Archive for the 'Holidays' Category

May 5, 2021 | Holidays

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Party hearty, eat well, and stay safe.

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March 17, 2021 | Holidays

Sure and Begorrah!

Wishing you all a safe and fun day!

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ADD PIZZAZZ TO YOUR HOLIDAYS

March 8, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Holidays

from Catherine Castle

I’m channeling Martha Stewart today with a home décor post, so bear with me this morning.

As we head into another year of unusual holiday entertaining chances are there will still be fewer people around your table. Fewer guests don’t mean you should back down on the fancy arrangements.  Instead, why not get creative and try something different?

I don’t know about you, but when I have company, I like to set a decorative table. It’s one of the reasons I have ten different sets of dishes and several different sets of glassware. I can set a Disney table, complete with themed flatware and napkin rings; go native American with my Indian patterned dishes; have an indoor garden party with my garden dishes; set two different themed Christmas tables; or celebrate the Fourth of July Americana style. I also have two sets of patterned Corelle®, a plain white Corelle set, and plain colored stoneware that will span several seasons.

I know, I know. That’s way too many plates, cups and bowls for one person to own. But, much to my hubby’s chagrin, it’s a quirky fetish of mine. I collect dishes like most women collect shoes. I can’t bypass a single display of dishes without lusting after them. I realize most women don’t have access to such a wide variety of dishes, aside from Martha Stewart perhaps. But even if you don’t have a bazillion complete sets of dishes, you can still set a decorative table.

Having said that, I decided to challenge myself and my overabundant dish fetish. Instead of using a complete set of one of the ten dish settings I have, could I create four seasonal table settings using only four white dinner plates, 8 solid primary color luncheon plates, and 8 assorted bowls and 4 clear glasses?

With no patterns in the dishes to help set the seasonal mood, I decided to use patterned placemats. Placemats take up less storage room than dishes and cost less to replace if they get stained or you just want a change. Seasonal paper napkins and decorative elements gathered from around the house for centerpieces rounds out the table. Since white contrasts best with colored or patterned placemats I used the white dinner plates as the base for the place settings.

Spring bursts onto the table in shades of yellow, white, and turquoise. A vase of airy pink flowers adorns the center of the table, and a cocktail napkin containing all four colors ties the place setting together. If you’re having an Easter dinner, a pretty Easter basket filled with battery operated candles would be the perfect centerpiece, or unwrap that giant chocolate bunny you bought, set him on a plate with your homemade Easter eggs and fill in the empty spots with Easter grass. This is one centerpiece you won’t have to store.

 

Celebrate summer’s freedom holiday with a red, white and blue theme. A candle in a star shaped dish sets center stage. If you have them, a few sparklers set in small balls of clay around the candle would be an interesting touch. (I didn’t, so I just went with the single candle.) Placing blue and red napkins in the glasses gave the hint of fireworks to the table settings.

I was sorely tempted to break out the garden dishes to create a summer garden party theme, but since I figured most people don’t have an assortment of flower and veggie shaped dishes, that would be cheating on the challenge.

When the temperatures drop and autumn rolls around, bring out the warmer colors of yellow and red to contrast with the warm wood tones of your table. A circle of leaves around a tall candle works as a centerpiece and draws in all the colors of the plates into the palette. If you have fall placemats they can be used under the dishes. I only had two matching autumn placemats, so I chose to forego them on this table setting. Instead of white bowls I used some red and green ramekins to pull in more fall color.

 

Christmas brings out the traditional, cheery colors of red and green. I interspersed green ramekins with the white bowls for a touch more green in this palette and to make the bowls pop on the red plates. Using green napkins in the glasses looks like you have tiny evergreen tree on your table.

 

 

With 20 dishes, not counting the clear glasses, I’ve created four attractive seasonal place settings. Now, the trick will be to not let the hubby see what I can do with only 20 dishes. Because if he finds out, I’ll have no more excuses to buy tableware.

Which one of these table settings do you like best? I can’t decide. I may just have to see how many more I can create using a few unusual pieces. Oh! New antiquing idea—searching for unique seasonal serving pieces to set off my five-color scheme place settings. Then I think I’ll have some dinner guests over—once COVID is gone.

What about you? How do you create inviting dinner tables?

Now that you’ve got some great table settings lined up, relax with Catherine’s multi-award-winning inspirational romantic suspense novel The Nun and the Narc.

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

The Nun and the Narc is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems. In addition to writing she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Follow her on Twitter @AuthorCCastle, FB or her blog.

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December 30, 2020 | Holidays

HAPPY NEW YEAR
To Everyone All Around the World

 

from Studs, Sloane, and all the Taylors
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December 23, 2020 | Holidays

Wishing You and Yours
a very Merry Christmas

Along with
Pleasant memories of holidays past!

From the entire Taylor family
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November 25, 2020 | Holidays

The Entire Taylor Family

Wishes You and Yours

Happy Thanksgiving
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A THANKSGIVING FEAST TO BEHOLD

November 18, 2020 | Cooking, Holidays

Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays. Every year Mike and I had at least twenty people for a sit-down dinner. We cooked the meal and the guests supply the appetizers, deserts, and wine. It was a wonderful time to reminisce, over-indulge, and have fun. There comes a time when life must change. Two years ago I passed the turkey baster on to my daughter Dru. She’s a wonderful cook and it’s great fun to be her guest. 

 MENU 
Roasted Turkey 
Stuffing 
Mashed Potatoes 
Candied Sweet Potatoes 
Broccoli 
Stir-fry 
Canned Corn 
Cranberry Sauce 
Gravy 
White wine – Chardonnay 
Roasted Turkey 
Turkey 
8 tbsp. (114g) butter
2 leeks including some green, chopped 
2 large onion, chopped 
15 baby carrots, chopped 
4 tomatoes, chopped 
1 tbsp. (15ml) dried thyme 
1 tbsp. (15ml) dried marjoram 
1 large bay leaf 
Bacon strips to cover breast 
Chicken stock 
Disposable pan 
Cooking rack 
Cookie sheet – for stability 

 Place unopened turkey on a cloth lined cookie sheet and thaw in refrigerator 7 hours per pound or one day for every four pounds of frozen turkey. So, if you have a 20 pound (9K) turkey it will take 140 hours or a least 5 days to thaw in the fridge. 

Thanksgiving Morning
If the turkey isn’t completely thawed, set in a large pot of cold water to complete. Dispose of packet inserted in cavity. Rinse well, then pat dry with paper towels. 

Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). 

Cooking Times
10 – 18 lbs. (4.5 – 8kg) 2 – 2½ hrs. 
18 – 22 lbs. (8 – 10kg ) 2½ – 3 hrs. 
22 – 24 lbs. (10 – 11kg) 3 – 3½ hrs. 

Melt butter in a large frying pan. When the foam subsides, lay turkey, breast down, and brown first one side then the other until skin is golden. Be careful moving the turkey around, it’s heavy and awkward.

Set disposable pan on cookie sheet. Scatter chopped vegetables onto pan bottom. Insert cooking rack. Place turkey on rack breast up. Lay bacon slices over breast to cover well. Pour in enough chicken broth to cover the pan bottom by 1 inch (2.54cm). Cover turkey and pan edges with aluminum foil, crimping sides well. 

Remove from oven at the predetermined time. To test if the bird is done, use a paper towel or pot holder and shake hands with its leg. The leg should move freely. Tent with foil and allow to rest 30 – 45 minutes before carving. 

Remember – turkey, like all other meat, continues to cook long after it is removed from the oven.

Stuffing 
Stuffing is a winter food for us. I make a huge batch and freeze the unbaked extra in serving-size containers. Throughout the winter I’ll serve it with pork or chicken. 
 
1 package bread stuffing cubes, plain or seasoned 
½ lb. (250g) breakfast sausage in a tube or bulk 
8 tbsp. (1 stick) (114g) butter, melted 
1 rib celery, chopped 
½ medium onion, chopped 
1 egg, lightly beaten 
1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried sage 
1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried thyme 
2 cups (450ml) chicken stock, maybe a little more 

Empty bread cubes into a large bowl. 

 Fry sausage in a medium-sized skillet, breaking meat into small chunks, until no longer pink. Add sausage and its juice to bread cubes. 

Melt butter in same skillet. Add celery and onion when the foam subsides. Sauté 3 – 4 minutes until translucent, be careful not to let it brown. Add vegetables with all their juices to bread cubes. Mix well.

Pour egg onto stuffing. Sprinkle sage and thyme across the top. Mix well. 


 Stir in chicken stock until mixture is very moist, but not soupy. 

To Bake as a Side Dish 
Spoon mixture into an ungreased baking dish. Do not pack it in. Cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate stuffing until you are ready to bake it, but no longer than two days. 

To Freeze 
Spoon mixture into freezer bags, label, and pop in freezer no longer than 3 months. I use several small bags that serve 2 at a single setting.

No matter which route you take, remove stuffing from the refrigerator/freezer early in the day to allow it to come to room temperature. 


Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until the top is brown. 

Mashed Potatoes 
1 small russet potato per person 
Chicken stock 
Butter 
Sour cream 
 Milk 
Pepper 

The Day Before 
Pour 1-inch (2.54cm) chicken stock into saucepan. Peel and quarter the potatoes, then place in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by 1-inch (2.54cm). Put a lid on pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 25 minutes. Test for doneness by poking a fork into a potato. It should insert easily. 

Drain potatoes. Mash well without adding other ingredients. Cool completely in a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover and refrigerate. 

Thanksgiving Day 
Remove potatoes from the refrigerator early in the day to allow them to come to room temperature. When you are ready to serve, microwave potatoes until hot. Stir in butter, sour cream, milk, and pepper to the consistency you prefer. 

Candied Sweet Potatoes 
32 oz. (1kg) can of sweet potatoes
½ cup (50g) brown sugar firmly packed 
8 tbsp. (114g) butter 
 2 handfuls mini marshmallows 

Preheat oven to 375° F (190°C). 

Drain potatoes in a colander. Cut large pieces in half. Lay potatoes into a 13 x 9-inch (33 x 22cm) glass baking dish. 

Sprinkle brown sugar across the top, then dot with butter. 

Bake 20 minutes. 

Scatter marshmallows over the yams and bake for 15 minutes or until marshmallows are brown. 

Broccoli Stir-fry 
4 mini carrots sliced on an angle 
½ cup (50g) olive oil – possibly more 
½ medium onion, sliced 
1 in. (2.54) piece gingerroot peeled and cut into strips 
1 head broccoli trimmed and cut into florets 
½ small sweet red pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips 
½ small yellow pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips 
2 large garlic cloves pressed 
½ tsp. (2.5ml) red pepper flakes 
2 green onions sliced on an angle, include green 
5 mini Bello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into thirds 
1 tbsp. (15ml) lime or lemon juice 

Have all ingredients prepped and, on the counter, before you begin cooking. 

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add onion, carrot and gingerroot. Sauté until carrot is almost soft. Test by inserting a toothpick into the carrot. Remove as many gingerroot pieces as you can find. Don’t worry if some are left in the pan. 

Add broccoli, red and yellow peppers, and garlic. Sprinkle on red pepper flakes. Stir constantly to ensure broccoli is well coated with oil. Add more oil if necessary. Squeeze on lime or lemon juice. Sauté 2 – 4 minutes, but be sure broccoli and peppers still have crunch to them. 

Blend in green onions and mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are heated through. Serve quickly. 

Serves 4 – 6 so adjust accordingly. 

From the corn through the gravy you’ll see just how lazy I was on holidays. And I’m not ashamed. 


Canned Corn 
1 can of corn per 4 people 
butter 

Drain corn, then pour into micro wave safe bowl. Lay 2 or 3 pats of butter across the top. Micro wave for 3 minutes, stir and serve. 

Cranberry Sauce 
1 can of sauce per 6 people 

Lay sauce into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Gravy 
1 jar of gravy for 4 people 
Juices from the turkey pan 

Pour the gravy into a saucepan. Stir in ¼ – ½ cup (58 – 57g) of juice from the roasted turkey pan. Go easy so you don’t thin the gravy too much. Heat through and serve.

Have a happy and safe holiday!
Sloane
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November 11, 2020 | Holidays

Thank you to all the brave men and women who have served this great country. 

May you live long and happy lives.

In the USA, Veterans Day annually falls on November 11. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918.

For those who aren’t aware, the key difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day is that Memorial Day is dedicated to remembering all military personnel who sacrificed their lives in the name of the nation while Veterans Day is dedicated to honor all those military personnel who are alive and living a retired life.
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September 28, 2020 | Holidays

On Yom Kippur
we offer our heartfelt wishes
to our family and friends
that you may be inscribed for goodness.
Sincerely,
The Taylor Family
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September 7, 2020 | Holidays

To All Our Friends,
from 

the Taylor Family

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