Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's Rudolph Day in August!

The 25th of every month is Rudolph Day for those who follow the OC site. I haven't done much with Rudolph Day throughout this year but since it is soooo close to Christmas I am excited about it!

I have decided to give all handmade gifts this Christmas to my extended family and friends. Most of these will be food type baskets full of the things I like to make, hot fudge sauce, salsa, cornbread mix and bean soup. If you supply the tortilla chips and ice cream, you can have a meal on me! I will start looking for appropriate baskets at garage sales, or start looking for inexpensive containers at Dollar General or the Dollar Store.

For my immediate family, I am at a loss. Part of me wants to do something different, like a trip, but I could not bear seeing lots of gifts under the tree. So I am going to have to weigh that decision carefully!

I did decide that we are going to do a breakfast BBQ for our Christmas breakfast. I am going to talk Bob into grilling sausages while I make scrambled eggs and country hashbrowns on the grill and making biscuits and gravy. Won't that be fun, even in the middle of a midwest winter?

Looking forward to hearing your plans for making your holiday unique and special!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Christmas Traditions Part 8

Christmas Trees!

I have a thing for Christmas trees... in fact, one year I had thirteen trees in my house! No kidding.

I love themed trees: I have a Christmas card tree, a fashion tree, a snowman tree, a candy/cookie tree, a vacation/travel tree, a nature tree, a "decorator" tree with silver and gold ornaments, an aluminum tree, and an old fashioned tree that I do each year. I have several small trees that I use in bathrooms: a shell tree, a ceramic tree and an earring tree. This year I plan to add a small tree in our laundry room. I found Santa's clothes in the recent Gooseberry Patch catalog and plan to hang them on a small tree with clothespins. Isn't that a cute idea? I stole it from my friend, Ashley!
The mosaic above was put together about four years ago. The tree in the middle and the solid red tree were trees I used at school. I usually decorate four different trees in our office and hallway!

Tell me about your trees....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Christmas Traditions Part 7


Many of my friends and some of my family, do weekend trips to go shopping. Several go to the cities and make a weekend of it, spending the night at a hotel and eating out! What fun! I have never done this but I do think it sounds like a lot of fun.

I have some friends who wait anxiously for the Black Friday ads. They are glued to the internet trying to find out what sales are happening the day after Thanksgiving.

I tend to shop all year, which means that by early November, I am generally done and so if I shop, it is for the pure fun of getting something extra for my family.

Which type are you? Do you save your shopping for a big weekend or do you do a little all year?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Winner for the Drawing!!

Due to some unforeseen health issues, I totally forgot about the drawing! The winner, using a random drawing is....


Kari, send me your snail mail address so I can get your delightful prizes out to you! Kari had the most entries, too, proving that it pays to advertise! My email is to the right, or if you have my other one, send it there!

Congratulations, Kari!

A New, Fun Recipe

I heard about this recipe from the Mixing Bowl, have you been to that site? Anyway, this bread sounds delightful and so easy.

3 Eggs
1 cup Oil
2 Cups Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Cinnamon Optional
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
3 Cups Flour

Beat eggs: add oil and sugar. Cream well.

Add 2 cups of the following in any combination (you get to be creative!) Grated Carrots, Cherries, Pitted and Chopped, Grated Zucchini, Peaches Canned or Fresh, Grated Apples, Canned Pumpkin, Applesauce, Raisins, Mashed Bananas, Raspberries, Chopped Apricots, Fresh Strawberries, Chopped dates, Crushed and drained Pineapple, Coconut, Chopped Rhubarb.

Stir in dry ingredients: mix well and add 1 cut of nuts if desired. Spoon into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake 1 hour at 350 oven.

You could bake these in mini loaf pans, too.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Christmas Traditions Part 6

The Magic Tree

Going to see the Lights!!

We LOVE going around town and looking at Christmas lights! Our city hosts a light contest, so after it is complete and the newspaper prints the winners, we all pile into my mini SUV and trot around town looking at lights. Mr. CTL puts together an organized and detailed map and with the GPS, we find each and everyone! Last year we found this amazing tree!

We dip into our hords of Christmas cookies, make up hot cocoa and then drive for hours looking at houses and oooohing and ahhhhhing.

One year our house took second place in "Elegance" in our ward. It was so exciting to see people come to see our house!

What traditions do you have concerning Christmas Lights?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Christmas Traditions Part 5

As a child there weren't many traditions that I am aware of. We went to Grammy and Grandpa Oliver's house and to Grandpa and Grandma Holt's house, and we opened gifts at our house on Christmas Day.

But one tradition that did manage to hang on year after year was the making of the egg nog. My mom makes one good and creamy and cold eggnog (nonalcoholic) that is so good that it is a treat all by itself. You can see it in the punch bowl in the back of the table.

Here's my mom's recipe:(all ingredients should be cold!)
1 gallon of whole milk (hey, it's Christmas!)
6 (or more) pasteurized eggs
3 (or more) cups of sugar
3 T good vanilla
Central Dairy vanilla or egg nog ice cream, semi softened
freshly grated nutmeg

Beat the eggs until frothy. Add in sugar, one cup at a time. Slowly pour in milk and beat until well combined. Taste. Add more eggs and sugar until it meets this year's taste buds. Add 3 T of good vanilla. Taste. Add more if needed.Pour into a punch bowl. Add round scoops of ice all around the punch bowl. Grated nutmeg on top of egg nog. Beat off little kids and get the first cup.

What would you dreadfully miss if it did not appear on your Christmas table?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Christmas Traditions part 4

Every year we try to take in a play or school production or a ballet (our favorite being the Nutcracker!) or a concert... We are fortunate to live in a moderate sized town that has all of these options available during the holiday season. For years and years we drove into the city to see the Nutcracker. We would visit stores and get all dressed up... but now that our daughter is grown, we don't do this as often. Looking forward to some grandbabies someday to start the tradition all over again!

Do you attend these events in your community? Who usually does the offerings, the Cultural Committee of your city, the school, someone else?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Christmas Traditions part 3

Cork Ornaments!

Mr. CTL and I love wine, and we have many corks to prove it! Each year we make some of our other wine friends and our daughter ornaments made from wine corks. I am always struggling with this one... not many ideas out there in cyberspace for wine cork ornies!

Here are some we have made in the past, and if you have some neat ideas, please share!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Christmas Traditions part 2

Baking, cooking, and otherwise merry making in the kitchen...

This used to be my domain. But in recent years Mr. CTL has really gotten involved with the whole candy making, cooking baking tradition. I really love it, though, because now I have help cleaning up the kitchen when we are through!

Traditionally we make

Spritz (I make dozens and dozens of these so I can use different tips)

Pretzel Rods (I get all excited about the various sprinkles I am going to use!)

Tipsy Cherries


Cookies (this usually changes every year so I can try new things)

CrockPot Candy (yummy!)

Rum Cake

Some kinds of breads (last year I made gumdrop bread and as pretty as it was, I didn't think it was very good tasting)

(not my photo!)

And mini bundt cakes for the neighbors. These vary in flavors, too, as I hear about new ones I want to try!

This tradition of baking and candy making was disrupted one year due to our daughter's upcoming wedding. I remember I made the spritz and the rum cake and called it a year!

I am so excited to hear about your baking traditions. I always gather new ideas for my Christmas by reading your blogs. Please let me know when you are posting new recipes!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Christmas Traditions part 1

Christmas traditions are a natural part of everyone's holiday. I am going to share with you what our family's traditions are, how we have managed to preserve them during a time of ups and downs, and how we can adjust them when needed and still feel like our Christmas was just as always!

One of the first holiday traditions in our family is our annual cookie exchange. We hold it on Thanksgiving Day at my MIL's house before we head to wherever the Thanksgiving feast is going to be held. Each of us who is participating brings 6 cookies for each guest who is also participating. So if there are 6 guests participating, you would bring six packages of six cookies. It is important to wrap them creatively in sets of six so that all the guests have to do is to pick up their dozen. We also all bring a dozen to set out and share with everyone. That is the best part!Each guest is to attach the cookie recipe onto the package so we also walk away with recipes, too!

I always send a little email(I used www.designhergals.com last year) to remind everyone what to do and what to bring. Everyone says it is very helpful to have this at their disposal.

There are years when people can't participate and that's fine. This is one way we can preserve the tradition, but not putting too much pressure on to participate. By having the cookies there for everyone to share, no one feels totally left out. I often take my cookies home, freeze them, and then pull them out for our big company party. It is one less thing for me to think about on that day!

Since I am always the hostess, I always bring a little gift for my participants. I have brought ornaments, tea towels, or a little recipe book. It is fun for me to give the participants something for going through all that work!

I would love to hear how your cookie exchanges go and what new twists you put on them!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Christmas Cookies

Is there anything better than a fresh, homemade cookie with a cup of satisfying hot cocoa? In my book, there is almost no greater pleasure. I am always on the look out for a new cookie recipe to try and I imagine, so are most of you!!

Here are some fun places to look for new ideas:

New Cookies Every Day

Robin's Cookie Exchange

Christmas Cookies.Com

All Recipes Christmas Cookies

I know there are MANY more so share your favorites!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Christmas Movie Releases

I love going to the movies and so does Mr. CTL but we usually go out of town to avoid the local children! We are eagerly awaiting Disney's: A Christmas Carol which is due out November 6.

We've heard that a new Alvin and the Chipmunks (The Squeakuel) is out on Christmas Day. We love going to the movies on Christmas!

How about you, know of any others? You might enjoy this site that my friend Kristen shared with the girls on GLU a couple of years ago...http://christmasflick.com/.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Holiday Stamps

The holiday stamps will be featured on the following dates:

Winter Holidays stamps
October 8 — Mega Stamp Show, New York, NY


Christmas: “Virgin and Child” by Sassoferrato
October 20 — San Simeon, CA

Mark your calendars so you will remember to buy your stamps early!!