Thursday, December 28, 2006

After much anticipation, tonight was the long awaited piano recitial. It's been a nerve wracking couple of days around here with lots of practicing going on. Taylor's pieces were "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" and "We wish you a Merry Christmas". Her instructor was very clever planning the Christmas recital a few days after Christmas avoiding conflict with everyone's schedules. She held the recital in the living room of her beautiful home. She also teaches violin and guitar so we had our own little private concert starring children ages 3-18. We were very proud of our daughter tonight. I think I was as nervous as she was.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas Eve! We attended the most beautiful Christmas service at our church this morning. We each held a candle while singing "Silent Night". It was so inspirational. I've been squeezing in an answer or two on our Colossal Christmas Crossword Puzzle that was in our newspaper this week and finishing up wrapping a few gifts. Every year I lose a gift or two because I've hidden them too well, even from me. My family teases me relentlessly about them. I know that all of my close friends that are reading this are having a giggle on me. That's okay! I'm leaving you all with the easiest recipe that I have ever had the pleasure to make. If you have any neighbors that you need to run a goody over to, try these, you won't be disappointed.
Microwave Peanut Brittle

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup of salted peanuts
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda

In a 2-quart microwavable glass bowl, stir sugar and syrup together (sugar tends to settle on the bottom). Microwave for 4 minutes on power level #8. Add salted peanuts and stir. Microwave for 3 1/2 minutes on power level #8. Add vanilla and butter, stir well. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes on power level 8. Remove and add 1 teaspoon baking soda. Stir and very quickly pour on cookie sheet. Spread or pour thinly. Cool, break into small pieces.
Note: I've made 9 batches for gifts this week. I've found that parchment paper (not waxed paper) is working beautifully. You can also butter your cookie sheet or use a nonstick cookie sheet. Santa's little helper was busy in the kitchen with me this afternoon baking iced and sprinkle sugar cookies. She cut all of these out herself and was in total charge of the sprinkling. I just set out the "Twas the Night Before Christmas" book for Daddy to read. Don't forget to set out the cookies and milk for Santa and "Merry Christmas to All and to All A Good Night."

Oh Tannebaum, Oh Tannebaum, How Lovely Are Your Branches. My collection of Christmas trees is growing. My favorite will always be our main tree with all of our sentimental ornaments. As much as I am into decorating and home decor, I am not drawn to fancy trees with matching ornaments and lots of ribbons. I can tell you about every ornament on our tree and where it came from. My favorites are the ones that my Grandmother and Great Aunt made for me when I was younger. I also have several that my Mother gave me, as well as two that my husband gave me the first year we were married and several that we have purchased on special trips. A few years ago I added our kitchen tree. I've always wanted one and it has been so fun finding ornaments for this tree.
Also in the kitchen is our candy tree. It brings a festive flair to our kitchen table. We finally had to buy the kids there own tree. I've been buying them an ornament every year and try to match it to their interests for the year. Taylor and I shopped and shopped trying to find just the right "pink" tree. It couldn't be too pink or too feathery. I finally found this one for her and she thinks it is just right. I love the Mackenzie-Child's looking painted ornaments that we found for it.

Friday, December 22, 2006

All Wrapped Up! My daughter's class chose their own wrapping paper and gift wrapped their desk tops for the last week of school. They ended with a "holiday tea" celebration. Today was the first day of Christmas vacation. We celebrated by going out to lunch, visiting the largest gingerbread house in Phoenix and going to the poinsettia festival. The gingerbread house was in the lobby of one of our local resorts. It was incredible. It stands 8 feet high and contains 9,273 candy pieces, 160 pounds of gingerbread, 50 pounds of chocolate, 74 pounds of royal icing and 40 pounds of sugar for the windows. The poinsettias were beautiful. It's so pretty to see so many together. I had a wonderful day hanging out with my kiddos.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Oh My Stars! Glittered ones, that is. A very exciting package came in the mail for me today. It's so exciting getting packages, isn't it?? My frilly and foofy friend, Miss Teresa surprised me with these goodies. I've been shopping everywhere for this new book that she is featured in and now I can cross one of my errands off my list. Here is the garland on my mantle. It shimmers and glistens when the fireplace is on.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wishing You A Holiday Filled With Sweetness is the message on these Hershey bars. I made 21 of them tonight to give to the support staff and the teachers that I have substituted for this year. They are quick and easy but a nice little gift when you need a quantity.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Train Gardening
It's quite an undertaking. A couple from our church was hosting a benefit for the Phoenix Children's Hospital by inviting the community to visit their train garden in their backyard. It was really detailed. It had 3 different trains going around different tracks, several bridges, a mine, little fires going, an airport, streets and automobiles, a pond with koi, a water garden and people on passenger trains. I recognized several LGB trains. We have an LGB set that comes out every December to circle our Christmas tree. There was an enormous amount of the track that went over and under and through their garden. It's hard to imagine all of the work that it would take to build all of the ramps to attach the track to. They were very kind to invite us into their home to see this wonderful display. We were served hot apple cider as we walked around this wonderland.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Reindeer Rootbeer
Aren't these just the cutest? My friend and neighbor, Debbie, hosted a cookie exchange party for us over the weekend. She received this six pack as a hostess gift. I will definitely be making some of these as hostess gifts myself. We all had a wonderful time, socializing, listening to Christmas music and playing games, yes games. We played this fun game where you have 25 clues and you have to name a Christmas song from the clue. Guess what? I won! My prize was an adorable Christmas frame. We also played another game where you list 2 truths about yourself and 1 lie. Everyone else has to guess which one was the lie. We also received lots of new good recipes. Yum!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Snow. We all have wonderful memories of playing in the snow both as children and with our own children.
Cat posted these snowflakes on her blog and encouraged us to make our own paper snowflakes and post them on our blogs. Making paper snowflakes is so much fun, so I'm encouraging you to go and make some. Several talented journalers are also posting their "Journal Your Christmas" pages. Day 2 was Snow. I started my journal, but I'm 9 days behind. Yikes! Need to catch up. Maybe I'll continue this next Christmas.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

One More Advent! This one is an online advent. Couldn't forget this one. Go to It's really fun to do with your kiddos. There are fun surprises behind each window.

Guess Who Went To See Santa???
Not either of my kids, but the newest member of our family, Miss Chloe. Once we heard there was a benefit for the Human Society at Petsmart, my daughter Taylor insisted that we take Chloe. She got quite a bit of attention there. Believe it or not, there was even a line. I should have stuck around to see Santa pick up the enormous, active lab puppy that was in line behind us.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

One More Advent, An Angel Advent. I forgot about including her with the other Advents mentioned yesterday. I bought her last year. I need to come up with an idea for items for her pockets. Last year, she sat on our bed, but this year she is sitting on my Grandmother's chair. This chair was one of the pieces of furniture that I just had shipped from Iowa. It was my favorite piece of furniture growing up. Like the story of the three bears, it's just right for me. It always was and always will be. When I was a little girl, it was a shabby beautiful red floral. She had it recovered when I was in high school. I'm so happy to have it now. I've decided to find some other beautiful white Christmas decorations for our bedroom.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Countdown To Christmas
I finally finished my Advent calendar that Miss Teresa so very generously shared her instructions to help all of us make these. I'd started collecting all of the "numbers" and objects last year. That was the fun part. The kids helped too.
Of course the chocolate ones are my kids favorite. If you haven't bought these, they are available at both Cost Plus and Trader Joes. I've been buying 10 for the last couple of years and giving them to different families.
This one has been around our home longer than the children. It now hangs on Taylor's door every year and she moves the little mouse from pocket to pocket everyday.
Last, but not least, is our Advent Jesse Tree. This one is by far the most important. My parenting class in Tucson held a Jesse Tree party every year. Each person makes 25 identical ornaments and then at the party you get one of each ending up with your own set of 25 different ornaments. There is also a book available that explains the meaning of each ornament, as well as a devotional. As my children get older, they are learning so much from this one.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Two Christmas Trees
This tree is kind of fun and funky, not exactly what you would picture in my Country French home, but we love it. My friend, Angie, found these trees for us last year and lucky for me, she found these adorable metal ornaments for us this year. She bought them from Cost Plus World Market.
The second tree is one that I made last year with a few neighbors one afternoon in my home. Lisa is an instructor at Recollections and helped us create our trees. We had so much fun, but everything was quite amiss and glass glitter was everywhere.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

O Christmas Tree!
I love Christmas trees. I'm not even sure how many that I have in our house, but I will be showing you a few this week. I was very indulgent yesterday and pampered myself with a Christmas pedicure. My manicurist was so talented. She painted this tree within one minute. It even has a white star with a little bling and pink and gold ornaments.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Don't you just wonder what they're chatting about???? Our school's chorus performed at the "Lighting of the Christmas Tree" and parade in our downtown celebration last night. For all of my midwest and east-coast friends, our downtown tree is made from hundreds of tumbleweeds spray painted and wired together to form an enormous tree. Now that's the true west for ya. Taylor was so excited that she got to play a musical instrument for one of the songs. It was chilly last night. We Phoenicians think it's freezing when it drops below 60! We went out to dinner after the event and Taylor could hardly keep her eyes open. It was a big day for her with the fashion show in the morning and the downtown event. Look out Broadway. Just kidding. Note to self: remind your daughter not to talk during stage performances.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Model Debut
This morning my daughter had her modeling debut at the Nordstroms' Children's Holiday Fashion Show. As luck would have it, I ran into a dear friend that I hadn't seen in six years. We had so much fun catching up with each other's lives. Our daughter's walked together down the runway. Hopefully, it eased their nervousness just a little. Loved the outfit she wore. We ended up purchasing the sweater with the bling buttons.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Today I will be assisting my friend, Angie, in hosting a Christmas brunch for a group of wonderful Christian leaders. This group is led by Mrs. Barb Tompkins, who has been encouraging mothers to live up to their full potential for over 25 years. I was fortunate to be a part of her class for two years. She changed my life and continues to volunteer her time encouraging hundreds of others every year. I put together these place cards for our table and need to rush out the door to cook Swedish pancakes for them. Have a wonderful day.