Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's in the Mail

12/20/12 - Mailbox Surprises

Since just about every gift bought this Christmas Season was on-line we have had tons of mail. I am awaiting my Christmas stamps (and those for Mel's baby shower), and Cammi's two gifts. That's it. That's all. Ta Da!
I am leaving work early today to grocery shop and then bake, bake, bake.  And await the 1-2 inches of snow that is threatening to come our way.  Could be we are having a White Christmas afterall!!!!
Happy, healthy Thursday!! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Write Stuff

12/19/12 - Letter to Santa

Dear Santa:                                     

    For Christmas I would like a huge helping of [good] health, wealth, peace and happiness.  I would like a White Christmas just like the ones I used to know.  I would like for my car to last another year, the bills to be paid on time, taxes to go down, and for our area to be a safe place to live.  I want to take off the last 10 pounds to goal, to win a sweepstakes or lottery, to have a never-ending supply of energy, nylons that never run and socks that always come out of the dryer in pairs.  I would like my children to be happy, my parents to be safe and sound, to always have a job to go to.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Eats.

12/18/12 - The Menus
I love to cook when its cold outside.  Cream soups, thick chili, hearty stews.  On Christmas Eve we will be having a luncheon.  My lovely family and all my grandkiddies will be in attendance.  The menu this year will be Sugar Cane Baked Ham with Spiced Apples and Pears, (for Jayme), cheesy baked Lasagna and Garlic Toast (for Joey and Amanda), Tossed Salad, Fresh Fruit, Christmas Cookies and Red Wine Cake.  I think I'll whip up a batch of fudge and sugarplums, too.    Christmas Day breakfast will be probably myself and Joey. So, I’m thinking Pioneer Woman’s Apple Dumplings, Scrambled Eggs, Toast, and Juice.  At the end of the day it’s all Mmmmm, Mmmmm GOOD!
A Little Snack (12/21/10)

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Saw This and Thought of You!

Ben, Christmas 2008
12/17/12  I Saw This and Thought of You
This is just a Sampling, til I find the Official List:   

For Amanda: the complete set of Nightmare on Elm Street videos, zoo pass for the whole family,  for Kayla: Ashton Drake Truly Real doll, WiFi, Grand Theft Auto for her PS2, 2 outfits, Dirty Minds Game; Cammi: a pink/black outfit, Wilson Glow in the Dark football, subscription to BOP, 5th Dork book, housekeeping set; Hello Kitty Necklace, for Jade: housekeeping set, portable doll house, Hello Kitty earrings, pants outfit, for Ben: TMNT P.J.s, Halo, for Brendan:  for Jacob:  for Dad: money and a card; for Mom: money and a card; for Mel & B: ___, GC; for Mike and Jolene: ___, GC; for Joey: flannel shirt, socks, T-shirts; for Tiffany: GC, for Chloe: GC, for Eddie: Halo; for Leah: Dora book/playset; for Kaileen: Itunes GC; for Skye: Itunes GC; for Jayme & Tina: Zoo Membership; for the four attorneys I am responsible for: party in a box.  That’s all I can think of off the top of my head.  I really need my list!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I am Grateful

12/16/12  Grateful

I am Grateful. . . (1) for my family, I love them all, (2) my Mom - who is always there for me; (3); my daughter - who helps me immensely; (4) my sons, although they have/have had their troubles, they are my sons; (5) my eyesight; (5) my house - thanks Mom and Dad, I really do love this big old house; (6) my job - I love it!; (7) the Internet - what a way to make friends across the world; (8) my car - please keep working; (9) my grandchildren - for keeping life exciting and "new"; (10) my ability to adapt and "bounce back" as I hit the speed bumps along life's path.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Special Christmas Treats

12/15/12 Special Treats

Every year, in addition to the traditional family recipes we bake, i.e., frosted sugar cookies, peanut butter kisses, chocolate chip cookies, m&m cookies, snowballs, etc., my daughter and I like to try something new.  We’ve made those cute pretzel m&m Hershey kiss treats, chocolate dough rolled around cherry cookies, our own chocolate candy, quick breads, Pioneer Woman’s apple dumplings (a new family favorite served at Easter and Christmas breakfasts), and lots more.  Another favorite Christmas treat for us is egg nog.  This year, Kayla and I discovered peppermint ice cream.  It’s so good!
Cookies by Kayla, December 2006

Friday, December 14, 2012

Music Makes the World Go Round

12/14/12 Christmas Carols
I can’t carry a tune to save my life. Seriously.  I joke that dogs howl when I sing, but I do love me a Christmas Carol or two!  O Holy Night! Do You Hear What I Hear!  Here We Come A Wassailing, Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, Silver Bells, White Christmas, Kayla's favorite: O Christmas Tree, Silent Night and oh, just all of them!!!!!  We sing them and hum them and Kayla plays the tunes on her little piano.  We pop in a Christmas CD and bake cookies or host a party.

Music can change the world because it can change people h Bono

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Gift Stops Here

12/13/12 Christmas Presents

With the family growing and in-laws to consider, Christmas Eve has become the "big day" in my household.  The guests include my Mom, my sister’s children Melissa and Mike, Melissa's husband Brian, Mike's wife  Jolene, my daughter Amanda, her  partner Jerry, Kayla,  Brendan, and Jacob, my son Joey and his daughter, Cammi and Jade, my son Jayme, his wife Tina, Jayme’s son, Ben and Tina’s children, Tiffany, Chloe, Edward and Leah.  Again this year, the menu will include ham (for Jayme) and lasagna (Amanda and Joey).  I will be baking that fabulous Chocolate Wine Cake.  There will be lots of presents!  Along with those that Santa brings, there will be presents for all the kiddies from everyone!!!  Our house is filled with gifts and wrapping paper, bows and trim.  What a joy to watch the children open their presents and scream in delight.  Of course, if oru family, these kiddies and their parents get gifts all year, but they are still grateful and thankful for those they get at Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Back in My Day...

12/12/12 Christmas Past

My parents were awesome.  My Dad worked at Sears and whenever the big toy catalog came out, my sister, brother and I would write out our lists.  I am sure we got everything we put on our lists.  During our baths on Christmas Eve, one of Santa's elves would ring our doorbell and leave new p.j.s.  My folks hosted a Christmas Eve party for many years.  There was always laughter and joy that night. Christmas Day was spent like this: wake up brother and get him to wake up parents, open gifts, dress, if we didn’t go to Midnight Service, then we’d go to morning service, then off to Grandma D's for breakfast, Nana's for lunch and Grampa's for dinner, then finally, back home.  We never really got to play with our gifts until the 26th.  But our Christmases were always filled with excitement!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Tree

12/11/12 Christmas Tree     
The tree. Always, we always have a crooked tree. Ah, that just makes it all the more endearing and memorable. One year, Kayla patiently cut intricately patterned snowflakes. She cut until her little hands hurt, but she loved making these paper snowflakes.  Every year we have her make a new ornament. I just love them. Amanda cringes every year I bring out her toilet paper roll Santa Claus. That ornament is about 20 years old. How could we not include him. Or the macaroni picture frame? These are what memories are made of.  This year I am thinking of a Charlie Brown type of tree (it’s really a plant).  I think it will be cute.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Today I celebrate another birthday. Bah Humbug!

It's a Wrap!

12/10/12    Gift Wrapping
Wrapping presents is not usually one of my favorite things to do, but this year I have taken a certain delight in it.  I’ve also had help from Kayla and Kaileen and the bulk of the presents are wrapped and ready to be opened. We had a variety of wrapping paper left from last year. Amanda loves bows and her presents always sport that loving touch.  One year, Kayla and I took brown postal paper and painted our own paper.  I also used a small envelope template and she finger painted and we made our own gift card holders.  I do love the personal touch!

Christmas 2008: Ben spends hours wrapping and unwrapping his toys!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Tradition

12/09/12 Traditions
Our traditions have changed dramatically.  In 2007, I would have written:
On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, my Mom, my sister Cathy, Cathy's children, and my own, get together at my house for a Christmas luncheon.  Though this year it will be Brunch.  We give each other gifts, play games and just have a relaxing afternoon.  My children and their families spend the evening with their Dad's family.  On Christmas morning, Amanda, Kayla and I open presents and then we begin Christmas dinner preparations.  The guest list includes Joey, Tera and Cammi, Jayme and Ben.  Then they all go to their respective spouses' family's homes, and hmmmmm, I relax in the quiet of my home. 
Christmas preparations truly get underway the weekend following Thanksgiving.  That's when we put up the tree and begin decorating.  In preparing for Christmas, orange and clove pomanders are made, along with Cinnamon Applesauce Ornament Swags.  Dozens of cookies are made.  Christmas cards are sent.  All of our Christmas videos/DVD's will be gathered together and watched throughout the Season, especially "A Christmas Story" and "It's A Wonderful Life". The second Sunday of December we host our annual Ornament Exchange Luncheon.  We have breakfast or lunch with Santa at the Zoo or Heinz; visit the Miniature Railroad Display in all its holiday finery; and catch the Holiday Magic Laser Show at the Buhl Digital Dome.  Kayla and I will catch a Christmas movie or two and we'll attend the 11:00 p.m. Candle Light Service at Church on Christmas Eve.  Our stockings will be hung.  "Santa" will ring our doorbell at the time Kayla is getting a bath and drop off a new pair of p.j.'s.  (This tradition was begun by my Mom when we were very young.  Our neighbor plays "Santa".)  I will wake up extra early to put on Orange Rolls and coffee and to take pictures of the tree and presents.  Believe it or not, between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m., Amanda and I can't take it anymore and we go wake Kayla up.  That child has never gotten up way early.  A far cry from me and my siblings; one year we nagged my parents at 3:00 in the morning to let us open our gifts!

In 2010, I would have written;
This year traditions change - drastically.  Jayme and Ben are in a home of their own and now it is just me in this big, rambling house.  My sweet sister has gone to live with our Lord and her non-presence will be felt heavily.  We have a new addition to the family - Jacob.  This year, since we have Christmas Eve off, I am having a lunch for the whole family, good food, comfort, lots of presents! Christmas Day this year, I plan to spend quietly with my Mom and Dad, Melissa and Mike.

This year . . .
This year, on Christmas Eve, I am again having a lunch for the whole family. Good food, good company, lots of presents! Christmas Day I will visit my parents and then I plan to spend the rest of the day at home as I will be back to work the next day.
Although I am late with the decorating this year, Kayla and I have most of the gift wrapping complete.  Mom and I have most of the downstairs decorating complete.  Kayla and I did kick off the season by staying in town on November 16 for Light Up Night (I even bought a gift, checked it off my list).  I am still undecided about putting up a tree this year.  I’m thinking of decorating with all my treasured ornaments and lights. I just don’t know.  We are hosting our annual Ornament Exchange again this year.  The invitations have been sent and the menu finalized. As I do every year, I’ve gathered all the Christmas movies, but still need to pull the Christmas themed books from their shelves and stack them in baskets for gatherings with the kiddies.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas!

12/08/12 Seasonal Sights 
Wrapped presents, Christmas trees, Christmas movies and cartoons, singing carols, families celebrating together, poinsettias in abundance, snow, sled-riding, old fashioned hot chocolate, cookies baking, Christmas dinner, Christmas lights, wreaths, letters from Santa, light-up night, candy canes, snuggling, boots, scarves, mittens, red noses, frosty fingers and toes.

Friday, December 7, 2012

There's A Party Tonight!

Pulling out the little black dress and glamouring it up, there's a Christmas Party tonight! Having my hair done at 5:30 (after a full day at the office) and then off to Morton's (can you say GLITZY??!!).  Then home, to silky p.j.'s, warm milk and a viewing of "It's A Wonderful Life".  Ahhh, I can feel the envy.

What to Do, What to Do.

12/07/12 To Do Lists
This year I began keeping “Project” notebooks.  I kept one for Project Summer: 2012, Project Fall: 2012 and I’ve begun one for Project Christmas:2012.  The first one I created, the send was a notebook I had in my stash and the third is a Mary Englebreit Christmas cover book found at Michael’s Arts & Crafts in their dollar section. Everything is in there – the grocery lists, cleaning lists, gift certificate list, card list, gifts bought lists, gifts to buy list, menus, etc. Lists! Lists! Lists! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas - It's Not Always Bliss

12/06/12 The Good and the Not So Good
Cathy and Brendan, December 2008
My Sister left us in June of 2010.  That following Christmas was not a very happy one for my family.  She was and is so missed.  Every Christmas (heck, every second) going forward, we will all feel the loss of this brave soul.  She was always so loving and giving, every day, not just at Christmas.  As for Good, I love Christmas.  People seem nicer to one another.  The world is beautiful with its colored lights, candles, trees in the windows, carols playing on the radio stations, Christmas shows, waking up to white wonderlands.  Children are so excited.  There is such a hustle and bustle, a sense of magic and a magnificent energy at Christmas time. The not so good for me is waiting all year for this exceptional celebration of love and peace and its over way too soon.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Countdown Continues

12/05/12 Counting Down
On November 30, I posted how I would be counting down to Christmas this year.  So far the kiddies and I have watched a few off the list.  As for Little Women, I actually watched the version with June Allyson and Elizabeth Taylor - good one!  Also, The Bishop Wife's remake with Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington.  I really enjoyed that one, too. Over the weekend, we watched The Grinch (Jim Carrey) TWICE and last night I put on Christmas with the Kranks (as a reminder to get the lights on the outside of the house replaced, only half are lighting up).  I've had to change number 8 to The Grinch because I had The Santa Clause twice (hate when that happens).
1) Jack Frost (1998)
2) It's a Wonderful Life
3) Christmas With the Kranks; 
4) The Family Stone
5) Christmas in Connecticut
6) Frosty the Snowman
7) The Santa Clause
8) The Grinch
9) The Family Man
10) Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
11) Little Women (1994)
12) Holiday Inn
13) White Christmas
14) The Polar Express
15) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
16) Love Actually
17) Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
18) This Christmas
19) The Bishop’s Wife
20) Surviving Christmas
21) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
22) Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas
23) A Christmas Story
24) A Charlie Brown Christmas; and 
25) Disney’s A Christmas Carol.

And that is how I will be counting down to Christmas this year.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Wouldn't It Be Lovely!

12/04/12 My Perfect Christmas
My Sister - Christmas 2006

A log cabin in the woods.  It would have a huge family room.  The snow would just keep falling until there was a ton!  We'd have a real tree, decorated beautifully and smelling wonderful.  A roaring fire in the fireplace. That fireplace would be as big as those you find at a Cracker Barrel restaurant! All of my family would be there from my parents to my siblings, my children and grandchildren, my nieces and nephews and their children, too. We would pop popcorn, make Old Fashioned Hot Chocolate, play board games, watch seasonal favorites like "A Christmas Story", and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” sing carols, make snow angels, and pine cone feeders for the smaller animals, and just-be- happy-and-thankful-together.  {Sigh}

Monday, December 3, 2012

Seasons Greetings

12/03/12 Christmas Cards

One of my favorite places to purchase Christmas cards is Barnes & Nobles.  I love their selection, especially the Victorian type cards.   One year, Amanda, Kayla and I made our own cards using a kit we purchased at clearance from Michael's Arts & Crafts.  That was fun and the cards were lovely and well received.  This year I am sending cards that had been bought by my sister (she did not get the chance to send them, but she is with us in spirit).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Weather Outside

12/02/12 Christmas Weather

When I was a young girl, we could always expect a White Christmas.  But that hasn't always been so.  Sad are the years we do not wake up to a White Christmas.  Instead, we have had warm temperatures and gray, rainy days.  Hopefully, this year will be different!  Our region is experiencing warm temperatures (and light rain); (currently 63̊, at 4:09 p.m.) for this time of the year).  We can only hope that when we wake up on Christmas morning our big picture window frames trees, their branches delicately wearing a dress of white snow; that the yards are filled and awaiting happy children to come tumble, make snow angels, snowmen and igloos.

No snow in these here parts.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December 1, 2012

Today, even though it’s a few days early, we celebrated Brendan’s 5th birthday.  I was not able to get a Dinosaur cake, but Brendan did not complain about the Toy Story themed one in its place.  As he made the first cut, he exclaimed: “I WISH I WAS A DINO-MAN!”  All the grandchildren were there and the weather was nice enough for the little ones to play out back in the tent (yes, the weather here in Pittsburgh is still grand enough for the tent to be standing).  Later after most of the party guests left and the party debris was cleaned, Mom and I “winterized” the front porch, although the forecast for the week is temps in the 50’s – you just never know.  Kayla, Chloe, Ben, Cammi and Jade stayed over and we had a fun evening playing Scattergories and watching The Grinch.

December - it's here!


a holiday season dedicated to making
the very best memories more time spent smiling, listening, loving, enjoying.
more sparkle, more magic, more gratitude.
more remembering what’s most important this very special Christmas.

Friday, November 30, 2012

December 2012 To Do List

1.  Celebrate Brendan’s 6th birthday and my, um, oh, 29th!
2.  Put up the tree and decorate it.
3.  Document each day (i.e., December Daily and Journal Your Christmas) I will be combining the two and using Scrapscription’s December Daily 2012 Kit.
4.  Bake cookies.
5.  Make Cinnamon Applesauce ornaments.
6.  Sing Christmas Songs.
7.  Wrap presents.
8.  Spend an evening driving around to look at Christmas lights.
9.  Write letters to Santa.
10.   Watch holiday movies.
11.   Read holiday books.
12.   Hang Candy Canes.
13.   Host an Ornament Exchange party.
14.   Send Christmas Cards.
15.   Hang Stockings.
16.   Celebrate the Winter Solstice.
17.   Make potpourri for gifts (kudos to Dandee for this (and more) fabulous idea(s)) 
18.   Bake red wine cake. Last year I used homemade wine given to me by a friend and gave this cake as gifts. It is DELICIOUS!!!! I will be making it again this year in a cute 6-bundt pan I found at Michael's.  That's right - 6 cakes baked at once = six done gifts!  You find this yummy recipe here.
19.   Make a list of New Years Resolutions 
20.   Keep Calm and Be Merry!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Counting Down Christmas

I was thinking how to count down to Christmas this year.  One year, when Kayla lived here, we used a Reindeer Chalkboard for our countdown.  We’ve used the oversized Advent calendars with the pieces of candy behind each window.  We’ve read a book each evening.  This year, I thought maybe a present a day, or singing a song a day or sending a letter a day.  Now that the kiddies are all settled in their own homes, I’m thinking of watching a Christmas themed movie a day.  Well, evening, since I work during the day.  I’m thinking of some of my very favorites (though not all may be considered by some as Christmas themed, but for me, they evoke a feeling of Christmas and that’s my favorite time to watch them).
1.                  Jack Frost (1998)
2.                It’s A Wonderful Life (I LOVE this film!!!! and will watch it more than once)
3.                Christmas with the Kranks
4.                The Family Stone
5.                 Christmas in Connecticut
6.                Frosty the Snowman
7.                 The Santa Clause
8.                The Family Man
9.                Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
10.            Little Women (1994)
11.              Christmas in Connecticut
12.            Holiday Inn
13.            White Christmas
14.            The Polar Express
15.             Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
16.            Love Actually
17.             Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
18.            This Christmas
19.            The Bishop’s Wife
20.          Surviving Christmas
21.            National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
22.           Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas
23.           A Christmas Story
24.           A Charlie Brown Christmas
25.           Disney’s A Christmas Carol
          How will you count down to Christmas?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Here's What's Cooking

Saturday, armed with coupons (Mom’s), food perk discounts (Mom’s), BOGO frees, and shopping lists (um, neither, I left those at home), Mom and I purchased two complete Thanksgiving dinners. Except I forgot the French Fried Onions for the Green Bean Casserole. This dish is a favorite of my children. It must be on the table.  It cannot be substituted by green beans and almonds, which I tried one year, because I like them, but the children did not.  I do that once in a while. Change something up. It does not always work. R-A-R-E-L-Y does it work.  Anyway, it is Wednesday, the day before the BIG day and I still have no French Fried Onions. Sooooooo, I am going to make my own. Yeah, I know, they won’t be super dried out nor super crunchy, BUT they will be fresh, and hopefully a bit more nutritional.  Will they be a hit?  Time will tell.

French Fried Onions

3 small onions. Peel and slice onions into rings (thinness or thickness as you desire).
Into mixing bowl, beat 1 egg.
Stir in ¼ cup milk.
Add ½ tsp. baking powder, ¼ tsp. salt and ½ cup flour. Mix.

In large skillet or deep fryer, heat ¼ cup cooking oil, get it hot.

Dip onion rings into batter and fry, in batches, until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Season with salt and pepper. Store in airtight container.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I have a four (4) day weekend coming up, thanks to Thanksgiving!!! My mom, daughter and daughter-in-law will come over, my granddaughter will sleep over and we will begin the holiday baking, craft making, invitation writing and general prep and finalization of our upcoming ornament exchange and Christmas Eve luncheon.  During quiet time (what’s that?!), we may settle down to a Thanksgiving themed film.  A few favorites are Home for the Holidays and Planes, Trains and Automobiles (perfect reminder of how not to make snap judgments of your fellow man), and let’s not forget an all-time favorite and beloved classic, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

I am so looking forward to this mini vacation.  While I may have tons to do, i.e., baking pies, peeling potatoes, stuffing a turkey, cleaning and entertaining, I will be reminding myself of all I do have, and I will be thankful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

This Week...

... I will continue shopping!
... I will purchase the Thanksgiving turkey and the rest of the dinner items needed.
... I will update my Christmas Card list.
... I will begin baking and freezing baked goods.
... I will schedule a VA pick-up and begin gathering donations.
... I will continue working on scarf and hat.
... I will take K to light-up night, dinner at Six Penn and later in the weekend, join other family members for a movie at the theater.
... I will give the house a good cleaning.

Monday, November 5, 2012

This Week . . .

. . . I will finalize my gift shopping list and begin ordering from catalogs.
. . . I will mail out my Thanksgiving invites and cards.
. . . I will finalize my plans for Thanksgiving entertaining.
. . . When grocery shopping, I will begin picking up extra items for holiday dinners and gifts, such as bottles of wine.
. . . I will decorate the house for Thanksgiving.
. . . I will mark all special dates and events in my planner, such as Brendan's birthday, Joey's, Michael's, mine, our Ornament Exchange party, etc. For Pittsburgh area holiday events, check out, i.e., 52nd Light Up Night, parades, etc.
. . . I will begin crocheting a hat and scarf for my son.
. . . I will burn fall scented candles.
. . . I will see a movie with my children.
. . . The children and I will collect bowls of acorns for decorations.
. . . I will reflect, keep calm, enjoy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Crafting Christmas

I absolutely loved this idea of The Frugal Homemaker's.  She is a participant of The Nester's 31 Dayers 2012.  Now, I admire all of these women and their ability to do something each day for 31 days.  I am happy to do one thing for one day in 31 days.  But the inspiration! There is so much.  So while I KNOW I am not going to make 30 (talking November here) inspirational somethings that I've pinned, I am going to try. Especially any of the peppermint pinnings.  I have a deadline of December 9 - the date of our Ornament Exchange Party.  I am definitely doing this for Thanksgiving (remember, it comes before Christmas):  

Though my bottles are clear, I still love this idea and will be using it on my buffet for Thanksgiving.  You can find the directions at Plaid.
I am slowly making my way through the other contributors' 31 Days. So much talent, so much inspiration, so many wonderful people!!!  So much procrastinating . . . ah, that's me.  Beginning projects this evening.

Hey! Have a blessed weekend!