Ms. Leta' Chex Mix

We were at John and Leta’s house for a Bible study/prayer meeting last fall. Leta, being the hostess that she is, pulled out some Chex Mix for us to nibble. Y’all, I really needed prayer that night! I could NOT stop eating the stuff! It was so good!

Apparently, I was not the first of Leta’s friends to have this reaction. She had little green sheets with recipes printed up ready to pass out to those who could not control themselves.

I made some for our family that Christmas. Everyone went NUTS!

This year I decided to make the Chex Mix to send as gifts to Chip’s co-workers. (The cute little Santa tags were from the 90% off Christmas clearance one year.)

Chex Mix gift

Reactions at the office were very similar to mine.

I guess since Leta shared with me, I should share with them, and now you.

Thank you, Leta! Now I can get my “fix” any time I want.

Ms. Leta’ Chex Mix

1 bag each:

Turtle Chex Mix

Dark Chex Mix (I could not find this to save my life!)

Honey Nut Chex Mix

Caramel Bugles (Substituted for Chocolate Peanut Butter-they were hard to find.)

Muddy Buddies

Crunch & Munch (small box)

Can of Cashews (I used 8 ounces.)

Mix it all in a BIG bowl.

One batch filled about 10 little treat bags as pictured above.

Now you know my secret, well Leta’s secret.

Use caution when making Ms. Leta’s Chex Mix. It is highly addictive!!!

 

It seems like it took a little longer to get in the “Christmas spirit” this year. I’m not really sure why. Perhaps 70˚ days have been a contributing factor. Whatever the reason, I still managed to put out Christmas decorations. Yippee!

The decorations are the same as in years past. Some just get relocated from year to year. I looked back in the PCTuesday files and found a Christmas Decor post from 2012. If you click on that post you can see some of the same decorations used in different ways.

We’ll start with outside.

winter foliage

I made my fresh wreaths again. It is such a relaxing activity.

I used some of the leftover greenery here and there around the porch, along with leftover pumpkins.

outdoor decor with lanterns

vintage Coke crates

To really appreciate this greenery, you need to be sipping coffee on a Saturday morning–which we do as often as possible!

winter foliage under glass

See? It’s like a little surprise for porch-sitters.

I guess this picture would have looked a little better if the kitchen blinds had been closed. Ahhh, hind-sight.

large wreath with santa

I even have a little nativity on the porch. Don’t you love the old tv tray? I got it here.

Playskool nativity

On to the inside…

Even though we have teenagers now, they are still excited to use our advent calendar. Looks like we were deeper into the season than we were when I posted about it in 2012.

advent calendar

This is a “new” kitchen wreath. The gingerbread man usually sits in a little sleigh with his little Christmas tree. His tree is filled with tiny gingerbread men and cookie cutters. You can see some of the little gingerbread ornaments in the outdoor wreath above.

This year I wanted something different-surprise, surprise. So, I tied him on a wreath. I pilfered the little rolling pin from Katie’s old kitchen play set. The giant rickrack was in a box of old ribbon I had saved from several Christmases ago. It looks like the icing you put on gingerbread cookies!

You will not believe where I got the little red ties for the cookie cutters and rolling pin. I recently got new chair cushions for the dining room. Megan tore open the old ones to reuse the stuffing for some of her knitting projects. Not knowing what I would use them for, I popped the ties off of the back of the old cushions.  Tada! At least my hoarding wasn’t in vain. I think this new little wreath is a winner. I like how it looks against the antique game board, too.

kitchen wreath

More in the kitchen. I think this is the first time I have used my old scale specifically as a Christmas decoration.

vintage kitchen scale green

Look what’s in the colander–antique jingle bells!

antique jingle bells

Vintage overload!!! I hope not.

antique radio

I pick up Scrabble games when I see them at garage sales and thrift stores. I always think I am going to make something cool-like Christmas ornaments or something. Since we enjoy playing Scrabble from time to time, I just have not been able to bring myself to do it. Maybe one of these days…but for now, a temporary use.

joy to the world

Scrabble tiles

nativity

I stepped out a little on the china hutch. I bought a HUGE roll of double-sided wrapping paper at Sam’s. I was so glad to find a plaid paper that I liked. I LOVE plaid! Blue ticky tack is all I used to adhere the paper to the back of the hutch.

plaid paper-lined china cabinet

I really like how it looks with my Lenox Christmas china.

Christmas china

We folks in the South are often dreaming of a white Christmas. Usually, that’s all we do. We don’t get a lot of snow in Arkansas. However, last year it snowed ON CHRISTMAS DAY for the first time in 80 years!

I’m still dreaming of my girls to drawing some snowflakes on the chalkboard for me. They have been busy studying for semester tests. Maybe they will get to it during the break.

pom pom and ric rac

The wool garland is not new.

I came across the pompom strand and red rickrack in my scrap box. I think they add a nice little touch of whimsy. The pompoms even look a little snow-like.

let it snow

stuffed snowman

plaid tin

My in-laws brought the girls these fun little wooden toys from their travels to Germany.

wooden toys

German Santa

wooden dolls

German toys

I love my glittery music tree. You can see more pictures and a link to the tutorial here.

Christmas music

Just a few more pictures.

magical Christmas

crock with peppermint

One of the many nativities we have collected.

carved nativity

THIS is the reason we celebrate CHRISTmas!

 

2014-ornament-exchange

I participated in the Arkansas Women Bloggers Ornament Exchange again this year. I participated two years ago. You can read about the postal adventure here.

I don’t remember why I didn’t play along last year. (See postal adventure post!)

I decided to be brave and try again this year. I am really glad that I did. Check out this adorable ornament I received from my Arkansas secret Santa…

Arkansas Ornament

Perfect!

This came from Tiffany over at Secret Life of a Betty Crocker Wannabe. Tiffany and I have never met but I think we would get along great! Tiffany is a baking contest junkie! I love that! The biggest baking contest I have ever participated in was the Lonoke County Fair. I think my big prize package was about $6.32.

Tiffany may be a Betty Crocker Wannabe but apparently she is quite a crafter as well. You can see her step-by-step tutorial for the ornament here.

This is the little note that was attached to the ornament.

ornament note

The note says there is something hidden inside. I could not bring myself to cut into it to out take the treats. It was just too cute!

Here is the back, uncut.

craft paper ornament

Thanks so much for my Arkan-Santa, Tiffany! I hope we can meet at an ARWB function some day.

I know you are all wondering about the ornament I sent.

I sent my ornament to Gina from Desperately Seeking Gina. I met Gina when I attended my first Arkansas Women Bloggers event.

Gina is a crafter–with a real craft room and everything! That was a little intimidating. I felt up for the challenge though.

Here is the ornament I sent Gina. Hopefully, I will be able to post a “how to” soon. You can see it on her tree here.

homemade ornament

I got a little extra crafty and made the card out of old Christmas cards.

There was no postal drama this time! My ornament made it to Gina’s just fine.

Merry Christmas, Tiffany and Gina. I’m so glad y’all played along this year.

I decided to go on a walk this morning. Never mind the fact that there is a list of things to do today that is long as my arm! I figured I needed to walk since the high today is supposed to be close to 70–ugh! Don’t worry, it will be back to the mid 40s later in the week. Ahhh, Christmas time in the South!

I’ve been busy lately, like the rest of the world. Unfortunately some of those holiday pounds have found their way into my jeans!

A walk was necessary. It actually was even on my mile-long list, so was blogging!

So, for your viewing enjoyment, today I bring you the second installation of Scenes from a Walk. You can see the first one here.

huge outdoor wreath

Our neighbors put up this HUGE wreath every year. This year Kim added lots of magnolia leaves. It looks fabulous, especially with the spotlight on it at night.

candy cane windows

Several of the shop windows downtown are painted.

red bird windows

nativity window

The beautiful old Christian Church has pretty wreaths on the doors.

church doors

wreaths on church doors

The county courthouse is decked out, too.

historic Lonoke County Courthouse

county courthouse

white house with columns

lamppost

Mary and Jesus

I may have to take another walk soon just to see more Christmas decorations!

Well, I did it! I made Thanksgiving dinner!

I know it was a big sacrifice for Mom and Dad to give up their personal Thanksgiving traditions of doing all the cooking to come be teachers for the next generation.

I am so thankful they agreed to this little project. I am very glad to know how to do things “Mom and Dad’s way”.

Our table wasn’t too fancy. I had planned to get out the good china and change the tablecloth. The table looked plenty festive and our everyday dishes were dishwasher safe!

We did use fancy little butter dishes.

butter dish

Thanksgiving table

Please notice the tiny Thanksgiving table next to the glass of water.

tiny table

I found this idea on Pinterest more than a year ago. I let the girls make them. They didn’t mind the sprinkle sorting as much this time. The little tables turned out really cute, I think!

Thanksgiving crafters

Thanksgiving table decor

The cheese ring appetizer is one of Chip’s favorite parts of Thanksgiving! When I told him that Mom was going to make the Cheese Ring he panicked! He was afraid it wouldn’t be the right cheese ring. I assured him it would be okay since I had gotten the recipe from her.

Cheese ring

He was the first one to test it out. Two thumbs up from the Critic.

eating cheese ring

Well, here is the feast…

feast 1

feast 2

chef

You might have noticed a couple of items on our buffet that were not mentioned in a specific blog post.

Green Bean casserole, Mashed Potatoes and Green Fluff.

I felt obligated to have a green vegetable on our buffet. The green bean casserole recipe can be found here or on the back of the French’s Fried Onion canister.

As far as the mashed potatoes go, I’m pretty plain. Boil some Yukon Gold potatoes. Mash them up. Add butter, milk, salt and pepper to taste. Some folks get all fancy with cream cheese or sour cream or garlic or cheese. Plain is the preferred method at our house.

The green fluff is a MUST HAVE at all our holiday gatherings. It’s just the old Watergate Salad recipe.

watergate salad

Ooo, I can’t forget the bread–giant Sister Shubert rolls! They are the best for leftover turkey sandwiches.

How do you like my buttering method-rub a stick of cold butter on top of the rolls right after the come out of the oven.

buttering rolls

Katie was trying to take pictures for me. For some reason she was not able to see anything on the camera. Mashed potatoes will do that to ya.

iphone hazard

Guess who LOVES rolls?!

bread lover

What a feast!

full plate

Don’t forget dessert. I had to try half a piece of each pie.

pieces of pie

group minus one

Some folks chose to have their sparkling grape juice with dinner, others with dessert.

bubbly

We gobbled ’til we wobbled!

empty dinner plate

empty dessert plate

lick the plate clean

Thanksgiving naps are the best!

snooze

In case you missed the Thanksgiving 101 series, here are all the posts. You can also find them by clicking on the This and That tab at the top of the page.

The WHAT????!!!

 

cushaw

Cushaw–Cucurbita argyrosperma

You may have seen these green and white beauties at your local pumpkin stand or farmer’s market this fall. They are beautiful to use in your fall decorating. Did you know you can eat them?

Cushaw has always been a part of our family’s Thanksgiving feast. Sometimes we would have it for Thanksgiving and Christmas, depending on how big of a cushaw we found.

I realize that traditionally at holiday time folks have a sweet potato casserole or sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top.

My Dad grew up in Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge’s warm climate is perfect for growing cushaw.

I remember my grandmother making it when we would visit. The recipe for Cushaw comes from the Junior League of Baton Rouge Cook Book.

rrr1cbk

I wish I had taken a picture of my Mom’s cookbook. It is all tattered, stained and well-used looking.

When my husband and I got married, Dad insisted that I have a River Road Recipe book. There are several editions. The first is in its 70th printing! Dad still recognizes some of the ladies’ names who submitted recipes. I don’t know if he remembers Mrs. Edward Wall or not. I’m sure my grandmother knew her.

Thank you Mrs. Wall for your Baked Cushaw recipe. It is a family favorite.

When Mom was telling me how to prepare the cushaw, she told me I could bake it or boil it. She said if I boiled it to be sure that it got drained really well.

I decided to try baking it.

I’ll tell you right now, a cushaw is hard! It took real muscle to get that thing sliced.

Below is the neck of the cushaw. I baked it @400˚. I was a bit discouraged when it was not soft enough to mash after an hour of baking!

sliced squash

The inside of the cushaw looks like a pumpkin. The bottom part was much easier to deal with than the neck.

seeds inside

There was just so much of it!

bagged vegetables

I decided to try boiling the base of the cushaw since the neck didn’t turn out so great after baking.

Boiling is the way to go!!!

Cut off the rind before boiling.

I boiled it until it was soft enough to mash. I was sure to let it sit and drain thoroughly before doing anything else to it.

two sticks of butter

I guess the fact that there are 2 sticks of butter and 2 cups of sugar in the Baked Cushaw might be the reason Cushaw is a family favorite!

add nutmeg

My 4 quart mixing bowl was too full to allow for mixing. I had to move to the Barbie popcorn bowl-ha!

bigger bowl

ready to bake

Baked Cushaw

1 medium cushaw (Mine was HUGE. I’m not real sure what “medium” means. You can see how much I used in the pictures above.)

2 eggs

2 cups sugar

2 Tbsp flour

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter-melted

1/2 tsp baking powder

Nutmeg-to taste

Mix together. Bake at 350˚ until browned.

Note: Be sure you mix your butter in before the eggs. You don’t want scrambled eggs in your cushaw.

Nutmeg grater

Nutmeg goes in the mix. I don’t know how much I put in there. The recipe says “to taste”. I grated until Mom said “stop”. I know–not very helpful, sorry.

It also goes on top.

more nutmeg

It turned out so yummy!

Healthy? With 2 cups of sugar and 2 sticks of butter I’m gonna say-no.

The cushaw is rich in vitamin A. It is a vegetable! I’m countin’ it!

As a kid, Thanksgiving dressing was never my favorite. Mom always made two batches–one with oysters and one without.

I’m not sure how the oyster tradition came to our family. I always took my obligatory dressing from the without pan.

Now I voluntarily put dressing on my plate. : )

Mom didn’t really have a “recipe” to give me. She just told me how to make it.

First-make a batch of cornbread. Rather vague instructions.

I use the recipe from the back of the Aunt Jemima Corn Meal package for my cornbread. I’m not sure if Mom uses the same one or not.

Cornbread recipe

I always make my cornbread in a cast iron skillet. I suppose it’s just is the Southern way!

cast-iron skillet

Sorry, no picture of its golden deliciousness.

After the cornbread has cooled, crumble it.

crumble the cornbread

I took the easy way out and gave it to the girls to crumble. They were so excited to have a break from school that they needed to do something!

dressing ingredients

Chop up a medium onion and 2-3 ribs of celery. I chopped my veggies early. I was so glad to get them out of the refrigerator. I could open the FREEZER door and smell onions!

sliced bread

Soak a couple of pieces of plain white bread in milk–

soak the bread

about “that much” milk.

I started smashing the bread with the back of a spoon. Apparently, that was wrong. Mom came behind me and squished it with her fingers. I think she just wanted to have the Thanksgiving experience too.

mix dressing

Mix the cornbread, veggies and soaked bread together.

Add two eggs and seasoning. We added about 1 tsp of Poultry Seasoning, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. It could have used a bit more of the poultry seasoning.

seasonings

Next, start ladling in the turkey broth. You can use chicken broth if you like.

turkey stock

I put in 8-12 ladles of broth. My ladle was pretty small though.

You want your dressing to be kind of wet looking.

mixed dressing

Spread it in a pan and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350˚.

dressing

This picture is before it went in the oven. I failed to get an “after” picture. Well, there is a picture of the whole Thanksgiving spread. It will come later.

The top of the dressing gets nice and brown.

It turned out pretty good. Chip said it had too much onion in it. Next time I will add more poultry seasoning though.

If it ends up a little dry, that’s okay. You can always smother it in GRAVY!

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