Miscellaneous Musings on a December Day…

Happy Tuesday, Friends!  I hope you are well.  I am still getting things ready for Christmas over here… and working as well.  I actually just shipped off my 9th or 10th magazine feature project for 2016.  It’s crazy to think 2016 is upon us, isn’t it?


I came across some fresh chestnut from Italy while browsing at the grocery store… and thought it would really add to my Christmas experience roasting some chestnuts, especially in light of that song “Chestnuts Roasting on an open fire…”  I have never heard of that song until I came to the States.  So, I thought it would nice to roast those chestnuts!


I quickly found out that cutting a cross on the flat portions of those chestnuts was NOT a fun experience — I think it’s bordering on dangerous!  And then peeling part after the roasting… I love the taste of the roasted nuts, but am not crazy about pre- and post- roasting parts of the process.  My husband mused to me that there has to be a tool or something that I could use to make things a bit easier. Do you know of one?  If you do, please let me know?

One thing I absolutely have to have (having grown up in a former British colony) is fruit cake or any kind (British super sweet fruit cake, Panettone, or Stollen etc) for Christmas!   Miss Baby and I have been stuffing our faces with Stollen and Panettone.  Someone please help me — I certainly do not need the added calories!!! :)  And then, there are those peppermint cookies I made last night.  ARGH!  So, I am curious — are you a fruit-cakey kind of person, and do you (and how do you) exercise portion control during the holiday season?


Lastly, I learned really quickly this year that having two “interior designers” in the house for Christmas is a game of tug of war, especially where the Christmas tree is concerned. :) Everyone morning so far when Miss Baby wakes up, she re-arranges the ornaments to be at her eye level, and I would re-distribute the ornaments after she goes to sleep. And the next day, the cycle repeats itself.  So, for now, I don’t have a good Christmas tree picture to show you… unless you want to see ball ornaments all lined up single file at about midway of the tree. :o)

Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you have a lovely rest of your day.


25 thoughts on “Miscellaneous Musings on a December Day…

  1. Did you not get the memo? Everyone gets a “get out of calorie jail free” pass this time of year. So go ahead and indulge on the pannetone and the stollen and the cookies and the egg nog and the……(fill in the blank)…lol. Seriously though—this is a most joyous time of year so i think it’s ok to enjoy the senses God gave us. It will make for wonderful memories for Miss Baby. It also looks like you’ve already completed a year’s worth of work for 2016. I look forward to enjoying another year of your beautiful creations. Do YOU know how much joy YOU bring us? I hope so. Blessings….Merry Christmas….may this holiday season be the best yet for the beautiful Sheppard family. With love and prayers….kathy in WV

  2. My mother made the very best fruit cake!! Very dark, moist, full of candied cherries (no citrun!!), and pecans!! I have her recipe but have never made it–too easy to over indulge! I miss those days of little fingers re-arranging the tree! Enjoy! Merry Christmas!!

  3. How fun that Miss Baby rearranges the Christmas ornaments everyday. Maybe you should give her some ornaments of her own and let her put them wherever she wants. But I’m guessing that the daily rearranging is part of the fun. You should take pictures anyway. Years from now they will warm your heart.

  4. Your post make me chuckle! Wendy I was one of four children. My mom would bring the decorations down from the attic and her four young children would decorate it. Then we would throw icicles all over the tree because we we could not decorate the top of the tree. She took pictures of us and many years later we had many laughs as grown-ups. I asked my mom why she let us do the above. She said you are only young once. May you and yours have a blessed Christmas!! Hugs, Nancy

  5. Oh my Wendy, roasting chestnuts, how adventurous!! Think that I will stick with roasting my already shelled almonds. So many memories are gathered from Christmas adventures. I like Miss Baby’s rearranging the tree ornaments. I suspect that will continue for many years to come. Enjoy the holidays traditions with your sweet family.

    Wow!! Amazing that you are already in double digits of completed magazine feature projects for 2016. One productive and busy lady!! Thanks for your continued inspiration!

  6. Ha ha! The rearranging of the ornaments is hilarious. Panettone has a very similar texture and taste to Paska. Dear is a fruit cake fan. My taste is for Panettone without fruit in it…

  7. Oh what fun memories you will have of all of this in years to come. :-) We were a stollen family, my father having been born in Germany. Thinking back, my Mom was a great baker of lovely Christmas cookies, but stollen came from the German bakery. We (Mom, me, sister) would go every year to the gas and electric companies in Milwaukee and view their Christmas cookie displays and get their annual cookie books. It was a much anticipated event, let me tell you! I still have mine! BTW, I recently found out the WI electric co has almost all their cookie books archived on line including the new one this year. Here is a link if that is appropriate. If not Wendy, please delete. https://www.we-energies.com/recipes/ Kathy in WV is right – calories don’t count this time of year!
    A merry, joyous and blessed Christmas to you and your family Wendy!

  8. Wendy, I thought I would enjoy roasted chestnuts. . .tried them twice. . .and I’d rather sing about them than eat them! I adore your adventuresome spirit in roasting them yourself! I love all sweets so when I bake, I give most of it away. I’m more of a cookie kind of gal. . .you know, if it is a tiny cookie. . .those can’t have calories. . .Right??? ha! ha!!–Terry

  9. Funny, I’m not a big fruitcake fan, but I do like to take King Arthurs Flour “dried fruit blend”, (fruitcake fruit), and use it in my biscotti. The pieces of biscotti are smaller then a slice of fruitcake, and it’s not so intense tasting.

  10. I can really relate to the challenges of two creative females in the same house. When my daughter was young I could not even set the table for company without detailed input. Everything had to match perfectly and be fancy. This past Thanksgiving she came with a friend and just wanted the everyday dishes, nothing fancy. You will one day have your tree back. ; ) Last year I made my first fruitcake from my aunt’s recipe. It was delicious. I fell in church Sunday and hurt my leg pretty bad and am off my feet. I go to the dr Wed to see what he says but this year there may not be too many goodies if I have a serious injury. At least most of the gifts are bought. By the way, chestnuts were always a family tradition growing up in our Italian household. I think the prep etc is an acquired skill over the course of years. ENJOY. Have a great Christmas season.

  11. I make Persimmon Cake that has dried cranberries and pecans. It is a steamed cake and the finished results are moist and rich. I don’t tell anyone that it is a fruit cake, but it is. The correct type of Persimmon is hard to find where I live, but I search them out so that I can make at least one cake during the holidays. This year, it was for Thanksgiving.

  12. I chuckled when I read about you and Miss Baby with the Christmas ornaments. My kids are grown now but when they were small we let them pick a tree off the hill behind our house. The in-laws had planted the trees on this slope because they couldn’t farm it. Needless to say we had some lop-sided trees but they were always so proud of their “tree”. Lol. I think a picture of your tree with that line of ornaments at her level would be absolutely adorable!

  13. I had so many giggles reading your post and all of the comments today! I have never roasted chestnuts, but sure was curious to find out any answers; sadly there were none (except the experience). I agree with taking pictures, lots and lots of pictures of your tree and posting a few or lots. They will be treasured memories! I have never been a fruit cake kind of person, but give me cookies of almost any variety and fudge and desserts and those calories do not matter what so ever at all! It is time to be merry and have a wonderful time with family and friends so indulge! Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful creative day!

  14. I have only tried roasted chestnuts once at a Christmas fair and didn’t care for them. They were hard to get into (especially on the street with just your hands) and, if I remember correctly, seemed mushy. But maybe that was due to the person roasting them.

    Funny about your and Miss Baby’s tug of war. :-) This is Timothy’s first year to be able to get into things, so we put all the soft ornaments down at his level. It was harder to figure out how to do the other decorations so the breakable things weren’t where he could reach them. I do believe in children learning not to touch certain things, but I also didn’t want all of Christmas to be a no-no time for him. The only thing he takes off the tree is an ornament with jingle bells – he likes to shake it. :-)

    I am afraid I am not a fruit-cakey person. I usually make something called Harvest Loaf Cake in December, but haven’t for the reason you mentioned – I can’t keep my hands off of it. I’m thinking when my oldest son comes, and there are therefore more people in the house to eat it, that might be a good time for it. :-) I am also wondering whether Timothy is old enough to try decorating sugar cookies. We may give that a try this weekend.

  15. No fruitcake here, not even Pannetone. My son was given some one year, and I would rather have cookies or cheesecake. Miss Baby’s arrangement is so funny! I don’t remember ever having that issue in my house. No one moved ornaments, lol. I’ve seen felt trees, though, that you can put on the wall, and make ornaments for, then she can move them to her hearts content. You could also use paper, instead of felt, and ribbon for the garland. Hugs to your family! Thanks for sharing this.

  16. Definitely not a fruit cake person. My weakness is Christmas cookies. I make good ones, but I love to receive cookies someone else has baked. And I love roasted chestnuts, coming from an Italian ancestry family. My mom used to fix them. Then I tried a couple times after I married. You are correct about scoring them, and the peeling part. I know of no tool to make the job easier. If I did, I’d probably make them more often!
    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  17. I remember one year, we let the boys decorate the tree by themselves. We found they had used EVERY ornament and piece of tinsel in the box! You have never seen anything like it. AND it was in the window so everybody got to see it. Bless them they were so proud of it. Everyone who came was warned to say how lovely it was!!!
    As for chestnuts – no there’s no tool. You just have to get used to burned fingers. My Dad loves chestnuts. It isn’t Christmas without them.
    Christmas cake – yum! I have just decorated mine today. Its got painted penguins on it – Honestly!!!! I must be nuts. Or maybe I just have too much time. Ha – and there is a half finished quilt draped over the dining table – we are eating in the kitchen!!!
    Must get tidied up before 23rd!!

  18. I have never been a fruitcake person until my husband came along. He LOVES fruit cake and will eat it year round if he could find it. I have a great recipe that uses persimmons as a base and it is tolerable to me…my DH basically eats the whole thing, and he’s tall and skinny and never gains an ounce! Enjoy your holidays and the rearranging of the ornaments…these are precious days. Happy Holidays to you and yours. Your work is always so exquisite. Thanks for all you share.

  19. Let Miss Baby enjoy her creativity! We would love to see her version of the Christmas tree!! I love fruitcake and stollen and Pannetone. the chestnuts, my husband always wraps then in a tea towel to let the steam soften them a bit, and this makes peeling easier! Enjoy the festive treats, in January we can eat fruit and veggies!! This will be a difficult Christmas for us, my 90 year old Mom is not doing well, losing her at this time of year is so difficult. Thanks for letting me share Anita

  20. Merry Christmas, Wendy! Sounds like you have your hands full. I love the holidays, especially Christmas with all the bright lights and shiny decorations, it’s right up my ally. I was able to see the Christmas Lights in Natchitoches, La for the first time in about 30 years. Made my heart sing! Food, I love to preserve Lemon Curd and make Cake Balls. I usually make enough to gift to friends and family. My father was a salesman, and he would always give his clients 2 gifts. (and of course we got those same gifts!) A smoked turkey and a fruit cake. The fruit cake came in a tin that was great to keep. The cake was dark and full of candied fruit. And I’ve heard tales of my great grandma Flannagan making fruit cakes with rum for Christmas, so the tale included the house smelling like a distillery. :) Ms. Baby is lucky to have such a wonderful mom. You are so good to let her decorate “her” way. She and you will have lots to laugh about when she is older! Hugs!

  21. Phew! Impressive that you’re so far into your 2016 publication projects; a testament to your eye for design and quality of construction and quilting! No girls, but when our boys were little, for as long as they were interested, we let them help decorate the tree. Most years I would get or make them each an ornament so they always put their growing cache of their ornaments on the tree where ever they thought they should go. Then they’d help with the “regular” ornaments. When each left home, their ornaments went with them as the start of ornaments for their own Christmas trees in their homes. Miss Baby might also like having her own little Christmas tree to decorate in a year or two? It could be in her room or somewhere else in the house?

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