Sunday, December 3, 2017

Christmas Simplicity, The Polar Express, Sunday Thanksgiving, Oxford Thanksgiving, Blog Linkage AND Old-Fashioned Fruit Drop Cookies

Good Sunday afternoon!

AGAIN WITH THE DISCLAIMER - I still cannot figure out how to edit my pics using the same editing stuff I've used for over a year now.

Someone changed the super easy instructions, and didn't send me the memo.

Until I figure things out, my pics will continue to be totally uncropped and unedited, which drives me a little crazy...

But you probably would never have noticed.


Blog Linkage - It is unheard of for me to put Blog Linkage ABOVE Randomness on the blog, but this post is so lengthy I was afraid you might skip over this, and it's too good to miss.

Okay. Go to Nesting Place under My Blog List and read yesterday's post entitled, "How to Have A Simple Christmasy Home Like A Normal Person Who Loves Beauty."

When you finish reading the above, type "We Want to See Your Winter & Christmasy Home" in the Search Box and enjoy that post, too.

Old-Fashioned Fruit Drop Cookies

For the same reason I put Blog Linkage at the top of the post, I am doing the same with the recipe.

I just don't want you to miss anything important!

You will need the following items:

2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups candied cherries, cut in half
2 cups chopped dates
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
Pecan halves, if desired

1. In large bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening, buttermilk and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed until blended, or mix with spoon.

2. Gradually stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in cherries, dates and chopped pecans. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheet. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Place a pecan half on each cookie.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched lightly. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

RANDOMNESS #1 - Christmas Simplicity - I'm sure a lot of you are well on your way to finishing your Christmas decorating.

What am I saying?

I bet you're already finished, aren't you?

If you haven't finished (or even started)...

Get ready!

I'm about to make you feel better about yourselves.

But first, a story...

Every year since we've lived in The Dale, we have gone to Pine Hill Farms the Sunday after Thanksgiving to cut down our Christmas tree, visit the reindeer, partake of free hot chocolate, ride the tractor-pulled wagon, etc., etc.

This was our 25th year.

Can you believe it? Twenty-five years have come and gone, and I have had 24 hand-cut trees in my den from this particular farm.

Twenty-four, but not 25.

This past weekend, most of us went to the Tree Farm. (Austin and Roxie had work and school obligations... BAH!)

On the way to the reindeer, Josh asked me if I wanted him to get a saw.

"No. That's okay. We'll look around first," I replied.

No questions were asked until an hour later while we were drinking our hot chocolate.

"Mom... Are you NOT getting a tree?"

"Oh, yes. I'm getting a pre-cut tree this year," I said.

"Well, point it out to me, and I'll load it for you while you pay," Josh told me.

"No need for that. I'm just going to pay for it and pick it up in a couple of days." By this time, I wasn't making eye contact with Josh at all.

"Why wouldn't we take it now?"

And then I saw it finally dawning on him.

Josh worked at the Tree Farm two or three seasons when he was in high school. He loved working at the Tree Farm except for one particular chore.

He hated flocking the trees.

Despised it!

And on days in December when I would say aloud, "I want a flocked tree one day. I think they are so pretty," he would almost pitch a fit.

"I cannot believe you are getting a flocked tree," he said, accusingly.

"It's okay, Josh. I'm not asking you to personally flock it. Don't take it as a personal attack on your character. I talked to Dad, and he said it was fine for us to have a flocked tree."

"I cannot even look at you," he said, and he walked to his car.

All of my kids are so dramatic.

I have no idea where they get it.


I now have a lightly-flocked Christmas tree in my den. It isn't big. It is quite small and perfectly shaped. There isn't a light on it, and I'm honestly thinking of just putting a medium-sized twig star on the top (I saw one at Target) and getting a pretty plaid ribbon to wrap around it.




When I told Roxie my idea on the phone, she sputtered a few times before she said, "What did Josh say about it?"

"It isn't Josh's decision."

Total silence on the other side of the phone.

But wait...

There's more.

I think this year, my decorating is going to consist of a lot of candles (at least 100 per room), semi-brightly wrapped packages (red and brown), my gold Angel tree in the living room, Christmas cards trimming the doorways throughout the house and my new Pentatonix Christmas CD playing in the background.

My plan is to take A Simple Life to a whole new SIMPLE level.

I'm also thinking about throwing a Christmas pillow here and there.

I'll let you know what the kids have to say about it when (or if) they visit during the holidays.

There now.

Don't you feel so much better about yourselves!

You're welcome!

RANDOMNESS #2 - In case you've ever wondered, this is what a ten month-old Thanksgiving Indian looks like.

I know he's a little fair and blue-eyed, but I think he makes a fine, fine Indian.

RANDOMNESS #3 - The Polar Express - I bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale, and we were all scheduled to leave at 4:30 to get there at 5:30 and depart the train station at 6:30.

What went wrong, you ask...

1. OVER two hours to get to a destination only 45 minutes away.

2. Josh was unable to join us because of work.

What went right...

1. Mike bought everyone chicken strips and biscuits from Bojangles to eat in the car, so dinner was taken care of completely.

2. Roxie came from Auburn, so she got there with time to spare. Even though the tickets said something like, "Under no circumstances will we hold the train for latecomers," she kinda got one of the conductors to hold the train for four minutes while everyone parked and ran.

She's good at things like that.

3. RT and Judith had no idea what was going on, so running to catch a train to the North Pole was all fun and games to them.

I, however, was slightly stressed and had that flop sweat thing going for me.

Looking back, I now think it might have been fun to jump onto the MOVING train...

Like in the movies...

But as we all know by now, my life is not anything like the movies.

Heavy sigh.

I used to think there was no reason to take a baby to special events they were never going to remember, but Little Man thoroughly enjoyed everything about the train ride...

The lights, the sounds, the ride.

He might not remember it, but he sure did have a good time.

These shoes slay me.

Get it?

S-L-E-I-G-H me.



The giant cookie!

We thoroughly enjoyed our train ride to the North Pole.

RANDOMNESS #4 - Sunday Thanksgiving - My side of the family celebrated Thanksgiving the Sunday before the actual holiday, and for the second year in a row, we had our Thanksgiving at the Palisades in Oneonta.

Stephanie's Rice Krispie Treat Drumsticks were a big hit with the two and under crowd.

Who am I kidding?

The 56 and older crowd liked them very much, too.

This was Judith's contribution to our Thanksgiving meal AND my front porch this past November.

RT is beginning to think this "holiday stuff" is pretty fun.

And he would be correct in this assumption.

Note to self...

Let's get the "little kid pics" out of the way at the beginning of the evening. Everyone is more than just a little pooped in this photo.

RANDOMNESS #5 - Oxford Thanksgiving - Everyone was in attendance for Thanksgiving lunch with Grandma. Good food, fantastic weather, lots of kids and everyone in between made for a really nice holiday.


As the oldest female "young" cousin, Lauren is the Little Mother who brings all the little girls together.

It wasn't real turkey, but he was satisfied.

Just wait until next year.

Brandi and Matthew.

Mike, Judith and Grandma.

The background is almost as entertaining as Little Man.

Micah worked very hard on his Thanksgiving artwork.

Have a great weekend, and I'll be back soon with holiday stuff galore!


The Enchanting Belinda

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Bath and Body Works Dilemma, Tuesdays with Judith, Blackberry Lane Farm AND Blog Linkage

Good Wednesday morning!

Guess what?

Our Internet has been down for four days.


And it's been okay except I wanted to post on the blog, work on my Christmas card and keep up with the world.

A very nice young man worked on it for over two hours yesterday afternoon, and now I am "good to go."

Also, guess what else?

My picture editing program isn't working.

So my pictures are totally uncropped and unedited.

And the sad part...

I think I'm going to have to figure this one out on my own.

Wish me luck.

RANDOMNESS #1 - Bath and Body Works Dilemma - Call me crazy (get in line), but during the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving, I like my lotion to be from Bath and Body Works, and I want to smell like Autumn. It's as simple as that. Some people don't want to put up their Christmas trees until after Thanksgiving... others do not want to listen to Christmas music or watch Christmas movies until a very specific day on the calendar.

But me...

Well, I'm just a tad bit different.

I don't want to smell like Warm Vanilla Sugar, a very decidedly Christmas scent, until the day after black Friday.

Before that Saturday, if and when you get a whiff of me, it will be Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin, Spiced Caramel Apricot, Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte, Turkey Broth Delight...

You get the idea.

I bought three of the autumnal scented body lotions, and I thought that would get me through, but because strangers kept coming up to me and telling me how good I smelled (I kid you not), I think I may have reapplied too often during the day...

Thus, causing me to run out of autumnal scented lotion two weeks too early.

Here's the dilemma part.

I went to three different Bath and Body stores only to discover there were no autumnal lotions on display. EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING, was most definitely Christmas.

At the third and final store, I walked up to an associate and asked for some of the autumnal lotions from the back.

"We don't have those any longer," she replied.

"I know they aren't in the main store on display, but if you could run to the back and grab a couple for me, I would greatly appreciate it. I am not ready to smell like Peppermint Eggnog Bliss quite yet," I answered very, very sweetly.

"You don't understand," she answered. "The autumnal lotions are gone. They are no longer with us."

I couldn't wrap my head around it. "No longer with us?" Did that mean they were all in that great, big Bath and Body Works in the sky?

And if the answer to that question was affirmative, how did one go about getting up there to buy a couple of tubes?

"Listen. I won't tell anyone if that's what you're worried about. Here. I'll just slip you a $20 and you run to the back of the store and put the tube into a bag. I don't even care which autumnal scent you get, just as long as the tube is burnt orange with gold leaves all over it. No one will ever be the wiser."

She just stared at me. "I think you're going to have to try to order it off the computer."

"Ahhh. So the 'computer' store has all the autumnal lotion. Now I understand," and I winked before turning and heading toward the door.

A quick visit to the website and a few clicks of some key buttons, and I am now smelling good again.

Just like a Salted Caramel Pumpkin.

If you see me out and about the next few days, feel free to step up and take a whiff.

It will bother me not at all!

RANDOMNESS #2 - Tuesdays with Judith - Judith helped me with a Thanksgiving table centerpiece. I think she's going to be a great craft partner as the years go by.

RANDOMNESS #3 - Blackberry Lane Farm - Mike and I took a little middle-of-the-week getaway last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We went to Chelsea to a little place called Blackberry Lane Farm.

Every April, Mike and I go to a Silent Auction to benefit Alzheimer's Research, and this past spring, we bid on (and won) a two-night stay at this farm.

Can I just tell you, it was wonderful?

This is the back of the house taken from the pond. It is typically a wedding venue, and that's why we went during the week because it has a lot of weekend activity going on this season.

As with all things lovely and special, it's the little details throughout that make the difference.

As far as animals go, there were several beautiful horses, four goats, a chicken coop full of fancy chickens...

And two barn cats.

Please note, Mike and I are not cat people.

In fact, I might go so far as to say Mike doesn't care for cats at all...

But the two barn cats, Patrick and Kenneth, took a liking to Mike, and they may or may not have changed his mind and heart just a little bit.

I would have added fish to the animal mix at Blackberry Lane Farm, but we didn't catch one, so I didn't think it would be an accurate statement.

And we all know I am all about accurate statements.


Did I mention the Texas longhorn steer that roam freely around the farm?

I caught this guy hiding behind a bush.

They were beautiful, and once you convinced yourself they were just cows with huge horns and not raging bulls, it was easy to walk right up to them (within six to ten feet), and they were fine.

I do have a question though...

Why was there separate fencing and gates for horses, goats and chickens, but not for the one animal which could absolutely stab you to death with a quick turn of the head?

I wouldn't want to be pecked by a chicken, but on the other hand, I quite possibly could survive a peck attack.

At least, that is what I tell myself.

Blog Linkage - Go to www.kellehampton.com and read these two posts...

1. The Epic Christmas Playlist (November 14, 2017); and

2. New Christmas (and Thanksgiving) Kids' Books and Puzzles for Holiday Break Fun (November 16, 2017).

(You will need to type the titles in the Search Box on her blog.) Talk about useful information!

I have two more major events to share in pics (the Polar Express train ride in Calera with the grand-tots AND our Sunday Thanksgiving at the Palisades with my side of the family), but those will have to wait until another day in the very near future.

Have a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones. I'll be back in a few days to reminisce with you!


The Enchanting Belinda
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