Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday: Christmas

It's Wednesday! Yayyy! Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer is hosting another edition of Works For Me Wednesday with Christmas in mind.

These are some super simple things we do to reduce stress, create wonderful memories and spend quality time together. I had a wonderful childhood filled with so many memories that I want desperately to pass on to my (step)children and future children. Many of them are easy to do and cost very little to make.

We tend to get into decorating around here. My mother and I would go out into the woods of our home sometime during the Thanksgiving break and find greenery to add to the front door and porch. It usually cost us nothing, but an afternoon of quality time together. We'd cut low branches off living trees, taking care not to cut into the trunk of the tree and never taking more than we thought we'd use/need. When we got home, we'd trim the thicker branches with cutters and place them on the railings of the porch being careful to cover the branches. We'd take our white lights and wrap the railing tightly in one direction and come back in the opposite direction securing the greenery. Then we'd take the other greenery and create a swag over the door securing it to the cedar shakes and door jam of the house with a staple gun and weave white lights through it. We'd usually finish off the door with an artificial wreath with a big red or gold bow. I wish I had pictures to share, but unfortunately that was in the days of 35mm cameras and film! *gasp*

This year I expanded on that tradition and used my left over greenery and free scrub from a local nursery to create swags for my mailbox, my entry and garage outdoor light and the two double windows facing the street. It only cost me .99 for floral wire! Bailey and I simply arranged the greenery in an attractive (to us) form and wrapped it securely in green floral wire. We fluffed and added small filler to cover the wire and used red ribbon to create bows on the top! Bailey and I added pine cones to two of the swags and old Christmas ornaments to the others. I've gotten so many compliments and Bailey and I enjoyed our time together!

We didn't stop there! No, no, we did not! We created a garland for our mantle and laced it, too, with white lights and added Christmas ornaments to it. It looks so pretty at night and even makes that monstrous TV above the mantle less obtrusive!

The kiddos and I capped off the day afternoon by making the EASIEST, creamiest, most DE.LIC.OUS. peanut butter fudge I have EV-AH had. Yes, it was so good I dropped my r! ;)

1 cup butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar

Microwave butter and peanut butter for 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Add vanilla and powdered sugar to peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Pour into a buttered 8 by 8-inch pan lined with waxed paper. Place a second piece of waxed paper on the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

While we waited for the fudge to set we sat in the living room and strung tri-tipped beads onto pipe cleaners and bended them in various decorations to create: candy canes, wreaths, crosses, snowflakes and used ribbon to hang them on the tree.

Bailey has already commented how much fun that afternoon was. I pray *I really do* that she remembers times like this later on when she's a teenager and wants nothing to do with us! ;)

That "works for me" and I certainly hope it works for you!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours and God Bless!



Monday, December 17, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...!

*** I have reposted last year's post because we're traveling for the holidays and it was not feasible to buy a tree and decorate the house to take it down on Dec. 23 or leave it up with 2 cats until the 5th of January.

Please take a look of what I would have done for the holidays this year and just pretend like we're partying like it's 1997...errr 2007. ***

Christmas Tour of Homes


Christmas Tour of Homes

Please grab a piping hot cup of cocoa and a warm cookie and make yourselves at home. I'm so excited to be a part of BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes!

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I taught my (step)daughter how to make swags, wreaths and garland with the scrub from the bottom of our tree and some freebies thrown in by a local nursery where we bought our wreath. It was so much fun putting together Christmas decorations for the new house and I hope it's a tradition we continue throughout the years.

I think my favorite piece Bailey and I made is the swag for our mailbox. It's so festive and was very simple to make. Bailey and I hunted for pinecones to dress up our greenery and topped it off with a gorgeous, sheer red bow. Best of all when I go to check the mail I get a wonderful whiff of Fraser Fir! :- )

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We also made swags for the windows and the porch lights and garland over the front door which we laced with white lights and a cheerful stocking. I think it's very pretty, but unfortunately the pictures don't do it justice.

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Brrrr, it's getting cold out here, come on in and let's head to the fireplace!

The kiddos and I made garland for the mantle, strung it with white lights and added christmas ornaments to finish it off. Please ignore my husband's house warming/Christmas present to us. He promises me it won't be above my beautiful mantle forever, but we'll need to hire an electrician to run the cable to another wall!

Here's a close up of it. I just love the way it looks in the living room with all the lights turned off except for the tree and the lights on the garland. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! :- )

Our stockings aren't hung yet because we're waiting to do that with the kids when they come back, but in the mean time take a look at our beautiful tree!

*edit: I just realized I never cut the top of the tree off where the bow is! I feel silly, now.*

Jason and I prefer white lights if you couldn't already tell! Every year since we've been together I buy an ornament that means something special to us. Here are a few of my favorites.

We got this one the day after our wedding when we were honeymooning in Bar Harbor, ME. It's a gingerbread man and woman with our names on it and our wedding date is on the back. They hang on a beautiful wrought iron hanger with a heart. Isn't it precious?

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The next one is S'mores snowman. Jason and I love it; we both love snowman and S'mores, so he was an easy decision! We bought him at Stone Mountain Park which we frequent often!

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A few years ago I taught Bailey and Fischer how to make very simple ornaments with the tri-tipped beads and pipe cleaners. We made wreaths, candles, snowman, snowflakes, candy canes and crosses. Here is a candy cane we made, unfortunately the crosses weren't as photogenic. The kids L-O-V-E-D making these. As a matter of fact while they were decorating the tree they asked if we could make more this year!

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This is one of my favorites, although it was given to my husband and his first wife, but he kept it. I'm so glad he did!

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Lastly, here is our newest ornament. We bought it when we took the kids to Maine for a week this summer. In case you didn't know: I'm a Mainiac (and proud of it!) and Jason and I go back to my home state as often as possible. We bought this in Boothbay Harbor. Jason loves lighthouses and it was such a fun trip. We can't wait to go back. We bought a new house shortly after we came back from this vacation and I was in hopes to buy a "new home" ornament, but I haven't found any I love. I guess I will have to keep looking and at least this time I'll get it on sale since Christmas is almost here!

Sorry, I didn't mean to ramble! Back to the tour! Here is an ADORABLE set of Christmas figurines that I got at an amazing bargain. Aren't they wicked cute? They are a snowman, Moose and Santa Claus and their current home is on my sofa table in the living room. My co-workers have already tried to sneak them home, but I put up a good little fight!

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Lastly here are just a few Christmas-y odds and ends. One is a Santa pot that I normally have filled with tissue paper and homemade fudge for the holidays, but I haven't gotten around to that yet and the other is the latest project the kids and I have been working on. We're currently in the midst of baking up a storm of homemade goodies to give to some of my co-workers, dear friends and extended family. Lastly, just a few of our Christmas cards. My mother always had a stairway full of cards, since I don't have any stairs in my home I decided to hang them in the entry to the kitchen.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the sights, lights, stories and the Christmas goodies!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours and be sure to stop in at BooMama's and see at what all those wonderful ladies have done to their homes in preparation of our Lord's birth!

God Bless.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

A "Meme": That's what us Yankees call our french-canadian grandmother

It’s Saturday so time for a fun meme. I saw this meme at The Happy Wonderer and decided to try it, too.

The rules are: for each question type your answer into Google Image and search. Pick one image from the 1st page results and post it in response to each statement.

1. Age at your next birthday.

2. Place you’d like to travel to.

3. Favorite Place

4. Favorite Objects

Photographs: A picture really is worth a thousand words

5. Favorite Food

6. Favorite Color

7. Nickname

My friends call me Boo and my step-kids call me "Wickey G" (They assure me it's as in wicked GOOD step-mom. "Wicked" means very or awesome in Mainiac speak. The kids know what side their bread is buttered on. ;) We have a really great relationship.)

8. Place where you were born

If you decide to play let me know so I can come visit.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I love me some Chicken & Rice...and oyster crackers

It's A Soup-Tacular!

It's pure coincidence that two of my favorite bloggers would be running recipe themes this week, so mine will be an all encompassing two-fer.

Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer wants to know what's for dinner on Works For Me Wednesday and BooMama's Soup-tacular 2007 is just begging for some homemade Chicken & Rice!

I always manage to have these three ingredients: chicken stock (or bullion), veggies and chicken breast at our house, thus I can have "dinner" in pinch. I swear if Dr. G ever opened me up (I'm praying she doesn't, but if she did) she'd see chickens, clinging to vegetables, in a sea of broth. Well, maybe a more accurate visual would be clinging to vegetables like flotation devices while dodging buoys of fast food lunches, maneuvering around large masses of BBQ seaweed and the occasional iceberg of dessert. BUT, I do love me some chicken & veggies!

If you don't count rice as a vegetable (and you know you do it, too! Always trying to balance out your meal with rice and considering it "a side" like any other vegetable, even though it's a member of the bread/starch group) then my recipe requires *gasp* 4 ingredients and I should not be allowed to post EVER again. ;) *forehead slap* Oooh! Oooh! Unless you don't like onions! Aha! (But I do, so *pfffffffffbt*)

I digress.


Homemade Chicken & Rice Soup


2 chicken breasts (cubed or shredded)
2 cans chicken/vegetable broth
1/2 rice
1 medium (sweet/vidalia/yellow) onion diced ("optional")
pepper, oregano (to taste)


In a large pot sautee your onions with 2 pads of butter or 2 turns of the pan with EVOO (in case you're not a Rachael Ray fan that'd be Extra Virgin Olive Oil) over low heat.

I wait until the onions turns almost translucent and start to caramelize to add the chopped (I "shred") chicken breast and let saute in pan with the onions.

Add 2 cans of broth and bring to a simmer. I usually dilute it with a couple of cups of water to reduce the salt content even more and spread out the number of servings. I like a 3:1 ratio of broth to chicken/veggies.

Add rice and reduce heat to a simmer. (I almost always julienne some baby carrots and put it in the pot when I add the rice.) Cracked black pepper & Oregano to taste.

The longer it cooks the better the flavor, but it will never be as good the first day as it is the second. It takes roughly a half hour to cook after the chicken is placed in the pot.


This recipe is healthy, low sodium (if you buy reduced sodium broth like I do)and encompasses 3 of the 5 major food groups: meat, vegetables, starch/bread. I think it's only missing chocolate and dairy? ;) It's homemade (read: made with love) and takes all of 7 minutes to prep and 30-40 to fully cook the chicken (less if you shredded the chicken or if you used already cooked chicken!)

I serve it in big bowls, curl up on the couch and toss in a handful of oyster crackers and read. Or watch TV. Or both. While typing one-handed on the laptop. ;)

Best of all there is only one pot to wash! ONE. Dinner doesn't get any better than that! :- )

It Works For Me and it's Soup-er.

Come on, ya'll, soups on!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Heavenly scents and paint fumes...

I stated a week or so ago that I had a hard time committing to a paint color and I finally was talked into “look, JUST look at samples.” So I pooh-poohed over the Hubs tangerine and melon choices and then I saw it from across the fluorescent lit aisle. Beautimous, fabulous, lovely. PAINT.

Caramel Sugar. I am so not kidding. Then another, Cinnamon Brulee. We left the large retailer *rhymes with clothes* and went home and watched us some SEC football because after all I am just "not ready."

Somewhere between hot cocoa and and warm gingerbread cookies I said, “I want them both.” The hubs said he wasn’t sure why I’d want either LSU or Tennessee since he’s a diehard member of the Bulldog Nation, but he smiled and we went back to “rhymes with clothes.”

I don’t know if it was HDTV euphoria or the possibility of the Dawgs making it to the Rose Bowl without making it to the SEC, but we proudly walked up to the paint counter and said “Caramel Sugar AND Cinnamon Brulee, please.”

It’s now 5 hours later and the bathroom is glowing in warm Cinnamon Brulee. I am in love. Yes, I am.