Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I Almost Forgot: A Christmas Entertaining Tip

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While sitting at Chick fil A this morning drinking a cup of coffee (they have the best ever) and working on my grocery list for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, I realized I forgot to share my favorite Christmas entertaining tip from a post long ago.
Friends do that right? They forget things?
So here is an 'I almost forgot' re-post.
*****
 

I have had the pleasure over the years of
hosting many parties in our home.


The most important thing for me is that everyone feels comfortable
and relaxed and that the food is good.


(Who am I kidding?  It can be a LOT more complicated than that. What can cause that complication?  Me.)

And so my tip today, during this hectic , busy season
is simple:

Know what to buy.

That alone can be such a huge stress reliever.
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And so, I found my ‘one’ thing
years ago when I discovered this chocolate cake with chocolate icing from
Esperanza’s Cake Shop in Alamo, Texas.


It is located in a humble storefront near the railroad tracks near downtown Alamo.

It is delicious and it is fresh.


And no, there is no fondant icing entombing stale layers
or a price tag that makes your eyes cross.

It’s simple and it is good
and the bakery is low profile-
my favorite combination. 




I add fresh strawberries and place it on my favorite silver cake stand from Casa Guero in Laredo, and I am done.
I have served this cake at Christmas parties, baby showers, wedding showers, and while sitting on the couch with my favorite co-hostesses after these parties are over.

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Merry Christmas AGAIN!






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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas dear friends!

My simple Christmas continues with laughter, gratitude ,family, cooking and friends.

I wish you those very same things.


I will be back after Christmas with more White Spray Paint shenanigans.

There is planning to do!


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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas in the Nap Room

Christmas-in-the-Nap-Room_thumb9

I enjoy naming things (as in Hauler ) and so the Nap Room is the perfect name for just what this room is: 
a wonderful place to take a nap.
When we bought this house 27 years ago, this front room was actually the front porch.

But one thing usually leads to another, we enclosed the porch and built another porch, and it became the

study-

which sounded far too grand for my liking.


So Nap Room it became.

Christmas-in-the-Nap-Room-Gallery-Wa

It is also a place to put your feet up, read a book, or have a bit of peace and privacy during this busy Christmas season.


Christmas-in-the-Nap-Room-V_thumb1

How do I incorporate Christmas in this haven I love?
With simple tucking and arranging and using what I have.

Gold-Christmas-Angel_thumb
Merry Christmas!
***

This is a post from a Christmas past.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Simple Christmas

Christmas 2016 Fireplace Edited
Christmas 2016 is unfolding as simple and uncomplicated, and I am so grateful.
All of the important things are still in place such as family, faith, and good food, but I have eliminated most of the extra.
No multiple trees, no decorations in every room of the house, no shopping- other than well intentioned gift giving.
Looking back this year, I can see lots of reasons why this was inevitable and needed, but I really don’t want to label the ‘why’, unless of course I label it a blessing.
Christmas 2016 Den
Here is an update on what I have done and how this is evolving.
*We are not traveling this Christmas. My husband and I invited our family to visit us whenever they can.
*Our gift giving will be simple and personal.
*I decorated simply which includes everything you see in these photos.
To my friends reading this, yes, you read that correctly, I decorated simply.
I walked out to the garage to get the Christmas crates, decided to give our oldest daughter my flocked tree, I couldn’t reach our other tree, and the crate I could reach was full of red ornaments. Decision made.
*My faux red poinsettias and a simple tabletop tree were within reach, so I grabbed those.
Result? No large tree and I used red- which is my favorite Christmas color.
*I used plaid ribbon from Marshall’s ($5.99 a roll) and I bought a skinny garland at Michael’s for $2.99 to add to the simple mix.
*I added my beloved blue and white , stepped back , realized I could breathe, I was smiling, and I was
finished.
Christmas 2016 Mantel
I know I have another Christmas extravaganza in me.
It can happen again.
This is not a bah humbug tale. This is about simplicity and relaxation and laughter.
It is also about feeling comfortable and cozy-
which leads me to the wonderful
Once again, she has gathered a group of bloggers and asked us to share how we feel Cozy at Christmas.
Isn’t that a wonderful thought?
There are 15 bloggers sharing what this looks like this week in their homes.
The schedule and their links are listed below.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dear Daughters: Christmas Decorating Thoughts and Tips

Christmas on the Piano

Christmas on the Piano 2015

Dear Daughters-

As young adult women who all work ‘outside’ the home- as well as ‘inside the home’ - there isn’t a single feeling about decorating for Christmas that you have had that I haven’t felt as well.

It can feel rewarding and satisfying and stimulating . It checks all of our creativity boxes.

Yet truth be told, when it is December , and you have research papers coming in that need to be graded , or too many court cases and clients to handle, or book fairs to organize, it can feel a little overwhelming and exhausting.

This is a seasonal challenge sweet girls. Don’t let it get you down. There are after all ,all of those crates in our respective garages that hold treasures we so want to share with our families and friends.

Christmas Mantel 2015

Christmas Mantel 2015

Here are a few things that have helped me over the years.

* Play Christmas music and not just while you are decorating. Play it in the car too. Play it in your classroom, play it in your library,play it in your office.

It creates the ‘want to’- sometimes accompanied by a sweet touch of melancholy at times- but that will pass. Embrace that melancholy, have a good cry, turn up the volume and plan your front door wreathe.

* Learn to make a fluffy bow with wired ribbon that is patterned on both sides. This is a game changer. Thank you Mary Jo Brisnahan (a dear friend and teaching colleague) for teaching me how to make a bow about 20 years ago . That and her Sparkle Salad which has graced our holiday table for just as long places her in our family’s hall of fame.

Women of my generation are great fans of volume. A voluminous bow adds life to anything (even your hair) that has been packed in a crate, stored in the garage in our year long South Texas heat.

Try to find ribbon that is patterned on both sides. You will have to do less twisting if you can.

* Skinny, inexpensive garland is the easiest to handle for a slinger like me. I have purchased expensive, fat garlands, and they are indeed beautiful. Once I wrestled their garland extravagance to my mantle, the minute my back was turned, all sorts of whiplashing and crashing usually occurs. Find a garland of the lazy, low expectation variety.

Christmas Den Tree 2015

Christmas Tree in the Den 2015

* Remember that sometimes trees are easier and give more bang for your buck. I have received some teasing for this on those years when I have had as many as 4 trees at Christmas. Do what floats your boat.

Teacher Christmas Party2

My Annual Ladies Only Teachers’ Christmas Party 2008

* Plan a small party- ladies only. It is the perfect way to usher in this glorious season. The laughter and the ‘I get you-you get me’ that results is immeasurable. And yes in that photo above that is an enormous container of margaritas on the rocks- provided by my dear friend and yours- Anna. It is her secret recipe , which is just as well- you won’t remember it anyway. My annual teacher parties at Christmas and at the end of each school year still make me smile. And yes, the red walls and the rooster are now gone.

 

I love you. As you know, I am going through things, including my Christmas decorations.

You each have a pile. The rest is up to you.

I love you,

Mom

 

**********

Linking to:

Monday Social #12
Share Your Style - The Essence Of Home, 21 Rosemary Lane
Party In Your PJs - Woods Of Bell Trees

Best of the Weekend

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips and Our Menu

Thanksgiving Card

When I was a little girl, there was nothing I loved more than watching my mother

and my aunts and my grandmothers work in the kitchen,

especially on a day as important to cooking and family as Thanksgiving.

My jobs usually involved putting ice in the glasses, pouring iced tea and whatever duties my mother

assigned, all with a smile on her face.  

 

It was in that kitchen that my beloved Ranch Recipes were born.

Every single method I use, in preparing –with the help of my own daughters- every dish we share

Thanksgiving day originated in my mother’s kitchen at the ranch.

These are some of the things I do to prepare for Thanksgiving day.

*I bake a 9x13 pan of cornbread 2 days in advance so it is not so ‘new’ when I mix the cornbread dressing.

*I use poultry seasoning in the dressing because outright sage is sometimes hard to gauge.

*I use Sister Schubert dinner rolls because they are the best.

*I bought Riverside turkeys at HEB for years because she said they were just as good.

*I now buy Butterball turkeys because as I shared here, the idea of a 24 hour hotline feeds my dramatic soul.

*I  mix the dressing and prepare Pioneer Woman’s mashed potato recipe the day before.

*For years I prepared a compulsory sweet potato casserole, but this year I think I am going to create twice

baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon, butter, and brown sugar instead of savory seasonings.

*After the turkey has been wrestled into the oven, after I have checked the cooking time a million times,

I relax for a moment or two, check the table, and have another cup of coffee.

Thanksgiving Menu 2016

Turkey

Cornbread Dressing

Spiral Sliced Ham

Katherine’s Sparkle Salad

Heather’s Green Beans With Bacon and Garlic

Lauren’s Brussel Sprouts With Dried Cranberries, Pecans, and Bacon

Pioneer Woman’s Mashed Potatoes

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Giblet Gravy

Sister Schubert Rolls

Pecan Pie with Pecans from Heather’s Tree

Pumpkin Streusel Pie

Flat Apple Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Miss Olive Speaks In Time For Thanksgiving

Olive Speaks

One day several years ago, my father said to two of our daughters who were visiting-

“You girls want to go through that closet in the garage at my house?”

That closet in the garage held a treasure trove of my mother’s collecting.

One replied, as nonchalantly as a racing heart rate will allow, “How about right now?”

My father smiled because he knew exactly what they were thinking.

They are their mother’s and grandmother’s daughters/granddaughters.

(Note: I have 3 daughters. One was not here. She is part of all of this in absentia.

Afterall, we have rules of engagement for closet sifting too. Even steven.)


In the depths of that closet were these cookbooks
published in 1910.

Let’s look first at the Desserts Volume.

Olive Speaks 2

Can you read the first sentence of the last paragraph?

“The chief reason why more women do not give their pastries due personal attention lies in the fact that

discouragement so often follows failure…”

No kidding!

I have tried to make a pie crust in a food processor, by hand, and at one point in the 80’s by using a large

Tupperware bowl, filled with pastry ingredients, which I rotated wildly, in a clockwise direction, simulating

hula hooping.

Thank you Miss Olive (the author) for taking that monkey off my back.

And then there is this recipe.

Olive Speaks 3

I don’t even know what to say.

However, as irreverent as I can be, I am completely impressed. This one could happen…it could really

happen.

One last one.

Ivy (9)

Read the last paragraph.

I’m going to let you write the last sentence of this post.

**********

We are packing my husband’s truck to head to El Paso today.

It is a long journey, but when time permits I will be working on my menu and shopping list for Thanksgiving day.

It is time dear friends to- as my father would say-

“get after it.”.

I get Miss Olive. I really do.

**********

This is a re-worked post from the past I thought you would enjoy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

If We Were Having Coffee

I wish we were having coffee this morning because I have several things that I want to share with you.
IMG_8196
First of all, have you ever tasted an Ambrosia apple?
Oh my goodness. They are delicious. 
I will be baking a flat apple pie for Thanksgiving , using Granny Smith apples, but I  am
going to use Ambrosia apples for our fruit salad.
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One of our other favorite desserts at Thanksgiving is a carrot cake, which is my husband’s favorite.
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And finally, after 40 weeks of Thoughts of Home on Thursday,
it is time to bring that wonderful party to an end.
I know I speak for all of the hostesses when I say how thankful I am that we shared our Thursdays
with you this year.
You have each made this such a rewarding experience.
We hope you feel that way too.
Thoughts of Home Sidebar

Monday, November 14, 2016

Chocolate Layered Dessert

IMG_4312Do you have a recipe that is your go to, no fail, festive dessert that everyone loves?
I do, and now it can be yours.
This recipe was one of my mother’s favorites, and it combines all of those decadent
holiday ingredients that are mainstays this time of year:
chocolate , crust with chopped pecans, cream cheese, and whipped cream South Texas Style- also
known as Cool Whip.
Chocolate Layered Dessert
It is that dessert that no matter how much you have eaten at your Thanksgiving feast, you somehow
find a way to have just ‘ a small piece’.
IMG_4306
As I am fond of saying, “If we were having coffee,” we could sit here and enjoy a piece too.
IMG_8191

yield: 12 servingsprint recipe

Chocolate Layered Dessert

A delicious layered chocolate dessert.

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Cheese Layer:
  • 1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup Cool Whip
Pudding Layer:
  • 1 large pkg. chocolate instant pudding
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Topping:
  • 1 cup Cool Whip
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, optional

INSTRUCTIONS:

Crust:
  1. Mix flour, melted butter, and nuts to form crumb mixture. Pat into a 9x12 Pyrex pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool.
Cheese Layer:
  1. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together. Fold in 1 cup Cool Whip and spread on cooled crust.
Pudding Layer:
  1. Mix instant pudding, milk, and vanilla until pudding consistency. Spread over the cheese layer.
Topping:
  1. Spread Cool Whip ver thinly over pudding layer. Garnish with chopped nuts or grated chocolate.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Holiday-Recipe-Blog-Hop-Graphic
I am delighted today to be part of a Holiday Recipe Blog Hop with such wonderful cooks, hosted by
Carol of Bluesky Kitchen. Carol shares her wealth of cooking knowledge at her blog and at La Cuisine Maison,
her in~home cooking school.
Please visit all of the participants today as well as the rest of the week.
Get your grocery list out. It’s going to be fun!
Holiday Recipe Blog Hop Schedule
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Kitty’s Kozy Kitchen/ Intentionally Eat/ The Dedicated House/ Opulent Cottage

******
This recipe is an official Ranch Recipe. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thoughts of Home Thanksgiving Vignettes Day 4

Welcome to the final day of our 
Thanksgiving Vignettes tour.
It has been a week full of inspiration and creativity, highlighted by our special Thanksgiving edition of 
Thoughts of Home on Thursday.
If you missed Wednesday's tour,visit these wonderful bloggers:
led by our Thoughts of Home hostess


In her inspiring post, Jemma shares the joy that the Thanksgiving season brings.

 The message here at White Spray Paint is all about 
'finding delight in simple things'.

It makes perfect sense then that I love Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is about hope and gratitude and the simple experience of sharing food and fun with family.

It involves all of my favorite things: planning a menu, preparing special dishes, using my Woodland Spode and setting a pretty table.
It is about family, good food, laughter, football, and naps on the couch.
 Some of the best times center around this hutch in the sitting area of my kitchen.
During the fall I exchange my Spode Blue Italian with my
Woodland Spode and add all of my collected copper pieces from the flea market.  

This hutch is where the pies are displayed, and my husband can be heard saying, 
' just one more little piece'.

It is so much fun.
 Today I invite you to visit the last 5 bloggers in our tour.
They are all so talented.

Marty's beautiful talent and her generosity of spirit makes her a treasured blogging friend to all of us.
  

Every post Maria creates combines her effortless
style, creativity, and natural elegance.
Jenna's lovely tablescape is just a hint of the beautiful things she creates on her blog The Painted Apron.

Ramblings of a Southern Girl
Rhonda's talent lies in her creativity, her love of home, and her ability in combining treasures both old and new.


Linda creates stunning tablescapes with her beautiful collections, and she is also known to many of us as a talented blog designer.


If you missed anything this week, here is this week's schedule.

Monday – November 7th


Tuesday – November 8th


Wednesday – November 9th


Thursday – November 10th

Everyone is invited to join the Thoughts of Home on Thursday Thanksgiving Edition Linky Party.

Friday – November 11th
White Spray Paint | A Stroll Thru Life | Simple Nature Decor | The Painted Apron | Ramblings of a Southern Girl | Life and Linda

It's also not too late to join the fun at Thoughts of Home on Thursday!








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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thoughts of Home on Thursday #40 ~ Special Edition

Welcome to our special 
Stunning Thanksgiving Vignette Tour
 edition of Thoughts of Home on Thursday.
 Today is all about you. 
This is your day to share all of your wonderful fall and Thanksgiving inspiration. 
Our hostess this week is Laura of White Spray Paint, and if we were all sitting in Laura's kitchen,  
all of the Thoughts of Home hostesses would tell you face to face how thankful we are for you. 
 

In case you missed anything, here is this week's schedule.
Monday – November 7th


Tuesday – November 8th


Wednesday – November 9th


Thursday – November 10th

Everyone is invited to join the Thoughts of Home on Thursday Thanksgiving Edition Linky Party.

Friday – November 11th
White Spray Paint | A Stroll Thru Life | Simple Nature Decor | The Painted Apron | Ramblings of a Southern Girl | Life and Linda
Now to last week's features.
Garden
 Stephanie of Garden Therapy provides a great Guide to
Recipe
 Kitty of Kitty's Kozy Kitchen is such a good cook, and her Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese sound delicious.
Decor
Mary of The Boondocks Blog 
 shares beautiful, natural elements for her home in Natural Thanksgiving Centerpieces.
Inspiration
Amy of a Day of Small Things has a beautiful message to share,as she always does,in Beauty in the Simple.
DIY
And Emily of My Love For Words shares the perfect solution for the upcoming stress of the season with this 
Vanilla Pumpkin Sugar Scrub.

And now to this week's party.

We ask that you please:
1. Link back to this post or any of the four hosts websites.
Laura of White Spray Paint
Stacey from Poofing The Pillows
Laura of Decor To Adore
Jemma from At Home With Jemma
2. Share up to three of your favorite posts, remembering to not link to advertising or shops.

By linking up you are providing permission that Thoughts of Home on Thursday can feature your post and accompanying photos on future blog posts or other forms of social media such as Facebook and Instagram. A link back to your blog will always be provided.

Thank you so very much for joining us, and we hope to see you each and every week at
Thoughts Of Home On Thursday.


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