A Candy Cane Christmas

It’s just thirty-two days until Christmas.

Can you believe it?!

There were times I thought this year was never going to end, and suddenly it’s Christmastime!

After this long and often stressful year, I’m really excited for the holiday season and will definitely savor every moment with our family and friends and especially the quiet, peaceful nights in with Audley.

Today, I’m teaming up with some of our favorite bloggers for the 4th Annual Christmas Tree Blog Hop hosted by Michelle from Our Crafty Mom. You’ll have the opportunity to visit 28 talented bloggers for plenty of Christmas tree decorating inspiration, so turn up the Christmas music, grab a cup of peppermint hot chocolate and get lost in Christmas inspiration galore!

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Here in our home we are crazy for candy canes.

For as long as I can remember we have decorated our home in some shape, form or fashion with a candy cane theme. It might be a tree… or two, it might be the top of my kitchen cabinets or the dining room, but ribbon or garland or ornaments or the real deal are always featured. It just “fits” us as a family.  Not only have my kids come to expect it (they would be so disappointed & try to “borrow” my decor if I didn’t), but Audley wouldn’t have it any other way!  

Are there more husbands out there who actually love decorating for Christmas?

This year the candy cane theme is adorning our living room tree. It’s our first Christmas season as empty nesters, so it is a great way to pretend the kids are close (all of them live out -of-state now).  They will all be in and out through the season … our Marine is home for Thanksgiving/Christmas leave this week … so I want them to know it’s still home when they come to visit.

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This is the second year I’ve used a flocked tree, and I really do like it.  The colors of Christmas pop and smaller ornaments stand out as well.  Besides, living in the south, this is the closest to a white Christmas we’ll get!

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From top to bottom I tried to incorporate the joy  and traditions of Christmas that are a part of our family.  We bake a lot, so there are plenty of nods to hours in the kitchen cutting out cookies, whipping icing, and indulging in fabulous holiday treats.

Audley and I tucked in ribbon and marshmallows and gingerbread and springy things all around our ornaments to create a full and festive tree.  

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Our tree incorporates twenty-six years of ornaments collected from all six states  we’ve lived in (14 moves total) to carefully chosen floral picks and ribbon plus a few whimsical elves tumbling down the side,  I can tell you just about everywhere we lived as we hang specific ornaments on the tree; lolipops from Rome, Georgia, peppermint teardrops from Clinton, Iowa, a Christopher Radko from our time in Bridgeport, Alabama, a handpainted treasure to reember our years in South Carolina and more recently a very large Mark Robert’s Elf from living in Loganville.   There are so many beautiful memories, in this candy cane themed tree.  I love how it all came together this year. 

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This year I have a sweet addition to my decor … this adorable crate created by my youngest daughter.  It’s so much fun and fits in just perfectly.

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The candy cane theme is wrapped-up (pun intended) with our presents under the tree. 

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I just love incorporating gift wrap that compliments whatever theme we are using, and Audley does a fabulous job with a lot of our wrapping!

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Buttercup seems to think it all looks perfectly delicious, and I’m a bit hungry after talking candy canes, so it’s off to grab a snack and visit all the fabulous bloggers who are sharing their holiday with us!

Check out their links below.  Be sure to leave a comment letting me know you stopped by!  I would love to hear from you.

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Welcome To The Fourth Annual Christmas Tree Decor Blog Hop

Be sure to visit all the participating bloggers below for gorgeous holiday decorating ideas for your Christmas tree.

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Our Crafty Mom // Sustain My Craft Habit // Red Cottage Chronicles // Celebrate and Decorate

Christmas tree decor blog hop collage

Jenron Designs //  2 Bees In A Pod // Virginia Sweet Pea // From House To Home

Christmas Tree Collage

Tribe of Burton // Across the Boulevard // Intelligent Domestications // Simply Beautiful By Angela

Christmas Tree Decor

Modern on Monticello // Redneck Rhapsody // Purple Hues and Me // My Pinterventures

tree hop collage of 2Zucchini Sisters // One Thousand Oaks // Raggedy Bits // Southern Yankee DIY // Fiddle Dee Dee

Christmas tree hop

My Sweet Home Living // Pretty DIY Home // Michelle James Designs // Daily DIY Life

Christmas tree collage of four

Happily Ever After, etc. // Kippi at Home // Simple Nature Decor // Design Morsels

Trick or Treat: Caramel Apple Cocktails

Happy Halloween!

Things are a little different this year without the kids at home for this fun holiday. Trick or Treating went by the wayside years ago, but you’re never too old for a bonfire or holiday themed food with teenagers.

But here we are; our first empty nest Halloween!

And Audley and I plan to treat ourselves!

One of my favorite fall highlights is apple season. This year I didn’t get to pick my own, but I still made a trip up to my favorite north Alabama orchard with Momma. Crow Mountain really has the best apples!! It’s always fun to decide how to use them, and this year I changed it up from dessert to a delectable and over-21 grown-up Halloween treat ….

Caramel Apple Cocktails

The ingredient list is short: large apples (I love a Granny Smith) that you’ve hollowed into a “glass”, melted caramel to rim your apples, apple cider (try to find local), Crown Royal Vanilla, Ellington Reserve Salted Caramel Whisky (use airplane bottles), and brown sugar.

Wash and dry your apples, then slice the tops off and hollow out the inside of the apple. Don’t go all the way to the bottom or your cocktail “glass” will leak. I used a spoon for hollowing out the apple.

Rim the edge of your apple with melted caramel. Since you will be working around juicy apples, this works best when spooned around the edge. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Also sprinkle a little brown sugar inside the apple.

To mix the cocktail (for 2) heat 5 ounces of apple cider, then add 1.5 ounces of the caramel apple whisky, 1 ounce vanilla Crown, and stir. Pour into the apples you’ve made into glasses.

Pour into the apple glasses, garnish with a cinnamon stick and enjoy!

These take just a few minutes to prepare; keeping you in a Halloween frame of mind while toasting an empty nest!

And don’t waste your apple! When you’ve finished your drink, slice the apple to eat for a spiked caramel apple treat!

McCray’s Tavern East Cobb; A Review

Last weekend Tammie and I enjoyed a fabulous dinner out in Marietta at McCray’s Tavern and Pour House. Since moving to the northwest-side of Atlanta over the summer I’ve not been out much to see what all the area has to offer, so I was excited to go to dinner… and who doesn’t love a girlfriend’s night out?!

This was not my first visit to McCray’s; they have four locations throughout metro Atlanta and I have eaten (and thoroughly enjoyed my visit) at the location in Lawrenceville. McCray’s East Cobb is brand new, braving the coronapocalypse to open this year!

With a new chef on board, McCray’s is showcasing a modern twist on old tavern fare with a new menu, exciting original cocktails and local craft beers. McCray’s has also reached out to local sources for beef, chicken and even bringing in seafood from the Gulf for the freshest and tastiest of menus.

McCray’s East Cobb creates a modern but inviting atmosphere and is family friendly. If you want to catch the latest televised sporting event, McCray’s has you covered with flat screen tv’s conveniently placed where everyone can watch! Our server was delightful and the food was absolutely delicious!

For appetizers Tammie enjoyed a grilled shrimp salad while I savored the tuna tartare.

For our entrees Tammie tackled the double cut pork chop with mashed potatoes and green beans.

I went with traditional tavern fare and enjoyed the “Tavern Dip” (prime rib, horseradish cream, caramelized onions and au jus) and fries.

We were so satisfied … ok, we were stuffed … with just dinner, but enjoyed dessert anyway; splitting the Creme Brûlée with berries.

McCray’s East Cobb will definitely be a restaurant I’ll return to in the future, and soon, as they are hosting Sips & Stogies on October 22!  Audley says make reservations, so I’m looking forward to date night as well! You can make your own reservation for Sips & Stogies by clicking here.

If you’re on the northwest side of Atlanta, or just passing through looking for good food in a welcoming environment, definitely visit McCray’s!

Make a reservation at 404-800-3553 and check out McCray’s today!

4880 Lower Roswell Road, Ste 850

Marietta, Georgia 30968

Make Your Own Pumpkin Cream Coffee

I absolutely love coffee.

Savoring a large cup or two in the quiet morning hours has become a necessary and important part of my daily routine. There are mornings I even wake up early to make sure I have this coffee time before we have places to be, including Sunday mornings before worship.

I’m also quite fond of pumpkin spice season at Starbucks. That first sip of pumpkin cream cold brew is the highlight of September 1 each year and I relish each cup throughout the fall. Living just outside Atlanta I don’t go out for just coffee though, unless I have plans. With the kiddos grown there isn’t as much running around going on. Besides paying $5 for coffee every time I go out the door definitely adds up.

But, I still want to enjoy pumpkin spice during this fall season.

So I’ve come up with my own “copycat” recipe to enjoy at home or on the go.

It’s super easy to make and fits in our budget much better. The best part of all is it is delicious on hot as well as iced coffee!

The ingredients for the cream topping are simple: You’ll need heavy whipping cream, pumpkin purée (homemade is best so that you are getting actual pumpkin & not a “squash mixture”), brown sugar and of course pumpkin spice.

This works best made in small batches; in other words, coffee for one.

For one cup of 8 ounce coffee, using a frother whisk a 1/4 cup cream, 1 heaping tablespoon of pumpkin purée, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, a one pinch pumpkin spice. This should be slightly thickened and easily pourable. This is how your coffee is sweetened and needs to drift to the bottom some.

Pour your hot coffee into a mug. Then top with the cream. Garnish with pumpkin pie spice and enjoy alone or with a friend if you must.

BTW, this is really delicious when made with vanilla coffee.

The iced coffee is similarly assembled; add ice and 8 ounces of coffee, then pour the pumpkin cream over the top. Give it a quick stir to help the cream drop.

Just a couple of quick notes:

First, don’t over spice the top. It should be very subtle & when drinking you DO NOT want to inhale or sip pure pumpkin pie spice! Second, there is a reason Starbucks doesn’t give you a straw for your ICED pumpkin cream coffee … if you sip through a straw you only get a mouthful of Cold. Black coffee. If you drink from the top, you will relish the rich pumpkin cream with each sip.

Learn from my mistakes people.

And enjoy your coffee.