Monthly Archives: December 2022

Wishing you the Happiest New Year’s Eve!

It’s that time again! Time to say goodbye to 2022 and hello to the fresh promise of a new year.

I hope you find a way to celebrate that’s just right for you this evening, whether it’s a big party or a quiet evening at home.

If you would like to make some plans for today or the rest of next week, check out the calendar.

Let’s all say a silent prayer or send our best wishes around the world tonight…for others, and also for ourselves. I hope 2023 brings us all peace, prosperity and good health.

It’s traditional to ring a bell at midnight to ring in the New Year! And it’s also traditional to sing Auld Lang Syne.

Wishing you a safe and happy New Year’s Eve! — Mary



A New Year’s Eve Supply Kit

Celebrating New Year’s Eve at home this year? There are lots of good reasons for that. I had planned to go to a New Year’s celebration but I’ve got a cough now and I think I’d better stay home this year. If you are planning to stay home, here are some ideas to make a memorable evening.

1 Decide how you would like to celebrate…
  • Does a solitary night of self care and quiet reflection sound wonderful?
  • Or celebrate with family or friends?
  • Talking or texting loved ones and friends?
  • Dressing up or dressing down?
  • Turn in early? Or stay up until Midnight and watch the ball drop?
    • Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, hosted by Ryan Secrest, airs on ABC starting at 8 p.m. It will stream live on YouTube TV, Hulu + TV, Fubo TV and DirectTV Stream.
  • Fancy home-cooked dinner, snack tray or takeout? Fondue?
  • S’mores around the fire pit outside and make wishes on the stars?
  • Watch a movie? My favorites…
  • Play music…radio stations often play countdowns.
  • Or play games? Here are some free New Year’s coloring pages from Crayola.
2 For the shopping cart…
  • A 2023 calendar or planner (or print one out online).
  • Sparkling apple cider, sparkling wine, champagne, seltzer, soda or sparkling mineral water.
  • A New Year’s cake is fun… or you could make one with the kids. My son and I used to do that every year.
  • Bath and Body Works Champagne Toast fragrance mist, body wash and or body lotion. It smells like champagne with berries. I bought the trial size.
  • Glade Champagne Cheers (small candle, about $4 in grocery stores). This candle really does smell like Champagne!
  • New Year’s paper snack plates and cocktail napkins (also at the grocery store).
  • Munchies! Crackers, cheese, veggies, dip, cut up fruit, a cake or any snack/dessert to make you feel festive.
  • Traditional foods you eat on January 1 (such as pork and sauerkraut or black eyed peas and collard greens).
3 Tidy up and decorate your home or space.
  • Put up some Christmas string lights and borrow some tinsel garland from your Christmas decorations. Or make a New Year’s wreath.
  • Make your own decorations and 2023 sign.
  • Or visit a party store for confetti, streamers, poppers, balloons and New Year novelties.
4 Take some time to remember the highlights of the year and also departed loved ones.
  • Review your social media timeline or planner to remember and reflect on events of 2022.
  • Post an optimistic Happy New Year greeting to your Facebook friends.
  • Make a gratitude list about 2022 — the highlights, the lessons.
  • Display framed photos of your departed loved ones. My cousin put out a little table on Christmas with some pictures of my mom and votive candles. That meant a lot to me.
5 Spiritually connect with the spirit of hope that a new year brings.
  • Write your 2023 resolutions…or not! Or make a vision board. There are resolutions activity ideas and downloadable papers for writing down goals online (e.g., on Pinterest).
  • Pick a word of the year for yourself.
  • Read your 2023 Horoscope. There are many out there but the most comprehensive one that is online and free that I have found so far is Cafe Astrology. Be sure to read the Overview and the Love horoscopes for your sign (and maybe rising sign). The Love one has a lot of information besides romance. Cafe Astrology’s personal horoscope reports are also very reasonable in price.
  • Read your Tarot cards with a New Year’s spread. Or visit Lotus Tarot for a free online reading.
  • Make a wish for peace or pray for peace in the world.
  • Make a donation, caring gesture or ritual of some kind that is personally meaningful to you.
  • Ground and center yourself with meditation. Here is a guided New Year’s meditation to try.

Do you have plans? I hope you have a great night. Happy Almost New Year’s Eve!


Rom Com of the Week: New Year’s Eve

How was your Christmas? I hope it was special for you.

Did you know that today is Call a Friend Day? I hope you can make time to call someone who might be feeling a little lonely.

Hey, how are your resolutions going? You still have time to set some great goals for 2023. Have you bought your 2023 calendar yet?

And now…time to get ready for New Year’s! I love this holiday. What I really like about it is the glamor and fun and the feeling like there is time for a fresh start in life.

Each week of the holiday season, I’m presenting a free-to-watch seasonal romantic comedy. Today’s offering is New Year’s Eve. I really like this one. This star-studded movie is free to watch on TubiTV. Enjoy!

Hoppin’ John for a Lucky New Year

In the South, it is traditional to eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day. Last year, I was in Richmond, and I made the mistake of waiting until December 31 to buy a can of black eyed-peas. There wasn’t a can left! So, this would be a good time to shop for some black eyed peas, if you’d like to attract money in the new year. According to Wikipedia, there is a tradition of leaving 3 peas on your plate for prosperity in the new year. 

You can buy black-eyed peas in the can, and even black eyed peas and rice (Hoppin’ John) in the can.  I tried it and it’s not bad, but it is really salty and pretty spicy. This brand also makes seasoned collard greens. I like those, too.

Of course, you could make Hoppin’ John from scratch and I think it would taste better. I have made vegetarian Hoppin’ John by sauteing onion, garlic, green pepper, celery and tomatoes (canned tomatoes would be fine) and then adding canned, rinsed black eyed peas and cooked rice. That was a quick version and it was very good. You could put it in Mason Jars and gift it on New Year’s Day, if you are visiting. This isn’t a picture of my dish but the Wikipedia picture is pretty much how it looked:

The way I prepare collard greens is less slow-cooked Southern-style and more heart-healthy-style. I cut out the big, tough central ribs and quickly saute the chopped leaves in olive oil, lemon and garlic until they are bright green. I don’t add meat and they don’t take long to cook.  This recipe for quick Brazilian-style collard greens is just about exactly how I chiffonade chop and cook mine. I think they would be a great complement to the hearty dish of Hoppin’ John.

I discovered a recipe for Hoppin’ John while babysitting for a little girl and it was in her copy of The Disney Princess Cookbook. It had so many good recipes, I ordered my own copy from eBay. Here is a recipe for Hoppin’ John. It is ascribed to Tiana, the heroine in The Princess and the Frog.

Tiana’s Hoppin’ John


  • A metal strainer or steamer
  • A large saucepan
  • A large skillet with lid


  • 1/2 pound of black eyed peas (dried) – check for any little stones before cooking
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 lb baked ham, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp of celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup long grain rice


  1. Rinse the black eyed peas in a metal strainer, then put them in a large saucepan.
  2. Pour in 4 cups of water. Bring the beans to a boil and cook them for 2 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat and let the beans stand for 1 hour.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add ham, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Cook the mixture until the onion is transparent, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and their liquid to the skillet and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Cover the pan and continue cooking until the beans are tender, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Pour in one more cup of water and stir in the rice. Cover the skillet and continue simmering for about 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
  6. Stir and serve.

Cool Yule Newsletter: December 26 – Jan 1

Happy Almost New Year! This week is full of fun events and things to do.

This Week…

  • Today is the First Day of Christmas and the last night of Hanukkah.
  • Today is also Boxing Day and the first day of Kwanzaa.
  • See my article on fun things to do on New Year’s Eve.
  • Look online for free resolutions lists and New Year’s games you can download and print.
    The movie New Year’s Eve is free to watch on TubiTV and it’s the “RomCom” of the week!
  • If you’ve had enough of cold weather, just wait! In Virginia, weather temperatures this week will rise to the mid to upper 60s by New Year’s Eve!

In the Shopping Cart

  • 2023 calendars and planners!
  • A fun thing to have is a 2023 sign. They have plenty of inexpensive ones at Party City and other party supply stores. Hold it for a fun social media profile photo.
  • Champagne Toast from Bath and Body Works is a light and flirty fragrance of champagne, berries and tangerine and is perfect for New Year’s Eve! It just smells happy 🙂 And a big plus, no hangover with this kind of champagne!
  • Don’t forget to buy black-eyed peas and collard greens for those of you who eat them for luck on New Year’s Day. Some people eat 12 grapes at midnight, a Spanish custom.
  • For at-home entertaining or a quiet New Year’s Eve in, stock up on sparkling beverages, crackers, cheese, a great dessert, and maybe a few party hats, tiaras and decorations.

Things to Do

See the Calendar for details about these and other events. This your last chance to see the National Christmas Tree, Capitol Tree, Winter Walk of Lights and other light attractions this week.

Tuesday, December 27. Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day.

  • STEM Art: Snowflakes. 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm. Fairfax Regional Library, Fairfax, VA. Children ages 5 to 9. Free but registration required.

Friday, December 30 5th Day of Christmas. Plan Your Resolutions Day.

  • Let’s Party! Children 7 to 11 years old will learn how plan, decorate and serve refreshments at this early New Year’s Eve gathering at Reston Community Center, Hunters Woods, 9 am – 4 pm. $50/for Reston kids/$75 for non-Reston-residing kids.

Saturday, December 31  New Year’s Eve

  • Kings Dominion Winterfest (Doswell, VA near Ashland and Richmond).
  • First Night Alexandria in Old Town is on for this year!
  • Party like it’s the ’80s at the sports bar, Ned Devine’s Irish Gastro Pub, with the throwback band, The Reflex. 9:30 pm – Midnight. 2645 Centreville Road, Herndon, VA.
  • A New Year’s Eve Maggiano’s Murder Mystery Dinner Event. 6:30 pm – 12:30 am. Maggiano’s Little Italy. Tysons II Galleria, 2001 International Drive, McLean, VA. Tickets $125.
  • The musical Wicked is playing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC at 1:30 pm and 7:30 pm. The musical performance, A Jazz New Year’s Eve, plays at 7 pm and 9 pm.

Sunday, January 1 7th Day of Christmas. Happy New Year!

  • First Day Hikes and activities at Virginia State Parks state-wide and Lake Fairfax in Reston, VA.

Have a blessed New Year and look for more events next week as we wrap up the final days of the holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

My best wishes to you and your loved ones for a Merry Christmas!

If you are looking for things to do today, check out the Calendar.

Have a Cool Yule! Love, Mary

Have a Merry Christmas Eve!

Wishing you and yours the merriest of Christmas Eve celebrations today!

Just a reminder, if you would like some fresh air, consider going to see Santa and his water skiing elves at the Old Town Alexandria, Virginia Waterfront at 1 pm today.

There are so many options for today; if you need some ideas, please check out the calendar.

Oh, and did you know that today is also Egg Nog day? Here is a recipe if you would like to make some from scratch.

Creamy Holiday Eggnog (from the Pillsbury Kitchen Cookbook, out of print)

Gather: Electric hand mixer, mixing bowl, punch bowl


  • 6 pasteurized eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup of sugar or honey
  • 5 cups of milk (or lactose-free milk)
  • 1 tablespoon of rum extract
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of whipping cream (1/2 pint carton)
  • Nutmeg

Directions: In a large bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add yolks and sugar, beat well. Stir in milk, rum extract and vanilla extract. Chill in refrigerator. Just before serving, whip whipped cream and fold into mixture. Pour all into a punch bowl and sprinkle with nutmeg.


Rom Com of the Week: Christmas Catch

This holiday season, I’m featuring a seasonal romantic comedy every week. And since today is Christmas Movie Marathon Day, here’s one I think you’ll like.

Today’s movie is Christmas Catch (2018). it is free to watch online on TubiTV. It’s a departure from the usual heroine-running-a-bakery Hallmark kind of Christmas movie. This one is more sassy. It features a small town police woman who falls for a jewel thief, played by the handsome Franco Lo Presti. Lauren Holly plays a Christmas-obsessed police chief.

Maybe you’ve seen Franco in this year’s “Santa’s Got Style” which is on UpTV. That’s a must-see! Both are funny movies.

Here is the trailer…but you know trailers! Don’t watch all of it because the trailers give ALL of the plot away.

Party Meatballs

This has got to be the simplest party appetizer ever! It’s an old favorite you probably recognize. 

You only need 3 ingredients and a mini crock pot-style slow cooker, the kind that hold 1.5 quarts. You can pick one up for $15 or less. JC Penney has some on sale now that come in red plaid and snowflake designs!

Combine frozen, pre-cooked turkey mini meatballs — the “party” size with 1 bottle of Heinz chili sauce and 1 can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce. Put in the crock pot to heat.

That’s it! I’ve seen recipes where people add brown sugar or spices but the meatballs have spices and there is plenty of sugar in the sauce already. So I think the simpler version is better.


An Elegant Mock Pate

As Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve approach, maybe you are looking for an appetizer that is easy to make, easy to take and really delicious. Well, as long as you like meat, I think you should try this liverwurst-based mock pate recipe. A guest brought this to one of my Christmas parties many years ago, and I’ve been hunting for the recipe ever since.

Well, I finally found it. It originally appeared in Cooking Light Magazine in 2010. It’s a winner! Serve with crackers, melba toast or toast points. I will be making it for New Year’s Eve.


  • ¼ cup dried tart cherries
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons good quality cognac
  • ¼ cup whipped cream cheese
  • 8 ounces good quality liverwurst
  • 2 tablespoons chopped unsalted dry-roasted pistachios (optional)


  1. Place dried cherries in a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to simmer for three minutes. Drain, cool and finely chop.
  2. Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Reserve 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings. Remove,  cool and finely chop bacon.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of drippings, shallots, thyme, chopped garlic, bay leaf and salt and pepper to pan. Cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat, remove bay leaf and add cognac, scraping brown bits from pan.
  4.  Add this mixture, whipped cream cheese and liverwurst to food processor (remember to take out that bay leaf). Process until smooth.
  5. Remove mixture to a mixing bowl. Stir in cherries and bacon. Place in a small serving bowl. Cover surface of pate with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  6. Before serving, if desired, top with chopped pistachios.

About 110 calories per 2-1/2 tablespoon serving and it makes about 12 servings. This one won’t keep more than a few days, so enjoy!