Southern Blogversary!

Submitted by Christi

Wow, Thursday, December 17th is my 1 year blogversary. One year ago, I had never heard the term blogversary!

A little over a year ago, I had been thinking that I would like to have a blog. I had taught etiquette courses and I collect etiquette books and cookbooks and have a pretty good collection of decorating books. I also love to garden and was a Master Gardener for three years. Although my professional life has always revolved around teaching computer programs and information technology, I really wanted to get back in touch with my more creative side. I even went as far as purchasing my domain name (asouthernlife.com).

As it happens, I unfortunately, or actually fortunately, as it turns out, lost my last IT job. With a little time on my hands, I started the blog that I had been thinking about so long. I never imagined how many wonderful people I would meet in blogland and how much fun it would be getting to know everyone. The first couple of weeks, only my family even knew about and read my blog, but things soon began to pick up. I started visiting more blogs and interacting with everyone and that was just the best thing in the world. I have been so inspired by so many of you.

It is fitting that it is time for Tablescape Thursday. Tablescape Thursday was the first blog party I every participated in. What a fun time it was. This is still my favorite party. Thanks Susan for all your inspiration and the opportunity to see what kind of tablesettings everyone has. As someone who had several tablesetting books and enjoyed just going through them and looking at the pictures, this was right up my alley!

Okay, I had a lot planned for my blogversary that will have to wait for now. I have been meeting with potential website design and search engine optimization clients this week and preparing proposals and, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, that had to take priority and I didn’t get everything done as I had planned. Stay tuned though, because it is some fun stuff!

Alright, on with Tablescape Thursday!

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Something for Christmas!

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On the piano is the sheet music for White Christmas from when I was taking piano lessons as a young teen. I still enjoy playing it.

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From the outside, looking in:

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Today’s Lagniappe: Spiced Pecans
I added the lagniappe (a little something extra) on January 8th of 2009, a little less than one month into blogging. I have really enjoyed this part of the blog. I hope you have too!

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup pecans, cashews, walnuts, or mixture, toasted*

Combine sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, butter, vanilla and water in saucepan. Cook stirring constantly, until a small amount dropped into cold water forms a soft ball, about 236° on a candy thermometer. Stir in toasted nuts. Remove from heat and stir until no longer glossy. Pour into buttered baking sheet and spread thinly. Cool, and break into pieces.

*To toast nuts, spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in a 350° oven, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes. Or, toast in an ungreased skillet over medium heat, stirring, until golden brown and aromatic.

Southern Christmas Visits

Submitted by Christi

et’s do a little more visiting tonight with some of the family and see what kind of Christmas decorations they’ve got going on.

First, we’ll check out an outside picture from Mama’s house.

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Verry pretty!

Let’s go inside and have a look at their tree:

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Oh, and are those nutcrackers up on the shelf?

Hmmm, I really like that ornament, let’s get a closeup:

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Very sweet.

Now, let’s got to my little sister Linda’s house and have a look at her tree – or should I say trees?

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Is that a present for me in that bag?? What other trees do you have, Linda?

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O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer’s here,
But also when ’tis cold and drear.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging
!

A little outdoor red for Outdoor Wednesday with A Southern Daydreamer and Rednesday! with It’s a Very Cherry and today’s lagniappe is a great idea for Crockpot Wedneday with Dining with Debbie.

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

Today’s Lagniappe:  Clarence Moody’s Odor Punch (NOT FOR CONSUMPTION – just to make the house smell good!)
This recipe was sent to me by sweet Kim Reddmann from over in East Arkansas. Kim says, “I know this isn’t a “food”, but my Mother always had a sauce pot on the burner with this simmering in it. I’ve also done this for years, makes the home smell like love!!” – Debbie, I think this would be wonderful simmering in a crockpot!

1 qt. pineapple juice
1 qt. water
1 qt. apple cider
4 pieces of ginger
3-3″ sticks of cinnamon
16 whole cloves
1 t. allspice
1 or 2 t. pickling spice

Place all ingredients in a large cooking kettle and allow to come to a boil for several minutes. Then simmer. Add water as needed

I seldom have whole ginger, the powder works just fine. As does ground cinnamon and ground cloves. Great recipe to clean out the spice rack each season!

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!
Kim

Southern Christmas Cookies

Submitted by Christi

I love Christmas cookies and candy. They are fun to make and even more fun to eat. We can worry about the pounds in January! These are a couple of my favorite cookbooks for Christmas treats.

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Peppermint Meringues

2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup sugar
6 drops red food coloring (optional)
1 (6 oz.) package semisweet chocolate morsels

Combine egg whites (at room temperature) and peppermint extract; beat until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. (Do not underbeat.) Fold in food coloring, if desired, and chocolate morsels.

Drop mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour or until dry and set. (Cookies should not brown.) Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: about 2 1/2 dozen.

Gingerbread Cookies
Perfect for making gingerbread men that you can decorate with sprinkles and raisins and candy

cup packed brown sugar>
1/3
cups dark molasses
2/3 cup cold water
7 cups all-purpose flour
2teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

In large bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening, molasses and water with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet lightly with shortening or spray with cooking spray. On floured surface, roll dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut with floured gingerbread cutter or other shaped cutter. On cookie sheet, place cutouts about 2 inches apart.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar, vanilla and half-and-half until frosting is smooth and spreadable. Add food colors as desired. Frost cookies; decorate with raisins, chocolate chips and candies.

Santa Kisses

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (9 oz) package chocolate kisses
powdered sugar

Beat together butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add flour gradually until well blended. Stir in pecans. Chill dough about 1 hour. Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Mold about 1 tablespoon of dough around each chocolate kiss, covering candy completely. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet until they just turn golden around the edges, about 10-15 minutes. Let cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet. Cool on wire racks. When completely cool, dust with powdered sugar. Store in airtight container.

We can have some of these cookies while we look at the Christmas village at Mama’s house.

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Check out these blogs for lots of Christmas fun and head on down to the bottom of this post to see a Christmas cookie cocktail for today’s lagniappe.

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A Holiday Cookie Exchange with A Fine House

Deck the Halls with Thoughts from Over the Rainbow

Balancing Beauty and Bedlam’s Tasty Tuesday

Blessed with Grace’s Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

The Gypsy’s Corner’s Three or More Tuesday

Today’s Lagniappe: Mexican Cocoa
I found this recipe at The 12 days of Christmas Cookie Cocktails. Looks like some yummy accompaniments to those Christmas cookies!

1 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of chili powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 cup almond milk (can substitute Irish Crème, coffee-flavored liqueur or milk)
Splash of agave nectar (can substitute honey or maple syrup)
1 oz. Silver tequila
Paprika
Cinnamon stick

In a saucepan over low heat add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Toast until spices begin to release their aromas, about a couple of minutes. Using a small whisk or wooden spoon, slowly incorporate the almond milk. Raise the temperature to medium-high and bring to a slow simmer. Stir in the agave nectar and remove from the heat. Rim a mug by dipping into a saucer of water, blotting and dipping into saucer of paprika. Pour in tequila. Add hot cocoa mixture. Stir with a cinnamon stick and serve.

More Southern Christmas

Submitted by Christi

In 9 days it will be Christmas! Can you believe it? I can’t. We have plenty of decorations around here, but, alas, no large tree. We love the large trees but we just have a little one this year.

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A little Christmas tree.

We love to visit with family that have decorations! Here is some more from Mama:

The mantle

The mantle

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The piano

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere! More Christmas trees and decorations to come this week and, then, on Thursday it will be my 1 year blogversary! Got to save a little for that.

If you are new here, be sure to go join me at A Southern Life’s Facebook page.

Metamorphosis Monday with Between Naps on the Porch

Metamorphosis Monday with Between Naps on the Porch

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester


Today’s Lagniappe: Christmas English Toffee
YUM, I love English toffee!

1 Cup Water
2 Cup sugar
4 sticks sweet (unsalted) butter
1 lb. raw shelled almonds
1 1/2 lb. milk chocolate

Instructions:

Grease 2 9×13 pans and place in ice water. It’s important that the toffee cool quickly.

Chop half the almonds finely in the food processor. There should be smallish chunks left and a fair amount of almond dust.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.

You’ll need a large heavy pot to cook the toffee in.

Stirring constantly over high heat, cook water and sugar until stringy.

Stirring constantly over high heat, add butter, 1 stick at a time.

Stirring constantly over high heat, add whole almonds. Continue stirring until you smell the roasted almonds. The mixture will take on a distinct brown color just before this and you’ll feel the texture of the mixture changing.

Pour evenly into pans in ice water. I try to stir the stuff while pouring. When pans are cool enough to touch, place them in the freezer for 15 minutes

Cover with half the chocolate and then half the chopped nuts then return to the freezer for another 15 minutes and then cover other half with remaining chocolate and nuts.

Break into pieces and store in the freezer.

You may half this recipe if you wish!

Southern Reflections

Submitted by Christi

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Join Chari at Happy to Design for Sunday favorites and Charlotte and Ginger at Blogger Spirit for Spiritual Sunday and enjoy your Sunday

This post is from December 29th of last year. At that time, I had recently lost my job. Something that I had never had to deal with before. It turns out, it was a blessing in disguise. God truly has blessed me and I am so grateful to Him for his everlasting love. Thank you God for Jesus!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Issaiah 9:6

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Here is the post from December 29, 2008.
This is a week of reflections. Looking back at the past year before plowing into the new one. What went well this past year and what didn’t? As I grow older, I realize more and more that experiences, good and bad, are learning opportunities. The good experiences we should tuck away for good memories and the bad, we should learn the lesson and let it go.

There are so many things in life that you cannot control and I’ve learned not to fight life. Enjoy and be grateful for the good times. Enjoy the people you love and don’t waste precious life fretting over toxic people and toxic situations. Change the bad when you can and deal with them as graciously as possible when you can’t.

Okay, enough of the advice (although it is good advice). I had a late Christmas dinner with my family last night. We had baked ham, baked potatoes, roasted carrots, carmamelized andouille spoon bread and pecan pie. A little traditional and a little non-traditional. A good time was had by all. Today, I get to do a little shopping with my Mother. Life is good!

Southern Furry Friends

Submitted by Christi

Today, for Pink Saturday, I want to show you a couple of special Christmas Stockings in our home. There are no children in our home, but we still hang stockings, and, we fill them.

One of my favorite stocking stuffers was from my husband. The year had been pretty lean and we really didn’t have a lot to give each other. When I looked in my stocking on Christmas morning, I found several pieces of paper with the word LOVE on them. He had given me a stocking full of love! Isn’t that sweet?

Here are two special stockings in our home.

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The first one belongs to Bailey.

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You may have seen his picture in the upper left hand side of my blog (rotating with pics of Princess Grace Cali Cat). We found Bailey in a shelter in Paragould, Arkansas. It had been 4 months since my sweet little Gizmo had died and I was really wanting another dog. Here is Bailey’s online shelter picture.

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He was not a happy camper. This was his 2nd time to turned in to a shelter and he was not long for this world. Suffice it to say, he had some issues. He has a cataract (from age 3) from having had a poke in the eye. He wasn’t particularly trusting and to this day really hasn’t ever figured out how to play with his toys (although after having been with us for 5 years, he does do better).

When we brought him home, he was afraid to go in the house and looked at us like we were crazy when we put him on the bed. It was around 10 p.m. when we got home from picking him up and we were very tired. He layed on the foot of our bed, but I’m not sure he took his eyes off us all night.

This is Bailey now.

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Now, little Bailey is quite the little bed hog and when he wants you to pet him he will look at you and give you a little growl under his breath. He is just a little sweetie.

The other stocking belongs to Princess Grace Calli Cat (Cali for short).

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The first I laid eyes on Miss Calli Cat was through our living room window. She was laying on a side porch looking right at me. I figured as pretty as she was, she must belong to someone and was probably just roaming around. However, she kept coming back in the next couple of weeks and was looking skinnier. I gave her some food and water and posted about her on our local radio stations pet lost and found. No one claimed her.

My husband was less than enthusiastic about having a cat, however, when we had a cold front come through in October, he brought her in and informed me that we couldn’t just leave her outside. From that point on, she proceeded to wrap him around her little paw (turns out her front paws had been declawed and she had been spayed).

We had to feed her with a syringe at first because she was not eating or drinking and was actually close to losing her little life. We took her to the vet who determined she was around 2 years old. Finally, my husband decided to give her a bath and though it was NOT a pleasant experience, it seemed to snap her out of her funk and she started eating on her own. She as been with us  over 2 years now and is doing very well.

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So there is the story of the pets and their stockings for Pink Saturday with Beverly at How Sweet the Sound. Go check it out to see what fun everyone is up to in Blogland.

Click for Pink Saturday with Beverly at How Sweet the Sound.

Click for Pink Saturday with Beverly at How Sweet the Sound.

Today’s Lagniappe:  Reindeer Food
Something fun and easy enough for the kids to help!

one box of Crispix cereal (approx. 12 cups)
one 12 oz. bag of chocolate chips
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 c. powdered sugar

Use an very large bowl.

Adults/older kids: over low heat, melt chocolate chips and combine with peanut butter.

Remove from heat, and place on the table on a heat-proof surface. Carefully, gently, stir in cereal, until thoroughly coated.

Dust mixture with the powdered sugar, and continue stirring to thoroughly coat the cereal and separate the pieces.

Cool, and place in an airtight container. Store in a cool place

Southern Home Tour

Submitted by Christi

It is so much fun to see all the Christmas decorations. In the store windows, on the street, and in the homes of people we love as well as our own homes. When the days are short, it certainly brightens up not only the landscape, but our moods as well (at least mine)!

It is the time of year that we reflect on our blessings. Last year, on December 17th, I published my first post on this blog. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to get to know so many of you. Thank you so much for visiting with me. Next week, to celebrate my 1 year blogversary, I’ve got some special things planned so I hope you will join me!

Now, on with the tour!

Here is a little of what is going on this Christmas in my home and the homes of some of my family.

First let’s stop by my mom’s house. Mama lives in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Frosty's on the kitchen windowsill.

Frosty's on the kitchen windowsill.

The tree.

The tree.

This is the tree before it was decorated. Mama is sending pics of the decorated tree to post next week. I was accused of having had a Christmas cookie cocktail before taking this pic (ha, ha). Actually, Mama took this pic. It kind of reminds me of when I was kid and would kind of squint my eyes when I looked at the Christmas tree.

Okay, we’ll come back to Mama’s next week.

Now, let’s head farther out west to my sister, Tammy’s house in Brighton, Colorado.

Garland on the porch.

Garland on the porch.

Reindeer in the yard.

Reindeer in the yard.

I’m trying to get Tammy to send me more pics too. She has a ten foot live tree in her living room. Would love to show you a pic of that. I’ll keep after her.

Now, we’ll go back South to my sister Linda’s house. Linda’s daughter, my niece, Taylor, sent me her pics. I need to send her to fetch pics from the rest of my family!

There's Taylor (the tall one) with her little sister, Brenden, in front of their house.

There's Taylor (the tall one) with her little sister, Brenden, in front of their house.

With Christmas trees . . .

With Christmas trees . . .

and wreaths . . .

and wreaths . . .

in every room.

in every room.

Now, let’s head East, to Virginia to visit my nephew. He took pictures with his cell phone.

Stockings were hung by the pics of the dogs with care.

Stockings were hung by the pics of the dogs with care. . .

In hopes that Frosty would soon climb the stairs!

in hopes that Frosty would soon climb the stairs!

And, then back to my house in Arkansas. You may have seen some of these recently 🙂

This table pic is from last year before I learned from Susan at Between Naps on the Porch to take better pictures (and more of them).

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

Christmas table.

Christmas table.

A little Christmas tree.

A little Christmas tree.

With an even littler Santa and sleigh.

With an even littler Santa and sleigh.

One more shot of the fireplace.

One more shot of the fireplace.

And, when I step outside:

Even the sky is dressed in red and gold.

Even the sky is dressed in red and gold.

Thank you for stopping by. And to each and every one of you – A very merry and blessed Christmas! Y’all come back and be sure to visit my new Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/a.southern.life!

To see lots of beautiful home tours and great recipes and more fun, visit:

Hooked-on-Holiday-House-Tours

With Designs by Gollum

With Designs by Gollum

show and tell fridays

Today’s Lagniappe: Betty’s Fruitcake
My grandpa’s wife, Betty makes this fabulous fruitcake soaked in cream sherry.

1 lb. butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 oz. lemon extract
3 tablespoons sherry
8 oz. candied cherries
8 oz. candied pineapple
1 lb. white raisins
1 quart pecans

Sift flour, salt and soda together. Add fruit and pecans. Mix well. Cream butter and sugar, add egg yolks, lemon extract and sherry. Add to dry ingredients. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour in a tube pan (grease bottom only) and bake at 200 degrees for 4 hours.

Cool cake.

Soak cheesecloth in sherry and wrap around cake.

Southern Party at the Mansion

Submitted by Christi

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What mansion would that be? The Palace on the Prairie, the Marland Mansion in Ponca City Oklahoma. My mother and her husband, Chester hosted a party for all the church staff in the Kay Baptist Association at the Marland Mansion this week. Chester is the Director of Missions for the association.  They have had this event at other places before but the past few years have been at this beautiful landmark.

According to the Marland Mansion website:

The dream of oil baron E.W. Marland was to live in a palace. This magnificent mansion reflects the elegance of the affluent days of the oilman, who lived lavishly and entertained in the same style.

The Marland Mansion

The Marland Mansion

This National Historic Landmark took three years to construct, 1925 to 1928. The mansion is 78 feet wide and 184 feet long, and contains 43,561 square feet distributed over four levels. There are 55 rooms, including 10 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, 7 fireplaces, and 3 kitchens. It takes 861 light bulbs to light the mansion.

Come with me to the bottom of the Grand Staircase

Grand Staircase

Grand Staircase

There were just over 50 guest. The guests were entertained by a very talented pianist (I’ll tell you more about him before Christmas). They dined on delicious Mexican food and sang along to the Christmas Carols.

Mama took these pictures the morning of the dinner.

Isnt' it beautiful?

Isnt' it beautiful?

Lovely

Lovely

The globes on tables held green and red pillar candles and were wreathed with holly. There are also songsheets on the tables for the carol-along. The napkins (which she didn’t send me a close up of) were decorated with poinsettias.

Reports tell me that a fun time was had by all. You can read more about the Marland Mansion and see more pictures on their website.

Okay, now back to my humble abode 🙂

We are having potato soup and cornbread tonight and it will be serve yourself in the kitchen!

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Looks like the decorating fairy has visited my kitchen cabinets:

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Here is another peek at my Swarovski Santa and sleigh:

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Another look at the fireplace:

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P. S. Come join us at my new Facebook page for A Southern Life. Either follow the link on the left of search for “A Southern Life” on Facebook!

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra):  White Hot Chocolate
This recipe from Sandra Lee that is good with or without a little added Christmas cheer (alcohol) .

  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Vanilla whipped topping, for garnish
  • Candy cane, crushed or whole, for garnish
  • Peppermint liqueur, optional
  • White chocolate liqueur, optional

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine white chocolate chips and heavy cream. Stir continuously until white chocolate chips have completely melted. Stir in the half-and-half, vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Stir occasionally until heated through.

Pour into mugs and top with a dollop of vanilla whipped topping and a candy cane.

Cook’s Note: For a tasty adult drink, add desired amounts of peppermint and white chocolate liqueurs.

Southern Holiday

Submitted by Christi

What a fun week this has been. Seeing how everyone is celebrating Christmas! Something short and sweet (and spicy) tonight. Here is what is going on outside!

Santa on the red door.

Santa on the red door.

My neighbor has red ribbons on the pretty green wreaths

My neighbor has red ribbons on the pretty green wreaths.

This is my sister, Tammy's house north of Denver, CO a few years back. If you look closely, you can see the garland on the front porch railing.

This is my sister, Tammy's house north of Denver, CO a few years back. If you look closely, you can see the garland on the front porch railing.

After dark, the reinder appear!

After dark, the reindeer appear!

I have more shots to share but, I’m trying to space them out this month. I’ll probably end up at the end of the month with dozens I didn’t get posted, ha, ha!

A little outdoor red for Outdoor Wednesday with A Southern Daydreamer and Rednesday! with It’s a Very Cherry and today’s lagniappe is a great idea for Crockpot Wedneday with Dining with Debbie.

Today’s Lagniappe: Slow Cooker Jambalaya
A little Cajun lagniappe tonight. For visitors who may wonder what a lagniappe is, it is “a little something extra.”

1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
2 medium celery stalks, chopped (1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups chopped fully cooked smoked sausage
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper sauce
3/4 pound uncooked peeled deveined medium shrimp, thawed if frozen
4 cups hot cooked rice

Mix all ingredients except shrimp and rice in 3 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 7 to 8 hours (or high heat setting 3 to 4 hours) or until vegetables are tender.

Stir in shrimp. Cover and cook on low heat setting about 1 hour or until shrimp are pink and firm. Serve jambalaya with rice. Note: This recipe was tested in slow cookers with heating elements in the side and bottom of the cooker, not in cookers that stand only on a heated base. For slow cookers with just a heated base, follow the manufacturer’s directions for layering ingredients and choosing a temperature.

Serve with Tabasco for those who need a little more fire.

Southern Ornaments

Submitted by Christi

An ornament party with Centsational Girl!
An ornament party with Centsational Girl! Click to go to the Party

Time for Deck the Halls with Thoughts From Over The Rainbow! – Every Tuesday

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Time for decorating and baking and caroling and celebrating the birth of Christ!

Today, I want to share with you some of my favorite ornaments and my favorite Christmas cookie recipe.

The ornament below is a favorite because it was made by my grandmother on my mother’s side. Whenever I remember her, it is always as she was crocheting, sewing or crafting. She always had something to do with her hands, even though they were quite swollen with arthritis. See how she put the glitter around the edges. I hang this ornament on my fireplace garland.

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The ornament below is a favorite because it was given to me by a friend. This friend ran for a local office and I supported her. What a nice gift she gave me. A White House ornament from 2006. I also have a White House ornament (that I have misplaced apparently) from 1998 that my nephew gave me. At the time, he was in the Marine Corp presidential guard, stationed at Camp David (Don’t worry, Bryan, I’ll find it!) This ornament will hang from my kitchen wreath.

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The ornament below was given to me by my Grandpa’s (on my fathers side) wife, Betty. Since my grandmothers death in 1997, Betty has become the grandmother of my heart and I just love her dearly.

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Yesterday, I showed you my kitchen wreath.

Kitchen Wreath

Kitchen Wreath

I love placing some of my special ornaments on this wreath in the kitchen.

Some closeups of ornaments on the kitchen wreath that you saw yesterday.

The ornament below was purchased shortly after my husband and I married. It has our names and the year inscribed.

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The ornament below was purchased in New Orleans when my husband and I were on our honeymoon. As I mentioned previously, we went to New Orleans, Negril, Jamaica and then back to New Orleans before returning home.

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My husband was born in New Orleans before he was adopted by Dr. and Mrs. Joe B. Wharton, Jr. from El Dorado, Arkansas. His family often visited New Orleans and he later returned to New Orleans for college at Tulane University. Both of his parents are gone now. He never looked for his birth mother. He has always said how grateful he is to her for giving him a good life with the family who adopted him.

The first trip my husband and I took together was to New Orleans. Obviously, the city that care forgot is close to our hearts for many reasons.

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Balancing Beauty and Bedlam’s Tasty Tuesday

Blessed with Grace’s Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

The Gypsy’s Corner’s Three or More Tuesday

Christi’s Note: If you’re on Facebook, come check out my A Southern Life page. Would love to add you to the fans to get to know you better! The fan box is in the left sidebar. Thanks!

Today’s Lagniappe:  Ethel’s Sugar Cookies
This is my favorite recipe for sugar cookies. I remember many years, making these cookies and cutting them out with different holiday shapes for Christmas. This recipe is from my mother’s 1956 Betty Crocker Cookbook.

3/4 cup shortening (part butter)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon flavoring or 1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/3 cups GOLD MEDAL Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Mix well shortening, sugar, eggs and flavoring.  Blend flour, baking powder and salt; stir in.  Chill at least 1 hour.  Heat oven to 400*F (mod. hot).  Roll 1/8″ thick on floured board.  Cut with a 3″ cookie cutter.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 6 to 8 minutes.  Makes about 4 dozen.

Southern Christmas by the Fire

Submitted by Christi
Metamorphosis Monday with Between Naps on the Porch

Metamorphosis Monday with Between Naps on the Porch

I’m finally getting around to getting a little decorating done around here. I started with this wreath in the kitchen.

Kitchen Wreath

Kitchen Wreath

This wreath is decorated with an assortment of old pieces of silver flatware. The flatware is getting a little tarnish these days. There are also a couple of special ornaments on this wreath.

From our first Christmas being married in 1997.

From our first Christmas being married in 1997.

If you look closely, you can see the names inscribed, Christi and Joe B.

Vieux Carre

Vieux Carre

This ornament above, we got on our honeymoon. We went to New Orleans, then to Jamaica and then back to New Orleans before coming home. All of that we flew first class for $39.00 because I had a gazillion frequent flyer miles from my job!

I also decorated my fireplace today. I don’t have a mantel so I have to improvise.

Pre Christmas decoration

Pre Christmas decoration

I moved my painting from the fireplace and replaced it with a mirror. I then hung a wreath from the mirror with some garland, lights and ornaments.

Plug it in and voila!

Plug it in and voila!

A cozy Christmas fireplace!

Bring on the hot apple cider!

Bring on the hot apple cider!

One more thing – I have a new Facebook page for A Southern Life. The fan box is on the left sidebar. Would love to have you join me there and add you to my friend list as well!

Today’s Lagniappe: Pumpkin Bread
This not only tastes wonderful, it smells wonderful as it is cooking!

* 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 cups granulated sugar
* 1 cup vegetable oil
* 3 eggs
* 1 can (16 ounces) pumpkin
* 1 cup coarsely chopped raisins, optional
* 1 cup chopped walnuts

Grease and flour a 10-inch fluted tube pan.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, spices, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil, and eggs; stir until well blended. Stir pumpkin into the egg mixture. Gradually add sifted dry ingredients to the pumpkin and egg mixture, stirring well after each addition. Fold in walnuts and raisins if using. Spoon batter into prepared tube pan. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for about 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely on rack before slicing.

Southern Sunday Favorite

Submitted by Christi

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Join Chari at Happy to Design for Sunday favorites and Charlotte and Ginger at Blogger Spirit for Spiritual Sunday and enjoy your Sunday

I’m not going back to far at all today for a favorite. Not far at all, Just back to last Wednesday’s post with pictures of the December sky. Earlier, I talked about a high school teacher that I had that encouraged us to embrace the Season. She talked about noticing the night sky and the crispness of the air in December. It made me think of the familiar Christmas carol, Joy to the World – “Let heav’n and nature sing!

Oh, the December nights! Just this past Monday I was talking about how my high school music teacher talked about how special the December sky was!

Here is proof!

See the beautiful reds and yellows in this December sunset? It even makes the sillouette of the poor trees that were damaged in the ice storm last winter seem beautiful.

See the beautiful reds and yellows in this December sunset? It even makes the sillouette of the poor trees that were damaged in the ice storm last winter seem beautiful.

Another December sunset shot.

Another December sunset shot.

Look closely and you can see the stars.

Look closely and you can see the stars.

And a beautiful full moon!

And a beautiful full moon!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing

A little outdoor red for Outdoor Wednesday with A Southern Daydreamer and Rednesday! with It’s a Very Cherry and today’s lagniappe is a great idea for Crockpot Wedneday with Dining with Debbie.

Today’s Lagniappe: Slow Cooker Christmas Wassail
Add a little rum on the side and enjoy this wonderful holiday drink!

* 10 (6″) cinamon sticks
* 1 star anise
* 2 tsp. whole allspice
* 1 orange, studded with whole cloves
* 7 cups apple cider
* 2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
* 1/4 cup sugar

In a cheesecloth bag or tea strainer place cinnamon, star anise, and allspice. If using cheesecloth, tie shut with kitchen string. In 4-5 quart crockpot mix cider, cranberry juice and sugar. Put cheesecloth bag or tea strainer in slow-cooker. (Do not let bag hang outside of slow cooker.) Add orange, cover, and cook on low for 3 – 4 hours until hot and fragrant. Remove cheesecloth bag or tea strainer before serving.

Southern Memories

Submitted by Christi
Click for Pink Saturday with Beverly at How Sweet the Sound.

Click for Pink Saturday with Beverly at How Sweet the Sound.

A Christmas memory? Oh, so many it is hard to narrow it down.

Christmas 1967

Christmas 1967

How about this one. Those are kind of peachy pink pajamas aren’t they Beverly? This was taken in 1967 (yes I am that old). From left to right that is my little sister Linda, my big sister Tammy and me with the silly grin.

It looks like Tammy is trying to make some cotton candy with a little cotton candy making machine. I don’t really remember that, but I do remember the easy bake oven. Actually, our family had a real cotton candy machine that was used to make cotton candy for the family grocery store when we were just little kids.

The year this pic was taken, I remember getting up really early with my older brother, Jay and my sisters and sitting around the Christmas tree with a flashlight telling ghost stories until we thought it was late enough to wake up our parents (probably around 5 a.m.!)

That year, I got a Chrissy doll. It had hair that would grow and then you could make it short again by turning a dial on the back of the doll. I was so excited and loved the doll. What a great memory.

I feel very blessed to have so many wonderful happy memories from my childhood. I grew up with a wonderful family full of love and that was, and is, the best gift of all!

Today’s Lagniappe:  Cocktail Smokies
I remember my mother making this recipe for our annual caroling parties (more details to come on that later!).

1 lb cocktail wieners
1 cup bbq sauce
1 cup grape jelly
1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)

Place all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 2 hrs or place all ingredients in large pot and cook on low for 1 hour.

Southern Party!

Submitted by Christi

What an exciting day! Marty’s Cloche Party at A Stroll Through Life and Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum and a first for me with Show and Tell Friday with My Romantic Home. Whew, this is going to be FUN!!

I’ve been showing you pictures from my mother, sister and nephews homes this past week. That is because I haven’t gotten a chance to decorate here yet. It has been such a busy, busy week. I’m hoping that this coming weekend, I can relax a little, get some decorating done and catch up with visiting with all my fellow bloggers and see what is going on out there!

So, I drug out a couple of things to put together a couple of Christmas vignettes with my own version of “cloches.”

Who is that behind that cloche?

Who is that behind that cloche?

Could it be?

Could it be?

It is! It's Santa!!!

It is! It's Santa!!!

You may remember seeing some of the same pieces at Mama’s house. That is because when I was adding to her collection, I got a couple of pieces for me! 🙂

Of course, Mama has that handsome reindeer!

Of course, Mama has that handsome reindeer!

What else could I use as a cloche? Well, Susan at Between Naps on the Porch inspired me earlier this week to come up with this:

A piece from the garden!

A piece from the garden!

Hey, is that Santa visiting this house?

Hey, is that Santa visiting this house?

He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!

He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Okay, I’ve really, really got to get out the rest of the decorations. This really is too much fun. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you’ll come back!

Today’s Lagniappe:  Hot Buttered Rum and Pecan Bars
Both of these recipes are from my old Southern Living Cookbook. My first cookbook and one that Mama gave me. These recipes are great to have around for unexpected holiday guests.

Hot Buttered Rum

2 cups butter, softened
1 (16 oz.) package light brown sugar
1 (16 oz.) package powdered sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
Rum
Whipped Cream
Cinnamon sticks

Combine butter, sugars, and spices; beat well at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add ice cream, stirring until blended. Spoon mixture into a 2 quart freezer container; freeze.

To Serve, thaw slightly. Place 3 tablespoons butter mixture and 1 jigger rum in a large mug; fill with boiling water. Stir well. (Any unused butter mixture can be refrozen.) Top with whipped cream, and serve with cinnamon stick stirrers.

About 25 servings

Pecan Bars

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 cup butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans

Combine flour and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Cut in 3/4 cup butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture evenly into a greased 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Bake at 350 for 15 to 17 minutes.

Combine 1 cup brown sugar and remaining ingredients except pecans, beating well. Stir in pecans. Pour filling over prepared crust. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until firm. Let cool, and cut into bars.

About 2 1/2 dozen.

Southern Fireside Supper

Submitted by Christi

It has been a really busy week and the weather turned sharply cooler today. Time to stay in and have a cozy supper by the fire for today’s edition of Tablescape Thursday.

tabelscape

I started with a small table in front of the fire. So glad I got a red tablecloth. It has had so many great uses.

I added my gold, fluted chargers.

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Then, I added my Mikasa Ribbon and Holly china.

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Etched glass goblets with long stems in red.

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Gold flatware and a candle complete the scene.

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A cozy fireside supper on a cold evening.

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But it is nice and warm in here.

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A note from Soldiers’ Angels:

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This winter, an estimated 140,000 U.S. military personnel will be serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, in combat environments or in support of combat operations. Some will be on their 4th or 5th deployments–spending yet another Holiday away from the loving arms of family and friends. We want them to know that they are remembered, that we are thinking of them during the winter Holiday Season, and that we are grateful for their service. Since we can’t all wrap our arms around them in person to show how much we love and appreciate them, Soldiers’ Angels needs your help to make sure each one of America’s heroes is Wrapped in Holiday Spirit.

Click HERE to go to the Soldier’s Angels site to donate!

Today’s Lagniappe:  Million Dollar Salad
This is a favorite that I remember having during the holidays as a child. I always loved it and it is a pretty green color.

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cool whip (small container)
1 small carton cottage cheese (drained)
1 large box lime jello
3 TBS each : chopped green peppers, celery and onion

Dissolve gelatin, let set until thick (not set) fold in rest of ingredients, let set until firm.  Enjoy