Archive for the ‘Christmas At Home’ Category

Book Review: The Red Suit Diaries

May 25, 2017

The Red Suit Diaries by Ed ButchartRedSuitDiaries

A Real-Life Santa on Hopes, Dreams, and Childlike Faith

This book is a biographical sketch of Ed Butchart’s journey to becoming Santa Claus for the children and children-at-heart of the Atlanta area.  He begins with the first time he donned the red suit.  He was a senior in high school at the time.

After high school he went to college to study journalism then joined the Marine Corp.  When his time in as a Marine was over he became a salesman for a medical diagnostics company.

He was also active in his church where he befriended a wheelchair-bound man who had cerebral palsy.  This friendship eventually led Ed to stop being a very successful salesman and start a non-profit business repairing wheelchairs and other medical equipment for folks in need named Friends of Disabled Adults, Inc. (FODA).

The next time he donned the red suit was for a special event hosted by his church.  This launched him into becoming a professional Santa Claus.  Ed’s faith became a big part of his philosophy, of what he endeavored to portray as Santa Claus.  He was determined that each child who came to see him would experience the love of God Who sent His son Jesus born on that first Christmas day to die for the sins of the world and to know that just as God loves him or her Santa loves him or her, too.

The book is full of Santa Ed’s encounters with children.  One of my favorite stories was of a family who visited Santa.  There were five poorly dressed children.  At the request of the oldest child Santa Ed started with the younger children.  After listening to their Christmas lists, the oldest girl sat on Santa’s lap.  Her only request was for a Christmas tree for the younger children to enjoy.  Ed, seeing the family did not have extra money for Christmas, encouraged the young lady to keep hope in Christmas and her dreams alive for herself and her siblings.  He told the man who videotaped for sale each child’s interview with Santa to give the family for free their children’s interview tape.  As the family walked away the videographer followed them and gave them a $100 bill, telling them it was from Santa, so they could get a Christmas tree and make their Christmas merry.  The family’s return thanking Santa for “his” gift is priceless.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I believe you will enjoy it also.  It made me want to put on the red suit and share the love of Jesus, the One whose birth we celebrate on Christmas Day, with children in my area.  Perhaps someday, if God wills it, I will do so.

History of Christmas Traditions

February 25, 2017

My friends at Tree Classics shared this History of Christmas Traditions with me so I thought I would share it with you.  Thank you, Tree Classics!  I bet there is something here that you did not know.  Now I wonder what Michelangelo used to sculpt his snowman.

treeclassics-infographic-final-v2

For more Christmas tradition history visit Tree Classics’ blog.

Please share some of your Christmas traditions in the comments below.

Christmas blessings!

Christmas Holly

October 26, 2016

By George Wither

The holly! the holly!
Oh, twine it with the bay!
Come, give the holly a song,
For it helps to drive
Stern Winter away,
With his garments so somber and long,
Then sing to the Christmas holly
That hangs over peasant and king.

It peeps through the trees,
With its berries of red
And its leaves of burnished green,
When the flowers and fruits have
Long been dead And not even
The daisy is seen.

Then sing to the holly,
The Christmas holly,
That hangs over peasant and king.
While we laugh and make merry
Neath its glittering boughs,
To the Christmas holly we’ll sing.
So now is come our joyful feast;
Let every man be jolly;
Each room with ivy leaves is dressed
And every post with holly.


Christmas Cranberry Pudding

1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups fresh cranberries, halved
½ cup molasses
1/3 cup hot milk
½ cup chopped nuts

Sift flour with baking soda.  Stir in cranberries.  Combine molasses and milk; stir into cranberry mixture until well blended.  Stir in nuts.  Pour into a 6-cup buttered mold.  If the mold has a lid, butter the inside and cover mold or cover with buttered aluminum foil pressed tightly over mold and secured with string.  Place mold on a rack in a pan with a tight-fitting cover.  Pour about 1 inch of water into the pan.  Bring water to a boil and cover; reduce heat to simmer.  Steam for 2 hours.  Cool 10 minutes; unmold.

Sauce

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup light cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter in a 1-quart saucepan.  Stir in sugar and cream until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Stir in vanilla.  Serve hot over pudding.

(Poem and recipe taken from Ideals Christmas magazine, 1983)

100 Great Ideas for Gift Baskets

October 3, 2016

christmas-gift-baskets-7With Christmas less than three months away here are some ideas for your Christmas gift giving this year.

1. Use a large terra cotta plant pot for a “basket”. If you like, you can personalize the pot by painting it with acrylic paints. When the paint is dry, spray a light coat of polyurethane over the pot to add a shine. Fill the pot with:

a.. Gardening gloves
b.. Hand trowel
c.. Hand rake
d.. A selection of vegetable and/or flower seeds (go for something unusual)
e.. Bottle of liquid fertilizer
f.. A gardening book
g.. A subscription for a gardening magazine

 2. Use a large pasta bowl for a “basket”. Fill the bowl with:
a.. A package or two of gourmet pasta
b.. Tongs
c.. A package of sun-dried tomatoes
d.. Extra-virgin olive oil
E.. Spices: oregano, basil, garlic powder
f.. A collection of your favorite pasta recipes hand-printed on recipe cards
g.. And/or a pasta cookbook

 3. For the golfer, fill a basket or a golf bag with.
a.. Golf tees
b.. Golf balls
c.. A baseball cap
d.. Sunscreen
e.. Score cards
f.. A small towel
g.. A can cooler to keep a can of pop or beer cold
Of course, don’t forget to personalize the towel or baseball cap – you can
stitch on them, use fabric paints, etc.

 4. Wine appreciation basket. Fill a Basket with:
a.. Two bottles of quality wine, one red, one white
b.. Corkscrew
c.. 2 or more wine glasses
d.. Wine appreciation book
e.. Tickets or an invitation to a wine tasting (often held at wine specialty shops or wineries)
Extras: add snacks to go with the wine – fine cheese, fruit, crackers, etc.

 5. For the dog lover. Fill a large dog bowl with:
a.. Sqeeky toy
b.. Rawhide bone
c.. Dog biscuits
d.. Dog brush
e.. Dog collar
f.. Leash 

6. For the crafter. Use a rubber storage container for a “basket” Fill the container with:
a.. Glue gun and glue sticks
b.. Acrylic paints
c.. Assorted brushes
d.. A craft knife
e.. Other craft supplies such as beads, pom-poms, wood sticks, buttons, stickers, dried flowers, etc.
f.. Craft patterns or how-to books

 7. Fill a square basket with:
a.. Note cards
b.. Envelopes (choose a variety of sizes)
c.. Note paper
d.. Letter opener
e.. A pen or a pen and pencil set
f.. A personalized seal and some sealing wax
g.. Personalized return address labels

8. For the shutterbug. Fill a basket or a camera bag with:
a.. Assorted film
b.. Coupons for picture developing
c.. Filters for his/her camera
d.. Lens cleaning solution and cloth
e.. Assorted picture frames and/or albums

9. How about a relaxation pack. Fill the basket with:
a.. A gel eye-pack
b.. Epsom salts or bubble bath
c.. Aroma therapy oils
d.. Scented candles
e.. Books on tape (to listen to in the bath)
f.. A hand-held massager
g.. Relaxing music on CD or cassette

10. Kids Coloring Kit. Fill a rubber/plastic storage box with:
a.. Crayons (get the big package with tons of colors)
b.. Non-toxic markets
c.. Assorted papers, include a variety of colors and textures
d.. Coloring books
e.. Assorted stickers
f.. A paint box and brushes 

11. For the sports enthusiast, use a sports helmet or hat as a “basket” ( eg. baseball cap, football helmet, etc.).  Fill the helmet or hat with:
a.. Sports cards
b.. Baseball, puck, etc.
c.. Shoe, boot or skate laces
d.. For the hockey player, add: lace tightener and some tape
e.. For the baseball player, add: mineral oil, batting glove and gum
f.. A sports video
g.. A subscription to a sports magazine
h.. A poster of their favorite player 

12. For the new home owner. Use a tool box as a “basket”. Fill the box with:
a.. Screw drivers
b.. Wrench
c.. Hammer
d.. Pliers
e.. Assorted nails, screws, washers
f.. Gift certificate for the local hardware store
g.. Do-it-yourself book
h.. Assorted odds and ends like: light switch covers, light bulbs, duct tape paint brushes, knobs and handles, etc.

13. For the guitar player. Fill the basket with:
a.. assorted picks
b.. tuning fork
c.. sheet music
d.. CDs or cassettes of great guitar players
e.. guitar strings
f.. electronic tuner
g.. lesson books 

14. For the soap opera fan. Fill the basket with:
a.. tissues
b.. bon-bons
c.. soap opera magazines
d.. biographies of their favorite stars
e.. pictures of their favorite stars
f.. blank video tapes
g.. fan club membership 

15. Create a winter fun pack. Fill a toque with:
a.. lip balm
b.. moisturizer
c.. mittens
d.. hot packs
e.. a pass to the local ski hill
f.. hot chocolate
Extras: add a crazy carpet or a sled (although it won’t actually fit inside the “basket”, you can present it on the side).

16. For someone who is into new age. Fill a basket with:
a.. tarot cards
b.. crystals
c.. scented candles
d.. incense
e.. new age music on CD or cassette
f.. certificates for palm reading, psychic reading, etc.
g.. books 

17. For grandparents who are far away. Fill a basket with:
a.. children’s artwork
b.. gifts made by the kids
c.. frames family pictures (let the kids buy plain wooden frames and decorate them with stickers)
d.. videos of the family
e .. a long-distance calling card
Extras: fill out the basket with candy, coffee, tea, biscuits, Christmas ornaments, candles, etc.

18. For the craft enthusiast, how about a project in a “basket”. Fill a basket or a rubber/plastic box with:
a.. grape vine wreath
b.. dried flowers
c.. pine cones
d.. hot glue gun and glue sticks
e.. wreath hanger
f.. ribbon

19. For the one who loves their car. Fill a basket or a bag with:
a.. tire gauge
b.. quart (or gallon) of oil
c.. wax
d.. chamois
e.. car wash coupons
f.. squeegee for the windows
g.. mileage log and pen
h.. travel mug 

20. The sundae basket. Fill a basket with:
a.. ice cream scoop
b.. gourmet sauces
c.. sprinkles
d.. cones
e.. maraschino cherries
f.. assorted nuts
g.. sundae glasses and spoons
h.. coupons for gourmet ice cream

21. Fill a gold fish bowl with:
a.. fish food
b.. aquarium gravel
c.. net
d.. gift certificate for fish from pet store
e.. book about care of gold fish

22. Use a cookie tin for a “basket “. Fill the tin with:
a.. your favorite cookie recipes or a cookbook
b.. cookie cutters
c.. chocolate chips
d.. nuts
e.. decorator icing set
f.. assorted sprinkles

23. Here’s a rainy day basket. Fill a basket with:
a.. deck of cards
b.. cribbage board
c.. find-a-word and/or crossword books and pencil
d.. herbal tea
e.. tea cup

24. Accessories for men. Fill an overnight bag with:
a.. socks
b.. underwear
c.. belt
d.. tie
e.. tie clip
f.. handkerchiefs
g.. wallet
h.. watch

25. For the shop-a-holic. Fill a basket with:
a.. cushioned insoles
b.. directories for local malls
c.. gift certificates (get a lot of small ones for different stores)
d.. tote bag to carry home purchases
e.. parking pass
f.. list of babysitters or volunteer to babysit
g.. coupons

26. Create a comedy pack. Fill a basket with:
a.. deck of trick cards
b.. whoopee cushion
c.. chattering teeth
d.. joke books
e.. comedy movies, cassettes or CDs
f.. tickets to a comedy club

27. For the woodworker. Fill a basket or rubber/plastic box with:
a.. assorted sandpapers
b.. chisels
c.. router bits
d.. saw blades
e.. files
f.. varnishes
g.. brushes
h.. paints
i.. patterns and/or instructions

28. For the computer buff. Fill a basket with:
a.. mouse pad
b.. diskettes
c.. novelty or personalized disk labels
d.. anti-static wristband
e.. travel mug (so that things won’t spill on the computer)
f.. a list of your favorite Web sites

29. Create a salon pack. Fill a basket with:
a.. salon shampoo and conditioner
b.. hair brush and/or combs
c.. barrettes
d.. combs
e.. scrunchies
f.. clips, bows, pins, twists, etc.
g.. book on hair styles

30. Fill a stew pot or pottery casserole dish with:
a.. assorted dried beans: kidney, black, white, navy, pinto, etc.
b.. dried red chili peppers
c.. chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, cilantro
d.. chili recipes
e.. ladle
f.. oven mitts

31. For the teenage girl. Fill a purse with:
a.. a wallet (you can even start it off with a little cash)
b.. key chain
c.. lipstick holder
d.. purse sized perfume atomizer
e.. purse sized hair brush and mirror

32. For expectant parents. Fill a baby’s bath tub with:
a.. hooded towel
b.. wash cloth
c.. rubber ducky
d.. baby shampoo
e.. baby powder
f.. baby lotion
g.. terri sleeper

33. For those who make their own wine or beer. Fill a box with:
a.. wine or beer kit
b.. empty bottles
c.. personalized or novelty wine/beer labels
d.. beer caps or wine corks
e.. caper
f.. recipes

34. For the skier. Fill a tote bag with:
a.. lip balm
b.. sunscreen
c.. goggles
d.. gloves
e.. scarf
f.. ski pass
g.. wax

35. For the executive or the home-office owner. Fill a briefcase with:
a.. day timer
b.. business card holder (one for the wallet, one for the desktop)
c.. pen and pencil set
d.. newspaper subscription
e.. shoe polish
f.. reference books
g.. desk calendar
h.. coffee mug

36. Create a New Year’s Eve party pack. Fill a basket with:
a.. champagne
b.. glasses
c.. party hats
d.. noise makers
e.. sparklers
f.. confetti
g.. balloons
h.. party invitations

37. For the crochet or knitting enthusiast. Fill a basket with:
a.. assorted needles or crochet hooks
b.. assorted patterns
c.. buttons
d.. ribbons
e.. personalized “made by” labels
f.. wool

38. For the writer. Fill a basket with:
a.. lined note pads
b.. an engraved pen
c.. reference books (dictionary, thesaurus, quotes, how-to books)
d.. pocket tape recorder and tapes
e.. style guide
f.. newsletter or magazine subscription
g.. books about how to get published

39. For the music groupie. Fill a basket with:
a.. fan club membership (look for their favorite musician on the Web, many bands now have online fan clubs which also sell tickets, posters, t-shirts and more)
b.. CDs, cassettes of their favorite group
c.. posters of their favorite group
d.. biographies
e.. sheet music
f.. tickets to a concert
g.. band t-shirts

40. Create a night out in a basket. Fill a basket with:
a.. list of babysitters or coupons for babysitting
b.. restaurant guide and/or gift certificates
c.. movie reviews and/or tickets
d.. movie reviews and/or, tickets to a show or a concert
e.. cab fair
f.. lighted key chain

41. For the mystery lover. Fill a deer stalker hat with:
a.. mystery novels
b.. mystery game for computer
c.. magnifying glass
d.. puzzles or brain teaser books
e.. how-to-host a mystery game

42. For the hiker, use hiking boots as a “basket”. Fill with:
a.. maps
b.. rain poncho
c.. bear bells or repellant
d.. trail mix
e.. compass
f.. first aid kit for hikers

43. For the vegetarian. Fill a basket, pot or large bowl with:
a.. your favorite recipes hand-printed on recipe cards
b.. assorted dried beans
c.. brown rice
d.. sun dried tomatoes
e.. spices: oregano, thyme, basil, garlic powder, etc.
f.. mixing spoons
g.. pot holders

44. For the cowboy at heart. Fill a cowboy hat with:
a.. bolo tie
b.. western belt buckle
c.. boot protector
d.. gift certificate for country dancing, horseback riding, rodeo, etc.

45. For someone who like to walk or jog, fill a tote bag with:
a.. pedometer
b.. sweat band
c.. tapes and batteries for the walkman
d.. shoe laces
e.. sport socks
f.. personal alarm
g.. t-shirt
h.. water bottle in a shoulder or waist holder

46. Use a cosmetic bag for a “basket”. Fill the bag with:
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a.. nail polish
b.. emery boards
c.. nail clippers
d.. nail brush
e.. cuticle remover
f.. nail file
g.. nail polish remover
h.. cotton balls

47. For the couch potato fill a large basket or box with:
a.. assorted bags of flavored popcorn
b.. other snacks like chips, nuts, candy
c.. pre-recorded movies
d.. TV Guide subscription
e.. TV Remote holder
f.. Comfortable slippers
g.. Cushion

48. Create a stock-the-bar package. Fill an ice bucket with:
a.. shot glasses
b.. bottle opener
c.. cork screw
d.. maraschino cherries
e.. cocktail napkins
f.. jar of olives
g.. fancy toothpicks or cocktail umbrellas
h.. bar guide

49. For the crafter, fill a rubber/plastic container with:
a.. small terra cotta plant pots
b.. flexible stencils
c.. acrylic paints
d.. stencil tape
e.. brushes
f.. spray polyurethane
g.. seeds to plant when pots have been decorated

50. Make a kid’s beach pack. Fill a plastic pail with:
a.. plastic shovel
b.. sand molds
c.. beach ball or plastic floatation device (deflated)
d.. beach towel
e.. flip-flops
f.. sunglasses
g.. sunscreen for kids
h.. bathing suit

51. For someone who takes road trips, fill a tote bag with.
a.. maps
b.. travel mug
c.. sunglasses
d.. hotel coupons
e.. tire gauge
f.. beaded seat cover
g.. travel games
h.. recorded music on cassette or CD
i.. car air freshener

52. For the musician. Fill a decorative can with:
a.. reeds/strings/drum sticks/mouthpiece – appropriate for the instrument they play
b.. sheet music
c.. valve oils for brass instrument players
d.. instrument strap
e.. electronic tuner
f.. metronome
g.. recorded music of their favorite artists

53. For someone who likes to BBQ, use an apron with pockets for a “basket”. Fill the apron pockets with:
a.. marinade recipes
b.. BBQ sauce
c.. BBQ tools
d.. packages of meat tenderizer
e.. skewers
f.. gift certificate for the local butcher

54. For the collector: Fill a basket with:
a.. reference books
b.. items they collect
c.. display cases, books, etc.
d.. cleaning supplies (special polishes, oils, brushes, etc.)
e.. tickets to a collectibles show

55. Create a bachelor’s survival kit. Fill a laundry basket with:
a.. laundry guide
b.. cook book featuring easy meals like casseroles
c.. roll of quarters and some laundry soap
d.. take-out pizza coupons
e.. an iron
f.. room deodorizer
g.. any other cleaning supplies
h.. food staples like macaroni dinners, canned tuna, canned soup and, of course, beer!

56. For someone who like to walk or jog, fill a tote bag with:
a.. pedometer
b.. sweat band
c.. tapes and batteries for the walkman
d.. shoe laces
e.. sport socks
f.. personal alarm
g.. t-shirt
h.. water bottle in a shoulder or waist holder

57. For just about anyone. Fill a basket with:
a.. teddy bear
b.. coffee mug
c.. hot chocolate mixes
d.. bedtime story books

58. For the student or the home-office owner, use a rubber garbage can as a “basket”. Fill the can with:
a.. stapler
b.. tacks, paper clips, pens, pencils
c.. notepads
d.. hole punch
e.. desk lamp
f.. desk calendar

59. For the cat lover use a cat basket as a “basket”. Fill it with:
a.. food and water dishes
b.. collar
c.. brush
d.. catnip ball
e.. rubber ball, rubber mice or other cat toys
f.. book on cat care

60. Create a Christmas Decorating basket. Fill a basket with:
a.. nativity set
b.. assorted Christmas ornaments (store bought or hand-made by you)
c.. decorative lights
d.. candles

61. Make a basket full of puzzles. Fill a basket with:
a.. Rubik’s cube
b.. 3D puzzle
c.. jigsaw puzzle
d.. word-search book
e.. crossword puzzle book
f.. slider puzzles
g.. and any other puzzles you can find

62. For someone who sews, fill a sewing basket with:
a.. needles
b.. assorted threads (stick to basic colors: black, white, navy, cream)
c.. pins
d.. thimble
e.. pin cushion
f.. measuring tape
g.. tracing wheel and paper
h.. sewing club membership

63. For someone who likes to lounge in the sun, use a sun hat as a “basket”.  Fill the hat with:
a.. sunscreen
b.. sunglasses
c.. lemonade mix
d.. novel

64. Create a gadget collection, for someone who is moving away from home, getting married, or moving into a new home. Fill a canvas onion bag with:
a.. garlic press
b.. can opener
c.. jar opener
d.. paring knife (carefully wrapped)
e.. strawberry huller
f.. egg slicer
g.. cheese slicer
h.. mixing spoons
i.. measuring spoons and cups
j.. egg timer
k.. grater

65. For the wood shop owner use a shop apron as a “basket”. Fill the apron with:
a.. safety glasses
b.. wood glue
c.. sandpapers
d.. measuring tape
e.. paint brushes
f.. shop magazines
g.. woodworking patterns

66. For the fisherman use a tackle box as a “basket”. Fill it with:
a.. assorted lures
b.. leaders
c.. pliers
d.. gloves
e.. guide to local fishing

67. For baby fill a basket with:
a.. rattle
b.. bib
c.. story book
d.. stuffed animal
e.. sleeper

68. Create a women’s accessories basket. Fill a basket with:
a.. a silk scarf
b.. scarf clip
c.. earrings
d.. belt
e.. broach
f.. necklace
g.. perfume
h.. evening purse

69. For cyclists use a cycling helmet as a “basket”.  Fill it with:
a.. cycling gloves
b.. water bottle
c.. reflectors
d.. sunglasses
e.. odometer
f.. patch kit

70. For the aquarium owner, use a decorative tin for a “basket”. Fill the tin with:
a.. fish food
b.. book about aquarium maintenance
c.. algae magnet (you run the magnet up and down the outside of the tank to remove algae inside the tank)
d.. a net
e.. thermometer
f.. ornaments
g.. gift certificate for fish

71. For someone who likes games, fill a basket with:
a.. decks of cards
b.. dice
c.. poker chips
d.. poker rule book
e.. pocket electronic games
f.. plane tickets to Vegas

72. For the painter: Fill a decorative tin with:
a.. paints (acrylic, water color or oil)
b.. brushes
c.. paper or canvas
d.. charcoal

73. For someone who bakes use a cake pan as a “basket”. Fill the pan with:
a.. pot holders
b.. decorative frosting set
c.. assorted sprinkles and nuts
d.. baking recipes
e.. cake server

74. For someone who travels by plane a lot. Fill a travel bag with:
a.. travel pillow
b.. travel alarm
c.. flight schedules
d.. gum
e.. magazines or novels
f.. toothbrush

75. Create a Christmas box. Fill a decorative Christmas box or tin with:
a.. assorted home-baked cookies
b.. assorted chocolates
c.. Christmas ornaments (better if you made them yourself)
d.. pre-recorded Christmas music
e.. tuck in some candy canes or foil wrapped chocolate Santas for a finishing touch

76. Create a night in, in a basket. Fill the basket with:
a.. wine
b.. wine glasses
c.. pre-recorded movie
d.. candle
e.. candle holder
f.. romantic pre-recorded music
g.. appetizers: cheese and crackers, olives, something you’ve made yourself

77. Create a kid’s bath set. Fill a basket with:
a.. bubble bath
b.. no-tears shampoo and conditioner
c.. bath crayons (they let kids write on the tub or the wall, then they wash off)
d.. bath toys
e.. bath mitt or decorative face cloth
f.. printed towel
g.. robe
h.. slippers

78. For the teenage girl, fill a cosmetic bag or cosmetic tray with:
a.. assorted makeup in the latest fashion colors: lipstick, blusher, eye liner, mascara
b.. cotton swabs
c.. makeup sponges
d.. nail polish in the latest colors
e.. nail file
f.. facial cleanser
g.. facial moisturizer
h.. eye makeup remover

79. For the computer game player. Fill a decorative box with:
a.. membership to an online gaming site
b.. computer game CDs
c.. joy stick
d.. mouse pad
e.. shareware games on diskette

80. For campers, use a backpack as a “basket” Fill the backpack with:
a.. tent pegs
b.. compass
c.. sharpening stone
d.. mosquito repellant
e.. tent patch kit
f.. campers cook set
g.. utility knife of Swiss army knife
h.. campground guides

81. For the lover of spicy foods, use a chili pot as a “basket”.  Fill it with:
a.. spices: cayenne pepper, black pepper, white pepper, dried red peppers, chili powder, paprika
b.. hot sauces like chili sauce
c.. salsas
d.. hot pickles (pick them up from an Asian food store)
e.. fresh peppers
f.. Pepto-Bismol
g.. recipes

82. For the sci-fi fan. Fill a basket with:
a.. Science fiction novels
b.. sci-fi movies
c.. collectible figures (you know, the plastic ones modeled after TV and movie sci-fi characters)
d.. Spock ears
e.. books about their favorite shows or authors
f.. tickets to a sci-fi convention

83. For the engaged couple fill a basket with:
a.. wedding planner
b.. unity candle
c.. garter
d.. cake knife
e.. honeymoon travel information or tickets
f.. wedding decorations
g.. wedding album

84. For someone who works out at the gym fill a tote bag:
a.. towel
b.. water bottle
c.. workout tapes or magazines
d.. power bars
e.. sports drinks
f.. sports socks
g.. gym membership

85. For adults only — fill a basket with:
a.. scented candles
b.. massage oil
c.. lingerie
d.. wine
e.. wine glasses

86. For the jigsaw puzzle lover. Fill a basket with:
a.. jigsaw puzzle
b.. puzzle mat
c.. coffee mug
d.. magnifying glass
e.. gourmet coffee

87. For the naturalist. Fill a knapsack with:
a.. binoculars
b.. bird watching guide or wildlife or wildflower guide
c.. log book and pen
d.. maps
e.. trail mix

88. A small twist on the usual coffee gift basket. Fill a basket with:
a.. gourmet coffees
b.. coffee mugs
c.. novels
d.. chocolates
e.. decorative bookmark (why not make one yourself)

89. For someone who is on their feet all day, use a rubber tub as a “basket”.  Fill the tub with:
a.. Epsom salts or bubble bath
b.. towel
c.. pumice stone
d.. foot lotion or foot powder
e.. comfortable slippers
f.. nail clippers

90. Create a kid’s craft kit. Fill a rubber/plastic storage box with:
a.. colored paper
b.. crayons
c.. stickers
d.. pipe cleaners
e.. buttons
f.. pom-poms
g.. white glue
h.. kid scissors
i.. wooden shapes
j.. wobbly eyes
k.. kid sized craft apron
l.. sparkles

91. For little students fill a children’s lunch box with:
a.. pencil toppers
b.. decorated pencils
c.. colored pencils
d.. rulers
e
.. plastic stencils which let them draw stars, circles, etc.
f.. stapler
g.. children’s scissors
h.. water bottle in a shoulder or waist holder

92. For someone who likes needlepoint fill a basket with:
a.. patterns
b.. canvas
c.. assorted thread
d.. needles
e.. thimble
f.. frames for finished work

93. For the movie buff, fill a basket with:
a.. pre-recorded movies
b.. movie soundtracks on CD or cassette
c.. batteries for the remote control
d.. head cleaner for the VCR
e.. movie tickets or gift certificates
f.. popcorn

94. For someone who like to walk or jog, fill a tote bag with:
a.. pedometer
b.. sweat band
c.. tapes and batteries for the walkman
d.. shoe laces
e.. sport socks
f.. personal alarm
g.. t-shirt
h.. water bottle in a shoulder or waist holder

95. For the electronics hobbyist. Fill a plastic box with:
a.. resistors
b.. capacitors
c.. wire
d.. pliers
e.. soldering iron and solder
f. . light bulbs
g.. LED lights
h.. printed circuit boards
i.. project books
j.. wire cutters
k.. electrical tape

96. For the chocolate lover. Fill a basket with:
a.. chocolate cookies (home baked is best)
b.. chocolate bon-bons
c.. chocolate sauces
d.. chocolate syrup
e.. chocolate dipped coffee spoons
f.. hot chocolate mix
g.. chocolate covered coffee beans
h.. chocolate flavored coffee beans
i.. chocolate recipes

97. For the young at heart — fill a basket or a small toy box with:
a.. silly putty
b.. assorted magnets
c.. magnifying glass
d.. yo-yo
e.. paper airplane kit
f.. kite
g.. kaleidoscope
h.. puzzles

98. For the health food buff. Fill a basket or a mixing bowl:
a.. brown rice (in a bag tied with a ribbon or in a glass jar)
b.. other grains like quinoa, spelt, bulgur, etc.
c.. all-natural candy bars
d.. tofu in aseptic packages (so it doesn’t need refrigeration)
e.. assorted dried beans (black, black-eyed peas, chick peas, lima beans, fava beans, etc.)
f.. assorted spices
g.. all natural skin and body care products (find them at your local health food store)

99. For the someone who never has enough time. Fill a basket with:
a.. coupons for your babysitting time
b.. cookbook featuring meals in 30 minutes or less
c.. day timer to help them organize their time more efficiently
d.. watch
e.. information about or coupons for a shopping service which will do their shopping for them
f.. coupons for other time saving services like dry-cleaning, tailoring, take-out food, car washes, etc.

100. Create a Chinese food “basket”. Fill a basket or a wok with:
a.. Chinese tea set
b.. package of green tea
c.. cook book
d.. cleaver
e.. chop sticks
f.. package dried black mushrooms
g.. bottle of soy sauce
h.. other sauces like plum sauce, Szechuan sauce, teriyaki sauce, etc.

Finishing Touches
Finishing touches actually come into play when you begin to assemble your basket. You can enhance the presentation of baskets, boxes, tins, hats, etc. by first filling them with:
a.. colored cellophane “grass”
b.. crumpled tissue paper
c.. a piece of fabric (try something with a Christmas print)
d.. shredded newspaper or colored paper
e.. straw
f.. raffia

Then carefully arrange your items over top of the filler.  Finish up by tucking in:
a.. candy canes
b.. foil wrapped chocolate Santas
c.. other foil wrapped candies
d.. small pine cones
e.. a bunch of cinnamon sticks tied with red ribbon
f.. Christmas greenery like the tips spruce and pine branches
g.. Christmas ornaments
h.. lots of small bows
i.. mandarin oranges
j.. nuts in the shell
k.. small scented candles
l.. Christmas baking (wrapped in cellophane)

Wrapping Your “Basket”
“Baskets” that are in actual baskets do not need to be wrapped, but if you wish, you can wrap them in cellophane. Simply gather the cellophane around the basket and tie at the top with ribbon.

This method also works for “baskets” made with hats, boxes, bowls, pots, plant pots, etc.  

Decorative boxes and tins usually can stand alone without wrapping.  Rubber storage containers can be wrapped in cellophane as above or can be wrapped with wrapping paper.

Some “baskets” like tote bags, backpacks, shopping bags, etc. are best left unwrapped. Instead, finish them with colorful bows and ribbons.

Our Silver Christmas

August 25, 2016

TIMG_20131129_211658_753his year we experienced a special celebration at our house.  It was my wife and my 25th anniversary.  It made me stop and think about the 25 Christmases that we experienced as a family.

Our first Christmas we did not have much money.  We got a Christmas tree, a star to top it, lights, and some garland; but we did not have ornaments.  My wife had some books with bead patterns for Christmas ornaments.  We must have made several dozen ornaments, bells, stars, ball ornaments filled with figures.  Many of these ornaments we still have and still put on our trees.

A few years later we had some little ones to enjoy our Christmas trees.  By this time we had some store-bought ornaments hanging from the branches.  We also had a train running around the tree.

Then came a major move from the Gulf states to the upper Midwest.  We no longer had room for the train.  The tall trees did not fit either.  We started using a 4-foot tree set on an end table.  The star and the bead ornaments were still there, and more children were enjoying Christmas with us.  We finally bought a slim 6-foot tree and started decorating the tree with color-themes.  Our favorites color themes are red and silver, blue and silver, and purple and silver.

Many of our Christmas traditions were set during this time.  Every year we set up our tree the day after Thanksgiving with all the children helping decorate.  We usually take a Saturday in December to make several kinds of cookies.  The family decides on 3 or 4 kinds of cookies to make. (At one time we let every child choose a cookie recipe to make on that day; but as more children arrived, cookie making day became a chore instead of being enjoyable so we cut down on the number of cookie choices.)  Every Christmas morning we have a hashbrown breakfast casserole.  Last year when my wife and I talked about doing something else for Christmas breakfast the children spoke up and made us know that they wanted the traditional hashbrown casserole.  Unlike many families who have turkey with all the fixings for Christmas dinner, we have an extra-cheesy, extra meaty lasagna.  It sure simplifies the clean up.

Then came another move, not so far this time.  Now we are able to comfortably set up two Christmas trees.  We decorate one tree with a color-theme and the other with our favorite ornaments.  The train has also reappeared.

The next 25 years will be full of surprises.  As the children grow and move on to make families of their own, I am sure we will be dropping some traditions and adding new ones.  The trees will lose some ornaments and gain others.  But, oh, the fun we will have getting there.

Merry Christmas!


Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole
1 lb ground sausage ( “hot” or “sage” flavored)
¼ cup chopped onions
2 ½ cups frozen cubed hash brown potatoes
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups)
1 ¾ cups milk
1 cup baking mix
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1. Cook sausage and onion in large frying pan over medium-high
heat for 5 minutes or until meat crumbles.
2. Stir in hash browns, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until sausage
is no longer pink and hash browns are lightly browned.
3. Drain mixture well on paper towels.
4. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13×9-inch baking dish.
5. A stoneware baking dish works really well.
6. Stir together the lightly beaten eggs, shredded cheese, milk,
baking mix, salt, and pepper.
7. Pour evenly over sausage/hashbrown mixture.
8. Stir well.
9. Cover and chill for 8 hours.
10. Bake covered with foil at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
11. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until a wooden pick
inserted in the middle comes out clean.
12. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
13. You can also keep the casserole warm until you are ready to eat
by covering it with foil and putting it in a 200 degree oven.
14. Optional toppings: sour cream, favorite sauce of your choice
(picante, hot sauce). You can also garnish it with parsley.

Clever Christmas Decorating Ideas On A Budget

April 27, 2016

This month we have a special treat.  Guest author Renee Hopkins gives us some inexpensive Christmas decorating projects that we can start working on even now for this coming Christmas.  They also will not take a lot of room if you are decorating a small apartment.  Thank you, Renee, for these wonderful ideas.


 

Christmas is a festive holiday filled with family, friends and celebration. Part of making this holiday so special is decorating your home in a way that makes your home feel welcoming, festive and fun. While you can certainly spend a fortune trying to achieve the right holiday look in your home, you don’t have to. With some simple tips, you can create a beautiful and inviting Christmas décor that you’re certain to feel proud of.

  1. The Christmas Treeladder tree

The traditional pine Christmas tree is always a classic look, but today, creative and chic ideas are in and quickly taking its place. Create your own unique Christmas tree with a fold out ladder, a few boards (cut at different lengths) a small pot of green paint and green, red and white household items.

Simply paint your boards green, and arrange them along the steps of the ladder (after the paint has dried). This will provide you with the triangular shape of a Christmas tree. Place your red, green and white household items on the shelves, and you have a uniquely decorated tree at little to no cost.

  1. The Christmas Cracker

Tired of the less appealing little novelty items you get inside your Christmas crackers every year? Why not make your own?

You willChristmas Stocking And Presents need wrapping paper (the type of wrapping paper you use will determine how elegant or creative your Christmas crackers will be), cracker snaps, cardboard toilet paper inserts, small gifts, stickers and some ribbon.

Cut the wrapping paper into a rectangle measuring about 30cm in length and 20 cm in width. Glue one cracker snap onto the paper, lengthwise, and place one toilet paper insert in the middle with the gift inside. You can also add a hand written joke. Place another two toilet paper inserts on each side of the middle one and roll the paper around all three.

Join the two ends of the paper with a sticker. Twist the paper where the inserts meet, and remove the two outside toilet paper inserts. Tie ribbons around the twist to add flair and hold the twist in place.

  1. The Christmas WreathMaking Of Christmas Wreath

In the same way new and novel ideas are replacing the traditional Christmas tree, wreaths are taking on whole new look too.

Take a piece of sturdy cardboard, and cut it into a ring in the desired size. Collect items from around the home or garden that can be glued to the ring to entirely cover the cardboard. Anything from bottle corks, to beads, buttons, seashells, seeds, burlap, gift bows, ribbon, fabric or traditional pine cones can be used to create a unique and stylish wreath.

  1. Outdoor Christmas Characters

Christmas Milk Jug DecorationsStart saving up those plastic milk containers, making sure to wash them out carefully. Use different color paints and cardboard cutouts to create a snowman, reindeer or even Santa Claus. Dangle a small handheld torch from a string tied to a piece of wood, and place it into the opening of the bottle so that the stick holds it in place. You now have a creative outdoor decoration that lights up from the inside.

To truly have a chic and elegant Christmas this year, think outside the box, and get creative. Your friends and family will simply love how innovative you are and appreciate the effort you put into making this memorable holiday a spectacular one.

About The Author
Renee Hopkins runs an innovative and affordable home décor site. Visit http://chichomeaccents.com/ to find everything you need to make your rooms beautiful, comfortable and chic.

Happy Easter!

March 26, 2016

It all started many years ago that first Christmas with the birth of a very special miracle baby.  The Baby was special in that His birth was looked forward to for hundreds of years.  His birth was foretold by many people during that time with specific things mentioned many years before they happened: He would be born in Bethlehem, His mother would be a virgin, He would be born of the tribe of Judah of King David’s line, kings would give Him gifts, children would be killed after His birth, and more.

He was a miracle baby born of a virgin who never experience sexual relations with a man until after the Baby’s birth.  A miracle in terms of all that had to be orchestrated to get the right parents to the right place at the right time to fulfill the prophesies about this Baby.  A miracle in that God became man to live and fulfill a specific purpose.

The Baby grew up.  He became a man with a purpose, to live to pay the penalty for man’s sin.  He was not forced to do it.  He was not paid to do it.  He did it willingly.  He did it out of love for mankind.

The first Easter became the culmination of this Man’s finishing the payment for that penalty, a payment He did not need to make for Himself for He never sinned.  The first Easter marked God’s acceptance of that payment.  When Jesus rose from the dead leaving an empty tomb God showed mankind that He was satisfied.  The debt was paid in full.

Now it is up to each member of mankind.  What are we going to do?  Are we going to try to pay the penalty for our sins ourselves?  We are told that we can never do this even if we lived a thousand lifetimes.  Or are we going to accept Jesus’ payment for the penalty of our sins?  We can do nothing to earn it.  We can only accept it or reject it.

It is my hope that everyone who reads this will accept Jesus’ payment for the penalty of his or her sins.  Only then will Easter and Christmas have true meaning in our lives.

 

Resurrection Rolls

  • Prep 10 m
  • Cook 15 m
  • Ready In 25 m

Recipe By:Mommyof3

“A great Easter recipe to do with the kids! Rolls with marshmallows wrapped inside, which become hollow as they bake, it represents the tomb of Jesus on Easter morning, when you break them open they are empty inside!”

Ingredients

  • 1 (10 ounce) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 8 large marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Separate crescent rolls into individual triangles.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar.
  4. Dip a marshmallow into melted butter, then roll in sugar mixture. Place marshmallow into the center of a dough triangle. Carefully wrap the dough around the marshmallow. Pinch the seams together tightly to seal in marshmallow as it melts. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

These recipes sound so good and Christmasy.

January 24, 2016

Last week I saw this book at my local library; Christmas Cookies Are For Giving by Kristin Johnson and Mimi Cummins.  As I leafed through the book these two recipes looked so good that I would love to try them.  Perhaps someday I will.  If you try them please let me know how they came out.

Cranberry Decadent Cookies

Dried cranberries and cinnamon transform this reverse chocolate chip cookie into a holiday favorite.  The coffee granules subtly enhance the flavor of the chocolate.

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup solid vegetable shortening, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.  Sift together flour, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda, and set aside.

In a large bowl beat butter shortening, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully combined before additions.  In a small cup, mix together the vanilla and the coffee until the coffee is dissolved, then add to the butter mixture; beat to combine.  Gradually add dry ingredients, mixing until combined.  Stir in white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and dried cranberries.

Drop 1 tablespoon of dough at a time onto baking sheets, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until firm.  Let cool for 1 minute then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 1 month.  Makes about 48 cookies.  These cookies are excellent for shipping.

Cheddar Crunch Apple Squares

The recipe reminds me of something my grandmother used to say every time we ate apple pie: “An apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.”  Apples and cheddar make a perfect marriage in these tasty bars.  Recipe courtesy of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. – Mimi

1 box (12 ounces) vanilla wafers, or 3 1/3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1 ½ cup flaked coconut, chopped
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ cup shredded Wisconsin cheddar cheese
½ cup salted butter, softened
2 cans (21 ounces) apple pie filling

Pre-heat oven of 375 degrees F.  Make crumbs in food processor or with rolling pin and combine with coconut, cinnamon, cheese and butter to form a crumbly mixture.  Press one half of this mixture firmly into the bottom of a greased 9 x 12-inch baking pan.  Spread apple pie filling on top of bottom crust.  Top with remaining crumb mixture, do not press down.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack in refrigerator and cut into squares about 2 x 2 inches.  Serve with cinnamon ice cream or warmed honey.

Store for up to 2 weeks in airtight containers in the refrigerator.  Makes 24 squares.  These bars should be hand-delivered.

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2015

Luke 2  (NKJV)nativity scene

1And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Matthew 2   (NKJV)

1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

 

May you all have a blessed and merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

The Adventures of the Cinnamon Bear begins

November 29, 2015

The Cinnamon Bear Advent CalendarBe sure to stop by my website, CustomsOfChristmas.com, every day between today and Christmas to listen to The Cinnamon Bear.  First aired in 1937, Paddy O’Cinnamon, the Cinnamon Bear, helps Jimmy and Judy as they chase down the Crazy Quilt Dragon to get back their silver star that should sit upon the top of their Christmas tree.

Every day between now and Christmas a different 15-minute episode will be available for your listening pleasure.

Happy listening!

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