Monthly Archives: December 2022

Make Your Car Winter-Ready

Happy First Day of Winter! Here in Virginia, we often have mild temperatures around Christmas but this year, we are really going to feel Jack Frost nipping at the nose!

The frigid temperatures this week are no joke. Many people will be traveling by car this week so I thought I would share some winter preparedness tips. Even if you are just going to the store, you should be ready in case your car breaks down or you have another emergency.

If you haven’t yet done so, right now is a great time to prepare your car for driving in winter conditions.

  1. Stay home, if you can. If you can reduce trips or avoid driving completely by planning ahead, that would be the safest decision (understanding that it isn’t feasible for everyone). Roads are dangerous at 20 degrees are below, because of ice. Cars don’t operate well in the cold. Driving in very cold weather is hard on your car. You can also get frostbite very quickly at low temperatures. 
  2. Have a reputable mechanic check out your car, including the electrical system.
  3. Replace your windshield wipers often.
  4. Fill your car with gas so the gas line doesn’t freeze.
  5. The cold makes it hard for your battery to work, among other things, especially if your battery is 3 years old or older. When starting your car in frigid temps, let it idle for 2 minutes before driving. 
  6. Budget extra time for trips and drive the conditions. Turn on your lights, slow down, allow extra space between your car and others and increase stopping distance. Accelerate and brake slowly. 
  7. Get the fluids topped off, such as window washing fluid.
  8. Cold deflates your tires somewhat. Check your tires for wear and air pressure.
  9. Park your car in a garage, if possible. If parking outdoors, do not park under a tree. Try a car cover. 
  10. Stock your car with emergency supplies, especially blankets and extra gloves.


Blue Christmas 2022

I’ve talked about the healing ritual of Blue Christmas before in this blog, a practice that is observed today on December 21st. On Monday, I mentioned that I would be lighting a blue candle and fondly remembering my aunt and former brother in law, both of whom passed away in 2022.  Unfortunately, I have another dear one to mourn. My mother passed away yesterday afternoon. I know I am not alone in grief this holiday season. If you have lost someone, I hope you find comfort and meaning today.

The Tradition of Christmas Caroling (plus wassail recipe!)

  • Celebration of the Day: Go Caroling Day
  • Christmas Song of the Day: Here We Go A Wassailing
  • Recipe of the Day: Wassail

Today is Go Caroling Day and if that very idea makes you feel shy, you’re not alone. While 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, only about 16% go caroling. The only carolers I have seen in recent years have been retained by restaurants to entertain patrons, by shopping centers to entertain shoppers and at events like Christmas Town in Busch Gardens. Of course, carols are sung in church. But the custom of going door to door and singing appears to be slipping away.

So, maybe going around and singing to strangers is not for you. Well, you can still sing today! Here are some ideas for singing without an audience…because singing is actually very good for you. It improves your immune system, it keeps your lungs healthy and it improves your mood.

  • Sing along with Christmas music in the car. Even better: go see Christmas lights in the neighborhood and sing in the car.
  • Sing Christmas tune while cooking or baking. If it feels lonely, get Alexa or Echo to sing with you 🙂
  • Sing some carols in the shower.

When I was a young girl, I appeared in local theater productions, and I was in A Christmas Carol for three years in a row, playing a Cratchit family member One year, the director proposed that the cast don our Dickensian costumes and go out caroling in one of Richmond’s historic districts to promote the play. I will never forget singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “The Holly and the Ivy” and “In the Bleak Midwinter” with my cast mates at night, standing on cobblestone streets in my long dress, wearing an old-fashioned hat. It was freezing cold and it was like being the character. I loved it.

But that was the only time I got to go Christmas caroling. Sigh. I will sing in the car today.

But how did the custom of caroling come to be? 

Caroling is a tradition that goes back to the middle ages, when most people were peasants. In those days, they celebrated Twelve Days of Christmas between December 26 and January 6, so there was plenty of time for….er….celebrating! They sang songs to the landowners who in turn provided drinks and maybe a treat or light meal. Landowners were wished good health and harvest in the coming year. Wassail was a mulled and spiced ale or drink that could be offered to the carolers.

(Maybe caroling doesn’t sound half-bad, now, huh?)

Wassail (the kind made with apple cider) was a good drink for carolers brave because it warmed them up and relaxed the vocal chords for singing. Maybe…too much wassail…and too much singing! But hey, it was Christmas, they were having some fun.

Here is a recipe for Wassail (non-alcoholic and boozy versions)

Combine in large pot:

  • 8 cups of apple cider
  • 2 cups of orange juice
  • 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice

Add these spices:

  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 12 cinnamon sticks.

I would also add some star anise, but if you don’t like the flavor, leave it out. Bring to a simmer and heat for 20 minutes. Garnish with apple and orange slices. If desired, add some brandy or cognac.

That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? That makes about 10 servings. I guess you could cut it by half or fourths for a family party. I think I will make some tonight!

Here is the perfect song for Go Caroling Day…Here We Come A-Wassailing

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand’ring
So fair to be seen.


Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too;
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year
And God send you a Happy New Year.

We are not daily beggars
That beg from door to door;
But we are neighbors’ children,
Whom you have seen before.

God bless the master of this house
Likewise the mistress too,
And all the little children
That round the table go.

Good master and good mistress,
While you’re sitting by the fire,
Pray think of us poor children
Who are wandering in the mire.

There are more verses but this is the essence of it 🙂 Let me know if you go caroling!


Cool Yule Newsletter: December 19 – 25

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! As we move toward the celebration of Christmas, there are so many treats in store. I am looking forward to the Solstice, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And Hanukkah is going on all week, as well!

Wow, Can You Believe It’s Almost Christmas?!?
  • Only six more days until Christmas!
  • Today is Holly Day. What a good day to put a wreath on your door!
  • Here’s an idea: drive around your neighborhood at night and look at the lights with Christmas music on the radio on Tuesday, December 20 – Go Caroling Day.
  • Do you love to bake? Bake cookies and share them with neighbors or coworkers on Thursday, December 22 – Christmas Cookie Exchange Day.
  • I love Christmas movies!! Snuggle up and watch your favorite movies this Friday, December 23 – Christmas Movie Marathon Day.
  • Temperatures will turn bitterly cold later this week. It’s a good idea to fill your gas tank and put a winter emergency kit in your car before Thursday.
  • See the Waterskiing Santa and his elves on Saturday, December 24 at 1 pm at the Alexandria Waterfront.
  • Watch the NORAD Santa tracker online on Christmas Eve. Updates on Facebook and Twitter, too, if you follow them!

Get Well Wishes

My mom was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia last night. I would be so grateful if you would say a prayer for her or send good wishes for her recovery. Thank you! ♡ 

Mom making her purchases at The Christmas Mouse

As you have doubtless heard on the news, there are many children and adults who are now ill with the flu, RSV or Covid (some have all three). Virginia’s flu rates are very high right now. Please take care of yourselves, consider taking recommended precautions, and let’s all say a prayer (or send good wishes for recovery) for those who may not be feeling well this week.

In the Shopping Cart

Early this week would be a good time to stock up on necessities because it’s going to get pretty cold later this week. Don’t forget cocoa and marshmallows!

Winter Candy Apple soap and bath products. If you want to feel extra Christmasy, I have a scent for you. The scent of the week is Winter Candy Apple, and like a holly berry, it comes in packaging that is red, red, red. It smells delicious! I bought this to put in my son’s stocking.

Lactaid Brand Egg Nog. Christmas Eve is Eggnog Day! I love egg nog but it upset my tummy. Now I drink the Lactaid brand with zero problems. I mix it with lactose-free milk because the nog is very rich and sweet and top it with nutmeg. Try putting a little in pancake mix, cookie batter or coffee.

Hershsey’s Caramel Syrup. Did you know that December 25 is also Pumpkin Pie Day? I figured out a trick to make store-bought pie taste amazing. After you put on the whipped cream, lightly drizzle the pie with Hershey’s Caramel Syrup. This adds very few calories and it does something magical to the flavors, balancing and blending them to be even more delicious!

Observing the Solstice

As the longest night of the year is upon us on December 21st, the moon will be a whisper of a crescent in the sky. Ancient pagan peoples observed this day as a solar festival. They burned great fires — these became Yule logs.

We owe so many of our modern Christmas traditions to ancient pagan celebrations so why not acknowledge these traditions tonight?


Tonight would be an excellent night to enjoy a yule log cake or “buche de Noel,” light candles, and relax by an real or video fire. Learn how to make a Yule Log

Blue Christmas

December 21st is also the annual observance of Blue Christmas. Life is not perfect and many people become sad or depressed around the holidays. Blue Christmas is a day set aside acknowledge these feelings and to grieve and honor our departed loved ones. It can also be a time to grieve losses of any kind, such as ended relationships or jobs, perhaps, so you can move on to brighter opportunities in the New Year.

Tonight, light a blue or white candle to remember anyone you lost this year, or any person for whom you continue to mourn.

I will be lighting a candle for my Aunt Bev, who died this year from Covid, and my former brother-in- law, Doug, who passed this year after a long struggle with cancer. Rest in peace, Doug and Aunt Bev.

Read more about celebrating a Blue Christmas.

Make Reservations Now for Christmas Eve Feasts!

Several area Italian restaurants in DC and Northern Virginia are offering a traditional Italian-American “Feast of Seven Fishes” on Christmas Eve, including Piero’s Corner in Herndon. For an unforgettable dining experience, make your reservations now!

Reserve your Christmas Eve feast at Wellington’s Restaurant found at the 4 star Westfield’s Marriott in Chantilly — offering a lavish dinner of Caesar Salad, soup, Prime Rib and choice of dessert on Christmas Eve for $39 per person. Call (703) 818-0300 for reservations.

Events This Week!

Monday, December 19

  • “Frosty” Live musical theater production for families. 4 pm – 5:30 pm. McLean Community Center’s Alden Theatre. 1234 Ingleside. McLean, VA. Tickets $10.

Saturday, December 24. Christmas Eve

  • Carolers with 42nd Street Singers. 11 am – 2 pm. Fairfax Corner (shopping center). 4100 Monument Corner Drive. Fairfax, VA. Last minute shoppers can get free gift wrapping with purchase from 11 am – 2 pm and free cocoa while waiting.
  • Water-skiing Santa and company…Alexandria Waterfront – 1 pm, with meet and greet by the waterfront Christmas tree. Masks are requested to be worn. Expect the Grinch!
  • 11:30 pm: Christmas Eve Mass (with the Pope) – NBC (also broadcast live online on YouTube)

Sunday, December 25 Merry Christmas!

  • Have fun but stay warm! Temperatures may be frigid. These attractions are open all this week and on Christmas Day…
    • Meadowlark Garden Winter Walk of Lights is open from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Vienna.
    • Bull Run Festival of Lights (drive-through) is open 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville.
    • Ice and Lights: The Winter Village at Cameron Run. Alexandria, VA. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Admission to village is $10. Skating and admission is $22 and tickets must be purchased online in advance. 55×80’ Real Ice Rink, 20’ Walk thru Tree, 100’ RGB Lighted Tunnel, lit trees and winter displays, Fire Pits, Heated Igloos, Wreath Photo Op, Bling & Things Retail Shop, Slice & Ice- Pizza, donuts & more.
    • Skating at Reston Town Center, Pentagon Row and indoor ice rinks.

I wish you a Merry Christmas, a blessed Yule and a Happy Hanukkah. Thank you for sharing the holidays with me. There’s more Cool Yule to come! New Year’s Eve is on its way.– Mary

The Tradition of Christmas Holly

Photo by Lum3n on

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved Holly trees. I used to climb one when I was little and one now grows right outside of my apartment window.

So, it’s my pleasure today to wish you a Happy Holly Day!

Decorating with holly in December is an ancient tradition that pre-dates the celebration of Christmas.

The ancient Romans brought holly into their homes for the winter festival of Saturnalia, to honor the god, Saturn. The prickly leaves were thought to protect the inhabitants of the house.

Holly also figured in Celtic and Norse pagan rituals associated with Yuletide. Even today, it’s common to see Holly on Yule Logs, although the ones you see today are usually made of cake and frosting, instead of wood!

The traditional Christmas colors of red and green come from the ancient use of holly in these ancient December celebrations. Evergreen holly is associated with everlasting life. These pagan traditions were incorporated into Christian customs. Holly red berries symbolize vitality; for early Christians, the color red became associated with the blood of Christ.

Here is a Christmas Song about Holly…I am sure you know it. Here is the great Nat King Cole singing Deck the Halls

And here is a Holly poem for today…

The Story of the Holly Sprig
by Arthur Upson

“I’d be the shiniest green,”
Wished once a sprig of holly,
“That e’er at Yule was seen,
And deck some banquet jolly!”

“I’d be the cheeriest red,”
Wished once the holly-berry,
“That e’er at board rich spread
Helped make the feasters merry!”

The life within them heard
Down dark and silent courses,
For each wish is a word
To those fair-hidden sources.

All Summer in the wood
While they were riper growing,
The deep roots understood,
And helped without their knowing.

In a little market stall
At Yule the sprig lay waiting,
For fine folk one and all
Passed by that open grating.

The Eve of Christmas Day
It had been passed by many,
When one turned not away
And bought it for a penny.

Hers was a home of care
Which not a wreath made jolly;
The only Christmas there
Was that sweet sprig of holly.

“Oh, this is better far
Than banquet!” thought the berry;
The leaves glowed like a star
And made the cottage merry!

This poem is in the public domain.

Reflections on the Fourth Sunday of Advent: The Story of the Shepherds

Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent. For the past three Sundays,  I have shared passages from the Bible that relate the experiences of Mary and Joseph, as well as the story of the birth of Christ. Today, let’s recall the story of the shepherds. Like Mary and Joseph before them, the shepherds received the uncommon blessing of an angelic visitation.

Luke 2:9 – 20 Annunciation to the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Tiffany window, shepherds

Tiffany stained glass window, Annunciation to the Shepherds

It is strange and beautiful, is it not? Angels visited Joseph and Mary, but to our knowledge, the only other people they sought out to tell the joyful news of the birth of Jesus were a group of shepherds. The angels did not appear to priests or kings, they did not even appear to the wise men — they followed a star.

What can it all mean?

I am struck by the line “just as they had been told.” The shepherds faithfully reported what they had been told by the angels. Had the angels trusted them to do just that? Surely, had they appeared to a figure of state or a high priest, there would be some danger of that person turning the events to his or her advantage, or reshaping the story, or seeking some kind of personal glory in it.

But there was no danger of that with the shepherds. Reliability was central to their profession. They had nothing to gain, so they were simply truthful and reverent.

If you can, tonight, as the sun sets, find some place where you can be quiet. If you like, light a candle, or light four candles for the four Sundays of Advent. Meditate on the story of the shepherds, how they were visited by angels and the journey they undertook.

As I have done with previous posts, I’d like to share an image from one of my childhood books, The Christmas Story, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin, that depicts this scene.

Have angels appeared in your life, perhaps in less overt ways and forms?

When has your heart been called to take action, and to what purpose? How did that feel? How did you know what to do?

In what ways can you emulate the truthfulness and diligence of the shepherds?

Reflect on any messages this story has for you today. And this evening, if the weather permits it, step quietly outside, just for a moment, to listen to the singing of the stars.

Carol: Angels We Have Heard On High (from the traditional French carol)

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be?
Which inspire your heavenly songs?
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

See Him in a manger laid
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our heart in love we raise.
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Please join me on January 6 for another reading, this one on the Three Magi, on Epiphany.

The Observance of 🕎 Hanukkah 🕎

Tonight marks the first of the eight days and nights of Hanukkah.

This year, the observance of Hanukkah runs through the evening of December 26. One of the first things people who aren’t Jewish notice about Hanukkah is that it does not seem to occur on the same date each year. But Hanukkah does fall on the same date each year on the Jewish calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle. The Gregorian calendar we are most familiar with is based on solar cycle. Easter is also based on the lunar calendar, by the way. So, that is why Hanukkah does not fall on the same date each year on our regular calendars.

Hanukkah is an annual Jewish holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights. The word Hanukkah means “dedication.” The holiday celebrates a miracle that happened in the 2nd century B.C. Greece then ruled Jerusalem and the ruler took over the Jewish temple and had it rededicated to Zeus. The Maccabees fought this and reclaimed the Temple. They wanted to re-consecrate their temple but there was only one small jar left of holy oil. They found, however, after lighting the temple Menorah, that the oil lasted long enough to burn for eight nights, until more oil could be had.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on

Hanukkah became a festive holiday in the U.S. partly in response to a desire to supply Jewish children with a fun celebration of their own to identify with at a time when Christmas festivities were prevalent. Customs include treats cooked with oil, lighting a menorah each night, recitations, parties, songs and games. Some also decorate and exchange gifts and cards.

Some Hanukkah traditions you may know include

  • Menorah a sacred candelabrum with symbolic meaning, including the seven days of creation plus the Sabbath, the Tree of Light, areas of knowledge and the eight days of Hanukkah.
  • Blue and white came to be associated with Hanukkah in the US in the 20th century as the demand for greeting cards and party supplies grew. The colors refer to the flag of Israel, which became a state in 1948. In lights and decorations, the blue and white colors help distinguish Hanukkah items from the traditional red and green colors of Christmas.
  • Latkes potato pancakes fried in oil and often served with apple sauce and sour cream.
  • Sufganiot donuts filled with jelly, fried in hot oil and covered with sugar.

    Photo by cottonbro on

  • Dreidl and Gelt. A dreidl is a game piece, similar to dice, wth four sides. The Hebrew letters correspond to a statement along the lines of “a miracle happened there,” referring to the miracle of Hanukkah. Each player puts an item in the pot (e.g., pennies, raisins or “gelt’ – chocolate money). The players take turns spinning the dreidl and the side it lands on determines whether It  player wins the whole pot, part of it, none of it or has to share from his stash.

    Photo by cottonbro on

You know how I feel about Christmas movies, so you also know I am going to talk about Hanukkah movies! A delightful movie exploring Hanukkah customs is Mistletoe and Menorahs. You can rent it on YouTube. Here’s the trailer. And the dreamy star, Jake Epstein, also appears in the 2021 Hanukkah movie The Eight Gifts of Hanukkah, available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video, if you are interested. Happy Hanukkah!

Sausage Balls, Two Ways

This season, I’m featuring some of the appetizers you know and love. They’re kind of “retro” and might bring back some good memories for you! Today: Sausage Balls! I seem to recall they were on the table for all Christmas family reunions when I was a child. I remember how spicy but yummy they were!

Sausage balls are so portable. They are perfect for an office party, holiday potluck or home party. Here are two Betty Crocker recipes: the original style made with pork sausage (but updated with some chopped apple!) and a healthier version with turkey sausage. Since a lot of people don’t eat pork, you might want to indicate with a little table tent whether they have pork or turkey in them.

Pork Sausage and Apple Balls

Gather: Baking sheet, mixing bowl and parchment paper


  • 1 lb uncooked Jimmy Dean bulk pork sausage with sage
  • 2 and 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (10 oz)
  • 2 cups original Bisquick
  • 1 Braeburn apple, peeled and shredded (2 cups)
  • Minced dried or fresh parsley, if desired (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Moisten your hands with water and form small balls (about an inch and a half). Place the balls on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake 12 – 14 minutes, should be golden brown and no longer pink inside. For a little color, sprinkle on a tad of parsley just before serving, if desired.

Turkey Sausage Balls

Gather: Baking sheet, mixing bowl and parchment paper


  • 2 and 1/2 cups Bisquick Heart Smart  mix
  • 1 lb uncooked lean turkey sausage (try the all natural “Good and Gather” Target brand)
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (12 oz)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk (at least 1%)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • Optional dipping sauce: mix Heinz Chili Sauce with a can of cranberry sauce.

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Moisten your hands with water and form small balls (about an inch and a half). Place the balls on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake 20 – 25 minutes, should be golden brown and an oven thermometer inserted into ball should read 165 F, minimum. For a little color, sprinkle on a tad of parsley just before serving, if desired.

Crunch Day! 10 Things for Your To-Do List on the Last Day of School Before Break

Okay, folks, this is IT! This is the last and best day to get ready for Christmas.

Why? Why today? I’m telling you why. In case this day sneaked up on you.

  • If you have kids, this is likely the last day they are in school until January 3. And then, and then, parents, it is two whole weeks of togetherness.
  • If you don’t have kids, this is the last day you will have any semblance of peace while shopping in a relatively child-free store until January 3.

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on

So, here is my checklist of 10 Must-Do Things for today. Hopefully, this will help you get ready for Christmas and New Year’s Eve this year.

First of all, today is Ugly Sweater Day, so break out that Ugly Christmas or Hanukkah sweater because today is going to be a busy day!

  1. If you have done everything already, congratulations to you for being so organized! Treat yourself! Enjoy a day of uninterrupted work, play, self-care or relaxation! 
  2. Send in or drop off teacher presents. If you can’t manage a present, send a card.
  3. Tip your helpers, including childcare workers, house cleaners, pet sitters and groomers, hair stylists, etc. Give an extra amount of tip to servers working this week.
  4. Stock up on supplies. Folks are home longer than usual, so you’ll use up stuff more quickly. Buy extra toilet paper, hand soap, kleenex, paper towels, printer paper and ink, face masks, cough drops, snacks and groceries. 
  5. Finish your Christmas shopping — gifts and stocking stuffers. If you don’t have one already, you might want to get a 2023 calendar or planner for yourself. Don’t forget tape for gift wrapping!
  6. Wrap your presents. Hide them, if needed. 
  7. Mail Packages and greeting cards because today is really the last sane day to go to the post office.
  8. Finalize your plans for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. See the Cool Yule Calendar for ideas! Make restaurant and hotel reservations, if needed.
  9. Decide what you’ll wear for special days (like worship services, holiday parties and New Year’s) and see if anything needs ironing or cleaning. 
  10. Book your babysitters and petsitters for dates through January 3 (and beyond).


The Best Ever Spinach Dip

I’m featuring some of the appetizers you know and love. They’re kind of “retro” and might bring back some good memories for you! Today: Knorr Spinach Dip! I’ve been making Knorr Spinach Dip for decades and I just love it. It’s so much better than any pre-made spinach dip you’d buy in a store.

With its bright green and confetti colors, it’s festive enough for a family Christmas movie night, a home New Year’s Eve celebration or a pot luck holiday party. Tomorrow is Ugly Christmas Sweater Day…maybe bring this to an Ugly Sweater Christmas Party! Make sure to make this at least 3 hours in advance so that the flavors can blend. Serve in a bread bowl for a special touch. This keeps well overnight in the refrigerator, if any is left!


  • A mixing bowl.
  • A serving bowl or bread bowl to hold the dip, plus a platter for dippers.
  • Dippers (ideas: Triscuits, Pita Crackers, Bagel Thins, Stacey’s Naked Pita Chips, baby carrots or carrot sticks, celery sticks, jicama sticks, grape tomatoes and sliced bell pepper).


  • I package of Knorr Vegetable Recipe Mix. It is usually with the gravy and Hollandaise sauce mixes.
  • 1 ten-ounce package of frozen, chopped spinach (like the square, frozen block kind). Bring to a boil but do not overcook the spinach. Part of the appeal of the dip is the bright green color.
  • 1 16 oz container (2 cups) of sour cream or Greek yogurt.
  • 1 cup of Hellman’s mayonnaise. (I use light Hellman’s mayonnaise in my dip)
  • 1 can of water chestnuts
  • 3 green onions
  • If desired, add a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of garlic powder or a dash of Tabasco
  • Parsley garnish, if desired


  • Cook the frozen spinach. Drain and squeeze dry by pressing it through a colander or sieve with paper towels.
  • Combine the Knorr mix in a mixing bowl with the mayonnaise and sour cream/yogurt and stir well.
  • Add the spinach and mix well.
  • Drain and chop a can of water chestnuts. Add them to bowl and mix well.
  • Chop 3 green onions. Add them to the bowl and mix well.
  • Put plastic wrap or a lld over the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.