Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Memories

Well! How is it possible Christmas 2015 has come and gone so quickly.  It was so magical and wonderful to be reminded again this year of this totally amazing event that is celebrated every Christmas. 

Many years ago the children helped hand-paint the Nativity Scene shown in the below photo.  As I look at each statue I realize now what a good job they did.  I remember so clearly sitting out on the front porch several evenings in a row as we all painted a different statue.  Ceramics were a popular craft back then.

Needless to say, this is the very first Christmas decoration we put in place each Christmas. 

Our "reason for the season" as seen in the below photo.

After mass on Christmas I usually spend the rest of the day cooking our Christmas Dinner.  Our daughters also help cook some of the favorite family recipes.  They bring them over when they arrive Christmas afternoon with the rest of their family.

On Christmas Eve the table is set in order to give more time for cooking on Christmas day.

In the below photo you can see an overall photo of our dining room.  As our family grew with the children, and then the grandchildren, we slowly added on to our home, so we would have enough room for everyone.  The room you see in the below photo was actually our double-car garage many years ago.  We decided to convert the garage into a much needed larger dining room.


When all of the children and grandchildren come home to visit we set up two tables with chairs.  Fortunately,  the converted garage is big enough to do that.  And then, you will see in the corner there is still room for what we call our holiday pie table.  There are usually more pies on the table for Thanksgiving than for Christmas.

If you look to the right of this photo below you will see what once was the stairs leading down to the original garage, which is just off from the kitchen.  Now, of course,  they are the stairs leading down to the dining room.

Several years ago while visiting the outlets in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee we found ourselves in the Lenox store.  We happened to spot the dishes that you see on the table in the below photo.  We live in the country and so very much enjoy the outdoors.  These dishes have beautiful images of nature which include a lovely life-like painted cardinal, pine cones, pine branches, and holly berries all accentuated with a  red Christmas bow and intertwining ribbon.

We enjoy the simple, and subtle Christmasy feel of these dishes 
accentuated with Christmas red glasses and napkins.


Just in case you like this pattern as much as we do I checked with Mr. Google to see if this dinnerware is still available.   Of all things, there is a huge sale on this collection at the Lenox site.  This particular pattern is called Lenox Winter Greetings.

Lenox also offers several serving dishes in this pattern and nice heavy duty, but elegant coffee mugs in the same pattern.  I sound like a commercial, but, no, just sharing what I have found out about this simple Christmas dinnerware that we enjoy so much.


Christmas dinner at our home would not be the same without
Mr. and Mrs. Santa salt and pepper shakers at one end of the table....

And, Mr. and Mrs. Snowman at the other end of the table.

Yes, it was a delightful Christmas dinner with our children and grandchildren who live here in town. And, of course, we missed the part of the family living out of town who could not join us this year

As you can see in the below photo we gathered out in the family room for after dinner pie, visiting, and opening of Christmas gifts.

Our grandsons in the below photo are our greatest gift at any time of the year.

On the left we see Ryan (19) our daughter Stephanie and husband John's son, and then Lawson (10), Papaw and Mamaw,  and Preston (13), John Scott (19) and Will (16) the four sons of our daughter Sharon and her husband Charlie.  And then there is Chase (18) and Dillon (21) in the front, also the sons of daughter Stephanie.

All of the boys are a great joy to us.  It was delightful setting around the Christmas dinner table visiting with each one of them,  and our children as well.

We hope that you too have had a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones, friends and family.  

As the New Year approaches we wish you and your family a wonderful year ahead filled with many blessings wherever you may be.

Happy New Year !

Friday, December 18, 2015

O Christmas Tree

How wonderful it is that so many people around the world take joy in celebrating Christmas.  I love knowing we all join together to commemorate this amazingly special time of year, remembering the birth of Jesus Christ, which took place over two thousand years ago.

It is such a special and magical time of year with all the traditions, sights, sounds, and fragrances of the Christmas season.

All of us can thank the beautiful country of Germany for beginning the very first Christmas tree tradition back in the 16th century.   Back then the first trees were decorated with edible items such as gingerbread, apples, and sweets.  Over the years the custom of decorating brightly-lit Christmas trees has spread, and is now celebrated all over the world at this special time of year.

Each year as I decorate our Christmas tree I am reminded of this pretty Christmas song:

O Christmas Tree
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
How lovely are your branches.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
How richly God has dressed thee.
Oh Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
Of all the trees most lovely
Each year you bring to me delight
Gleaming in the Christmas night.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
Such pleasure you do bring me.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
No one alive spreads cheer so well.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
You'll ever be unchanging. 


The above photo shows a daytime view of our decorated Christmas tree this year.   Each year we tell ourselves we are going to get a smaller tree, but somehow that just does not happen.  

It is a special time decorating the tree with all of the decorations that bring back memories from so many years ago.

Our daughter Stephanie gave us this home-made tree decoration, seen in the below photo.  It is a photo of our grandson Dillon just shortly before he turned two.   As you can see the date is 1995.  He is now 21.


And as you can see in the below photo,  she made cut-outs of both of Dillon's hands and a foot, pasted them together forming a reindeer-like decoration. 

When she first gave this to us,  there was a little red pom-pom nose representing Rudolph, of course.  That nose fell off years ago and I really need to replace it with a new little red pom-pom.

A Christmas tree ornament treasure.

If you have ever visited Sweet Southern Days in the past you know how I love to take pictures.  For a birthday gift my sweet husband gave me a Canon 5D Mark III camera with a Canon 24-70mm L-Series lens.  I LOVE this camera.  It has capabilities way beyond my knowledge and maybe one day I will learn more of how to use it.   Right now I am content to put the settings on "automatic" and snap away. 

In the below photo is another very special Christmas tree decoration we have had for many years.  This particular decoration was made in elementary school by our daughter Debi.  It is over 35 years old, but still looks like new.

We always go to our local Tallahassee Nurseries to find our Christmas tree, because they have a very nice selection of beautiful freshly-cut North Carolina trees.   They always go to the extra effort of placing the tree on our tree-stand,  which is a great help to my husband.  Then they also place the tree on your vehicle and securely tie it in place.

The below photo is an online photo of Tallahassee Nurseries entrance all decorated for Christmas.

Many years ago a friend gave me the pattern to make the cute Santa ornament seen in the below photo.  I have had this cute Santa for over 35 years and he is always placed front and center on the Christmas tree to remind us of when the children were so little. 

Santa was very easy to make ... Using white, pink and red felt I cut two of each felt piece, glued them together and placed a little gold ric-rack to use as trim for Santa's hat.  Then I cut some of the gold ric-rack to use as a hanger, cut and pasted the eyes, nose and lips ... And, that's it!


The Gingerbread Man was a favorite story book with the children when they were little.  So many many years ago when this pattern came across my path I made several of these cloth calico Gingerbread Men to use as Christmas tree ornaments.  

If interested you could use a large cookie cutter as a pattern, cut two pieces of your favorite fabric, sew ric-rack trim to the front of one piece of the pattern, sew inside out leaving a small space for turning and then turn and stuff with a little polyester filling.  Hand sew the opening.  Cut out eyes, nose, buttons and bow tie from a black felt square.  There, he is all finished ... But, be careful, don't let him run away.


Yes, as seen in the below photo is another homemade tree decoration from many years ago.  This little quilted wreath decoration was made from a kit found in one of the craft stores many years ago.

And another calico cloth candy cane Christmas ornament.  It too was extremely easy to make following the same directions as for the Gingerbread Man, using the candy cane shape.

Santa in the below photo is a wooden tree ornament painted by the children many years ago.

And another hand crocheted tree ornament, again made many years ago.

And below again we see another felt snowman ornament hand-made from a craft kit many years ago.

Other Christmas tree decorations we treasure are the hand-made wood turned ornaments made by a special friend.   He makes one of these amazing ornaments every year for our tree.

The below wooden ornament is very unusual.  Inside the wood opening of this wood turned ornament made by our friend,  is a very small little green painted Christmas tree.

A closer look.

And another pretty hand-painted glass tree ornament from a Garden Club friend.

And one of our favorite ornaments on our Christmas tree is this special 
ornament from our daughter Sharon and family.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
How lovely are your branches.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
How richly God has dressed thee.

A night time view of our Christmas tree.

Well! In just a week from today Santa arrives and leaves gifts for all the good boys and girls under the Christmas tree.   Don't forget to place Santa's cookies and milk under the tree!

We hope that wherever you are in this big huge world that you too are enjoying this magical time of year and celebrating the miracle that happened over two thousand years ago.

Merry Christmas blessings to you and yours wherever you may be.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, my daughter Sharon shared with me that she and her son Lawson were making  a "Pumpkin Bread" recipe as a birthday gift for his teacher at school.  

When they told me how good the recipe turned out, and how delicious the pumpkin bread tasted, of course I asked for the recipe.

Our grandson Ethan and his mom and sister were planning to visit for Thanksgiving.  I had heard from his mom how much Ethan enjoyed Pumpkin Bread .... So, what a great time to try this recipe, just in time for his visit ......

As you can see this recipe makes two 9x5 loaves.

The Pumpkin Bread was really good with an outside crust and a nice soft bread inside.

(Wish I could give credit for this recipe, but do not know where it came from originally.)

               1 - 15 oz. can of pumpkin
               1 cup oil
               2/3 cup water
               2 and 1/2 cups sugar
               1/2 teaspoon salt
                2 teaspoons cinnamon
                1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
                1 teaspoon ground ginger
                1 teaspoon ground cloves
                1 teaspoon ground allspice 
                1 teaspoon vanilla 
                 3 cups flour
                 1 teaspoon baking soda
                 2 teaspoons baking powder 
                 1 cup chopped pecans

                *** NOTE:  (When I made this recipe, I used Self-Rising Flour and then the soda
                                       and baking powder are not necessary.)
  • Combine pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, sugar, salt, spices and vanilla in a large bowl.
  • Whisk to blend.
  • Add flour, soda, baking powder, and chopped nuts.
  • Whisk again to combine.
  • Pour into 2 greased 9x5 loaf pans.
  • Bake @350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.
  • Cool 10 minutes then turn out onto a platter.                   
As you can see this is a super simple recipe.  One morning we enjoyed this delicious bread with our sausage and eggs.  

The loaves wrapped in foil with a pretty red bow would make a very nice Christmas gift.
If you make this Pumpkin Bread recipe I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Wishing you a very nice first week of December wherever you may be.