Stacy’s Dip

As we race in to the Christmas season, I begin to look ahead to my families annual Christmas Day Open House. Since my husband and I were first married, we’ve never really had family living near us, so we have been free to celebrate as we wish. Many, many years ago, (too many to disclose!) we started the tradition of having other ‘orphans’ over for Thanksgiving dinner. This has now extended to our christmas morning Open House. For a few hours in between the flurry of package opening and Christmas dinner, we open our home to those who would like to stop by for one of my husbands famous Bloody Marys, and a snack or two.

I put out various homemade cocktail nuts, a veggie tray, some sweet treats and an absolute must is Stacys Dip.

Stacy was a gal who lived across the street from us when we first moved here to the iceberg they call Minnesota. She and her family were from Georgia (and subsequently moved back there) and had brought with her that warm, generous and welcoming southern hospitality. (something i think the natives here could learn a thing or two from) I am reminded of the afternoon our children were playing together outside, I had stopped in for a chat and she presented me with a glass of wine and in mere moments pulled together this dip. It warmed my heart to have someone so willing to stop what they were doing to spend time just sipping, noshing and chatting. It is a reminder to me, and I hope for others, that sometimes we need to stop the clock for a moment and take the time to smell the roses before speeding off again.

I think that is why it is the perfect appetizer to put out on Christmas afternoon, right smack in between presents and prime rib roast. It’s reminiscent of that ‘bus stop’ in time that was given as a gift to me from a wonderful woman across the street.

Stacy Dip

1 package of Jimmy Dean sausage, cooked, crumbled and drained (**GF see note at end of post)

1 package of cream cheese

1 can of Rotels tomatoes

After draining the sausage, add the brick of cream cheese and melt over a low heat. Add the canned tomatoes and continue to stir until it is melted and combined.

*I serve this with tortilla chips (gluten free), but it can be served with sliced baguettes or crackers also.

*I use the ‘hot’ jimmy dean sausage (see updated note below). In a pinch, you could use any seasoned breakfast sausage, but for it to be ‘authentic’ jimmy deans is the brand to use.

*You can substitute any market brand of tomatoes that are like rotels. The sizes of the generic brands vary, some being a little bigger. It just makes the dip a little looser, but will be just as good. I prefer the spicier version of rotels, because we like it spicy.

*Keep the dip warm in a little mini warmer of some sort. Mini-fondue pots, mini-crock pots or those little dip warmers that are set above a tea light will do nicely.

****(2014 note! Jimmy Dean Sausage is NOT certified Gluten Free. Substitute your favorite gluten free breakfast sausage for a GF option)



Let it SNOW!

Let it SNOW!

I always say that the first snow fall! That childhood joy excitement emerges and it’s just so beautiful that first snow fall. I would prefer not quite as MUCH snow on the first snow fall, because as an adult and NOT a child, it means my husband and I do the labor of shoveling.

But when the sun is shining on the snow, it is just so bright, cheery, and mood lifting. It’s what you envision at Christmas time. I know that Christ was born in a desert, but I cannot help but associate Christmas and snow together.

I’ll be enjoying this snow until February. Then my foot will start tapping in anticipation of spring, which in the arctic tundra, doesn’t come until April.

Still, its gorgeous right now, and no need to think beyond the holidays. For now I’ll just revel in the reason for the season, grateful for home, health and hearth….and snow.

Christmas Past

As I’ve mentioned before, I love the holidays. During the season when we celebrate the birth of Christ, it’s fun to pull down all the christmas boxes pulling out treasures which both make the holiday feel special but also stir up memories of christmas past. (I feel like a bell should be tolling and ghost should be manifesting in the background right now)


Usually I set up our tree first. I moved here to the arctic tundra from the moderate Pacific NW going on 13 years ago. I have always had a read tree, but in temperate and moist Oregon, keeping it fresh for the whole season was never an issue nor concern. However, here in the hinterlands, its bitterly cold (yes, at -20 a runny nose freezes) and skin witheringly dry. There was no way I was going to risk setting my house on fire with a real tree, and I was not about to give up my tradition of putting the tree up Thanksgiving weekend and enjoying it through New Years Eve. So, fake it is. 


This year, however, with family in town visiting I decided to start by putting out all my room decorations. I love going through each box, for me it’s actually better than christmas morning. With each decoration I pull out that was lovingly packed the year prior, I can recall where I was when I bought it, who gave it to me or who passed it down to me. The same goes for my tree. 


So, a week later, my youngest and I are dragging the limbs up from the basement and assembling the tree limb by limb. (Yes, I know there are pre-lit umbrella styles, but this one looked the most realistic 13 years ago) Then on go the lights. Now that is a chore and not fun at all. Every year they go in to the box fully lit and working, and every year I pull them out and inevitably one strand is half burnt out. I do not treasure the lighting of the tree. 


But then, I pull out the boxes with our tree trimming ornaments. Every year since the children were born, I have given them each an ornament so that by the time they go out on their own, they will be able to have a head start on their own tree, filled with memories of their childhood. I love looking at each one, remembering why I chose that particular one to represent that particular year. 


The photo below is of a rather special ornament. It is my great grandmother Bishops’ ornament, handed down to me by my own grandmother Evelyn. I never knew her mother, she had passed before I was born. This sweet and very fragile ornament is special to me not only from a family history perspective, but has an heirloom. It, along with a few pieces of china and an old secretary desk, made it around the cape of Africa on a steamer bound for the west coast of the USA well over a hundred years ago. Let that sink in for a moment. It sailed around the continent back in the late 1800’s/1900’s in straw filled barrels on a STEAMER ship! With all the advanced technology of today and modern transportation system, it’s amazing to me to think about the journey of this little ornament church. 


I hope that as you pass through this wonderful time of the year, you are able to take the moment to pause and reflect on your history, your families history and be aware of the memories you create in your own families. Because, you see, Christmas isn’t about shopping or stuffing our faces with special libations and foods. Christmas is about the moment a very special little family was created in a very simple and humble surrounding, giving the world the best present of all. That truth helps me to keep the reason for the season in perspective.Image