Recent Posts

Keto Meatloaf with Chorizo and Bacon

Keto Meatloaf with Chorizo and Bacon

  My husband travels quite a bit.  Last year he tried some meatloaf that had chorizo in it, and he liked it enough to tell me how amazing it was.  Well, if he likes something that much, I feel a need to try and recreate…

Keto Snickerdoodles

Keto Snickerdoodles

  My husband and I are following a ketogenic diet, and it’s Christmastime…we don’t want to go off plan but we like a few “legal” treats now and then. This man loves snickerdoodles.  Seriously.  The other night we were watching Elf and a commercial for…

Colonial Williamsburg in December

Colonial Williamsburg in December

Last December, as our Christmas present to each other, my husband and I took a weekend trip to Colonial Williamsburg.  We stayed at the Parkside Williamsburg Resort, which is just a few miles from downtown Williamsburg.  We had visited in April 2009, and I had always wanted to see it again during the holidays.  CW has many events, programs, and activities every day of the week, so you have to plan ahead and choose what you want to do.  Their website www.colonialwilliamsburg.com has a detailed calendar and a printable PDF of the weekly events.  After checking out the schedule, we decided that we could see what we wanted to on one very long Saturday.  HOWEVER, if you go and have time, you could easily fill three or four days seeing and attending all that is available.  I had to prioritize for this visit.

A big tree in the “snow” room at Yankee Candle

On Friday afternoon we drove down from Richmond and decided to hit the massive and amazing Yankee Candle store in Williamsburg.  It was surprisingly not very crowded, which made it even better.  This store is huge, with every Yankee candle scent they make available to sniff and purchase.  They also have Christmas decorations galore.  There are Christmas villages on display, a room with permanent Christmas trees where it snows every few minutes, gifts of all kinds, and in December kids can visit Santa! If you visit, give yourself lots of time to browse all the goodies.  Our tip:  if you find something there you think you want, don’t wait until Sunday morning before you are heading out of town to drop in and pick it up…that’s when the entire population of Williamsburg brings their kids to see Santa (and buy tons of candles).  The lines get long, but the staff is super efficient and they keep it moving well.

Look, it’s the Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!

A pleasant surprise was Rick’s Cheese Steak on Prince George Street.  It isn’t fancy, but the cheesesteaks were way better than what we had in Philly.  Sorry, Philly!

Next morning we were up bright and early to get breakfast at Colonial Pancake House.  We enjoyed our meal then headed to Historic Colonial Williamsburg.  You can walk from the Visitor’s Center over to the Historic Area, or you can take a shuttle bus.  We opted to walk.  Happily, the weather was fabulous for early December.  It was cold but sunny, and there wasn’t much wind.  Our plan was to walk around and look at some of the historic houses, catch a couple of programs, make absolutely sure we got lunch at the King’s Arms Tavern, pop in to a few more buildings and programs, take the decorations walking tour in the afternoon, tour the Governer’s Palace late in the day, watch the Illumination on the Palace Green, and finish up with another Christmas themed walking tour.

We attended the Rare Breeds program, where they explain about the heritage animals they keep and their breeding programs.

We did make it to lunch at the Kings’ Arms, which is a “refined chophouse” with authentic period decor but a menu that has been adapted to 21st-century tastes, and we knew exactly what to order.  Norfolk Pottage Pye:  “Tender Chicken and aromatic Vegetables made into a creamy Stew and baked beneath a flaky Pastry Shell”, which is a lovely way to describe the very best chicken pot pie ever.  I had this when we visited in 2009 and had to get it again.  It might sound like we came all the way back just for a chicken pot pie.  Well, maybe.  It is really good.  I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture!

The Christmas Decorations Walking Tour was fun and very informative.  All the decorations are fabricated with natural elements or things that would have been available to the residents of Colonial Williamsburg.  Of course, during that time period, no one in their right mind would stick a bunch of apples and pineapples out on the front of their house to look pretty, or indeed even spend time and effort decorating outdoors for Christmas, but times have changed and it sure does look good!  The wreaths are intricate and cleverly designed to reflect the occupation of the building’s owner; for instance, a tavern might include pewter tankards in their decorations.

All the fruit is real and is frequently replaced as it starts to look bad.  There is a dedicated little group of people who go around checking all the decorations and refreshing them so they always look picture perfect.

After this bracing and fun tour, we felt like warming up, as the wind had picked up a bit and it was pretty cold.  We were able to attend the tasting at R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse.  This is a restored building that was once a social hub for all kinds of meetings.  You have a choice between coffee and chocolate–prepared in a more or less historically accurate way.  We opted for chocolate.  This is not “hot cocoa” from a packet.  It is very thick and not very sweet.  They have cream and sugar on the tables and I added both to make it really yummy.  It’s like drinking a candy bar from a tiny cup.

Our next stop was the Governor’s Palace, where we opted to go on our own instead of on a guided tour.  The sun set while we were inside, and they have a few candles lit but it is REALLY dark in there.  I was gawking up at the hundreds of muskets on the wall in the stairwell, missed a step, and pulled a muscle in my calf.  Oh. My. Word.  Had to sit down for a little bit, but there was more to see and we were leaving the next day.  So I limped slowly through the rest of our visit, even though my sweet husband kept offering to go get the car and take me back to the condo.

The Illumination of the Palace Green was exciting.  By then it was totally dark.   Visitors assembled on and around the Green and the CW staff lit the cressets in front of the buildings, muskets were fired, and then the fife and drum corps played and marched down the center of the green as the crowd parted before them.

We had time to kill before our last walking tour so we went outside of the Historic District to Williamsburg proper, past the skating rink, visited a couple of cute gift shops, and had some great pizza for dinner.  Then I hobbled back into the Historic District to join our last tour.  It was interesting and a little sad.  They took us through four time periods on Christmas Eve in Williamsburg and the struggles people went through.

All done (and done in!), we started limping back toward the Visitor’s Center where the car was parked.  Fortunately, we were able to catch one of the shuttle buses halfway and ride the rest of the way back.  It’s a lovely walk but less so in the dark when it’s 40 degrees.

I had borrowed my husband’s Fitbit for the day and logged 9 miles of walking–about one and a half after my little accident with the stairs.  It was all worth it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  I would, however, be more careful on the stairs.

If you get the opportunity to visit the Williamsburg area, I highly recommend it.  There are so many things to do and see that you could easily spend at least a week.

 

Make Your Christmas Tree Smell Amazing

Make Your Christmas Tree Smell Amazing

One of the things people love most about a fresh Christmas tree or wreath is the amazing scent.  We don’t have a fresh tree or wreath so far this year, but I do happen to have a bottle of Rocky Mountain Oils Spruce oil so…

Little Christmas Village

Little Christmas Village

Years ago, my brother-in-law and his wife gifted us a little ceramic Texaco station for Christmas.  They gave us two more over the years, and since you can’t have a village composed solely of filling stations, I had to get more little houses.   I added…

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree

 

My sweet husband brought all the Christmas boxes upstairs for me AND put the tree together before he had to head out on a business trip, so I was able to get the tree decorated and set up the Christmas village, etc.  Now the house is mostly done inside.

Last year we went to Sam’s before Thanksgiving and took a little detour down the Christmas decor aisle…just to see what they had.  I found some LED lights that (wait for it)—change from warm white to multi-colored!!!  Of course we had to snatch some up to put on the tree!

I personally like warm white lights on a tree.  The men who live here all prefer colored lights though, so a few years back we got some colored LEDs.  Because I love my family.  I was never really in love with these lights—anybody else get a weird “Ahhh, my eyes, my eyes, those blue lights!” thing from LEDs?  Maybe it’s just me.  Anyway, finding these lights that SWITCH BACK AND FORTH and also have a twinkle setting for each colorway, and don’t blind me with the blue bulbs…was like. Christmas. in. October.  I can have my simple white lights, they can have the festive colored lights.  Win-Win!

My clever younger son decided on a system of even/odd with white on even days and colors on odd days.  He got up every morning and switched them over.  Not happening this year, he is a real live teenager now that he’s sixteen, and he prefers to sleep in.

Our tree is old.  Many years old.  But it gets the job done and I think when it starts looking super tatty I might try a DIY flocking thing on it to get a few more years out of it.  As I gaze at it from my spot at the dining room table, I notice that it is listing ever so slightly to port.  Let’s assume that makes it more realistic.

I don’t know if these particular lights are available anymore.  I looked at Sam’s Club online and did not find them.  I haven’t been to stores, but with all the places selling Christmas lights, there’s a good chance something similar can be found if you like the option of switching back and forth.

When installing these lights, I go from the bottom up and drape the string in and out on each branch.  More or less.  I try to keep all the little control boxes in a similar general area so they can be found easily for switching back and forth.  There are six strings on the tree, so six little boxes are all in a cluster on the back left side of the tree.  Five are always easy to find, the sixth is a struggle.

   

The topper is a big paper snowflake that I made because I haven’t found what I really want to top the tree yet.  Last year was a big old shiny gold bow with long streamers, but I just wasn’t feeling it this year.  The search is on for the perfect tree topper.  I might have to make one…

 

Coming soon, putting up the Christmas village and other Christmas-y things inside and outside…and a tutorial on the little felt snowmen on my tree.

Which lights do you prefer on your tree?

 

Unique Gift Ideas

Unique Gift Ideas

  Photo courtesy of Gifts.com via Flicker CC BY   Tired of shopping at the standard retail establishments for your Christmas gifts?  Consider supporting small business owners instead!  I will feature some of these entrepreneurs from time to time here at HoI, and my first…

Time to Decorate for Christmas…

Time to Decorate for Christmas…

    Wow y’all.  It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving.  In the past 8 days, I have cooked THREE turkeys for three different Thanksgiving events (one for church, two for family) and so to say I am turkey-ed out would be an understatement.  This year I did finally…

Well, here goes…

Well, here goes…

Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater, Oklahoma looking stunning with fall color this year.

 

I am starting this blog to share recipes, DIY and craft projects, tips, travel stories, photographs, and whatever else happens to sound good at the time.

 

The old barn at my mother-in-law’s farm

 

 

Double Knockout rose in November

 

 

A glorious Oklahoma sunset