When in doubt . . . START OVER!



Ok – today’s post could be titled: “GO with your instinct” (OR) “How I Love the Internet!”. Let’s start with last night – I had decided to bake the three ‘breads’ for my neighbors; not being a very adventurous person, I buy the bread mixes. This time I had three different flavors (and two different baking companies): Cranberry-Orange (Betty Crocker), Banana Walnut (Krusteez) and Blueberry (Krusteez). No problems with the baking companies BUT I should have thought before ‘doing’. Made up the Cranberry Orange – it came out perfect – ONE DONE for my neighbor Shirley next door, YAY! Made up the next two, same baking temperature: 425 degrees F. NOW, if you’ve been baking for any length of time you KNOW that’s too high a temperature for baking a loaf/bread, BUT . . . I was rushed and didn’t pay attention. Baked them both the alloted time (something like 50 minutes). SHOULD HAVE checked them! Open the oven and I have two of the nicest BURNT tops & sides loaves you’de ever want to see! GREAT . . . NOW what do I do? Let them cool off, cut off the tops, sides & bottoms and our family won’t mind eating them (warmed up a little with a dab of butter – they’re great). Since I had the night to think about it, I began remembering I have a slew of recipes I’ve saved that were either: easy, few ingredients or just sounded really good – I hit them. End result is: Raspberry Shortbread bars (for Shirley’s daughter & her family who live 2 houses down) and Applesauce Spice Bread (for Willie & Katie – a really sweet older couple who live on the other side). I had the ‘option’ of jumping in the car and racing to the store to see if I could locate more ‘instant’ breads but really didn’t want to face grocery stores this close to Christmas. I had a tiny ‘sample’ of the Rasp. shortbread – it’s really good. The Applesauce Spice bread is in the oven right now. My neighbors are getting used to me being ‘almost on the holiday’ when it comes to delivering their goodies; somehow I just can’t seem to get my baking done EARLIER! NEXT comes the main tree-(No, it’s not ‘up’ yet). After I rest a bit here with you I’m tackling that tree, lights, decorations, etc. It WILL be up today!!!  Middle son stopped by last night and stayed for meatloaf & baked potato dinner; that was nice (leftovers tonight).

Weather-wise it’s stayed the same: no new snow, just a little cold & blowing (temp 29 degrees F.). As I’ve said MANY years, I don’t mind cold – it’s the driving in snow or slush or ice that I don’t care for.

Craft-wise, I was remembering a project I’d copied but never did: it’s either crocheted or knitted ‘popcorn’ strings for the tree, done with white yarn.

thCAFPVWT9                                 thCACLRVNA

These ideas are both crocheted, adding red beads for the ‘cranberries’ – I like the idea and will probably ‘attempt’ it after Christmas.  Our main tree is very small, around 4 foot; it stands on top of our baby grand piano in the living room. In order for it to fit, it HAS to be small, so all of the ornaments are small, also. Through the years I’ve collected all sorts of hand-made ornaments: small crocheted white angels, tiny Swedish ‘flags’ that were embroidered by a friend, various plaster ones painted by my sons, a small nativity ornament carved in olive wood brought home from Jerusalem by a friend – I treasure each one. Do you have particular ornaments you really like? (If so, please write a comment – I’d love to hear from you!)   Oh – as to craft ideas, just ran into this site, it’s mostly crocheted items, but there are TONS of ideas for various crafts: wreaths, garland, ornaments, even a Santa costume for one of those cement geese! You might want to just look it over:


(the only comment I might make here is: when I clicked on the above photos, I wasn’t able to locate the actual PATTERN for them – it just kept routing me to another page of photos. I think I can figure it out for myself, but just wanted to give you a ‘heads up’ in that area, in case you were searching for a particular pattern)

RECIPES! I’m going to start you off with the two I just made – see what you think!


Applesauce Spice Bread

1 1/2 C. applesauce
1 egg
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
2 T. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C. raisins
1/2 C. chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray 9 1/2 X 5 1/2 X 1/2 inch
loaf pan with nonstick spray. Combine
applesauce, egg, sugars, butter &
vanilla in large mixing bowl. Stir in
raisins & pecans & pour into prepared

pan. Bake 55-60 minutes or until bread
tests done. Cool 10 minutes before
removing from pan. Makes 1 loaf.

(recipe: Sandy-Marys Recipe Exchange)

Jam Shortbread

1 (18.25 oz) box buttery cake mix
1/4 C. butter, softened
1 egg 1 (10-12 oz) jar apricot preserves

1/2 C. confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 tsp. water

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Grease & flour a 9 X 13 pan.
In large bowl, combine cake mix, butter &
egg using elec. mixer on Low speed until
crumbly. Press mixture in prepared pan
& spread out, as a crust. Spread crust
with preserves. Bake 20-25 minuts or
until edges are light brown. Combine
Glaze ingredients until smooth. (If
needed, add water, a drop at a time,
for desired consistency) Drizzle over
warm shortbread. Cool completely;
cut into bars.

NOTE: I didn’t have apricot preserves, so

I went with raspberry – about 1 – 1 1/2 C.

and also substituted vanilla for the almond

in the glaze. (I put my glaze on too soon and

now it doesn’t even ‘show’ on the bars – oh,

well . . .)


No Bake Nutella Peanut Butter Cookies

3 T. butter
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/4 C. milk
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 C. peanut butter
3/4 C. Nutella hazelnut spread
(or 1 C. chocolate chips)
2 C. rolled oats

Mix all ingredients together,
roll into balls & place on
waxed paper to set up.
Makes approximately
2 dozen cookies

(recipe: justapinch.com)

Honey Roasted Pork Loin

2 lb. pork loin (boneless)
salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 C. honey
2 T. orange juice
2 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 C. chicken broth
– Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
Season pork, place in roasting pan. In
separate bowl, mix together honey,
juice, oil & thyme; pour over pork.
Add broth to roasting pan; bake
until internal temperature reaches
150 degrees F. (45-60 minutes.)
Baste frequently. Strain pan juices
into a saucepan; heat until
juices reduce – and are slightly

(recipe: Rhonda G-Marys Recipe Exchange)

Snowball Cake
(looks like a big Hostess Snowball dessert)

1 (2 layer) box devil’s food cake mix
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
2 T. granulated sugar
1 (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding mix
1/4 C. powdered sugar
1 C. cold milk
1 (8 oz) tub Cool Whip, thawed
1 C. flake coconut

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Mix cake according to pkg. directions,
using a 2 1/2 quart ovenproof bowl.
Beat cream cheese, egg & granulated
sugar until well blended; spoon into center
of batter in bowl. Bake 1 hour 5 minutes
or until toothpick inserted into center
comes out clean. Cool cake in bowl 10
minutes. Loosen cake from bowl with
knife; invert onto wire rack & cool
cake completely.
Beat dry pudding mix, powdered sugar &
milk in bowl with whisk 2 minutes. Stir in
Cool Whip; refrigerate until ready to use.
Place cake on plate; frost with pudding
mixture. Cover entire cake with flake
coconut. Keep refrigerated. Serves 16

(recipe: Kraft foods)

“Skippy” Truffle Cookies

1 C. (Skippy) creamy peanut butter
1 C. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Combine all ingredients except chocolate
chips, in small bowl until blended. Stir in
chocolate chips just until combined. Drop
dough, using slightly rounded teaspoonfuls,
2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets
(do not flatten). Bake 9 minutes or until
cookies are puffed & golden (cookies will
be very soft). On wire rack, place baking
sheets and let stand 5 minutes. Remove
cookies from sheets & cool completely.
Makes 4 1/2 dozen

(recipe: Unilever)

Golden Mashed Potatoes w/fried onions &

3 1/2 lb. large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled,
1/2 lb. carrots, peeled & coarsely shredded
6 slices smoked bacon
1 T. oil
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/2 C. buttermilk, at room temp.
2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

In large saucepan, cover potatoes & carrots with
2 inches cold water; bring to boil over high heat.
Reduce heat, simmer until potatoes are tender,
about 20 minutes. Cook bacon in large skillet
over medium heat until crisp; drain on paper
towels. Discard all but 2 T. drippings; add oil &
onion to drippings, saute 10 minutes or until
softened & lightly browned. Stir in thyme, cook
2 minutes longer. When potatoes are fork-tender,

drain into collander & transfer mixture to a large bowl.

Add buttermilk,butter & salt; mash until potatoes are

smooth, with small flecks of carrot visible; stir in

onions, crumble bacon over top.

(recipe: Rhonda G-Marys Recipe Exchange)

Candy Cane Fudge

2 (10 oz, ea) pkgs vanilla baking chips
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1 1/2 C. crushed candy canes
1 dash red or green food coloring

Line an 8 inch square baking dish with
aluminum foil; grease foil. Combine

vanilla chips & sweetened Condensed milk
in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir
frequently until almost melted, remove
from heat & continue to stir until smooth.
When chips are completely melted, stir
in peppermint extract, food coloring and
candy canes. Spread evenly in bottom of
prepared pan. Chill 2 hours, then cut into

(recipe: Mary Free-Marys Recipe Exchange)

Speedy Orange Chicken & Rice

1/2 C. mayonnaise or Miracle Whip, divided
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves,
about 1 1/4 lb., cut into strips
1 1/2 C. orange juice
2 T. brown sugar
1 1/2 C. Minute (white) Rice, uncooked
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1/2 C. mandarin orange segments, drained
1/2 C. pineapple chunks, drained

Heat 2 T. mayonnaise or Miracle Whip in
a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken,
cook, stirring 5 minutes or until no longer pink;
drain. Reduce heat to medium. Mix remaining
mayonnaise, orange juice & sugar, stirring to
combine; add to skillet. Add rice & green
pepper, bring to a boil. Remove from heat,
add orange segments & pineapple. Let stand,
covered, 5 minutes.

(recipe: Sandy-Marys Recipe Exchange)


Almond Eggnog Pound Cake

6 T. butter or margarine, divided
2/3 C. sliced almonds
1 (18.25 oz) box yellow cake mix
1 1/2 C. commercial eggnog
2 eggs
1 tsp. rum extract
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Grease a 10 inch tube pan with
2 T. butter. Press almonds onto
bottom and sides of pan; set
aside. In large mixing bowl, beat
using electric mixer:
cake mix, eggnog, eggs, rum
extract, nutmeg & melted butter
on low speed for 2 minutes or until
smooth. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 40-50 minutes or until
a wooden toothpick inserted
into center, comes out clean.
Cool 15 minutes before removing
from pan to a wire rack.
Makes 12-14 servings.

(recipe: Rhonda G-Marys
Recipe Exchange)

2 Ingredient Truffles

8 oz. best quality bittersweet
chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 C. heavy cream
(Coatings: crushed peppermint
candies, toasted sweetened
shredded coconut, finely
chopped pistachios or other
nuts, or cocoa powder)

Place chocolate in medium bowl.
Bring cream to boil in small
saucepan over medium-high
heat; pour over chocolate. Let
sit 2-3 minutes, then whisk
until smooth. Refrigerate,
uncovered, until somewhat
firm, about 1 hour.
Spoon mounds (2 level
teaspoons each) of chocolate
mixture onto a large baking
sheet lined with parchment or
waxed paper; return to
refrigerator 15 minutes.
Place desired coatings in shallow
bowls. Using your hands, roll
mounds into balls, then in coatings,
pressing in & covering completely.
Return to baking sheet, chill until
set, about 30 minutes.
Makes 24

(recipe: Martha Stewart/Shine)

Just thought of another ‘thing’ – do you have particular item/thing you have at your house for the holidays? Example: my husband LOVES cinnamon candy canes. Every other year I was able to find them – at a grocery store, hardware store, drug store – you name it, I found them . . . NOT THIS YEAR! It’s too late, now, to go ‘on line’ and see if they might be obtained (ALTHOUGH that gets my brain working: his birthday is January 23rd SO . . . I just might see if I CAN locate them on line! It’s a thought!). When I was growing up my mom always used to make Rum Balls for the neighbors – the longer they sat in that little tin, the ‘rummier’ they became. For my dad, who was Canadian, it was “Finnan Haddie”: (description, via Yahoo: ‘A very old, very Canadian recipe: dried smoked haddock in a cream sauce.’) I remember my dad LOVED it, but BOY, did it STINK UP the house! YUCK! I tried it, but you couldn’t get me to actually EAT it! Funny . . . traditions. Also, each year wasn’t Christmas unless he made Scotch Shortbread – I LOVED that stuff! (full of calories, but very buttery & rich). If I remember, the recipe was only something like three ingredients: (just looked it up:  1 C. butter, 3/4 C. sugar, 2 C. flour & 1/2 tsp. vanilla).

Anyway, dear hearts, the day is ‘getting on’ and I’m late at getting that blasted TREE done! The Applesauce bread just came out of the oven so I’ll use that ‘cooling down’ time to get those lights on the tree, then it’s wrap up the goodies & deliver to the neighbors. I asked our youngest if he would ‘do the honors’ for me and he said: “Those people don’t know ME! Last year one of the asked “JUST WHO ARE YOU, ANYWAY???” As this son explained, he said “They see YOU all the time, but they don’t know who this pierced, black-wearing punk kid is.” Too bad – they’re such nice neighbors – but they’re older and it WAS their older SON (who no longer lives there ) who answered the door. Guess it’s another of my “jobs” – deliver what you made.

Have a GREAT day! Enjoy whatever weather you have, it’s only a few days now until the BIG DAY! Happy Birthday, Jesus DAY!!!




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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. My favorite ornament it the goose egg one with the swan decoupaged on it that my husband gave me for our first Christmas together as husband and wife. I have always liked swans.

    • It sounds lovely! Our ‘first’ ornaments were plaster ones I painted – we still have several. One in particular is just a flat oval over which I had glued a gold cardboard in the same shape and wrote our first names and the date when we first were engaged.

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