Monday, December 31, 2012

Peaceful Snow

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.
~Isaiah 1:18
There's something about snow ... clean, white snow that seems so peaceful.
Everything appears calm & still, blanketed over by a snow coat.
The world is quieter, almost as if it's resting.
Even when it's dark out, the whole world seems lighter, brighter.

It even dresses up the trees, especially the pines, making them picture perfect.

James went out & took these beautiful pictures so I could share with you what it looks like
at our house right now.
Over the last week, we've gotten about 12-15 inches of snow.
{& it's currently snowing ... again ... with an expected accumulation of a few more inches.}

This one is my favorite ...
our little wood pile capped off by fluffy snow, with just a peek of green underneath.

This tree still has a nest in it.

Isn't this little nest adorable?
Looks like the birdie found some fishing wire & twine to build with.

Love the snow-covered pines.

My Japanese Maple ... a mother's day gift from James & the boys, it's my favorite little tree.

My old sled ... it sits on the porch, but James couldn't resist sitting it on the snow for this pic.

Beautiful bare branches~
{you can actually see little buds ... prior to all this snow, it was unseasonably warm!}

This is what it looked like Christmas night as the snow was falling.

And cause I can't resist, I have to show you my new kitchen towel.
I bought it & promptly came home to tell James that I had found our dream home ;)
It's complete with snow & pine trees.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Garbage Bread

Looking for a yummy snack for your New Year's Eve festivities?
Ya know, the day before you have to eat all the cabbage, corned beef, & blacked eyed peas?
Well, I've got one for ya ... & this one has just the right amount of zing!
I found this one on good ol' Pinterest {of course!}.
I adjusted it a bit for our tastes & according to my guys, it was a winner.

Now, I'll have to admit, when I first came across this one, I thought, "garbage bread...what in the world?!"
Turns out, it's pretty much a calzone or a stromboli ... just stuffed with 'not so Italian' ingredients.
The term garbage bread indicates what you can do with this recipe:  stuff it with all kinds of garbage goodies.

Let's not making this more difficult than what it is, so here goes.

Your ingredients:  pizza dough, chicken, buffalo sauce, cheese, ranch {or blue cheese}

Cube or shred chicken {approx. 3 cups} & mix in about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sauce.
I did it all right on my cutting board cause there's no need to dirty up another dish.
All about easy here =)
I used Louisiana hot sauce cause it's my favorite & it's what I always have on hand.

Next, roll out your pizza dough on a lightly floured surface.
This is one dough, bought in the freezer section of the grocery store.
{thaw according to package directions}

Place dough on cookie sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray.
Spread  1/2 cup of ranch dressing onto the dough & top with shredded cheeses,
8 oz of mozzarella & 4 oz sharp cheddar.

Lastly, evenly layer on all the saucy chicken & roll 'er up!

To keep it from oozing out the sides, leave an inch or so around the edges to help 'seal' it together.
Also, it'll bake through perfectly if it's not rolled too tightly.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

 Let it rest 5-10 minutes before slicing into it.

 Oooey, gooey, cheesy perfection.

Buffalo Chicken Garbage Bread

3 c. chopped chicken breasts
1 pizza dough {thaw according to package directions}
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of buffalo sauce
1/3 cup of ranch {you can use blue cheese dressing, if you'd prefer}

Preheat oven to 375°.
Cube/shred chicken & season with salt and pepper.
Coat chicken with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of buffalo sauce. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll pizza dough into a rectangular shape.
Place on lightly sprayed cookie sheet.
Layer on ingredients in this order:  ranch, cheeses, chicken.

Roll up, seam side down.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Christmas Pantle

It's back again ... the pantle.
My piano that doubles as a mantle = pantle.

Here is it decked out in simple Christmas duds.
Nothing too froo~froo this year.

Don't a pair of old skates add tons of charm?

Add in the old chippy window & burlap ...
& an antique mirror & a red clock ...

& for the final touch:  pine cones!
Love, love pine cones!

Besides the skates that I picked up earlier in the year, there's not a single new thing.
All favorites, used over & over again.

Since this look is more wintry than Christmasy,
I'm not going to be in too big a hurry to take any of this down.

What about you ... do you leave out winter decor after Christmas is over?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Cinnamon-Sugar Jar


When our twins were in kindergarten {12 yrs ago}, their class {all 6 of them} 
made these for Christmas gifts.
{Our sons attended a Christian school for a few years before we began homeschooling.}
It's a glass baby food jar, filled with a cinnamon-sugar mixture.

It had a pretty square of Christmas-themed material covering the lid, 
& was all tied up with a matching ribbon.

To this day, this jar has not left my pantry shelf.
It's been refilled many, many times, & has been used quite regularly {as you can tell} ...
& I'll probably be using it for years to come.
I'll probably be telling my grandchildren someday of how their daddies 
made me the cinnamon-sugar jar for Christmas.

To them, it was a little glass treasure to give to their momma.
I'll never forget their excitement when they gave it to me that Christmas.

To me, it's still a little glass treasure ... & a sweet memory that warms my heart 
each time I think of it.

It's small moments like this in which I'm reminded how much I've been blessed.

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.  ~W.T. Ellis
He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.  ~Roy L. Smith

Here are my sweet boys, taken in '98 {I believe}

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Orange Peel Potpourri

Tis the citrus season.

A couple weeks ago, I bought my 1st huge box of navel oranges.
{Yes, I've bought oranges lotss of time, just not a ginormous box of them!}

It instantly took me back to my childhood.
Dad would buy a big box of oranges from the local high school band when they'd come by
selling them door-to-door.
He'd keep the box in the bedroom closet where it was dark & cool.
They were the best oranges.

I bought mine from Florida citrus seller that came to our area selling the boxes straight off the truck ...
& they did not disappoint.
The oranges are so sweet & juicy.

Now, on to the potpourri.

My hubs decided to juice several of these to surprise me with a big ol' glass of fresh-squeezed OJ
the other morning.
When I saw the pile of orange peels, I decided to throw them in a pot to boil.

 I added in a couple spices from the cabinet.

Let me tell you, I had NO idea the goodness that would waft forth from that little pot!
And for days!!
I have boiled these for several days & they almost look like they are candied, at this point.
My kitchen smells uh-mazing!

I simmered these on low, adding water throughout the day as it cooked down.
At the end of the evening, I put the cooled kettle in the fridge & pulled it out the next morning
to simmer all over again.

I'll probably toss this out this evening.
I'll like putting the peels of any citrus through my garage disposal.
Cleans it & makes is smell so good.

And tomorrow morning, I'll start a whole new fresh batch.
{I've been keeping peels in a plastic storage container in my fridge.}

You have got to try this.
Especially at this time of year, this easy orange peel potpourri will make your kitchen
whole house extra cozy.

Easy Orange Peel Potpourri
orange peels {1 or 4 ... it doesn't matter how many}
spices {I used about 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon & nutmeg -- you could variate here
w/cloves, nutmeg, etc}

Place above ingredients in small kettle & cover with water.
Simmer on low, adding in water as it cooks down.

You could add in cinnamon sticks instead of ground cinnamon.
You could even throw in cranberries.

Very versatile ... very wonderful.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Crock of Christmas ~ Details

Hmmm, I say, as I'm looking around the house.
What can I put my tree into? 
My crock! 
I think YES! 

And that was precisely how this new favorite came about.

My kitchen tree was already up & decorated, mind you, when I had this light bulb thought.
This resulted in some very careful finagling by James & the boys.
The base of this tree was a metal rod & plate screwed into the tree .... waaaaay up into the tree.
So, we tilted the tree over on the counter a bit, held on tight, & the guys took turns carefully
unscrewing the base.
Finally, after lots & lots of unscrewing, it finally came off.


We sat the tree down inside & I stuffed pillows tightly around it to keep it upright.
The red checked fabric is what covered the base originally & again makes the perfect addition.

The tree has a strand of red lights & a strand of multi-color/function lights.
It's decorated with an odds & ends assortment of ornaments.
Several were made by the boys when they were small ... & some I made when I was in grade school.
So glad my mom kept all those & has now given them to me to use.

Here are some of my favorites.
I love mittens & this strand of sugary berries garland.

One of my favorite tricks to make an artificial tree look more 'real' ... 
I add sprigs of various greenery & berries to my Christmas trees.
I love the contrasting textures & shades of green.
This is a long garland of berries that I've woven along the front of the tree.

Isn't this old-fashioned red union suit great? 

I added red checked bows to the top of some of my ornaments.

And an apron is a must-have on a kitchen tree!

I have several of these primitive lil' snowmen.

I love this crazy-bearded Santa =)

This tree has several gingerbread men ... even a 'snow' gingerbread man!

This one I love ... a cookie sheet full of adorable gingerbread boys & girls.

 And for the topper, a bird's nest.

Several years ago, my sweet friend Paula gave me this bird's nest at Christmas time.
The card inside told of an old German legend.
It said if you find a bird nest in the tree you harvest for Christmas, 
you will have an entire year of health and happiness.
So, in the spirit of the legend, you should tuck the nest into one of the branches of your tree with all the best wishes of the old legend.
I have used it as a topper every year since.
                                 I added a large branch of greenery behind it for some height.

Cooper by the tree ... one of his favorite hang-outs.

Hope your kitchen is filled with the things you love this Christmas!

Merry Christmas from my kitchen to yours.