Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve: One of these things is not like the others . . .

A Cuban New Year's Eve custom is to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight for good luck in the coming year, one grape for each month.  The tradition comes from Spain, where, not only are twelve grapes consumed at midnight, but the purported rule is to swallow one every time the bell rings at each strike of the clock.  Here's a link that explains the tradition a little more:

This year, I prepared grape skewers to get ready for our New Year's celebration, but my husband felt he had the better idea of how to use the skewers . . . Maybe this is the start of a new tradition . . .

Happy New Year!  God bless us all!

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Cozy Christmas Tea

“Perhaps that is the true gift of a teatime celebration: It fills our cups with joy and warmth and friendship. May the echo of the teacups’ message be heard not only at Christmas, not only on special occasions, but anytime friends come together.”
—Emilie Barnes, “A Cozy Christmas Tea”

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Be merry all!

Be merry all, be merry all,
With holly dress the festive hall;
Prepare the song, the feast, the ball,
To welcome merry Christmas.
—William Robert Spencer

The dessert table . . .

Gingerbread squares with cream cheese frosting . . .

Chocolate mousse . . .

Pears Mascarpone Custard . . .

Vanilla-Cinnamon Custard (Natilla) . . .

Crème de menthe brownies (made by my wonderful sister-in-law, Kathy) . . .

Wishing you a blessed Christmas, surrounded by family and enveloped in the love of God.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve Tablescape: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
—Norman Vincent Peale

Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year - and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority.
—W. J. Cameron

'Twas Christmas broach'd the mightiest ale;
'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man's heart through half the year.
—Walter Scott

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!
—Hamilton Wright Mabie

Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.
—Author Unknown

For the spirit of Christmas fulfils the greatest hunger of mankind.
—Loring A. Schuler

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.
—Agnes M. Pahro

At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year
—Thomas Tusser

Christmas - that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.
—Augusta E. Rundel

 A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away.
—Eva Logue

Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart... filled it, too, with melody that would last forever.
—Bess Streeter Aldrich

May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is peace;
The heart of Christmas which is love.
—Ada V. Hendricks

I'm joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.  Stop by to see some amazingly creative tablescapes.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Eve 2001

How quickly have these kids grown!  The crutches belonged to my nephew, Colin, who had broken his ankle just a few days earlier . . .  The boxes on the children's table contained Christmas ornaments, and Colin's was a Santa Claus figure.  We wrapped one of Santa's feet in gauze to match the cast Colin was sporting at the time . . .  He got a kick out of it!  And I just remembered how much I loved this wrapping paper!  What is it with me and wrapping paper!  I also remember that it took me a while and some experimenting to get the M&M candy on top of the boxes to stick and not fall down.

These were taken at our old house in Chicago, before we moved to the 'burbs . . .  Lots of happy memories in this house . . .

Funny, but I think I'm making the same dinner this Christmas!  Except, no baked potatoes.  Instead, I'm trying out a new idea - a mashed potato bar.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ghosts of Christmas 2000

Fun at Woodfield Mall

The Children's Table on Christmas Eve - This was the year that Ty released their Chinese Zodiac Beanie Babies.  The Chinese takeout boxes held each child's corresponding Zodiac Beanie and a miniature Chinese Zodiac book.  Chopsticks were placed on top of each napkin.  I remember we bought the boxes from our local Chinese restaurant - they were not available everywhere like they are now . . .
This was the year Martha Stewart showed us how to make gum drop Christmas trees . . .

 . . . and gum drop wreaths . . . 
  And on the adult table, my mother's Poinsettia tablecloth reigned supreme . . .

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Telepathic Connection: Little Santas Everywhere

A Christmas present arrived by mail today from Angela and Doug.  Just look at this wrapping paper.  It's got busy little Santas all over, reminding me of the wrapping paper I bought and blogged about on my last post! (Click here to read about it).

This is like cosmic confirmation that I'm on the right track with the Christmas theme this year!  Great minds do think alike, and maybe even transmit the same thought frequencies!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


No . . . No . . . I didn't mean it! . . . It's just a little holiday stress! . . .  Please don't banish me from your store!  I'm usually a very sane sort of human . . . perfectly rational most of the time . . . until I enter your premises . . . especially at Christmas time . . . with your wrapping papers . . . when I completely lose my head!  All those choices!  Do I want traditional?  Modern?  Crafty?  Religious?  Do I want snowflakes?  Penguins?  Owls . . . ?  How about this beautiful green . . . ?  But I did green last year . . . Didn't I already decide before I stepped in the store that I was going to go with my red tablecloth for Christmas Eve, and I came exclusively to find wrapping paper for the little favors that go on the table?  Maria, you are not doing a Woodland Christmas this year!  You did that a couple of years ago!  Get away from the owls!   I don't care how cute they are!  And, no, you are not celebrating Hannukah!  You are NOT, repeat, NOT going to get paper with Hannukah candles or menorahs . . . !  

Your store clerk was so helpful . . . I told her that my theme this year was going to be “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” . . . She showed me every Santa paper you had in stock . . . until I fell in love . . .

"Working Santa" was the name on this roll . . . right for the theme . . .

I could get matching tissue paper . . .

Perfect for a little box, and it looks nice against the red napkins . . .

But now I'm thinking that these Santas are so cute and little . . . maybe I'll change the theme to “A Merry Little Christmas” . . . And that sort of ties in to the mini desserts table that I'm planning . . .   See what you've started?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mrs. K's Koffee Shop

Of all the things I imagined doing during our trip to Philadelphia, this one never occurred to me:  Breakfast in an old-fashioned diner - Mrs. K's Koffee Shop is located on Chestnut Street - some very decent scrambled eggs are served here with a side helping of nostalgia . . .

Here are Doug, Angela, Robert and Barb, siblings-by-marriage and fun traveling companions.  Calling them in-laws doesn't seem to do justice to these wonderful people who mean so much to me.