Our Sentimental Christmas Tree

Christmas is going to be a little different for our family this year. Of course I knew this when our living room tree went up the second week of October while our young Marine was home on leave. He asked if we could decorate, so this Momma obliged without a second thought.

 

Over the last several years I have ventured into carefully thought out themed trees as the the kids grew into teens, took off for college, and even began to marry, and left the ornaments from their childhood packed away . Every once in a while I might dig through to find one or two that fit a theme, but largely they remained put away. When Bradley asked to decorate and I knew all my kiddos would be together for that weekend, I began to feel all sentimental and teary.

It was time for a trip to the Hallmark Store where we chose each of our children a new ornament, and to broke out all our favorites from the last 25 years!

Our Sentimental Christmas Tree

With four kids we’ve had so many memorable and entertaining Christmases over the years. Going through all the ornaments with them was so much fun!

Christmas began in October per this kiddo’s request

There was our official first ornament; one Audley and I purchased in Gatlinburg while on our honeymoon as well as the first Hallmark ornament we chose… “our first Christmas”.

We found milestone ornaments from the first five years of each kiddo, hobby ornaments, and sports ornaments.

I giggled as we hung the ornaments we bought while living in Iowa, remembering that was year we moved our tree and some how left all the decorations in storage in Alabama!! It was a sparsely decorated tree that year, but a white Christmas made it one of the best Christmases ever!

We have reminders of our favorite movies from “A Christmas Story” ( I saw it in the theater with my parents way back when I was 11) to Harry Potter (which I shared with my kids as they grew up).

I never knew sports ornaments would blend so well with Santa’s and Elves, but the Bulldogs and Gamecocks speciality balls add so much fun!

There are ornaments celebrating the latest engagement in our family (that story is coming soon… it’s Madeline!), ones that celebrate our two daughters who are already married, and ornaments honoring my handsome hubby’s years in the Navy and of course Bradley’s current life in the Marines.

Our ever growing family

This tree tells so many stories from the last 25 years and is definitely one of my most favorites, even if it does render me a blubbering mess at the most random times!

To pull all the ornaments together I used traditional white, red and green by incorporating Pom Pom garland, springy picks and over-sized pearl picks (all from Hobby Lobby), as well as Christopher Radko reproduction red and green shiny brite ornaments and a few favorite blown glass ornaments we collected through the years.

The elves? Well you just can’t Christmas without elves so they are incorporated into every tree in the house no matter what their theme!

I’m so excited to be joining in a Christmas tree blog hop hosted by Our Crafty Mom!!

 Welcome To The Third Annual Christmas Tree Decor Blog Hop!

Looking for Christmas Tree decorating ideas? We are sharing 40 absolutely beautiful Christmas Trees from some of your favorite home decor bloggers.
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It’s the third year of the Christmas Tree Decor Blog Hop hosted by Our Crafty Mom.
christmas tree blog hop
You will find holiday inspiration for just about every Christmas tree style.

The fun starts on Friday, November 29th and continues through Saturday, November 30th.
We hope you will visit the talented bloggers linked below. This blog hop is something we look forward to every year and we hope you do too.
Grab your favorite beverage and settle in for some beautiful Christmas Tree decor inspiration!
Let’s Meet The Hosts!

Friday:

Christmas tree decor

christmas tree decorating ideas

christmas tree decor ideas

Saturday 

collage of 4 christmas trees

christmas tree hop

christmas trees

 Have a fantastic weekend y’all and enjoy all of this inspiration!!

Summer Fruit Salad

Summer has fully encompassed Georgia and let me tell y’all…. it’s ridiculously sticky, humid and hot. Georgia has always been known for these type of summers and rarely disappoints its residents and visitors.

When the temps are still at 95° and it’s time to prepare supper I don’t know about you, but I have zero desire to turn on the stove and cook. I still want my husband and our occasional guests to feel spoiled and special, so enter my go-to dish: fruit salad.

Now this isn’t a big bowl of fruit like you might be picturing , but instead a crisp green salad which includes fruit. I love adding fresh, seasonal fruit to homemade salads and serving them up with complimentary vinaigrette dressings.

Summer Fruit Salad / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

When my friend Tammie joined me for lunch last week I served up a salad that incorporated peaches that was a real hit!

Peach Orchard / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

With Georgia’s peach season in full swing, peaches are definitely my fruit of choice, but it pairs so well with other fruits as well. For this particular salad I also added blueberries, mozzarella cheese, pecans, and bacon.

All of the ingredients (including the cheese, bacon & greens) were local and fresh which makes a summer fruit salad taste even better! You can hit up your local farmers or Saturday market, or a U-Pick Farm to find the freshest of ingredients as well as support locals farmers.

Peach & Blueberry Salad / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

As you can see from my picture, all I did was layer the ingredients so that they look appetizing. It is quite simple.Peach Blueberry Salad / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

For the peach salad I made a Lemon White Balsamic Vinaigrette using a gourmet Sicilian balsamic vinegar (purchased at a vinegar & olive oil shop nearby) and combining with California olive oil; 1/3 cup vinegar to 2/3 cups olive oil seasoned with salt & black pepper, and fresh minced garlic. Shake well and taste to see that you like the flavor. If it’s too bitter for your taste, add a teaspoon of sugar. I like mine a little extra vinegary, so I often add extra.

Make the vinaigrette yours.

Peach Salad with Chicken / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

I served the peach salad with sliced rotisserie chicken breast (once again, no oven/stove needed) since it was lunchtime. When I ate leftovers later in the day I just enjoyed the salad!

That’s the beauty of summer salads; they’re delicious and filling!

And if peaches aren’t your thing you can definitely change up your fruits. I served a similar salad in red, white and blue for our Independence Day cookout.

{My husband doesn’t care how hot it is when he fire’s up the grill; Audley holds the well-deserved title of Grill Master for a reason.}

This salad included strawberries, blueberries, mozzarella cheese, and almonds. Using the same ratios above for my dressing I used balsamic vinegar to make the dressing.

Red White and Blue Salad / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Red, White & Blue for the holiday. This salad is also delicious with blue cheese instead of mozzarella, and pecans instead of almonds. I told you these are so versatile.

There are so many ways to keep your diet fresh and clean as well as cool in the summer. These salads just happen to be my favorite way! How would you serve up a summer fruit salad? I would love to hear your ideas!

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Summer Peach Salsa

After picking peaches over the weekend at Southern Belle Farm I’ve had to work quickly to get them put away before all my girls and sons-in-law arrive for the holiday weekend! Tammie came over yesterday and we used up a good portion of them making peach salsa.

I love a good fruit salsa and peaches make one of the best! Not only is it delicious on tortilla chips like any good salsa, it makes a scrumptious accompaniment to grilled pork, chicken and fish!  Then there is always the option of eating it straight from the jar like my son is prone to do.

He is actually hoping I pack a jar … or three in his next package headed to Camp Pendleton.

I usually preserve my salsa so we can enjoy it throughout the year, but the beauty of this recipe is you can half it if you choose and serve it up immediately with a delicious summer supper. Just refrigerate and it’ll keep a couple of weeks.

Not that it’ll last that long.

Canning the peach salsa is not that hard. All of the ingredients are fresh, easy to pronounce which makes it even better.

Gather together all the things you need before you begin so that you’re not scrambling around while scorching your salsa on the stove.

I used Ball jars to store the salsa. These can be found at just about any grocery store as well as Walmart. Canning supply lists can be extensive, but I stick to the basics for this recipe: jars with lids, funnel, tongs, 2 large stock pots (one for sterilizing the jars & one for cooking the salsa mixture), a ladle and a couple of towels.

For a few canning basics you can check out these canning tips from Martha Stewart.

If you want the freshest salsa hit up your local farmers market (you’ll also be supporting a local business), but you can also purchase your ingredients at the grocery store.

For this recipe all you need is peaches, red & green bell pepper, sweet and red onions, cilantro, jalapeños, garlic, cilantro, honey, vinegar, cumin and cayenne pepper. That’s it.

You’ll chop your peaches, dice your veggies and cook together until it comes to a boil.

Talking with Tami / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Next you’ll ladle the salsa into your prepared jars, wipe clean, seal and process in boiling water about 10 minutes. Allow to cool and make sure the jars have sealed.

Is it necessary to sterilize your jars? Yes. Absolutely. If you are preserving this for later use you do not want any bacteria to have an opportunity to build up. Two things will happen: one, your hard work will be wasted, & two, you may have a major mess as bacteria builds in a jar the pressure can cause a huge mess.

It may or may not have happened to me.

For the full detailed & printable recipe, click Peach Salsa

I hope you enjoy this little taste of summer! Let me know if you make the peach salsa and what you think!

Old-Fashioned Vanilla-Laced Blueberry Jam

Summer is passing quickly, but thanks to a little time in the kitchen we’ll be enjoying some of our favorite summer flavors well into winter!

Preserving food has nearly become a lost art as the busyness of life has consumed every aspect of our being, but there is something so simple about slowing down, diving into traditions of the past, and savoring simple flavors all year long.  Making jams and jellies, canning fresh veggies; these are things that remind me of my childhood and my mother spending hours a day all summer putting away fresh food we could enjoy all year long.  She still does this and I love being able to have that bit of her in myself, even if so many think it’s out-of-date or old-fashioned.

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I would much rather savor old-fashioned traditions with my family, than get lost in the sad hustle and bustle of this modern world.  Y’all, we all need a little old-fashioned goodness in our lives to keep us sane and connected to all the amazing women in our lives from generations before.

Recently, after spending an afternoon picking blueberries with Madeline at Washington Farm in Bogart, Georgia, I took the time to do more than just freeze berries for cobblers, pies, pancakes, and smoothies; I also whipped up a batch of scrumptiously rich vanilla laced blueberry jam.

There are a couple of ways to make jam, from the simple very few ingredient SureJell recipe (don’t knock it, it’s absolutely delicious), to spending just a little longer on your recipe and relying on the natural pectin in the fruit for the gelling process.  While not using pectin does take longer when making jam, the longer time is going bring really bring out the flavor of the blueberries and give you a richer tasting jam.

I’m sharing my four ingredient blueberry jam recipe today using the fresh sweet berries  we picked which were just right for this method.  All you need is sweet juicy blueberries, sugar, a whole vanilla bean, fresh lemon juice, and time to relax, pretending its a simpler time so many want to forget!

Making the jam is time consuming, but actually pretty easy.  Wash your berries using a colander so they will drain, picking out any bad ones. Transfer your drained berries to a large bowl. I use a potato masher, but you can use whatever to have to squish the berries and release their juices, then measure out the exact amount of berries you will need for the recipe and add to the stockpot you will be using to cook the jam.  This particular recipe calls for 10 cups. Add the sugar you’ve measured and toss together.  This will sit for a couple of hours.  During this time you can make sure you have all your jar sterilized and the equipment you need to preserve the jam ready to go.

After a couple of hours you will begin to cook the mixture on medium-high heat.  During this process you’ll slice open the vanilla bean and scrape it into the blueberry mixture, and throw the bean itself in as well! The cooking requires your full attention as the jam comes to a boil, so do not leave the stove and stir the pot continuously.  When it is cooked to the cosistancy you desire (anywhere from 30-45 minutes) add the lemon juice and finish cooking.

When you’ve made this delectible treat, bake up some fresh buscuits and dig in!  Youre not going to want to wait!  The complete recipe for my jam can be printed here by clicking Vanilla-Laced Blueberry Jam.

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What are your favorite things to preserve in the summer months?

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