Tag Archives: Polar Express

Polar Express B&W photo & #Hodgepodge Q&A

Welcome Kittens & Dawgs! Keeping things simple because I’m in low-key, no stress mode with it being the Christmas season am sharing another view of the Polar Express from our last year’s Bryson City, North Carolina day trip.

I’m not going to lie to you the power lines in this photo freak me out but there’s nothing I can do about it if an electric company is inconsiderate in where it places its utilities. Geez, the nerve of some people, right? To off-set the ugliness I converted my photo to B&W  and added a vignette giving it a vintage appeal with Pixelmator.  What do you think?


Next is my Wednesday Hodgepodge segment hosted by Joyce. This is an excellent way to get to know your fellow blogger and you’re invited to play alone.

1. ‘Hurry less, worry less’…what’s your strategy for making that happen this holiday season? How’s it going so far? Every year keeps getting easier, simpler concerning the holidays. We were never ones to buy a lot for our kids, ourselves, or others.  That’s not the reason for the season. Dinner prep I do in stages, tackling a dish or dessert every day leading up to the main event. Same goes for decorating. I take it in stages doing a little every day. This not only cuts the stress but allows me to enjoy the Christmas season more fuller. I hope the 2018 holiday season is a wee bit more hectic in a good way, though.  My prayer is in the coming new year that we’ll be in a new home with plenty of room to have the whole family over all at once.  I think I’d be okay with that kind of hurry and worry because it’ll be a good kind of both. Just remind me of that, though. 🙂

2. Do you have a list of to-dos that need accomplishing in order to prepare your home and/or property for the winter season? What are some of the jobs on your list? Are you a do-it-yourselfer or do you hire someone to accomplish these tasks?  Definitely. Actually, I print off a blank calender sheet to pencil in daily activities and as I get them done, then I cross them off. Sometimes, if I get ahead of schedule then I move on to the next task. We are DIYers unless it’s a job out of league.

3. According to dietitians surveyed, the most popular health foods for 2018 will be turmeric, sprouted foods (bean sprouts, breads with sprouted grains, etc), veggies in place of grains, dairy-free milk, and pulses (lentils, chickpeas, etc).  What’s the first thought that ran through your head when you read this list? Of the foods listed which one might you add to your regular diet? Also, can milk really be dairy free? Is it still milk?  Honestly, none of this does anything for me. I eat what I want because it’s good for me and I already like it.  I already drink dairy-free milk, actually I have almond milk for my cereal since I’m lactose intolerant.  I’ll use it to make hot chocolate, too. DH still drinks milk. I have no problem with folks drinking dairy if that’s what they like.  I’ve wondered the same about diary-free milk, too. I’ll be eager to see what others answer your question.

4. The Pantone Color of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet. According to the Pantone site, ‘Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking pointing us to the future.’ What say you? Do you like the color purple? Did you see the movie or read the book-ha!?  Is purple a color you wear often? Describe for us one purple item in your home without using the word purple.  If you were in charge of such things what color would you select for 2018?  I do like the color purple. In fact for years it was my favorite color but in the last 10 years it got replaced with light pink. There’s a book/movie called “Purple”? I guess that answers that quesiton. I do wear purple a little. I have a polar fleece hoodie and a turtle neck sweater. Describing the one item in my home that’s purple…I have two that sit in its place when not in use, both made of wax, do you know what they are? I have no clue what color I’d select for the new year. I don’t think about these sorts of things and I’m not sure how important it is to me but I know various colors evoke different feelings. I’m a huge fan of colorful stuff, too. It usually makes me giddy. I’ll just leave this up to the “experts”.

5. Favorite book read this year? Sorry, my reading is limited to blogs and internet research. I haven’t read a book in years…really!

6.  Insert your own random thought here.  Over the weekend, we watched a delightful Christmas flick on Amazon Prime featuring Jimmy Durante, ❄️ A Christmas Wish (In Color) (1950 ). This is a delightful film and Durante is hilarious!  If you haven’t seen it, then I invite you to check it out on Amazon Prime. Here it is in B&W on YouTube.  ❄️ Amazon Affiliate link


Do you like shortbread cookies? We do. I baked a small batch last week using a recipe I borrowed from my MIL years ago found in her vintage Betty Crocker cookbook. It’s an easy peasy recipe with only three ingredients!

Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread Cookies


  • 2 cups butter (4 sticks)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar


  • Thoroughly cream butter and sugar. Add 2½ cups flour mixing thoroughly.
  • Turn out onto a board floured with the remaining ½ cup flour. Knead in flour until dough cracks on surface and doesn’t stick to board.
  • Roll ¼ inch thick. Cut into fancy shapes and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 50-minutes at 275º or until lightly browned.
  • Makes 2-dozen cookies.


For years I wanted to try making my own chocolate dipped shortbread similar to Cadbury's but never got around to doing it until now. I used some left over melted Chocoley Milk Chocolate on my shortbread cookies and they turned out delicious. Next time, I'm going to try Chocoley Dark Chocolate. 🙂


One more piece of random, as I mentioned above, the power lines in the photo drive me crazy. So, I decided to process the B&W convert with my iPad app DistressedFX. I didn’t take note of the filters I used but liked the old vintage charm it produced.

Have a good day and hop back tomorrow for a new Christmas album share! X💋X💋, Cathy









Gorgeous Sky & Choo-Choos SWF + CTST Vol. 2

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.













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!