Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I thought I would give you a look at some of my favorite holiday gifts.  Being a lover of everything mystery and since my favorite holiday is Halloween; you can bet any gifts I receive are usually not of the typical variety.  This applies to all gift giving occasions.
Of course, this suits me just fine; anything practical that I need or want; I usually buy my self.  So I love when gifts are more personal and unusual.
Books, books and more books.  Always a great gift, the gift of reading.
These two are own the way!  So I am well stocked to start reading in the early Spring.
As I said I love the unique; and as unique goes this is right up there.  What a fun scarf.  A few years ago I received an LA Coroner's Office beach towel!  The LA Coroner does indeed have a gift shop.  It is called Skeletons in the Closet and you can visit or buy on-line.  The store has been around since 1993 and proceeds fund Stop DWI programs.  The web site is well worth a visit, such fun stuff.
I love this post-it note set.  This is Dead Fred, the pen fits into the little stab hole. 
This little crime scene case is cute, The box sets to the right were actually from a gift earlier in the year.  But they all look cute together in a basket in the guest room.  And fun to pull out as party games.
This past Fall I was browsing over these items at The Dollar Tree.  I would not set up a village, but I will place them around the house.  But at the time I hemmed and hawed and never picked them up, and by the time I put some thought into it, they were picked over or gone.  But luckily they are available from The Dollar Tree on-line and can be purchased as a set.  The best part is they come with a larger castle not available at the stores.  And, it has a space to place a light. 
And it is still a dollar for each piece, so it was $10.00.  But I am glade I procrastinated, because the castle is great.
And, I saved the best for last.  When I was a child my favorite movie (to this day) was THAT DARN CAT (1965.)  That started my love of Siamese cats.  We adopted TieLing when I was 8 years old, because of this movie.  I have never had a regret, sharing a life with Siamese cats, and now it is all I know.  I just happened to find this Gund plush from 1965.
This DC is in perfect condition and is so cute.  He is even wearing the wrist watch that the poor kidnapped bank teller puts on his neck that Patti (Hayley Mills) finds.
As for New Years Eve, well the days of going out are long over.  We have attended and even in the inaugural year, worked on the Albany First Night Committee.  But Albany has ended the First Night in lieu of monthly First Fridays and Saratoga has picked up First Night.  But as much as we enjoyed it we opt for a quiet night home.  Especially since SyFy has a TWILIGHT ZONE marathon.
So what do we do, well take out Chinese from our favorite restaurant The Buffalo Wagon and watching THE TWILIGHT ZONE. 
Although one tradition we started several years ago thanks to a very good family friend; First Footing.
First Footing of First Foot (depending on were in Great Britain you are from.)  Our friend is Irish.  Every year she would visit with us for Thanks Giving and New Years
.  One of the years we attended First Night in Albany, she called home to her Mum in England to tell her and Mum was so excited to hear we did First Footing here.  I was always a fun running joke, so we always did it in Mum's honor.
There is a formal tradition but we would just go out the back door and in through the front door at the stroke of midnight.  But with temps dropping to the teens tonight I think we will stay in.  We eill pop more party crackers at midnight and pop a few more after an early dinner on New Years Day.
For breakfast New Years Day a really easy breakfast sandwich.  This is just Pillsbury Grands Biscuits split in half, filled with left over Honey Baked Ham and shredded cheddar cheese.  I like to use shredded cheese it melts quicker and more evenly.  I also top it with the shredded cheddar.  Cabot Cheese is my favorite.  Bake at the time  and temperature on the Grands package.
Yummy golden brown.  They go great with scramble eggs and fruit and of course my favorite fall and winter drink, Martinelli's Cider.  But since it is a little chilly here I will alternate Celestial Seasonings  Mandarin Orange Spice or Cranberry Apple Zinger Herbal Tea.  I like both teas for breakfast, a nice alternative to juice on a cold morning.
So again happy healthy New Year to all!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014


With just a few hours to go until Christmas Eve and then on to Christmas Day here are some holiday traditions.
                                                                           The tree.

The cookies.
Thumb Prints are my favorite cookies.  My preference is walnuts and concord grape jelly.  Such a simple cookie and perfect for freezing.  Bake a batch and freeze (pre jelly.)  Just let them thaw then top with jelly, perfect for an any time cookie fix.
Rosettes, covered with vanilla frosting and sprinkles.

Peanut butter is another favorite cookie.  I have fond memories of making peanut butter cookies in Junior High in our Home Ec. Class and bringing the batch home.  That was my go to cookie as a kid.
And the old stand by, decorated sugar cookies.
I love this, Christmas Mouse cookies, how simple.  But you can't have mice with out cats so...
Although, these look like they take some decorating skill.
The gifts.
Simple wrapping paper and wired ribbons tied in classic bows.  Bags with bright contrasting tissue for color.
For Christmas Eve, Christmas night, New Years Eve and New Years night party crackers.  This batch from Pier 1 Imports.  This has been a tradition in our home for awhile, for all holidays.
My favorite movies.
The 1951 A CHRISTMAS CAROL or as also know as SCROOGE with Alastair Sim.  I have the black and white SCROOGE  version and find it to be the best.  But, I also like the TNT version starring Patrick Stewart.
This movie also features Richard E. Grant, who I adore, as Bob Cratchit.
And no Christmas would be complete with out the 1966 T.V. short HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS.  I mean Boris Karloff, need I say more.
Christmas ghost stories.
Again, I will never understand how this great tradition, dating back to the Victorian days,  died away but I love a good ghost story anytime of the year.
And last but not lease, tracking Santa Claus.  And thanks to NORAD we know he will arrive safely.  I love monitoring NORAD's site on Christmas Eve to watch Santa's progress.  And this year the New York Air Guard will be tracking Santa as he crosses across the Northeast.  Thanks Guys!!!
And once Christmas and New Years Day pass, and even tho I celebrate Valentine's Day and I enjoy St, Patrick's Day; it will be the count down to Spring.  With the first day of Winter (which is the shortest day of the year) behind, only 12 weeks till Spring.  By the end of the month day light will be getting longer and the sun will be getting stronger.  Right now the weather is very warm, it will be 50 degrees and rainy Christmas Eve and day; our average is 30's.  The snow is gone, again, but I am sure more will return.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Even tho for many people Christmas and New Year's Day are all about the sweets, I'm "more about" the savory.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy cookies, fudge, candy and pies; but I always prefer the savory treats more.  For me a little sweet goes a very long way.

Here is a prefect combination of salty and sweet.  Fun and easy holiday snack mix.  Perfect for watching movies infront of the fire.  Buggles, pretzels, m&ms (red and green obviously) salted pecans,  (here) chocolate chex (but the cinnamon or apple cinnamon works great too.)

Another fun snack, nothing special here but popcorn, but why not dress it up a bit.  Sharpie Markers and a little curling ribbon, make a plain cup a cute snowman.
And here in a different cup and wrapped in plastic a perfect little treat to hand out or to take along.
A speaking of fun treats to hand out around the holidays, hot chocolate in a bag. Ghirardelli hot chocolate, Fireside Marshmallows and topped off with a peppermint candy cane for stirring.
And the little candy sleigh, two candy canes, KitKat Bar, and Hershey Miniatures tied with ribbons.  To make sure they stay together little glue dots can help.
Another version of the hot chocolate favor, perfect to thank that favorite UPS guy who carefully delivers your packages, or the mail carrier and even the trash collectors.
This is my favorite non-food gift.  Glass bulbs filled with a melted snowman.  Actually it is salt, black pepper and small triangles cut from construction paper or even cray paper streamers.  I like the streamers because it can be rolled up into a cone shape for a 3 dimensional carrot look.  A pretty red satin bow can be tied on the hook loop too.  Some bulbs can open up easily, a little hot glue and keep it caped.
But back to snacks, one of my favorite is mini baked cheese rolls with maple syrup and pecans.  For the shell, any refrigerated dough works, but the easiest is Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.  I like the rolls marked "flaky."  For the cheese Mini Babybel Cheese.  I like the Gouda or Sharp Cheddar.  Simply remove the cheese from the red wax wrapper; the rolls need to be made into squares by keeping two triangles together and press sealing the seams.  A package of rolls (which holds 8 rolls) will yield 4 squares.  And each square can cover 2 or 3 Babybels.  Cut the squares in half and top with cheese.  Just like wrapping Brie bring up the corners, wrap and pinch closed.  Bake at the suggested temperature and time for the rolls.  Top with maple syrup and pecans. 
They are great with Pumpkin Spice or Apple Cinnamon tea.


Monday, December 15, 2014


I wanted to take a moment for a closer look at some of my holiday decorations.  The majority of my holiday decorations come from inexpensive stores like The Christmas Tree Shops, Dollar Tree, Target, Lowes and Oriental Trading Co.  Not to say, if I find something special while out-and-about I would not buy it, because I do and I have.  But the main point for me is, if you really look, you can find some really great things "cheap."

I have not shown this little kitty Nativity Scene yet.  I found this for my Blossom and Six several years ago in a catalog.  I do have a separate manger for it, but (so all the pieces can be seen) I prefer it with out.
On the lower shelves of the book case above, I just placed two little resin snowman, from the Dollar Tree.  They are nicely made and they coordinate as a pair.  $2.00 and they are a subtle touch of Winter.
On the table beside the front door one of my potted artificial Poinsettias (they are all over the house and really add color.)  Found at Michael's at the end of the season, they were only $4.00 each and I really had to look them over well to get the best ones.  But after selecting them carefully and fluffing them up when I got them home, the look almost real.  They are all set in (my favorite) plain Terra Cotta pots.  A simple little pine cone in the lobster bowl.
I bought a few smaller potted Poinsettias at an after holiday clearance sale at Target.  Same as the larger ones, I had to look them over well and spruce them up, but they are a good quality.  The little Christmas book store is part of the Dollar Tree village collection.  Since I love books, it makes sense in my home.  Again, very subtle on the fire place/entertainment console.

On a lower shelf of the console, a little Dollar Tree Santa Claus and a pine cone.  For just a dollar it has a very vintage look and again up close it is surprisingly very good quality.
I have several of these little bottle brush trees all around the house.  They come in a two pack from the Dollar Tree, for their village set.  There are three different varieties to choose from.  The don't look any different from the pricier ones I have seen.  I put them on smaller places around the house.
I have several of the wire trees (red, green and gold) and have them filling spaces around the house.  The Santa mug, with plastic candy canes are from the Dollar Tree.  The reindeer candle holders from Oriental Trading Co., with the glass removed, hold white pumpkins from a bowl filler set and more pine cones.  The wire trees are also on the side tables and console table in the living room.
A set of the Poinsettia trees on each end of the dinning room table and more Dollar Tree snowmen.  The other is a coordinating match holding a tree.  All of these pieces even have felt on the bottom.  I know I keep saying it, but really good quality for a buck.
On the other side of the dinning room, another wire tree and my catalog find, Indoor Snowball Fight.
And on each colonnade another tree and my blown glass pumpkins (that stay out all year.)  I have several pumpkins still out, I see them as "Winter Fruit" and like the color contrast.
I stole this idea from the Lowes magazine.  They didn't give a price for the kissing balls in the magazine but I went right over to my local store and found they were only $2.95 each.  They are a prefect size and very nicely made. 
Another Dollar Tree wire tree and Santa Claus.  I have seen the same trees for $4.50.  And of course another pine cone atop the books in the bedroom.
The simple Dollar Tree tinsel wreath with wire ribbon again from the Dollar Tree. 
More clearance floral, a wire tree, a pine cone and my favorite nesting dolls from OTC.  The nesting dolls were $10.00 but I had a $5.00 coupon and free shipping.

In the bathroom I have a tinsel tree, another Santa Claus from the Dollar Tree and another small Target Poinsettia.  I also have this little Dollar Tree pet shop village shop and the leaf and pine cone candle set.  The later came from (a now closed local dollar store) Yankee $1.  I bought several of these candle sets and gave them to a few friends, they love them as much as I do.  They were even boxed nicely.
Into the kitchen on the table, a pumpkin basket filled with pine cones, sea shells and candy canes.  The artificial Amaryllis (clearance from Target) and this year's Dollar Tree Santa Mug.
On a shelf next to the back door a flower shop village building and more trees on the work station in the kitchen, all from the Dollar Tree.
The wreaths in the kitchen, agian only $1.50 each to make and it only took a few minutes to put them together.
I leave the JC Penney Santa Claus mug on the Kuerig (when not in use) and another Amaryillis.
Another Santa and Poinsettia in the dressing room.
Every room, including the pantry and the back porch has some small decoration.  It doesn't take much and it definetly doesn't have to cost a lot to add seasonal and holiday decor to any room.  I follow this same rule for all the holidays.