Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top Projects of 2010

The lovely Rhoda from Southern Hospitality is hosting her annual "Top Projects" party. It's fun to look at the year in review, isn't it?

A few of my favorite projects:


Custom wall art


Decoupaged candles








Inexpensive, real-life pantry organization (and it's still organized!)


Under $10 Under 1 hour table


Pottery Barn-inspired pillow


Guest room re-do


And the biggest of all:

Celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary!


2010 has been a wonderful year for our family. How about yours?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas fun with big kids

You know how much fun it is to watch little kids as they open their gifts on Christmas morning? Well, little kids get to be big kids very quickly. Believe me, you should take lots of pictures and savor the moments when they're little.

But big kids are fun, too.

Snickers is wondering what might be in the big blue box. She gives Will a kiss to encourage him to open it.


It's a big-boy toy.


Preston proudly shows Will his UNC ornament. Will's blood is Duke-blue, but Preston loves Carolina. (Preston's currently waiting to hear from all the colleges to which he applied, and UNC is one of his top choices.)


Lee's (LegoLee329, that is) Christmas list consisted solely of Lego products. No surprise there. The big surprise was that Lee's Christmas gift to Dad was a Lego set that Dad's always admired!


Of course Cocoa had to watch over the Christmas fun:


And the icing on the cake (get it? icing?) was that we had a beautiful snow that started on the evening of Christmas Day. Boxing Day at our house was a winter wonderland:







How about you? Did you have a lovely Christmas? I hope so!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mary, did you know?

"Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?"*

Why, yes. She knew.


She knew he would. Of course she knew. She knew because she was a mama.

And just as a mama knows how to rock a baby to sleep

and how to take a child's temperature by kissing his forehead

and how to fold fitted sheets

and how to make gravy,

a mama knows that her baby is special. Her baby is the greatest gift God has ever given.

A mama knows. She just knows.


What was different about Mary was that her baby boy was, in fact, the greatest gift God has ever given. Not just to her, but to the whole world.

And though the story of Mary and her baby has been told and re-told for 2000 years, it hasn't grown old.

That's because Mary's baby was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

May you be blessed with the light of His precious love this Christmas.

*"Mary, Did You Know?" by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Peanut butter fudge

Yesterday I shared my fudge recipe--Mamie Eisenhower's recipe, actually. If you haven't seen that post, click here. Believe me, you can make this fudge. No special equipment required. It's easy to make and it's absolutely delicious.



Now, Mamie's Fudge is chocolate fudge. It's a delectable blend of semi-sweet and German chocolate. It's to die for. But many years ago, my mother came up with a variation on Mamie's Fudge. It's a recipe for peanut butter fudge--but it's not like any other peanut butter fudge you've ever tasted, I promise. Why? Because there's no peanut butter in it. Instead, it's made with Reese's Peanut Butter Chips. Oh, my goodness--this fudge gives Mamie's Fudge a run for its money. And here's the recipe for you:

Peanut Butter Fudge

4 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons butter
12 ounce can evaporated milk
24 ounces Reese's peanut butter chips (4 cups, which is about 2 1/2 packages)
2 7-ounce jars marshmallow creme
2 cups chopped nuts (optional)

Butter a pan for the fudge. A 9 x 13 pan works well for thick fudge; a small sheet pan is good for slightly thinner fudge.

Place peanut butter chips, marshmallow creme, and chopped nuts into bowl. Set aside.

Combine sugar, salt, butter, and milk in heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, set a timer for six minutes. Boil, continuing to stir, for exactly six minutes. Remove from heat and pour immediately over other ingredients. Stir until all the peanut butter chips are dissolved.

Pour into buttered pan. If you can bear to wait, let stand one hour before cutting.

Both the chocolate fudge and the peanut butter fudge recipes make six pounds of fudge, so you'll have plenty to eat and plenty to share. And believe me, the people you share with will be very, very grateful.

What Christmas treats are you making this week?

Monday, December 20, 2010

The world's best fudge


Okay, okay. I know it's a bit much to claim that one of my recipes is the "world's best." But if I were going to claim that about anything I make, it would probably be about my fudge. This is one of those things that my sons ask about every year. By the time December rolls around, a frequent question is "When are we going to make fudge??"



My fudge recipe is special, I think. My mother's family has lived in Kansas for many generations, and I inherited a few old Kansas cookbooks. My fudge recipe comes from one of those cookbooks. The body of the cookbook is long since lost, so I don't know the name of the book; all I have is one yellowed and tattered page. The name of the recipe is Mamie's Fudge, and under the recipe name is this note: "She made this to woo Ike." It's true--this recipe originated with Mamie Eisenhower. President Eisenhower was from Abilene, Kansas, and this old cookbook was from his hometown. The Eisenhowers were married in 1916, and this recipe includes marshmallow creme, so I imagine Mamie used this particular recipe after they were married. Mamie Eisenhower was a beloved woman because she did exactly what so many of us tried to do--she made a home for her husband and family no matter where they living.

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it's simple. It requires no special equipment, not even a candy thermometer. If you've never made candy before, this would be a great place for you to start.

My boys' favorite thing about this fudge is that the recipe make six pounds. Yes, you read that right. Believe me, you'll have plenty of fudge to share!


Mamie's Fudge

4 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons butter
12 ounce can evaporated milk
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 ounces (3 bars) German sweet chocolate, broken into pieces
2 7-ounce jars marshmallow creme
2 cups chopped nuts


Butter a pan for the fudge. A 9 x 13 pan works well for thick fudge; a small sheet pan is good for slightly thinner fudge.

Place semi-sweet chocolate, German sweet chocolate, marshmallow creme, and chopped nuts into bowl. Set aside.


Combine sugar, salt, butter, and milk in heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, set a timer for six minutes. Boil, continuing to stir, for exactly six minutes. Remove from heat and pour immediately over chocolate mixture. Stir until all the chocolate bits are dissolved.


The mixture will look pretty disgusting for a moment, but you'll soon be rewarded with the delectable aroma of those chocolates and the look of smooth, satiny fudge. Pour into buttered pan. If you can bear to wait, let stand one hour before cutting.



I keep a eye out at thrift stores for containers for my fudge, such as pretty gift boxes, tins, or ceramics.


My favorite presentation of all is simply to put some fudge on a plate, cover it in plastic wrap, tie a bow with some pretty ribbon, and attach an ornament. (I found this ornament at Hobby Lobby.)


Do you make candy at Christmastime? Got a recipe you'd like to share? Please do!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

A little more Christmas

Julia from Hooked on Houses is having a Holiday House Tour today. I love Julia's parties! Today I'll show you a bit of my kitchen all dressed up for Christmas. If you'd like to see more of my kitchen, click here. And now for some of our Christmas touches in the kitchen.

When my boys were babies, we lived in Michigan, where we had lots of snowmen. When we moved back to the South, some good friends gave us these snowman plates:



I get them out every Christmas, and they set the tone for our kitchen decor.


I love to put snowmen on my antique dough cabinet


and over in my Mom Corner.


This year I added a garland to the stair railing


complete with rusty snowmen:


The table centerpiece, compliments of my youngest son, includes a whole snow scene made of Lego bricks:




There's even a cute snowman sled on the door leading out to my screened porch:


Here, you can see him better in this photo:


One of my favorite things about my kitchen is that the screened porch is adjacent to it. I don't go to much trouble to decorate the porch, but I do add a few things to make it festive.



There are a few things you can't see in these photos. . . like the pile of ornaments that have NOT been made into ornament wreaths. Yet. Or maybe ever.


Or this kind of monkey business that goes along with Christmas baking:


Do you think Snickers the beagle is standing guard, or just waiting her turn?

Thanks for joining me for a look at my Christmas kitchen!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dishing with Amanda

Run! Shop! Buy! Wrap! Bake! Rush, rush, rush!!

Does this pretty much summarize your December? Mine, too. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were time right now, in this busy season, to stop and talk with some friends? Get to know them a little better? Sounds good to me!

To that end, the wonderful Amanda is hosting one of her "Dishing It!" parties today, and she's invited us all over for a chat.

Photobucket

Amanda's first question is, "Do you have any specific traditions that your family looks forward to each Christmas?"

Good heavens! Do we have traditions?! This is the 20th Christmas since we first had children, and we've built lots of fun traditions over the years. To tell the truth, I didn't realize just how much these traditions had sunk in until my boys were old enough to start asking for them by name:

When are we going to hang the stockings?
When are we going to make fudge?
When are you going to put up the decorations?
Are we going to have sausage balls on Christmas morning?
Are you going to get us new pajamas for Christmas?
What time is the Christmas Eve service?

One year I asked whether they really wanted to do one of these things, and my middle son answered, "We have to! It's tradition!"

So we hang the stockings. . .


and make fudge--six pounds of chocolate, six pounds of peanut butter. . .



and deck the halls (click here if you want to know why we always use magnolia leaves). . .



and, every Christmas Eve, we make sausage balls to eat on Christmas morning. Then we go to the Christmas Eve service at church--one of my favorite services all year. After we come home, I give the boys each a new pair of pajamas to wear to bed on Christmas Eve. That way, they'll be dressed in their new jammies for the Christmas morning pictures!

These and many others make up our Christmas traditions. What about yours? How does your family celebrate at this special time?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Tour of Homes

It's time for Nester's Christmas Tour of Homes and the Home Tour at Kelly's Korner. Thanks so much for coming to my house!

Here's what you'll see as you approach the front door:


A close-up of the wreath:


I have an artificial wreath that I use every year. I just beef it up with clippings from our Christmas tree and from the yard, as well as a few red berries. This year I added an ornament as well:


Off to the right is the sitting area of the front porch, all gussied up for Christmas. Earlier this year I made Autumn Leaf pillows out of drop cloths. I updated those pillows for the season by putting a Christmas ornament on the reverse side:


Now come on in! When you open my front door, here's what you'll see:


I just love having a foyer. It's so nice to have a place to welcome guests into our home. The antique dresser holds my antique Christmas angels and some of my favorite magnolia leaves:

And the stairway is a happy spot with its lighted garland:


Just to the left of the front door, you'll find my husband's study tucked quietly into a corner. I keep the decorations in here pretty simple--just a bit of holiday cheer to complement the stone fireplace:


To the right of the foyer is our dining room. Since this room is red, it takes quite naturally to Christmas decor, so it's one of my favorite rooms to decorate for the season.


My Christmas centerpiece was nearly free. I simply used ornaments that I bought after Christmas last year and placed them in the footbath that usually holds plants on this table. Look how the ornaments sparkle in the candlelight:


The china cabinet holds Lenox plates I bought in the years of each my sons' births. They're from Lenox's "Trees Around the World" series.


My primitive sideboard holds one of our creches along with an angel and the Christmas carol plaque I crafted last week:


The tea table holds a pretty little pitcher that my sweet husband bought me last Christmas. Doesn't it look pretty holding grocery-store lilies and some Christmas greenery?


And then to the living room, which is the site of the family tree:

Ours is a sentimental tree, full of ornaments collected over the years. I've given each of our boys an ornament every year, so when they leave home, I'll need to get new ornaments to fill in the spaces now filled by their collections.

As for the fireplace, it's the spot for our stockings. I don't know if I'll let the boys take their stockings with them when they leave home or not. . . maybe I should keep these and fill them for the guys every year!


Later this week I'll post some photos of my kitchen and back porch. They're all dressed up for Christmas, too. I wish I could have each of you sit here at the counter and drink a cup of coffee with me. But this virtual visit is the next best thing, isn't it? Thank you so much for stopping by!