Thursday, December 31, 2015

What to Eat OR Not on the Eve of the New Year

Back in 2012 when I was looking for new dishes to serve for New Year's Eve, I came across an excellent article on what to eat and what not to eat on the Eve.  I served only what was on the "to eat" list and ate plenty of it.  I must say (and this may be coincidental), I’ve had better years (financially), NO, I did not get rich nor was I ever hit with a huge windfall, but I didn’t feel overly strapped for cash each week.  I may change up a few dishes this year, but I will be including plenty of green food!  Here is the original post:

What are you eating this New Year that may bring you good luck throughout [2016]?  When I sat down to plan my New Year’s menu and typed in “foods for New Year’s”, I was led to this, an excellent little article on traditions and what are believed to be lucky foods.  There are six major categories: grapes, greens, fish, pork, legumes, and cakes.  I also found it interesting that the amount of greens that are eaten may predict one’s fortune.  That could explain why I am so poor.  Our tradition was to eat a spoonful of sauerkraut at midnight.  This year I am eating tons of sauerkraut.  I’ll also be serving pork (it signifies wealth and prosperity) and I’m thinking of trying my hand at baking a dessert from Holland: the ollie bollen, a puffy, donut-like pastries filled with apples, raisins, and currants.

There is also a list of What Not to Eat.  “Lobster is a bad idea because they move backwards and could therefore lead to setbacks. Chicken is also discouraged because the bird scratches backwards, which could cause regret or dwelling on the past. Another theory warns against eating any winged fowl because good luck could fly away.”

I'm thinking of following with the German custom (or superstition) of leaving a little bit of each food on your plate past midnight to guarantee a stocked pantry in the New Year.  Nothing wrong with cleaning up in the morning.

©2015, TM Drake, Some Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 20, 2015

COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS, WEEK 8 (4th Sunday in Advent)

You should be pretty much ready.
Though these next few days will either be totally hectic or super calm.
1.  Review your menus and supplies once more. Any last minutes shopping needed?
2.  Keep a list of each gift as it is opened for writing those thank you notes later.
3.  Be sure to leave a snack for Santa and his reindeer.
4.  Stuff the stockings. 
5.  Have yourself a very Merry Christmas!
If you keep an Advent wreath during the Holiday Season, today you will be lighting the fourth candle – a purple candle.  This candle represents Peace.
Peace and happiness!

Saturday, December 19, 2015


We are SO close to the big day!!!  I love Christmas movies.  I will counting down to Christmas with a favorite each night beginning this evening.  With mugs of Old Fashioned Hot Cocoa and a few Christmas Cut-Out cookies, a favorite throw and snuggled up with my fave little guy, Elliot, we will begin our Christmas movie kick-off with:

1) Frosty the Snowman
2) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
3) Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
4) A Christmas Story
5) A Charlie Brown Christmas; and 
6) Disney’s A Christmas Carol (a particular favorite of E’s).

Let me say briefly that the weather here in Pittsburgh, PA has been divine!!!!! Today, actually, is the coldest (high of 36).  Tomorrow's forecast is COLD, perfect for the cocoa.  However, although winter begins next week, our temps are soaring back up to the 50's. No White Christmas like the ones I used to know.  

No matter the temps, enjoy your day!

Peace and happiness!

©2015, TM Drake, Some Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 13, 2015

COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS, WEEK 7 (3rd Sunday in Advent)

This is it. The final week (with a few days just before) to get it all together.  Will you be ready???
1.  Make your lists and check them twice! Are all catalog and on-line orders received?  (I have a few outstanding and fingers crossed they all arrive before Tuesday).
2.  Buy (or create) thank-you notes.  As gifts are received, or parties attended, you can begin writing out and addressing the cards to be sent on the 26th.
3.  Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus finalized? Non-perishables purchased? 
4.  Cookies baked? Food gifts assembled? Presents wrapped?
5.  Purchase any supplies needed, such as batteries (in abundance!).
6.  Charge the camera(s).

7.  Tree up and decorated? Cards sent?

If you keep an Advent wreath during the Holiday Season, today you will be lighting the third candle – a purple or pink candle.  This candle represents Joy.

Peace and happiness!

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Holiday To-Do List
1. Christmas menu finalized.  Begin purchasing everything needed except fresh produce.
2. Trim the tree.  Hang lights around window. Decorate.
3. Check list of gifts ordered.  Everything received?
4. Complete gift wrapping.

If you keep an Advent wreath during the Holiday Season, today you will be lighting the second candle – a purple candle.  This candle represents Love.

Peace and happiness!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015


1.   Celebrate Brendan’s 8th 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).
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 small gifts for stuffing stockings
18.  Bake red wine cake (as gifts) (recipe here
19.  Make a list of New Year’s Resolutions 
20.  Keep Calm and Be Merry!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Welcome December!


Watching:  Lots of Christmas themed movies - they are my favorite treat, such as This Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, Christmas With the Kranks and The Family Stone (just to name a few). Also, Minions every night with Elliot.

Eating:  K and Doug have been pitching in, making dinners.  It's such a timesaver, I'll eat whatever they make.  Doug is good cook and a meat, veggie kind of guy.  So, we are eating lots of more veggies. 

Drinking:   Hot cocoa with mini-marshmallows.

Playing:   Criminal Case. 

Looking Forward to:   Tonight.  We are planning on getting mini trees for two of our rooms, drinking hot cocoa, hanging strings of lights, and decorating the trees. 

Reading: The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson.

Enjoying: Playing trains with Elliot - every day he says something new, He is such a delight.  Getting the house ready for the Holidays. Making gifts.   

Participating in: A combination of Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas and Ali Edwards' December Daily.

How wonderful is your December?

Peace and happiness!


Sunday, November 29, 2015


Week 5 has officially begun.  
To-Do this week:
1) Christmas parties are coming up. What will you wear? Do clothes need dry-cleaned, pressed, repaired. Or will you be buying something new? What accessories will you wear? Shoes?  Think about it.  This is the perfect time to buy YOU a new gift;
2)  Schedule time for a hair appointment and/or manicure.  Salons get very busy at this time of year, so get your appointment booked.
3) Mail Christmas cards.
4) It’s time to finish up with on-line and catalog shopping so that the ordered items arrive in plenty of time to be wrapped and put under the tree.
5) Plan the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus. Order fresh turkeys, hams or goose now.
6). Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water. RELAX and ENJOY!

Today is the first day of Advent. If you keep an Advent wreath during the Holiday Season, today you will be lighting the first candle – a purple candle.  This candle represents Love. 

Peace and happiness!

Sunday, November 22, 2015


I've been staying up with my Countdown. Here's my Countdown for the Fourth Week of November:
1. Be thankful for all you have, and all that you've accomplished to this point.
2. Enjoy you Thanksgiving! You deserve it.
3. Send out invitations for the Christmas Ornament Exchange.
4. Pick up those Advent candles.  Advent begins Sunday.
5. Begin addressing Christmas cards.

Peace and happiness!


Saturday, November 21, 2015

8 Favorite Thanksgiving Themed Films to Watch this Season

My Eight Favorite Thanksgiving Themed Films

1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles - John Candy, Steve Martin – What Thanksgiving is really all about.

2. Jack and Jill – Adam Sandler. Fun!

3. Home for the Holidays  - Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Holly Hunter, Robert Downey, Jr.  This file is one of my absolute favorites.  Going home for the Holidays has never been more fun.

4. Pieces of April – Katie Holmes. This film is different, and I like it.

5. What’s Cooking?– Mercedes Ruehl.  Love this film!  

6. The Big Chill – Star studded cast including, Glenn Close, JoBeth Williams, Tom Berenger.  I can't even count the times I have watched this film. What a soundtrack!

7. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving – The Peanuts Gang – it’s not a holiday without them.

8. Holiday Treasure – Jason Robards. I watched this as a young'un and it has always stuck with me.  I really like it.

Monday, November 16, 2015


Week 3 has officially begun.  
You can see Week 1’s Holiday To-Do List here and here, and Week 2’s here
To-Do this week:
1)   Continue shopping for gifts;
2)   Update Christmas card list;
3)   Purchase or order Christmas cards.  I have so many boxed sets that I really do not need to buy any for a few years.  However, there are so many adorable cards that when I see a set that appeals to me, I just have to buy them;
4)   Make and freeze a batch of baked goods (unfrosted cookies, bars, quick breads);
5)   Start collecting boxes and gift bags to use for gift wrapping, or do what K and I like to do – buy a roll of brown mailing paper from the dollar store.  Gather paints, stickers, ribbon, trim and create your own gift wrap.  One year, using an envelope template from Mirkwood, K fingerpainted on the brown paper and we cut out envelopes for money and gift card gifts;
6)   Start wrapping gifts as they are bought.  I must do this because I really do not like to wrap; and
7)  Finalize Thanksgiving dinner menu and entertainment plans.
Peace and happiness!


Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Grocery List

Thanksgiving – it’s almost here!  Okay, I realize it’s two weeks away but my paychecks are twice a month and that’s how I measure the time to each next big event in our lives. For instance, Christmas is three paychecks away.  Scary, huh?  So for me, Thanksgiving is one paycheck away which is why you will find me at the grocery store this weekend, shopping for our Thanksgiving dinner (plus the weeks leading up to the big day).  A few years ago, I wrote out a menu plan for Thanksgiving week and have used the same list for a couple of years now.  I figure it's already written and been family tested so it's become tradition.  And I do like tradition.  Here, I share with you my (totally genius J) menu plan and shopping list.

Thanksgiving Week Shopping List and Menu Planner.  

      The Grocery List
Thanksgiving Dinner
Mashed potatoes                                          potatoes, milk, butter
Green Bean Casserole,                                 green beans, mushroom soup, onions
Turkey                                                              turkey
Cranberry sauce                                            cranberry sauce
Stuffing                                                             bread, mushrooms, onions, butter, milk
Cole Slaw                                                        cabbage, carrots, mayo
Crescent rolls                                                   rolls
Pumpkin pie                                                    canned pumpkin, condensed milk
Gravy                                                               pie crust

Apple Dumplings for Breakfast

Pulled Pork Barbecue                                    Pork Roast  (Make extra)
Cole Slaw
Buns (Buy extra)

White Chicken Chili                                       Chicken tenders, McCormick’s spice,
                                                                        White Beans
                                                                        lettuce, cheese, sour cream

Barbecue Pork Tacos                                    Taco Shells, Cheese

Spaghetti and Meatballs                   Pasta, ground meat, seasonings, cheese,
                                                              Sauce  Make extra meatballs

Turkey Casserole                                             Leftovers from Thanksgiving

Meatball Sandwiches

Easy Chicken Casserole                               Chicken Tenders (or leftover turkey), 
                                                                        cream of chicken soup
                                                                        Sour cream, butter round
                                                                        crackers, onions.

Swiss cheese
Chocolate chips

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day 2015

How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!"

~ Maya Angelou

Thank you for the freedom we enjoy each and every day.

Monday, November 9, 2015


Week 2 has officially begun.  You can see Week 1’s Holiday To-Do Lists here and here.  I had originally planned to countdown to each holiday individually, but decided to combine the lists as we will be doing many of the tasks for both holidays and why not do it all at once???  We will be much more organized in the long run (and have less lists).

To-Do this week:
1)     Continue shopping for gifts;
2)     Begin buying nonperishable items for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
3)     Decide what table settings and linens you will be using for each holiday dinner.  Do you need to purchase something new? Mend or launder a tablecloth or dinner napkin? Replace a table setting or polish silver?
4)     Stock up on Holiday themed paper products, i.e., plates, cups, eating utensils, place mats.  While I set a pretty table using china and linens for the main dinners, I like to use Holiday themed paper products for my Annual Ornament Exchange, potluck and impromptu get togethers.
5)     Decorate for Thanksgiving.

Last week, we worked on the guest list for Thanksgiving Dinner.  Now it’s time to send out the invites.

Peace and giving,

Friday, November 6, 2015

Ten Reasons to Love November

November here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has come in like a lamb.  The weather is gorgeous!!  This morning at 5:50 a.m. it was a balmy 64 degrees.  I just wore a light sweater to the office.  While this sort of weather won’t last, we are enjoying it right now.

I like Thanksgiving.  I do; and while I like spending time with my whole family (that includes nieces/nephews and their young ones), I like that Thanksgiving is just a small affair for us.  Oh, I still cook up a fairly large turkey and all the yummy sides, but it’s a much more relaxing day with just a few of us. 

Thanksgiving, a time for reflection and thankfulness.  A time for counting your blessings.  Here’s what I love about the month of November.

1.         Thanksgiving dinner (of course)!

2.         Sweeping the falling leaves into piles and (this year) Elliot jumping in them – that was just last night.

3.         Christmas cactuses are beginning to bloom.

4.         Fall scented candles – such as Yankee Candles Sugar & Spice and Vanilla Bourbon.

5.         Family traditions.

6.         Preparing for Christmas.

7.         Wearing super-soft sweaters.

8.         The Thanksgiving Day Parade.

9.         The scent of lit fireplaces in the air.

10.       Counting our blessings.

What are your reasons for loving November?