Girl Scout Cookies and Wine?

Table setting for Girl Scout cookies and wine pairing

It’s Girl Scout cookie time!  This is the time of year when all your New Year’s resolutions about losing weight take a slight break when that cute little Girl Scout in your neighborhood asks you to buy cookies!  Seriously, how can you say no to a young girl learning about marketing, money management, people skills and entrepreneurship by selling these cookies?  They are SO good and everyone has their one favorite…or two…or THREE!!!

Girl Scout cookie bites with a madeira wine

Two years ago a friend posted a Girl Scout cookie and wine pairing photo on my Facebook wall.  I was getting more and more into wine and food pairings and I had a good laugh at the photo.  Girl Scout cookies and wine?  I wasn’t so sure. But the thought was tucked away in my mind and this year I decided it would be fun to try it out.  First I did a little online research.  Sure enough, most of the information I found was based on the photo my friend had shared with suggestions to pair Samoas (chocolate and coconut cookies) with Rioja and Trefoils (butter cookies) with champagne.  Sounded simple enough.  Then one afternoon I was at a food and wine event at Perry’s Steakhouse and asked their corporate sommelier, Susi Zivanovich what she would suggest.  She said to go with dessert wines like port, madeira and something I had never tried before…sauternes.  Next, I  found an article in Food & Wine magazine pretty much debunking all the pairings I had originally come across.  They also agreed with Suzi about the dessert wines.  And I figured since it was Food & Wine magazine, they should know!

So, I set about getting a Girl Scout Cookie and dessert wine pairing pulled together with a few friends.  I headed to Trader Joes, World Market, Publix and Vintage Wines to gather all the suggested wines in the Food and Wine article.  These are the wines I ended up with:

  • Emma Reichart Dry Riesling – $4.99 @ Trader Joes
  • Moscato d’Asti Villa Alena – $8.99 @ Trader Joes
  • Schloss Biebrich Rose Sekt (Sparkling Wine) – $6.99 Trader Joes (Okay…I did add a sparkling wine because I was curious even though it wasn’t suggested. More on that in a bit.)
  • Chateau Pleytegeat Sauternes – $11.50 on sale (Regular price $15) @ World Market
  • Blandy’s Madeira – $20.99 @ Vintage Wine Shop
  • Taylor Tawny Port – $8.49 @ Publix

For several days, I mulled over how to set everything up.  I saw a few photos of pairings online where chalk boards were used and it looked nice enough but with six wines and seven cookies, I thought it might get a little crowded looking on the table.  Plus, I wanted to add the suggested cookie pairings next to each wine and needed a little more room to write.  I found a roll of butcher paper in my hall closet and it was just enough to cover my dining room table.  The wines were lined up from light to dark on the left and the cookies were lined up next to their main suggested pairing (as much as possible), on the right.  Then I grabbed a large sharpie and got to work labeling everything!  The pairings looked like this:

  • Riesling with Toffee-tastic (gluten-free buttery with sweet crunchy toffee bits) and Savannah Smiles (zesty lemon wedge dusted with powdered sugar)
  • Moscato with Trefoils (shortbread) and S’mores (graham sandwich with creamy chocolate and marshmallow filling)
  • Sparkling Rose with Savannah Smiles (powdered sugar lemon)
  • Sauternes with S’mores and Samoas (crisp cookie coated in caramel, sprinkled w/toasted coconut and striped with dark chocolate)
  • Madeira with Do-Si-Dos (crunchy oatmeal sandwich cookie with peanut butter filling) and Tagalongs (crispy cookies layered with peanut butter and covered with chocolate coating)
  • Tawny Port with S’mores, Tagalongs, Samoas and Do-Si-Dos

Usually at wine pairings you get a tally sheet to keep up with what you liked best and any other notes you want to make, but I decided to go a different route with this.  Having a paper and pen to add to a wine glass and plate of cookies seemed too much to handle.  As my guests tried a cookie and wine, I asked them to put a check mark beside the ones they thought paired the best.  By the end of the tasting we had a good idea which ones paired best.  For our tastes, this is what everyone liked the best:

  • Riesling – Savannah Smiles were the overwhelming favorite of all cookies and wines.  The Dry Riesling and lemon cookies pairing was so good everyone went back for more!
  • Moscato – There was a tie between Trefoils and S’mores and personally I liked both of these cookies with the Moscato.  I’m not a big Moscato fan so this surprised me!
  • Sparkling Rose – only one person really liked pairing this wine with the Savannah Smiles which proved the Food & Wine article was right about champagne.  On the other hand, everyone enjoyed drinking the champagne when the tasting was over.
  • Sauternes – Hands down the Samoas won with this suggested pairing.  Was it the coconut or the chocolate?  For me I think it was the coconut and the fact that this was a really sweet wine so I think the coconut balanced it out.
  • Madeira – I paired this with both types of peanut butter cookies and everyone preferred the chocolate covered Tagalongs with the Madeira.  So…this lead me to believe any of the chocolate cookies would work.  S’mores for me was a close second even though I didn’t officially pair this one with the Madeira.
  • Tawny Port – This is the wine that had the most suggested pairings, four total.  Again, the Tagalongs (with chocolate) were a hit and tied with the S’mores (also with chocolate).
  • EXTRA WINE PAIRING – I have to add that one of my guests brought a white blend wine, Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc & Viognier, to try with the peanut butter cookies. She had gone to Vintage Wine Shoppe and they suggested this pairing.  FYI – this was the place where I bought the Madeira wine.  We added it to the table and both cookies paired really well with this wine!

Last but not least…the thin mints…these are probably one of the most popular Girl Scout cookies but the thought of having wine with a thin mint didn’t seem like a good idea to me.  The mint flavor was sure to overtake anything that we tried.  In fact, I don’t think I saw anyone try the thin mints at my pairing.  I know, I didn’t try to pair them, and I believe the Food & Wine article suggestion was to put these cookies next to the coffee!  Now THAT’S the perfect pairing!

I’m thinking about making this an annual event at my house.  Several friends are already saying they’d love to be included and I love planning a good party!  Meanwhile, if you are interested in trying out any of these pairings, you need to go ahead and get your cookies during the month of March!  In the Birmingham area, you can reach out to Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama and click on the cookie link for further information.  Or you can click on the “Find Cookies” button and enter your zip code to find out where booth sales are taking place.  And if you are sticking with your losing weight resolution, remember that you can freeze the cookies until you are ready to give these pairings a try.

A personal note about Girl Scouts…I was a Girl Scout when I lived in Puerto Rico.  My mother was my Brownie leader and I went all the way up to one year as a Cadette until we moved to Chicago.  Both of my daughters were in Girl Scouts and while I helped out a lot with my older daughter’s troop, I was my younger daughter’s troop leader from 1st through 12th grade.  I served as Hoover Valley Service Area Manager for five years and also on the board of Cahaba Girl Scouts (now Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama).  Being a Girl Scout is something I’m very proud of and it taught me so many life lessons.  I remember selling cookies door-to-door in my neighborhood of Sagrado Corazon in Puerto Rico and helping my daughters do the same where we live in Hoover.  Girl Scout cookies are all the more sweet because of my long time affiliation with this wonderful organization.  They truly do build girls with courage, confidence and character.  Now…go buy some Girl Scout cookies!



Joseph and The Pita Hut

The Pita Hut, located in Chelsea Corners is the home of some fabulous Mediterranean food in Shelby County!

I got a text from my friend Lisa Pruitt last month saying we needed to try out a restaurant in Chelsea called The Pita Hut.  Well, I’m always up for a night out with Lisa and her husband Johnny so of course I said yes!  But I also wondered why she wanted to drive all the way to Chelsea from Hoover on a Friday night for dinner.  I was curious, to say the least!

Turns out, Lisa has a friend who is close friends with The Pita Hut owner, Joseph Matta , and she wanted us to go try the food!  Joseph has been in the restaurant business for some time now and has been at his Chelsea location since early 2014.  I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest.  I mean, based on the restaurant name, I really thought we would be having pita sandwiches and soft drinks.  Boy was I ever wrong!

The Pita Hut is located in the Chelsea Corners strip mall  right off of Highway 280.  Coming from Hoover, it was a bit of a trip and when we arrived we weren’t sure where the restaurant was situated.  We quickly found it nestled in the corner of the strip mall.  When we walked in, there were several couples having dinner and it felt quite intimate.  There is a beautiful mural on the back wall of the restaurant so when the hostess asked us where we wanted to sit, I pointed to the tables right in front of the mural.  It was picture perfect!

Beautiful mural in The Pita Hut! This is where we sat that Friday night.

Soon we were ordering wine and carefully studying the menu.  We quickly discovered the options were endless!  While they do a sandwich type business during the day, the evening is reserved for a more white tablecloth offering.  We decided to order the sample appetizer platter while we were mulling over our dinner options.  The sampler included baked pita chips, fresh pita, hummus, baba gannouj, taziki, salsa, falafel, spinach fatayer, beef fatayer and olives and cheeses.  That was a feast in itself!!!  Plus, they brought out fresh homemade hummus and pita chips right before the platter arrived!  We decided we needed to pace ourselves!!!

The sampler platter was a meal in itself!

Next thing we knew, Joseph the owner was at our table to welcome us and see how things were going.  Lisa told him of their mutual friend and we asked him about his business.  As he spoke it was clear that Joseph considers himself a chef and an artist.  He relishes in creating foods that leave his customers coming back for more, not only because the food is delicious but also because of the beautiful presentation.  He mentioned his catering business and from the sound of it, the catering side of his business is quite strong!  So after our appetizer sampler and a little tabouli salad, Joseph asked us what we wanted our entrees to be.  I was really interested in the shrimp adobado plate and curious as to why a Mediterranean restaurant would have something with Mexican adobo sauce on the menu.  As it turns our, Joseph once lived in Texas and worked/managed a Mexican restaurant!

After much discussion and back and forth about what to order, Joseph said to us – “let me go back to the kitchen and prepare some especially food for you.”  He had listened to us talk about our preferences and I could almost see his artist/chef mind working.  We all excitedly agreed!  Well…what Joseph ended up bringing to our table was a feast!  We got the shrimp adobado along with the Special Chicken Rolls, which Eddie was wanting to try.  The shrimp was stuffed with mild peppers and wrapped in bacon and grilled, while the chicken rolls were stuffed with spinach and cheese with wine reduction sauce.  He also brought out a platter of Kibbi, Kefta and grape leaves.  This is the more traditional food and it was all fabulous!  The kefta is made with fresh ground sirloin and has onions, parsley and very unique spices.  The kibbi is also made from ground meat – generally beef or lamb and topped with taziki sauce.  You can never go wrong with taziki sauce!  Last but not least…grape leaves.  This mixture of rice, dill, mint and meat rolled in a grape leaf reminds me of a tiny tamale only in this case you “can” eat the grape leaf. (NOTE:  You definitely don’t want to eat a Mexican tamale corn husk!)

After we had a chance to fill our plates and sample everything, Joseph came out to check on us and we were collectively oohing and aahing.  The flavors were all so incredible and complementary.  I asked Joseph about one of the flavors in particular.  I was getting a hint of cinnamon in the kefta and he said “That’s right!  We cook with 7 different seasonings and that is one.”  It was an unexpected one!  I mean, I wouldn’t think of a cinnamon flavor in a meat dish but it definitely worked!

We stuffed ourselves so much that the idea of dessert should have been out of the question.  But we still wanted to sample so we got the baklava to go.  Joseph surprised us with containers of his homemade hummus and chips too.  Lisa and I also couldn’t leave without a photo of Joseph in front of his beautiful restaurant mural.  He was more than happy to oblige as we thanked him for a wonderful dining experience!

My friend, Lisa Pruitt and I with The Pita Hut owner, Joseph Matta in front of the lovely restaurant mural. We were stuffed at this point!

There are a few takeaways from this night that I still think about.  First, you know the old saying about not judging a book by its cover?  Well, there’s definitely a whole lot more to The Pita Hut than I expected!  The dining experience was top-notch and I want to really emphasize how wonderful it was!  I know it’s off the beaten path for me personally since I live in Hoover but I loved the fact that a friend who lives in the Chelsea area commented on a photo I posted and how much she loves the place!  Secondly, it’s great to see unique restaurants all over the Birmingham region popping up these days.  Granted, The Pita Hut has been here for several years but that just goes to show you can always discover something new in places you don’t necessarily frequent!  Which leads me to my third takeaway…spreading the good news by word of mouth, or in my case…through a blog post!  The Shelby County area has definitely seen a surge in population over the past ten years or so and so I suspect more and more places will be popping up.  But Joseph’s Pita Hut is well established and I highly recommend you give them a try!  As for me…I’m ready for a return visit and I already have a few new items I want to try…like the Mediterranean pita quesadillas!



Memories Matter…Never Forget – International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Eternal Flame at the Holocaust Museum’s Hall of Remembrance

Memories Matter.  Never Forget.  Those were the words that Holocaust Museum volunteer, Harold “Hal” Wittman spoke to me and asked me to repeat when I visited the Holocaust Museum in May 2014.

I was in Washington DC for a conference and visiting the National Holocaust Museum was high on my list.  I arrived right when the museum opened on my last full day in DC,  thinking I would only stay for a short while and then walk on to the Washington monument.   Four hours later, I left the museum feeling so saddened by what I had seen there but also determined to share my experience and the words that Hal repeated to me as I was preparing to see the permanent exhibit.

When I arrived that morning, there was a Holocaust Survivor scheduled to speak in the auditorium.  Volunteers were encouraging people to go and hear the survivor speak so I walked in and an elderly gentleman was seating people.  As I walked toward this man, he directed me to a seat and then told me to keep the seat next to me – on the aisle – free for him.  He needed quick access on the aisle so I did as he asked.  As the program started, he took his seat next to me.  We didn’t speak until the presentation was over and I began a conversation with him.  I really don’t remember what I said to him but he thanked me later for “taking the initiative to stop and talk.”  Hal and I continued talking for quite a while and we shared many stories and opinions during this short time.  I talked about Hispanic issues in Alabama and he talked about things to see at the museum that resonated with him.  We stood in the auditorium for so long that the moderator for the presentation with the Holocaust survivor joined us.  I don’t remember his name but he was a local newscaster and he knew Hal and easily joined into our conversation.  Both were very interested in what was happening in Alabama surrounding immigration issues which I wasn’t expecting.  After the moderator left and we were walking out of the auditorium together, Hal suddenly stopped, turned to me and said he wanted me to repeat something he was about to say.  That’s when he said to me “Memories Matter and Never Forget.”  I repeated these words back to him and he smiled at me.  It became my mantra that day.

It was getting close to time for me to go through the permanent exhibit but Hal wanted to show me around the main floor.  It was great having my own personal guide through the museum.  We walked through Daniel’s Story, an exhibition for children,  as well as the Wall of Remembrance filled with tiles made by children and dedicated in 1993 to remember the children who lost their lives in the holocaust.  We spoke for so long that I missed my tour time but Hal walked me through the long line of people and straight to the elevator so I could get through.  Before I got on the elevator, he gave me his card with his phone number and said, “I don’t want to be forward but I’ve so enjoyed speaking with you. After you go through the exhibits, I would like to hear your thoughts on what you see.”  I told him I would be happy to share my thoughts with him and took the card.  Then, before the doors closed he said to me again – “Memories matter – never forget!”  I repeated those words back to him…

With those words freshly planted in my mind, I went through the exhibit.  I will tell you that it isn’t an easy museum to go through.  I had moments where I had to just stop and sit for a while because it was so overwhelming.  There were several times where what I saw just took my breath away. One of those times was when I walked through the “Shoe Room.”  As you walk through, you don’t see much at first but you are hit by a smell…a smell of mustiness.  Then as you look closer, your eyes are overwhelmed by a sea of shoes – thousands and thousands of shoes on either side of you.  As I looked closer, I was moved to tears.  There were shoes for all walks of life – men’s shoes, women’s high heels, slippers, children’s shoes…and there were baby shoes.  When I saw the baby shoes it made me think of a young mother carrying her child, getting on a train and not knowing what was to come of their lives.  I was looking at the soles of these shoes and sensing the souls of the people who once wore them.  Then I read the quote on the wall…

“We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses.  We are shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers from Prague, Paris and Amsterdam, and because we are only made of fabric and leather and not of blood and flesh, each one of us avoided the hellfire.” – Moshe Szulsztein

I ended my visit at the Hall of Remembrance.  An Eternal Flame burns on a black marble block which contains dirt from 38 of the concentrations camps in Europe.  Also included is dirt from a cemetery in Europe where American soldiers are buried to honor the American liberators of the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps.  The quote on the wall is from Deuteronomy – “only guard yourself and guard your soul carefully, lest you forget the things your eyes saw, and lest these things depart your heart all the days of your life.  And you shall make them known to your children, and to your children’s children.”

This is where the words “memory matters” really made sense to me.  These words from Deuteronomy are about the responsibility of memory.  My visit had come full circle thanks to Hal and the words he asked me to repeat.

Later that evening, I called Hal and shared my thoughts on the Holocaust Museum.  I told him I wished I could have spent even more time there because there was so much more I wanted to read and learn.  He was pleased with what I shared and repeated those very important words again as we finished our conversation.  After we hung up, I wondered if Hal had family impacted by this time in history.  I’ll never know but as a volunteer for the museum, he was so invested in sharing the story of the Holocaust and making sure that people who visit understand what happened and share their experiences in their corners of the world.  I’m forever grateful that I met Hal that day…and I’ll always remember those words he shared…Memories Matter / Never Forget.


It’s National Concha Day!

Conchas from Mi Pueblo Supermarket!

…well, almost…

I was scrolling through Instagram last week when I spotted a post from Raggedy Tiff about a gathering on December 8th for National Concha Day.  This was right after I found out I was hosting my annual cookie exchange party ON National Cookie Day so I was interested in finding out more about National Concha Day!  (Oh…and I know there’s a list of these national food days somewhere too and I plan to find it soon!)

What I found out in my research was that Jessica Resendiz of Raggedy Tiff, Alicia Becerra of Alicia’s Delicias and Karina Jimenez of Viva Los Cupcakes – all in California – had created a petition back in July to establish a National Concha Day on December 8th!  After gathering 5,000 signatures, the petition would then be sent to Governor Jerry Brown and 8 senators to request this special date become reality.

But wait a minute…maybe I should explain what a concha is and why this is important before going any further!  Also called pan dulce, a concha is Mexican sweet bread.  It is recognizable by its large shell-like shape.  In fact, concha means “shell,” and the top of the bread has a sugar shell pattern on it.  This bread has a “light” sweetness to it…much different than a donut or other pastry.  Buying a bag full of these conchas from Mi Pueblo Supermarket’s extensive bakery in Homewood is always a treat because they look so beautiful in the bag!  I generally select every color they have too.  Grab a cafecito and you have a delish breakfast or late brunch on a Saturday or Sunday, although traditionally a concha is eaten with a cup of hot chocolate!

Of course, having a National Concha Day would not be just about the bread…it’s more about a recognition of Mexican culture and traditions.  I’ve seen artists online who use the concha as an art form, creating earrings, necklaces and bracelets with this iconic bread on them.  I’ve also seen my share of t-shirts with funny slogans on them like “Let your conchas be your guide” and “don’t be self conchas!”  I may need to order one of those!  The concha is just such a mainstay in the Mexican culture and was influenced by the French, even the French occupation ended with the Battle of Puebla, better known as Cinco de Mayo.

As the petition states…”The creation of a National Concha Day would be a fun and exciting way to honor the Mexican pastry and its culture. Such a day would not only bring smiles to people’s faces, but also create cultural awareness of our customs and traditions.”  Plus…they are delicious!!!

I signed the petition today and they are so close to getting those 5,000 signatures!  If you’ve enjoyed a concha and love them and feel so inclined, hop on over to (click here) and add your name to the petition.  Maybe this time next year it will be official and we’ll be saying a la Oprah…”you get a concha, you get a concha…everybody gets a concha!”  Meanwhile, tomorrow I’ll be having coffee and a concha and celebrating!

The pretty pink concha set against my Mexican Christmas tree this evening!

Feta, Corn and Black Bean Salsa – Always A Crowd Favorite!

Ingredients for my feta, corn and black bean salsa! Super easy!

Every year for my annual cookie exchange extravaganza, I serve up margaritas and a little Mexican food for my guests.  A few years ago though, I wanted to add a little something extra for everyone to nibble on.  I went through recipes I had collected over the years and found a recipe card I had picked up somewhere for a feta, corn and black bean salsa.  Of course, the “salsa” part got my attention with the Mexican food theme I had going on but what really got me was “feta!”  I LOVE me some feta cheese!!!

The first time I served it, I don’t think I had much left over to enjoy for myself later!  I took that as a good sign.  So the next year I doubled the recipe and was still lucky to have some left over!  It has become a crowd favorite, for sure…just like my mother’s homemade salsa always is each year.  She brought two large jars of that salsa over last night and it was ALL gone by the time we finished exchanging cookies last night!  (Click here to read about her salsa and get the recipe!)

The best part of this feta, corn and black bean salsa recipe is how easy it is to put together.  You just mix it all together, chill for 4 hours, and you’ve ready to serve!

Ingredients include:

  • 2 cans low sodium black beans (rinse and drain)
  • 2 cans of sweet corn (rinse and drain)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) of Feta Cheese
  • 1/4 cup of green onions, chopped (or you can use purple onion)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (or you can use a substitute like Truvia which equals about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Each time I finish making this salsa, I fill up a small bowl and just savor the flavors.  After it has refrigerated for a few hours though, the flavors really get absorbed into the corn, black beans and feta.  It goes great with those scoop corn chips!  This is the perfect easy recipe to take and share with friends!  I promise your crowd will like it as much as my crowd!  Buen provecho!

Feta, corn and black ben salsa!



Blog Like Crazy- Third Year is the Charm!

Writing journal, canon camera and a glass of wine…

Today marks the end of a challenge I accepted on November 1st…#bloglikecrazy!!!  This is the third year I have participated in this as part of the See Jane Write network.  As I mentioned on the first day, I wasn’t sure if I’d have “time” to participate this year and that still makes me laugh since I retired from corporate life in July.  Still…my life has been busier than ever since I quit my day-job, as they say!

I spent some time outlining my month and what stories I wanted to tell and write.  I felt like I had a good balance and then life got in the way.  If I had decided earlier in October to participate and not on October 30, I could have gotten ahead of the game.  I did pretty well with the scheduling of stories the week I was at the beach.  That was VERY helpful and I was proud of how that all worked out!

Meanwhile, some of the stories I had planned didn’t get published…at least not yet!  I have several that I want to share but I also make a point to include photos and in these cases, I need to go through old photos in order to publish them.  Those stories are written and just waiting so stay tuned!

Tracy Martin during Flaco Jimenez’s performance!

I always find it interesting to see which posts resonate with people.  My best post this time was about Alabama’s Dia de los Muertos event.  I know that particular post got shared quite a bit so that helped!  My thrifting posts got a lot of attention as well.  At first, I didn’t plan to write much about thrifting but I started on one post and it morphed into several!  Those were fun to write too because I had been photographing everything that I’ve found this year so it was easy to draw from that album.

Mikasa Jamestown Platinum Trim crystal from the Salvation army thrift store!

My Thanksgiving at the Beach post also was pretty popular.  People get nostalgic around the holidays and that’s what I’m attributing the big response for this post to.  Personally, I like to see what others do around the holidays – the family traditions, the fun and games and the decorations all appeal to me so that’s what I try to include in my posts.

Family photo on the beach – we used this for our Christmas card photo that year!

Finally…my She Shack post has really done well!  Who knew the female equivalent of a Man Cave would garner so much attention!  I love my new She Shack and so does my pup, Lucy.  In fact, today I was in our upstairs laundry room when she blew past me and hit the door with her head to open it thinking I was in there!  Let’s be honest…that’s her room as much as it is mine!

My She Shack…my daughter’s daybed is visible when you walk in – displaying my colorful pillows and my grandmother’s brass lamps.

I’m anticipating a lot of “me” time in my She Shack devoted to photo scanning, writing and blog posting in the new year.  This challenge was the perfect way to get myself motivated too.  I’m so glad I decided to participate in #bloglikecrazy again this year, even it if WAS at the last-minute!  They say the third time is the charm and I believe that’s true for me this time!


Making Spirits Bright

Our family Christmas tree 2017

It’s been a full three days of decorating at my house!  Generally, I have my decorations up by the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but since we went to the beach I got a late start.  Normally I wouldn’t have been so anxious to get it all done by tonight, but I’m having my Fiesta board over for dinner on Thursday night and I want it to be just right!

Of course, instead of just doing what I did last year I decided a change was in order.  Don’t ask me why I do this to myself but I decided I wanted my front door and staircase to be silver and gold!  This meant buying a new green artificial wreath and finding just the right plastic gold and silver ornaments to use.  In the process, I also needed new lights for the swag over the door as well as the staircase.  Little bits of inspiration were hitting me all week as I pulled out items I haven’t used in a while.  I have a set of Southern Living at Home very heavy silver glass ornaments from way back.  I used to simply put them in a large vase in my bookcase but this year they’ve taken on a new look hanging from rhinestone ribbon and evenly spaced out on my staircase!  I actually found three extra of these ornaments at the thrift store a few months back so it must have been meant to be!  I’m loving the look…and the sparkle!

My front door wreath turned out pretty nice too, if I do say so myself!  This despite THREE finger burns with the hot glue gun!  Yikes!  I don’t know what was wrong with me today but that hot glue kept wanting to stick to ME rather than the ornaments!  I had two sizes of ornaments and decided it needed some smaller ones to fill in the gap so I headed to the Dollar Store for those.  I used the leftover plastic ornaments to make bundles of silver and gold to use on the outdoor swag and one I hung in the entryway.

Tonight, we decorated the family Christmas tree…me, my husband and my daughter, Emily.  It was a little bittersweet for me.  Generally, the last act of decorating for us is on Sunday night and all the kids make a point to be home to help out.  We take bets on how many of my Hallmark ornaments Eddie will break.  None this year…YAY!!!  We added just a few new Hallmark ornaments to my huge collection this year so they are safe until next year!  I always try to add the most ornaments to the tree after the rest of the family gives up.  All that is except for my son-in-law, Ryan!  He always sticks with me to pack the tree full!  Still…it was nice to spend time talking with my sweet Emily and watching Eddie look for gaps in the tree so we could fill them with ornaments.  We listened to Christmas music on Pandora and sang along.   Our annual family photo in front of the tree will have to wait until everyone is together over the holidays.  I look forward to that…