Savoring Saturday A Look Back at Christmas

 

Every year, I have the pleasure of creating Christmas gifts for my husband’s team at work.  I love coming up with creative ideas to make the gifts extra special.  I’m still working on what the gifts will be this year but wanted to share what I did last year.  My hubby loves coffee and I notice that the team loves coffee and tea as well, so I decided to give a few savory Christmas time drinks that they could enjoy.

I created three drink mixtures that they would only have to add boiling water to and Voila, there you have it, a warm and soothing drink.  Every year, I also create a custom card.  I have so much fun acting as my husband’s little helper :).

 

This is the Christmas Card I created.  I wanted to go with the traditional Christmas color scheme last year and wanted it to be festive and to incorporate the look of  one of my husband’s favorite sweet treats, peppermint.  I love to find inspiration through many aspects when creating, whether it be family and friends, nature, or even something I’ve dreamt.

 

Tony's Praise Team 2013 Card - Final

The inside of the card read

Chocolate, Coffee and Tea for You,

To say thanks a Latte for all you do!

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Next I gave instructions for mixing each drink and created a cute little saying for each.

The first drink mix was RUSSIAN TEA.  I added “as you’re russian through your day take a moment to sip on this spicy soothing tea.”  Directions: Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of tea mix to 1 cup of boiling or cold water. Adjust amount of mix used to taste.

 I found this yummy recipe at allrecipes.com you mix all the dry ingredients and you have enough for 5 servings.

  • 1 cup instant tea powder
  • 2 cups orange-flavored drink mix (e.g. Tang)
  • 1 (3 ounce) package powdered lemonade mix
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

The next drink was FRENCH VANILLA CARAMEL CAFÉ.  I added “what a way to start off your day with a little French vanilla caramel café.”  Directions: Add 2 heaping tablespoons of mix to boiling water.

I found this recipe at food.com you mix all the dry ingredients and you have enough for 12 servings.

  • 1/3 cup instant coffee
  • 1 cup instant powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup powdered caramel coffee creamer
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vanilla instant pudding mix

 The last drink was the BOWERS HOT CHOCOLATE.  I added “take a little time and stop an unwind with a frosty hot cocoa, it’s warmth will relax you before you know.” Directions: Spoon 3 or 4 generous tablespoons of cocoa mix into your cup (depending on the size), add boiling water, and stir well.”  With this drink, I took cocoa mix and added chocolate chips and marshmallows.

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And I put all the drink mixes in this festive cup for all to enjoy.  I got feedback from some of the team and they loved the drinks.  Needless to say that made me very happy and my job as little helper was done until the next year :).

Have a great weekend!

Take Care,

Erika

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Giving Thanks

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is a time we spend with family and friends and reflect on things that we are thankful for.  It is awesome that we spend time on this day to give thanks, but I want to encourage you to give thanks today and everyday, it should be our mindset.  Each day we wake up is a blessing and another day to be grateful.  I am grateful for so many things and life is not always easy but I remind myself daily how truly blessed I am and I thank God.

I hope you that you enjoy your day and Thank You for your support.

Take Care,

Erika

 

It’s the Most Wondeful Time of the Year – Holiday Party Must Haves

The holiday season is fast approaching, better yet it’s here.  We just left October, Daylight Savings time ended and Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  Many stores already have their Christmas decorations out and I must say, I am starting to get into the holiday spirit.

This is my most favorite time of the year.  It’s a time I get the spend with my family and friends, catching up with what’s happening in their lives, and reflecting on the past which often brings lots of laughs and tears of joy.

Christmas Gathering 2

It’s also my favorite time of year because I get to throw a party and who doesn’t enjoy throwing a party?  So I want to share with you a few things that I think make a great party.

  1. Great Food for Everyone for me includes both the traditional holiday menu, as well as, great desserts.  I am known for my desserts and pride myself in mastering my grandmother’s Philadelphia Cream Cheese Pound Cake (but not like my granny)  and making Gooey Butter Cookies.  I also like to add something new to the mix and think I’ll be trying this new recipe for Dove Christmas Chocolate Drops that I found on the Dove website.
    Christmas Chocolate Drop
    Image from Love Bakes Good Cakes

    In addition to the traditional meal of turkey and dressing, rolls, sweet potatoes, wow my mouth is watering, I offer some “guest friendly” options.  We have several diabetics and vegetarians in our family so I like to cook certain items in my meal that they can eat.

  2. The Theme and Décor is very important to me because it helps set the atmosphere.  Most of your theme has been developed because it is the holiday season, but it is often fun to add an additional element by making it a “White Christmas” or “Winter Wonderland” in California.  Last year this was my theme backdrop for my dining area and it was so pretty.  IMG_9832This look was accomplished by using curly willow spray painted silver, cotton snow, lights, and silver ribbon.  You can incorporated your theme into your decorations and your table settings.  I am working on this year’s concept and I think it will include faux fur.  Can you tell by my themes that I must love the Midwest weather I left?  I do love the snow.  So you’ll have to stay tuned over the following weeks to see what I’m creating.
  3. Holiday Scents can make any home feel warm and welcoming.  A few of our favorite holiday scents are cinnamon which I accomplish by getting cinnamon scented pine cones and I love the evergreen fir tree scent.  Michael’s has these wonderful treecicles that are scented, they’re are a must have!
  4. Music I find adds a great touch to any dinner party.  Having holiday tunes as an under tone to great conversation will find you and your guest belting out tunes before you know it.  My favorite holiday tune is “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway.
  5. Lastly, filling my home with Lots of Love puts the icing on the cake for any party.  I want my family and friends to feel welcomed and relaxed when they enter the door.  I think the biggest element in throwing a party is love and that outweighs all of the other elements.

So what are you doing to prepare for your holiday parties this season?  Got any great recipes to share or decorating ideas?  We’d love to hear them.  I love creating vision for any party and would love to help you if you can’t quite pull all of the elements together.  Feel free to contact me.

Do you know how to properly set-up your place settings for your holiday party?  We’ll be sharing that, along with one of our real parties in our upcoming post.

Take Care,

Erika

Christmas Traditions – Part 2

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day.  We sure did at our home.  Before we move into the new year, I would like to share one other Christmas tradition my family has that I absolutely love.  Every year, our family buys or makes a new ornament to add to our tree.  It’s no wonder our tree has any room left on it.  This is our ornament for this year, it adds the bling I love and shows where our strength comes from.

Christmas 2013 - Gold Bejeweled Cross
Christmas 2013 – Gold Bejeweled Cross

I can remember this tradition stemming from when I was a little girl like it was yesterday.  During that time, we use to make most of our special ornaments.  My mom is very creative and crafty.  I remember her setting a table next to the fireplace in our basement.  She would lay out paint, supplies, and the ceramic ornaments that were made for us.  My sister and I would paint our hearts away while she went and got the cookies and milk ready for Santa.  And of course, we had Christmas music playing in the background.  “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” rings in my ear.  I’m getting chills just thinking about it.   I am so excited to share with you those ornaments which my mother STILL has.  Now don’t judge our painting skills, remember my sister and I were kids at the time (smile).  Can you tell which one’s my mother helped us with?

Little Drummer Boy
The Little Drummer Boy
Mr. Snowman
Mr. Snowman
The Candy Cane
The Candy Cane
The Wreath
The Christmas Wreath
Mrs. Claus 1
Me and My Sister’s Mrs. Claus
Mr. Teddy Bear
Mrs. Claus 2
Momma’s Mrs. Claus

So of course I carried the tradition on with my husband.  It’s funny, I quizzed my husband on what ornaments we added each year, and low and behold he got them right.  We were married August 2008 and spent immediately started our collection.  Take a look…

Christmas 2009 - Joy
Christmas 2009 – Joy
Christmas 2010 - Blinged 2010
Christmas 2010 – Blinged 2010
Christmas 2011 - The Coffee Lover (My Hubby)
Christmas 2011 – The Coffee Lover (My Hubby)
Christmas 2012 - The Golden Harp
Christmas 2012 – The Golden Harp

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did creating it.  Do you have any favorite ornaments you love?  Please share with me I am so in love with ornaments and would enjoy seeing your collection.

Take Care,

Erika

Christmas Traditions – Part 1

As I started to write this post and reflect on Christmas, I began to think of all the wonderful traditions that my family has created over the years.  There are so many, from playing Christmas music, to all the men frying a turkey the morning of our big feast.  Do you know I can’t tell you how the fried turkey every tasted because they would eat the entire thing before dinner time, how funny.  I remember when my husband and I were dating and during our first Christmas he joined the men.  He called me and said, Erika can you believe they ate all the turkey, he was just in awe and did I mention he is vegetarian?  We laugh until this day about his first “fried turkey” experience.

This week I’ll share with you some of my most cherished Christmas traditions.

Baking is my most cherished family tradition because it stems from when I was a little girl, in the kitchen with my granny while visiting her in Louisiana, watching her bake her most infamous Philadelphia Cream Cheese cake.  It would just melt in your mouth.  That paired with her homemade ice cream, pure heaven.  Since then, I bake every year.   My sister has even passed this tradition onto her daughters.  Taylor and Jazz are avid bakers and their desserts are delish!

Erika's Elegance Just Hanging
My nieces and I, love these girls!

Some of my most treasured desserts are the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Pound Cake, my scrumptious Gooey Butter Cookies, and my German Chocolate Cookies.  In case you can’t tell, I’m a softie for any desserts with Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

Below is my grandmother’s recipe:

INGREDIENTS
8 ounce package cream cheese
3 sticks of butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I use a little extra)

DIRECTIONS
Mix butter, cheese and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Beat with a fork or mixer at low speed until smooth. Then beat at medium speed with mixer until fluffy. Gradually add flour.  Next add eggs one at time mixing well after each. Add vanilla. Pour into bundt or tube pan sprayed with Baker’s Joy. Place in a cold oven at 325 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes on bottom rack. Test with toothpick.  I would sometimes take my cake out just a few minutes before time, if you like your top gooey.  If not, leave in until the toothpick comes out clean.

Erika's Pound Cake - edited
My Philadelphia Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Although this is a standard recipe, what makes my grandmother’s recipe special is the love, care, farm fresh eggs she used from her coup, and the little tips she gave me.

GRANNY’S TIPS

  • Always use pure butter
  • Make sure your butter and cream cheese are room temperature, although scientist may not recommend this now, my grandmother would keep her ingredients out over night
  • Take your time and make sure you whip your butter and cream cheese well
  • Add only one egg at a time
  • Use Swan Cake Flour and sift it
  • Use Pure Vanilla Extract

If you choose to make this, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!  This goes great with vanilla ice cream.  I would bake this while we were eating dinner and as soon as I pulled it out of the oven, it left the plate in 30 seconds flat.  I guess you can say everyone must love that recipe.

What are your favorite holiday recipes?  Please share with us.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Erika

Christmas Time Is Here

I can hear that song ringing in my ears now as I prepare for the upcoming holiday.  Many preparations are being made for such a special day, a day that our Lord and Savior was born.

My home is filled with the smell of Cinnamon Pinecones, Peppermint and Winter Fir.  Such delightful smells all that remind me of the family traditions we’ve developed over the years.

Starting the Tree Trimming for Our Christmas Tree

Over the next week, I’ll share with you some of my favorite family traditions for decorating, baking, shopping and wrapping gifts.

I think this is absolutely my favorite time of the year.  I was talking to my sister the other day and both realized why we love this holiday so much, it’s because our dad LOVES this holiday and has always made it special and festive.  Just that discussion brought back so many wonderful memories.

Me and My Dad, I affectionately call him, my big guy

“Christmas Time is Here” is one of my favorite Christmas time songs, but I must admit, I only know the first few lines of the song.  Every time I hear it, I get so lost in a nostalgic moment I start replacing the words with my own Christmas memories.  Join me in looking at the words.

Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer
fun for all that children call, their favorite time of the year

Snowflakes in the air, carols everywhere
golden times and ancient rhymes, of love and dreams to share

 Sleigh bells in the air, beauty everywhere
Yuletide by the fireside, and joyful memories there

Christmas time is here, families drawing near
Oh, that we could always see, such spirit through the year

Don’t you feel the Christmas Spirit?

I’d love to hear what holiday traditions your family and friends have developed.

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Erika