Missed it?

2021 Easter Show

If you missed last year’s Easter Show, here it is. It’s quite different from the 2022 show in many ways, but yet the general format is the same: painting and singing. This one has a story that runs via captions, and it’s more about family and tradition than this year’s deeply spiritual show. If you’ve not yet seen it, I hope that you do. It’s a much needed respite from the dystopia of our time.

On a personal note: The update from yesterday- we did not get the house. They accepted another offer. So, we’re back to looking. We are now down to three weeks to find a house and get an offer accepted in time to close before we must vacate. The housing crisis is real, folks. The rental market is even worse. Way too many folks needing houses for the few available and they are price gouging. Renters are even in bidding wars, offering to pay more than the asking rental price to get in ahead of someone else. Hopefully we’ll be able to buy a house, as that seems the better route even though we were planning on doing that next year and are having to move Heaven and Earth to make this happen now. Prayers appreciated.


The Day After

My “Yule Log” cake!

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired from all of the Christmas festivity. I stepped things up this year by trying new baking projects. In this cake I made on Christmas Eve, I used a yule log mold to make a modified gingerbread cake using Lebkuchen spices with Anise and Star Anise. I added a white chocolate frosting and shaped it to look like snow. I hand-painted food coloring using cake decorating paint brushes. So, I’m now painting on cakes as well! What a delicious canvas! As long as I don’t start thinking of my oil paints as something I’m tempted to lick off my brushes, I think there’s more cake painting in my future.

The yule log was moist, just the right amount of spice vs sweet, and quickly disappeared!
My Christmas Day doughnuts!

On Christmas morning I made special doughnuts. I learned how to bake using vanilla beans. My first attempt was to grate the bean, but I realized that I must be doing something wrong and I stopped. I looked it up and sure enough, this would have been a disaster. I was scraping the outside pod! 😀 So then I did it the right way, using a small sharp knife to cut the pod open and then scrape the soft black insides into my doughnut batter. That’s what makes the black vanilla specks. I rolled the finished doughnuts in powdered sugar and topped them with edible star-shaped gold glitter.

Edible star-shaped gold glitter
My husband and I enjoyed a Christmas breakfast doughnut before the kids woke up

This was one of the best doughnuts I’ve ever eaten!

Christmas morning doughnuts ready for the day to start! (they fit so nicely in my display stand after my husband and I ate a couple of them, and then our son came down and ate one)
Southern biscuits and sausage gravy

I also made a full Christmas breakfast buffet, that was kept warm with a glass warming tray. This way, the family could eat whenever they wanted to, and continue to graze throughout the brunch hour and beyond. The Southern biscuits (made with special White Lily flour, soft winter wheat: a Southern tradition since 1883) and gravy were DIVINE, but the family devoured all of these foods equally. They ate almost an entire bag of potatoes in a single day, which was quite an astonishing achievement for five people to consume!

Eggs, sausage gravy, fried red potatoes, Black Forest ham
Eggs and potatoes with sausage gravy

This Christmas breakfast buffet was versatile. The family could use the sausage gravy over biscuits, or over the other foods. The biscuits also worked well for egg and/or ham sandwiches. So, breakfast could turn into lunch without stopping our fun to cook something new. Maybe this idea could help those of you who are looking for ways to make something special without cooking during the big event? I was able to do all of this before the family got too antsy, and then I was off duty for cooking. It was very nice, and everyone enjoyed the buffet!

My plate after devouring my Christmas morning doughnut and leaving behind glitter stars!

I hope that you enjoyed a very happy Christmas. I have more stories to share, but I thought I’d start with the food, as it is something that we humans have in common- we love to eat! The Secret Santa chef game we played in the week before Christmas is a tradition we plan to continue. This is the first year we started a Christmas breakfast buffet and the family wants to make it a new tradition, including the doughnuts- but I’ll made a different kind of Christmas doughnuts each year, to be a surprise to see what I come up with!


Secret Santa!

Watch oil painting “I Believe in Santa” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

You might remember when I talked about my family’s Secret Santa game in blog post “Santa Claus is Coming to Town“? Our Christmas fun involves FOOD! I said this: “My family started a Secret Santa tradition that is a bit different from the usual. Instead of exchanging presents, the “secret” is a home-cooked meal. We don’t know what each other is planning to cook for us until it’s dinner time on their scheduled day to be the secret (chef) Santa.”

Yesterday it was my husband’s turn to be Chef Santa. He made from-scratch (even the dough!) Calzones.

Homemade calzone by my husband
some ingredients include: ricotta cheese, mushrooms, peppers
My plate

Today is our oldest daughter’s turn to be Secret Santa. Husband is on his way home from a late shift at work. I’ll report on the food surprise tomorrow.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

Watch oil painting “I Believe in Santa” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Can’t you just hear the jingle of the sleigh bells? Christmas is coming soon! Do you have plans for how you will celebrate this special time of year? Maybe you’d like to try something new?

My family started a Secret Santa tradition that is a bit different from the usual. Instead of exchanging presents, the “secret” is a home-cooked meal. We don’t know what each other is planning to cook for us until it’s dinner time on their scheduled day to be the secret (chef) Santa. I haven’t decided yet what I’ll do for my turn, but I plan to go BIG!

Last year I knew exactly what to make and that’s a bit of a funny story that I’ll tell you about tomorrow. I’m afraid I have to leave you in suspense for now because I am tired and need to get to bed. Goodnight, dear friends!

Happy Halloween

Watch “Pumpkin Carving” oil painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

You might remember when I shared this art in the beginning of October? It was inspired by my husband and son enjoying the seasonal tradition of cleaning out and carving/decorating a pumpkin. I hope that all of you who have little ones are staying safe and having fun tonight.



Something Different

Watch this oil painting of peach pie come to life

in about a minute (time lapse)

When we tried the peach pie it was something different and new for us, that first year after we moved to the deep South in Georgia. This week, for my husband’s birthday (he likes pie better than cake, and I’m the opposite- I prefer cake), we tried something different again. It was a maple syrup pie, a recipe I found from Canada. It was good, very rich; a small piece is plenty. He thought it was fun to try a new pie.

We have our favorite foods and desserts that are our family traditions, but it’s good to try something different too. This is a good recipe for life as well. Enjoy the familiar, the things we know, the habits that have become tradition in our families, and the lifestyle that is comfortable and usually preferred, but on occasion step into something different. Be open to new things, to change, and to experiences that depart from our regular way of doing things.

Just like when we take a trip and when we come back we say, “it was good to get away, but it’s sure good to be back home,” taking a break from our usual way of doing things can push us out of a rut and into a spiritual space of gratitude. And if we like the new things we try, we might incorporate them into our lives. The important thing is to feel joyful in our daily regular lives, and it can help to try something different. But if you can’t travel or make major changes, don’t worry, sometimes all it takes to feel an extra boost of joy is trying a new pie!

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