Archive | December, 2011

Silent Night: Putting the Holidays to Bed

29 Dec

With Santa back at the North Pole, starting to make presents for next year, I’m left with fake snow, bits of wrapping paper and old cookies at my home. Every year, I look forward to the holidays, and they are over just as fast as they began. Where did November and December go? For those of you who read my blog often, you are probably wondering what the heck I did over the holiday. Well, let’s count it down through photos, shall we?

I did a ton of baking! Find the recipe on my Dec. 27 post!

We headed to Port Charlotte ... and yes, this was the beautiful Christmas tree that greeted us!


PoppaNut and I got to spend time with my sister and her family. Quinn really warmed up to me this time.


My brother sent this "dancing boob" toy to my dad for Christmas. I love my family! We laughed at this for hours.


My dad and PoppaNut made one delicious breakfast for all of us.


The Charlie Brown Christmas tree got a makeover.


Me and PoppaNut loved our Port Charlotte visit!


Trevor, Kenzie, PoppaNut and Mason had a fun time playing together.


JR literally cheered for every gift he got!


Grandma and Quinn even spent some time together. It was wonderful to see my grandparents!

I LOVED that my mom got presents for Peanut and Cashew!Next, we headed to Safety Harbor for our annual Christmas Eve celebration. Here is PoppaNut with Halie.


Josh, Jordan and Halie had fun all dressed up for the holidays.


Me and PoppaNut had a good time!


Josh loved his girlie calendar ... thanks to PoppaNut

There were so many presents to open.Mia and Grandpa had fun too!


Peanut and Cashew loved their new bed from Santa.PoppaNut and I were up at 6:30 a.m. opening gifts we were so excited.


I cried when I opened by dad's guitar and saw that PoppaNut had it cleaned up, re-strung and a gift card to have guitar lessons!And what cowgirl can be without the proper footwear???


This is when PoppaNut learned he will be having breakfast with a Yankees player on March 25!

After playing with new toys all day, we cleaned ourselves up and made dinner! It was the perfect ending to Christmas.

And that’s life in a nutshell … remember to enjoy every moment of the holidays. They just go by so fast, you don’t want to miss anything! Keep that in mind when the ball drops this Saturday night!

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Ring In the New Year: New Year’s Eve Recipes

27 Dec

Have any of you heard of Pinterest? My sister introduced me to recently, and I completely fell in love with it. It took a few tries to get used to (a dear coworker helped me figure this site out when I was ready to throw the towel in), but now I’m hooked. Basically, this site collects content from a ton of different places. I find DIY craft ideas, recipes and more.

So, before the holidays, I printed out several recipes from Pinterest and I decided to make them. You’ll find two here. These two are also perfect for any New Year’s Eve celebrations you might have in store. Make them for yourselves, and let me know what you think too!

Pretzel & Chocolate Treats


One bag of pretzels (I got the square kinds), one bag of M&Ms, one bag of Hershey Kisses


Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Spread pretzels on a cookie sheet, and make sure they are laying flat.

Then, unwrap a million Hershey Kisses, and place them on top of each pretzel.

Now, put the cookie sheet in the oven for just about three minutes. You just want the kiss to get soft. Then, press one M&M into each kiss. I got the red and green variety, but for New Year’s, try the multi-colored kind or order some special ones from the M&M’s website!

Allow to cool completely. I popped mine in the fridge for a few minutes to help the chocolate get firm. Then, eat and enjoy!

Oven-Baked Ham & Cheese Sliders

Ingredients for Sliders

6 good white dinner rolls, 1/2 pound of good honey ham, small slices Swiss cheese, 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 cup miracle whip

Ingredients for Poppy Seed Sauce

1 Tablespoon poppy seeds, 1 1/2 Tablespoons spicy yellow mustard, 1/2 cup butter, melted, 1 Tablespoon minced onion, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and miracle whip. Spread onto both sides of the center of each roll. Place a few slices of ham and a slice of Swiss inside of each roll. Close rolls and place them into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet. Place very close together.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. You do not have to use all of the sauce! Just use enough to cover the tops. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly brown and crispy. Serve warm.

And that’s life in a nutshell … finding a new site to get new recipes has been quite delicious in the end. I hope you make these for your New Year’s celebration!



Inside Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen: A Holiday Recipe Swap

16 Dec

Today, I received a special delivery to my inbox from my gal pal Melissa. Melissa and I went to Indiana University together, and we have stayed close friends ever since (See post). Melissa and her boyfriend Matt have always been amazing cooks … Matt literally made a salmon spread after a night of drinking!

Melissa and I on Sanibel Island, the last time we saw each other.

So, it didn’t surprise me at all when I saw Melissa and her sister Kimberly starting a holiday recipe swap. This is what the email said:

Happy Holidays!

We are participating in a collective, constructive, and TASTY experiment. As such, you have been invited to be part of a recipe exchange concept. We hope you will participate. We have picked those we think would make this fun. Please send a recipe to the person whose name is in position 1 (even if you don’t know him/her) and it should be something quick, easy and without rare ingredients. Actually, the best one is the one you know in your head and can type right now.

Don’t agonize over it, it is one you make when you are short of time.

After you’ve sent the recipe to the person in position 1 below and only to that person, copy this letter into a new email, move my name to position 1 and put your name in position 2. Only my and your name should show when you send your email. Send to 20 friends BCC (blind copy). If you cannot do this within 5 days, let us know so it will be fair to those participating. You should receive 36 recipes. It’s fun to see where they come from! Seldom does anyone drop out because we all need new ideas. The turnaround is fast as there are only 2 names on the list and you only have to do it once.

1 – Kimberly  

2 – Melissa

Upon receiving this, I immedately sent Kimberly my apple-pie recipe. And then I sent the email to 20 of my friends, family and coworkers. But then I got to thinking. Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone posted their favorite recipe on my blog and then we could all share in the fun!

This apple pie is amazing! Use a cookie cutter for the crust to keep it seasonal!

So, that is my challenge for you. Find a great recipe and share it as a comment below. Then, I’ll start making them and blogging about each one!

And that’s life in a nutshell … I can’t wait to get my hands on your secret family recipes. Those always taste the best!


Have a Holly Jolly Christmas: My Favorite Things About the Holidays

14 Dec

With Christmas right around the corner, there are a ton of things happening that I just love about the holidays. It’s a magical time of year when life seems pure and innocent. You forget about the stresses of life and you simply enjoy all the jolly spirits around you. So, I have decided to countdown my top 10 favorite things about the season.

1. Santa: Christmas would just not be the same without Santa Claus. He is the mascot that brings everything together. I literally saw Santa riding around town on a giant lighted float yesterday. I wanted to tell him to get back to work, but he just seemed so happy. His rosy cheeks and hearty laugh always put me in the holiday spirit.

2. Holiday Lights: I remember when my dad and mom used to take us kids around Winding Brook neighborhood in Mishawaka, Indiana to look at all the holiday lights. This neighborhood is completely amazing. Nearly every house is completely decked with lights and Christmas displays. And while I didn’t really appreciate being stuck in a car with my whole family during my teen years, I can certainly appreciate the tradition now.

3. Christmas Music: There is nothing like listening to “Jingle Bells” on repeat while you decorate your Christmas tree. I get out all my holiday CDs, and just listen as much as I possibly can. It certainly helps to have this type of music playing when you live in Florida. It can trick my mind into believing it really is December while I put my flip-flops on.

4. Hot Chocolate: There is not many times you can have hot chocolate while you live in Florida, so I take advantage of it when the temperature dips below 60 in the evenings. With the air cranked down to 60 in the house, I whip up a cup of hot chocolate and sprinkle in a few marshmallows on top. And just like that, I have created Christmas in a cup.

5. Shopping: I love shopping all the time, but it is especially true at Christmas. Now, don’t get me wrong. You probably won’t find me in a mall. I completely hate the long lines, the pushing, the disorganization in the stores and swiping my card again and again through the manual machines because each one acts differently from the next. No, no, no … mall shopping is for dummies. I stay online, and the UPS man does all the work. I love finding the perfect present for the ones I love, and I love that they arrive at my door about four days later.

6. Vacation Time: Ok, let’s get real. Everyone loves a day off of work. It is awesome to wake up on a day you should be at work and realize you don’t have to go in. And I LOVE my job. So I know you guys can certainly agree with me. This year, I’m actually able to take three days off around the holidays, and I can’t wait for those days to arrive. Let the Christmas countdown begin.

7. Christmas Pajamas: I love to wear pajamas. You know, those big fleece pajamas with snowflakes or Santas all over them … I can’t get enough of them. Each year, I collect a new pair of holiday pajamas. For some reason, those jammies can just put me in the holiday spirit with their coziness. If you haven’t tried this one, get your butt to Old Navy and pick out your next pair! And mean … if Kim K. can do it …

8. Holiday Movies: I would have to say that I’m completely obsessed with “Elf.” Every time I watch that, I pick up another really funny line that I missed the time before. And I love that the cable channels play it on repeat a million times in case you missed it. “A Christmas Story” is classic, as it takes place in Indiana, my home state, after all. “Scrooged” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” are favorites too!

9. Christmas Breakfast: Ever since I was a little girl, my family sat down to a huge Christmas breakfast on Christmas morning. It has always been a tradition, and we have carried on the tradition into our own home. Biscuits and gravy, eggs, hash browns, fresh OJ and coffee are just a few items on the menu. Of course, that is followed by a holiday nap and then another helping of leftovers. Yum! And it all looks so wonderful on my Christmas china too!


10. Family: And now for my sentimental closing … the holidays are really about spending time with your family. It is about reconnecting with the ones you love, showing them how much you appreciate them and celebrating your lives together. And while the Christmas pajamas and holiday music help us do that, those things wouldn’t mean a thing if we didn’t have family.

And that’s life in a nutshell … now please tell me what your favorite things are about the holiday season.



Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas: Oldsmar’s Winter Wonderland

5 Dec

Every year, Oldsmar has a huge winter wonderland downtown, and I have been super jazzed to check it out since we moved to Oldsmar. Unfortunately, we have always seemed to miss it, but I was able to make it this year. Everyone met at my house, which gave Miss Madison plenty of time to spend with Peanut and Cashew before we took off.

Once we got down there, we watched tons of kids slide down a huge snow/ice mountain. Man, did that thing look dangerous! Kids were just whipping down there … this looked like an insurance nightmare to me, but the kids seemed to have a good time.

After we met the Grinch, we decided to leave to grab some dinner. At Cody’s, we all filled up on tons of yummy food. Kaylee decorated our table area with her beautiful designs while Ashley read my blog for any typos.

Once we ate, we headed back home for jammie time before saying nighter to our T Ts!

And that’s life in a nutshell … you really can get into the holiday spirit with a mountain of slush and a generic Grinch nearby.


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