The Lost Art of Christmas Cards

Do you notice that every year the Christmas card pile gets smaller? Just a few years ago the card deluge would commence the last week of November and every day after you could expect cards in the mailbox. It was always fun hearing from family and friends that you aren’t in constant contact with. Sometimes pictures or annual newsletters would accompany the colorful cards.

 

I think the Internet craze and messaging has threatened snail mail and the urge to send cards. Many people decide to use Facebook or email to send Christmas wishes. This way it’s instant, easy and free. But I have a problem with this. I enjoy going to the mailbox and being showered with stacks of colorful envelopes!  After the cards are opened and read, then comes the display.

I have a little card carrier that I housed my cards in a few years but the problem was that you couldn’t see them. I saw on Pinterest a couple of years ago where someone placed thick felt ribbon down the cupboard doors with the cards stapled to them. This year I draped thick red ribbon across our doorway and stapled the cards to it. It’s simple and easy and looks good.

 

 

I admit that my Christmas card list is condensed and always changing! Many relatives and friends have passed away and new friends reappear and are added. This year I almost skipped the tradition due to a lack of time. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn’t want to send my holiday greetings on Facebook. This morning I worked on six cards and sent them and each day will do a few more.

 

 

 

 

 

Another Christmas card tradition of mine is to save my favorite. I strung groups together with shiny ribbon and put them in my basket. The basket is in the livingroom and now and again I browse through them. I still have some from loved ones who have passed away and so their words are preserved. 

Do you still send Christmas cards or do you use social media? 

I’m wishing many blessings for you all and your families. Hug your loved ones today!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💌

 

 

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Christmas Wrap Station

 

Every Christmas I have quite a variety of wrapping papers, ribbons and tags for wrapping. Years ago I did something clever and organized by buying a tall  container to store all the rolls. That way I could be mobile and wrap in any room I wished. Most years I tug out the container and watch It’s a Wonderful Life while peacefully wrapping in front of the Christmas tree. What a joy it is to give and wrap the present!

 

You see, I think I have a wrapping paper addiction! Our former employer Mrs. Geneen had a special wrapping room with hundreds of rolls of wrap. Every color of the rainbow and prints of quaint villages, snowmen and vintage Santas lay in big pull out drawers. A large table was set up for working elves on Christmas Eve. Ever since I saw Mrs. G’s layout I’ve wanted a good variety of Christmas paper. I did resist buying new wrapping paper this year because I know I have more than enough.

 

This year I wanted more organization and since we have a spare room no one is using, I set up shop in there. On a little cardboard table I have a wrapping station of wrap rolls, a place for bags, a station for tags, scissors and tape. I guess I’ll wrap on the table if I move the rolls or on the bed. All the packages and presents are in the room ready to be lovingly wrapped.

 

 

Do you have a wrapping tradition? Is it a random action or do you put a lot of thought into it? I have to admit that even though I enjoy wrapping presents I’m not that great at it! On the other hand my husband is very precise with it and does a wonderful job! He could be one of those quick wrapping department store clerks!

I hope that this year you find wrapping is fun and not a pain! Play festive music, have a glass of wine or a cocktail and enjoy it!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🎁

Succulent Squash

The other day I searched high and low for decorative gourds to adorn my Thanksgiving table. The supermarket must have had a rush for them because there wasn’t any left. Walking around the corner where they should have been, suddenly I discovered some unique squashes that could stand in for the gourds and serve my purpose.

 

 

Aren’t they beautiful in colors and shape?

 

 

I chose a golden acorn, an orange squash I’ve never seen before, a bright yellow acorn, and a slender squash and that resembled a gourd. With a little research I discovered that the slender tan squash is called a  Delicata squash. The multi colored acorn shaped squash is a Carnival squash. The orange round one resembles a pumpkin and is called a Golden Acorn. I threw in my home-grown Buttercup squash from our garden to add a little dark color and complete my display.

 

We had eleven diners so we had two long tables. On each table I scattered the colorful squashes amid my pilgrim people and turkey leaf display. My one regret is that I didn’t have time to snap a photo because I was deep into a cooking mode but they did look beautiful! Interspersed with the plates were my niece’s lovely thankful turkeys and artwork.

 

 

Now I have all these squashes and it’s fun to search for different uses. I plan to make all of them within the next couple weeks. In years past I’ve baked squash wedges with a little brown sugar and butter or boiled it. Winter squash is tasty either way and a healthy side dish to any meal! Tonight I baked the golden squash with butter and salt and pepper. It was yummy and accompanied my spiral pasta with local sausage. ( See my side note)

 

A Little Side Note:

Recently my husband and I started buying meat from a local farm in our town. I saw the post on our town blog  from a local farm. They are selling a holiday package of a variety of meats all from their farm and processed in a FDA facility. We were excited to invest locally with GMO free and grass-fed meat and will continue buying from this farm. It feels good to abandon grocery shopping for meat that has traveled many miles from who knows where. Not knowing where your food comes from is pretty scary…especially in this day and age of additives and the Genetically Modified Organisms nightmare.

 

I hope you all enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday and spent it with people you love! I did…it was a special day of feasting, love and family.

Here is a photo of the dinner crew after eating and indulging in these desserts, pumpkin pie, apple pie, apple crisp, Reese’s peanut butter pie, cherry pie and  chocolate cream pie. Wow, there were lots of desserts and leftovers!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

Thanksgiving Preparation

This will be my third year hosting Thanksgiving at our home. It’s been a learning process and it still continues as I work on planning the cooking. Somehow it all comes together in the end like a perfect wrapped package, despite anxiety over the details. While I have planned on  how things will go, my go to for organization is to make many lists. I jotted down a simple menu and as the big day approaches it’s been tweaked a bit. It changed as I discovered which relatives will bring what dishes. Next I wrote a grocery list. This year I had two, one for a week ago and one for fresh veggies for today. I picked up chicken broth, pickles, olives and the turkey last week and today shopped for fresh veggies and last-minute additions.

 

 

I brushed up on recipes, talked to my mother-in-law about her tasty sausage stuffing and my sister-in-law Bev on her fabulous gravy. I will make these dishes the best I can in the next few days and every year it should get easier and become a science.

I’ve already made my son’s cookies since he prefers them to pie and tomorrow I’ll make deviled eggs and start roasting veggies for the gravy. I’ve planned what I’ll make on which day and the big pie baking day will be Wednesday. Wahoo!

Here’s some advice for your Thanksgiving planning that have helped me. I always love to read my blogging friends holiday tips!

* Go early to the grocery store to avoid crowds. The next few days will be hectic

* Write a list of dishes you wish to prepare and a separate list of items needed for them

* Communicate with family and friends to see what they are bringing

* Ask your spouse and family members to help peel veggies, vacuum the house or other tasks you may need done while you cook and bake

* Light the candles, wear your favorite apron and play Christmas tunes as you cook. It will lighten the mood and relax you.

 

My son Dylan laughing with our company, my brother-in-law Chris

Laugh with your loved ones. Doesn’t Dylan look happy?

* Most Important, have fun and thank your blessings as you plan and prepare the feast! 

Last year’s gravy, apple crisp, cherry pie and pumpkin pie

 

As I wrap this post up I wish you all a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving! Indulge in good food, company and remember to acknowledge what you are grateful for! I’m beyond thankful for my loving family, they are my anchor and life is so sweet with them! I’m thankful that my son Dylan proposed to his girlfriend Alexis this month and will marry her in August! I’m so thrilled to be gaining a sweet daughter in law! I’m also grateful for my friends, my little job at school and the children there.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

 

 

 

Use the Fancy Dishes

 

 

Make an ordinary day into an  extraordinary one by celebrating beauty!

 

Use your pretty and delicate China dishes that live in your china cabinet instead of storing them  like priceless gems.

 

Break out the finest china on any day just because you want to.

Sometimes people wait for that special dinner party or occasion, instead of realizing that everyday you are alive is special!

 

Indulge in the fancy dishes, wine glasses or teapots and cups.

 

 

Sunday quiet mornings go best with dainty teacups , saucers and that antique spoon that you cherish like gold.

 

I do…I break out our blue Willow plates often and love them very much. I love the fact that we can use fine plates on a week day!

Do you use your fine China often or not?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💜

 

Stacked Wood for the Winter

A wood pile, a reassurance of warmth!

On a crisp autumn day

amid the strewn leaves in the backyard,

stacked wood logs lie waiting

for their time to shine.

In the frigid depths of winter

armfuls of wood

will be hauled to the house

along a windy snowy path.

 

The art of stacked wood appeals to me,

a sight of maple, pine and oak

all in cohesive harmony.

The horizontal canvas of cut logs

hosts a serene picture along a dirt road

and a towering apple tree.

Months of hard work lies

in the stacks,

a truth of our fortitude

towards the harsh claws of winter.

 

 

IMG_3235

 

 

 

Busy chattering chipmunks skirt the very edges

of the stacks

finding acorns here and there.

As nearby smoke cuts the crisp air,

we load wood into our wood closet.

My husband built this creative cubby to house

our logs to dry.

On the cusp of the closet is a window

where he can open

and throw wood right into the cubby.

How clever is that!

Just a few feet away stands the stove

ready to work.

 

Our wood closet with a handy shelf on top to house cleaning supplies.

This man is an innovator and a die hard

worker for our family.

Thank God for him.

Thank God for the wood and the heat

that makes our home cozy.

 

 

Where ever you are…are you ready for winter? Do you burn wood in your house? If so, are you ready with stacked cords of wood waiting?

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

Delicious Apple Carrot Zucchini Muffins

 

Pour a second cup of coffee with these yummy muffins!

 

Every year I bake zucchini muffins for my family. They are easy to put together and my family loves them. Just yesterday I was browsing zucchini recipes on Pinterest and found a new muffin recipe that sounded good, so I had to try it.

This Apple carrot and zucchini muffin recipe is borrowed from the blog at wineandglue.com. Lisa is a mom “ with a glue gun in one hand and a glass of wine in the other”. That’s my kind of mom, honest with a sense of humor! Check out her blog.

Apple Carrot Zucchini Muffins
Yield: About 18 muffins

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp.baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup shredded zucchini (about half a medium zucchini)
1 cup shredded carrot (about two carrots)
1 cup shredded apple (about one apple)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or spray with Pam.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and oil.

3. In another large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.

4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar and egg mixture. The batter will be very thick.

5. Mix in the zucchini, apple, and carrot.

6. Fill the muffin tins 2/3 full.

7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Enjoy! My family ate these for a snack or breakfast. Either way they are moist and delicious!

 

I want to share with you all how I store muffins, cupcakes, cookies and other baked goods. About six years ago I saw these snap it plastic storage containers on QVC. They were selling a set of two and I don’t remember what I paid for them but they are handy and convenient to own. I have a handy deep one with a traveling handle and a shallow one without the handle. I’ve also seen similar containers at T.J. Maxx.

They keep baked goods fresh for me. I also store veggies like lettuce and beet greens in the refrigerator in them. Look them up if you need great storage containers for your kitchen.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤