Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year in Review

It's the end of a busy and wonderful year -

Here are a few highlights throughout the year.


We rang in the New Year with a nice dinner 
using cute PB clock plates.


A ladies Pink Valentine's dessert tea was enjoyed & shared.


I shared a special beautiful shamrock teacup
 a dear and sweet blogger friend sent me.


Showers brought in beautiful springtime flowers
and a blessed Easter Sunday.


I hosted a Ladies Afternoon Tea
 featuring beautiful pink peonies and
my antique Bavarian bridal rose swag tea set.


Life was born anew around our home, such as this
sweet newborn birdie hubs found in one of our trees.

In June I hosted a birthday tea party
 for my lovely tea friend Dawn -
and started the tradition of The Traveling Birthday Teacup
(I received from our friend Mary back in the fall of 2012.)

You can read about her birthday party tea for me then here.)


We celebrated Independence Day with a
fun simple outdoor Red, White and Blue dinner on our deck.

One can watch our local fireworks right from the deck!


I shared my FIRST EVER home tour (just partial)
with its little simple summertime touches.

I showed the living room and the music/dining room,
 and then also revealed our new chestnut hardwood flooring.

I had good intentions of showing the rest of our house
but I never really did get around to it.

(I intend on doing so sometime in 2014, though!)


I shared some neutral fall decor and tablescapes
 in this transitional month.


Things finally started getting cooler outside 
therefore some warm Autumn colours were finally added in our decor;
such as these hand made paper flowers that
 my eldest daughter made for me.

I also unveiled my new-to-me antique
 chippy farmhouse kitchen hutch.

And I also shared an Autumn teatime
using my fav autumn tea china.


Rich deep warm colours everywhere!


I had some giveaways this year:

(For my First Bloggaversary in January):

Then took some time off blogging due to surgery and
an entire month's bed rest.

The very BEST part of my 2nd year blogging
 was meeting or getting to know wonderful friends like you.

 Your every visit, every comment is like a virtual hug to me.

 Your time given to me is an appreciated gift,
one I respect, and one that means so very much to me.

 Thank you for giving a part of yourself to me.

Good happy news:
I will be announcing another giveaway soon
for my 2nd bloggaversary on Jan 1st,
 so be sure to stop back!

and a healthy joyful new year.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our Two Christmas Dinner Tablescapes

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.
Ours was absolutely perfect.

I just simply didn't get around to setting my tables
 early enough this year to share BEFORE Christmas came,
 but by golly I still want to share!

I hope you all aren't TOO terribly sick of Christmas yet, 
I am just so slow getting posts done, sorry!

This was designated as the adults table:

Christmas Day was so gorgeous -
bright and sunny, and we woke to a snow-covered yard.

How I ♥ having a beautiful White Christmas!

My guests freaked out about using our real silk napkins
 until I told them I found them at a second hand store.

(Well, they still freaked out, but maybe a bit LESS.)

Here are a few more Christmas things around this room
 that you haven't seen:

A signed and numbered oil painting:

I have a slew of real antique yellowed large music sheets,
 many are French and some of German but most are English.

This is the first project I ever used with them yet -
I have other ideas, time will tell if I ever get my crafty on.

Here is my old huge wreath that I use indoors
 since I began putting up real evergreen ones.

I think I may have to share my simple outdoors
 Christmas decor before the new year arrives!

The kitchen dinner table was designed for the kids to use -
 the youngest niece is 10 now
 so no more using plastic is necessary anymore!

Their salad plates could match the grown-ups,
but their table is more bright and fun.

And their napkins are simple cotton NOT SILK.  

And they weren't given wine glasses.

I just realized that I ended up adding a plaid cotton napkin
 scrunched up base for that pedestal candle to "ground" it visually.

Apparently I never took a good pic of after I did that, oops.

But you can kinda see it here:

Here's my whimsical hot beverage serve-yourself station:

Right next to it in the old hutch
my guests could find our Christmas Tree cups & saucers
so helping themselves  was a cinch!

Salad plates: Mikasa
Christmas Tree Cups: Nikko
Red Wine Goblets: Martha Stewart

As always, thank you for your visit!



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus!

Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus!

For to us a child is born,
 to us a son is given,
 and the government
 will be on his shoulders.

 And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

                                                           ~Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

From our nest to yours -

Wishing you a
 truly blessed Christmas!

May your presents be many...

Your tree be sweetly decorated...

May you stay warm, dry and safe...

May the angels watch over you...

Anyway we spell it,
 we need to always remember  that....



  Nativity hand painted by my eldest daughter's MIL, Patricia Reeve.

As always, thank you for your visit!

Christmas blessings be yours!


Comments off so you may enjoy a little extra time with your loved ones.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Cookie Swap and Gift Exchange

Another successful cookie swap party is over for another year. 

It is an anticipated and fun tradition I have hosted for years.

I *highly* recommend hosting one yourself!

It's really fun and SUPER EASY to host!

Now this is a very wordy post-and if you don't feel like reading
(I know how limited everyone's time is this close to Christmas)
please just be sure to at least scroll completely down
 to the picture of what my daughter made,
 because it's really just too cute to miss. 


 I it!

How many guests does one invite for this kind of party?

The way I do it is I invite a dozen ladies (no more or it is just too large.) This year only 10 of us could make it and it was quite nice. The number isn't as important as getting firm and early RSVPs so you are able to let your attending guests know in time enough to bake the appropriate number of cookies, and pre-wrap them for easy swapping. This isn't a good party to have no shows or unexpected shows. That is very bad form anyway, but in these days of casual-over-propriety winning darned near every situation, this isn't one that handles a different number very well.

Remember to include in your invites asking if there are any nut or allergies that may be a problem in participating for this party. After a while you learn who-has-what, etc., but that first time get it right so no one gets sick or worse!

How many cookies, you ask?

WELL..................for many years we swapped a dozen for each guest attending (and that is a LOT of cookies) but a few years ago we decided to drop it to half a dozen minimum (of course more is fine, too!)

I always have my large formal dining table ready to be our "swap center."

What is first on the party agenda?

Before your guests arrive throw on some nice holiday background music. I am always most satisfied with instrumentals versus words - they "fill" versus "entertain" our senses, so always words best in a crowd such as this one. Remember to light a fire and/or candles to get the house in festive good cheer.

The guests come in, coats are hung then they go straight to the swap table and unload all of their pre-packaged cookies - for easier swapping when the time comes.

I tell ya every year looks different, there has been and was really neat packaging. That's half the fun, just to see how it all looks together!

These are the only two pics I have of the table (taken from Lynn's phone,) because I completely forgot to take pictures of it - grrr. These do NOT show how awesome those colorful & beautiful packages were.

My friend Lynn and her Mom brought their cookies in adorable little metal hinged present boxes! And our first-timer Sara wrapper hers in plain white lunch bags, and simply tied with red and white baker's string; so cute. She just stuck them in a huge ironstone bowl and nothing could have been cuter.

OK, then what's next?

So once the guests unload at the swap center, they bring their
"dozen of your cookie to taste," along with recipes (sometimes)
and place them on the kitchen's dining table.....which is what makes this party so easy to host - the GUESTS bring what we have to EAT! (Except for that dozen I contribute.) So the host doesn't have to really FIX much but provide the drinks. It can't get any easier than that!

This year for drinks I used my crystal fruit punch bowl with its matching cups, decaf coffee with my Christmas Tree cups, iced tea, egg nog, and SPIKED egg nog. (With fresh whole nutmeg nuts for a fresh grated taste with the nog, yum.)

This is the first year I didn't provide mulled hot wine or cider -
did the punch instead and it seemed popular. 

There was a very nice & delicious selection of yummy treats this year:

Top left clockwise:

White chocolate macadamia nut - Sara
Christmas Shortbread - Teresa
Russian Pecan Tea Cookie - me
Rudolph Peanut Butter - eldest daughter Evelyn
Cut out decorated sugar (top inside middle) - youngest daughter Katie
Peanut Butter Blossoms (lower inside middle) - Cathy
Raspberry Thumb Prints - Joyce
? - can't remember name, awesome delicate with fruit in it - Lynn
Orange Puffs - Jennifer
Chocolate Chip Cookies - Laurie (not pictured for some reason?)

I really wish these pics could show how pretty things were - the low lighting
and lack-of-time-to-do-much-fussing-while-hosting factored into bleh pics-
 but we had a VERY good time!

After we visit and sample cookies we have our gift exchange.

Occasionally a few throw in White Elephant gifts for the laughs.

This year was no exception. 

Someone unwrapped an early 1990's cell phone, new
in box with instructions, and all accessories. 

It was hilarious. We all laughed forever.

We do the "swap" gift exchange - so it can get brutal but fun in the end.
I, however, got SUPER HAPPY AND LUCKY!!!

I ended up getting to keep what my daughter hand made:

An adorable vintage spool Christmas Trees in a canning jar!

(Same daughter who made the cute Rudolph cookies made this jar.)

My two children are so danged crafty! In all the years I have hosted this party I have only once not made sugar cut-out cookies as my kind to swap. My youngest relieved me of that somewhat time consuming and tedious job this year. She really wanted to make them. I happily obliged her, but it sure was weird not to make them.

OK, my girls said I should post my recipe as I sent it to them.

(Exactly how I sent it.)

They said you all would probably think it is kinda funny.

Momma’s  Christmas  Cut-Out  Sugar  Cookies
350 degree preheated oven.  Batch makes approx. 8 dozen  cookies.

6 cups sifted-to-measure all- purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder (use fresh or they don’t rise well enough)
1 tsp salt (don’t skip this, needed for the rising process)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 sticks softened but not melted REAL butter - this is no time for skipping calories
1.5 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
½ cup sour cream
3 tsp vanilla

·          Sift flour again (after 1st sifting to MEASURE) along with baking powder, salt & nutmeg – set aside

·         Cream softened butter with sugar, beat in egg then vanilla then fold in sour cream.


·         Once mixed, divide into thirds and wrap these hunks in waxed paper and chill for at least an hour- overnight is better. I usually make dough one night, bake cookies next night then decorate the third night and then let dry well enough for stacking when firm.

·         You work with your divided thirds so you always have the 2 others in the fridge while you are working with the one thing of cookie dough. Remember you don’t want to let the dough get warm or it gets too sticky, just keep trading them out as you roll and cut….cool surfaces (like granite) are awesome to keep dough cooler to work with - if your dough is cool it isn't as sticky, try not to be tempted to use the "just adding flour to keep from being sticky" method. This makes for a very dry and tasteless cookie.

Remember to sprinkle flour on your work surface, but each time you pick up dough to rework it that flour gets worked into the dough – so your end-of-cutting dough is going to be much drier, so may  change your baking time. You can sprinkle a little bit of water in the dough, but it WILL get sticky and be starchier – just try to work as little as possible and use as little flour as possible. Cut using as much dough as possible- sometimes it takes an extra second to figure it out, but your care makes the difference.

When you  roll out remember THICK ones stay fresher and moist longer. Thin ones are very crisp. Bake for 7-8 mins- oven times vary – until super light beige on bottom. DO NOT OVER-BAKE OR THEY WILL TURN OUT TOO CRISPY AND DRY.

Thicker is better, but also makes less cookies. So to make the perfect cookies
for swapping, just plan on making an absolutely TON of dough - holidays are few and far between and the extra love and butter and goodness you put into baking is totally worth it.

Love you,




I shared my colorful cut-outs last year here
while they were drying on the counter.  I made 150 of them.
Not all made it into this particular picture though, haha.

As always, thank you for stopping by for a visit!

Hugs and friendship,