Holiday parties – no one can STOP talking about



Home is my favorite destination for Christmas.

This year, with the violence encircling us,  it’s been disconcerting hasn’t it?  

Maybe, that’s why our nostalgic Christmas decor has brought such joy and peace this year.  I found some forgotten Christmas treasures in the dark abyss of our attic – things not seen to man – maybe to other creatures, though, haha!

Remember those moving Christmas trees that sang carols and opened their eyes real wide, yup – one of those were up in the attic, as well.  Don’t the older decorations seem soulful, oozing with memories and unique forgotten features.

FullSizeRender-4This year, our family decided to get onboard with a new tradition for us.   We threw a “UGLY Christmas Sweater Party.”   What a fun night now we had!

For the main course at the party, we decided to serve an assortment of colorful mini tacos.  At first, I was going to fry up about 150 mini corn tortillas, right before the party started, and then I thought twice, maybe not.

Check out this fun website, my husband found to save me from certain angst:  Mini Taco Shells

To make the preparation even simpler, we asked each guest to bring either an appetizer, salad or dessert based on the first letter of their last names.  Like A-J bring this – you get the idea.

Luckily, after combing the internet, I found some unique recipes for the fillings for fish tacos, chicken tacos, ground beef and mini pork tacos.

Mini Taco Stand

They worked out great because they could be prepared in advance (except the fish, of course)  and placed in the freezer.

Take a look:                           

Fish Tacos

Chicken Tacos

Ground Beef Tacos

Carnitas Tacos

For a more intimate party setting, I decided this year I would finally get dinner plates for Christmas.  But if you’re like me, you’ve been contemplating purchasing a Christmas or holiday set of dishes for ages, possibly 30 years, or are you only tired of the set you bought – decades ago?  Maybe not, maybe you are fixed up in this regard, but not me, I’ve always wanted some plates and kept putting the choice off.

Instead of choosing one set I looked for individual plates for every dinner guest at the table, targeting local thrift stores and also on  My goal was to end up with both a unique look, for not only next year’s Christmas dinner party, but for forever and ended up with a look won’t grow old!

Pictured below, are some I found.


yellow snowman plate blue rimmed plate s-l1600-4 s-l1600-2 red rimmed plate ribbon plate s-l1600 asian looking christmas plate s-l1600-3 Winterberry Plate pear christmas present plate














My guess is, as Christmas comes and goes, the prices on these -“oldies but goodies”, will diminish.





Santa Candle

OK, back to the early stuff already purchased. Check out these Santa and ice cream cone candles below, I found them at a thrift shop a couple of years back and yes, as goofy as it seems, they make me smile!  Here’s another place, where a pedestal cake plate, works to display smaller items at eye level.

Craft projects are quite entertaining for me at this time of year.   I have the time, finally, and I’m not alone, literally everyone seems bitten by the creativity bug.  Have you looked at PINTEREST lately?

It’s astounding the ideas out there.  If you like to cook, decorate, bake and or create, I’ll say it again…you should consider joining PINTEREST



Like most people, every year, we try to weed out the Christmas decor that has, you know, passed it’s prime and sometimes look for other treasures.   Yes, there’s always room for one more – do I sound like a hoarder – LOL?!

I felt fortunate this year to buy this sled on (it was a bit odd for me)  I sold many antique ones, over the years, in my store)  Gosh, I miss those days of taking buying trips, meeting dear folk and finding incredibly exciting things.  We looked for purchases from Tulsa, OK to Omaha, NE, out in the boonies, it was quite an experience – “YOU BETCHA,” it’s so rewarding.

Amber Waves Antiques, Pinetop, AZ


Then, getting back in town well after midnight sometimes and racing back to the store to get it all off-loaded, priced and then the FUN part, displaying it.  Often, I’d stay closed and customers would beg me to give them a peak before the others, but I was too busy! In a day or two, the whole look of the store would be transformed, it was delightful and very hard work, but the best!  We sold sleds with steering wheels, toboggans, gorgeous old wooden skis, so many of these dear things for decorating mountain homes.  Those were the days, as they say!


But, as many of you can relate, I didn’t hold onto many of these items after moving across the country back to Northern California.  This year, I decided, why not purchase a couple of them, to remind me of that time, long ago up in Pinetop, AZ.   Of course, I paid WAY more than I was used to paying, as I combed the country, but I didn’t have to drive two days both ways and with a few clicks,  I found them.

Here’s a pair of aged women’s skates, I searched for online.  They are arriving soon and cannot wait.  A word of advice doesn’t ship SmartPost at Christmas, even if FEDEX says they will still get there in time.  They shipped on the 8th of Dec and still haven’t arrived here, and it’s now the 18th of December.

Another family tradition is baking caramel rolls, the kind my Norwegian great-grandmother from Fargo, N. Dakota made for special cold mornings, especially Christmas morn.  Of course, we enjoy baking cookies and inviting dear friends over for a party, as this makes not having our adult children with us, a little easier to swallow.   Darn it, we want them to grow up and spread their wings – just not at Christmas!

Caramel Rolls


When I spend the afternoon – most of my day or days, baking with Christmas music on, sometimes still in my PJ’s till noon, it makes for a warm and cozy start of my time. There’s nothing like dancing around on your kitchen floor to a Hawaiian Christmas tune.

One of my newest discoveries, is how many things can be frozen till needed – even fillings for cream pies.  Many websites say you can’t freeze the cream fillings, but I found one that you absolutely could and they were correct.  For you Cream Pie lovers, the filling for chocolate, banana and butterscotch cream pies froze fine.  I made the pumpkin and pecan pies completely to the point of baking and froze them as well. Be sure and unthaw the cream pie fillings in your refrigerator due to the eggs and dairy products in them.  I didn’t unthaw the fruit or pumpkin and pecan pies – they went straight from freezer into the oven. Also, you can do a quick freeze with anything  with frosting on it, like yummy cookies, just set them uncovered on a dinner plate for 10-15 minutes and then place in your tupperware container without fear of them “glumping” (is that a word?) together.  This last Thanksgiving, I froze fruit pies two weeks before baking and popped them directly into my oven – it worked super!

If you don’t already have a vacuum seal machine, it’s quite useful for protecting these precious baked goodies.

We have this model:  Foodsaver V-3835 Vacuum SealerVacuum Sealeral

Here’re some more articles on freezing pies:

Freezing Pies

What is the Best Method for Freezing Pies?

Don’t make the same mistake I made with my Dutch Apple pie, though,  I undercooked it,  OOPS!  My pumpkin and pecan pies didn’t seem to take any longer than normal, but the fruit pies, now they were a different story.  Frozen pre-made pies can take anywhere from 20-45 minutes longer than the recipe reads, trust me.

Another time-saver I tried this year, was to pre-make the dough for my creme pies early and then refrigerate it for 2-3 days. When we wanted to serve the cream pies, all I had to do was simply roll out the dough and bake it.  Online, it said that if you coat the pie crust after it comes out, and completely cools, with a thin layer of quality chocolate, your banana cream pies will be splendid.   It seems to me the South has this down, as their pecan pies are often enhanced by this chocolate decadence.

A tradition such as, Christmas Cookie Exchanges, provide additional magic, don’t they?   This year, my guests at our party are bringing the equivalent of one recipe (3 dozen) petite size cookies to exchange.  I picked up inexpensive paper platters to display them on and they are taking the exchanged cookies home in their original containers.  It’s been over 15 years since I’ve done a cookie exchange  and can’t wait!

Here’s more advice on what’s so special about a cookie exchange in this day and age from the Washington Post: There’s more to a Cookie Exchange than Cookies

Seeing everyone gather around and examine the table loaded with cookies, is pure pleasure Plus, who can complain about having those confectionary gems in the freezer for guests OR a “SANTA snack.”

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It was fun finding these geometric paper goods for the party food.Platters

Gingham Paper Oval Platters (8)


The “PENGUINS at play” Project, found in a magazine has become a standard, it’s playful, right? This year my granddaughters made one as well in Arizona. See below:

Penguin display by Kenz and Lanie


Sugared fruit, everybody’s most likely seen somewhere over the years.  My kids certainly remember this project.  It makes for an inexpensive, yet earthy centerpiece.  This year I tried something different, I used spray adhesive versus egg whites.  I also added magnolia leaves. This display will stay looking good for weeks.








For a long time now, I’ve been looking for a smaller nativity set for myself and Mom. This one was made in Israel, with actual olive wood from Bethlehem.  It comes with the birth of Jesus Story card and a Lord’s Prayer card as well – we love it!  My old nativity set was too large to store, especially as we look to be scaling back.






Holy Land Nativity set here

Pricefalls Holy Land Nativity Set








Inexpensive, identical seasonal candles or trees can be also placed on a cake pedestal stand or a rustic piece of flat wood or  possibly a long platter for a unique look.  The singularity of shape and color makes it work.


We had fun mixing and matching between different stockings and reindeer, on our mantle this year.   I think sticking with metal and wood candlestick holders also helped to unify the look.

For more ideas on making your mantle work from Better Home & Gardens:  Indoor Mantel Decorating Ideas

Below, I found these mini colored trees at Target – gotta love ’em!  Yes, that’s the fake snow, they sell in a bag.

I admit it – I still like using it – it’s messy, but certainly can be controlled.




alm in the wake of stress

eaps of health

idiculously embarrassing moments


magination of a curious child

imple savory delights

ime for reflection

emories that blow you away

A sense of gratitude

omeone special to love