredients. Hand-form patty to 1/4 normal burger size, about 2-inches in diameter. Cook burgers to medium. Do not overcook. Roll out thawed puff pastry. Cut 10 (6-inch) even panels. Place burger in center of square and top with 2 slices of cheese. Fold edges up and twist on top. Bake 20 to 25 minutes and serve warm.

    Ranch Cheese Ball
    2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
    3 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
    1 (1 ounce) package Ranch-style dressing mix
    2 cups chopped pecans
    4 pecan halves

    In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, and dressing mix. Form into one large ball or two smaller balls. Cheese ball shapes easily to form a tree or bell, too! Roll in chopped pecans to coat surface. Decorate the top with pecan halves. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

    Sausage Dip
    16 oz mild Jimmy Dean sausage
    2 8 oz pkgs of Cream cheese
    1 can of Rotel Tomatoes & Chilies
    Small carton of sour cream

    Brown sausage. Crumble the sausage as it cooks. Drain. Add remaining ingredients and cook till bubbly….stir often.

    Sugar and Nut Glazed Brie
    apple wedges
    1 14-ounce round of Brie
    ½ teaspoon vanilla flavoring
    1 tablespoon melted margarine
    1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts or pecans
    1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    pear wedges
    lemon juice

    In a small bowl stir together the sugar, nuts, vanilla & melted margarine. At serving time, place the Brie on an ovenproof platter or pie plate. Bake at 500 degrees 4 or 5 minutes or until the Brie is slightly softened. Spread the sugar mixture in an even layer on top of the warm Brie and bake for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until the sugar melts. Brush the fruit wedges with lemon juice and arrange them around one side of the Brie. Place crackers around the other side.

    Swedish Meatballs
    1 can of chili sauce
    1 jar of grape jelly
    1 package of frozen meatballs

    Heat in a crockpot till done or simmer stovetop. Serve with toothpicks

    Zesty Cheese Ball
    16 oz cream cheese
    1 jar shredded dried beef
    1/3 cup Zesty Italian Salad Dressing

    Mix all, chill, shape and cover with pecans. Serve with Townhouse crackers.

    Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    Christmas Tips

    A friend forwarded me a newsletter she receives. Following are a few tips I thought worthy of sharing:
    • Add a sweet holiday fragrance to your crackling fire. Toss in a handful of dried mint leaves, orange peel or cinnamon sticks.
    • When guests are coming to visit for Christmas, welcome them by decorating bedrooms with strands of twinkling lights on a small tree or string a few strands across the headboard or dresser.
    • Put on some Christmas music, light some candles, and open your Christmas cards at dinner so everyone can read and enjoy them together.
    • Decorate a small velvet pillow with colorful, vintage Christmas brooches! Just pin them on and tuck into the corner of the sofa. So festive!
    • Make cookie giving fun...tuck wrapped cookies in a Christmas stocking.
    • Give a loaf of your favorite sweet bread tucked inside a holiday oven mitt. Wrap the loaf securely then tuck inside. Miniature loaves also make wonderful mitten stuffers.

    Do you have any tips? Remember Christmas is about sharing...share some of yours!!!

    Monday, December 1, 2008

    Holiday Beverage Recipes

    Just as for gatherings you carefully select the perfect recipes so should you plan your beverages. I like my guests to have two choices. Often one choice is simply water with sliced lemons and/or limes floating in the watler.

    For a great sweet iced tea for the holidays try Lipton's Sleepytime Tea. It is a very mild flavored tea. I have served it a couple times for our ladies holiday tea. Once I combined Sleepytime and Lipton's Vanilla Tea.

    I have preapred each of the following delicious recipes. The hot chocolate recipe can be made and stored in an airtight container for individual servings or you may use it for gifting.

    Christmas Wassail
    64 oz. apple juice
    54 oz. apple cider
    12 oz. frozen orange juice
    1 can pineapple juice (with 3 cans water)
    Whole cloves
    2 teaspoons allspice
    Cinnamon sticks

    Place a few whole cloves & allspice in a spice bag or simply tie in tulle or cheese cloth. Mix together remaining ingredients in large pan. Add spice bag. Bring to a boil. Serve warm.

    Wassail Tea Punch
    4 c. hot brewed tea
    1 c. sugar
    1 (32 oz.) bottle cranberry juice
    1 (32 oz.) bottle apple juice
    2 c. orange juice
    3/4 c. lemon juice
    2 cinnamon sticks
    24 whole cloves, divided
    1 orange, sliced

    In a large pot over medium high heat, combine brewed tea and sugar. Mix well and add cranberry juice, apple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks and 12 whole cloves. Bring mixture to a boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a large punch bowl. Press remaining 12 whole cloves into orange slices and add to punch bowl. Punch can be served hot or cold.

    Frozen Punch (THIS IS THE BEST EVER!!!!!)
    3 small pkgs Strawberry Jello
    16 oz Lemon Juice
    2 64 oz cans Pineapple Juice
    2 – 2 liters Ginger ale
    1 oz Almond Flavoring

    Mix Jello in 9 cups hot water. Add flavoring and Lemon juice. Stir in Pineapple juice. Add 4 cups cold water. Pour into 3 gallon size zip-lock bags and freeze. Chill Ginger ale. Remove punch from freezer and thaw for about 2 hrs till slushy. Pour Ginger ale over slush.

    Hot Apple Cider Wassail
    ½ gallon apple cider
    2 pts ginger ale
    16 whole cloves
    2 cinnamon sticks
    1 cup red hots

    Pour cider and ginger ale into large coffee pot. Place cloves, cinnamon sticks, and red hots into coffee pot basket. Perk for 15 minutes

    Volcano Punch
    3 cans frozen fruit punch concentrate
    1 64oz-can pineapple juice
    1 can cream of coconut
    2 2-Liters ginger ale
    ice cubes

    In a large punch bowl add the 3 cans of frozen fruit punch concentrate. Keep one of the empty frozen juice cans. Fill the can with water 6 times and add to punch bowl. Add pineapple juice, one bottle of ginger ale, and ice cubes then stir. Then add as much of the 2nd bottle of ginger ale as possible leaving at least 3 inches from the rim of the punch bowl and stir again. Pour in the can of cream of coconut on top. Serves 50

    Caramel Apple Cider
    ¼ cup heavy cream
    ¼ cup brown sugar
    3 cups apple cider

    Bring cream & brown sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over med heat.
    Stir in the cider and water and raise temp to med high. Heat just until the
    cider begins to steam, about 4 minutes. Divide into 4 cups and top with 2
    tablespoons of caramel whipped cream.

    Caramel Whipped Cream
    ½ c heavy cream
    1 T. brown sugar

    In a small bowl whip the heavy cream with the brown sugar until soft peaks form

    Hot Buttered Pineapple Drink
    1 (48 ounce) can pineapple juice
    2/3 cup orange juice
    2 tablespoons butter or margarine
    2 teaspoons brown sugar
    4 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks

    Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and serve hot. Makes 5 cups.

    Cinnamon-Apple Hot Toddy
    1 (46 ounce) can apple juice or cider
    1/3 cup cinnamon red hots

    Place red hots in a coffee filter and place in the percolator basket of a coffeemaker. Pour apple juice into the water well of the coffeemaker and brew.

    VERY Rich Hot Chocolate Mix (Great for gifting)
    8 cups dry milk
    1 pound instant chocolate drink, like Swiss Miss or Nestle's Quick
    1 cup Cremora, Coffeemate, or Pream
    4 heaping tablespoons powdered sugar
    Miniature Marshmallows

    Mix the ingredients and put them into a plastic container or double plastic bag. I use the cone shaped clear disposable plastic Wilton decorator bags. Top with miniature marshmallows. Label the mix "Rich Hot Chocolate. Add 1/3 cup mix per ¾ cup of boiling water." Makes 24 cups

    Cranberry Iced Tea
    2 quarts Iced Tea
    6 oz can frozen cranberry concentrate, partially thawed and undiluted
    1 cup orange juice
    1/4 cup sugar

    In large pitcher, combine the cranberry and orange juice. Stir until both are well mixed. Then pour in the ice tea. Add the sugar and mix until you dissolve the sugar. Cover and place in refrigerator to chill about 1 hour. Serve in ice-filled glasses.

    Raspberry Lemonade
    1 can of frozen pink lemonade
    1 32 oz bottle of raspberry soda (Wal-Mart has a great generic one)

    Mix together and serve.

    Hot Raspberry Cider
    8 cups apple cider or apple juice
    1 cup frozen raspberry juice concentrate, thawed
    2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    1 cinnamon stick

    Combine all ingredients in 4-quart saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to simmer. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Serve warm.

    Soup, Salad, & Dessert Nite

    Since we had a deputizing home missionary family I decided they may enjoy a home setting as opposed to another restaurant. However, my sensitive thoughts didn't come until almost too late. I decided to have the ministry families of CUPC join us. Hence, I needed a quick and easy menu. I served 13 persons from my beautifully Christmas decorated tables. I used mugs for soup since they fit nicely on the dinner plates allowing room for salad & crackers.

    Following is my menu. I doubled both the soup and salad recipe. I had enough soup left for a meal for our family. I had only a serving or so of salad left.

    Easy Potato - Sausage Soup
    1/2 lb. ground pork sausage
    1 bag Ore Ida frozen diced hash brown potatoes
    2 tablespoons minced onions
    1 (141/2- oz) can Chicken Broth
    1 (10 3/4 - oz) can Cream of Celery soup
    1 (10 3/4 - oz) can Cream of Chicken soup
    1 (103/4 - oz) can Cream of Mushroom soup
    Shredded carrots for color
    2 cups evaporated milk
    2 cups water
    salt and black peper to taste

    Grated Cheddar Cheese for garnish

    Brown Sausage in a large pot over medium heat, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain & return to pot. Add potatoes, salt, pepper, minced onions, carrots, and water to sausage. Bring to boil, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in soups and milk. Cook stirring often until thoroughly heated. Garnish with cheese.

    Mandarian Nut Salad
    1 bag Spring Mix Salad
    1 small can mandarian oranges, drained well
    1/2 cup fresh blueberries, optional
    3/4 cup glazed walnuts

    Mix all ingredients well. Serve with raspberry vinagrette salad dressing, poppy seed dressing, or any other dressings.

    I chose a few simple desserts. These were arranged as a dessert buffet.

    Pepperide Farm Coconut Cake (they are available in you grocery freezer) was garnished with peppermints. Often I garnish the same cake with twisted lemons, blueberries & mint leaves.

    Strawberries and grapes were combined in a trifle dish. Chocolate Nutella was served as fruit dip.

    Leftover candies were arranged nicely on a small Christmas platter.

    The entire meal took less than 1 hr to prepare. Everyone enjoyed a festive time of being together. The greatest blessing was I did not labor in the kitchen so long that I couldn't enjoy our house guests. Everything was prepared prior to leaving for church. Once service was over I simply needed to warm the soup, fill the glasses, and place the food on the table.

    Guests raved over the simple menu as I had served my delicious prime rib recipe. Once the kitchen was cleaned I was able to sit a moment and relax knowing Kent and I fulfilled scripture of being hospitable and had spread holiday cheer!