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Christmas dinner 2013

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.
We did.
Of course, the best part is having all my loves home with me!

o christmas tree

For Christmas Eve, we brought back a tradition we began last year (when I had a fractured pelvis and could not stand up in the kitchen to cook) and we once again had blue cheese fondue. We are all in love with the new simple, fun, and communal approach to a special family meal. The kids voted that we add in chocolate fondue for dessert in 2014. Dave and I made that vote unanimous.

2013 Christmas table

This was our Christmas day tablescape.

glitter L

For our Christmas day dinner, the main course was something I taught at Les Gourmettes, individual beef Wellingtons.

beef tenderloin

You’ll notice that some of the photos below were taken while I was prepping for that class.


I purchased a full beef tenderloin and cut it into 16 pieces. This was the most economical way to feed a crowd.

16 steaks

For our holiday meal, I purchased already cut filet mignon.

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December 27, 2013   2 Comments

Overnight Eggnog French Toast

This recipe came from the food section of our newspaper and was provided by our local dairy, Shamrock Farms.


We didn’t trim our tree until Saturday, once the kids and my mother-in-law arrived. So the night before, I put together this breakfast dish while I waited for Marissa’s plane to get in from San Francisco. It was scheduled for midnight, but delayed until 2:00 AM. I made good use of the extra two hours and wrote out all my Christmas cards as well… blurry-eyed, but I got it done!


We all enjoyed breakfast and tree-trimming, with carols playing in the background and coffee and hot chocolate mugs in our hands.


I made a few changes to  the recipe; using actual rum instead of rum extract and subbing cinnamon bread for the firm white or whole wheat that was suggested. Additionally, I’ve decreased the amount of eggs used in the mixture.

This eggnog French toast was a huge hit with the family and will likely become a new holiday tradition for us.

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December 23, 2013   4 Comments

Frame & Bell Wreath

frame and bell wreath 3

As usual, I found all the craft ideas for the 2013 Christmas Craft Party on Pinterest. This is a craft I really wanted to do, but wasn’t able to finalize until 2 days before the party.

The problem was finding reasonably priced frames. Even with 50% off at Hobby Lobby and Micheal’s, the best I could find were around $19, and that was just for the frame. I’d still need to add in the cost for the bells, ribbon, and twine.

frame and bell wreath 1

I was about to give up when I decided to give Micheal’s one more look-see. I found the clearance aisle and lo and behold, I found 10 perfect frames!  They were exactly what I had in mind and they were marked down to only $8.00. I bought all the red, white, and black ones off the shelves.

Then, I went to get the bells and found that they were on sale for 50% off.

Now that’s what I call a successful shopping excursion!

Fine the easy instructions below and then be sure to read to the end and hear (and see) my pitiful and sad bow story – that has a happy ending.

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December 10, 2013   6 Comments

nearly back to normal

costco apple boxes

As of 4:30 PM yesterday, my house is nearly back to normal. With a boat-load of help from Connor, Christmas is packed up and put back in the crawl space.

I still need to clean up my sitting room, which served as “the wrapping station” this year. Since I was using a walker during the time I was wrapping, it looks as though a bomb went off in that area. I’ll get that cleaned up today and all the regular “decor” put back into place. Then I am done!

So what’s with that photo above, taken of stacks of apples at Costco, you ask?

You see, my husband, David, eats an apple every single morning. Seriously! Every. Day. He rarely gets sick, so I suppose it is true, an apple a day does keep the doctor away.

Costco sells apples in these wonderful little domed containers.  Back in October, I began to save them with the thought that they would be perfect to hold and store Christmas ornaments.


They are perfect!


The space between every two apple rounds doesn’t not come up completely, so you can even place long ornaments there and take up two spaces.


Next, I placed a sheet of bubble wrap on top to prevent items from slipping and jiggling. Then I just closed and sealed the lid, and everything is safe and sound.

bottle brush

Turns out, the container is perfect for my delicate bottle brush trees too. No crushed or damaged trees to deal with next year!

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January 8, 2013   7 Comments

2012 Christmas tablescape

funny kids

Being laid up this Christmas forced me to slow down, take it easy, and back off on the usual excess.

I’m sure you are now expecting me to say something along the lines of, “Man, slowing down and taking it easy sure did feel great! I’m going to try and do that next year and in all the years to come!”

Um, No!  In fact, it didn’t feel all that good. I love going crazy at Christmas! I thrive in the excess, the excitement and the commotion. I am in my element in the hustle and the bustle.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas.


How could I not? My injury is minor compared to what it could have been! Both of my kids are home, which is, and will always be, the best present of all! We still went to Christmas Eve mass and had my mom and sister over for Christmas Eve dinner.  We still relaxed and hung out on Christmas day with my dad.

But, I’d planned to do so much more. Create, grocery shop for, and execute two big meals. Decorate more! Be creative and make more crafty Pinterest-worthy homemade stuff.

That’s OK. Next year!


So, this year, instead of the usual crown pork roast on Christmas Eve, we had a HoneyBaked Ham. (Thank you, sweet Amy, for picking that up for me!) We served the ham on King’s Hawaiian rolls with my homemade mustards and horseradish.

Marissa and Connor worked together to make our favorite Brussels Sprout Salad plus a Haricot Verts Salad.

Sloane brought over a bread pudding and I made a simple rum sauce for it. We served that along with the Freezer Eggnog Pie for dessert.

All of it was simple, festive, easy, and delicious.

MLH makes the rolls

Sadly, we did not have our traditional potato rolls and they were sorely missed.  Thankfully, I did have enough of the dough leftover from Thanksgiving, that I had frozen, so we still had our traditional Cinnamon Rolls and Brown Sugar Bacon on Christmas morning.  Only difference – Marissa made the sweet rolls this year ~ and they were perfect!

Above you can see her mixing the cinnamon and sugar together before sprinkling onto the dough she rolled out into the perfect 10-inch by 16-inch rectangle.  There on the island, in the background, is the bacon, ready for the oven.

MLH makes the fondue

And instead of the usual beef tenderloin for Christmas dinner, we had fondue! Blue Cheese Fondue, and it was delicious and fun! Marissa made the fondue and Connor helped with the dippers, the prep, and clean up.

I have the best kids in the world!


Yes, I adore them, today and everyday! They even posed, trying to reenact a portrait that they sat for some 19 years ago. At 21, Connor doesn’t quite have that 2-year-old pout down anymore, but they’re still cute!

eve table

OK, enough about how fabulous my kids are and what we ate!

Time to get down to business – the tablescapes!

Since I wasn’t able to help much with clean-up, I went low-key on that too. None of the usual hand-washing of dishes on Christmas Eve, everything was dishwasher-safe.

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December 27, 2012   6 Comments

She Cooks!

She Cooks She Made Something!

Yeah, I was going to say that I cooked, but then as I was typing up the recipe, I realized I didn’t really cook at all, but I did put together a freezer pie! No true cooking involved, but I did stand at the kitchen counter, use the walker to maneuver around the kitchen and pantry and I made something from scratch! That’s saying something after two full weeks of kitchen nothingness!

eggnog slice gone

I made a quick and easy Eggnog Pie. The recipe makes two pies, so one went to our Annual Lorts’ Christmas Party last night, and the other will be served either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, here at home.

Lorts is my mom’s maiden name, she is the oldest of eight, so it’s quite the bash! My Uncle Mike (#6 of the 8) and Aunt Sylvia always host in their beautiful Paradise Valley home. There were three generations represented. My mom’s generation, mine, and my kids’. We do the “white elephant gift stealing thing” which, as you might imagine, gets a bit out of hand. Good Times!

oink cafe

Then this morning, Marissa, Connor, and my daughter-from-another-mother, Alyse, went to Oink Café for breakfast. There, the four of us split two bacon doughnuts. Yes, you heard that right, Maple Glazed Bacon Doughnuts! So rich and decadent that half if more than enough! OH, SO Good!!!

bacon doughnut

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December 23, 2012   1 Comment

little touches


Due to my fractured pelvis, Christmas decorating has been severely scaled back this year. In fact, if it weren’t for the help of my very patient (I can be kinda bossy, I’ve been told on more than one occasion) and ultra kind BFF, Peggy, there may not have been much more than a tree. Peggy decorated at least six different areas of the house for me in those first couple of days after my return home from the hospital.

front porch

Another day, I had my dad take me to Home Depot to buy a couple fresh evergreen garlands and a huge boxful of free fresh cut greens (cast off trimmings from trees they had sold) and a couple handfuls of little tree truck rounds that had also been discarded.

I used the fresh greens throughout the house and put the rest in the canvas cart on the front porch.


A couple other new additions to the porch are this vintage sled and ice skates, not that we’ve ever had or will every have enough snow or ice to sled or skate here in the desert, but they do look darn cute and festive.


Plus, this huge red lantern I found for a steal, back in November, at Home Goods.


Come on in. The first thing you’ll see is the decked out Chinese wine barrel that sits in the center of the entry.

double sided tape glitter

Atop it is a cute and easy idea I stole from Pinterest. So easy – just use double-sided tape on a candle, then sprinkle glitter on the tape. Turns a plain-Jane candle into a Christmas candle in a matter of minutes.  After the holiday, just peel off the tape.

sofa table

If you venture in a little further, you’ll run into the sofa table. One of the garlands graces it, along with a few more new little touches.

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December 20, 2012   5 Comments

tiny scrolls

Angels one and all

On Saturday, the names of those lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy were released. As soon as I saw it, I posted this on my Facebook page.

important people

The post recieved a huge response, but one of the first and the most inspiring came from my friend of more than three decades, Nancy Jones. Nancy is the mother of 7-year old Zada. Here is what she said:

“The names have now been posted. The ages as well … many around Zada’s age. Zada and I will write all the names on paper and cut each one out and put each inside a little clear crystal ball ornament, so we shall always remember them.”

I responded:

“I plan to do the same thing! Thank you, sweet Nancy, for a wonderful and beautiful idea and a way to remember. xoxo”

names and ages

So I went to work typing out each name. Green ink for the adults. Blue for the little boys. And pink for the little girls. I printed them wirelessly, but had to wait for Dave to return from the office to go upstairs to retrieve them for me. I was anxious for those couple of hours, wishing I could get up those damn stairs myself. I wanted, I felt as though I needed, to do this now!

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December 17, 2012   6 Comments

All 12 days and “kitchen humor”

December 16, 2012   3 Comments

Twelfth Day of Christmas Gift

2 glasses

Day 12 has finally arrived.
I wasn’t positive I was going to make it!
But I did!

Yay for me!
And yay for you, 12 gifts from the kitchen.
I hope you’ve made at least one! If not, this may be the one to make…

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:

A bottle of Homemade Irish Cream
A Jar of Vanilla Sea Salt
Tins of Bacon Toffee
Rum Glazed Eggnog Bread
Fennel Cured Salmon
Spicy Guinness Mustard
Two Jars of Mustard
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Homemade Kahlua Liqueur
Lemon-Sugar Hand Scrub
Cranberry Citrus Vodka
and a bottle of Tomato Dust

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December 15, 2012   1 Comment