Thursday, December 1

Decking the Halls

                        with

CREAMY HOMEMADE COCOA
So. Where to begin? Some would say December is one hectic, overloaded, maddening and exasperating month. True. But I say, if you plan your time very carefully, December can be unquestionably a month full of amazing and astonishing possibilities.
Candles, oranges and greenery.
The first item on my December agenda is Christmas decorating. I discovered early in our marriage this job would fall pretty much to me. I'm fine with that - I do love decorating. In fact, during the month of December there is hardly any surface in our home that hasn't been kissed by Santa. Each room has its own special tree, garlands and personalized decor. The week between Thanksgiving and the first of December is when I Deck these Halls with boughs of holly! If decorating is not your forte or you just don't have the time, here are a few simple and inexpensive ways to bring a Holly Jolly Christmas to your home. I know...that was silly, but it's Christmas!
Bright candles burning.

  • Christmas is a magical time for children of all ages, so make your home sparkle. First clean every possible glass or mirrored surface in your home. Placing many candles around your home creates a fanciful and spirited mood. Use a variety of shapes and sizes: tall, fat, short, tapered, votive, skinny...etc. Just make sure to use as many as you can. Plug in that fir tree, light the candles and fire, dim the lights and step back to watch your home AND child's face come to life.
  • If you want to use fresh greens in your home without the added expense, head to your local nursery on the first Saturday afternoon in December. The nursery will have been cutting 
    Fresh greenery from local nursery.
    off small sections from the bottom of Christmas trees all day. Let the manager know your intentions. Tell him you are going out back to dig through his dumpster for the "trimmings" from his trees. Most likely you will be received with a rather large smile. Take as many clippings as you can and from a variety of trees, head home to Deck your Halls with these free boughs. I also go out into my yard with a large bag and gather up Boxwood and Holly. I add these to the "free"   
     Lighted Christmas tree and candle glow.
    greens decorating my home. Make bows out of inexpensive red ribbon to tuck accents of color here and there. Place these garlands over fireplaces, doorways, mirrors, pictures or up the banister of a stairwell. This free greenery will make your home look warm and inviting during the month of December. No one has to know it was free....shhhh!
    Candy filled jars and topiaries.
  • In the kitchen set out bowls or jars of candy such as gum drops, peppermint sticks, twizzlers, skittles or old fashioned ribbon candy. Anything colorful and bright will add a whimsical tone to your home. I made topiaries out of styrofoam covered with candy about ten years ago. At the end of December I wrap them up in plastic wrap and put them away for another year. They are an inexpensive and colorful way to decorate your kitchen and they will last for many years to come.
  • Sled covered in fresh greenery.
  • If you have any old toys from your childhood, use them in your decorating. I use our son's old brown bear and an antique sled under the tree next to wrapped gifts. I put an old glove and ball, once owned by my uncle, in one of the Christmas stockings I use in my kitchen. I have an old spinning top and doll that reside in the other stocking. Look around, you might be surprised what you will find to decorate with. Toys don't have to be antiques to be used, just loved and cherished items.
  • Stockings hung at the foot of bed.
  • I bought new stockings about ten years ago. We now use our "old" stockings at the foot of our beds. This can be a very fun idea if you have grandchildren visiting in your home over the Christmas holidays. They will love waking up to a small bundle of goodies at the end of their bed. It will also keep them preoccupied while you get up and make your morning coffee!
  • Look to the produce section of your local market for wonderful inexpensive decorations. Apples, pears, cranberries, pomegranates, whole nuts in their shells, oranges and tangerines studded with cloves. All of these things can be bought cheaply and displayed in bowls throughout your home.
  • Clove studded citrus and greenery.
  • Have you been to a JoAnn's Fabrics lately? Well you have to go and go NOW! They have the best sales on craft and holiday fares other than  Hobby Lobby. The one thing I buy every year from JoAnn's is a large bag of cinnamon pinecones. I store them in the wood box next to the fireplace. We use them as eco-friendly fire starters and they make the house smell just like Christmas. Wonderful. Simple. Check it out!
  • Ms. E. Bennet with a pink bow and bell.
  •  Tie a ribbon with a little bell attached around the cats neck, string up old and new Christmas cards sent from loved ones, turn on your favorite Christmas music...I like the boys - Bing, Frank, Nat, and Dean..., hang a wreath on the door, get those spices mulling on the stove, dress up, don your prettiest apron and swing wide your doors to Welcome Friends and Family alike. Fill your home with Christ's love and truly enjoy Christmas, never forgetting why we Celebrate this wondrous Season!
      "For unto us a child is born, a Son is given and His name shall
        be called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God,
        the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6

                   Sit Back and Enjoy a MUCH deserved cup of
                           "CREAMY HOMEMADE COCOA"!


Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt, very, very little indeed!
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup of cream or half and half
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Reddi-wip Cream in a can, vanilla or chocolate

Directions

   Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Turn down the heat so that you don't burn the mixture. Stir in milk and cream. Heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Add the cream on top of your cocoa, as much or as little as you like. Sit down in front of the fire with the tree lit and candles burning. Turn on your Christmas music and enjoy being with the one(s) you LOVE! 

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