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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Mantel 2010



Merry Christmas!

Like Bob Cratchit, I am behind my time getting this post up for Layla's party.

The past couple of years, my holiday mantel has been very full with greenery and candles. This year, I am going a bit simpler.

Mickey and Minnie dance on the hearth.


Click below to visit Layla for more holiday mantels.



Monday, November 29, 2010

Adventures in Gift and Christmas Tree Shopping

Hello Friends.

How was your weekend? I'm ready to go back to work so I can rest!

After perusing the Black Friday ads on Thursday, I decided none of the Door Busters were calling my name so there was no reason to go out at 4:30. However, there were some all-day sales that caught my eye.

This left me with a decision to make. Do I go out later on Friday and run the risk of my items of interest being out-of-stock or do I go out at midnight... It was crowded at midnight, but the crowds weren't aggressive like they are during the Door Buster Sales. I was home by two and was able to sleep Friday until I was ready to get up, around eight.

Friday afternoon, Jordan, Joel and I went out to lunch and then on to Cackler Family Farms to pick out our Christmas tree.

The boys...um men agreed to pose for a picture.

Cackler Farms' Nativity.

We're off to find the perfect tree.

We searched high and low through muddy rows
while trying to avoid the open fields as it was
cold and blustery.

We finally found this 7 foot white pine.

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

I'd like to say we strapped the tree to the roof of the car and had an uneventful 20 mile drive back to Marion. Yep, I'd like to be able to say that.... The men did get the tree strapped down to the roof of the car using rope and bungee cords. Jordan was a seasoned veteran after all.

Did I mention it was blustery???

Stop #1: The tree was sliding down the roof of the car towards the trunk. The men repositioned the tree and tightened the straps thus squishing the tree limbs. We opened the inside panel to the sunroof so we could keep an eye on the tree.

Stop #2: The wind was still lifting the tree up. The men got out of the car and again and tightened the straps harder. Jordan got in the back seat and held the straps taut.

Stop #3: Where's the tree! I screamed when I looked up to the sunroof to see blue sky. This is about the time my Christmas spirit wore off and I used a few words I try hard not to use. You've got to be kidding me. We've never had these issues before.

By now, the netting was all but off the tree. We had no choice but to try to cram this 7 foot fat Christmas tree, with no netting, into the trunk of my mid-size Pontiac G6. Can you guess what happens to a 7 foot fat Christmas tree with no netting when it is crammed into the trunk of a Pontiac G6??? Let me clue you in...branches break and the perfect top for my Christmas star gets broken off....BUT it makes it home.

The men were silent. Once we were safely back on the road, I started giggling. I think the men thought I finally went around the bend, but I told them this is a perfect story for the blog.


I will be linking to Blue Monday , Mosaic Monday , and Outdoor Wednesday.  I will also be linking to Marcia's Christmas in July 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

You are Invited to the Holiday Gift Giveaway Hop

WHO: ALL BLOG FOLLOWERS
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE A BLOG TO PARTICIPATE

WHAT: HOLIDAY GIFT GIVEAWAY HOP
MORE THAN 200 BLOGS OFFERING
GIFT CARD AND CASH GIVEAWAYS.

ALL PARTICIPATING BLOGS ARE
LINKED TOGETHER FOR EASY ACCESS.

WHEN: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1 @ 12:01AM -
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 5 AT 11:59 PM
ALL TIMES ARE EASTERN STANDARD TIME

WHERE: THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME

Special Treat at Mille Fiori Favoriti

Hello Friends!

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday weekend. I should be busy decorating the house, but I'm afraid I will miss something in Blogland if I don't stop and take a peek from time-to-time. Boy, am I glad I did because I would hate to have missed the special treat my friend, Pat is sharing on her blog, Mille Fiori Favoriti.

Gather your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews around the computer! Pat is sharing her pictures from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and they are amazing! She gives everyone a view and a feel for what it is like to witness this amazing annual event in person.

Can you tell I'm jazzed about this post???

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gone Shopping

Hello Friends!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are ready to officially embrace the Holiday Gift Giving Season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, I hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

I am spending the weekend shopping, cutting down the perfect Christmas tree, and decorating for Christmas.





I will be back soon. Meanwhile...

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He's making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
Santa Claus is coming to town



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Cookie

Hello Friends!

I am sharing another family favorite from my mother's recipe box. I believe this recipe was one of my Grandma Benson's as it has been in the family for years.

The name of this recipe is Christmas Cookies, but it is actually a bar. The combination of the tart apricots, sweet dates, and wholesome oats make for a festive party for your palate.

My brother, Chuck and I love this recipe. It is always on the Thanksgiving menu. He and I have a pact; I make Christmas Cookie for him and he makes pecan pie for me. It's a win-win deal!

Let's get baking!


Christmas Cookies

Filling

1 Cup Pitted Dates, cut into small pieces
3 1/2 Cups Drained Cooked Apricots (I use 2- 15 ounce cans)
1 1/2 Cups Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Water

Blend fruit with sugar and water in sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened (about 3 minutes). Cool slightly.

Crust

3/4 Cup Shortening
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
2 Cups Quick Cooking Oats
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Blend shortening, sugar and vanilla until well combined. Sift flour and soda and mix with oatmeal. Add dry ingredients to the wet and work into a dough (it will be crumbly).

Press 1/2 the mixture on the bottom of a 9" x 13" greased pan. Spread the filling over the surface of the crust (make sure the apricots and dates are evenly distributed). Top with the remaining crumbs and press into the filling gently with a spoon.

Bake for 30 minutes in a 350* oven.

I'm linking to Johanna's International Christmas Cookie Exchange and Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday Thanksgiving Break.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ohio Blogger Event and a Barn Sale


CALLING ALL OHIO BLOGGERS!

French Hen Farm is hosting a holiday barn sale on December 4 in Marysville, Ohio. The sale will feature holiday decor, gifts, pine roping, wreaths, poinsettias, and more.

Sue, at Sullivan & Murphy, thought it would be the ideal time for an Ohio Blogger get-together. Doesn't that sound like fun! We will all meet at the sale early for the best shopping and then on to town for lunch and maybe some additional shopping. I think this sounds like a great time.

I hope to see you there!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Week


Hello Friends!

We've been talking about it for weeks now and it has finally arrived, Thanksgiving week and the beginning of the Christmas holiday season.

For me, this begins the big sprint to January 1. There's always so much to do (shopping, cleaning, decorating, baking, and wrapping) in a short few weeks. Therefore, I need to eat copious amounts of calories Thursday to fuel me for the big push. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.


What are your plans for this long holiday weekend? Will you be going over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house? Will you be entertaining family and friends in your home? We will be going down to the corner and turning left to Brother/Sister-in-law's house.


Will you be fighting the crowds on Black Friday morning? If so, how early do you set out and do you fly solo or are you part of a well-seasoned shopping team? Have any crazy stories to share?

As for me, I fly solo on Black Friday morning, but I only go out if I see a big bargain on something on my list. This excursion is not for the light-hearted shopper or the browser.

Black Friday is not safe for browsers!

From what I've seen on BlackFriday.Com, I'm not sure whether I will go out or not.

Friday or Saturday, we will go to the tree farm and cut down our holiday tree. I love this tradition and can't wait to see what beauties are available this year. Last year, the farm had a HUGE, bushy tree with a crooked trunk. It's name was Charlie and he was only $25. Jordan wanted him, but I talked him our of it....because he is huge and has a crooked trunk. This past Friday, Jordan informed me that I told him if Charlie was still there this year, we'd bring him home. What was I thinking????

What are your plans?
I will be linking to Mosaic Monday

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Joel Bags a Deer


Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile have met my nephew, Joel.

He's a football player...


and a Baseball Player...

He has been hunting since he was a young boy. Try as he might, he has never been able to get a deer. Consequently, he has had to put up with a lot of ribbing from his family and friends....even his Aunt La. I know....I'm bad.

All that ends today, because Joel got his first deer today!
Congratulations, Joel!



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving

Hello Friends!

Today, I am happy to be joining Lynn's Thanksgiving party at The Vintage Nest. Come along and join us as we celebrate this blessed holiday.


I am thankful for


my country...

my family...

nature's gifts...
and

Bosco!

I'm also linking to Kendra's I'm Grateful for... at Domestic Princess in Training.

Alphabe Thursday: I is for Ice


I is for ICE

Wish as I might that winter won’t come this year, it will inevitably arrive. With its arrival comes the dreaded snow and ice storms. Most of the time, my hour commute is uneventful and peaceful because I take back roads as opposed to the road rage-ous freeway. There is the occasional deer encounter, which serves as an excellent wake-up call.

All the peace and tranquility of my commute ends when the weatherman calls for snow, sleet, freezing rain, ice, and freezing fog. Ugh! My entire body tenses just thinking about what is ahead.

Photo Source

Although ice storms can leave beautiful scenery, it also creates power outages, and dangerous driving and walking conditions. The absolute worst is the black ice. The pavement looks clear, but in fact there is a thin layer of ice, which reflects whatever color is beneath it. It is next to impossible to maintain control of the car when you hit a patch of black ice, resulting in many accidents.

Inevitably, our area will see at least a few ice storms. The best thing to do is allow more time for travel and SLOW DOWN. Be safe.

Does anyone know how many days there are until spring?

Please visit Miss Jenny's blog for additional I essays.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pecan Sandies


Hello Friends!

Let's join Johanna for Week Three of her International Christmas Cookie Exchange. This week I am offering the quintessential international cookie. Although we call them Pecan Sandies at our house, this cookie has many aliases.

Mexican Wedding Cookies
Russian Teacakes
Snowballs


They are simple to make and believe me when I tell you they will disappear quickly. Let's get baking!

Pecan Sandies

1 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar (Confectioner)
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
1 Tablespoon Water
2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 Cup Pecans, chopped finely

Cream butter and powdered sugar. Blend in vanilla and water. Add flour; mix well and add nuts. Form dough into uniform sized balls and place on an ungreased baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes in a 300* preheated oven.

While the cookies are still hot, roll in additional powdered sugar. ENJOY!




Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crock Pot Wednesday: Pulled Pork

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is sometimes nice to have dinner ready when I get home from work. Today, I am sharing Crock Pot Pulled Pork with the readers at Dining with Debbie's Crock Pot Wednesday Link Party.


All the spices you need are in this little packet from McCormick. You simply add the following:

1/2 Cup Ketchup
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

The packet says to use 3 lbs. of pork shoulder roast. I use a package of country style pork ribs. Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

By the time I get home from work, the house smells like a BBQ joint, smokey and sweet. I simply need to stir the meat to break it down, make some side dishes, and dinner is ready.


Stop over at Debbie's and see what's for dinner.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Greet the Week


Hello Friends!

I hope you greet this new work week

with the flexibility of a palm tree

and the strength of the sea.


I'm linking to Mosaic Monday.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Have a Date!

Jordan's love for reading is largely the result of the fabulous Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. He's read each book at least once.

From the first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, we started the tradition of going to see the movie together. This was a necessity in the beginning since Jordan was too young to take himself. However, even as he grew into a teenager, when it isn't cool to be seen at a movie with your mother, we still went to these special movies together.

Therefore, I have a date this weekend to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I with my wonderful son, who is now a young man. Is it OK to be seen with your mother at the movie theater when you are nearly 21? It doesn't matter. We'll be there.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Random Ramblings and a Giveaway Reminder

This time of year, my mind whirls with random thoughts. It's as if my brain is making short hand notes of everything that needs to be done: holiday cleaning and decorating, cooking and baking, shopping and wrapping - all in addition to the normal mental notes for work, home, and family duties. Can you relate?

Random Thought #1 - Last summer when I redecorated our bathroom, I told you I still wasn't finished with this wall. It just doesn't look complete. In the past months, I've been looking at bathroom cabinets and shelving units. Will it be done before the holidays? Doubtful....maybe by Easter.

Random Thought #2 - Have you started your holiday shopping? Normally, I have at least a fourth of my shopping complete. This year...um....I have only a few gifts bought. Am I panicked? Not yet, but I'm hoping Black Friday will be very successful for me.

Random Thought #3 - Could you use a financial booster for your holiday shopping? I know I can (reference Random Thought #2). Don't forget that December 1-5 I am participating in a Holiday Gift Giveaway Hop along with hundreds of other blogs. Each blog hosts their own giveaway (gift cards and cash) and are all linked together so you can easily move from blog-to-blog. I'm very excited about this giveaway and hope you will stop by to enter.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend. Rest up because the holiday sprint to New Years Eve is about to begin. La

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Alphabe Thursday: H is for Heroes

H is for Heroes.

Today is Veteran’s Day in the United States, also known as Remembrance Day and Armistice Day in other parts of the world. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed this holiday on November 11, 1919 on the first anniversary of the signing of the Armistice by the Germans, which ended World War I.

This is the date we set aside to honor those men and women who bravely serve(d) their country through the armed services.

My father served with the US Navy during World War II. He was a radio man on the SS Queenston Heights, which was a tanker that supplied fuel to airplanes in the South Pacific.

I am eternally grateful to the men and women who selflessly serve(d) our country so that I may feel safe and enjoy the many freedoms their service provides.


We often take for granted the very
things that most deserve our gratitude.


~Cynthia Ozick

I am linking to Jenny's Alphabe Thursday and Kendra's I'm Grateful for...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November's Blast


Dull November brings the blast,
Then the leaves are whirling fast.

- Sara Coleridge

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Old Fashioned Drop Cookie

This week, I'm sharing another recipe from my mother's collection with my friends at Johanna's International Christmas Cookie Party. This recipe calls for lard, but you know I try to keep things light, (wink, wink) so I substitute vegetable shortening. These cookies have a distinctive flavor due to the use of brown sugar instead of white. Let's get baking!


Old Fashioned Drop Cookies
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup lard or shortening
1/2 cup boiling water
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Put sugar, lard/shortening, and bowling water in a bowl; let stand 15 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Sift flour , baking powder and baking soda together. Mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet or parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

I usually add a cup of walnuts to this batter. The cookies may be served as is or may be iced with your favorite icing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Manatees

One of my very favorite animals is the Manatee, also known as a sea cow. Their scientific name is Trichechus manatus latirostris. These gentle giants are herbivores and are on the endangered species list with less than 3,200 individuals as of early 2002.

These aquatic mammals must surface for air every three - five minutes. The full grown adults weigh approximately 1,000 pounds and grows to a length of about 10 feet. The average female reproduces once every two - three years. This slow reproductive rate coupled with the encroachment of humans on their natural habitat threaten its survival.

Threats to the Manatee*
  1. Extensive development of coastal lands which affects manatee feeding grounds.
  2. Irresponsible recreational and commercial boating practices.
  3. Poor water quality from civic, industrial, commercial, and agricultural affluent.
  4. Alteration of wetlands for dredge and fill operations; chanalization of rivers, streams, and other changes to fresh-waterflow.
* Source: Manatee Observation and Education Center

The Columbus Zoo is one of the few manatee rehabilitation facilities in the US. The Manatee Coast Exhibit is one of the zoo's most popular. Currently, I believe the zoo has four juveniles they are rehabilitating. Most of them have scars on their back from boat propellers.

Manatee Coast
Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Fort Pierce, Florida is a popular manatee destination during the winter months, typically December - March. The manatees congregate in Moore's Creek to keep warm when surrounding waters drop below 62 degrees. The Fort Pierce Utilities Authority operates a power plant near the Manatee Observation and Education Center and uses water from Moore's creek to cool the pipes in the power plant. As the water leaves the plant and back into the creek, it is 7 degrees warmer than the surrounding water. When the weather becomes warmer, the manatees travel out of the creek and will visit the rest of the year to drink fresh water.

On my latest trip to Fort Pierce, we were down at the marina for the farmers market when Melanie spotted a pod of manatees. This was so exciting for me and I tried to get some good shots of them when they surfaced.

Fort Pierce, Florida

Please visit the Manatee Observation and Education Center for ways you can help these wonderful creatures.

Please join me at Mosaic Monday, Blue Monday, Outdoor Wednesdays, and Watery Wednesdays.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mumkins


Recently I shared my mumkins with you HERE for Beth’s Pumpkin Party. I received a lot of comments about them so I thought I would do a short post so I can give you a better look.

I purchased them from my niece, Makayla and my friend’s daughter, Kenzie. They were both selling them for a school fund raiser. They are, by far, my favorite fund raiser item. I love Girl Scout Cookies and Boy Scout Popcorn, but after an hour (because I have no self-control) you have nothing to show for your money.

These wonderful mumkins last and the container may be used again the following year.
The quality of the mum is top-notch and the price is very reasonable. The small mumkin is $20 and the large is $25. I think that is amazing!

Look at how full they are.

When Halloween is over, you simply turn the pot and now you are decorated for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Giveaways Galore

Hello Friends!

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend. It is COLD in Ohio. I'm ready for spring already....or another trip to Florida!

A couple of my blogging friends are having pre-holiday giveaways you should check out.

Donnie at New Blessing Everyday is celebrating 100 followers with a giveaway from CSN Stores. One of her followers will win a $45 credit to spend in one of CSN's more than 200 online stores. Her giveaway ends November 12. The winner will be announced November 13.


Cortney at Living & Loving in California is also giving away a $45 credit from CSN Stores in celebration of her 100th post. She will name her winner on November 10!

Please visit these wonderful women and enter their giveaways. They are both very sweet and special people.

I know I could put a CSN credit to good use. How 'bout you?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

G is for Gratitude

Although we should be grateful for our blessings throughout the year, November is a month we purposefully reflect on God's blessings.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson