Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus - Must See!

I know this clip has been on countless blogs and all over Facebook, having recieved over 9 1/2 million hits on You Tube already.......but I just couldn't reist putting it on "At Home 'n About" anyway because I just love it and it's my blog and I can do what I want. How's that for a reason? :)
I think you'll enjoy it as much as I do.....if this doesn't just thrill you and get you in the Holiday Spirit.......well. Wouldn't you like to have been there? Certainly makes me want to start wishing you all a
Merry Christmas!
Enjoying the Reason for the Season,

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gingerbread Ornaments

This is a post from Christmas 2008. I'm linking today with Chari @ Happy to Design for "Sunday Favorites" where we can post some of our favorites from the past. I'll be making more of these little guys tomorrow since I need a fresh batch this season

For quite a few years now I've been making gingerbread ornaments for our family room tree. They keep their scent for a couple of years and they're so easy to make!
There are only two ingredients to buy. The recipe is simple because the ratio is 1 to 1.....1 cup of cinnamon 1 cup of applesauce. Easy peasy. You can make as many or as few as you want. This year I made the recipe using 3 cups of cinnamon and 3 cups of applesauce and I wound up with 28. I found that my little guys from last year were still very fragrant and only a handful of the them were I needed only a few for the tree this year.

Mix the two ingredients together just as you would for cookie dough . Remember, these aren't won't hurt you obviously to eat them, but they don't taste very good because there's not enough sugar in the applesauce. Mix well. It will probably seem a little sticky to you so before you go to the next step.........and this is the fun part.............
powder your hands with cinnamon.
Turn the dough out onto a cinnamon-dusted cutting board or sheet. Pat out to about a third-inch thickness.

Using a gingerbread man cookie cutter cut out each ornament and place carefully on a sheet of waxed paper
When you're finished cutting them out, take a big fat pencil eraser and poke a hole in the head. This is so that when they're dry you can take a length of red or green ribbon ( about an inch and a half piece) and make a loop for them to hang from.
Here they are on my kitchen counter where they'll stay for the next 3 days to dry. Give them at least that long to in Phoenix with our dry air it takes about that long. In other more humid climates it may take a day or two longer.
The finished product. These little guys are from last year. When Christmas is over I usually keep them in a tin or box cushioned with tissue paper and they will be ready for next year.
Believe me.......any room you hang these in will smell heavenly! So Christmasy!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Seasonal Romantic

When the weather begins to cool down isn't it fun to cozy up your house a bit, whether you live where the winters are very cold or just mildly chilly? I always enjoy changing things around according to the seasons and with winter coming on I've been doing a few things here and there with that in mind.

This is a smallish print by the popular Scottish painter Jack Vettriano that I love to have in our Master Bedroom, especially during the winter. The colors seem "just right" and the title of this incredibly romantic scene is "Back Where You Belong".

I think the painting goes especially well with yet another hydrangea arrangement that I recently put together. I wasn't planning on bringing anymore hydrangeas home from my father-in-law's San Diego garden, but when I found out his gardener was planning to prune them all down this month.....well I just couldn't help myself.....I had to bring some more home. I promise this will be the last hydrangea post I'll be doing for awhile....I think.

In the evening this little table-top vignette looks so pretty when the wall candles are lit and it smells heavenly with the aroma bowl burning as well. My current favorite essential oil to burn in this room is Jasmine, but there are so many lovely fragrances to pick from it's hard to stick to just one. I'm currently on the search for a pleasant little "Christmasey" aroma that isn't too overpowering. Any suggestions?
Here's to the beautiful, romantic holiday season coming up,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Neiman Marcus Bars

On our recent ( all too short) visit to see family in Camarillo we had dinner one evening at my baby sister Jane's house. I always call her "baby " sister and I think she likes that even though there is only two and a half years separating us ( and we have another sister in between us.....people always told my Mom she might as well have had triplets). Anyway, at the ages we all three find ourselves now I'd guess I'd enjoy being called the "baby" too.
She had her house beautifully decorated for's just a little shot in the entryway. After dinner we all enjoyed our cups of hot coffee with not just one, but two desserts , one of which I'm featuring today. Neiman Marcus Bars. Since I've eaten at her place so many times over the years I was surprised that I had never tried these. By the way, these are also known as Vacuum Cleaner Cookies.....I think after you taste them the reason for that name will be obvious.

Not long after she gave me the recipe, I made these for my father-in-law. He has the habit of having a little something sweet everynight before going to bed. One of his current favorites had been to have a warm brownie (click here for my Brownie recipe post) topped with vanilla ice cream. Now I think he's hooked on Neiman Marcus Bars. Obviously this little "bedtime habit" of his hasn't done him much harm..........he'll soon be 91 years old! In any case he gives a big stamp of approval on these.
Neiman Marcus Bars
1 box of Yellow Cake Mix
1 box (1lb) powdered sugar
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup margarine (not butter)
3 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1 cup coconut
Heat oven to 325 degrees
Mix cake mix, 1 egg, and margarine until well blended. Spread mixture into a well-greased jelly roll pan or a large cookie sheet with sides.
Beat other 2 eggs slightly and add powdered sugar and cream cheese. Beat until blended then stir in nuts and coconut. Spread evenly over mixture in pan.
Bake @ 325 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown. You can serve these warm with vanilla ice cream or let them cool and cut into bars. (makes about 35 bars)


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Good Eats in San Diego

One of our family's favorite places to eat when we're in San Diego is Point Loma Seafoods. The atmosphere is very informal and classy at the same time.......and best of all the food is outstanding. There's an indoor dining room with a great view of the landing, but most of the time we prefer to eat out on the patio. They have quite a selection of dishes, including Sushi, Shell Fish, and some of the best Clam Chowder you'll ever taste.......but on this lovely autumn day a couple of weeks ago we all three chose a classic old favorite......the fish and chips platter with giant cups of iced tea. It doesn't get much better than that!
Here's to revisiting favorite family places,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Great Rose Decision

Okay, this is not really a post about a BIG rose the entire scheme of things it's just a little one.......but it sounded good in the title didn't it ? Actually these are photos of a lovely pink rose bush that is at the property we are renovating in San Diego. It's a beautiful potted miniature rose that has just bloomed non-stop for several months now.
At times it's covered with dozens and dozens of perfect little pink blossoms. We've only been able to be at the property sporadically so it has not received any special attention from me at all. Still it is one of the most prolific bloomers I've ever seen. It belonged to my husband's brother John who passed away suddenly this past summer........ he was a terrific gardener and he had obviously taken excellent care of it.
My dilemma has been that, while it absolutely is a lovely addition to the property and will certainly help it show well as we place it on the market.........and I certainly do want the place to be as lovely as we can make it.......but I really really really really love this little rose......and I want it to bring it home with me! Jim says I should, but it looks so perfect sitting right there at the entry to the front door.
Still , I think you all know what I'm probably..... okay for sure.... going to do. Right after Thanksgiving, right before we list the property, I'm going to load that pot right into our van and bring it to it's new home in Phoenix......I think John would like that.
Remembering with fondness those we've loved,

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jack is Back!

This was my very first post, all about Jack the I'm linking with
Sunday Favorites where we post past favorites thanks to Cheri at Happy to Design .
Jack is still special around our house......hope you enjoy reading about him.

It's always kind of sad, but after sitting on our porch swing from October 1st until Thanksgiving, our family scarecrow Jack has to return to the attic for another 9 months of relaxation. Actually we aren't always sure what he does up there all year when we're not watching. The two youngest ones in our family, the two 5 year olds, are pretty sure he can talk......and they're convinced they've seen him move.

I made him when my youngest son Christopher was in Kindergarten ( and he's 19 now!) So Jack has been in the family for awhile now.

He loves to travel around town........over the years he's been to parties, hayrides, and presided over Harvest Carnivals. He's had his picture taken with young and old. He's quite a social fellow.....never met anyone he didn't like.....or anyone who didn't like him. If he had a Facebook page he'd be the guy with all the friends!

While there's a video tape floating around somewhere of him dancing with several lovely young ladies here in Phoenix, his favorite date has always been my Mom. Here they are a few years back at a church party. He was her constant companion on a 1998 hayride when she was trying to ignore the unwanted attentions of a much older gentleman who shall remain nameless. He finally got the hint.....Jack had saved the day. He's really quite the ladies man.

But at heart he's a real family he is with grandaughters Kylie, Kenedee, and Christian last year.

This year, just like every other year, nobody wants to say goodbye.........a quick kiss from the aforementioned 5 year olds........grandaughters Fiona and Kenedee. Love ya, Jack.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Perfect Fall Cookie

We recently spent a few days in Camarillo, California celebrating my Mother's birthday. I wanted to share a few photos of my sister Joan's home while it is decorated for Fall. We felt like we were staying at a charming Bed and Breakfast. I also wanted to share her recipe for a delicious cookie she baked for us while we were there.....Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies. This is a little table she has set up in her kitchen......the basket there is holding the leftover biscuits we had that morning for breakfast with our sausage gravy and eggs......see what I mean about that Bed and Breakfast?

Pilgrims on the table...........

Beautiful tabletop vignette in the diningroom...........

Some of you will recognize her Jack Vettriano painting of the dancers on the the way it rained every day we were there........which was fine with us........very cozy

Here's a little proof that Autumn has indeed arrived........even in Southern California......a few falling leaves

And finally here's the cookie recipe.....there were a few left so she sent them with us when we left town........driving in the rain, cups of hot Starbucks coffee in hand......perfect ending to a great trip!

Joan's Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup of vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
2 Tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups oatmeal ( not instant)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend shortening and sugars together gradually. Add eggs, milk, vanilla, and beat well. Add flour, baking soda, salt and beat well. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and walnuts.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet placing them about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes depending on your oven and how chewy you want them.
Cool on wire rack or flat surface (they can easily break if not laying flat)
Makes about 42 cookies.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Phoenix Hailstorm

As promised I'm finally posting pictures of the storm that hit us here in the desert three weeks ago. I thought it particularly appropriate for an "Outdoor Wednesday" post since it hardly ever looks this way here in Phoenix! No, this is not snow, it is hail.
My son Christopher, who is admittedly known to be rather dramatic, immediately rushed outside. Of course he wasn't the only one.....only one of many who reacted this way here in Phoenix......we all act kind of crazy when we get any change in the weather.....clouds, any kind of rain, the rare snowflake, and particularly something like this!
In our part of town, thankfully, it was all fun and no property damage.
Our Golden Retriever Patrick wouldn't dare venture out in it......he just stood at the door and looked out......until he found out it was ICE falling from the sky. Ice just happens to be one of his favorite treats.....really.....better than Milk Bones even! So he did stick his head out the door and eat all the hail that had fallen on the front doormat.
Keep in mind that we were still having three digit temperatures that first week in October!
The temps did drop a full 20 degrees pretty quickly that afternoon, but of course it all melted pretty quickly too......but we had our own white wonderland for a little while. That's exciting stuff around here.
We thought it was an especially enjoyable and cozy way to start off our Fall season.....too bad the firewood had gotten wet or I do believe I would have started up a fire in the fireplace :)
Till Friday when I share my sister Joan's special recipe for "Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies" ,