Friday, December 19, 2014

Easy and Festive Roasted Holiday Vegetables

Add holiday colors to your menu with this festive recipe!

Delicious any time of year, this combination of roasted vegetables will add the holiday colors of red and green to your Christmas or New Year's table. Easy to prepare, this recipe will leave you time to concentrate on the other items for your meal. 

I like my meals to look as good as they taste. While making a holiday dinner last December, I was inspired by my vegetable bin! Red peppers, green broccoli and white cauliflower. I realized that if I combined these, I could create a side dish that would add a very festive holiday touch to any Christmas or New Year's meal.

Almost ridiculously easy to prepare, this healthy recipe requires just one pan, so the cleanup efforts are minimal too. Roasted vegetables are delicious, and with three different kinds to choose from, you are sure to please everyone at the table. Don't be surprised if this becomes a new holiday tradition, as you may be asked to serve it every year!

Roasted Holiday Vegetables

(serves 4-6)


2 red peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
2 cups broccoli, cut into bite sized florets
2 cups cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
olive oil - several tablespoons
salt and pepper, to taste
Optional: balsamic vinegar, pine nuts or red pepper flakes as a garnish.

Note: If you are not serving mashed potatoes or any other starch with your meal, you may wish to add a couple of Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced (or Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced) next to the broccoli in the pan. Or - if you don't like cauliflower, just serving roasted red peppers and broccoli is pretty too!


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a roasting pan with olive oil.
  3. Arrange prepared vegetables in the pan in 3 sections, with red peppers in the middle.
  4. Drizzle vegetables with just enough olive oil to coat, and gently toss with a fork, but keep the different vegetables separated from each other.
  5. Add coarse salt and pepper to taste. (I used fresh ground black pepper, but if you prefer black flecks not to show, white pepper may be used instead.)
  6. Roast, uncovered for 20 - 30 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces), just until vegetables are easily pierced with a fork. Be careful not to overcook.
  7. Serve directly from the roasting pan, or carefully transfer to a serving platter if desired, keeping the vegetables in separate rows of white, red and green.
If oven space is minimal, the vegetables can be roasted ahead of time, and gently re-warmed just before serving.

Although not necessary, feel free to add a splash of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts and/ or a dash of red pepper flakes for additional flavor, if you desire. Enjoy!

These vegetables and ornaments have similar coloring, don't you think?

I plan to make this recipe next week, but I don't want to wait that long to share the recipe, so I'm using last year's photos here.  (I must admit, I hope my photography has improved a bit since I took these!)

Have you ever roasted cauliflower or broccoli in the oven before?

Note: A version of this post was published by Yahoo Contributor Network. Unfortunately, much of the YCN content that was published no longer exists on the Internet, but full rights were returned to the authors - so I thought I would republish the full recipe here today. 

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Brad Pitt is Coming for Dinner"

There were three place settings on my table last night - before I was told Brad was coming for dinner!
I will explain about the title of this post - but first I need to give you a little background information.

I have been participating in a couple of Instagram challenges this month.  Each participant posts a photo pertinent to the "word of the day" with a hashtag identifying the challenge. All of the photos everyone submits are then linked, and can be viewed on Instagram by using that hashtag. It is fun - and I enjoy seeing what everyone else posts.

"#Instaalbum2014 is a challenge now supplied by Deena, who writes the wonderful blog Shoes to Shiraz. (Apparently Andrea from Momfessionals used to supply the challenge, but that was before I joined Instagram.) Here is a photo of this month's challenge:

If you are on Instagram, you might enjoy participating in this!
Yesterday's word was "family."  I wanted to be a little creative with it, and I had been thinking off and on all day about what photo I would post.  As I was setting the table for dinner, I came up with an idea.

Even though my daughter (now a college sophomore) lives most of the year under a different roof, I sometimes still have trouble remembering to set out only three dinner plates instead of four.  Next week she will be home for the holidays, and I am thrilled that my family will all be together again for a bit. I decided to use a photo of our table for the Instagram prompt.

Once posted, this is the full text that appears next to this photo: “My Daughter will be home from college next week and I'll be setting the table for four again ... our #family just doesn't feel complete without her! #instaalbum2014”

Back to Brad Pitt. Just as I was getting ready to take the photo of our table to use on Instagram, I got a text from my husband.  I had left him a message earlier, asking if he would mind stopping at the bakery. I wanted him to bring home some bread, as I had made homemade vegetable-beef soup for dinner.

As our text conversation progressed, I couldn't help but laugh.  Here is a photo of it (my texts are in blue bubbles and his are in grey):

The typo itself was quite funny.  Obviously my husband tried to type “bread” but somehow “Brad” appeared instead. We don't have any close friends named Brad, so my husband just assumed Brad Pitt would be the first male I would think of with that name.

But, what I found really humorous was his timing.  We don't usually text each other about setting the table! But, just as I was in the very process of documenting how much I miss setting the table for four, my husband was suggesting I set it for five.  Was he also forgetting we would only need placemats for the two of us and our son, plus Brad ... or ... was Angelina Jolie on her way as well?

I started to think I should fix my hair and put on some lipstick!  And add two more place settings ... just in case!

Are you following me on Instagram? If not, I hope you will!
Find me here: 

P.S.  Brad and Angelina:  If you happen to be reading my blog, I just want you to know I'd be happy to have you as my dinner guests!  But, I must tell you, I really prefer more than just a few minutes notice before dinner guests arrive!  

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Sarah Ann. She is the winner of the sweepstakes I hosted on Monday! Her prize is a Blogelina “Blogging for Profit” class, offered in January 2015.  I will also be a student in the class - and I can't wait to learn some new things about blogging. Many thanks to Tanya at Blogelina, for offering me this opportunity to share this gift with one of my readers!

Thanks to everyone who entered the sweepstakes, and who is now following my blog.  I wish I could have given you all a prize!  Remember though, that Blogelina is still offering some really great prizes, one-a-day until December 28th, hosted on different blogs. Check out these sweepstakes, for another chance to win a seat in the blogging class, or whatever prizes remain!   Just click on the link to the banner below to find out how to enter each day:

The holiday season has caught up with me.  Other than the results of this giveaway, I don't have anything else prepared for a post today.  Later this week, I plan to tell you about another wonderful gift idea - and for the rest of the month I will be sharing holiday recipes, entertainment ideas, and all sorts of other things.  

In the meantime, perhaps today is just a good day for us all to get caught up.   

Can you believe it is already the second half of December?!

Happy Hanukkah to all of my Jewish friends and readers.

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!
Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, I am being compensated for this post, as I will be receiving the same gift that I was giving away. All opinions expressed, however, are entirely my own.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

One Stitch Closer. Impressive and Inspiring.

"Women are the fabric that holds the world together." (Gap Inc. -  One Stitch Closer program)

Have you heard of the program called “One Stitch Closer?”  I hadn't - until I watched a video posted by a friend on Facebook.  Now I feel like I want to tell everyone I know about it.

The video I saw on Facebook, produced by One Stitch Closer, is about a 24-year old woman named Veronica Scott.  I have embedded it here. Take just two and a half minutes to listen to it.  I can guarantee that you will be inspired.  In awe.  And impressed.

Veronika's story really moved me. She is proof that no matter what a person's circumstances, we can all make a difference.  And by really paying attention to what is needed, we can make a difference that really counts. Veronika explains this eloquently. Just click play, and listen to what she has to say!

Learning about One Stitch Closer has made me appreciate Gap, Inc. for more than just their retail stores.  I had never heard about this company's strong commitment to supporting women, through their program called P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement.)

One Stitch Closer is a program which further extends the commitment of P.A.C.E.  It shares inspirational stories of women who have found ways to make themselves and the world better every day. After watching Veronika's video, I listened to several other videos produced by One Stitch Closer, and was impressed by them as well.

Their stories have inspired me to think about what more I can do in my own life, to move us "one stitch closer to a brighter tomorrow." 

How about you? 


This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!
This is not a sponsored post.  All of the opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gifts and Giving ... and a Giveaway Sweepstake

Today's post is about gifts.  First, a story about a special gift I once received. Then, I have something I am really excited to give away!

Family Affair

Can you think of the best gift you have ever given?  How about the best gift you have ever received? December is a month full of gifts and giving - so I have been thinking about what makes a gift special. 

Sometimes, knowing how much effort the giver put into choosing or obtaining the gift can make it more meaningful.  Such was the case with my last doll. 

I was past the age for dolls, and I hadn't even played with them for several years. But I really, really wanted one that was featured on my favorite television show.  (I'm going to date myself, but does anyone remember Family Affair with Mr. French, the little girl Buffy, and Buffy's doll, Mrs. Beasley?)

I really wanted to have a Mrs. Beasley doll. She wore little granny glasses and talked (when you pulled a string.) My parents searched and searched, but couldn't find one anywhere in the whole city of Calgary. (Remember, this was long before the Internet!) Mrs. Beasley was as scarce as The Original Tickle Me Elmo had been in 1996, when every toddler wanted one!

My maternal grandparents lived in Pennsylvania, and somehow became involved in the quest to find a Mrs. Beasley. Amazingly enough, they located one - and Mrs. Beasley traveled to Canada, arriving in time to be wrapped and under our tree on Christmas morning.  I still have her, although her glasses have long since disappeared. Who could part with something representing so much love - especially when getting it was such a family affair?!

My grandmother visited me many years after I received my Mrs. Beasley,  and I showed her that I still had the doll!

Welcome to today's stop on the 

“31 Days of Blogging Deals, Freebies, & Giveaways Blog Tour”

Today I am feeling a bit like Santa Claus! That is because I am hosting a sweepstake in which one very lucky person will win a prize! Unfortunately, unless you are a blogger or thinking about starting a blog, it may not interest you. But, I think it is a pretty amazing gift for anyone who blogs, or is thinking about blogging!

Tanya from Blogelina, chose my blog to be one of the stops on her “31 Days of Blogging Deals, Freebies, & Giveaways Blog Tour.”  Today, and today only, I get to offer my readers the opportunity to win one of the prizes she is offering! Use the Rafflecopter form below, and enter as many ways as possible to improve your chance to win a class seat in the Profitable Blogging for Beginners Class, offered by Blogelina. The class runs for four weeks in January.  See more details here:

Profitable Blogging for Beginners: Class Details
This prize would be awesome for anyone thinking of starting a blog, new to blogging, or even an established blogger who want to learn some new things.  If you are not a blogger, but would like to be - this would be a perfect way to start.

Contest Details:

Only followers of this blog,  the most - - of every moment, will be eligible to win. (Please be sure to enter your email address in the Rafflecopter form below, so we can contact you if you win!)
Also, to win, you MUST do at least one of the following of the Rafflecopter selections below: 
  • Pin this Giveaway Post on Pinterest
  • Like Blogelina on Facebook,
  • Follow Blogelina on Twitter.
No purchase necessary to win; odds of winning are based on the number of entries. Sweepstake runs from 5:00 am E.S.T. until 11:59 pm E.S.T. on December 15, 2013. To be eligible to win, you must follow this blog, and be 18 years of age or older. One winner worldwide will be selected at random, and will be contacted by Blogelina with further details.  Once Blogelina is notified of the winner of this sweepstake, this blog and its administrator have no further responsibility in the provision of this prize.
Blogelina has been kind enough to offer me a seat in the class as well - just for hosting this giveaway!  I can't wait to learn which of my readers will be a winner - and I look forward to learning better blogging skills in the on-line class together.

There are still a lot of days left in the Blogelina tour.  Be sure to visit all of the other participating blogs for chances to win some other great stuff for your blog!  And if you haven't - be sure to check out the Blogelina website, and join the 20,000+ other bloggers who get lots of helpful information there!

But first - remember to complete the Rafflecopter form below, and enter as many ways as you can to win  - before midnight tonight!

Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links, for which I may receive compensation if any purchases are made.  Also, I am being compensated for this post, as I will be receiving the same gift that is being given away today. All opinions expressed, however, are entirely my own.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

(Not) For the Birds

About a week ago I published a post with some instructions for how to make a pinecone bird feeder. On Wednesday, I made one to place outside our back window, and I hung it up that afternoon.

Yesterday morning, as I was walking by that window (less than 48 hours after I hung the bird feeder) I noticed a mama deer staring smugly in at me.  She had something in her mouth.  OH no .. it was a pinecone.

I don't think the birds had time to even discover the seed-covered pinecone yet. The deer certainly found it though!

If you look closely, you will see a pinecone protruding from the right side of the doe's mouth.

It is illegal to intentionally feed deer in Montana. If I coat another pinecone in seeds, now that I know the deer consider it a tasty treat, I will have to find a higher place to hang it! 

I hope, however, that they enjoyed the one they stole! Merry Christmas to them! 

In addition to giving gifts to birds (and unintentionally to deer!) I am going to be offering bloggers a chance to win a wonderful prize in a sweepstake on Monday.  I hope you will stop back then, and enter!

Happy Weekend!

It is so mild here right now that we have muddy tire tracks on our driveway instead of snow!

What is your weather forecast for this weekend? 

Friday, December 12, 2014

How to Make a Homemade Photo Ornament

Personalized and Inexpensive, These Delightful Tree Ornaments Are Easy to Make! 

A Christmas tree photo-ornament can be a treasured gift for a group of friends or that special person on your list. Today I'm providing directions to easily create a photo ornament. 

Homemade ornaments 
The personalized photo ornaments I have purchased in the past were beautiful. Last year, I realized I had a photo that would make a perfect keepsake ornament for some of my daughter's college friends. It was too late though, for an order to be processed and arrive to campus before they all went home for the holidays. I decided to make the ornaments instead. 

My handmade ornaments were ready in less than a day, and turned out perfectly! Making photo ornaments this way is easy, and costs a fraction of what it would to purchase them.

I had blurred this photo intentionally for another use, but it shows the background and captions that I used.

Directions for Making Photo Ornaments:

Supplies needed:
  • Mod Podge (glossy or luster), available at craft stores
  • Disposable 2 inch foam brush
  • A thin, very stiff piece of cardboard (or any sturdy and easy to cut material; or a piece of wood or other material already pre-cut to the desired shape and size.)
  • pencil, hole punch, regular scissors
  • notched scissors (I used pinking shears)
  • photo(s) - wallet-size works best, place a one-hour photo order or print your own if in a hurry! Be sure the photo can be trimmed to fit your chosen backing.
  • paper
  • 8 inches of thin ribbon
  1. Select photo(s) in the quantity / size you desire. Pay attention to crop guidelines so all parts of the photo will all be visible on your completed ornament.
  2. Trim your photos as desired. (I like to fill one side of the ornament with a photo, and on the other side, paste a colored background and then a smaller photo with a caption.)
  3. Cut the cardboard to fit your largest photo. (Remember, you will be punching a hole in the top; be sure there will be enough space either in or above the photo so you won't have to put a hole in someone's head!
  4. Cut colored paper to use as a background on either front or back of cardboard, if photo will not cover it completely.
  5. Write or print out a caption. (e.g. date, event, place or whatever) - either on the photo itself, the background paper or a separate slip of paper.
  6. Shake Mod Podge well. Using the foam brush, apply a layer to completely cover one side of the cardboard.
  7. Center background paper (if using it) onto glued cardboard, then apply a layer of Mod Podge over this, painting with strokes all going one direction. 
  8. Layer on the photo next, centering it as desired, and paint over it with Mod Podge. Don't Worry! The photo will appear opaque and milky, but it will dry clear!
  9. Repeat with caption slip, if using it, finishing with a layer of Mod Podge.
  10. Let dry for about 20 minutes.
  11. Repeat step 6 and 7, using remaining background, photo and caption on back of ornament.
  12. Let dry for 8 hours or overnight.
  13. Punch a hole in the top of the ornament.
  14. Using decorative scissors, cut a tiny amount off the edges, just enough to make them pretty.
  15. Tie a ribbon through the hole, to be used as a hanger.

That's it! Give them away, or hang them on your tree!

My first batch turned out so cute that I made a bunch more last year, for other family and friends (top photo). With just a few supplies, a few hours and no artistic talent necessary, this is an easy craft project.

This year I created some more ornaments, for another group of friends. Instead of using cardboard like last year, though, I purchased some wooden cutouts from the craft store. They had a variety of shapes - the ones I selected resembled round ornaments and stars.  The round shapes already had holes for hangers; the stars required using a drill to put a hole the top.  After a quick coating with spray paint, these wooden shapes were a great backdrop for my photos.  Mod Podge worked just as well on the wood as it did the cardboard last year. 

Sorry - I can't show you the whole ornament, because it might ruin the surprise for the people who will be receiving these. ;)
I may never purchase another photo ornament again! 

Do you have any homemade ornaments on your tree?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

ALSO - Just a reminder:

Be sure to visit my blog on Monday and enter the give-away sweepstake I will be hosting -- one lucky blogger will win a wonderful gift!  I am so excited to be giving it away!

Link WIthin

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