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Keeping Christmas in My Heart

Unlike Ebenezer Scrooge, I love everything about Christmas! The baking, the sappy-sweet Christmas movies, the twinkling lights, the glittering tree, packages wrapped with love and care, our Christmas Village, red bows, and especially the nativity. It's all so beautiful! I find it a special treasure to sit with a warm cup of coffee, in the early morning hours before the house has awakened, and just soak it all in as I sip my coffee. It also gives me time to do some mental planning...what do I plan to do different next year... what were my favorite moments of this season... what do I want to purchase during the online after Christmas sales... what new recipe do I want to try next year? But I mostly sit and daydream while enjoying the wonder in all that is Christmas. We typically leave most of our Christmas up until Three Kings Day. We are blessed to have our boys home until after New Years and the temptation is strong to use their muscles to help us haul all our Christmas boxes to th
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Hot Cocoa for Cold Winter Nights

 Christmas is my favorite time for a warm mug of hot cocoa. I'm not sure why we don't enjoy the flavors all year long, but it seems you hear more about hot cocoa during the Christmas season. I am not a chocolate lover, but I love hot cocoa. My dad is the hot cocoa maker in our family and I use his recipe.  We always opened gifts with a cup of hot cocoa in one hand and a present in the other! Dad adapted his recipe from an old Hershey cookbook.  It's similar to the one you see on the side of the Hershey's Cocoa can, but with a few twists. No package mixes and hot water at our house!  This is a perfect hot cocoa to prepare and place in a coffee dispenser or a big crock pot as part of a Hot Cocoa Bar.  I love pouring it into my insulated pump dispenser and placing all the delicious toppings in mason jars.  Add some greenery and twinkling fairy lights and your Hot Cocoa Bar is not only delicious, but magical! It's cold and wet here today, so this is a perfect day to mak

The Flavors of Fall: Caramel Apple Cider

Are you looking for a delicious cider to warm up your family on a brisk, fall evening? Or maybe Trick or Treating is still on in your area of the world and you wanted something to sip while walking with the kids around the neighborhood? Well, look no further!  I found this recipe on a Taste of Home site and made a few minor adjustments from the original recipe. It’s been so long since I first served it that I can't remember what I adjusted. 😉 I've served this a variety of ways, but my favorite was having it as part of cider and coffee bar.  It was a huge hit! The best thing about this recipe is that you can mix it up and let it warm in the crock pot while you take care of other items. I can envision this decadent cider simmering on the counter as you and your family take a brisk walk after a big Thanksgiving meal or after coming home from selecting  that perfect Christmas tree. Just imagine walking into the house and smelling the luscious scents of apple, cinnamon, caramel waf

Quarantine Reno: The Butler's Pantry/Laundry Room

Good morning everyone! I wanted to share with you a major renovation which Mr. Still Woods and I accomplished during the quarantine. I have been feeling a huge push to simplify not only my life, but our home as well.  I started with reorganizing room by room and donating items we no longer use. After that was accomplished, I began thinking. My husband says that my thinking is always dangerous and usually means a lot of work for him! So let me tell you how this all started.  I have a large pantry in the kitchen with pull out drawers and deep shelves. While it holds tons of pantry items, I was always complaining because items tend to meander to the back of the shelves. When you need a flashlight to see what's in your pantry, you know its too large.  So I decided that I wanted to relocate our pantry into a free standing, shallow unit.  We sat down and drew up a plan we were both happy with.  As with most plans, our plan got altered along the way.  What was to have been a complete new

Mississippi Spice Muffins

Are you looking for a delicious, autumn inspired muffin to serve your family?  This is one of my family's all time favorites and you don't have to be from Mississippi to try them! I love to make a batch of these spice infused muffins when the weather is cool and the leaves begin to turn. We had a cool morning the other day and I began dreaming of these muffins. They are super moist and scrumptious!  Let's get baking! The Starting Line-Up: 1 cup soft butter                                                          1 teaspoon ground cloves 2 cups sugar                                                                1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs                                                                          2 teaspoons baking soda 2 cups applesauce (preferably unsweetened)            4 cups all purpose flour 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon                                   1 cup nuts, chopped 2 teaspoons ground allspice                                       Powdered Sugar Preheat

Re-purposing a Card Catalog

I hope this finds you and your family healthy and safe.  During these unusual times, I've spent some extra time completing a long to-do list.  One project included my library card catalog.  My husband gave me this card catalog many years ago.  It has served many purposes over the time it has lived at Still Woods. Many!!  How have I used thee? Let me count the ways!   It has served as a jewelry storage, a kitchen island (one of my favorites), undergarment storage, scarf storage, Santa's Candy Shoppe (drawers full of candy), and now it is serving as an organizational tool for our  Reading Room . I think it has finally found its purpose. Woo-hoo!! I love having one, central location for many of the items that often end up here and there. I hate searching for items all over the house.  Let me show you what I've done. To start with, I like the beautiful, original maple wood of the card catalog. I don't think chalk paint will ever touch it; however, I may re-stain the

Decoupage Easter Eggs for a Fun Family Craft

Hi Friends! If you are looking for a craft for you or your family, I wanted to share my decoupage eggs.  I know we are sheltering in place and a run to the craft store is not a good idea, but did you know that many of the craft stores are doing curb side pickup? I know that my local Michael's Craft Store is doing curb side. Just order online and they will give you a pick up time.  No need to go in the stores! Before we start, let me show you a vintage Easter egg from Germany.  Believe it or not, the vintage ones are relatively inexpensive. I love the two little chicks in their boat... notice their little snail friend! Decoupage art goes way back.  A noted " decoupeur" or "cutter" was Mary Delaney (1700-1788). She was a favorite of George III and Queen Charlotte. She began her art late in life or at least was noticed by the King and Queen when she was 71.  She used tissue paper as her decoupage medium, which is an excellent source as it molds easily to objects.