Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas has gone to the dogs!

Truman

Wilson  
Our dogs get stockings and gifts at Christmas.  Wilson loves to play and so he really appreciates toys.  If Truman is sitting close to me, that's his gift!   This year I am making homemade dog treats.  I think the boys will really love them!

Homemade Dog Treats

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup brewer's yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup low-sodium canned chicken stock, plus more for brushing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, wheat germ, yeast, and salt; set aside
2. Place oil in a large bowl. Add stock and flour mixture in three alternating batches, beginning and ending with stock. Mix well.
3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to about 3/8-inch thick. Shape biscuits using a dog-bone-shaped cookie cutter or by cutting around a store-bought dog bone with a butter knife.(Make biscuits that are appropriate for your dog's size.)
4. If desired, you can spell out your dog's name or a holiday message in the dough with a toothpick (wet the toothpick first so it won't stick).
5. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.
6. Bake biscuits 10 minutes. Brush with stock; rotate baking sheets, and bake 10 minutes more. Turn off oven, leaving door closed. Let dog biscuits stand in oven to dry completely, about 1 1/2 hours. Wrap as a gift, or store in an airtight container at room temperature.



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Friday, December 9, 2011

A (Real) Holiday Tablescape

Last night I hosted a soup supper for the office staff.  I wanted a holiday look, but with a lot of practicality to it as we were actually going to eat at the table, converse at the table and serve food from the table. This is what I did:



Each place setting was on a charger.  These chargers are from Pier One, from about three years ago.  The white plates are World Market.  The napkins are rolled and tucked into little bulb ornaments from this year's Walgreen's merchandise.  They are so cute!    The centerpiece is a row of candles from Pier One.  I love this centerpiece as it is low and it allows for conversation.  Woven through it is a strand of real greens.  We added a bread plate and a cracker bowl and we were able to converse, eat, and enjoy a simple table that was festive and fun.

Our main menu was a simple broccoli cheese soup and a taco soup.  Both were hits!  I asked each couple to bring a dessert to share.  That was so much fun!  We had a great variety of desserts from brownies to pecan pie!

We made a holiday cocktail of pink lemonade and champagne.  We make a batch of frozen lemonade and then add champagne enough to fill our pitcher.  We serve it over ice.

Here are the two soup recipes:

Broccoli Cheese Soup from Pioneer Woman and Taco Soup from Steffes Family Recipes.

Monday, December 5, 2011

2011 Christmas Music

There are more new Christmas albums on the market than I have seen in years!  Here are some of my favorites.  If you are in the market for holiday music, check these out!

This Justin Bieber album has everything you want in a pop holiday album.  It is upbeat, fun and filled with duets with people like Mariah Carey.  The best part?  Part of the proceeds go to charity.

I love Carole King, and this album, A Holiday Carole, is perfect for a 50 something like me.  She even has a couple of songs celebrating Hanukkah as well.


I am a huge Glee fan so you could hear me squealing when I found out that Glee had a Christmas album.  Holiday classics and some pop tunes are featured on this album.  Perfect for anyone who adores musicals.


Here are some albums I am wanting to hear badly but haven't yet.  This first one is an alternative album featuring one of my favorite bands, Owl City.  

And who would want to be without Michael Buble this Christmas?
 
If you have a favorite new to 2011, share it with the rest of us!  Until then, here is a little clip of Christmas music to enjoy!




Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cookie Swap


Nutella Cookies

1 c Nutella
1/2 c sugar
1 c flour
1 T milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients together well.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet (spray with Pam).  With the bottom of a glass, press until flat.  Bake at 350 degree oven for 7-8 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for one minute before removing.



Strawberry Angels

1 angel food cake mix
3/4 c sugar free strawberry preserves
1 egg white
1 T milk
3 T mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare cookie sheet by spraying with Pam.  Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips together with a mixer for 1 minute.  Beat an additional minute.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on cookie sheet.  Bake 10 minutes.  Let cool before removing from cookie sheet.

Our goodies for 2011!

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 1

What is it about December first that makes it Christmas?  Is it that we just have 24 days until Christmas?  Is that all the weekends will be filled with holiday fun?  Whatever it is, I am thrilled that December is here!

We are in the throes of decorating the house.  I always do something different each year with the things I already own.  I like mixing it up!  This year we have a wreath on the mantle and garland around the kitchen windows!  I can't wait to show you but I am saving the tour for the various Holiday Home Tours across Blogland.

This weekend is the baking weekend.  We will make rum cakes and pressed cookies and start the candy making.  We do pretzel rods, oreo truffles, tipsy cherries, and the crock pot candy.  We will try a new recipe or two, but we haven't decided which ones~

Our trip to Kansas City was wonderful!  Halls had beautiful trees...



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cookie Swaps

Do you participate in or host a cookie swap?  (Let my ADD take over for a bit... there are the most delightful Christmas songs being played on TV, I am so ready!)  My nieces, sister in law and daughter try to do one every Thanksgiving but now that one of my niece's lives in Nebraska and my daughter in Indiana, it hasn't been an annual event.



So it was quite the surprise to find that my daughter and two of my nieces and my sister in law were all up for a swap this year!  Our swap is always pretty simple, make 6 cookies to give to each participate and bring a dozen to share!  I always get the girls a Christmas goodie for participating and this year they are getting these cute spatulas from LTD Commodities:


Tomorrow I will post the recipes for Ashley and my cookies.  We are both trying something new for us.  We think they are going to make some cute cookies!
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas Traditions on Thanksgiving

Kitchen tree circa 2000
Do any of you have Christmas traditions that start on Thanksgiving?

Debbie posted that her family turns on their outdoor lights on Thanksgiving night to welcome in the holiday season! I love that! On my side of the family we will take our family Christmas card photo. My mom sends out photo cards to her friends. We love seeing how we have changed over the past ears.

My husbands side of the family spends Thanksgiving night plotting their routes for Black Friday. It is quite the logistical nightmare but they love doing it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gifts for the Neighbors

I am always on the look out for a cute gift for our neighbors.  I scored a set of Mason jars this summer and I think I am going to make this wonderful snack mix to put in them, tie them up with ribbon and a cute label.  I found this recipe from a Facebook Page by a gal named Vicki who shared it with us.


Directions:

Bugles
Mini Pretzels
Rice Chex
Salted dry roasted peanuts
Chocolate Cheerios
Red & Green Christmas M&M's
White Chocolate for melting
Red Chocolate for melting
White non-perils
Mini Marshmallows

Spread all your ingredients, ***EXCEPT M&M's and BUGLES***, out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Melt your white chocolate according to package directions and drizzle over the pretzel mix. Transfer into a large bowl and carefully coat mix with chocolate.
Return to baking sheet and scatter it out to allow it to dry.

FOR SANTA HATS
Melt your red chocolate melting chips according to package directions until melted
One at at time, Dip your bugles into melted chocolate until coated, and lay on wax paper.
Once all your bugles are coated and cooled its time to start adding the "White" to the hat.
Dip the pointed end into the melted red chocolate and push a mini marshmallow onto the tip. Let dry a few seconds
Dip wide round end of bugle into red chocolate and then into your white sprinkles. Let each each cool on the wax paper.

Once all of the chocolate is dried, add the white covered to a large bowl for serving, then add the Santa Hats in and CAREFULLY (Be gentle so you don't break the hats) mix them in, leaving some on top for decoration. ENJOY!! :)



What do you give the neighbors?  I am always looking for ideas!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fun Christmas Traditions

Christmas Traditions.

It just wouldn't be Christmas if.....

How would you finish that sentence?  For me, my Church's midnight mass, with all the Christmas carols sung in joyful voice is the ultimate! 

In addition, in our family, it wouldn't be Christmas if we didn't visit the

Magic Tree.  This tree used to be on personal property and was decorated by its owner all through the year but only lit at Christmas.  When we first discovered this tree, only a few people knew about it.  Now it has become a major focal point in town, even having its own lighting ceremony!

It wouldn't be Christmas if my PEO group didn't shop at our local Southbank store.  The owner is a PEO member, too, and opens up the store for one night of shopping just for us.  We see the new decorations and Christmas gifts.  It is a magical night!


It wouldn't be Christmas if we didn't have my friend Barb reading the Christmas Story to us.  Every year she reads to us and reminds us of the magic of Christmas.  Reading is something I used to do for my daughter every year until she was old enough to want to read on her own.  I still like being read to!


It wouldn't be Christmas without our annual trip to see the Plaza Lights in Kansas City.  We haven't been there for the lighting but we have to make at least one trip to see these beautiful lights!






 It wouldn't be Christmas without my mom's eggnog!  It is a cold, rich, creamy drink without the additive of alcohol but we love it all the same!  When my mom was a little girl, her mom made eggnog with alcohol and wouldn't let the kids have any.  My mom decided then and there that HER eggnog would be without alcohol so the kids could have some too, and, it always has!





I hope I got you to thinking about what is important to you about Christmas!  Make time for those special moments and if the decorating, baking or socializing doesn't get done, you will still feel like you had a wonderful Christmas!

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Christmas Plaid

I am a late comer to Christmas plaid.  In the last couple of years I have found myself drawn to the warm, cozy feeling of plaid.  I have owned a few things here and there but I have been finding myself drawn to plaid since I have "deformalized" my living spaces.

These pictures show a few of the plaid things I like to have around the house during the holiday season...

Cute ice bucket

Plaid ribbons and bows

Plaid blanket covering a cedar chest

Christmas plaid tablecloth

Using the same cloth, different place settings!



 I really enjoy the use of plaid during the holidays.  Do you have a favorite plaid item that you love?  What do you think it is about plaid that makes Christmas feel homey?

My son-in-law knows his way to his mother-in-law's heart!


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Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas Gift Thoughts

My friend Vee had a hit with a recent post of hers.  I am going to put the link here so you can see it in its original state.  However, the article she refers to I am going to post here so you can read it, too.   Maybe you have already seen it, as you can tell by the links below, it is going around the internet!



Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone, yes EVERYONE, gets his/her hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about?


I am with Vee, this isn't ALL that Christmas is about, but I do feel like the article is food for thought and I would love to know your thoughts!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Quintessential Christmas Decoration

Do you have that one decoration that without it, it just wouldn't be Christmas?  The one item that you pull out of its storage container, look at it and smile a little smile while your heart warms with joy?

I have that decoration.  My mother had this decoration in her home while I was growing up.  At one point in my mom's life she decided to get creative and started doing ceramics.  Ceramics was BIG in the 70s and I remember my mom going over to do ceramics with her friends and from time to time bringing back some fun items.

Here is my special decoration:



These ceramic Mr. and Mrs. Claus have been in our home for decades now.  They have found themselves in many places in our home.  They are rather large, so they make an impression where ever they land.  One year they sat on the floor by the candy tree.  They often sit on the kitchen table, and one year they were on top of the hutch.  No matter what, these cheerful decorations find a place at our home during Christmas.

What is your decoration that you just can't wait to take out of the box?  Linking up with Mary at Mosaic Monday!
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Small Trees Everywhere!

I am a huge fan of small trees!  I like to have a tree in every room but having a full blown Christmas tree isn't practical for my house.  Years ago, I started making several themed trees of the smaller sized variety that I simply bag up when I am cleaning up from Christmas.  This makes decorating easy and fun.  I do end up tweaking the trees, rearranging ornaments or adding ribbons... but overall the decorating is quick and fun.

Here are some examples of the small trees around my home.

At my kitchen window

Where I like to display my holiday cards

A little girly tree for my daughter's room

My mom made this tree in the early 70s

A fun tree for the family room

My mother's small tree

Our vacation ornaments tree

This is a tree from my friend Ashley's laundry room.  See Santa's clothes on the tree?

Silver tree with silver bells

Our retro silver tree in our family room

The seashell tree in the bathroom
I actually have more that I didn't show!  These trees are so much fun to have around the house and create a festive focal point for the room.  Tell me about your small trees, who knows, I might need another!
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