Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas time birthdays...

...should be recognized. Today my "older" sister turns 68.

She has a few more candles on her cake now. Happy Birthday Carol Sue!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Alphabe-Thursday...those crazy days of Christmas

I thought I'd jump in here today with an Alphabe-Thursday Christmas break post. We're taking a couple of weeks off from our regularly scheduled alphabet related post and posting a holiday link. To visit other participants head over to Ms. Jenny's blog, Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent."

My holiday decorations are starting to drive me crazy. I spent the better part of two days trying to get the lights to work on the wreath for our front door. You know how it can drive you crazy when one light goes out and then a bunch of others go off with the burnt out one? Well, I decided to buy one of those Light Keeper Pros. It said on the package that you could fix light sets quickly and easily. I bought mine at Target, but I noticed on Amazon that it got a lot of really good reviews. I enlisted Murphy to help with this project.

I took the wreath down and tried the first thing the directions suggest which is to plug an empty light socket into the Light Keeper Pro and pull the trigger up to 30 times. The set is supposed to light up and the burnt out one will remain off and be obvious. I tried a few different sockets and then decided to try the second method which is to take out the bulbs one by one and test them in the bulb tester located on the top of the Light Keeper Pro. I quickly realized I'd have to mark each one with a Sharpie as I tested it or I'd lose track since the string was wrapped around the wreath randomly. So, I spent two hours testing the unlit bulbs. When I got back to where I had begun I realized that now more lights were out. That's when I gave up!

I'm sure the Light Keeper Pro works great for other people, but for me it was a bust. Please blame the operator and not the Light Keeper Pro. I ended up taking the light string off the wreath and buying a new one. Of course, that was no simple task since most of the stores were now out of white lights. I drove from store to store and finally found some at Walgreens. The wreath is now completely lit and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way until after Christmas.

Then this morning I was sitting in the den reading the newspaper when I happened to notice the Christmas tree shaking. I know it shakes a little when the cats walk under the tree, but this time it was shaking way too much. That's when I discovered this...

My first instinct was to grab the camera. My second instinct was to grab the cat. I think Zoom was glad when I grabbed her because she was having a hard time trying to figure out how to get out. She kept trying to go to the end of the branch, but the branch kept bending.

I hope everyone has a good holiday. Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!

To visit more Alphabe-Thursday holiday posts head over to Ms. Jenny's blog.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Alphabe-Thursday..."F" as in FOOD I like...

Welcome to Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny over at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent." For a list of this week's participants and information on how you can join in the fun just head over to Jenny's blog. It's never too late!

I don't know about you, but this is a busy time of the year for me. It's taken us forever to get our decorations up this year. I find myself quickly running out of energy. Around here a lot of people take their trees down the day after Christmas. I think that might have started many years ago when the only trees available were live trees which quickly dried out in the Texas heat. We never did that growing up in NJ and I don't recall anyone else doing it either. Now we always have an artificial tree and I like to keep it up way into January. Once it's up I enjoy seeing it every time I walk through the room. So, our decorations will be up for at least a month. It's a lot of work putting them up, so we might as well have time to enjoy them.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I would say that's definitely true with our tree. No color theme, no fancy ornaments...just a tree full of memories. My mother saved some of the Christmas things I made as a child and I saved most (if not all) of the Christmas things our kids made. So, our tree is decorated with a lot of faded, torn construction paper.

I always tease Reid about our Styrofoam ornaments. I wrote my name in cursive and he scribbled. I always hang them next to each other. Of course, I was probably ten years old at the time and he was in pre-school. I made the Santa Claus on the left sometime in the 1950's.

I love this reindeer that Reid made. The antlers are his little hands. I made the snowflake in school. Interestingly, it's made out of a pot pie pan that says Swanson on it. We must have had pot pies in the 1950's. I would have thought they came later.

I colored the Santa Claus in school and Keith and Troy made the pine cone elf in Cub Scouts.

Keith made the tissue paper stars on the left, Reid made the canning jar lid ornament in pre-school, I made the red ornament with the orange, I think Reid made the strung orange macaroni. Beneath those ornaments is the Christmas tree sponge made by Keith, the clothespin Santa made by me (he's definitely seen better days), and another one of the pine cone elves. Some things are dated, but most just have names on the back.

Troy made the Santa on the left and Keith made the tree on the right.

One time my mother washed and ironed some old handkerchiefs and sent them to me. I didn't know what to do with them, so I had a lady make angels out of them. This angel is made with an Eastern Star handkerchief that belonged to either my Grandmother or mother. I no longer remember what my mother told me.

Troy made the Santa Claus head and I took a Chicago White Sox key chain that I had given my Dad and converted it to an ornament by hanging it on the tree. Dad was an avid Chicago White Sox fan for most of his life.

Here are a couple of Santa Clauses made by Reid and the stocking was made by Troy.

Just so you can date some of these "beauties" I'll be 66 this month, Keith is 42, Troy is 41, and Reid will be 36 next month. That helps explain the condition.

With all the decorating going on I haven't really had time to think too much about Alphabe-Thursday this week. I've been putting up a recipe each week and I couldn't think of anything for the letter "F" except FUDGE and I don't have a FUDGE recipe. So, I decided to go with FOOD that I like to make and eat. I can't remember where I originally got this recipe for Toffee Bars, but I've had it for a long time. I don't really think they're bars...they're more like candy to me. I guess you could calls these snack food. They're really great in the morning with a cup of coffee, but that's just a personal thing. They're hardly breakfast food!

Toffee Bars

1 box graham crackers (it doesn't take the entire box)

2 sticks of butter

1 c. brown sugar

12 oz. chocolate chips

Line 15 x 10 cookie sheet with foil. Cover pan with one layer of graham crackers side by side. Melt butter and brown sugar in small sauce pan. Boil three minutes STIRRING CONSTANTLY. Pour over crackers IMMEDIATELY and spread mixture evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove and sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Let soften a bit then spread evenly. Refrigerate 45 minutes then break into uneven shaped pieces. Store in sealed container in refrigerator. OPTION: Can sprinkle with chopped nuts after spreading the softened chips. I like to use pecans.


Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog so you can visit some more Alphabe-Thursday "F" posts.

Friday, December 09, 2011

My Secret Santa Can Read Minds...

WOW...let's talk about amazing. My Secret Santa can read minds. Somehow she knew I love Reeses and I don't think I ever mentioned that on my blog. I especially enjoy them frozen, so I put the bag she sent right into the freezer after I took this photo.

When I opened the package I knew exactly why she chose the gifts she chose. She definitely did some research on my blog and knew a few things about me.

She knew that I like cats and she sent a cat card with a nice note. (Oh dear...I didn't think to put a note in the package I sent.)

I've mentioned in the past how much we enjoy "hot" food and she sent an adorable jalapeno apron and some bottles of hot sauce. YUM!

In one of my past posts I bemoaned the fact that I do not have a Jewish grandmother to teach me how to cook. I was thrilled with the How To Cook Like A Jewish Grandmother Cookbook. It was perfect and full of great sounding recipes. I can't wait to try some. It will almost be like having a Jewish Bubbe.

And see the cowboy boot? It's now hanging on my Christmas tree. Tucked inside was a Colorado Lottery Ticket. I won $5,000!!!

Not really, but I did have fun scratching it off and checking to see if I had won. Suzanne had asked on the Secret Santa form if there was something we'd like and I said a lottery ticket. I'll remember my Secret Santa every Christmas because I tucked the ticket back inside the boot before I hung it on the tree. It will be packed away after Christmas with all the ornaments and every year I'll remember my special Santa when I hang it on the tree.

Opening that package really made my day. Thank you so much Secret Santa. I can't wait to find out who you are!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Thank you Secret Santa!

OK...tonight I opened all the packages from my Secret Santa. All I can say is that this Santa really did their homework and obviously did some research on my blog. This person knows me quite well and by now might even know my maiden name, place of birth, and how much my first born weighed. I'm going to make you wait until tomorrow to see what I received. Hopefully, I can clear away some clutter (yes, I'm still working on getting Christmas stuff up) and take some pictures in better light. I was thrilled with everything and can't wait to show you!

Thank you Secret Santa

I ran over to the storage place again to bring back some more containers of Christmas stuff. As I was unloading the car UPS pulled up. I thought that was kind of strange since I hadn't ordered anything from Office Depot, but he handed me the box and left. I continued unloading the car and assumed it must be something for my husband since I didn't recognize the return address. When I got inside I saw it was addressed to me. I was still puzzled, but quickly opened the box. That's when I realized it was from my Secret Santa.

I'm off to run some more errands and will open the packages when I get back. Sophie sure was curious about the contents and I decided I'd better put it up just in case there was a fruit cake in there.

Photos will follow...if not tonight then it will be in the morning when there's better light.

Thank you Secret Santa!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Alphabe-Thursday..."E" as in EGG and Sausage Casserole

Welcome once again to Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny over at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent." Today we are studying the letter "E" as in EGG and Sausage Casserole.

Things have been a little hectic around here lately. We were going to put the Christmas tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving, but couldn't find it. That's when we remembered that we had trouble with the lights last year and must have decided to pitch it when we took it down. Of course, neither one of us could remember actually doing it, but since it's no where to be found that must have been what happened. So, I ordered a tree from Home Depot and it arrived in less than a week. Reid put it together and we left it so the cats could get used to it for a while before we did any decorating.

Ashely quickly discovered the tree. Reid took this picture with his cell phone.

That was before I got all the branches spread out, so now it would be a little more difficult for him to get up there (I hope). Anyway, on Monday we finally got the tree decorated. There are still boxes and plastic containers all over the place and I need to get the rest of the decorating done and the packages mailed. Just wasn't time on Tuesday because Jim had to be down at MD Anderson for his appointment and that took most of the day. It's been busy around here, but I guess everyone is busy this time of year.

I went looking for a picture of EGGS online and found these EGGS in a pretty basket. I used to weave baskets, but haven't woven one in years. This kind of got me to thinking about weaving again. Perhaps one of these days when there's more time.

I got this recipe for EGG and Sausage Casserole from a lady in a book club I belonged to back in the 1980's. It's a great breakfast casserole because you make it the night before and just bake it in the morning. We've enjoyed this casserole on many Christmas mornings over the years. I wish I had a picture, but I didn't get around to making the casserole for this post. You'll just have to use your imaginations.

Egg and Sausage Casserole

1 1/2 pounds pork sausage (Jimmy Dean)

2 1/4 cups seasoned croutons

4 eggs, beaten

2 1/4 cups milk

1 can mushroom soup

1 can mushrooms (I omit because my kids think I'm trying to poison them if they see pieces of mushroom.)

3/4 t. dry mustard

2 cups shredded cheese

Grease a 13" x 9" x 2" pan.

Cook sausage - brown and crumble.

Spread croutons in bottom of pan.

Spread sausage over croutons.

Combine eggs, milk, soup, mushrooms and dry mustard. Mix well and pour over sausage.

Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Remove from refrigerator and let sit for 30 minutes.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Spread cheese evenly over top and bake five minutes longer or until cheese melts.

Optional: garnish with cherry tomatoes, green onions, and parsley.

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog for a list of this week's participants.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Secret Santa...Update

BINGO! My sincere thanks to the U.S. Postal Service for their assistance in making this top secret delivery.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Secret Santa...Hint #3

It's 60 degrees here and 19 degrees there. I should have sent matches and firewood.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Secret Santa Swap and another hint...

Oh dear...the poor package is used to the warmer temperatures we have here. Is it really 27 degrees and lightly snowing today where it's going? Brrrrrrr!

I know who you are, but you don't know me. I'm not lips are sealed.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Swap

I'm participating this year in the Secret Santa swap organized by ColoradoLady. Shhhhh...I've been sworn to secrecy and cannot reveal the person's name. However, I just got home from the post office and her package is on its way.

I thought about driving and delivering it in person, but it would take 18 hours and 12 minutes to get there from here and I really don't have the time. Besides, I have very few winter clothes.

More hints to follow...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Alphabe-Thursday..."D" as in Day After Thanksgiving Dinner

It's time again for Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny over at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent." This week we are studying the letter "D" as in DAY after Thanksgiving DINNER.

A few years ago I was browsing the web looking for something to make with my left over Thanksgiving DAY turkey. I came upon a recipe that sounded good on recipezaar and it's been a family favorite ever since. I went looking for the recipe today so I could post the link and discovered that recipezaar is now It took a little searching, but I finally found the recipe here. The recipe is printable from the site and is called DAY After Thanksgiving DAY DINNER.

It's stuffing balls made with stuffing and mashed potatoes and baked until crisp.

Then a sauce is made with leftover gravy, chicken broth, and diced turkey.

It's then poured over the stuffing balls. Here it's shown with leftover asparagus and Cranberry Casserole.

The only changes I've made is that I bake my stuffing balls for 25 to 30 minutes instead of the 15-20 indicated in the recipe. I think that's because my stuffing is probably a little more moist than most stuffings. I also only add a dash of thyme to the sauce. It's just not one of my favorite spices.

I have some turkey and stuffing frozen, so we'll probably have this once again before the end of the year. I'll just use some of those frozen potatoes that you microwave and mash. We really like the leftovers this way!

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's site for a list of this week's participants.

Busy Days...

I'm having my annual after Thanksgiving Day panic. I feel like I have so much to do between now and Christmas. This year I had it all planned. We would go over to the storage shed the day after Thanksgiving and bring back the Christmas ornaments and the tree. Then everyone would help me decorate the tree that day and I could slowly put out the rest of the decorations at my leisure.

So, Jim, Keith, Reid and I went over to the storage shed on Friday. We weren't the only ones not shopping. There were quite a few people doing the exact same thing. We don't like to keep our decorations in the attic or garage because the heat and humidity really takes a toll on them. It's kind of a pain having to load up the truck and bring them over, but they last longer that way.

We found the containers with the ornaments right away, but we couldn't find the tree! We dug and looked behind things, but there was no tree. Then Jim and I remembered that we had trouble with the lights last year and were never able to get one section of the tree lit. Although neither of us remembered doing it...we must have thrown the tree out.

So, on black Friday I went looking for a tree and found one I liked at Home Depot. Of course, they had none left except for the display. We quickly checked online and found the same tree on their website for a cheaper price and free shipping. So, I ordered the tree. I got an E-mail saying it would be delivered by UPS on December 1st. I guess I'll be decorating the tree alone again this year. Darn...I thought I had them all manipulated into helping me the day after Thanksgiving. Oh well, there's always next year.

Today I put away all the Fall decorations and got the wreath hung on the front door. I also got the garage a little organized. It needed some work. I've almost fallen a few times on some of the clutter, so while I was pulling out the outdoor decorations (which we keep in the garage because they go outside anyway) I did a little clean up. Tomorrow I hope to get at least one package to the post office and then bring some more Christmas stuff over from the storage shed.

Over Thanksgiving weekend I finally turned on the heat. I'm worried about my family. They've lived here too long and have become real wimps when it comes to cold weather (which is anything below 60 degrees). I was making tacos this past weekend and they came into the kitchen to let me know they were cold. Can you imagine what it would be like if they lived in Alaska or Michigan? It was probably 70 degrees in the house at the time.

Jim said his hands were cold...

We turned the heat on. It's official...fall is here. However, I'm sure we'll have the A/C on again soon. We kind of go back and forth between heat and A/C for a while.

I always forget to take pictures. I took a "before" picture of our Thanksgiving dinner and then I was going to take an "after" picture of everyone sitting at the table with empty plates. Well, I forgot. So here's the before picture. You can see the half painted dining room. I haven't told my husband yet, but I'm going to repaint the woodwork. It's too dark. When he reads this he'll find out. I haven't told him because I didn't want him to try and talk me out of doing it over. Check out my gourd turkey. Isn't he cute? I found him at a craft show earlier in the month.

I wrote a note to myself and left it on the kitchen counter. It said, "Take a picture of the family together." Of course, I forgot. When my parents were alive and used to come for visits I'd always forget to take pictures, so I'd snap photos of them at the airport when they were leaving. I now have a bunch of pictures of my parents waving as they left. At least I was forgetful back then too, so I don't have to worry now.

I woke Reid up on Monday morning and had him pose with Keith as he was getting ready to leave for Austin.

They both had bare feet. How cold can it be?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful for this DESSERT

Note: I already had this post written before I realized we'd be skipping our usual Alphabe-Thursday this week. Ms. Jenny suggested we write about a memory, something we're thankful for, etc., and since this recipe had a memory attached to it (and I'm always thankful for DESSERT) I decided to go ahead and post it. I'll have something else for the letter "D" next week.

Welcome to Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny Matlock at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent." This week we are studying the letter "D" as in Thanksgiving Day DESSERT.

I'm typing this post on Tuesday evening and plan to get up early tomorrow morning and begin preliminary preparations for Thanksgiving Day dinner. Of course, no big meal would be complete without DESSERT, so I plan to begin my day making Pumpkin Crunch for DESSERT. That way I'll be able to include a picture when I publish this post on Wednesday afternoon.

I've mentioned before that I love pumpkin, but not pumpkin pie. I don't know why...I guess it's the texture that bothers me. Anyway, about ten years ago a lady brought Pumpkin Crunch to a bible study I was attending. I believe every single person asked for the recipe, so the following week she brought printed copies. I've since tried variations of this recipe, but this one is the best! It's very simple to make which is an extra bonus. You don't even have to get the electric mixer dirty. By the time some of you read this post it will be Thursday and I'll have already pigged out on Pumpkin Crunch for DESSERT!


1 (12-oz.) can evaporated skim milk

1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup sugar

1 box yellow cake mix with pudding

1 cup chopped pecans

2 sticks melted butter

Line a 13” x 9” pan with wax paper. Mix together evaporated milk, pumpkin, cinnamon, and sugar. Pour into pan. Sprinkle cake mix over top and gently pat. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top and gently pat. Dribble melted butter on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Cool completely. Turn onto plate and remove wax paper. (Note: I don’t have a plate big enough, so I usually cover a cookie sheet with foil and turn the cake onto that.)


1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip

Mix together and frost cooled cake. (You could use an electric mixer for this part and cream the cream cheese first. I don't bother.)

Here are some pictures of the Pumpkin Crunch I baked this morning. You just stir the pumpkin, milk, sugar and cinnamon together with a spoon.

Pour in the wax paper lined pan and sprinkle on the cake mix. Pat it down a little, add the pecans and pat again. Drizzle the melted butter over the top. Bake.

Cool thoroughly and turn over onto a plate (I use a cookie sheet) and peel off the wax paper. Frost with the Cool Whip mixture. Keep refrigerated.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! To read more Alphabe-Thursday Thanksgiving Day posts head to Ms. Jenny's blog.