Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday Polar Express

Last year this time while on a blog break, we took a day trip to Bryson City, North Carolina and we plan to do a repeat visit this afternoon.


Take a peak at more of images I snapped of the Smoky Mountain Railway.

~All images captured with my big girl camera ~ Nikon D7000 & preferred lens Nikkor 18-105mm zoom, unless otherwise noted.~

Our weather forecast is calling for sunny skies and mild temperatures (low to mid 50s), so I expect it’ll be a spectacular day.

I encourage you to can join other Skywatch Friday photo enthusiasts here and now, it’s time to play along with Lexa in Celebrate the small things.

I celebrate…

  • kick starting the Christmas season with my homemade Maple Nut Fudge!
  • sharing another freebie with my readers. If you need Christmas design templates for your return shipping address, check out these 6-designs by Avery, here. I have used these in the past.
  • finding cool Christmas inspiration and freebies on Pinterest.
  • going to Dillsboro, NC tonight for their annual luminaries display. You can visit the streets of Dillsboro from our trip two Christmases ago here.
  • finally getting a chance to make home-made peppermint marshmallows for the first time in many years. This is a fun, easy, recipe that puts that extra festive mood in my cup of hot chocolate and the timing is perfect with our forecast lows this weekend dipping into the 20s. The recipe at the bottom. 😉

Life should be celebrated, even when it seems like you have no reason to celebrate. Just look around, I bet you’ll see something good! What are you celebrating?

One way to celebrate is with  Friendship Friday and Friday Features Linky Party, where you’re sure to make new friends and get lots of inspiration to boot!

It’s only marshmallow fluff at this stage. I’ll share photos after the marshmallow dries per the instructions. It looks pretty good like this, though, doesn’t it?

Home-made Peppermint Marshmallows


2 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

NOTE: The original recipe calls for pure vanilla. I substituted LorAnn Peppermint Oil in its place, but I got too much in my batch. I think next time I will add 1 teaspoon until desired pepperminty taste. UPDATE: I made second batch after making this suggestion and found that 1 teaspoon is still a bit too much. Next time, I will start with half a teaspoon and adding more, if needed.

1. Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Let stand 30 minutes.
2. Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.
3. Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high. Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244° (firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from heat.
4. Use a mixer on low-speed to slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla; beat to incorporate.
5. Generously dust an 8-by-12-inch glass baking pan with confectioners’ sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan. Dust top with confectioners’ sugar; wet your hands, and pat it to smooth. Dust with confectioners’ sugar; let stand overnight, uncovered, to dry out. Turn out onto a board; cut marshmallows with a dry hot knife into 1 1/2-inch squares, and dust with more confectioners’ sugar.


I’ll be running late with my visits, but I will hop over at some point this weekend or early next week. I invite you to join me for Monday’s Music Moves Me for a month of rocking around the Christmas tree and a lot of fah-lah-lah. Thanks for visiting and get out there for a fototastic day!



Puritan's Pride Vitamins

I born and raised in the Appalachian mountains of southern WV. I was a child bride when I married my high school sweetheart in 1979. We moved to Knoxville, TN to begin our life. Determined to prove nay-Sayers from our community wrong, I completed my education and went on to earn an A.S. in computer programming. From 1983-1987, I worked as a computer system’s manager. That’s a glorified title for someone who trouble shoots and maintains system back-ups. After the birth of our first child in 1988, I took early retirement. What have I been doing for the last 25+ years? I am proud to say, I am a SAHM and for most of those years I home-schooled our three children from K-12. Now, the nest is empty.


    • Cathy Kennedy

      Jeffrey, I love marshmallows, but I’m not sure if I love them as much as you do. lol BTW, if you consider making my recipe you might want to err on the conservative side when adding the peppermint oil. I discovered after making another batch that 1 teaspoon seems to be a bit too much. I’d recommend using 1/2 teaspoon and then upping the amount a little at a time until desired pepperminty taste. Working with flavored oil is tricky, but I like the taste better than extracts.

  • Rorybore

    The Polar Express!! My kids love that movie. It’s an annual tradition to watch it now.
    Wouldn’t you know that I deleted my Pinterest about a year ago, and now that I am a Girl Guide Sparks leader I always need craft ideas!! I had to go on a friends’ account the other day to find some holiday crafts that my girls can make to hand out to residents at our local senior citizens home. I am tempted to rejoin…. but… must…. resist. LOL
    I think I am going to be grateful for your fudge recipe this week. 🙂
    And marshmallow fluff mixed with cream cheese makes a great dip for fruit!

    • Cathy Kennedy

      Les, I haven’t seen The Polar Express movie. That came out when my kids were bigger & no longer interested in animated films. It’s good to have traditions. We still watch Christmas Vacation every year.
      Pinterest is really addictive; I understand your reluctant stop rejoin. Glad my recipes helped.
      I’m late visiting this weekend, but I’ll try to stop by before the night ends.

  • lexacain

    Can you believe I didn’t know people could make marshmallows? Your peppermint ones, and the nut fudge, sound scrumptious!!! I visited the other post and loved the Dillsboro houses and decorations! Have a lovely weekend! :0

  • Janie Junebug

    You’re wonderfully joyful. I hope you have a good time on your trip. Please don’t be angry with me, but many people get a certain word wrong. It’s one of my missions in life to correct it. The lights aren’t luminaries. Luminaries are important people. The lights are luminaires, or in Spanish luminarias. I’m sorry, but my OCD and Queen of Grammar status compels me to teach people about these words.


  • Thomas Anderson

    Hi, Cathy! I’m happy to know you will be taking your day trip under sunny skies. Drive safe. Bryson City looks like a charming community and I would love to see the luminaries display in Dillsboro tonight as well. One of my favorite Christmas memories takes me back to the late 80s when I went caroling one night here in Florida. I needed to push a wheelchair carrying my mother because she had fallen off her bicycle and broken her ankle. The streets were lined with luminaries and their warm glow in the dark created a magical experience. I can’t recall ever having so much holiday spirit. I am thankful for the memory of that night.

    Remember your recent posts about Andy Griffith’s hometown? Son Opie showed up in my new post today and I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

    Have a safe trip and a delightful day and evening, dear friend Cathy!

💕I love comments! Have a purrfect day & thanks for stopping by!💕