Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Music Blog-Christmas Star Power

Welcome to the Friday Music Blog on Chief 187™Chatter.

I truly enjoy it when rock stars and pop stars turn out their own Christmas album or single. Some are obvious marketing ploys while others are true gems in the Christmas music offerings.

Music, of course, being subjective, I pose the question to you. What are your favorite Christmas songs – both original compositions and/or traditional songs with the artist’s take – by your favorite rock/pop star?

Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey, and George Michaels created modern classics while nearly every boy band and tween dream star has recorded a perfunctory Christmas album. I’m curious to know your selections in this category.

Please check on the progress of this blog throughout the day and weekend as new entries are added periodically.

Weekends still are and will always be an ideal time to use Chief 187™Chatter and catch up on all that you may have missed.

By using the “search” feature located on the upper left hand of this page you can access dozens of recipes (Tantalizing Thursday), uplifting reads (Simple Joys), find a great movie, television, or video game title (Monday Media Blog), or simply enjoy my meanderings (Freestyle Wednesday). There is also an archive section located on the right hand sideboard which will show you every article published on this site.

If shopping on Amazon this holiday season – or any time – please use my Amazon link located on the right hand sideboard. Amazon has scores of gifts at very competitive prices with great deals all season long. Simply enter through my link, browse, add to your cart, and check out in one transaction and at no extra cost to you I benefit greatly. It is much appreciated!

If looking for some unique gift ideas and/or something neat for yourself that showcases your appreciation for Chief 187™, please visit my online store at With over 60 items from which to choose at every price point there is literally something for everyone. Please check a search engine for coupons at the site by typing “coupon codes cafepress”. Happy Shopping!

As the holidays draw ever nearer I am once again overtaken by a strong feeling of gratitude to you all. Each person who visits my page to read, peruse, comment, share, and encourage me is so vastly appreciated. I value you all and truly thank you for your support.

Please join me on Monday as I begin another week of all new, fresh, and original blogs on Chief 187™Chatter.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tantalizing Thursday-Christmas Delights

Welcome to Tantalizing Thursday on Chief 187™Chatter.

With the holiday season upon us I am in a constant state of thinking up what meals, cookies, candies, and desserts I will be making when my company finally arrives days before Christmas.

I try to plan some recipes that I can prepare ahead of time and pull out when the time is right.

Although I prepare a lot of the same dishes year in and out – that’s tradition after all – I do try to incorporate something new here and there to keep it interesting for me and my guests.

For me simplicity is the rule. If there are too many ingredients, too many steps, or too much complication (candy thermometer for example) I just move on and find something else.

The following recipes are new to me but are all kinds of recipes I would like to try and may do just that this Christmas season!

If you’re anything like me, you are always thinking about Christmas cookies and candies first! Try this easy and scrumptious confection.

Pretzel Turtles
Recipe found on

Original recipe makes 20 candies

20 small mini pretzels
20 chocolate covered caramel candies
20 pecan halves


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
Arrange the pretzels in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place one chocolate covered caramel candy on each pretzel.
Bake for 4 minutes. While the candy is warm, press a pecan half onto each candy covered pretzel. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

As if that wasn’t decadent enough, this recipe features America’s favorite store-bought cookie – the OREO!

Easy OREO Truffles
Recipe found on

Original recipe makes 3 -1/2 dozen

1 (16 ounce) package OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
1 (8 ounce) package PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
2 (8 ounce) packages BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted


Crush 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.) Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.
Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.
Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

How to How to Easily Dip Truffles
Place truffle ball in melted chocolate to coat; roll if necessary. Lift truffle from chocolate using 2 forks (this will allow excess chocolate to run off) before placing on wax paper.

It just wouldn’t be Christmas in our home without fudge. I have a tried and true recipe that is prepared in the microwave that I’ve shared on the site before. This recipe I stumbled upon seems far too delightful to pass up.

Aunt Teen’s Creamy Chocolate Fudge
Recipe found on

Original recipe makes 3 pounds

1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Line an 8x8 inch pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine marshmallow cream, sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt. Bring to a full boil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and pour in semisweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours, or until firm.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Welcome to the 2012 Holiday Gift Guide on Freestyle Wednesday on Chief 187™Chatter.

Over the years I have bought literally thousands of gifts for all people – young and old, male and female, strangers, acquaintances, friends, and family. I am a gift buyer. Nothing revs my engines more than having the opportunity to shop for Christmas gifts year round.

In all of my years I have certainly duplicated gifts several times. There are tried and true items that just always work because they are that good.

I am not reinventing the wheel with these gift suggestions, just putting the spotlight on the favorite gifts I have either given or received.

Gift Ideas

Flashlight – After the experience I had with Superstorm Sandy in my beloved New Jersey, I know the value of a high quality, large, and fabulous flashlight. Headlamps are great, Maglites are tremendous, and dozens of other options are ideal. Save the little flashlights for the stocking, but invest in a good quality one for a gift.

Luxurious “wrap” – Call it a Pashmina, a generous scarf, a shawl, or a covering, but definitely purchase one for a lady in your life. Available in fashionable colors and styles and so many fabrics to suit the climate she lives in, the “wrap” is wonderful to wear alone to throw over one’s shoulder, layer with a coat, and/or cover one in a plane. It is versatile, fashionable, and truly never goes out of style. From cashmere and cotton to fleece there are versions galore from which to choose.

Home improvement store gift card – New home owners, old home owners, and anyone who lives in a place can benefit from these gift cards. Things break, need fixing, projects begin, gardens are planted, and appliances are needed. This is the “department store” for those who are hands on in their lives.

Jewelry – This may not appeal to everyone, but usually people love some type of jewelry. Watches, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, earrings, navel rings, anklets, and rings come in every price point and style. He may collect timepieces and fancy a ring. She may be looking for a great new look or a classic piece. Jewelry has the added bonus of being very sentimental.

Books – Hard cover, paperback, or now e-reads are still a fabulous addition to the holidays. There are coffee table books, best-selling fiction reads, recipe books, biographies, collections of favorite comic strips, and so very much more. Reading is still one of the best gifts to give people of all ages.

Cake/Beer/Pizza-of-the-Month gift – If you are creative then try to make something for 3, 6, or 12 months of the year for the giftee. Not so much handy? Then purchase a six-pack of beer, a new wine, or a different style pizza for the recipient. The gift that keeps on giving, provides opportunity for you and the giftee to spend more time together (if that is desired), and is that need not find a place on the over-stuffed curio cabinet.

An experience – Did he always want to drive a race car? Did she want to para-sail? Did the children want to go to Hershey Park? Give the gift of “doing” instead of another sweater or dust-collector. There are as many options as ideas! Concert tickets, massages, horse-back riding lessons, skydiving instruction, instrument/voice lessons, and much much more are among the many ideas from which to choose. You are only limited by your imagination (and budget!).

Music – Not all people like the same music, but it seems most people love music. If you don’t know the recipient’s taste, try to go with a gift card like an iTunes or Amazon one.

Flowers/plants – Cut flowers are nice, but die after a week or so. But potted plants, a small tree, bulbs, etc. can flourish for years to come. Nothing brightens a room, a home, or a property like live plants. It’s good for the environment and provides healthier living.

Provide a service – Dad getting too old to mow the lawn? Offer your time. Mom wants the bathroom painted for five years now, give her a weekend and your services. Grandma needs to get to the store once a week, step up! Grandpa needs a golfing buddy? Pick up your sticks. Where there is need there is a gift in some form or fashion. Spending time with one another is a great gift, but when you add a service that makes your loved one’s life easier, that’s a supreme gift!

These 10 ideas should work for all of the people on your list. Men, women, children, young, old, those who have little to those who seem to have it all, something on this list should click.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas Season and Happy Holidays!

If you have gift ideas you would like to share, please do so in the comments below.

Please join me tomorrow for recipes on Tantalizing Thursday on Chief 187™Chatter.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

The holiday season is upon us. For many this truly is the most wonderful time of the year and for others it is nearly impossible to sludge through the dates on the calendar.

Holidays dredge up feelings of loss, regret, frustration, and, for many, stress. We are told to enjoy this season, embrace it, and cling to it, but for some that is very painful.

Like any week of the year, I encourage people (including myself) to stop looking at the big picture and concentrate instead on the Simple Joys life presents.

The Christmas season itself may be overwhelming and sad, but a smile brought on by a sight, song, or smell may be tolerable and even give brief joy.

If being alone is frightening, then find a place to volunteer. By removing the spotlight from yourself it becomes easier to get through the season and even reap some joy through others.

Change is sometimes enough to get us through delicate times like the holidays. Traditions are well and good, but if they bring back memories that are difficult, then change the routine.

Regardless of your thoughts surrounding the Christmas Season, I hope you continue to join me here for Simple Joys. Together the little moments that bring a flash of happiness, a feeling of peace, and a bit of relief will populate the weeks to come

And now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Togetherness. Twice a week my boys have Karate class. There have been times my husband has taken them to class but recently my daughter and I join them. As my boys take class my daughter, husband and I walk around the local “big box” store or discount store and just hang out together.

In the car we all talk, sing, laugh, and just “be”. It would be easier for my daughter and me to stay home, but by going we spend quality time together as a family. That is a Simple Joy I never take for granted.

Tradition. For the first time in a long time my immediate family was alone for Thanksgiving. I was a bit saddened by that fact, but I was determined to make the best of the situation. We decided as a family to forgo the big meal and instead go to our favorite sushi restaurant and see a movie in the theater.

The morning before Thanksgiving my first grader had big, wide, sad eyes before his bus came to take him to school. He told me he wanted to have turkey because, “It just isn’t Thanksgiving without it!”

I hurriedly ran to the grocery store and purchased a cooked turkey breast, some chicken quarters already cooked, and came home to plan the rest of the meal. When my son got off the bus I proudly told him we were having our traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday night. The boy was overjoyed.

My son ate with reckless abandon enjoying the poultry, mashed potatoes, broccoli and cranberry sauce and devoured the pumpkin pie I had baked with a huge dollop of Cool Whip! I served everything on our heirloom “Thanksgiving” plates, and felt a huge satisfaction that my six year old is already secure in our family traditions. Having Traditions shared with my family that mean something to my children are a huge source of Simple Joys.

Wreck-It Ralph. A fun movie that kept the interest of all three of my children (ages 10, 6, and 3) and my husband and me, Wreck-It Ralph is recommended by my entire family. Having a place to take our children on Thanksgiving for family entertainment was a much-appreciated Simple Joy.

Cleaning. Like many, our home can become overtaken by toys, paperwork, and other stuff. Did I mention the paperwork and toys? Now my children are capable of helping straighten, sort, organize, and clean. They did this twice over the weekend – once to prepare the house for Christmas decorations and once before our friends came for a visit.

Having extra hands pitch in to make less work for us was a truly wonderful Simple Joy.

Decorating. Decorating the house and the Christmas tree over the weekend with my children was both excruciatingly frustrating and extremely gratifying.

Once I let go of “this has to go here and that must go there” I started to truly enjoy the process. My sons and daughter were overly tickled every time they saw an ornament that they remembered and adored.

The children had fun finding the “perfect place” for each ornament and I had the warm glow that they value the holiday ritual as much as I do.

Sharing the decorating task was a true Simple Joy once I relaxed and allowed the children to shine.

As much fun as I have with my young children, my extended family who descend at Christmas time, and my love of Christmas, I still fall prey to huge expectations, a need to be “perfect”, and getting overwhelmed.

It is vitally important for me to keep perspective, enjoy a laugh, stay in the moment, and relax my expectations.

I am not “perfect” nor will I ever be. Accepting that and learning to simply enjoy my Simple Joys will allow me wondrous pleasures throughout this season.

Wishing you a week filled with Simple Joys and the permission to feel what you will this holiday season as long as you continue to look for your own Simple Joys.

Join me tomorrow as I wax poetic on yet another subject on Freestyle Wednesday on Chief 187™Chatter.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Media Blog-Christmas Specials on TV

Welcome to the Monday Media Blog on Chief 187™Chatter.

Over the weekend my home transformed into some kind of Christmas Wonderland! Many of my friends, family, and acquaintances have decorated their homes as well. It seems Christmas Time is here!

Once the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade concluded with Santa Claus bringing up the rear the Holiday Season officially began.

When I was a girl I remember vividly that Thanksgiving night the movie Miracle on 34th Street was shown. This was a favorite of mine because my father would enthusiastically watch the film with me. He was a huge fan of the movie and used it as indisputable proof that Santa Claus indeed existed.

This was more than enough proof for me if my dad believed. It was a charming movie that still stands the test of time.

Miracle on 34th Street was my indicator that the Christmas Season had begun in earnest. Nowadays I am hard-pressed to find the movie – the original one from 1947 starring an adorable Natalie Wood – showing when I am watching television.

In recent years (decades?) people own the movies and television specials that were once prized finds on regular TV. They can watch them at leisure and repeatedly instead of camp out for the one airing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or the rarer Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Whether you own all of your favorite Christmas movies and specials or you still scour the television guide for the airings of them all, list the movies or specials that make the Christmas season extra special to you.

Oh, and if you haven’t ever seen Miracle on 34th Street, please do. It is a Christmas treat to be sure.

Please join me tomorrow for the uplifting and ever-popular Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Music Blog-Let the Holidays Begin!

Welcome to the Friday Music Blog on Chief 187™Chatter.

Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving. One of the biggest shopping days of the year. And, for many, the official start of the holiday season.

Whether you are home decorating for Christmas, out shopping, or home enjoying a day off filled with football and turkey sandwiches, music is a part of your day in some form or fashion.

Where I live the soft rock station turned to Christmas music days before Thanksgiving. Some poo-poo this, but I adore it. Christmas music above all else soothes me and instills the Christmas spirit.

My Christmas music collection is as well-loved as the ornaments that adorn my Christmas tree, the Christmas crafts my children made at school that festively dress up my refrigerator, and the mistletoe I make my husband stand under about 100 times per day.

This Friday Music Blog topic is as well-worn as my mother-in-law’s Christmas sweaters, but still as sweet.

List your favorite Christmas songs and the artist’s version you prefer. You can reply with one or an entire queue! And, even if you answer this question I throw out every year, I’d still like your response as it is as much as my Christmas traditions as hanging the stockings.

I request you check back to this blog throughout the day and long holiday weekend as new responses are given periodically.

Weekends, especially holiday ones, are a fabulous time to check in and read all things at Chief 187™Chatter.

Need leftover ideas? Check out the one from yesterday or last year! Looking for movie titles, television shows, or video games? Type in “Monday Media Blog” in the search feature located in the upper left hand of this page and several options will appear. Interested in an uplifting or entertaining read? Check out both Simple Joys and any Freestyle Wednesday post. Every post written on Chief 187™Chatter since its inception is available for perusing at your leisure.

If shopping is on your agenda, please use my Amazon link located on the right hand sideboard of this page. Enter through the link, browse, add to your cart, and check out in one transaction and with no extra cost to you I benefit greatly and truly appreciate your efforts.

Looking for a unique gift for the Chief 187™ fan in your life? With over 60 options at nearly every price point there is literally something for everyone. Visit for all that is in stock. Search for coupon codes for the store online for enormous savings!

Thank you for being with me for another holiday season. The holidays are truly my favorite to write about, share with you, and dispense information. Having you all here is my greatest gift.

Please join me again on Monday as I begin another week of all new, fresh, and original posts on Chief 187™Chatter.