Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

SS logoWhen we arrived home from vacation, I had the most wonderful box of goodies awaiting from ScentSicles.

If you haven’t heard of them, ScentSicles are the first scented ornaments that make any Christmas tree smell like you’ve trekked into the woods and cut it down yourself.

ScentSicles scented ornaments bring the magic to the season by allowing Christmas enthusiasts everywhere to have all the convenience of an artificial tree but with the real-tree smell so many of us desire.  It’s true – no messy pine needles but still the real tree smell that makes it feel like Christmas!

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And the ScentSicles are so easy to use. Just hang on your tree, inhale the wonderful fresh-cut tree smell, and relax knowing that there aren’t any pesky needles to clean up. ScentSicles holiday scents include: White Winter Fir, Christmas Time Spruce, It’s a Wonderful Pine, SnowBerry Wreath, and Two Dashes of Cinnamon.

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ScentSicles offer the following products:

  • ScentSicles Table Ornaments – the ultimate housewarming gift!  Better than a candle and always “on”, this festive jar filled with holiday scents is a safe way to infuse the home with the smells of the season…without the flame.
  • AutoSticks – the annual holiday trek to Grandma’s house wouldn’t be complete without the smell of Christmas for that car ride.  Just hang a ScentSicles Autostick from the rearview mirror or hide under your seat, and let the memories begin!
  • Decorative Ornaments – one of the most popular holiday traditions is decorating a Christmas tree.  Enjoy new decorative ornament designs including gold and silver glitter.  Beautiful and fragrant!
  • Scented Sprigs – go from Grinch to Cindy Lou in a flash with the aroma of perfectly sized smaller ScentSicles ideal for tucking in a wreath, placing in a tablescape or hiding in a mantle display!

I’d noticed ScentSicles in a few of our local stores a month or so ago, so when the opportunity arose to review their products I jumped at it.

I can’t say enough about how much I like the scents and the ease of use (my idea of a perfect combination!).

As a special holiday surprise, one lucky randomly drawn winner will receive a ScentSicles Gift Package! The gift package includes ScentSicles ornaments, AutoSticks and their new table ornament!

Just post a comment below about your favorite scent of the season to enter!

For more information, visit: www.scentsicles.com

And be sure to watch this fun video with Jack:

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A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a company that had a unique, acid free ornament storage system.

They asked if I’d like to see a sample and blog about it.

So, of course I said,”sure!”

Oh, my goodness gracious!

I never expected the “sample” to be incredibly awesome!

The company is Ultimate Christmas Storage.

The sample they sent is called the 830 Ultimate Ornament Box. And it is the ultimate.

First, I was impressed with the size of the box. Measuring 22 x 16 x 7 1/2 inches, it is meant for some serious storage.

The beautiful red moire fabric covering the box is quite dazzling and gives it a very luxurious appearance. And it came in heavy vinyl zippered bag for storage to keep everything dust-free and protected.

Once I took the lid off the box, I was even more impressed. The top tray holds 28 ornaments and the compartments are adjustable. The 4-inch deep bottom compartment holds 16 oversized items, again with adjustable compartments.

These storage boxes are a little pricey up front, but when you think of the years and years of use you’ll get out of them, it seems like a good investment.

Ultimate Christmas Storage offers several fabric options for the boxes as well as sizes.

They also have everyday storage boxes and archival supplies. From the sample I received, this company knows how to offer high-quality item meant to last.

For more information, visit their website at http://www.ultimatehomestorage.com

Newsletter sign-up: https://app.e2ma.net/app2/audience/signup/1733682/1721374.102069278/?v=a


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merry christmas sage and burgundyWishing you a very Merry Christmas! May it be filled with love, laughter, and many special, magical moments!

And Happy Birthday to my Dad!

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book cover 1

If you are scrambling to pull things together for holiday entertaining, download Savvy Holiday Entertaining.

Not only is it free, you’ll find some fun ideas for entertaining, preparing for guests, decorations, and simple, tasty recipes!

You can download it from my website, or find it on most book retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple and more.

Happy Entertaining!



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Boxing Day Buffet Lunch Christmas Tree and Log Fire

If you’re the one Ho-Ho-Hosting Christmas festivities this year, here are a few tips to help you be prepared for your guests.

There is nothing that can send a host into a tailspin faster than running out of some basic necessities right before or during a party. Make a list of what you need well before hand, stock up and then relax.

Preparation makes entertaining so much more simple and enjoyable!

Some things to be sure you are well stocked on:


Paper Towels

Toilet Paper

Facial Tissues

Aluminum Foil

Plastic Wrap

Garbage Bags

Baking Soda (works well for so many things from neutralizing orders to shining the stainless faucets)

Bleach Wipes (you know someone is going to show up sick and these are a quick and handy way to keep things wiped down and as clean as possible)

Milk and Eggs


Club Soda (mix it with any type of juice for automatic punch! It is also great for removing stains, polishing jewelry and glass, and settling upset stomachs!)

Munchies (people arrive hungry and get hungrier with all the great smells coming from the kitchen. Have an ample supply of munchies like veggie trays, crackers and cheese on hand.)

Games (if children are in the mix, have a few easy to play games ready. Coloring books and crayons are also a great diversion.)

Last-minute Gifts (keep a few generic gifts on hand wrapped and ready for giving. You never know when you are going to need one. It can be something simple like candles or lotion sets for women and candy, a book or a car-related item – think furry mitt with ice scraper attached – for the guys.)

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wrigley finished house 2

If you are the midst of holiday baking (or like some of us who are procrastinating this year and haven’t started), here are some tips to help streamline the process:

• Invest in some good quality baking sheets. It honest-to-goodness makes a big difference.

• Make baking parchment and Pam your friend (as in non-stick cooking spray.) Spray your baking sheets with a light coating of Pam, line with a piece of parchment cut to fit and then give it a quick coating of Pam. Words don’t describe how much easier this makes my life. Just try it, you’ll see what I mean.

• Use Pam on your measuring cups if you will be measuring out something sticky, like molasses. A quick spray and the molasses just rolled right out of the cup like nobody’s business.

• Invest in a cooling rack or two. If you’ve got pans and pans of hot cookies coming out of the oven, cooling racks can be worth their weight in gold. They give your cookies a chance to cool down appropriately and that really does effect the finished product. Also, if you can find stands that stack, they free up tons of counter space while still providing circulation around those sweet treats.

• Clean as you go. If you are doing a marathon day of baking (like your truly) clean up as you go. At the end of the your baking spree you’ll be glad you did when you have just a few things to wash instead of a huge sink full of sticky, dirty dishes.

• Measure accurately. Seriously, measure accurately. This can make or break your baked goods. Don’t eyeball it. If the recipe says 1 1/4 cups then measure out exactly 1 1/4 cups.

• Follow directions. If you want your baked goods to turn out like the recipe intended, follow the directions carefully and completely.

•Gather your ingredients before you start. Before I start making a recipe, I read through it, gather all the ingredients and have in mind the order of the recipe. If I try and bake by grabbing the ingredients as I go, I will guaranteed forget to put something in. If you’ve got all the necessary ingredients laid out in front of you, it is harder to miss something.

• Use the right ingredients. If a recipe calls for butter and sour cream, don’t substitute margarine and applesauce and think you’ll wind up with a recipe that turns out correctly.

• Enlist help! Put your significant other, the kids or any warm body who happens into your home during a baking frenzy to work. They can cut out sugar cookies, cream butter and sugars, wash dishes, frost cookies. Turn it into a fun activity that you all can enjoy!

She who really needs to get something baked

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If you only make one type of cookie for the holidays, make sure it is sugar cookies. These are so, so yummy!

Most everyone has a favorite cookie recipe and this is one of mine. I make this for Christmas every year and have been seen I was about 17.

I loved to bake when I was a kid and received my first Easy Bake oven when I was 5. That was a great Christmas. I remember whipping up something to give to my grandma who had come to stay with us for the holiday.

Experimenting with recipes was something I did, and still do, enjoy. It was this love of experimenting that led me on a quest for  the best sugar cookie when I was in my early teens. It had to be soft and moist, light and flavorful. After many, many trials and errors, I came up with this recipe that never fails to deliver soft, delicious cookies.

In fact, when I made them last night, Captain Cavedweller wandered in as I was pulling the last tray from the oven. Before I knew what had happened, he inhaled eight of  them, some before they were even frosted. For someone who rarely eats sweets, he was really going to town on them. I had to stand guard over the rest just to get them frosted!

Give them a try and let me know what you think. And hopefully you can get most of them frosted and decorated before they disappear!

Ingredients for Sugar Cookies

Cream butter and sugars.

Add in eggs, vanilla and lemon juice.

Mix together dry ingredients and add gradually to creamed mixture.

Chill dough, once mixed, for about an hour.

When you are ready to roll out the dough, make sure your surface is adequately floured. The dough can be a bit sticky.

Cut out your favorite shapes. Mine would be snowflakes!

Pop into the oven and bake until just set – about 6-8 minutes.

Let cookies rest in the pan when you remove from the oven for just a minute before moving to a wire rack to completely cool.

Frost and…


Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

dash of lemon juice

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 1/2 cups flour


Cream together butter and sugars. Add in eggs, vanilla and lemon juice. Mix dry ingredients together and gradually add into creamed mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Generously flour a flat surface and your rolling pin. Scoop out half the dough and roll until about 1/4 inch thick. You want to work fairly quickly at this point because the warmer the dough gets the stickier it becomes and you don’t want to add more flour. Cut into shapes and bake about 6-8 minutes or until cookies are just set. You do not want them to get brown at all. Cool in pan for one minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Frost and decorate then watch them disappear.

You can use a royal icing if you are of a mind to stir up a batch or, if you are a lazy slug like me, I whip out a can of Betty Crocker vanilla frosting and frost away. I also like to use decorator gels, especially the sparkly variety, along with sprinkles!

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