Tuesday, December 28, 2010

French Toast Souffle' Casserole

I've been making this Breakfast Casserole on Christmas Morning for many years.

French Toast Souffle' Casserole

Even though it's only the 3 of us at our house, opening packages tends to take up the better part of the day, and the last thing I want is to be in the kitchen and miss all the fun going on under the Christmas Tree.

This recipe is perfect. It's put together the night before and the flavors blend together overnight in the fridge. Then I just pop it in the oven an hour before we are ready to eat.


approx. 16 slices of stale white bread (cut into cubes)
8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
12 eggs
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup real maple syrup

Grease a 9 X 13 pan. Place bread cubes in pan. Beat cream cheese, eggs syrup and heavy cream together until light and fluffy. Pour over bread cubes. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Drizzle with more maple syrup. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes until set (cover with foil after 25 minutes of baking to prevent over browning)

Even though it's a casserole, it acts like a souffle' and will come out of the oven all tall and puffy, and will deflate over time. The recipe is also very forgiving. I always forget how many eggs it takes, and this year I didn't have a full dozen, so I only used 8. I was also short on heavy cream, and substituted low fat milk, and it turned out just fine. I have added fresh fruit before baking (blueberries are great) and sprinkled with cinnamon and raisins or powdered sugar.

I like the fluffy middle parts. Gary likes the crispy corners, and Little K like the edges with a little bit of each. Something for everyone.

Happy Holidays!

The original recipe credit goes to a co-worker Nicole Bishop. It's from a cook book put together by the employees that worked in the Men's Buying Department at the Sears Corporate Offices in Chicago.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Holidays Around Our Home

We have been collecting Lladro figurines since we were first married.

Bride and Groom

Our First was this Bride and Groom - a gift from my sweet hubby on our Wedding Day.

Our First

We also started purchasing an annual Lladro Christmas Bell that first year.

Over the years

Over time, they have changed styles of bells and added new shapes.


Nestled in with other simple pastel ornaments and tiny pearl lights.

Lladro Tree

Twenty years later, we have quite a collection. Enough to warrant a separate Christmas Tree dedicated solely to these beautiful bisque porcelain pastel colored treasures.

Our new house has an additional fireplace in the Office/Family Room adjacent to where the Lladro tree is displayed. So that means I get to create an all new mantle display.

I was totally inspired by the mantle Susie created in her home, and used many of the same elements.

Mercury Glass

I had these beautiful Mercury Glass Candle Sticks from a dinner party a few years ago, that I knew would work perfectly with the Pastel Winter Scene I wanted to create.

Office Mante

Using mostly items I already had on hand, and a branch from the neighbors Ash tree that was hanging into our backyard (thanks Walt), I was able to create a simple Mantle display to coordinate with the Lladro tree.

Glass Ornaments

I found these vintage looking glass ornaments at Home Goods. They are huge, and in the perfect assortment of deep pastel colors.

Vintage Glass

One found it's way onto the mantle.


And the rest hang below from white organza ribbons.

Candle Sparkle

The crystals on the candles sparkle like fresh fallen snow.

Tree Branch

I have some snowy white birds that I may still add to the branches (just like Susie did). But for now, only a few tiny glass ornaments adorn them.


An old tarnished silver trophy filled with glittery hydrangea adds a little contrast to all the shine.


The completed Mantle.

Snowy Scene

Across the room there is another snowy scene. Vintage looking paper houses just like I remember being under the tree as a child, and a collection of bottle brush trees.

Most are new reproductions, but the green one is from when my husband was born over 50 years ago (on December 17th). A gift to my mother in law during her stay in the Hospital at Christmas time, that she has since entrusted to me.

It's not Christmas yet, so that means I have a few more days to do some more decorating. I'll be back later.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ten on Ten: December

The concept is simple, but oh so sweet:

A photo taken every hour, for ten consecutive hours, on the tenth of the month. You can read more about it here.

Today was spent mostly around the house doing the same things over and over - laundry and putting up decorations. So as not to bore you with 10 photos of piles of clothes I took a moment each hour to capture some of my favorite Holiday inspired things around our house.

Christmas Mugs

More Decor

At the Market

A little Birdie

Park Here

Snail Mail


The Mantle

Oatmeal Raisin

Outdoor Bokeh

Still lots more decorations to put up, but it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December Daily - Week One

Happy December

I love this time of year, no matter how busy crazy it always seems to be. With Gary working in retail - and new in his position - we won't be traveling home to visit our family in Pennsylvania this holiday (sniff sniff). Most normal people would take that opportunity to finish unpacking the boxes from our move this summer, or re-paint those rooms that need it. You didn't really think I would do that did you?

With all this extra time on my hands, I decided to create a December Daily Journal. If you are not familiar - you can find out more here from Ali Edwards. My goal is not really to create more work for myself, but quite the opposite. With all the prep of the basic decorated book done before December, throughout the month all you have to do is add pictures, mementos and journaling. Plus to make sure I don't go overboard - I have the guidance of a fellow perfectionist friend to remind me to keep it simple.

The Cover

The Cover:

I used a basic 3" ring binder to hold the pages and sewed a lightly padded cover using fabrics and trim that I already had on hand. That was my goal for this project. To use as many of the papers and embellishments that I already had in my stash. I did purchase more of the basic colors of cardstock, and just a few additional patterned papers, so most of what you will see is not from any current line.


Before We Begin:

I added a pocket page (made from two 8X10 photos adhered around the sides creating a pocket) that included a large family photo on the front, with the basic details on our family at the bottom of the page (ages, address, phone number). I also made a journaling page with a tab to slide inside the pocket that had details on how we came to live in our current home.

That may seem a little strange, but we have moved quite a bit in our married life (7 times in 20 years of marriage), and while Gary is very good about remembering our old addresses, I am not. I often wish I could remember the address of our first home together, so this is a way of documenting those details.

Day One

Day One:

On the left hand side is the back of the photo pocket. I made a collage of other photos from the day we took family pictures for our Holiday Card.

I'm trying really hard to make this process about capturing the memories, and not obsessing about everything being just perfect. But I wasn't happy with the quality of the photos I had printed (I just used a one hour location). They are too dark (they actually look better in this photo than they do in real life). I may end up re-printing that page, but we'll have to see.

The right hand page is what we did on December 1. It's another photo collage of how we spent the evening. Little K will be performing in the Pamela Hayes performance of the Nutcracker, and once a week she has rehearsals at the midtown Sacramento Studio (in addition to her regular classes and rehearsals at our nearby studio). While she is busy dancing her heart out, Gary and I sneak down the street to a little Italian restaurant Michelangelo's for a "date night". The photos are of the restaurant, the desert we had and Little K's sweet ballet feet.

Day Two

Day Two:

The journaling is about how my mom helped me make these little paper stockings for a Christmas party several years ago, and how it made me a little Sad putting them up this year since she won't be able to spend time with us this December. I don't have anything on the left hand page (backside of Day One) yet, but I will probably add some more photos of these holiday decorations.

Day Three

Day Three:

It's Friday - and that means pizza, popcorn and a movie. The left side (backside of day two) is a 5X7 photo of little K doing her favorite thing. Eating pizza and watching TV in the living room.

The Right side page has a pocket made from an envelope. Inside is a journaling tag and more photos of the pizza, snuggling on the couch with the cat and eating popcorn. Did you notice Peanut Butter the cat trying to get in on the action as I was taking this picture (top right).

Day Three

The journaling tag is embellished with a ribbon and the 5X7 photos are adhered back to back so they slip easily into the pocket.

Day Four

Day Four:

This was Saturday. Little K's school had a Winter Wonderland event that included breakfast, the school choir and a preview of the Book Fair. I didn't get any good photos while we were at school, so I ended taking pictures at home of her enjoying the books we purchased that day.

The left hand page shows the books she selected. I think she will get a kick out of seeing what she was reading several years from now. I originally did some journaling on the bottom of this page in my own hand writing. I wanted to include handwriting in this project, since it's an important part of preserving the memories, but I really didn't like how it turned out. I ended up covering it with some computer journaling.

The right hand page is using a 3 part page protector with more photos of her reading. I journaled a bit about the Winter Wonderland event and kept that in my own handwriting (for now).

So I'm now officially done with Week One of my December Daily. It's only December 9th, so that's not too bad - I'm only 5 days behind.

I have ideas of other things to include in addition to photos and journaling, so hopefully those will show up soon. Stay Tuned.