Christmas Tree… Fresh or Fake?

2011 Christmas Tree...

Well, it’s that time of year… time to put up the Christmas tree! Have you ever had a tree fall over after you’ve decorated it? In the 20 years that we’ve been married we’ve had two trees topple over… devastating consequences… the first tree had lots of glass (beautiful) bulbs… only a few of the glass bulbs survived… it happened as soon as we finished decorating it. It was beautiful. We went to bed and CRASH! Ugh… hours of cleanup and then cement blocks to keep it from falling over. Over the years we finally gave up the cement blocks. Do we REALLY need those big heavy things? Nah… We decorated the tree and a few days later CRASH. Tree toppled… water was everywhere. We had one of those big heavy duty stands that seemed (at the time) to hold about 90 gallons of water! We UNdecorated the tree (sigh)… and moved it to the sunroom… if it floods in there all is well… then we put a little cup hook in the moulding and have tied the top of the tree to it. You can’t see it, but it’s keeping the tree from taking a dive! That (and the cleanup) is the downside of a fresh tree. But the smell, ahhhh… I guess it’s what you grow up with. We always had a fresh tree, so I can’t think of anything but.

Whether fresh or fake, Christmas trees and their beautiful lights can give off such a nice warm glow. I love that! The bonus is that we can see the Christmas tree that’s in our sunroom, but it’s in a cooler room away from the fireplace!

Enjoy your tree! Catch you back here tomorrow!

MERRY CHRISTMAS Y’ALL!

Bridget, Dad, Mom, Barbara

Today is Christmas, and I wish you the merriest! Good tidings to you…!

The only old Christmas photo that I could find was teeny tiny. That’s the Fidler family when we lived in St. Clair Shores, MI. Christmas was always a magical time!

To my family… I MISS YOU GUYS… MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

To all of you… I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and I thank you for checking in with me! Have a wonderful day and I’ll catch you back here tomorrow!

THE world’s best Christmas cookies (and most beautiful!)

I don’t lie when I say these are the best tasting cookies ever! These have been a ‘tradition’ in our family since we were little kids… and we make them every year… they make beautiful cookies to hand out as gifts to neighbors and friends. If you’re going to do that then you need to (at least) double the recipe, this makes a fair amount depending upon the size of your cookie cutters…

I featured this recipe back in February as Valentine’s Day cookies… but the recipe came out of a magazine many years ago (1960’s) in an article about the best Christmas cookies… Here’s the recipe…

CHRISTMAS BUTTER COOKIES

Sift 2 3/4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

In mixer bowl add 3/4 cup soft butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Beat until fluffy and light. Slowly beat in flour mixture. CHILL ONE HOUR.

Flour your work surface and roll out dough. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

YIELD: 4 dozen (IF you don’t eat the dough… good luck to ya!)

FROSTING

Mix 1/4 cup butter, 4 cups (1 box) confectioner’s sugar, 1/4 cup scalded cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Blend until smooth. Scoop into separate bowls and add food coloring (hint: yellow and blue mixed makes an awesome ‘grinch’ green). Scoop colored frosting into Ziplock bag (I use freezer) and snip a little off the corner. Squeeze onto cookie to decorate! If you need the frosting thinned a bit more, I have great luck just using light cream, add a little at a time until it will easily come out of the bag to decorate.

Fred's end of the cookie lineup, LOTS of frosting, his are the ones everyone wants to eat!
The fun part is the decorating!

Catch you back here tomorrow!!

Artists painting on Monhegan Island, Maine

Walt Pasko painting on Monhegan Island, Maine

The first year we went to Monhegan it absolutely blew my mind how many artists had their easels set up and were painting away. Not a few artists, I’m talking LOTS of artists, they were everywhere! It was amazing, especially as a huge lover of art to watch them. Here is one artist I featured recently, Walter Pasko. An amazingly talented and brilliant man. He knows the technical side of painting, no doubt… fascinating to listen them talk about pigments and whatever else… over my head, but interesting nonetheless! I love photographing artists painting… I also like paintings of other artists painting, very neat!

Catch you back here tomorrow! Can you believe Christmas is only a week away?

Another Santa trip! 1967!

Barbara and Bridget with Santa, 1967!

I can’t believe I remember this photo like I did the one a year earlier! I remember it because I was mad. I dressed up for Santa. We had our little skirts with matching shirts on, but because of the cold Michigan snow, we had to wear our leggings (really mom???? ha ha), then I wanted to take mine off first, but it was my turn to hop up on Santa’s lap, and since Santa “knows when you’ve been good or bad” I decided to go with it. I felt a need to explain “the look”! Can’t you just see the excitement in Bridget’s face? The way she’s got her hands clasped together tightly? PRECIOUS. Santa is awesome!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Holiday Hint: Edy’s Peppermint ice cream… Too good!

Image: Edys.com

I found a treasure for you to try… Last year we got hooked on peppermint ice cream around the holidays, we got the store brand from both Whole Foods and EarthFare, both were delicious… so we were on the lookout this year, and nothing! No peppermint ice cream for the holidays?? Hmmmm… Well Fred found it at Harris Teeter, Edy’s brand, in both regular and light. We had the light and it is TOO GOOD. Very refreshing after dinner…  It’s a limited edition flavor, so get it while the gettin’s good! It’s got candy canes pieces crushed up in it… Just a little scoop is all you need to be completely satisfied!

Enjoy and I’ll catch you back here tomorrow!

Gift idea… Mark Roberts Fairy…

Spirit of Hope Fairy / Image: markrobertsfairies.net

I’m trying to think up some unique gifts to showcase peppered in amongst my normal posts… Have you seen a Mark Roberts Fairy? They are the most magical little creatures! Every year there are new designs. They come showcased in a nice box. It’s a great gift for that someone on your list that LOVES Christmas and decorating! They have fairies for specials causes (for every purchase of selected Limited Edition Fairies, a portion goes to breast cancer research)…

Support the Troops Fairy / Image: MarkRobertsFairies.net

The Support the Troops Fairy, for every purchase of selected Limited Edition Fairies, a portion goes to The Wounded Warrior Project…

They have fairies for different life events, like a new baby, etc…

New Baby Girl Fairy / Image: MarkRobertsFairies.net

And… of course there are many Christmas fairies to choose from!

Decorating Fairy / Image: MarkRobertsFairies.net

Google MARK ROBERTS FAIRIES  to see more! I received my first one as a gift many years ago, it came from Nordstrom. Locally we have bought them at Finnicky Filly on King Street, to give as gifts… It doesn’t look like any of the online sites are operated BY Mark Roberts, but they do use his name…
Catch you back here tomorrow!

Going to see Santa… 1966 (YES, I was alive then…!)

"1966 Taken at Eastland. Bridget wouldn't have her picture taken. Barbara 4 1/2"

Wow, I didn’t think I remembered back when I was four, but hey, I totally remember this! I remember going to see Santa (such excitement), and I remember my sister Bridget wouldn’t have her picture taken with Santa. Afraid of Santa? Geez… that’s gutsy, not me, I hopped up on his lap, and recited my list that I had most likely practiced for quite some time. (Don’t remember what was on the list, ha ha…).

Part of the happiness of Christmas, or the holidays in general are the memories that come with making the meals, decorating the tree (or setting out the Menorah, etc.). It doesn’t matter what nationality you are, each of us, if we’re fortunate, has good memories that we want to replicate year after year. I was so fortunate to have such a great childhood. No worries, just had a great time, all the time (or at least that’s what I remember). Great parents, a sister who was a best friend, even though she did follow me around and repeat everything I said. It was cool to be the “old one” as my dad refers to me now… I always got to be the teacher (sorry Bridget), I got to be the cashier, while Bridget had to push a chair around with canned goods… Christmas was magical. It still is. Pass the magic on. If you know of anyone who is missing the magic, spread the cheer. No one should be lonely any time of year, but especially this time of year… Be an angel, remember… LIFE IS GOOD!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

A Christmas Surprise… an Eva Carter painting!

Christmas surprise... Eva Carter painting!

Several years ago on Christmas night my husband and I were riding around downtown Charleston, SC.  Then he covered my eyes and told me he was taking me to my Christmas gift… WHAT???!!! I was trying to pay attention (good luck, I don’t do so well when I can see, HA), but we kept making turns so I had NO idea where we were. He stopped the car. Still unable to see he helped me out of the car and walked me up to the window… I opened my eyes, took in the sight and said…  “ME Barbara, YOU Fred?????!!!!!” Not meaning to sound like Tarzan, I just couldn’t believe that the tag on the painting in the window that everyone can see was TO: Barbara FROM: Fred. Holy Cow! That was so special. Thanks to Eva and to Karin Olah, the gallery manager at the time, for making it so special!  Do I have a cool husband or what? What fun!

Gift idea: Eddie Bauer down and fleece throw – like an electric blanket with no plug!

Eddie Bauer Down and Fleece Throw / Image: Amazon.com

You know how it is when you know about something so wonderful that you just want to get the word out? Last year my parents bought me this Down and Fleece Throw from Eddie Bauer. We were in Michigan, it was cold, I used it immediately. I. COULD. NOT. BELIEVE. IT! This thing radiates heat just like an electric blanket with the added bonus of no plug! It’s filled with 550 Goose Down and let me tell you it could not be warmer. It’s good looking, generously sized, does great in the washing machine/dryer. So if you’re looking to give a wonderful gift, this is a start! It’s $99 OR $49 WITH ANY PURCHASE! Trust me, it’s worth every penny!

Catch you back here tomorrow!