Christmas


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!

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!

This recipe for Coconut Cake Supreme is a family favorite.

I got this recipe from my Mom. I’m not sure where she got it. She made it for Christmas one year, and we all loved it!

It is so moist and yummy!

It has become a must-have at my family’s Christmas table every year. I usually end up making it for Easter as well. I don’t dare make it in between the two holidays, unless I’m taking it somewhere. I do think I could eat it every day and not get sick of it. It is that good.

This year, the cake was such a hit at Christmas, we had it again for New Year’s Day! These are pictures of the 2014 cake! My mother-in-law actually made this one using my (Mom’s) recipe. It’s a family thing!

Slice of Coconut Cake.jpg

Coconut Cake Supreme.jpg

Coconut Cake Supreme

1 package yellow cake mix (The recipe calls for the 18 ¼ oz. size.  Mix sizes have changed, so get as close as you can.)

2 cups (16 oz.) sour cream

2 cups sugar

1 ½ cups flaked coconut

1 carton (8 oz.) Cool Whip

Cake:Bake cake, according to box directions, in two 9” pans. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack.

Filling: Combine sour cream and sugar; mix well. Stir in coconut (filling will be soft). Set aside 1 cup of filling for the frosting.

Assemble: Split each cake into 2 layers. Place one layer on serving platter. Cover layer with 1/3 of filling. Repeat with other layers. Fold reserved filling into Cool Whip; frost cake. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

10-12 servings

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It’s not too late to make Christmas goodies. I made Cranberry Pistachio Bark for my hubby to take to his Christmas party at work.

It was very easy and very yummy!

Christmas treats

I’m convinced that you can glam up anything by placing it in a cellophane bag!

Cranberry Pistachio Bark

Recipe: Okay, it is not really a recipe. It’s just instructions. I doubt you really even need that!

Line a 10×15 pan with waxed paper. Be sure to let the paper hang over the edge.

Melt Almond Bark. I used the vanilla. You can use chocolate if you like.

Spread the melted Almond Bark into prepared pan.

Immediately sprinkle with chopped pistachios and chopped dried cranberries.

Let it sit until set.

Cut into pieces.

Package in cellophane bags. (optional-only for glamorous gifts)

packaged candies

I was inspired by Ina Garten’s version of this bark. She added apricots to hers.

It’s not too late! Head in the kitchen and whip up some Cranberry Pistachio Bark for your friends!

Christmas candies

I just had to share these adorable elf cookies my Mom made.

20131219-091831.jpg
Aren’t they cute!
I love the almond ears.
Guess what kind of cookie cutter she used. Here’s a little hint.

20131219-091950.jpg

I have never been to a cookie exchange. I have never been invited or had one myself–sad, I know. I have always wanted to have one. Christmas seems to be the optimum time for such an event. Fitting one more thing into our hectic schedule seems a bit insane, however! To tell you the truth, I have not even done much baking this season. The kids have done more baking than I have. They have made  Oreo Balls, Rolo Turtles, and Gingerbread cookies.

I thought I would share some cookies that I have made in the past. You might get to go to one of those fancy cookie parties!

Just click the photo to get to the link.

Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

These Chocolate Pistachio Cookies are so yummy! They would be super fancy to take to a cookie exchange!

Chocolate Mocha Chewies

Chocolate Mocha Chewies

Not the fanciest but delish!

Pink Lemonade Cookies

Pink Lemonade Cookies

Pink Lemonade Cookies would be a hit as a non-chocolate selection.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Garbanzo Beans

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Garbanzo Beans

In the category of “different”, cookies with beans would definitely win, hands down!

Cake Mix Cookies

Cake Mix Cookies

You might not want to use red, white and blue sprinkles if you are going to a cookie exchange at Christmas time. I bet you can come up with some different colors though.

Applesauce Cookies with Caramel Frosting

Applesauce Cookies with Caramel Frosting

The frosting on these cookies is AMAZING! Just take the frosting and a spoon!

Coconut Lime Cookies

Coconut Lime Cookies

I love citrus!

Oatmeal Scotchies

Oatmeal Scotchies

Oatmeal Scotchies-a classic!

Swirly Cookies

Swirly Cookies

Red, white and green or aqua would be a nice alternative for Christmas Swirly Cookies.

Big Cookie

Big Cookie

Make it easy on yourself. Make one giant cookie! It would make a nice hostess gift.

Stamped Cookies

Stamped Cookies

I’m sure you could find a Christmas stamp out there somewhere.

Chocolate-Dipped Tea Bag Cookies

Chocolate-Dipped Tea Bag Cookies

Tea Bag Cookies-perfect for the tea enthusiast!

Falling Leaves Cookies

Falling Leaves Cookies

These would be cute with the same tree on a blue background. Then use snowflakes rather than leaves! Or use green candy melts to pipe a Christmas tree. Little dot sprinkles would look like lights or ornaments.

Pumpkin Spiced Cookies

Pumpkin Spiced Cookies

Pumpkin Spice-hello? YUM!

Cornflake Christmas Trees

Cornflake Christmas Trees

Okay, I don’t know if these Cornflake goodies qualify as a “cookie” or not. I doubt anyone would turn them away at a cookie exchange!

Have you ever been to a Cookie Exchange? Was it fun? Tell me all about it!

What kind of cookies are you making this year?

vintage chalkboard

globe

scripture on chalkboard

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