Join me for the Naughty and Nice Blog Hop, which runs from December 11 to December 16, 2013. For details, visit my website. The grand prize draw is for a Kindle Fire HDX 7″ loaded with ebooks. And in addition to the many blog hop prizes, if you subscribe to my Newsletter, you’ll be eligible to win 1 of 5 free copies of my books (winner’s choice).
And now, whether you’re naughty or nice during this holiday season, I’d like to repost my family’s favorite Christmas treat.
Sheila’s Poppycock Recipe
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup whole un-blanched almonds
8 cups popped popcorn
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup margarine
1/2 cup golden corn syrup
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. vanilla
In a small heavy saucepan, combine the brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup and cream of tartar. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture forms a soft ball when dropped into cold water, approximately four minutes. Note: if you like your poppycock less chewy, then cook until the mixture forms a hard ball when dropped into cold water, approximately five minutes.
Remove from stove and stir in the soda and vanilla. Be careful because the addition of the soda makes the mixture foam up.
Pour over the popcorn and nut mix. With a wooden spoon, stir until evenly coated. Leave in bowl until the poppycock is partially cooled but make sure you stir it once in a while to keep the mixture from forming into one hard ball.
When the popcorn and nuts have cooled some, dump it on to the countertop or on large cookie sheets and continue to stir occasionally until fully cooled. I usually leave it out overnight and every time I walk by, I stir it to break it apart. Someone will no doubt sneak a piece or two but that’s okay because it’s easy to make a second batch.
This makes a wonderful Christmas gift. I like to put it into jars and tins to give to family and friends. Enjoy and happy holidays!
I did one of my least favorite things today. I went the mall with my daughter. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE spending time with my daughter, but the mall…
My daughter is thirteen, she knows Santa lives in her very own home, and she loves to shop. This year, thanks to the fabulous suggestion of my good friend Susan Sands, my daughter has been given a dollar amount and she is buying all of her own Christmas gifts.
I know this doesn’t sound very festive. When Susan first told me she and her husband decided to do this with their three kids last year, I was skeptical. Buy their own gifts? Wrap things they’ve picked out? And then I spent a frustrating season buying and returning all the things she apparently didn’t want.
I’m telling you, this is genius!
So, we went to the mall and while she flittered in and out of the dressing room, I spent my time doing what all writers do: I people-watched. I was amazed at how many men were shopping with their wives/girlfriends/partners/whatever. Whole families were trudging through the stores, clogging the aisles, and waiting in line. Whole families!
Maybe it’s just me, but the LAST person I’d ever drag to the mall is my husband. He hates shopping. He’d rather peel his skin off than spend an afternoon with me at the mall. And the kids? Let’s be honest, who wants their husband/boyfriend/partner/whatever with them when they shop? I mean, really? My husband would tell me something looked good just to make me hurry up. He’d fall asleep in one of those chairs they provide for men. Hell, he’d probably drive off and leave me there—and I’d be happy.
And remember, I don’t like to shop!
So what about you, Women Unplugged? Do you want your man around when you shop? Your family? Let me know…
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbuck007/3095100467/”>mattbuck4950</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
Christmas seems to be coming in a rush. It doesn’t help that Mother Nature is acting like a menopausal wreck with thunderstorms and 70 degree weather making it feel like April in Atlanta instead of December. Not to mention that I had a book releasing this week and cover copy and edits due on two other books, pushing the whole Christmas shopping, holiday decorating, cookie baking scenario right out the window.
I finally grabbed a couple of hours this morning to decorate the tree—because, really, no one else in the house was going to do it. Normally, it’s one of my favorite holiday jobs, but this year I wasn’t into it. It’s that whole artificial tree thing again. Last year at this time, I blogged about our family’s transition from a real live, sweet smelling tree to a plastic, unscented model. (You can check out that blog here.) For the sake of my men folk, we’ve decided to keep the allergy aggravating stuff outside the house from now on—including during the holiday season. As much as I hate an artificial tree, I hate the nebulizer and coughing and wheezing more.
All it took was a look inside the ornament boxes to change my negative mindset, though. As I unwrapped and hung the ornaments on the branches—branches that didn’t prick me or bend under the weight of my precious ornaments—I realized that it doesn’t matter whether my tree is real or not. It’s the actual the ornaments that tell the story of my family’s journey through Christmas’ these past twenty-two years. Like my family, our tree decorations aren’t fussy or pretentious; they aren’t fashionable or organized. They’re just pieces of the story of who we are and where we’ve been.
Take, for example, the porcelain ornament depicting the North Gate in Seoul Korea. I picked it up when I worked for NBC sports during the 1988 Summer Olympics. My husband has had to glue it together at least twice when it tumbled off a tree branch onto the hardwood floor. (Score one for the artificial tree.) It looks a little gnarly after all these years, but I couldn’t imagine it not being a part of my Christmas tree.
The handmade ornaments that have survived since my kids were in preschool get hung first, up near the top. Some are made out of actual gingerbread and others out of Popsicle sticks and googly eyes. Still others are Sunday school creations made of origami. One was made by my niece out of a piece of ribbon and some beads.
Interspersed among the Solheim originals are the fancy Lennox and Wallace ornaments. Ornaments from the White House are mixed in with balls filled with sand from beaches we’ve visited. There are horses and dogs, marionette Santas all the way from Germany, gingerbread men and reindeer. There’s even a set depicting historic Glyndon, Maryland where my husband grew up. The candy canes are wooden ones that my Grandmother used to hang on her tree.
After nearly three hours of hanging ornaments, I wasn’t so glum about our regal artificial tree. Every year from here on out, it will be the vessel for displaying all the memories that our family has stored up through the years. And just like a corny TV holiday show, I’d found my Christmas spirit exactly where I’d left it—in the boxes filled with ornaments.
Happy holidays to all of you!
Do you have a favorite holiday decoration? Tradition? Care to share?
Had an interesting Thanksgiving dinner this last week. Not that anything unusual happened, only the way it happened. My family and I drove south this year to spend the holidays with his side of the family. My husband’s sisters and parents live within miles of each other in South Florida and we thought it would be fun to go “tropical.” However, since we didn’t give a whole heck of a lot of notice on our decision (my husband can be very spur of the moment), they didn’t plan on centering their focus on us.
One sister was celebrating with friends, one sister was celebrating with her son’s girlfriend’s family, the nieces (sisters) were working and celebrating together with a fried version of the bird and his parents? Well, let’s just say they bowed out of all invitations for a quiet day at home alone together. They’re eighty-three. Big dinners take a lot of work. Hmph. Now what?
How about bring the dinner with you? And while you’re at it, add a few chairs, a table–heck, we have a lot of bodies heading into their small home with no place to put them! So that’s what we did. Packed up a turkey and all the fixins’ — including all the ingredients to prepare the entire dinner and dessert — grab a table and chairs and throw them back into the Suburban. We’re going on a road trip!
Not my favorite time of year to be on the roads, mind you, but turns out, our traffic wasn’t bad. Wednesday night we didn’t hit any trouble and for the return, we only hit a couple of snafus. I think the secret is to leave late. By the time we hit the road, everyone was already well on their way home, headed back up north. So all in all, not a bad drive. And what a great dinner! I put the turkey in the oven the night we arrived and it was ready to eat come three o’clock. Easy. Whipped up a few mashed potatoes, plate of stuffing, cranberry, gravy, rolls and poof. Thanksgiving dinner! It was our version of “Meals on Wheels.” For those of you not familiar with the group, Meals on Wheels is an organization dedicated to feeding our seniors by bringing the nutrition straight to the door of those with limited mobility.
All in all it was a great weekend. Good food, good company and even a spot of fishing and tennis. Definitely counting our blessings in the Venetta household!