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Monday, December 15, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year....
Can I just tell you how excited I am to show you, the blog world, my home for the holidays? Today I am participating in Boo Mama's Christmas Home Tour 2008. This is much better than driving around the neighborhood. I can sit in my home, in my comfy clothes, drinking Diet Dr. Pepper and surf the web. Welcome everyone and a special welcome to those of you who are new to my little corner of the internet! If you want to play along, click here.

Now, granted, I live in a very small place (2 bed, 1 bath). But even those of us who dream one day to have a fireplace, staircase and multi-window, multi-level home can still have a cute, decorated home this time of year.

Yes you can! Seriously!

Here is our front door. Because of the screen door, I’m taking a close up photo of my $6 wreath from Target.

Oh, Target…how I love you.

But not this week because it is C-R-A-Z-Y. I now know what a NASCAR driver feels like. Or someone who plays roller derby. Take your pick. The photo is a little lop-sided because I was standing in the rain, holding open the door, trying to get a good photo. Since when does it rain in Minnesota in December? Goodness.

Inside our home, I did not go over the top. I mean, honestly—in a small space, you can’t. I get frustrated with too many pairs of shoes by the back door much less too much holiday stuff. I have one theme in my home every year. Snowmen. Why snowmen? Because you can leave them out past January 1st! If I’m going to dig all this stuff out of the storage closet, I want to keep it up for a while.

Look at this cute door hanger! Isn’t it adorable? My mom made it!

Here is our tree. This year we went with a live tree. The Big Guy and I agreed that the years we don’t travel for the holidays we’d have a real tree. I don’t know if I like it. The jury is still out. Watering the tree…ugh. Pine needles that poke your fingers….ugh. Ornaments that fall off….ugh. Pine smell….yeah, it’s nice, but I can get that from a candle or my febreeze outlet.

A tradition in our family is that each year you get an ornament with you name on it. The Big Guy has yet to get into that tradition. Well, wait. He has yet to get used to the house being decorated for Christmas. Until I came along, he never did it.

What is up with that? How can you not like holiday decorations?

So, here is our tree. I’ve been trying for a week to get a good photo of the tree, all lit up and looking lovely. This was the best I could do. Maybe if I win Boo Mama’s camera give away, I can take better photos (shameless plug and shout out to the random number generator, I know….).

My coffee table (an IKEA purchase, by the way) stays pretty much clutter free. The table runner was also made by mother!

Since we don’t have a fireplace, we actually hang our stockings on this shelf over the TV. All we need is the channel with the yule log burning and we’d have it made! My bookcases and TV stand are also IKEA purchases (just in case you’re wondering….). Please don't pay attention to the cables and stuff behind the TV. Boo Mama said to show the decorations...so...scroll down for specifics.....

This little candle holder is one of my favorites. It’s a wooden box with this snowman on the front. The cut out at the top holds a votive candle jar perfectly.

My snowman spindles are a purchase I made from Terry Village. These little things are so cute. I love pulling them out each year!

Now, these little guys were a gift from my future mother-in-law. They are made out of an old bedspread (seriously!!). They have sand in the bottom to keep them from tipping over. Check out the bigger snowman's "buttons"...they're cloves!! I love pulling these out every year, too.

This was a new addition this year. I wanted something special on the top of our book cases, but nothing flashy. I found some old garland, beads and some other decorations sitting in a bag in the storage closet. What you see is about 10 minutes worth of work. The hurricane candle holders I have had for some time. Even the Big Guy said it looked nice!

Here is my antique sewing machine topped with my grandmother’s etched hurricane lamps as well as some festive greenery and tea-light holders. I love this sewing machine. I found it at a garage sale for $5.

Yes. Five dollars.

So, now, to conclude the tour, we were asked to share a recipe with those coming by to visit. I have a great recipe to share with you. My homemade English Toffee recipe (which is always a hit in my office). I cannot take credit for this recipe. It belongs to the one an only Paul Deen. Oh how I love Paula Deen. How can you not love someone who uses butter in everything? I mean really. In honor of Boo Mama’s holiday tour, I am going to suggest a Minnesota original—Land O’ Lakes Butter.

Now, if you’re thinking that making candy is difficult, let me assure you. This is SO easy. My old roommate, Jenny, made this the other night and she agreed—so easy! Be sure to get a candy thermometer. This will ensure you don’t burn it. Believe me….burnt toffee is terrible.

14 tablespoons (1 stick, plus 6 tablespoons) butter
1 cup of sugar
2 T cold water
1 t pure vanilla extract (don’t use the imitation stuff…)
Dash of salt
1 bag (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
Generously butter a cookie sheet. Put butter, sugar, and water in a sauce pan medium-high heat. Bring to a bubbling boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Cook to 300 degrees to 310 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat (for all that is Holy, please, please, PLEASE, take it off the stove before you do the next step!!). Add vanilla and salt and stir. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet and spread to 1/4-inch thickness. Cool slightly, top with chocolate chips and spread as it melts. Cool completely and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.
Here is the play by play. First, I wasn’t able to take a photo of the butter/sugar/water mixture while it was bubbling, because…well….you have to stir constantly. I’m a good multi-tasker, but not THAT good! But here is the color of the toffee once you add the salt and vanilla. A nice, deep brown and the smell is so good! What you see under my toffee is a silpat mat. No need for butter if you use these...

I use the Ghirardelli chocolate chips. You do not have too. I find they are the same price as the semi-sweet chips in our local store.

You would think I would be good at reading the recipe for as many times as I make this. Don’t do what I did and use the entire bag of chips. It’s too much. I find that too much chocolate and the melted chocolate will actually “peel off” the toffee. Thin layer is better. This is one time where too much chocolate is not a good thing.

See. Too much chocolate. But it was still good!

Happy Holidays, everyone! Thanks for stopping by to see me!


Anonymous said...

Your place looks fabulous! I hope you have an awesome Christmas! Are you attending the CL/CLH reunion next year? I'm hoping to, so maybe I'll see you there!

Tater Mama said...

I love snowmen, too! They're so happy!

Thanks for the recipe! I can't wait to try it!

I think your home looks lovely and cozy and wonderful!

Michele said...

I have a snowman collection,too. Adorable. Your home looks so festive. Enjoy the season!

Susan said...

Ahhh, that candy looks heavenly! And I'm totally with you on loving snowmen because you can leave them out longer (not that I don't like them anyway!).
Thanks for your sweet words at my blog, and thanks for having me over! Merry, merry Christmas!

Nise' said...

I love, love English Toffee! Thank you for the lovely tour of your home.

Ameratis said...

I love the snowman runner on the table. And the english toffee look deliscious! Thanks for sharing :)

Keetha said...

Oh - - - I LOVE all your snowmen. The door hanger and the table runner are both wonderful. But then I saw the tall skinny ones. Somehow they are just so whimsical that they stole my heart.

Are you native Minnesotan? I'm a Wisconsinite transplanted south of the border - - - into Indiana. Hehehehehe

Merry Christmas!!!

cheryl said...

Thanks for your sweet comment. I know what you mean about the home tours...I just stopped, because I didn't have time. ;o)
My mom collects snowmen too. She has TONS.
Thanks for the congrats on the camera. Really, I never win stuff, so I'm pretty pumped.
Have a merry Christmas!

Paige said...

I love all your snowmen! The table runner is fabulous. Thanks for sharing your home.

Best wishes to you and your family this Christmas season.

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of snowmen so I love your decorations.

Merry Christmas!!!

Belinda said...

I'm way late, since I only discovered Boo Mama's blog AFTER Christmas, but I'm still loving my visits to everyone's holiday homes. Your Mom's snowman table runner is so cute! I love their litle scarves blowing in the wind! :-) And your toffee...well it may be too late for holiday treat making, but definitely not too late to make for Valentine's Day! lol