Happy New Year!

Whew! What a week, what a week!  After enjoying a white Christmas (the first in this area since 1992), we loaded up the car and headed to L.A. (Lower Alabama).  We woke up to around 2 inches of the white stuff on Sunday, and discussed whether we should leave or wait. 
 The news reported that the interstates were fine, so we CH decided to go for it.  We got about 20-25 minutes down the road, and I asked FES if he had his passport.  Or any id.  Or his insurance card.  We doubled back, picked up his id, used the bathroom, and off we went...again.  We drove in snow all the way south of Birmingham.  Unusual, to say the least.
My FIL had arranged a cabin for us to stay in on a lake.  Nothing fancy, just the basics, but it was better than staying in a hotel (they don't have room for us in their house).  Here's the morning view we had:
 Too bad it was so cold...the cabin had a screened-in porch with rocking chairs.  
"What is there to do in Lower Alabama?"  you might ask.  You can go to the Army Aviation Museum:

 They have this circular room with all of the names of aviators who have lost their lives while in the line of duty. In the middle of the room, there is this statue:
Paying homage to the Boll Weevil is a must when visiting this town in LA:
 Isn't she beautiful, all dressed up for Christmas?  Oh, and to put my boys' sizes in perspective:  I'm 5'9".  Yes, I have big boys!
We went by the new high school; it just opened this fall after being destroyed by a tornado 3 years ago.  CH had to get out on the new field; luckily one of the assistant coaches (who was a former teammate) came by just as we got there.  
What else would you do when you're this close to Florida?  Go the beach, of course!
 It just so happens what one of my blogging friends lives in the area, so we were able to meet up for a while!  "Where's the picture?" you ask.  Well, Auburnchick doesn't put pictures on her blog, so I didn't take one.  I had my camera in my pocketbook, but didn't even get it out.  She's the second blogger I've met.  It was like we'd known each other forever.  Seriously.  Her husband discovered that I'm not a mass murderer, and CH was relieved that she wasn't an Armenian man who had just been released from prison.  I don't think there was ever a lull in the conversation; I just wish we had more time, because I keep thinking about things I wanted to talk to her about!  Guess I'll just have to make another trip down there sometime!
We ended the year with new windows.  Yes.  NEW WINDOWS!  They are gorgeous!  Here's the before picture:
 And the after picture:
 Oh.  My.  The silence is absolutely golden.  I'm not feeling any kind of draft as I sit in the living room.  I love, love, love these windows!  And, one of the best parts is the tax credit we'll get! 
Here's wishing everyone a Healthy and Happy New Year!

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Christmas Friday's Fave Five:

1.  This was actually from last week, but having 3 days off from work due to snow/ice.
 2.  Christmas goodies all ready to go:
 3.  Feedin' time at our house with all of the boys home.  (You can kind of see FES in the background.  I think he was afraid he was going to lose a hand.)
Gotta love them, even if they do act pretty goofy sometimes:
4.  In the bathroom-over the toilet-at the Tanger Outlet (how thoughtful is this?):
 There's no wondering where you're going to put your pocketbook in those stalls!

5.  Getting together with friends and getting a present!
Oh, y'all...I wish I could send the smell of the coffee through the 'puter, 'cause it smells wonderful.

Picture taken from.whereistheoutrage.net
Happy birthday to my dear, sweet Mama!  Tomorrow is her birthday. When we were younger, we used to see who would be the first person to wish her happy birthday right after Midnight Mass began.  We're a little competitive!  
I hope everyone has a Very Merry Christmas!

Tennessee Christmas

The Meteorologists are calling for a White Christmas here in East Tennessee.  We'll see if they're right!
We call today "Christmas Adam" at our house, because it's the day before Christmas Eve, and Adam came before "Eve"!  We're weird fun like that.
Some people participated in an "Open House" last week, but I wasn't ready, so I didn't participate.  So, here is a tour of my house dressed up for Christmas.
One of my SILs gave me this little guy years ago. 
Our next door neighbor from Ga. gave us this...it sits on the fireplace insert in the kitchen.
Holiday train that use to have a place at the top of our stairs in SC.  It's on the desk next to my kitchen tv.
The front hallway.  The tower on the left was a gift from a student.  It plays "Away in a Manger"
CH's aunt (now deceased) gave us this plate our first married Christmas.
We don't have a fireplace that has a mantel upstairs, so we put the stockings on the divider between the living and dining rooms.  I took this picture before FES was here; there are now 6 stockings!

  The tables on either side of the couch.  These were gifts from the boys, my MIL; my mom painted the pictures that are framed.

  A couple of Santas in the hallways.  The lower one is actually a piece of wood that someone painted to look like Santa.  I think I got it at the Christmas show in Charlotte when we lived in SC.
The planter on the front porch.  My sister (you know, the one who gives me stuff!) gave me the snowman.  Another sister supplied the jacket and scarf:  they were her sons' (and got passed on to me) when they were little. 
 This is one of my most favorite decorations.  My MIL gave us this Santa.  When you turn it on, it snows and plays "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".  The runner it's on also came from my MIL.  
This is the hi-fi that came with the house.  CH wanted to keep something that belonged to the previous owner (who built the house), so this is what we got.  I have a few snowmen and Christmas village buildings.  This is also where Ally & Pepper have their stockings ready for Santa Paws to fill.
 The dining room table from last year, 'cause, heeeeelloooo, this year's table has tins all over it.
 Here is our tree this year, before presents.  The tree skirt was also a gift from my MIL.  
These last pictures are Christmas items that are Danish.  They hold a special place in my heart.  Enjoy!
 Our new ornament from CH's uncle and LF.

Christmas is Coming

First, I'd like to thank Joyce for giving me an "earworm" with that song (my post title).  It will be in my head all day long.

So, ummm, yeah.  I'm a little distracted here.  I'm stressing out because I'm not done shopping yet.  Back to the reason for the post:
1. Share your Christmas Eve traditions.
When I was growing up, we would all pile in the car and attend Midnight Mass.  It was beautiful. The most memorable ones involved the Processional with the lights out (except for the candles that the servers walked in with) and "Silent Night" being sung A cappella.  Beautiful.  After Mass we would have Hungarian Coffeecake and eggnog, then off to bed so Santa could come.
With our boys, we started out going to Midnight Mass, but switched over to the Children's Mass in the evening because mama the boys couldn't stay up that late. We usually go to Evening Mass, then come home and have a Christmas Eve Dinner.  For dessert, we have pistachio pudding with an almond in it; whoever finds the almond gets a prize.  After dinner, we make the boys plead with us to open a present, and, after about 5 minutes of me saying "no", they open one up.  (Yes, they still do this, even though OS is in his 20's!)  We I spend the rest of the evening watching Christmas movies.  Before we had kids, I had these visions of the whole family sitting around the tree, watching movies as a family.  Funny how real life doesn't imitate our visions, isn't it?
When the boys were little, CH used to read "The Night Before Christmas" to the boys before they went to bed.

2. What was the best book you read in 2010? (we're not going to include The Bible here)
"The Help"  Amazing book!

3. Do you have pets and if so do you allow them on the furniture?
Of course we let our little fur babies on the furniture.  If I had to do it over, I wouldn't let them, but, it's a little too late for that!  Pepper's favorite spot is right next to me, no matter where I'm sitting.  And, she has to be touching me.  Funny little girl.
When we had a big dog, she wouldn't get on the furniture while we were on it.  We didn't train her to do that, she just did it on her own.  (Best dog ever!)

4. What event from 2010 are you most thankful for?
Honestly?  That MS has stayed out of trouble.  He's a good young man with a big heart; he just likes to have fun and doesn't think a whole lot about the consequences. 

5. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before.
Moved a child into a major university.  Honestly.  It's been quite an experience, having to learn their system.  I keep telling him it would've been a lot easier if he had gone to a smaller school.  But, I have to admit, the rugby games are pretty fun!

6. Brussel sprouts...friend or foe?
Well, the smell is definitely a "foe"!  

7. Who would you nominate for man/woman of the year?
The workers who helped free the Chilean miners.  Or, the miners themselves.  I don't know how I would've handled being stuck down in that mine for so long, or how I would handle being patient enough to get them out safely.
8. Insert your own random thought here.
 We live on a pretty busy road.  Monday, the boys cleaned up the garage, and, since this is the week for "bulky garbage" to be picked up by the "city", they put the old washing machine on the curb.  (There really isn't a curb, but they put it at the end of the driveway.)  It hadn't been there for more than an hour when somebody had driven by and picked it up.  Less work for the sanitation workers!  We've seen many things picked up right after we put it "on the curb"; I guess what they say is true:  One's man junk is another man's treasure!
Take a look at what I got in the mail over the weekend:
Debby at Just Breathe loves Christmas more than anybody I know!  She had a give-a-way, and, while I didn't win the "big" prize, I won a consolation prize!  These little ornaments are just adorable, and are now on my tree.  If you have a minute, go by and see Debby.  She has one of the most adorable fur babies I've ever seen a picture of, and you can take a look at all of her ornaments.
Thanks, Debby!

Hard Candy Christmas

This doesn't have anything to do with Hard Candy (actually nothing in this post does), but I wanted to keep with my theme of using Christmas songs for my post titles.  This is the closest thing I could think of that had to do with candy!  
I saw this on FB yesterday and loved it.  The dog reminds me of my Jack Russell Mix.  Although she doesn't look anything like this dog, her actions are very close to this dog's, and I can imagine her doing this same thing!

The past couple of days have been spent shopping and baking/making candy.  I started making crap goodies Sunday afternoon.  FES about died when I told him my rule about not eating anything until everything was finished and in tins.  The first thing I made was something new this year:  Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups.  
 They were super easy.  When I took them out of the oven, I took a spoon and gently pushed down the cookie in the middle to make sure the well was large enough to put in the melted chips.  I don't know if they would've gone down on their own, but I didn't have the patience to wait, and the spoon did a nice job!
I just realized I told a little lie about starting my goodies-making:  I actually made Easy Oreo Truffles on Sat. night. 
 Ummm, yeah, I'm pretty sure I made them waaaay too big, 'cause I definitely didn't get 4 dozen truffles out of that batch!  And, I didn't use Oreos, I used the Kroger brand instead, which actually taste just as good and don't cost as much!
On Sunday, I also made Chocolate Covered Cherries.  
 They're actually quite a pain to make, because you have to actually paint the mold and make sure that when you hold them up to the light, you can't see the light through the mold.  Then, when you put the 'juice' & cherry into the chocolate painted mold, you have to make sure you put just the right amount of juice in, or else the chocolate topping won't cover it, and the juice will run out when you take the chocolate out of the mold.  YS started helping me, but gave up.  It does get quite frustrating, believe me.  
I had a couple of hours left on Sunday night, so I went ahead and made Peanut Butter Cups.  
 These are a lot easier than the chocolate covered cherries, because all you do with the chocolate is put some in the mold, then  just make sure the chocolate covers the mold.  The only thing is that I only have 1 mold that makes 11 at a time, and you have to leave it in the freezer for 5 minutes, so it is time consuming. Every year I say I'm going to get a couple more molds, but every year after I put the mold up I forget about it! 
Yesterday afternoon I got "in the zone".  I made 3 batches of Texas Millionaires:  1 to give to my next-door-neighbor (who supplies me with the pecans!), 1 to my sister (the one who gave me the scarf- her hubby says mine are the best!), and the rest for us.
These are another pain to make.  I even got a blister from mixing the pecans in with the melted caramels.  This was an all-afternoon event because I made 1 batch at a time (I've never tried to put 2 batches together; I would think it would really be hard to mix all those pecans in all that caramel).  Oh, but they're so worth it!  Kraft has made it a little easier by packaging "Caramel Bits":  little bits of caramel that aren't in a wrapper.  It's a bit of a time saver.
Next was another new item:  Red Velvet Cookies
 And, of course I had to sample one.  Goodness gracious, they're good!  Again, it didn't make as many as the recipe said it would.  Hey, if you're going to make something, you might as well make it big!
Then, I made some of the peanut butter/kisses cookies.  I usually use a recipe to make the dough, but decided to use the roll of cookie dough.
Big mistake.  Oh, it looks okay here, but they just weren't as thick as they are when I use the recipe, and, guess what?  Yep, that's right...they just didn't make very many.
And, just for good measure, I needed to use the bananas that were really ripe:
Supper was flatbread sandwiches and left over Chicken Tortilla Soup.  It was a free for all feeding frenzy:
Poor FES stood back.  I don't think he knew what to think!  He'll learn quick enough, though.  He's been coming up every so often and asking if everything is ready.   I haven't been completely torturing him, though.  I've given him (and YS) tastes here and there.  
On the agenda for today:  Peanut butter fudge, the Peppermint/candycane cookie from Pampered Chef, and the pretzel/rollo/pecan stuff.  Oh, and a break to have lunch with a couple of sisters and my mom!

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