Hello, Kittens and Dawgs! Last week, I started sharing two of my regular Friday segments, Skywatch Friday and Celebrate the Small Things on Thursday as a way to make the content more enjoyable for all who stop by.
In my Skywatch Friday section today, I’m taking a look back to our December day trip to Bryson City and Dillsboro, North Carolina. These two towns are about 30-minutes apart. We had a lovely time strolling around Bryson City and shared some of those photos here and here.
We were in these mountain communities in the middle of the week and there were no worries of crowds or traffic. When we got to Dillsboro, we decided to swing by to see the left-behind movie scene props from Harrison Ford’s hit flick, The Fugitive.
I photographed this last in late fall 2013. The angle and exposure were not the best in those shots, so I was glad to have another chance for a do-over.
This time I zoomed in more for a better view and in the below picture if you click to enlarge you should be able to read Illinois Dept. of Correction on the side of the bus.
It was a splendid day for early December to be outdoors soaking up the sunshine even with the occasional wind gusts.
After we got done in Dillsboro, we stopped off to see the Balsam Mountain Inn and as the veil of night fell, we venture to Pigeon Forge on our way home to enjoy the lights.
Today, I’m Celebrating the Small Things include…
I know I’ve said it before but I’m celebrating living in a place I love and can have many do-overs on photo-ops or moments to just soak up the beautiful mountain atmosphere. I know there are some who visit may only have that once in a lifetime experience or perhaps an annual trip to this part of the country that we call home. I count us truly blessed to live here and do not take a moment of it for granted.
What are you celebrating?
See what others are celebrating this week and if you want to join the linky, then visit Lexa for details!
Tomorrow, I invite you to join me for some social media fun and your weekly dose of laughter with Friday Sillies.
Friday, (if you missed that post, then you can catch it here) I mentioned heading to Dillsboro, North Carolina for their annual luminaires. Hopefully, I got the spelling correctly this time. My good blogger pal Janie Junebug who is a stickler when it comes to grammar informed me of my wrong spelling. Thanks, my friend! 😉
It was a gorgeous day ~ rich blue skies and moderate temps in the low 50s; by the time the sun sunk over the horizon it turned chilly fast and there was a light breeze making the air colder.
Earlier in the day, we were in Bryson City. We bought chocolates from two shops: The Chocolate Shoppe an independently owned shop by a husband and wife team. The wife makes most of the candies and the husband with the help of his nephew to run the storefront and Madison’s on Main is a small boutique who sells Maggie Lyon truffles (a chocolatier from Atlanta). In the above photo, to the left of the church is Dillsboro Chocolates. We bought chocolates from them a few years ago and decided to buy a chocolate assortment here, too.
Before the lighting of the luminaires, DH and I waited in the car sampling the three chocolates. This is how the contenders stacked against each other:
Our least favorite were the Maggie Lyon truffles from Madison’s on Main. The biggest problems the center had little flavor and the outer shell was too brittle. I think they were stale. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and am open to trying them the next time we’re in Atlanta if it’s convenient. They were certainly beautiful.
Next in line is Dillsboro Chocolates. Everything tasted really fresh. The truffle centers lacked flavor, the chocolate covered cherries (both white and dark) are nothing special, and the turtles didn’t have enough caramel and were too stiff. The only thing we liked there were the dark chocolate salted caramels. They changed it slightly making the bite-size caramels a lot thinner than the first time we got them. The flavor is good, but we prefer a thicker caramel. The sea salt granules garnishing the top of the caramels are a bit too coarse. A finer grind is needed in my opinion.
Our #1 pick is The Chocolate Shoppe. The truffle was a creamy, full-bodied raspberry flavor, the turtles sweet chewy caramel cradled pecan pieces and then nestled in smooth chocolate (milk and dark), the dark chocolate salted caramel was superb in taste and size, the dark chocolate maple nut cream was delectable, and the dark chocolate raspberry cream was our least favor piece. The raspberry was too fragrant to suit our taste.
Disclaimer: I’m offering my 100% unbiased opinion to my readers and did not receive compensation from any of these businesses. The links provided are solely for your convenience only and I will not get a single penny if you click on them.
Thanks for joining the fun. I hope you’ll decide to visit a few of my favorite #WW shutterbugs link ups!
This certainly isn’t us, but it has gotten down into the upper 20s a few times already and it’s not even winter yet.
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?
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 substitutedLorAnn 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!
Good-morning, kittens & dawg! It’s Christmas time and it’s the first weekend in December. And…what does that mean to me, you ask. Probably nothing at all unless you’re familiar with Dillsboro, North Carolina. Unfortunately, we’re experiencing a rainy weekend and we have an unfavorable chance of going to see the luminaries. Last year, we visited and I took lots of photos. Lucky for you coz today’s Skywatch Friday contribution is one such image I captured!
Image captured with my iPhone5s
Don’t let the rain discourage you, enjoy Christmas in Dillsboro, North Carolina from the comfort of your home. That’s a shoot! Thanks for stopping by. Until we meet on the other side of the lens next, have a foto-tastic day!
Thank you for joining for another week of not-so-Wordless Wednesday. This week, I am sharing with our Friday outing to the beautiful Smoky Mountain foothills community of Dillsboro, NC.
You may recall last week’s post that I took you to see The Fugitive bus-train crash scene. Today, I want you to witness Christmas in Dillsboro through my eyes and that of the camera lens.
Join in on my linky party fun below!
After tonight, I am pretty much outta Blogosphere until December 30th. Let me say, as always it is so nice of you to come by & I hope you’ll decide to make it a repeat visit each week to share in my photo ops. I’ll be hopping over to see you soon! Meanwhile, if you wanna make me or someone else happy, then be sure to leave a comment! Have a very Merry Christmas!
For more WW fun, join these fine bloggers’ link up….
How was your weekend? Did you do anything spectacular? As for me this weekend held a lot of excitement and fun. Friday, we ventured to the mountains. Our destination, Dillsboro, North Carolina.
Every year, this little Smoky Mountain foothills community really deck the halls. The store fronts are beautifully decorated with lights, ribbons, and evergreen boughs. What makes it especially nice is, they place hundreds of white bags (weighted with sand) each with a candle along the streets and at dusk with the flicker of each little light transforms Dillsboro into a magical place.
Dillsboro hosts their annual luminaries extravaganza the first two weekends (Friday & Saturday nights only) in December. ~image captured with iPhone5s~
Saturday we celebrated my 52nd birthday. A few days earlier, we picked up some take-out from Chuy’s Mexican Grill. We watched “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye while we feasted on big-as-your-mouth burritos (ground beef version) topped with creamy jalapeño sauce with green chile rice and a side of charro beans. To cap off the fabulous meal, we had two scoops of Blue Bell ice cream: Peppermint and Rocky Mountain Road.
Sunday, DH and I made from scratch gingerbread cookies. I did all the mixing of the batter, cut out about three cookies, and the rest I let DH do. This is something he didn’t get to do much of while all the kids were at home. He really enjoyed doing this and was actually quite good at it, too. Decorating the cookies got a bit messy, so DH left that job for me to do, which was okay because I love the creative aspect of cookie making.
image captured with iPhone5s. Look for Gingerbread Cookie recipe at the bottom of post
Please join my NO-RULE Monday Morning Musings link up party below…
Now, it’s time to join a few other bloggers in their weekly kickoff blog hops. First stop leads me to Stasha from The Good Life for Monday Listicles.
This week’s prompt is…LIST OF TEN CHRISTMAS MEMORIES
Watching Frosty the Snowman on my grandparents’ TV
My parents’ totally retro silver Christmas tree
Heavy snowfalls in the hills of southern West Virginia
Treat bags from my Sunday School teacher
Drawing names in school to exchange Christmas presents
Santa visiting my brother and me in the mid-60s in our house
Eating orange slices and cream drops with my daddy
Smelling the tasty fragrances of Christmas turkey cooking in the wee hours
My brother and I climbing into bed with my parents on a cold Christmas morning
Getting engaged on Christmas Eve 1978
Next up, I would like to take you by Heather’s place. She and her husband, Wayne, put together each week FOUR QUESTIONS to borrow and answer on your blog post, and then they give you the option to add a fifth question of your own for your blog visitors to answer in the comment section, along with commenting on the four questions you answered, if they want. If you decide to play along, then don’t forget to grab the MQAM badge for your blog/post from Acting Balanced and be sure to link up for the blog hop fun!
1. What song represents your last week? Joy to the World. This season fills me with unspeakable happiness. First off because Jesus came to this earth to be the ultimate gift to all mankind and secondly the undeniable joyous sense that’s present during the holiday season, which is felt by every person regardless of religious (spiritual) or non-religious affiliations.
2. Have you made your list and checked it twice? Yep, I’ve checked it once and I’ve checked it twice and few other dozen times. Everyone is now checked off!
3. December 16th (Tuesday) is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day… what is your favorite thing to eat covered in chocolate? Oooo, I didn’t know! This gives me a grand excuse to indulge in some chocolate covered cherries. I think I’ll make a batch today!
4. Speaking of songs, what Christmas Carol is following you around this year? That’s an easy one. All I Want for Christmas is You keeps playing over and over in my head!
My question to you this week is…what is your favorite Christmas cookie to make or have each year?
To complete my Monday morning ramblings, I want to skip over to Carissa’s last installment of:
The heavenly scents from one’s kitchen produces memories for years to come and nothing better than gingerbread is one of the loveliest holiday aromatics. My MIL passed this recipe to me.
Dorothy’s Gingerbread Cookies
¾ c. butter
¾ c. brown sugar
2 ½ -tsp. cinnamon
1 ¼ – tsp. ginger
3 c. flour
3-tsp. baking powder
1 c. molasses
Add just enough buttermilk to hold dough together approx. 2 TBSP
Cream butter, sugar, & molasses together. Incorporate one egg at a time into sugary-butter mix. Add spices and flour gradually working into mix thoroughly. Turn onto lightly floured surface, kneading a little extra flour into dough, then roll out and cut into desired shapes.
Bake 350° (slightly under) till a little brown (approx.. 12-minutes). Allow cookies to cool completely, and then decorate with the simple cookie icing (see below).
*Omit salt & baking powder, if you use self-rising flour.
Simple Cookie Icing
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
2. If desired, divide icing into separate bowls, and add food coloring to each. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush or use cake-decorating bag to create designs on cookies.
Do you like music? Would you like a fun, loving group of loyal bloggers to visit you week after week after week? If you’re nodding your head yes like I think you are, then you’re gonna wanna check out my Monday’s Music Moves Me post and be a part of the dance floor shakin’!