Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday wishes

I want to wish all my readers and members a VERY Merry Christmas and once again take this opportunity to let you know how much I appreciate your support for my new blog.  I've already surpassed the initial goals I had for this blog and I couldn't have done it without YOU.

I haven't been blogging too much lately because I've either been busy baking for the seasonal fairs and customer orders or I've been sick.  I'm suffering from a cold right now, and trying to nurse myself back to good health in time for my youngest son's holiday visit. 

Tyler will be here on Dec. 29th, so he'll be spending New Years with us and he goes back to Calif. on the 5th.  I will be taking a break from blogging and generally won't be online much during that period.  My son deserves quality time with me as we haven't seen each other for a year and a half.  Much too long!! 

I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Each new year feels like a new beginning of sorts to me, and I look forward to how it will unfold and all that we will share with each other. Till then, stay safe and enjoy your holidays with your families and loved ones!

~Blowing blessings to you,


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Recycle this year's holiday cards next year!

Seen on the Martha Stewart site.  I'm not a big fan of recycling Christmas cards because frankly I've never been inspired by what I've seen.  I do like these.

Recycle holiday cards as labels for presents. With a pencil, kids can draw (or stencil) the recipient's initial onto a card and cut it out. Punch a hole in the letter, and tie to gift with yarn or ribbon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Life is precious

      How many times have we heard the above refrain?  It's one thing to be intellectually aware of the concept, but are we living it; are we mindful as we go through our day that everything could change in the blink of an eye? 
      I'm still reeling today after witnessing a major traffic accident yesterday, caused by the car directly in front of me.  That was a little too close for comfort and like I said, I have plenty on my mind. ~ Life is precious.

     Do you tell your loved ones that you love them before hanging up the phone or leaving to run an errand, or are you in such a rush that you take for granted you'll be seeing them again or will catch them later?  Do you treat your loved ones with kindness and respect?  Do you spend quality time with your loved ones? There are no guarantees.  Do it NOW.  It doesn't cost a dime and it's time you will NEVER regret.

      Yesterday I was doing a few last minute Christmas errands and yes, I'm just as anxious as most of you to be done with those chores so I can relax and enjoy the holiday.  We're all busy and it's easy to think our agenda is more important than that of someone else.  But as the chain of events unfolded before my eyes yesterday it really reinforced the fact that life is precious and can be taken from us or forever changed in an instant. 

      A train backed up a major intersection, but I didn't let it affect me.  I made some mental notes as I waited at the green light.  When the train cleared, I'd be able to cross the intersection and continue on my way.  An impatient truck on the cross street made the decision that he needed that jump ahead of me, though, and drove up behind the backed up lane.  Really?!  I sat there contemplating how rude some people are, but before long the train ended and I moved along.  The aforementioned truck raced ahead, on the rain slick road, and I shook my head as I saw him and his passenger rubber-necking a stalled vehicle on the opposite side of the road.  There was a toddler in between himself and the woman passenger.  The three of them were talking to each other and the driver kept taking his eyes off the road as he conversed. 

      By the next light, everything changed.  The light turned "pink" as the other witness later told the police, and the man in the truck decided at the very last minute to brake.  He slid clear into the intersection, and hit the car who was turning on the green light.  The next in line to turn hit that car in front of him, so we had 3 vehicles in the intersection.  It all happened so fast and scared the living daylights out of me.  The impact was HARD.  Two of us pulled over as witnesses, and to make a long story short, the car who was hit was totalled and the truck who caused the accident was still driveable.  Naturally.  Everyone was ok, thank God. 

     I was SO shaken.  I was emotional the rest of the day, for so many reasons.  The road I'm speaking of has a bad reputation for wrecks.  Doug & I see a close call nearly every single day we travel that road.  However, it's the DRIVERS who are to blame.  In reflection, it seems to be a sign of the times we are living in.  I literally don't understand folks anymore.  Don't EVEN get me started on the cell phone ban while driving. I'm ALL for it.

     The pickup truck driver wasn't on a cell phone yesterday, but just think:  what if he had been?  What if *I* had been yacking away on my mobile phone and my reaction time not been as fast as it was?  The fellow in the pickup was having a hard enough time staying focused as it was.  I have a hard time believing that most of us cannot live without taking a call until such time as we are off the roads.  Life is precious~
    When we are travelling the roads, we don't have the RIGHT to be less than focused.  We owe that to our passengers and to everyone else out there. I'm as guilty of this as anyone else, mind you.  There was a time when I had a 30 minute commute home from a job in the evenings, and I'd use that time to call one of my sons and catch up, as they live out of state.  I justified it as using my time wisely.  I'm ashamed now to admit that, but many of you can relate, I am sure. 

      My ephiphany came when I thought of the chain of events and how each of us, through our daily actions create a cause and effect that could alter another's life.  We do not live in a bubble.  Though you may not realize it, we are ALL connected.  We have the ability to create positivity or negativity; the choice is ours.

      Understandably, some accidents cannot be avoided, but in this case it could have been prevented.  Leave 10 minutes earlier.  Arrive 15 minutes late.  In the scheme of things, it won't matter and it just might make all the difference. 
      Life is precious~
     We must treasure every moment we are given for we never know when it may be the last.  Cherish those who are near and dear to your heart.  Slow down and savor the minutes.  Show love and compassion, patience and selflessness and be part of the change we need to see. 





Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The winner of the giveaway is.........

...drum roll......................Vanessa Wyss. I really, really want to thank those of you who entered this.  I enjoyed reading all the great recipes, but must admit that Vanessa's is one that I simply MUST add to this New Years Eve (snack nite) menu. 
Vanessa...please email me.  Thanks!

Monday, December 19, 2011

My 1st giveaway! Details inside

Betsy South is a writer and artist living in the woods. She creates one of a kind jewelry and prints for sale while staying at home with her son. 

Visit her personal blog  at   

Also be sure to check our her Etsy shop for more jewelry!

The necklace she's generously giving away is pictured here and is done on a "floating" cord. Hits about mid chest when worn.

To win, you need to post a comment HERE, directly under THIS thread, telling me what your favorite New Year's Eve snack is. If you include the recipe, you get extra points.  The simpler the better, but I'm still looking for something delicious and new to me.  You have to live in the continental US, otherwise shipping would just be too costly.

We always do board games and drink champagne and I fix a TON of snacks like fresh vegi's. w/ranch dip, cheese & crackers, finger get the idea.  Now post away!

Winner will be determined tomorrow evening.  Betsy will be shipping the necklace directly to the winner.  Good luck to all and Happy Holidays!!!

~ Blessings,  Shelly

Sunday, December 18, 2011


For years I made these with ground turkey, but now with ground beef.  You could also use ground chicken, or even shredded chicken.  Make it to suit YOUR taste!


1 lb. ground beef or turkey, uncooked
1 pkg. taco-seasoning mix
3/4 C water
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) tomatoes, drained and diced
1 can (16 oz.) refried beans (*may substitute vegetarian beans)
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies, drained
10 Whole wheat OR flour tortillas
4 C shredded cheddar cheese (1 lb.)
1 jar (8 oz.) red taco sauce

Cook met in a large skillet over medium heat about 5 minutes, breaking i tup with a wooden spoon until meat loses its pink color.  Stir in seasoning mix and water until well blended.  Add tomatoes and chilies; cook about 10 minutes until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat.  Let stand 5 minutes to cool. 

To assemble, spread 2 tablespoons refried beans down center of each tortilla.  Top with 2 tablespoons meat mixture, then a scant 1/4 cup cheese.  Roll up tightly.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place rolled up tortillas seam side down in baking dish.  Top each with 1 1/2 tablespoons taco sauce.  cover and bake 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese (really!??  I think you all know me better than that--I COVER the entire top with shredded cheese) and bake, uncovered, 10 minutes more or until cheese melts. 
Makes 10 servings  . **This is EXCELLENT, by the way, with my green chili rice and a crisp, cool salad. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cute Snowman craft

I cannot even sew and I think these are TOO cute; if like me, you don't own a sewing machine and even if you did, you wouldn't know how to use it----do these by hand.  They appear so easy.  And did I mention cute??  Don't you just LOVE the (used, Goodwill...whatever) sweater for the hat?  Think of it, you could take it a notch in a different direction and use an outgrown baby sweater from your child/ many possibilities!

While you've got snowmen on the mind, rummage through the garage and your hobby room to find the makings for these:

Stay warm and have fun creating!

~ Blessings,


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This will be on my Christmas Eve dinner menu

7 Layer Salad

Inspired by my husband Doug's daughter, Jami......and compliments of The Pioneer Woman.  This not only LOOKS gorgeous, and PW states, but honestly I'd never tasted it until this Thanksgiving.  It's GOOD.  So I'm including it on my Christmas Eve dinner menu.  It will be just the two of us and I'm serving a spiral glazed ham, mashed potatoes and gravy (I'm a gravy girl!), the 7 layer salad, deviled eggs, hot rolls and............drum roll...........Apple Streusel Pie (my fav.) with or without ice cream for dessert.  I like to do the big meal on the Eve and then on Christmas day I LOVE leftover ham with cheddar cheese on hamburger buns.  It's a tradition from my youth. 

I always want to give credit where credit is due, so here's the direct link to the recipe:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread

Soft, sweet bread enriched by a pretty swirl of cinnamon, sugar and raisins, this bread will be devoured.  If you like, the dough can be made one day, refrigerated overnight, then shaped, proofed and baked the next day.  Yes, it IS time consuming. No doubt.  But I promise you........SO worth it.  So.

1 1/2 C milk
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. butter, (3 melted *reserving 1 Tbsp. for later)
3 large egg yolks
4 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) rapid-rise yeast

Cinnamon Sugar:
1/4 C packed light brown sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
5 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 C raisins, lightly packed

Plump raisins:  Add enough boiling water to cover raisins and soak for 20 minutes until plump.  Drain excess water before adding to the filling.

For the cinnamon sugar:  Combine ingredients in small bowl, breaking up any clumps.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap.

For the bread:  Spray large bowl with cooking spray.  Whisk milk, melted butter, and yolks in large liquid measuring cup. 

Mix 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar, yeast, sugar, flour and salt in large bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. (obviously, you don't HAVE to own a standing mixer, it just makes these situations easier).  Turn mixer to low and slowly add milk mixture.

After dough comes together, increase speed to  medium and mix until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, 5 to 6 minutes.  If dough seems to sticky, add up to 1/4 cup more flour during kneading process. 

Turn dough out onto floured counter. Knead to form smooth, round ball.  Transfer dough to greased bowl and turn to coat.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  (Do not place in warm oven, or sugar in dough will melt).

Spray 9 x 5" loaf pan with cooking spray.  On lightly floured surface, press dough into 20 by 8-inch rectangle, with short side facing you.  Using spray bottle, lightly and evenly spray dough with water. 

Sprinkle 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar over dough, leaving 2-inch border along top edge.  Lightly spray cinnamon sugar with water until damp but not wet.  Distribute the raisins evenly over cinnamon sugar mixture.

Starting at edge nearest you, roll up dough, then pinch seam and ends closed.  Place loaf seam side down in prepared pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until 1 inch above rim of pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt remaining tablespoon butter and brush over top of dough.  Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar and bake until top is deep brown and center of bread registers 185 to 190 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 45 to 60 minutes.

Turn bread out onto rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Slice as desired.  Bread can be kept in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Serves 8.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reindeer food

This is such an easy and wonderful craft to do with children.  Teachers, day care instructors, babysitters, grandparents or mom and dad can turn this fun idea into a yearly tradition.  I happen to think it would also make cute gifts for their young neighborhood pals or even to give as party favors at the end of a pre-holiday get together.  Many thanks to my precious granddaughter's mother, Rebecca Jane Stuart, for providing today's inspiration for a blog post.  She and my granddaughter, Fiona, made this cute parcel at their baby group today. 


1/4 C Oatmeal
1/4 C Sugar
Red OR Green sugar crystals OR Glitter

Mix all ingredients.
Here's the poem that goes with this special food:

‎"Be sure to take this magic food and sprinkle it on the lawn, On Christmas Eve, Santa's reindeer travel miles before the dawn. The smell of oats and shining path will guide them on their way, And you'll wake up to Santa's gifts next morn on Christmas Day!"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shelly's Slow Cooker Chili

This hearty chili blends chunks of real steak, tomato and authentic Southwest chili seasonings.

Shelly's Slow Cooker Chili

1 lb. beef boneless round steak, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (OR use 1 lb. hamburger)
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 medium celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. ea.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
*Add canned tomato juice to your preference and taste
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 can (15 to 16 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Shredded cheddar cheese, if desired
Sour cream and finely chopped green onions for topping, if desired

I throw everything except the cheese into a slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low setting for 6 to 7 hoiurs or until beef and vegetables are tender.  Serve with cheese on top, and I also like a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of green onions on mine.  Enjoy!
Yields 6-8 servings

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Herb Rubbed Pork Chops

This is healthy, economical and so easy to fix.  My husband absolutely LOVES pork chops fixed this way!
Honestly, I double the rub portion.  I really coat it on, but that's completely up to you

Herb-Rubbed Pork Chops

1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. rubbed sage
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 bone-in pork loin chops (3/4 inch thick and 6 oz. each)
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil, divided
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp. sherry OR additional reduced -sodium chicken broth

In a small bowl, combine the parsley, marjoram, sage, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Brush both sides of pork chops with 1 tsp. oil; rub with herb mixture.

In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chops in remaining oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.  Remove and keep warm.  Add broth and sherry or additional broth to skillet, stirring to loosen browned bits.  Bring to a boil.

Return chops to the pan.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 4-5 minutes or until a meat thermometer (I'm too lazy to use one for this!) reads 160 degrees.  Serve chops with pan juice.
Serves 2.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Snow villages again...Now THIS is what I'm talking about!

Oh my goodness gracious!  You MUST click on this link because there are several pictures of FANTASTIC Christmas snow villages.  I began collecting the Lemax brand several yrs. ago, as I said in yesterday's post.  To date I have 7 structures and a couple of trees and a figurine or two----so I have room to grow, shall we say?   Although I'm not planning to incorporate a train set, I HAVE been fascinated with THOSE since I was a little girl.  Again, I just loved seeing how some folks created entire cities around a train set.  I'll let these pictures speak for themselves, as they leave me more inspired than I can tell you:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Do you share my LOVE of Christmas villages?

Can you believe it's December 1st?  I swear, this year has flown by SO fast, but then I've been particularly busy so that's likely why it seems impossible that the year's almost over!

Here's a site that I found a bit helpful it you, like me, have been playing with displaying your Christmas village---some tips I already use, but I DO like the idea of possibly using styrofoam bricks and the pins to hold the blanket in place, etc.  I'm sharing it here in case someone else could use some tips for displaying their village.  I'll be posting pics of mine later (I collect the Lemax brand) whenever we get the tree decorated as well.  I love to try and get a new piece each year or so, and especially like it when I can connect the theme to my own life.

Could be my neighbor's back porch, Holiday season!

I saw this on Pinterest and IMMEDIATELY thought of my neighbor & friend, Beverly.  She has a cute back porch with a pergola and always decorates so creatively during the warmer months.  I think she NEEDS to do this, because, frankly, I'd love to gaze out my office window and see this lovely view every day---I just know it would warm my heart!