Category Archives: Holidays

Merry Christmas!

I only made a few changes to our Christmas decorations this year.  I think the biggest impact change was to the exterior of our house.  I purchased some bows for our window wreaths and it really made them pop on the house this year.

2016-christmas-exterior 2016-christmas-wreath

I also added a few new porch decorations.  There was a vintage sled that we got from Bradley’s grandparents and a bucket with “snowballs” in it.  I added two golden resin deer next to the door as well.

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On our dining table, I added a simple red and white table runner that I had picked up at the end of the season last year.  My thanksgiving cactus is blooming like crazy for me this year.

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On the mantle, I used the Willow Tree nativity from Bradley’s grandparents again, but to help everything feel less washed out, I added a cute Merry Christmas banner that Target was carrying this year.

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Our biggest change inside was moving the tree from the foyer to the front window in the living room.  I bought new floral picks to use as the tree topper this year.

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I got to go to the aquarium this month and do the penguin and sea otter experiences, so I picked up this ornament while I was there.
2016-aquarium-ornament

Countdown to Christmas: Amish Friendship Bread

Friendship Bread

Every year, I start a batch of Amish Friendship bread before Christmas.  When it is time to make the bread, instead of giving away part of the starter, I go ahead and make all five batches of bread.  It yields 30 small loaves.  I cut nesting tags using my Silhouette Cameo and tie each loaf with baker’s string.  We give them to co-workers, neighbors and other friends.

I thought I would share the starter/bread recipe that I use here.

Amish Friendship Bread

Starter

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar

*Do not use metal bowls or spoons.  Do not refrigerate*

Dissolve yeast in small amount of warm water.  Mix all ingredients together in ample size bowl (it will grow).  Transfer starter to a 1-gallon ziplock bag.  This is day 1 of the recipe.

Day1:   Do nothing to starter
Day 2:   Squeeze bag.
Day 3:   Squeeze bag.
Day 4:   Squeeze bag.
Day 5:   Squeeze bag.
Day 6:   (In bag) add 1 cup self-rising flour, 1 cup milk, and 1 cup sugar.  Seal bag. Squeeze bag to mix.
Day 7:   Squeeze bag.
Day 8:   Squeeze bag.
Day 9:   Squeeze bag.
Day 10:   In a plastic bowl, combine the bag of mix with 1 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup self-rising flour.  Mix well with spoon.  Pour 1 cup of starter in a 1-gallon ziplock bag.  Make 3 more bags with 1 cup starter each.  Total of 4 bags.  Keep 1 bag and give the other 3 bags with this recipe to friends.  You will be left with 1 cup of starter in the bowl.

(Bread may be made on day 8, 9, or 10)

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2 c. self-rising flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. sugar
1 large box instant vanilla pudding
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
1 c. oil
1/2 c. milk
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix by hand.  Grease 6 small loaf pans.  Mix 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 3 Tbsp. sugar.  Coat bottom and sides of pans with mixture.  Fill each pan 1/2 full with batter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Bake for 45 minutes at 325° (I use the convection oven at 300°)

Countdown to Christmas: Inside

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This year, I was able to plug our tree up in the foyer without running extension cords into the living room, thanks to the new outlet the electricians installed earlier this year.  As always our tree is filled with ornaments we pick up on vacations and for important life events.  This year we added a few more:

Jovie OrnamentIn April, we adopted our second dog, Jovie.  Her ornament is almost identical to Buddy’s but I couldn’t find anything else I liked any better.  The Personalized tags I added to the top were from a necklace I ordered through Groopdealz.
Seattle OrnamentIn August, I picked up two ornaments during the road trip from Seattle to San Francisco with my mom and sister.  The first was from the Space Needle, and the second is from the National Redwood Forest.
Redwood Ornament Dianne OrnamentIn May my mom’s only sister passed away from cancer.  She was like a second mother to my sister and me – we took most of our vacations with her as we grew up.  She has given me quite a few ornaments over the years, but each niece and nephew got these this year.  She had cross-stitched them in 1990.  She is so missed by all of us.

To check out our other ornaments and trees from years past, go here.Card HolderI moved my card holders into the foyer this year now that I’ve added the botanical prints on the dining room wall.

Table SettingOn the breakfast table, I added my one-piece nativity under a cloche and slipped an old beaded wreath around it. I use simple snowflake dishes from Target and pair them with my everyday china and some silver glass chargers that I picked up at Goodwill several years ago.  I added the red plaid napkins this year to pick up on the red wreath in the center.DSC02592In the dry bar area where I keep my stand mixer, I filled the bowl with contemporary Shiny Brite ornaments I found on clearance after last Christmas.

Christmas Centerpiece

My dining room table is almost bare this year.  I end up using the table a lot so this is what happens.  I’ve been looking for a table runner that can at least fill it out a little more – I just haven’t found one I love yet.  I filled my large lantern with vintage ornaments I started collecting a few years ago.  I buy a couple more each year.

In the background, I’ve added a couple of red pillows to my normal green ones in the living room.  I also use a red metal tray on the coffee table to add a little more color.
I put all of my nativity sets in the den.  I used the Willow Tree set from Bradley’s grandparents on the mantle.  I added magnolia branches and some electric candles my mom gave me for my birthday to fill out the sides of the mantle.

Christmas Mantle

This nativity was a wedding shower gift from my aunt.  She knew that I prefer nativities with abstract faces.  It means even more now that she’s gone.Dianne Nativity

Bradley’s dad brought this nativity back from Africa several years ago.  Africa Nativity As always, one our favorite Christmas tchotchkes is the big bulb ornament I made several years ago.  I also put out some brass deer I got from Goodwill with a gold mercury glass tree.Bulb Ornament

And the bulldog treat jar can’t be left out, so he got a santa hat this year.  The tiny nativity ornament next to him was a gift from my best friend.  Her husband picked it up on a mission trip to Peru.Christmas Bulldog

To check out our outdoor decor, go here.

Countdown to Christmas: Outside

House ChristmasFor Christmas this year, I broke down and bought wreaths for each window, because with so much symmetry to our house I really like the look of the wreaths.  I was able to get them hung, but bows will have to wait until next year.  I just have too much going on to get 11 wreath bows made before Christmas this year!

I kept the UGA wreath on the front door, because I still love it.

Front Door

Front Door2

For my birthday, my mom and sister made and bought cheery pillows for the chairs on our front porch.  I love them!  I should probably change out the seat cushions this time of year as well…

Front Porch2

Front Porch1

The only other outdoor decor we do is white string lights wrapped around the trunk of the Japanese Maple tree in front of the garage.

 

Christmas Decorating

This is our first Christmas in our new home.  It is larger than our first house, so all of the decorations are spread out a little more.  I started Thanksgiving week putting out the nativities and other tabletop decorations.  After several years of leaving it in the boxes, I pulled out the Willow Tree nativity that Bradley’s grandparents gave us.  I split it between the two bookcases flanking the fireplace.  My other nativities also went on the shelves of the bookcases.

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The bookcase also holds the brass deer I found at Goodwill one year and a gold mercury glass tree.  The FaLaLa sign hangs from the back of the same shelf to help fill it out.

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This is our nativity from South Africa given to us by Bradley’s dad.

African Nativity

My aunt gave me this nativity as part of our wedding gift.

Colorful Nativity

My best friend gave me this miniature nativity from Peru.

Peruvian Nativity

On the mantle, I layered two faux evergreen garlands.  I tucked pheasant feathers and magnolia leaves from the yard into the garland.  I found the fabric-covered ‘Merry Christmas’ signs at Michaels.  Not knowing what I was going to use them for, I thought the plaid pattern was cute, but in the garland it makes the sign hard to read, so in hindsight I wish I had bought both in solid red.

2014 Christmas Mantle

Below on the hearth, I added my collection of antique ornaments to the blue glass jars with a little faux snow in the bottom to cushion them.

2014 Christmas Antique Ornaments

On the breakfast table, I removed the bow from a red bead wreath and set it under the orchid bowl to add color.  I also brought out the snowflake plates that came from Target several years ago.

Orchid wreath

In the dining room, we use our table as a buffet almost weekly for our small group, so I kept it simple with my porcelain one-piece nativity under a glass cloche nestled in the feather wreath I got from Tuesday Morning a couple of years ago.

Christmas table centerpiece

In the living room, the decorations are sparse, including a couple of mirrored trees – one from Target and the other from Bealls, and the ornament I made years ago from large Christmas string light bulbs.  I picked up two of the red and white knit decorative pillows from Target this year to go with my green houndstooth pillows – mine are handmade using Robert Allen fabric, but Target is carrying similar ones this year.

Mirrored TreesLight Bulb Ornament

A few years ago, we made a system for displaying Christmas cards we receive using metal cords and loop from Home Depot and clips from Radio Shack.  I hung them on a big empty wall in the dining room.

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