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!

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.