I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed holiday!!


My Dream...

You know how some couples have a talk about if one of them dies would the other remarry? Well, Mr. K and I have a little joke about if anything ever happens to him...I'm going move to Finland and work for Santa.

I don't really know how it came about, but a few years ago I found this website. Mr. K, and others, are endlessly impressed and occassionally annoyed by my passion for Christmas and Santa Claus. And, somewhere along the line, he made some sort of comment about if I love Santa so much I should move to The North Pole. To which I replied something about the paparazzi getting too out of hand at the North Pole, and Santa relocating to Finland. He thought it was hysterically funny and he brings it up whenever one of those sad "what if's" come up.

Anyway, check out the website. It's cute. There are lots of pretty pictures of The Arctic Circle, and there's even a live Santa cam!

P.S. You know that claymation cartoon Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, where Fred Astaire does the voice of the mailman? Well, next time pay close attention to him meeting and marrying Mrs. Claus. It is no coincidence that she and I share the same 1st name!


Candy Cane Cupcakes

These were awesome and super easy! They are great when you need to bring something to a party or get together - not too heavy of a dessert and just the right amount of peppermint flavor. Give them a try.

1 box of white cake mix
3 egg whites
1 & 1/3 cups white cranberry juice
1 tsp. Peppermint extract, divided
2 containers of white frosting
1 cup of crushed candy canes

1. Prepare mix according to package instructions, but substitute cranberry juice for water. Stir in 1/2 the peppermint extract.
2. Bake cupcakes according to box instructions.
3. Stir in remaining extract to frosting. Fill a zip top bag with icing, snip a small corner of the bag, and pipe icing onto each cupcake. Sprinkle each cupcake with candy cane.

P.S. Chocolate cupcakes with the peppermint might be a nice combo as well!


So Have A Cup Of Cheer

I was all inspired by my candy cane post, so I did a little digging and found a few really easy Christmas cocktails to brighten your spirits. Turns out there is way more to this season than just eggnog. Give these drinks a try this holiday...or any holiday...any regular day.


Candy Cane Martini

Dip the rim of a martini glass in peppermint schnapps and then into some crushed candy cane pieces. In a shaker, mix peppermint schnapps and vodka with ice (the ratio should be 3 to 1, vodka to schnapps). Strain into martini glasses and garnish with a mini candy cane.

Gingerbread Man

In a shaker, combine 1 shot of vanilla vodka, 1 shot of Frangelico, & 1/2 shot of butterscotch schnapps with ice. Strain into a high ball glass filled with ice. Top with 1/2 c. of ginger beer. Float a splash of dark rum and garnish with a gingerbread man cookie.

Mistletoe Mojito

Pour 3 shots of mojito mix, 1 shot of light rum, and 1 shot of club soda over a glass of ice. Stir and top with a sprig of mint and 2 Tbl. pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate Champagne

Place a sugar cube in a champagne flute and pour an ounce of pomegranate juice over it. Add 3 ounces of champagne and top with pomegranate seeds.

Spiked Cider

Mix 4 parts hard apple cider to 1 part apple brandy. Pour over ice and garnish with an apple wedge or a cinnamon stick.

White Hot Chocolate

In a saucepan on medium heat, heat 4 cups of milk and 2 cups of half-and-half to just below the simmering point. Remove the pan from the heat and add 1 lb. chopped white chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, add 2 tsp vanilla, seeds from 2 vanilla beans, and 1/3 cup Grand Marnier, and whisk vigorously. Reheat very gently and serve.

Cranberry Snowdrift

Rim a martini glass with granulated sugar. Shake 1 oz creme de cacoa, 1 oz cranberry juice, and 1/2 oz of white chocolate liquer together with ice. Pour into glasses. To garnish, thread whole cranberries onto a cocktail pick; dip in water and roll in sugar to coat evenly. Perch the pick in the glass, and top the cocktail with shaved dark chocolate.

Things To Do With Candy Canes

Candy canes are awesome. They are delicious, and surprisingly versatile. AND, since they are only readily available at certain times of the year, you should enjoy them while you can.

Granted, I love mostly everything peppermint, but its like a "What came 1st, the chicken or the egg?" Do I love peppermint because it reminds me of a candy cane or do I love candy canes because they are peppermint? The world may never know. I, however, like to believe its the 1st one.

So, here are 10 things you can do with your candy canes...

1. Grind them into a fine powder to make a peppermint sugar.

2. Crush them into small chunks and use as a holiday garnish for cupcakes, drinks, ice cream, etc.

3. Make a festive swizzle stick to stir hot chocolate, coffee, tea, cappuccino, etc.

4. Mix them into holiday brownies, cookies, fudge, cakes, etc.

5. Melt some chocolate, then dip a pretty spoon into it and roll around in some crushed candy canes or dip the candy canes themselves for a unique stirrer (and/or party favor).

6. Make peppermint bark.

7. Grind them up for a festive glass rimmer for Christmas cocktails.

8. You can dip just about anything in chocolate, roll it in crushed candy cane, and you have a great homemade Christmas gift. Pretzels, Oreos, graham crackers...just wrap them up in a pretty cellophane bag, a festive tin or box, and tie with ribbons!

9. They make great decorations. Sure, you can hang them on the tree, but you can also fill a vase with some candy canes, tie a red bow around it and you have an instant centerpiece. The possibilities really are endless!

10. Save them away for Valentine's day...when you put 2 together they make a pretty red and white heart!

Get creative!


When This Season Stresses You Out...Here's Something To Think About...

If we could shrink the earth's population to precisely 100 people, and maintain current existing human ratios, This is how our world would look:

There would be: (remember this is if the entire world population was shrunk down to 100 people)

57 Asians
21 Europeans

14 from the Western Hemisphere,both north and south
8 would be Africans

52 would be female
48 would be male

30 would be white
70 would be non-white

70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian

89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would be from the USA.

80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition

1 would be near death
1 would be near birth

1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education
1 (yes, only1) would own computer.

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, we realize the need for acceptance, understanding and education.

So therefore . . .

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can read this message you are more blessed than the over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

As you read this you can look at it two ways.

One, you realize how lucky, blessed and fortunate you are, and appreciate everything in your life (And you are fortunate just for the fact that you have access to a computer).

Two, you can read it and feel compassion for those who live in fear, poverty and sickness. My hope is that everyone can feel both.

Lots of times when something bad happens or we hear something like this we say "Why can't somebody do something?" I challenge you to turn that question on yourself and ask "What can I do to help?"


Do You Remember?

Most of us have a treasured memory of a particular party or a special birthday gift.

I remember Kathy used to make it that person's "day". And, on your day you got to pick what was for dinner! This is something that I have kind of adopted in my own house. Even though I don't have children, my husband and I celebrate our days in a similar way. On his day, he gets to pick what's for dinner, what we do (usually he picks bowling), and I can't get mad at him for anything or tickle him.

Birthday parties are something many of us took for granted growing up. The cake. Opening presents. We didn't stop and think about it, but how did those things get to us?

For many children they don't. For some kids, birthdays come and go with no cake and no presents. I was watching the Rachel Ray show the other day, which I never do, and caught a story about a woman in MA who throws birthday parties for homeless children. It was short, but eyeopening because you don't always think about things like that unless it affects you.

On the website you can volunteer or donate party supplies.

If you live in MA (or even if you don't) check out the website and see how you can make a difference.


Kathy's Potatoes

I went home for Thanksgiving this year. It was the 1st time I had been home for a holiday in 5 years and the first time in my entire life that I didn't have mashed potatoes. The reason was, Kathy had made these amazing roasted potatoes, and after tasting them there was no need to move on to another potatoes! They were that good!

Anyway, Mr. K wanted to cook our own turkey when we got home so we would have left overs to pick at. So, the Saturday after Thanksgiving we had our own mini version of the holiday, which included Kathy's roasted potatoes.

Here is the recipe. She uses red potatoes, but I made it with Yukon Gold.

1. Coat a glass baking dish with olive oil.

2. Chop potatoes into big chunks. If you are using smaller potatoes maybe just in half. Place them into the baking dish and coat with a little more olive oil.

3. Sprinkle potatoes with salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic powder. Just to your tastes, but you should be able to see the seasonings on each one.

4. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or so on the bottom shelf, until browned and cooked throughout.

Trust me. I am THE potato connoisseur to end all potato connoisseurs. These potatoes are delicious and easy. Try them...you'll love them!!!

P.S. This recipe might be equally as awesome with yams or sweet potatoes too!

Mrs. K's Peppermint Bark

This recipe was born of the same frustration as my chocolate covered graham crackers. I bought a box of this as a gift for someone. This time it was from Williams Sonoma (my other favorite store). And, again it was $20 plus.

So, Mr. K and I reinvented the wheel.

I LOVE all things peppermint, and this bark is not exception. And, this recipe is even easier than the grahams!

a bag of dark chocolate chips
a bag of white chocolate chips
a box of candy canes
milk or cream
wax paper

1. Lay the wax paper out so it's ready for you.
2. Crush the candy canes. You can do this with a food processor or put them in a baggie and bang them with the back of a spoon. In either case, they should be pea sized or smaller, but not made into a powder.
3. In a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate until its smooth. Pour out onto the wax paper.
4. In a double boiler, melt the white chocolate. White chocolate doesn't melt as well as regular chocolate, so may need to add a splash of milk or cream to keep it smooth. You want to keep it the consistancy of the dark chocolate. Once it is, pour it out over the dark chocolate, and LEAVE IT ALONE! If you play with it, it won't be "layered" it will be "marbled".
5. Sprinkle candy cane crumbs over the melted white chocolate, and press them in GENTLY.
6. Allow the bark to cool completely. The refridgerator works well. Once cool, break it up into chunks.


Mrs. K's Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

Those of you who know me well, know that I am a catalogue junkie. Especially at Christmas! I love it! You get some of the most unique gifts imaginable, and sometimes for cheap!

Anyway, my Aunt Irene always remembers us at Christmas. And now that we live far apart and almost never see one another...our exchanges at Christmas usually consist of some yummy treats!

I came across chocolate covered graham crackers one year in one of my catalogues and sent them off to her. They were from Crate & Barrel so I am sure they were good, since they are my favorite store! But, even though I knew they were good, I did say to myself "I just spent $25 on chocolate covered graham crackers"!

So, I decided to recreate their awesomeness for much much less. And, I did! Here is the recipe, and I really encourage you to try it. I made them a few weeks ago with my grandmother, and we put 2 in those little Christmas cellophane bags and tied them with pretty ribbons. She gave them as a gift for her friends at the senior center. And, 2 is plenty, since they are very rich!

a box graham crackers, any kind
a bag of chocolate chips, any kind
1 cup of confectioner's sugar, divided
about 1/4 cup of milk or cream, divided
red & green food color
wax paper

1. Break the graham crackers in half, so they are squares, not rectangles.

2. Divide the sugar into two parts. One for red and one for green. Add the milk a tiny bit at a time. You want it to be able to lift up a spoonful, and let it run off quickly, but NOT be watery. Once you get a good consistancy, add the food color for a red and green drizzle once the cookies are cool. Set aside.

3. Lay out sheets of wax paper to place the cookies on once you have dipped them, so they can cool.

4. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler. If you decide to do white chocolate or something other than a variation of regular chocolate, you may need to add milk or cream to get it smooth.

5. Once the chocolate is smooth, remove it from the heat, and start coating the squares. The chocolate will be EXTREMELY hot, so try not to use your fingers. Tongs, spoons, and skewers work well. Coat all sides, and lay on the wax paper to cool.

6. Allow to cool until chocolate is firm and matte. Drizzle with red and green frosting, and allow to set over night in the refridgerator.

Make Your Own...

Since I pride myself on being an honorary Christmas Elf, one of the things I love to do is make toys.

Just kidding.

Well, sort of...I do make many of the gifts I give to people. And, it isn't nearly as difficult, or time consuming, as you might be thinking. In fact, I think it is much faster than driving around to different stores, searching for that elusive perfect gift, not to mention a place to park!

I promise it's easy, and I promise you can do it!

I am not sure when exactly I started, but I do remember my grandmother baking little breads and cookies when I was growing up. She used to decorate them with ribbons and bows, and make me take them to all the neighbors. It was just a thoughtful thing she used to do.

My own version of this has evolved somewhat over the years, and yours can as well. To give you an example, the very first Christmas I spent with my in-laws, I made a gift basket for my mother-in-law. Since we were also meeting for the first time, I had absolutely no clue what her likes/dislikes were or what kind of taste she had. I suppose I could have deferred to my then boyfriend's advice, but to be honest I didn't really trust him all that much. And, even though now we are married, I still don't. In fact, I think I might trust him a little less now that I know him so well. I'M KIDDING!!!

But back to my story...

I decided I could at least make her gift a personal and thoughtful one. And, since I didn't know her, that would have to mean letting her know about me. I am from New England, and they live in Florida. So, the I got a cranberry colored basket and filled it with all things New England - Vermont maple syrup, Maine blueberry pancake mix, maple sugar candy, salt water taffy, apple butter, preserves, Boston baked beans (the candy kind), etc etc.

It turned out so well...that I started doing it every year for at least 1 person on my list. And, I think its especially good for "couples" gifts since you may not know one as well as the other, and its so much more personal than gift cards.

A breakfast basket is one of my favorites! You can fill it with lots regular and inexpensive things, like...pancake mix, syrup, English muffins, jams, a spatula, etc. Just arrange everything in a pretty mixing bowl, wrap it up with cellophane and ribbon, and Christmas morning it taken care of!

And, why stop at breakfast? Any cuisine can theme a "basket" check out a bargain book section for cookbooks and run with it! Last year I gave 2 people a "soup and sanwhich basket" with soup and sandwhich cookbooks, some cute Christmas soup bowls, and a couple of cans of Campbell's Soup. Perfect for a chilly day lunch!

Another thing to keep in mind is that is doesn't have to be limited to Christmas.

My grandmother's friend Beverly had a heart attack over the summer, and was down for several weeks. My grandmother mentioned to me that she was going to send flowers, which is always a nice gesture, but why not something a tad more useful? I gave my grandmother the idea of making up a basket with some teabags, crossword puzzle books, magazines, books, cookies. After all, they sell clear cellophane too! She decorated it up with bright colored ribbons and bows, added a get well card, and spent a whole lot less than some flowers would have cost!
And, I know it was appreciated while Bev was recouperateing!

So, get creative! And keep in mind that literally any theme can be made into a little basket!

Let me know if you need any help!

Just Believe...

Let me first say, I love Christmas.

While this isn't exactly so unusual, I do believe my passion for this time of year exceeds that of everyone I know. For example, my tree and lights must be up on Thanksgiving. And, my husband still makes jokes about me moving to Finland after he dies to become an elf (which is still a dream of mine). Ask if you really want to whole story- its short.

Speaking of Mr. K, he is one of those people who feels Christmas has lost it's true meaning and has become too commercial. It makes him really sad...which, in turn, makes me sad. But, I have to disagree with him. While some people might view this time of year solely as a commercial holiday, others open their hearts more than they do at any other time of year. Deep down in their hearts...they believe!

That is what I see at Christmas.

For me, that is Santa Claus! And, when Santa Claus comes to town...the world is a better place, if only for a little while! And, even though it might fade as we get caught up in the excitement of a New Year...Frosty promises us he'll be back next year! And, we have hope.

Something to look forward to.

And, everyone needs that in their life.

Enjoy this season! Especially this year, when so many people are experiencing difficult circumstances...

No Turkey Eggs?

So...my friend Debbie asked "Do people eat turkey eggs? And, if not, why not?"

I had the answer!

1) Turkeys don't start laying eggs until they are much older than chickens, so raising them for eggs would take longer.

2) They are not cost effective 'cause they are so much bigger than chickens so you would raise less turkeys in the same area as many more chickens.

3) Turkeys are possessive of their eggs where chickens are not. So, collecting them up is more difficult and time consuming.

4) They lay less eggs than chickens so it makes more sense to just use the eggs for more turkeys.

There you go...now you know!