Me and my        
                       Sister Susie.

Here are just a couple of things to make your Holiday Season a bit more memorable:

1.        Remember, it took your parents LOTS of years to accumulate all of the decor items that they have
(maybe). You won't have a house looking like Tiffany's the first year you are married! Be patient and add a new
item or room each year as your budget allows. It takes time to build your stock of decorations.

2.        Keep a few items stocked in your pantry (if your budget permits) to have available if you have guests
stop in. How about that great
Pepper and Onion Relish from Harry and Davids? Mix it with a block of cream
cheese and serve with crackers for a quick, easy snack.  Also,
Candied Pecans are a great snack to have out
on your table. They last for a while, and are a delicious treat.  Check out my
Gift's page for info on ordering
some for your home. My Mom used to always keep a bowl of shelled nuts out for us to snack on too.

3.        Create a basket of books in your living or family room. My friend Marilyn collects Christmas books, and
displays them during the Christmas season. I store mine away with the Grinch, and then put them in a basket
during December and January. The kids and I enjoy reading them, with the fireplace crackling, and the tree
glowing. Mardel is a great place to find a wide variety of Christmas books for young and old.
Christmas is...          December 8, 2008
    "Christmas is not a myth, not a tradition, not a dream-
            it is a glorious reality"                    -
Billy and Ruth Graham
WHY do you celebrate Christmas? Are you
celebrating a time for gift-giving? Time
designated for family and friend gatherings?
Do you love the hustle bustle of Holiday
shopping, even better at 4 am?  Or are you
celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ? Amid
the glitter and busyness of the season, may
you not lose sight of the miracle and the
meaning of that Christmas night.
How are your Christmas plans coming
along so far? Are you knee deep in
debt already, not looking forward to
statements coming in January's mail?
Are you running on stress overload
from looking at an over-booked
December Calendar? Or did you plan
ahead, save ahead, and taking it easy
with just the few remaining days until
Christmas arrives. My Aunt Hattie was
just the biggest lover of Christmas that
I ever have known. My Aunt Hattie
hosted Christmas Eve at her house
every year as long as I can remember.
She passed away in 2004, making way
for my Dad to host since then. It is the
one time of year that all of the family
gets together to enjoy being together.
This is me, my  Dad, sister Susie, and sister Sara. My
Dad is the proud Father of five,  and we have all blessed
him with 12 grand-children. My sister Susie is expecting
little Maddy in this photo.
I do not know too many folks that today's rotten economy
has not affected in one way or another. I field calls frequently
from sellers that owe too much due to declining home resale
values and others that just talk frankly about their obligations
and inability to meet them. Because of this economical
truth, and the fact that both my sister Susie and I have
chosen to have in excess of four children a piece, we
opted to do Home Made Christmas this year. Susie is an
old pro at this,  as you can see from the photo on the
right. She made us scarves last year.
I wear all of them, depending on which color I need!
I love being able to say that I am wearing something that
my sister created. Can I even begin to tell you how much
joy I have felt creating 'gifts' for my family. I specifically
chose fabric to match their personalities and have
prayed for each person as I was crafting their item. In
addition, I called each one at some point during the
sewing process just to say "I love you". They were surprised
and so cutely sweet that I would call just to say those three
words.  I have been blessed in this task.
One of Aubrie's favorite treats is Forest Gumps
Four-Chip Fudge. Jason's Mom used to make it with
me, now it is me and Aubrie stirring together this
creamy confection of delight!
I had a friend a while back that gave me the recipe to
this breakfast casserole. It is so easy to prepare on
Christmas Eve before you go to bed, and simply put in
the oven Christmas morning when your kids wake you
up at the crack of dawn, and you will have breakfast
ready when all of the chaos has settled down.

BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

From Juli Manley - This is their Christmas
morning dish
Greased 9 x 13 @ 350 for 35-40 minutes

Brown 1 Pound Sausage.  Drain and set aside

In Bowl, combine the following:

6 Eggs
1 tsp each Salt and Pepper
2 Cup Milk
1 ½ tsp Ground Mustard
2 Cup shredded Cheddar
8 Slices of Bread - Cubed

Add Sausage.

Pour into GREASED 9 x 13 and refrigerate
overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Remove casserole from
refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until fork comes
out clean.

Forrest's Four-Chips Fudge

In heavy Dutch Oven, over low heat melt:
    3/4 cup of butter
Stir in 14oz can of condensed milk and 3 Tbl milk.

Add 12 oz Semisweet Chocolate Chips, 11.5 oz
Milk Chocolate Chips, 10 oz Peanut Butter Chips,
and 1 cup Butterscotch chips, stirring constantly
until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in 7oz
container of Marshmallow Cream, 1.5 tsp vanilla,
1 tsp almond, and 1 pound of chopped walnuts if
desired.

Spoon mixture into buttered 11x15 jellyroll or
baking pan. I usually line the pan with plastic
wrap. It makes it easier to remove from pan.
Spread evenly, cover and chill. Store in
refrigerator.

Cut and serve or eat.  You wont be able to resist!
I cannot wait to see the look on everyone's faces when they open their homemade gifts. It has been such a
family-building experience. Without having to be sucked into the commercialism of Christmas Binge Shopping, we
have stayed home more, cooked more, and played more games together.  My brother Jake even bought his girl of
many years Abbie, (we keep telling 'em that their flower girl is getting too old to play the part now!) a sewing
machine to help her create her gifts. He is a such a good guy.
I don't care what all the other folks say about him!!  haha  
From our family to yours....

We wish you a very Merry and
Blessed Christmas and A Happy,
Prosperous New Year.

Lots of love to your family.......Fran
Jake and Abbie at Thanksgiving this year.