Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lighting Up My Life!

I LOVE little lights - fairy lights -  and have used them year round for the last 30 years. We bought a HUGE stash of them three years ago and - after using nearly every single strand - we were in the market to replenish our supply this week at the After Christmas Sales! We scored big at our one and only stop - BIG LOTS!! What a great store! I remember when it was called McFrugal's!

Louis Dean prefers colored lights which I use year round in the gazebo.....usually! He also likes the LED lights which I find too garish for my taste!

However! I took down the colored ones (since many were burned out anyway!) and strung up these.
See how different the COOL whites are from the SOFT white of the lamp?
Well, I can handle it outside......but NOT in!

We are out here with our wine while dinner finishes cooking in the oven.
I fixed Peach-Whiskey BBQ Chicken from a recipe of my daughter, Amber!
It smells delicious!
The last time we sat out here was Sunday, November 20th according to our perpetual calendar we keep
on the outside wall. I just changed it - amazed it has been so long!

The haul I made from Big Lots should last me through 2012!
I have enough for my wine light gifts as well as the decorative lights I use through out the house.
All at HALF price!!

I told Louis Dean I saved him a lot of $$!!!!
Do you think he was impressed?
I hope so!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mike's Vintage Toys!

Most of us have fond memories of our childhood toys. My favorites were paper dolls, puzzles and jacks. I did not keep these toys so they are only memories to me.
My brother in law, on other hand, KEPT his!! AND he kept them in mint condition!
He has a whole room of toys! What a special room it is, too!

Mike and Nita hosted Christmas morning breakfast and I could not help but snap a few pictures. I had Louis Dean's fancy camera so they actually turned out pretty good!

Not EVERY vintage toy belonged to Mike but a good many DID!

He must have had a wonderful childhood!!

He has a special fondness for all things 'Sinclair!'
Isn't this the neatest thing??

This room is a REAL 'Talley Playhouse!'

Mike has an extensive collection!
He also puts together models of vintage planes.
I love that this one is carrying Christmas packages instead of bombs!

As is THIS one!
See the traffic light?
He has THE most interesting things in here!!

Not only do Nita and Mike have huge collections of VINTAGE toys.......
they also embrace MODERN technology!
Our little niece enjoyed playing their Wi game Christmas morning!
I LOVE this room!!
EVERYONE loves this room!

And in keeping with the vintage mood......
OF COURSE Mike would have an aluminum Christmas Tree....complete with a color wheel!!
These were popular from 1955 until the middle 1960's and continued to be manufactured into the early 1970's!
As a child, we never had one but I always thought they were so elegant!

Mother (who lives with my sister and brother in law) has certainly enjoyed this Christmas season!

We ALL enjoyed Christmas Morning at my sister's!!
Thank you, Nita and Mike, for hosting!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chapman Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011 is now past.
I am still enjoying the glow of the holidays.
The table was set for eight adults with Summer holding the youngest grandchild.

This was the GRAND children's table!
They are now 5, 7, and 9 years old.

For our Christmas Eve meal I prepared every favorite dish from other Christmas Eves in years gone by!

Baked ham.....the whole ham....NOT the honey glazed spiral cut variety!
It is the kind you have to COOK!
Green Bean Casserole
Broccoli Rice Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Candied Carrots (because the grand kids love them!)
Cream Cheese Corn
Fresh Cranberry Relish
Fluffy Salad
Fruit Salad

Dessert was to be Red Velvet Cake but it bombed!
I baked it up Friday night before we went to the airport to meet Amber and Mike.

(It alarmed them to see Louis Dean in a wheel chair but DFW is HUGE and he wanted to hold Raynie. There were several empty wheel chairs so Summer snagged one for him!)

They returned from their trip to Italy just in time for Christmas.
I was disappointed in the 'from scratch' cake!
Should have used a MIX!!!

The gifts are always the kids favorite part!
And aren't we ALL kids at Christmas??
This is my oldest son and family.

Summer is always the life of ANY party!

Amber and Mike - fresh back from Italy!

For some reason I forgot to get someone to take pics of Louis Dean and me.
So I do not have any of us at Christmas Eve OR Christmas Day!

The last activity of Christmas Eve is reading the Christmas Letters.
For many years now I have written a special letter to each of my children.
Summer actually started this tradition when Amber was born by writing a Christmas Letter to her. My favorite moment was watching them all read. The room was still and and my heart was filled to overflowing for the wonderful gifts in my life.....
The gift of LIFE! The gift of CHILDREN!
No matter how old they are they will forever remain the children of a mother's heart!
And THIS mother's heart missed my youngest son, Benjamin, this year.
He lives in California and couldn't make it home this time.
So, Ben, if you ever read this.....YOU were MISSED!!
(I mailed HIS Christmas letter earlier so he would have it in time!)
Hopefully I will have ALL my children next year!
I fully understand, though, that as they grow and have their OWN children the gathering times and places can change.

As the year of 2011 closes I have so many treasured memories to keep.
This has been a Christmas to remember and I am so very grateful for God's greatest gift! The gift of life......both here and in eternity.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas traditions! The trees, the decorating, the special foods, the books.....I love it all!  When Louis Dean and I married we added a special tradition of our own.
As a second grade school teacher he would direct the Christmas play. He LOVED doing 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas.'

This is one of the copies he kept from the 1994 production.

So for the past few years we have hosted a Christmas dinner with our favorite neighborhood children and their parents. We set the date early in the season and try to plan it for the last day of school before the Christmas break when the kids get out early.
Yesterday was that day!


They arrived a few hours before the parents so we could make some Coffee Filter Angels. Even BOYS can do crafts!

Big Sister made one for Little Sister.

They crafted a whole CHOIR!!

Then we played games!
Aren't these kids CUTE???
And they are SWEET, too!!
I asked them to count the Christmas Trees in our house!
That was a pretty good game!

"Oh, LOOK!!! Another one!!"
I think they came up with TEN trees!

We always do a craft and then make a candy.
This year we made 'White Trash.'
I have made TEXAS Trash for years and years but WHITE Trash was new to me.
I can thank Linda at Coastal Charm for the recipe.

After the parents arrived and we had dinner it was time for Louis Dean to do what Louis Dean loves best......a reading of  'How the Grinch Stole Christmas!'

When he finished we all gave him a round of applause!
Afterwards we sat around visiting for a bit.......

The kids enjoyed all the decorations.
It is so much fun to WATCH children having fun!

Louis Dean and I sat in front of the fireplace after they all left and talked of Christmas memories. I think we made a few more this year.

Today has been quiet.
The weather was nice and Louis Dean was able to go outside and play!
He chopped wood and cleaned a water fountain.
He filled bird feeders and played with our cat.

This is one SPOILED cat!!

She does not like to be disturbed when she is sitting on Louis Dean's lap!

I guess we are as foolish about our little Maggie as some people are about their children!

So it has been a relaxing day.
Tomorrow the pace quickens as we approach Christmas Eve!
I will take Mother to get her hair done and pick up a few things at the grocery store.
Summer is bringing Raynie over in the afternoon - I am looking forward to that!
Amber and Mike are returning from Italy. That whole seven hour time difference will certainly create some major jet lag!

But for the moment all is quiet.
The dog is already asleep in her kennel.
Louis Dean is in his easy chair petting the cat.
The fire has burned down to gently stirring flames.
I think it is time for a cup of Sleepy Time Tea and head for bed.
Those flannel sheets and faux fur cover will feel good tonight.
As I pull the covers up I will spend a few minutes in prayer thanking God for all his blessings.
All is right in my world this night.
I pray it is in yours as well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Cup of Christmas Tea With Friends and Family....

I SO enjoyed my Christmas Tea last night! It was a wonderful gathering of friends - new and old, a few family members, neighbors - both past and present.
Fireplace weather made it all the more Christmas special!

This is Candie who was Amber's FIRST synchronized swimming coach.
Synchro friends tend to make relationships that last a life time!
Amber's closest friends include her synchro team.....
and mine include the coaches and moms!

See the beautiful scarf I am wearing?
Candie is an artist with a pair of knitting needles!

My 'newest' friend to arrive at Tea was Deb of Ladybug From Texas!
We have been friends for about a year and live in the same town!
Her mother joined us and we were like kindred spirits!!
Plans are already made for some art time together in January!
God is so good in bringing us together with people that will light up our life!!

Since I am the QUEEN of Facebook - this Christmas Tea was listed as an open event although I did send 'requests' to several just to make sure they KNEW they were invited.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I opened the door and saw.....

my friend and former neighbor, Beth!!!!
We have not seen each other in 12 years!!!
She saw the event on Facebook but didn't RSVP so she could surprise me!
And SURPRISE me she DID!!

Stephanie - my dearly beloved next door neighbor - Beth and I  all raised our kids together!
We each had a girl and a boy about the same ages. They went on to add another to the mix....both of whom are THE most beautiful girls with THE best personalities!!

I was simply stunned to actually SEE Beth - I bet I hugged her three or four times before we left the foyer! What an exciting night!!

I was so busy having fun and enjoying the fellowship I forgot to take very many pictures. But I have them where it counts! In my heart and in my mind's eye!!
The best Christmas Tea EVER!!!

As everyone left I handed out packages of my Texas Trash.
Deb and Judy - I forgot to give you yours!
I will save them for the next time I see you!

As much fun as we had, please know if you missed it WE missed you!!

At party's end Louis Dean came out of hiding and joined us in the den as we threw another log on the fire and recounted our good time.
Ruth Ann - my sister in law - enjoyed a little down time with us.
Candie spent the night (sleeping in the 'Cat Room'.....she is such a good sport!) so it made the whole evening even more special.

SO here I am in Texas Christmasing along and keeping up with my daughter, Amber, who is in Italy! I have heard the bells ring from the cathedral in Verona, watched the Italian Christmas lights, seen the local people walking on the street below their hotel and listened in as they spoke to each other in Italian......all because of Skype!!

I suppose Christmas all the world over is made more special in sharing our blessings, our testimonies, our food, our wine, our homes, our languages, our experiences with one another.

May I just say how blessed I am in having such wonderful friends and family?
And I am thankful for the lovely friends I have out there in the world of Blog.
You really EXIST!!!
I have met one now - face to face!!

I just want to wish Dawn and Robin, Jane and Flora, Pat and Kelly, Bj and MANY of you dear well as all the other friends in my life.....

a VERY Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Decoupage Christmas Plates

Today has been a chilly wet day in North Texas! I am getting ready for tomorrow's Christmas Tea. I think preparing for a party is nearly as rewarding as hosting it!
I have enjoyed getting out dishes I have not seen since last year.

These are my decoupaged Christmas plates - and ONE bowl! Amber, Benjamin and I made these many years ago. The directions came from an issue (now vintage!) of Victorian Magazine.

We collected clear glass plates from the local Goodwill's and thrift stores.
You can use printed napkins or the pretty printed tissue paper found so easily this time of year. If you use the napkins you must separate the layers and use only the TOP printed one. Plates, napkins and/or tissue paper, Modge Podge, and your choice of metallic craft paint. I personally prefer the copper toned ones.

The plates must be hand washed.
These have been used for the last 18 years or so.....albeit only a few times each year!

I love the look of all things Victorian and these so ARE!!

My youngest grand daughter paid us a visit this afternoon.
What would Christmas be without children?
I hope I never find out!
She is adorable and I enjoyed showing her all the Christmas trees.

We took a little break and hit up the local Dollar General store.
I was sad to see all the lights were already gone.
I use a TON of the white Christmas lights all year long and usually stock up right here at the end of the season. I especially use the 20 count strands for the wine bottle lights I make. I will have to make a point of stopping in at all the $$$ stores I pass as well as every Big Lot Store!

Summer and the baby are gone now and it is time to get down to business.
Thankfully, Louis Dean does not mind chopping vegetables.
He can make an awesome turkey salad and that is on the menu for my Christmas Tea.

I think I will make us up a simple dinner salad for our evening meal. Add a few crackers and a slice of cheese and a glass of wine......that should do nicely!
Dressed in our pajamas and sitting by the fireplace is just the ticket!
Tonight is one of our favorite TV nights.
The Closer comes on.
We always record it to the DVR and then watch it as soon as it's done!

Sometimes it is the simple pleasures of life and living that mean so very much!
One can do without the BIG things.
Give me the 'little' things any day!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Dinner Party

It has been a lovely Sunday! A 'guilt free' Sunday as our pastor, Ed Young, says!
That's because we attended the Saturday evening service.
He also says - about the ones who attend on Sunday morning - they enjoy a guilt free Saturday! Win! Win!!

Louis Dean made 'Biscuit/Rolls' today.
I asked him to make BISCUITS but he came up with his own idea.
All I have to say is that hot buttered bread and a glass of wine makes for the perfect light lunch!

Tonight we had a small dinner party and a music session.
We all had a good time eating, visiting and making good music!

I pretty much know everyone had a good time because we sat around the dinner table long after the meal was done. One friend told about his daughter being in a recent episode of Law and Order......her first acting job! Another told of the home repair nightmare that was as hilariously told as it was horrifying! We discussed both the forbidden dinner table subjects - politics and religion - and had a ball doing it!
Good comfortable - yet stimulating - conversations.

The meal was good......

and coffee and dessert was even better!

This is a jazzed up cake mix recipe.......
white cake mix
1 1/2 cups of Irish Cream
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 box instant pudding - I used butterscotch
1 cup butterscotch chips

The frosting is Irish Cream and Confectioners sugar.

NOT heart healthy NOR diabetic friendly!
But it was delicious!!!

I see some salads on the menu for tomorrow!

Good Friends!
Good Food!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Groceries!

Mother, Louis Dean and I had a wonderful time together yesterday! After Mother's hair was done we headed for Granbury, Texas.

 Our lunch choice was Babe's......

.....known for its chicken fried steak, fried chicken and other southern favorites.....mostly FRIED!
I do not FRY anything so the occasional meal out is when we can indulge this craving for GREASE!

I had the fried chicken, LD ordered chicken fried steak and Mother had the fried catfish.  Everything was delicious!

The place was decorated for Christmas in such a fun and whimsical way!

We had a good time. And it was Christmas COLD weather!

My handsome husband took a list of locations and put it in the glove compartment.
Just in case we are out and about and 'need an oil change' he says!

Can you tell they were having fun?

Our purpose in driving to Granbury was so we could shop at the HEB store.
I had a list and started marching up and down the isles as soon as I got there! Mother and Louis Dean had full cups of complimentary coffee in the little coffee shop at the front of the store. They decided to come help me after awhile and we made short work of it.
HEB is a Mexican owned chain which includes Central Market. They employ enough people to allow for some quality customer service. I was asked THREE times if I needed help finding anything! When I shop Walmart I can not find ONE employee when I need something! Shopping can be a pleasure or a chore.
HEB is my grocery store of choice!

We left for Fort Worth (40 miles west) at 8:30 yesterday morning.
Granbury is about 40 miles west of Fort Worth.
We were gone all day!!
Got home before 6:00 in the evening.
I 'buzzed' - to use Louis Dean's words. That means I put up groceries, fed and took care of three cats and Lucy.....did some housework.
Louis Dean did some buzzing of his own. He is cleaning out the old play area on top of what was once Amber's playhouse. It was Benjamin's fort at one time. He had loaded it up with 'junk' and is hard at work sorting and clearing.

We closed our day with Lucy sitting ON Louis Dean's feet and Maggie sitting on his lap.
To use my mother's words.........

"It's been a GOOD day!"