Monday, December 30, 2019

Three Christmases and a Nut Recipe

I can't believe the holidays are nearing an end. It seems as though they've hardly begun!

Our Christmas really started on Saturday, December 21, when our friend Jerry came to visit from Paris. After doing some running around, we landed at a comfy place, Rick's house, his tree glowing!

Rick was on cooking duty that night. He makes this terrific Pasta Amatriciana using pancetta. I'm not sure if this is his recipe, but this one from Bon Appetit looks pretty close. To die for.

I spent a lot of time at Rick's the week before Christmas, doing lots of baking! I did more lemon bread and four kinds of cookies at his place. Then I headed home and made Nana Diana's Incredible Peanut Butter Fudge.  (This is so easy and so good and it is REALLY dangerous!) Some of the cookie recipes are HERE.

I also made a wonderful nut recipe I've been doing almost since I started blogging. This is a real keeper and it is at the bottom of this post.

I finally had some decent light in the house and got a couple of photos of the living room so one last overview of the decor.

(I wish IKEA still made the red chair cover. Maybe I can find it online. Lizzie loves it as a scratching place. She has loved it too much so now it just comes out at the holiday. On my last visit I bought the gray and another beige one!

And the big tree. Most of the presents under that one were headed for our family Christmas the next day!

I finally had to pull the orchids and roses from the flower arrangement I did HERE and added some holiday bling.

One of the first bloggers I "met" online (and actually, in person!) was Anno, who stopped blogging in 2011 and just a few days ago put up a new post, featuring her favorite books of the year! (I was SO thrilled to see her back!) But I never stopped making her spiced nuts, which I named Anno Nuevo New Year's Nuts. They're very peppery and a real hit! (And not just for New Year's!)

Anno Nuevo New Year Nuts


  • About 4 cups of nuts. I use almonds and pecans and this year macadamia. Anno just used pecans and for a long time I just used almonds. Your call!
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • Half stick of butter (4 T)
  • 4 T. water
  • 2 T. fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 t. salt

Cover a cookie sheet with foil that is buttered or sprayed with a cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the salt and pepper and put aside.

In skillet heat butter, add the brown sugar and water and when dissolved, add the nuts. Let the nuts go, stirring periodically to be sure all are well covered but not burning. Add half of the pepper mixture and stir. This might be about 10 minutes, maybe less. You are looking for the sugar mixture to thicken and more or less disappear as it covers the nuts.

Turn the hot mixture out onto the cookie sheet and flatten to single layer. Sprinkle the other half of the mixture on top. (Optional -- a light sprinkle of raw turbinado sugar on top will add sweetness. I don't always do it and they are just as good.)

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove foil with nuts from pan to a rack if available or to counter. When fully cool, break apart.

If I'm keeping them for any length of time, I will freeze them but usually they don't last that long. For giving away, I either put them in bags tied with a ribbon or if I have enough, empty Bonne Maman jars (my preferred method) or small canning jars.


Then it was time to head out for our Christmas celebrations with the kids. But more on that later!

Lizzie and I hope you are having a wonderful holiday!

Friday, December 27, 2019

My Favorite Posts of the Year!

As for so many others, the end of the year finds me looking back. I've met so many new blog friends here on Marmelade Gypsy this year and I'm delighted we've found each other. I've also been looking back at some of my favorite posts from 2019. Some might be before you joined me, others you may recall. In no particular order, I share them here.

So many things for which to give thanks.
Road Trip: Fashioning Art from Paper -- The Ballets Russes

Part Two of the best art exhibition I've seen in a long while!

First Southern Exposure Visit of the Season
The first autumn visit to my Happy Place means the gardens are still in bloom -- and we have a great project!

Road Trip: Isabelle deBorchgrave -- Fashioning Art from Paper, Part One

The first part of my birthday excursion to a fabulous art exhibit -- gowns made completely of paper!

Postcards from the Lake: Turning One

Our Littlest Guy turns one!

Rising Waters

The basement flood that launched pneumonia and a world of trash!

Southern Exposure: Beauty and a Hanging Basket

Another of my favorite Southern Exposure projects with two of my favorite people!

Monday Mural: Greg Oberle's Look at Lansing's Transportation Heritage

When our artist Greg comes to touch up a project, we're thrilled to see him -- and share is work!

Thinking of Notre Dame

The Notre Dame fire shocked us all and brought back memories as well.

Road Trip to Massachusetts    

One of the "up" times from our Massachusetts visit -- sightseeing, a great bookstore and dinner at historic Longfellow Inn.

Birds of the Berkshires

Our Berkshire visit had its ups and downs! The "up" part included family time and some knock out birds!

Thoughts on Caregiving and Taking Care

The "downs" of the Berkshire visit was when Rick fell on ice and broke his leg.

Cooking with Sour
Cooking classes with Chef Geoff are great. When he makes the best grilled cheese ever, they're even better!

Gloomy. White. Cold.

During a bitter cold February, my former colleagues and I said farewell to our friend Steve.

Seeing in 2019

Is there a better way to see in the new year than with friends? I don't think so! (Note the photo-bomber!)

The Annual Book Wrap Up

Every year my book look-back is a favorite of mine!

Life is So Good

A little cooking, a lot of yum!

England: More from the Cotswolds

Most of my England 2018 posts came in 2019. This was one of my favorites.

Postcards from the Lake: The Beach, the Cherries, the Books, the Storm

Being at the cottage all summer is a gift. This was just one of my favorite posts from this summer.
Coping with the Grief Monster During the Holidays

Feel like walking on thin ice during the holidays? This post offered a 
few strategies for any time of year.
Big Birds, Part Two

It was hard to choose between Harry flying or fishing (or Ellie Egret flying). But here's my Big Bird.

Fifty Years

A Fifty Year reunion -- and reflections on why finally deciding to attend was a good idea.

Here's to a new year of sharing memories and life on Marmelade Gypsy. I started my 13th year on this blog in late December and what a joy it has been to make new "friends" from all over the world. While many seem to be slacking off on blogging, I'm finding it more rewarding and meeting more of you than ever before. For this, I end as I began. Grateful. Happy New Year!

Sharing with:   Pink Saturday     

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Away In a Manger

Rick, Lizzie and I send you and yours Christmas greetings -- with a little help from Julie Andrews. (Cue the Music!)

And while you enjoy Julie's music, enjoy a look at a few of my Nativity creches.

Because, after all, the creche is really the symbol of how this holiday got started.

The one below and above was a gift from my friend Jacqie, who downsized when she moved. She remembered I liked it and I was honored and surprised when she gave it to me.

You've seen this one before -- a favorite.

Jesus seems to be missing from this one, but the decapitated shepherd's head served well enough in a pinch.

I love this small carved one I found at the East Lansing Art Festival years ago.

Here's another by the same artist.

And this one is just the three main characters but I love the rough hewn carving.

This one isn't mine (in fact, the next few aren't) -- but I wish they all were.

I love the white here. So pure looking.

And here.

And finally this one.

I leave you with Christmas greetings. And if you do not celebrate Christmas, then let me wish you a Happy Hanukkah, a Festive Festivus, a Super Solstice and MANY wishes for peace and good things during what I hope will be a Happy New Year.

Sharing with:   Pink Saturday      

Friday, December 20, 2019

Holly Jolly Christmas

I'll have a post on Christmas Day but till then, a few glimpses of our holiday season. (Cue the music!)

It has included very little crafting but a big thank you to whomever of you posted a reindeer ornament made from a cork! I decided it would be the perfect 2019 Cork Poppers Commemorative ornament and made eight of them for my nearest and dearest Poppers! (I took  this photo before I removed the glue strands! Yikes!)

We had a holly jolly party where wine and chocolate were exchanged along with lots of good conversation and tasty food.

Photo by Mike Smith

And a little bit of wine!

Photo by Mike Smith

I have no idea what Anne and Mike were photographing during the wine exchange! I must have missed something!

The last thing I baked from my dead oven was Jeanie Crostini and these raspberry bars. Which are the best!

We had no shortage of goodies!

After the party, some of us went to Popper Roger's Men of Orpheus holiday concert. (He doesn't always wear a tux to Cork Poppers!)

Photo by Mike Smith

It was held in one of Lansing's older churches, which was just lovely.

And they sounded wonderful. A beautiful way to get into the season.

On the way home we passed by the State Capitol and its tree.

A drive by shooting -- not a great photo, but a good memory!

The next day we enjoyed another fun concert. My friend Mike was in the Prime Time Strummers. That's Mike in the back row, right, with the Santa hat!

They played loads of fun holiday music on their ukeleles and kazoos.

And were remarkably good!

Mike was part of a gang of folks who used to work at WKAR who met for a lunch party one afternoon.

We swapped little gifts -- lots of good baking was done! Our former GM bought us lotto tickets and I had a $5 winner! Woo hoo!

We've done a little Christmas shopping (for a stove, among other things.) Our Sears store is closing and it was one of the saddest sights I'd ever seen. Everything must go.

Rick and I went to the YMCA lot for his tree -- he always gets a real one and I love that because it smells so good!

Up and decorated! SO pretty. I'm enjoying it while I spend lots of time at his house baking!

Decorating a tree is an exhausting job.

I've been wrapping and catching up on at least one or two of my favorite holiday movies.

"White Christmas" is my all-time favorite. I must have seen it a hundred times. At least fifty. When my cousins would come for Christmas back when all the parents were alive, we'd always watch it together. I can say the lines with them (and when I'm alone, I do -- and dance, too, though I'm no Vera Ellen!) We have a little snow right now but I'm not sure it will be a white Christmas here.

We'll be spending it with this gang!

And home in time to be with this one. Like she cares!

So, till Christmas Day, I leave you with our happy greetings for the holidays to you all from Rick and me.

And from Miss Lizzie too.

May your days be merry and bright.

(If you missed any holiday posts and want to catch up, they are archived above on the menu tab as Christmas 2019. I might be slow in commenting but will indeed be catching up on all your posts from my favorite time of year!)

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