Merry Christmas Blogging

 

beautiful backyard poinsettias_small

Christmas

Backyard topiary_small

Hello and Welcome to our Merry Christmas Blogging Post

It’s nice of you to join us. 

Merry Christmas Blogging

I thought I would start a blog about all the preparations that go into getting ready for Christmas every year.

I’ve noticed that the older I get the less stressful that the holidays have become.  Maybe I’ve learned a thing or two along the way that has helped me to become more organized, or perhaps I’ve just learned how to ‘roll with the punches’ and quit fretting when things aren’t perfect. 

This blog is about all the preparations from the shopping, to the decorating, to gift wrapping, mailing, watching the favorite Christmas specials on t.v., reminiscing of Christmas’s past, seeing family,and just about whatever Christmas means to you.  I just thought I would start a blog about it from start, to finish.

Julie Christmas Morning age 10 months_small

Me at 10 months, Christmas morning, 1961.

So I hope you join me on our stress-free, fun and easy Christmas planning. 

Fingers Crossed!!!

 

Julie Christmas Morning_small

Me, Christmas morning 1962.

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So let’s have fun!

Julie

Julie and Johnny Christmas 1970_small

Julie and Johnny Christmas 1970

Dahlonega, Georgia

(Christmas used to be all about ME until the little bro came along.)

 

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BLOG POSTS START HERE

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The View in My Nook

fountain outside my nook_small

Pretty Christmas Pastels

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December 24, 2015

boxes for Ireland_small

Still running packages to the Post Office.

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Julie’s First Home Made Christmas Ornament

A.K.A, The Holy Grail

The Holy Grail_small

(I made this when I was 5 years old in Kindergarten.  It’s nothing more than a cork with some glitter, a pipe cleaner for a hook and a red ribbon.)

My children are under strict instructions to risk life and limb to rescue this if there ever is a fire. 

And to think, you thought the Holy Grail was a cup.  Honestly!

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December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas Greetings From Our Family of 4

Julie Gordon Monkee and Sugar_small

Sugar, Julie, Gordon and Monk

my little et_small

There is always E.T.

He was our very first date.

Pugs and Kisses,

Julie

 

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Elvis Stamps on Christmas Cards?

Elvis stamps and Christmas cards_small

You know, I’m a bit wishy-washy when it comes to Christmas cards.  I used to send them out religiously, but now I just seem to do it whenever I am in the mood.  I think there are several people that assume that when they don’t get a card from me that I am somehow, slighting them that year.  Not the case.  It never has anything to do with other people, just me. 

But I don’t tend to follow rules. 

Why can’t I use Elvis stamps instead of some Christmas depiction?

my French book box_small

I can and I will!

I like to keep things tucked away in these hollow book boxes.  I bought this one after the terrorist attacks in France.

I’m thinking about you!

Julie

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December 16, 2015

Setting up my Gift Wrap Station

My winter wonderland at home_small

I love creating a nice environment around me where doing things like wrapping gifts is more pleasurable.  Just standing in the middle of my own ‘winter wonderland’ makes me happy.

Julie gift wrap Christmas_small

I tend to have Christmas all over our house.  Not just in one room. 

Kitchen counter Christmas_small working on edible gifts for Christmas_small

Working on Edible Christmas Gifts

I cannot even begin to tell you how many Christmas trees we have in our hous

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Our Greek-American Edible Gift Care Packages for Christmas

simple or elaborate_small

We put together a really nice Greek-American theme to give as Christmas gifts for family and friends this year with purchases that we bought over the summer from Tarpon Springs, Florida.  The Greek sponge diving community and the largest Greek population here in America. 

Greek option_small

I made some of the gifts simple and others more elaborate to suit the tastes of the recipients of our gifts.

Greek Care Package I created from items bougtht in Tarpon Springs_small

I like giving the gift of food mixed with knowledge. 

Books about the history of Tarpon Springs, I think, make the gifts more valuable.  For example, see the sponge to the left in the photo above?  Most people would just look at it and think, ‘A sponge?  What kind of a gift is that?’ 

But when you realize that that sponge was harvested by this historic Greek community the old fashioned way by wearing the full dive suit and helmet, it’s suddenly not ‘ just some sponge.’

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You know, if it weren’t for immigration we would not know of these wonderful foods from all around the world.  We would not be cooking with these delicious exotic spices, creating some of our most favorite foods.  Everyone here in America is descended from immigrants that came over here looking for a better life.  We’ve benefited from their journey and struggles to integrate into this American society.  But they not only integrated, they helped to shape and form America into a new world.  For that I am very grateful.  

Julie

Oh, p.s.  You can keep your licorice candy though. 

I never needed to know this ever existed.

you can keep this_small

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December 10, 2015

Now Why Did I get an Easy Bake Oven?

Hmmmm………

now why did I get an Easy Bake Oven_small

Me, Christmas 196?, Rome, Georgia

I came across this old photo of me with a candy cane in my mouth and my Christmas gifts behind me and it dawned on me,

THAT is why I got an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas!

Allow me to explain.

I grew up in the south watching all these wonderful women dote on their husbands.  My grandmother, my great-grandmothers, my great-aunt Margie, my mother, family friends, ladies from church……you name it! 

I watched these women wait ‘hand and foot’ on the men while they just sat there in their comfortable chairs smoking their cigars, reading their newspapers, watching a ball game on t.v…..

One Thanksgiving, I believe it was the Thanksgiving before that photo of me above was taken, I had watched the women in my family work for days to make the biggest and best Thanksgiving dinner ever.  The corn bread is made two days before Thanksgiving, a big huge batch of it, and it sits in a bowl all broken up with some aluminum foil covering it, but not all the way so that it can get stale.  That will make the most delicious corn bread dressing you will ever taste.  I would always go into the kitchen and dip my hand into that big bowl of cornbread and grab a little piece to eat.  Unfortunately there was always someone nearby to see me do it and scold me telling me that cornbread is for Thanksgiving dressing.  (But that never stopped me because I would continue to sneak little bites of cornbread up until that dressing was made.  Didn’t matter how stale it got, I think most of us at that time grew up loving cornbread whether it was fresh out of the oven or stale and hard as a rock.)

I can remember that Thanksgiving because after watching the women slave away for days cleaning the house, washing the finest china and crystal, setting the most beautiful table with their finest linens, and then cooking the best Thanksgiving day ever, I saw these women were exhausted.  Once the meal was over with the women’s work wasn’t done.  There was food to put away, a table to dismantle, dishes to wash.  I remember it took the women a good two hours just to clean up all that mess.  I also remember seeing my grandmother collapse into a chair, desperately needing to rest.  It was at that moment that my grandfather turned to my grandmother and said, “Nell, get up and make me a sandwich.”

It was at that moment that the feminist in me stood up and looked at my grandfather and said, “Why don’t you get up and fix your own sandwich granddaddy?”

Once the gasps subsided, you could hear a pin drop, that is before my grandmother lept into action with a strength she didn’t have just one minute prior, grabbing me by the arm and leading me out of the room into Honnie’s bedroom and scolded me for daring to speak to my grandfather that way.  It’s funny but all the men were laughing about what I said, (my grandfather, great-uncles,), but the women were horrified!  I couldn’t understand why they were so mad at me?  I was only trying to help them.  I was sticking up for them. 

Now looking at that photo above makes sense, now I know why I got an Easy Bake Oven that year for Christmas.

Well, Grandma, Honnie, Aunt Margie, Grandmother Keith, I think it was at that point when I decided that I would marry a man that cooks.

And  I did!

I also married a man that knows how to clean, iron, fix things, and give great back rubs. 

He also knows how to make his own sandwich, after he cooks a great Thanksgiving dinner most of it by himself.

I’m the luckiest lady in the world and I know it!

I think Gordon was the one that should have gotten the Easy Bake Oven. 

Christmas Memory,

Julie

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December 9, 2015

Monk and Sugar Getting Ready for Christmas, Reluctantly……

Grumpy Monk posing for pictures under the tree.

Princess Sugar our little ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’

It’s just not Christmas without them.

Julie

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November 30, 2015

After all the shopping and errands over the weekend now it’s time to slip into something a little more comfortable…………

decorating the high places_small now where do i put these_small

and do some decorating for Christmas.

trying to decide if I like it_small

I’m still trying to decide if I like that there.

I just don’t know….

Julie

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Does Your Home Look Like This?

does your house look like this_small still a mess_small

The only way I can find anything is to just drag it all out, you know?

put up another tree_small yep another tree_small

The Christmas tree above was a gift from my grandmother to me over 20 years ago.  It is long past it’s expiration date but I can’t part with it yet.  The needles are falling off and if you brush up against it the wires poking out on the branches can cut you.  Whenever anyone goes near it we do hear lots of “Ouch!  and “Ow, that hurt.  and “What kind of Christmas tree IS this?”  🙂

So a few years ago I got the idea to buy a bunch of gold, silver and bronze spray paint and try and make it look pretty. 

Here is how we did it:

I’m reposting this from 2012:

O’ Christmas Tree……….
(Christmas Project)

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There is a story behind this Christmas tree.  It was a gift to me from my Grandmother over 20 years ago while we were living in Hawaii.  I asked for this tree as my gift in the early 90’s.  The reason is that in Hawaii, Christmas trees have to be imported in.  They all arrive on the island in early December after being in a freezer for the two week journey to Oahu in a barge.  They are then out in the hot sun on the island while the seller’s try and sell them.  If you don’t buy your tree within the first week or so in Hawaii then they are all sold out.  By the time Christmas day rolls around your tree is totally dead and you are afraid to turn on your Christmas tree lights for fear that the tree will catch on fire. 

 

This is why we wanted an artificial tree while we were living there.

However through the years the tree has lost so many of it’s needles that it is starting to look a bit shabby.

So I decided to revive it a bit.  I got the idea to use some spray paint to make it look a bit better.  So this is what we did.

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I swear that Gordon is so smart!  Originally he set the tree up in it’s original classic tree stand but the wind kept blowing it over.  So he tried a few things from our backyard.  First he tried this fountain piece that I use as a garden accent but it didn’t sit right.  So then he retrieved the cement umbrella stand and placed the tree inside it.  A perfect fit!

I then covered the cement stand with old towels to protect it from the spray paint that Veronica and I will be applying. 

To the right I am cutting all the ends of the branches that have become so bear of needles through the years.  I’m using a wire cutter.

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To the left you can see how barren some of the branches have become.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now Veronica and I are applying spray paint to the tree.  First we used a silver, then gold and then a copper color. 

We do NOT want to totally cover the tree.  We still want some green to shine through.  We just want to revive this old tree and bring it into the next decade looking lovely. 

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Here Veronica is really getting deep into the tree with the spray paint.

Totally finished!

So what do you think?  It may be a bit hard to actually see but it looks so much better than it did.

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Gordon and Brodie have brought the tree inside and it looks great!  Next comes the fun part………………………

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November 30, 2015

Yesterday, Sunday

Now that Thanksgiving is officially over with, except for all the leftovers we still have stocked in the frig, it is time to really tackle Christmas head on and this is the big week for me to do that.  But first Gordon and I did some shopping and errands yesterday.

taking turkey salad with us_small Turkey Salad to go_small

Turkey Salad to Go

Still eating that turkey.  But this time I’m taking some to my daughter and her boyfriend for their lunches.  Gordon and I also took over several Christmas lights and decorations that we no longer wanted or needed.  It feels so good to get rid of some things.  This is their first Christmas in their new home and money is tight when you are new home owner’s and on a budget so we’re just happy to help.

I always take food with me wherever I go so that I am not dependent on whatever is out there.  I also tend to eat really light for lunch.  Lunch to me is very casual and I tend to eat it standing up.  Just a quick bite.

eating turkey salad_small lunch at Veronicas_small

At Veronica’s House

Oh, someone asked me for my turkey salad recipe and I cannot begin to give you any measurements as I just throw it all together but it includes:

Turkey Salad

(and my chicken salad for that matter)

Chop Everything:

turkey

onions

celery

pickle relish

hard boiled eggs

Then add your:

ground black pepper

mayo

yellow mustard

Tabasco sauce (a few dashes)

pickle juice to sweeten

Most of the time I prefer eating it on really nice crackers instead of making a sandwich out of it.

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Now that the visiting has ended it’s time to go shopping!

guess what i bought_small

Look What I found at Home Depot!!!

Cinderellas carriage_small

Cinderella Christmas 2.0 Here I Come!

Look Out World!

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So after breaking the bank at Tuesday Morning, Home Depot, Lowes, and Walgreens, it’s time for the Latino’s Supermarket shopping and some take home dinner.

Latino's Supermarket_small

I’m in here to get my spices for the holiday’s.

buying my spices_small

And to get the best dinner around town from the cafeteria.

avacado salad_small this is pretty don't know what it is though_small

All the food is so beautiful!

The avocado  salad on the left is the best you will ever eat.

my chicken and rice_small the fried plantains_small

I got the chicken and rice at left and Gordon and I bought two pounds of fried plantains for something that I will be making soon.  I’m very excited about it too.

take out at home_small Julies take out from the market_small

Don’t forget the yucca and black beans.

Great Day, Great Dinner.

But now it’s time to get to work and really tackle Christmas.

Julie

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November 29, 2015

Happy Birthday Brodie

Baby Brodie in Tennessee_small

(Brodie playing in a creek in Tennessee.)

After the longest labor in the history of the world I gave birth to the cutest little trouble maker in Hawaii.

Brodie and his friend with gecko_small

He and his friends were always catching geckos, climbing plumeria trees, and playing in mud puddles.  Brodie also scaled our 4 1/2 foot backyard fence one day at age two, while I went inside putting a load of laundry into the dryer.  When I came outside he was gone!  After tearfully gathering up some neighbors to help me find him and calling the base police for help as well.  All of a sudden I see this little figure of a boy skipping merrily down the side of the road a  good distance away.  It was him!  It’s amazing how you can go from grief and panic to joy and happiness in the snap of a finger. 

Brodie on floating dock_small

Brodie on the Intracoastal Waterway in Indian Shores on a floating dock.  It washed ashore after a hurricane and Brodie was playing on it.

Brodie Condo Hurricane Frances_small

At the beach condo during Hurricane Francis me, Veronica and Brodie saved the condo when the hurricane blew in the window.  We grabbed the skim board, the boogie boards, and the ironing board and kept the window in place so that it didn’t blow in and shatter.  Had we not been there the condo would have been ruined.

We could see wood flying off the building across the street from us and whizzing past our windows.  Lots of close calls that day.

This is beach living.  For every gift there is a curse.  But we wouldn’t trade it for anything.  

Happy Birthday Brodie_small

So happy birthday Brodie!

Love you,

Mom and Dad

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Thanksgiving Leftovers

It is said that the reason we all gain weight around the holidays is because of all the leftovers that we eat.  Just eating one large meal is not going to cause very much difference in our weight, but eating one large meal after the other for days will.  So we tend to turn our leftovers into a lighter fare.  For example, my turkey salad.

delicious turkey salad_small

Delicious Turkey Salad

Instead of doing a lot of chopping by hand I like to put everything in the food processor so that it will be chopped very fine.  However, when I went to drag out my food processor I couldn’t find it.  That’s when I remembered that I had thrown it away last year because it was old and had cracked.  So I dragged out this teeny little chopper instead.

teeny little mixer_small chopping the eggs_small

My half sisters and their mother gave this to me years ago and it ended up saving the day.

chopping the chicken_small making my turkey salad_small

I wanted to turn this turkey salad into more of a spread so that it would go nicely on crackers as well as bread for a sandwich.

pickle relish_small

I do use pickle relish but it still needs more sweet than that.

I am told that I make some of the best salads.  The secret ingredient for any salad in the south is pickle juice.  Our Great-Great-Grandmother’s used it, our Great-Grandmother’s used it, our Grandmother’s used it, our parents used it, I use it and I’ve passed the tradition down to my own daughter and son.

So whether you are making chicken salad, turkey salad, egg salad, deviled eggs, ham salad, potato salad and even tuna salad, always sweeten with a good flavored pickle juice.  I must have used half a jar in this batch.

MY special ingredient is Tabasco, that I put in all my salads.

Julie

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November 27, 2015

Black Friday

(The day after Thanksgiving)

This is the day that is typically America’s busiest shopping day for Christmas with stores opening up extremely early and offering deep discounts on big ticket items.  However we have never been one of those people to go shopping on this day.  I hate large crowds and do my best to avoid them.  A crowd can turn into a mob in just one second.  By this time I have done most of my shopping and it’s just a matter to buying up last minute gifts between now and Christmas Day.  But for me this is the busiest week ahead what with decorating the house, on the inside anyway, and putting together all our foreign mailings to New Zealand, Ireland, and Canada.  In order for the gifts to arrive before Christmas it is important that I mail them out as soon as possible, preferable by the first week of December. 

We did have a wonderful Thanksgiving out at the beach condo.  For a further look you can check out our:

Beachy Thanksgiving

beach cornicopia_small

Our Beachy Cornucopia of Sorts

daytime balcony table_small

Our Daytime Table

Gordon beachy Thanksgiving_small pumpkin cocktail_small Julie BTat the condo_small

Can’t Beat the View

pumpkin cocktail_small

Star Fish with Pumpkin Cocktails

Beachy Thanksgiving Table_small nighttime chandelier_small

The Lighting Played a Big Role in Setting the Mood

It was a lovely table from afternoon until evening.

Thanksgiving at the beach_small

Although Thanksgiving is based on a large celebration of different people coming together to feast and give thanks,  it has evolved to be a time of family celebration.   Gordon and I moved down to Florida in the early 2000’s and brought our two children with us.  We left all of our families behind us in Virginia and Georgia, North Carolina and Arizona, and even Ireland.  So it is mainly just us two down here, what with our children moving on to with their lives.  So for us holidays are more intimate.  This Thanksgiving being no different.

 

Gordon feast_small Our bttable_small Julie feast_small

Our Intimate Beachy Thanksgiving

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We also managed to make some Russian Tea to give to family and friends this year in their Christmas packages.

Russian Tea

Russian Tea Gift Jars_small

Russian Tea is something I first learned about from dating Gordon back in the 80’s and meeting his family.  It was something of a staple for the holidays in their household.  They would make up a large batch of it and pass it out as Christmas gifts. 

little tea cup for the tea_small R T gifts 2_small

This is a Beautiful Looking Tea

taste test 3_small taste test 6_small

Taste Test

It’s my job to do the canning but before I do that it’s time for a taste test.

Just add a teaspoon or two to a hot mug of water.  The cinnamon will float on top but that is o.k.

It’s Perfect!

If you would like the recipe then just click on our:

Delicious Christmas Gifts

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But if you are going to be staying in on Black Friday then by all means enjoy your morning and try out our Hawaiian French Toast.

tropical breakfast_small

Click Here:

 Topical Breakfast

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November 22, 2015

I have no right to feel guilty about bypassing Thanksgiving decorations and going straight to Christmas.

decorating for xmas_small

The Beginning of the Season

You know, for years we have all been made to feel guilty about putting up our Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving because somehow we are being disrespectful of Thanksgiving.  As if it no longer had the importance that it once did.  When we shop in the stores we see Christmas for sale in October along with Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Just because something has been done one way forever doesn’t mean that we can’t change it or alter it into something that works better for us in this day and age.

GRFC_small

I LOVE Thanksgiving for what it stands for.  Two different types of people coexisting together and coming together to honor that allegiance.  The pilgrims would have died had it not been for the Native Americans helping them and teaching them how to grow food.  They all faced the same challenges in their day.  I’m sure they had their disagreements at times but they were all put aside for this grand meal.  I just wish that we could all do the same, that to me is the lesson of Thanksgiving.

Now as for us putting up our Christmas decorations in November, not to worry, we will be having a beachy Thanksgiving this year with all the traditions of both, even celebrating in INDIAN SHORES.  🙂

You know the rest of the world starts decorating for Christmas in October and November.  With all that we cram into the season it makes sense for us to get a head start.  So for now the house is a mess with trimming the TREES and decking the halls.

Hanging stuff_small

Don’t you just love getting ready for the holidays?

But now it’s time to prepare for our nice Thanksgiving.

Gobble, Gobble!

Julie

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