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What to Eat on New Year’s Eve

A week ago we were either cooking our Christmas meals, or traveling to visit family and friends. Or maybe even a combination of the two. And now that it’s New Year’s, we’re back in the kitchen for one last big meal of the year. Perhaps you need some ideas on what to eat on New Year’s Eve or Day? If so, keep reading, and I’ll go over some regional and global ideas. But I’ll also cover the reasons why we eat the food we eat on New Year’s.

2 cans of blackeye peas
Photo by Nicolas Postiglioni on

Most, if not all, of us know that it’s traditional to eat black-eyed peas for New Year’s Eve or Day. That is if you live in the South. But are you familiar with the reason why? First, eating black-eyed peas can be dated back to 6th Century Jews celebrating Rosh Hashanah, their new year, for prosperity. Second, it is thought that Sephardic Jews moved to the Southern U.S. during the 18th Century, and they probably had slaves. Particularly black cooks who learned their cooking traditions.

sunlit fragment of map with land and water
Photo by Nothing Ahead on

However, eating black-eyed peas with rice is African in origin. And they continue to be a staple in Africa today. In addition, there are legends claiming that eating black-eyed peas dates to the Civil War. But as to the truth of why we started eating them on New Year’s? We’ll probably never really know. Some say it began with the Emancipation Proclamation, which commenced January 1, 1863.

What to Eat on New Year’s Eve

What to Eat on New Year’s Eve in the Southern United States:

roasted belly close up food
Photo by Desativado on

A typical southern New Year’s Eve meal includes some kind of greens: collard greens, mustard greens, or turnip greens, which represents paper money. And cornbread is served to symbolize gold. Black-eyed peas are said to represent pennies by some. And then there is the pork; hog jowls is served like bacon to ensure health, prosperity, and progress. So you have health, wealth, and prosperity.

What to Eat on New Year’s Eve in the Northern United States:

jar of sauerkraut on a counter

While the Southern United States prefers Hoppin’ John, the Northern United States eats Gwumpkies, cabbage, and/or sauerkraut balls. The cabbage and variety also represents paper money and has ties to Eastern Europe. Additionally, Americans in the north eat herring, probably at the stroke of midnight like people in Poland, to ensure prosperity and bounty. Furthermore, the Northern U.S. serves roast pork to bring good luck; since it comes from the idea of the pig moving his snout around in a forward motion, not backwards.

What to Eat on New Year’s Eve in Spain:

red black and green grapes in round blue and white floral ceramic bowl
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

According to CNN, Spain rings in the New Year with twelve grapes. At the stroke of midnight, people living in Spain eat one grape for each toll on the clock, signifiying one month each of good luck for the year.

What to Eat on New Year’s in Mexico:

sign party
Photo by Polina Kovaleva on

Tamales are served, sold, and eaten in Mexico for New Year’s. Even though they’re usually important at most festive occasions, New Year’s is even more special for this food. And though there is no mystical or good luck associated with tamales, they tend to represent family and tradition.

What to Eat on New Year’s in the Netherlands:

person mixing dough
Photo by Life Of Pix on

On New Year’s Eve the Netherlands has powdered sugar, doughnut-like balls with currants or raisins. And they look similar to doughnut holes, including being fried like doughnuts. These were first eaten by Germanic tribes, and thought to be used as an offering to appease the Germanic goddess Perchta and her evil spirits.

Austria and Germany:

What to Eat on New Year’s in Austria and Germany

sleeping suckling pig next to its mother
Photo by Osvaldo Castillo on

Both Austria and Germany celebrate New Year’s Eve with spiced red wine punch, suckling pig, and marzipan pigs that are translated as good luck pigs. Bakers will be familiar with marzipan; it’s made out of almonds and sugar, so it’s a confection of sorts, much like candy.

What to Eat on New Year’s Eve in Japan:

3 mochi ice cream rice cakes on a wooden tray
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

Soba noodles are consumed at midnight on New Year’s Eve in Japan, to ring in the new year. The noodles represent longevity and prosperity. But another tradition involves family and friends spending the day before New Year’s making mochi rice cakes. The guests take turns making small buns that are later eaten as dessert.

What to Eat on New Year’s Eve in Italy:

package of Sun-Maid raisins on a counter

Lentils are served in Italy for New Year’s, because they are round like coins, symbolizing fortune. However, there are other foods to eat, like raisins, representing good luck, and grapes, which symbolize wisdom and frugality.

What to Eat on New Year’s in Turkey:

pomegranate on a counter

Pomegranates are eaten on New Year’s traditionally in Turkey for 2 reasons. One, because the seeds are round, which once again represent coins, and therefore, wealth. And two, the color red symbolizes fertility.

Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list, but as you can see, a lot of the themes are repeated. Pork, grapes, raisins, cabbage, peas, greens, and round bread. You get the idea. So what are you going to make this year? I hope I gave you some ideas. And that you were entertained as well. Have a fun and safe New Year’s Eve, whatever you do.

Thanks for stopping by! If you enjoyed this post, please like, comment, share it, and don’t forget to follow!

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Pet New Year’s Resolutions

According to Wikipedia New Year’s resolutions are common on both sides of the globe, where a person “resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life at the start of a new year.” And for our pets, this includes the lives they take part in with us. The following are pet New Year’s resolutions.

Pet New Year’s Resolutions: Dogs

  • More walks
person walking dogs on leashes in countryside
Photo by Blue Bird on

Walking your dog is especially important if you live in an apartment or a house that doesn’t have a big backyard; because your pooch needs exercise to stay healthy.

  • Healthier eating and habits
Aussie playing with red and white pet puzzle feeder

With pet food recalls from time to time, it might be difficult to know what to feed your best friend. But there are so many dog food brands out there; and you can even make your own!

Furthermore, if your pet is on the heavier side, you can talk to your vet about ways to help slim down your friend. Or you can get puzzle feeders to make it more of a challenge.

  • Dental care
brown short coated dog wearing pink hair cap
Photo by Anna Shvets on

Since problems can be caused by mouth issues or cause other problems, the AVMA suggests your veterinarian check your dog’s teeth and gums once yearly for any problems. Also, it’s good to keep their mouths healthy.

  • Obedience training
crop man training dog
Photo by Zen Chung on

Taking your dog to obedience training is beneficial for many reasons. Not only is it good for your pooch, by teaching him/her basic commands. But it also teaches you more about your dog. And it gets you involved in your community, meeting other people with their pets. Additionally, it helps to avoid possible conflict between your dog and other animals by socializing your pet.

  • Protect your pooch
variety of tropical plants by picture window and on long wooden bench

Protecting your dog involves all of the above and more. Like keeping toxic substances, such as cleaning supplies and plants, out of their reach. In addition, keep their IDs up-to-date and get them micro-chipped, if you haven’t done so already.

  • Have an adventure
person with dog at the beach
Photo by Huy Phan on

Take your dog on an adventure, whether it’s to the dog park or to a national park, they’re sure to enjoy it. And it’ll be great exercise and togetherness for both of you.

Pet New Year’s Resolutions: Cats

  • Play more
calico cat under a bed playing with a fuzzy ball

Set aside time to play with your cat, even if it’s only 5-10 minutes a day. Cats also need to exercise, because otherwise they’ll get bored. Play stimulates their hunter instincts and relieves boredom. Plus, it helps prevent health problems related to obesity.

  • Teach tricks

People who don’t have cats might not be aware that they can in fact learn tricks. And New Year’s would be the perfect time to teach your furball a new one. They can do almost anything a dog can do: fetch, sit, come on command, etc.

calico cat crouching by scratching post

I personally have witnessed this behavior, so I’m not just repeating what I’ve heard or read. My newest cat tries to emulate the dog; she wants to do whatever Sophie gets to do. So if Sophie plays catch, Poppy wants to play catch, or her version of it. Unfortunately all of my attempts to video this have failed, so I’ll just have to keep trying. But in the meantime, just take my word for it.

tortoiseshell cat trying to drink out of a fountain outside

Having an indoor cat makes it really easy for them to become overweight. Especially if you’re busy with work and family. Though, if left unchecked, your cat is at risk for diabetes, liver problems, and joint pain.

Wet cat food is typically better for your feline friend, because dry food contains more carbs than anything. However, I know from experience that not all cats will eat wet food. So you can mix the two, and make sure you’re providing small meals for your cat throughout the day, just like what would occur naturally if they hunted. Also make sure there is plenty of fresh, clean water, like a fountain, since cats prefer running water.

  • Visit the vet
person in blue scrub shirt holding orange tabby cat
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

If you have an indoor cat, they will need to be seen for their annual vaccines. Even if they never step foot outside. However, if your feline friend uses the revolving door, they may need to see the vet more frequently. And don’t forget spaying and neutering your cat, if that remains to be done.

  • Enrich their environment
cat scratching post and plastic play spaces

What is an enriched environment? Well, a territory that’s enriched is one in which your furball feels safe, confident, and has happy experiences in. But by the same token, one that is not enriched is one where your cat feels scared, tense, and has unhappy experiences in.

So how can you better your cat’s home and world if they already seem pretty happy? For one, you can spend more time playing with them, get puzzle feeders and toys to engage them, and scratching posts, etc.

New Year’s Resolutions: Chickens

big chicken coop

We all know it’s important to keep the chicken coop clean. Although sometimes we just get busy, things happen. It was the holidays, and time got away from us. But now we have to commit to staying on a schedule.

  • Keep the run dry
person with chickens in covered yard outside
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

As much as is possible, keep the run dry to prevent parasites and chicken illnesses. Alternate putting down sand and straw, and changing it out when it gets wet.

  • Try a different or organic feed
brown chicken pecking at ground and one brown chicken eating out of a red coffee canister
Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Maybe this coming year you could try going organic with your birds, if you don’t already. Ask your local co-op what they would recommend for your particular flock.

  • Add variety
4 black newborn chicks in incubator with a variety of eggs

Start the new year by adding ducks to your flock; they make a great next step to owning backyard birds. Or, if your yard permits, increase the size of your flock with some chicks in the spring. Better yet, incubate some fertilized eggs: duck, chicken, or both!

  • Do an inspection
person holding a mixed black easter egger rooster

This is similar to cleaning the coop; we think we know what’s going on with our backyard birds, but sometimes sickness or a predator can get one of them. Thus it’s important to do an inventory and inspection in the backyard, coop, run and on the birds themselves.

Now I’ll share some resolutions from the animals’ points of view.

New Year’s Resolutions from our Dog’s POV:

I will …

  • eat more of all of my favorite things this year
  • sniff more butts
  • play more and more and more
  • go outside every chance I get! And I will
  • try really hard not to eat things I’m not supposed to. I promise, I’ll really try.
Australian Shepherd on her back in submission

New Year’s Resolutions from our Cat’s POV:

I will …

  • sleep more
  • eat more
  • play fuzzball more
  • destroy the hand. And I will
  • destroy the dog. But I like to play with the dog. No! Destroy her!
calico cat and Aussie play together
No cats or dogs were harmed in the capturing of this photo. This is Poppy and Sophie.

New Year’s Resolutions from one of our Chicken’s POV:

I will …

  • eat the veggies from the garden
  • eat whatever I find; in fact, finders keepers
  • not die; I will survive
  • dust bathe more. And I will
  • lay more eggs. Because I can’t help it, it’s what I do.
3 different types of chickens in a raised garden bed in the country

I hope you, your family, and your feathered and/or furry friends have a prosperous and peaceful New Year! If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, comment, and please don’t forget to follow!


Warm Wishes from Our Family to Yours

Wishing you peace and joy for you and yours now and in the coming new year!

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Christmas with Covid

Well, by Wednesday my work week was done, and plans had been made to go to Dallas to visit family. All I had left to do was wrap presents. However, Hannah, my middle daughter, got back from visiting friends in Dallas on Tuesday and was feeling under the weather. One Covid test later, on Thursday, and now we’re spending Christmas with Covid.

a person wearing medical gloves holding a test tube and a medical swab
Photo by Thirdman on

So far the rest of us are symptom free. And hopefully we’ll remain that way. Hannah thinks maybe she got a false positive result, because she doesn’t feel bad at all. Really like a cold. And she still has her sense of taste and smell. Though it could be the new variant, Omicron. Regardless, she’s staying in. And after I bought some things from the grocery store, with my mask on, the rest of us are remaining home too.

Dallas landscape lights skyline buildings
Photo by Pixabay on

Just so there’s no doubt or questions, my daughter was at a party while she was in Dallas. Some of the people she knew, but some she did not know. And while at the party, she drank after people, and vice versa. So she wasn’t being safe. She wasn’t even thinking about it. There’s a chance she might have gotten Covid anyway while at the party. Although I hope she doesn’t share cups or utensils with anyone again, using this experience as a teacher.

Last year my younger sister’s family had Covid around Christmas. That was when my dad was still alive. In fact, it was his last Christmas with us. Due to Covid, we had to rearrange dinner and presents with my sister’s family. But it was ok. And now it’s our turn. It kinda feels like an annual thing. Though I’m sure other families are similarly affected.

sliced meat on stainless steel plate with asparagus
Photo by Roy Sloan on

Usually for Christmas my mom makes Prime Rib. However, because prices on meat have gone up, my mom is making a different roast this year. But it looks like I’ll get to have Prime Rib anyway. Around Christmas Sam’s Club puts Prime Rib on sale, thus I take advantage of it. Typically I’ll buy one ~ 5 lb rib roast, because that’s plenty for my family. But if I’m having company, I’ll buy two.

orange sweet potato pie in a clear pie pan

Furthermore, I have a recipe that I’ve used for 20 years for the Prime Rib; the wine sauce makes it delicious. Though I didn’t get the recipe from my mom; I got it from a small cookbook back when we lived in Dallas. However I no longer have that cookbook since we’ve moved too many times. And I don’t remember the name either. Additionally, today I made two sweet potato pies and a cranberry salad. Exactly like I did this past Thanksgiving, because my husband asked me to.

cranberry salad in a white bowl

So it’s going to be only the four of us, with our spread. It’s not a huge spread, but we’ll have leftovers. And who knows, maybe we can make it to Dallas next weekend?

Extras recipes

Easy Cannoli Recipe

Making Sicilian dishes on Christmas Eve is a family tradition on my mom’s side of the family: Pizzas, cannolis, cream puffs, cookies. You name it, we had it. But what my mom is used to making is not the same thing that I make. Her cannoli recipe is a little more complicated and involves the stove. That’s because my great grandma didn’t like the easy cannoli recipe that’s out there. However, below is what I typically make for my own family.

white batter in clear plastic bowl

Ingredients for Easy Cannoli Recipe:

  • 30 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 c Truvia or 1/2 c regular sugar; adjust if needed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 oz of miniature chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • ~ 15-18 cannoli shells

Instructions for Easy Cannolis:

  • Drain the ricotta.
  • Then, by hand, mix with sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest.
  • Next, fold in chocolate chips.
  • And fill the cannoli shells.

Put your remaining mini chocolate chips in a shallow bowl and dip the ends of your cannolis into the bowl of chocolate chips.

3 cannolis with chocolate chips on the ends on a white plate

This fills ~ 15-18 cannolis. Also, you can make your own cannoli shells. But I don’t; I never have. Though, at some point I may have to, because finding shells was an issue. Consequently I ordered them for $49. Although I did get 70 of them. Thus, I can make them again.

Furthermore, I never found a recipe similar to my mom’s when searching the web. The only thing that came close was one on the box of cannoli shells I ordered. And I would’ve included the one from my mom’s if she could’ve found hers. It tastes more liken a custard than the ricotta cheese filling in most cannolis. Very similar to cream puffs.

Thanks for stopping by! If you liked this post, please like, post a comment, share, and don’t forget to follow!

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Giving Pets as Christmas Gifts

How many of you have ever thought of giving pets as Christmas gifts? Or actually gave someone a pet as a gift? I confess that I’m guilty of doing just that. And even encouraging it. In fact, my daughter, Hannah, bought her little sister a bunny last year, and I thought it was a great idea. And when our Shelties, Kirby and Roxy, died in 2005, I went out and bought a pair of Sheltie puppies, as a surprise, to replace them for our daughters.

head of calico cat sticking out of gift bag in front of Christmas tree

However, is it a good idea to use pets as the gifts? I mean, we’re drawn to animals. And most pets make easier companions than people, ie, they don’t talk back or complain. Furthermore, caring for animals is often perceived as caring for a small child or an infant. For example, pets don’t speak our language, they depend on us for food, shelter, and some to even use the bathroom. Also, they crave companionship like us. Perhaps it’s because of these very things that we gift animals to others. But let’s explore whether or not we should.

Cons of Giving Pets as Christmas Gifts

  • can be stressful
man and woman happily talking to each other around festive time of the year
Photo by Nicole Michalou on

Gifting pets around the holidays isn’t ideal, because the holidays are a busy time with parties, company, traveling, and shopping. It would add needless stress on the recipient of the gift and on the pet.

  • longterm commitment
a variety of writing notebooks and planners
Photo by cottonbro on

Cats and dogs can live ~ 15 years while parrots have a life expectancy of up to 100 years.

Like how we got our dog, Sophie, from an older couple in their 70s, who felt she would outlive them.

  • time consuming
multiple gold and white analog clocks
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

The recipient might not have the time or energy to train a pet.

white and brown cat in clear fish bowl with money
Photo by cottonbro on

Caring for a pet goes beyond just the initial fees. It’s a lifelong commitment, and the recipient might not be in a financial position, at the moment, to take on the responsibility of a pet.

However, it’s not all bad new. According to the ASPCA, in the 1990s and 2000s, a survey found that 86% of recipients who received pets as gifts kept the pets.

So below are some caveats if you’re tempted to give pets as Christmas gifts.

Guidelines to Gifting Pets

restaurant man people woman sitting at a table
Photo by Edmond Dantès on

The most important piece of advice, when thinking about giving animals as gifts, is to talk to the intended recipient. Here are some questions to consider.

  • Does the recipient even want a pet?

This might sound funny, but it’s very important. And you might think your friend or child might really want a puppy. But if you actually sit down and talk with them, you might discover they’re not ready for that commitment right now.

  • What kind of pet would make a good fit?
photo of hedgehog resting on person s hand
Photo by Indigo Blackwood on

There is no ‘one size fits all’ pet. There are so many different pets, including different types of dogs, cats, etc. From active to laid back. And what you might think someone would like may not be what they would like. So it’s important to get information on the animal: its habits, expenses, any possible common medical issues, etc.

My sister gave her kids a hedgehog last Christmas. And I’m pretty sure it was her idea. Her kids range from 13-9 years, and for a regular pet, they would’ve done fine. But this was a pet that required special care. And they couldn’t do it. The quills shocked them, and they often dropped their pet. So the hedgehog ended up being kinda mean. The result: they returned her to the breeder.

  • Does the recipient have time?
employee feeling the pressure in the office
Photo by Anthony Shkraba on

This will help you determine which pet would make a good gift. Some people think they would like a puppy or kitten, but if they’re gone most nights and days, when would they train or spend time with their fur baby? In time, the pet would, at best, be a burden, or they might even end up neglected. However, here’s a list of some low maintenance pets.

  • How old is the intended recipient?
girl holding black rabbit
Photo by Anastasiya Gepp on

Energy level and age go almost hand in hand. You don’t want to get grandma and grandpa an Aussie. Trust me. But by the same token, you don’t want to give a bunny to a 3 year old. It takes a certain level of responsibility and energy level for each animal.

Remember how I mentioned we got our Aussie from a couple in their 70s? They said it was because they thought she would outlive them. But let me tell you, I’m in my 40s, and I don’t have the same energy that I had in my 20s. But thankfully I have kids. Secretly I know that couple gave us Sophie, because they were afraid for their health. They couldn’t match her pace.

  • Can the recipient afford a pet?
credit cards
Photo by Pixabay on

I listed finances as a con to gifting pets. So you want to take this into consideration if you want to give someone a pet for Christmas, or any other holiday. Depending on who you’re giving the pet to, can they afford caring for it? And if the recipient is a child, are the parents prepared to care for the pet?

  • Does the recipient have the space?

Does the intended recipient have space for a pet? And if so, are they allowed to even have pets? Do they own or rent? If they rent, they’ll have a pet deposit. These are serious questions to consider before running out and getting that puppy.

  • What is the recipient’s activity level?
a family sitting on the couch with their pet pug
Photo by Michael Morse on

The last thing to consider is the activity level of the intended recipient. Do they like the outdoors? Or do they stay indoors, hanging out in front of the TV in their spare time? This will help you know whether to get an active pet or a more chill one. Because your friend won’t appreciate you giving them a dog that needs a lot of exercise if they like the peace and comfort of their own home.

How to Give a Pet as a Christmas Gift

So you’ve answered all of the above questions, and you decided a pet is a good idea. But how should you give the pet as a gift?

No doubt you’ve seen movies or commercials where puppies were tied with bows and given to their recipients. Or they were placed in a box. However, that would make the animal nervous or even suffocate if the box was sealed.

stuffed bunny
Photo by Kha Ruxury on

Rather than giving a pet at Christmas, give a stuffed animal as a representation of the pet. And tell the recipient that you want to buy a pet for them. That way you can look together.

photo of person touching brown puppy
Photo by Helena Lopes on

Also, many sites advise making the recipient part of the final decision on the pet. Furthermore, countless places encourage adopting from shelters or rescue organizations.

I hope I’ve answered any questions you had. And at least gave you something to think about, if you were wanting to give someone a pet for Christmas.

Thanks for stopping by! Don’t forget to like, post a comment, share, and follow!

Extras recipes

Italian Cream Cake Recipe

‘Tis the season for baking. At least for me, and I think in general. It’s a great way to celebrate the holidays, spend time together, and of course, eat yummy treats. I try to plan my holiday bake-off when I have several days off. But alas, that won’t happen till after Christmas. However, I decided to make something small, one of my favorite desserts. And it’s based on an Italian Cream Cake recipe I found on the web.

dry ingredients in a silver bowl with a red spatula

Italian Cream Cake and Italian Wedding Cake are used interchangeably as well, because they are one and the same. But are they Italian desserts? No one knows for sure, except they are typically made in the southern United States. Furthermore, the most popular time to bake them is during the holidays. Additionally, you can try making this with a box cake mix. Though, I made this one from scratch.

mixing ingredients in silver bowl with beaters

Ingredients for Italian Cream Cake

  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 sticks of butter softened
  • 3/4 c Truvia
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 14 oz of flaked coconut toasted and divided
  • 1 1/2 c chopped pecans toasted and divided
multi-colored eggs in egg carton

The frosting for Italian Cream Cake is usually either cream cheese, whipping cream, or cream cheese with whipping cream. Although, I’ve also seen a recipe with buttercream frosting.

However, instead of using the recipe from the internet, or any varieties of it, I just made cream cheese with whipping cream, sans the butter. Yet I added other key ingredients to make it more Italian Cream Cakey.

  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 2 c whipping cream
  • 1/4 c Truvia
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • remaining toasted coconut
  • 1/2 c remaining toasted chopped pecans
3 round pans of cream colored cake on a counter

Instructions for Italian Cream Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Liberally spray 3 9-inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Stir flour, baking soda and baking powder together.
  • Then in a large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream together the softened butter, Truvia, brown sugar, vanilla and almond extracts. And beat until creamy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.
  • Next, mix the dry ingredients by turns with the buttermilk. And once all of it has been incorporated, mix on high until completely blended.
  • Add in 1/2 of the toasted coconut and 1 c of toasted chopped pecans by hand. The mixture will be thick.
  • Then divide the batter evenly between all 3 pans; it comes to almost 2 c apiece. And bake 22-28 mins or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely on cooling racks.
white thick frosting in metal bowl

For the cream cheese/whipping cream frosting:

  • Beat the cream cheese until creamy.
  • Next, add the whipping cream, a cup at a time. Beat thoroughly after each cup.
  • Then add the Truvia, vanilla and almond extracts, and remaining pecans. And mix well.
Italian Cream Cake with pecans on top sitting on white platter

After you’ve turned your first cake out onto a platter, line the plate with wax paper strips. (This will hopefully make clean-up easier.) Frost the cake between the layers. Likewise top with the final layer, frosting the top and sides. In addition, press the remaining toasted coconut on the sides of the cake. And voila, you’re done.

slice of Italian cream cake on white plate with fork on counter

If you’re interested, here’s the original recipe.

Thanks for stopping by! Please like, post a comment, and share the post. And don’t forget to follow!

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Pet Gift Ideas for Christmas

Dogs account for the bulk of pets in the United States. And according to the American Pet Products Association pet statistics (APPA), dog owners spend ~ $1400 annually on their pets. While cat owners spend ~ $900 annually. These numbers represent medical, food, services, gifts and supplies. Also, the average that was spent on gifts last year on both cats and dogs was ~ $300 combined per a survey by TD Ameritrade. 51% of pet owners reported buying Christmas gifts for their pets last year, while 56% affirm they will do so this year. And ~ 80% of pet owners buy gifts regardless. With that in mind, we’ll look at some pet gift ideas for Christmas.

We too have gotten our dogs gifts for Christmas over the years. Like bones or rawhide. But this is the first year I’ve bought costumes and special toys, intended as gifts for my cat and even chickens! Have I gone off the deep end?

Reasons for the Rise in Pet Gifts

woman hugging a puppy
Photo by Nana Lapushkina on

Many companies joined the ‘pet gift’ bandwagon, like Target and Walmart, stocking their shelves in hopes of competing with online retailers. Which makes sense in light of the fact that during last year’s lockdown, many people adopted pets as pandemic companions. Again, American pet owners spent a whopping $99 billion on their fur babies last year. Moreover, that included medical, food, services, splurges on gifts, plastic surgery, and even the pets themselves.

Dog Gift Ideas

Aussie by an indoor Christmas tree and TV

There are numerous gift ideas to get your pooch, but these are just a few that I’ve come up with:

I’ve been seeing these dog beds on my Google feed for a few days. They advertise that they support better sleep, superior comfort and anti-anxiety. And it sells on

With the smart dog collar you can keep up with how much exercise your dog is getting. And you can keep track of their whereabouts.

rubber Zisc flying dog toy

Ok, this is similar to a frisbee, but a lot more durable. And it’s not intended to be a chew toy, but with the Zogoflex it’s made out of, it can endure tugging, chewing, fetch, etc. Also, it’s gentle on your dog’s mouth.

Cat Gift Ideas

Similarly, there are a number of items you can find for your kitty. However, just like with your doggy, these are just a sample of what I found:

A self cleaning litter box with crystal litter that’s supposed to eliminate odor 5X more effectively than traditional litters. What cat owner wouldn’t want that?

box of flick and frolic cat toy

This is a Leaps and Bounds interactive toy that features a wand with a feather on the end.

multicolored fuzzy balls on brown surface

These are just what they sound like, and they’re the right size for your feline friend. This is Itty Bitty’s favorite toy, other than my hand and her backpack.

You could get your companion pet a treat or treats, however make sure it’s something they can eat. Although, if your pet has a weight issue, like they’re on the chubby side, you might want to skip the treats and get a toy instead.

Other Pet Gift Ideas

There are loads of sites out there, the most popular. However, Chewy is gaining ground, and they have amazing customer service. Along with the sites are numerous choices on gifts for your fur babies: Santa hats, reindeer antlers, sweaters, and clothing in general, if they can tolerate it. And make sure the clothing isn’t tight or restrictive. Though, you could go all out and send your pet to the pet spa. That is, if they don’t have separation anxiety.

Gift Ideas for Backyard Chickens

black rooster in Santa hat w/chickens in background outside

My last suggestions are for any pets you might have in your backyard. Chickens and ducks are not demanding, but they are curious. And they like to eat. So if you have some chickens and you want to splurge on them, you can get:

multi colored xylophone
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

Attach a xylophone to the coop at their level. And see if one (or all of them) will develop an ear for music. *Mine never did, but that was a long time ago. So maybe I’ll try it again.

  • cabbage
whole ripe fresh cabbage arranged on blue surface
Photo by Laker on

Hang cabbage from the ceiling/rafters of the run. Chickens love cabbage, and it takes time for them to eat it this way, because it’s a challenge. It also stimulates their natural foraging instincts.

Try adding a mirror to the run, or side of the coop, and watch the birds entertain themselves.

In conclusion

couple kissing dog in the snow
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

There are a lot of gift ideas for your fur or feather babies, either online or in-store. And you don’t have to spend a ton to get them. Your pet loves you no matter what, and more than anything, they want to spend time with you.


Cream Cheese Frosting with Whipping Cream

There are a lot of choices when it comes to frostings.  But I personally find that most are too sweet.  However my favorite is cream cheese frosting with whipping cream, and that’s because it’s a light and fluffy frosting, with just a hint of sugariness.

female mixing ingredients in bowl with whisk
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

Generally, when I bake, I substitute Truvia for regular sugar, and I’ve been doing that for almost 10 years.  Furthermore, I don’t notice that my desserts taste any differently than they did before making the switch.  And no one else has either.

Although, regarding cream cheese frosting with whipping cream, I only add a couple of tablespoons of Truvia, so there’s only the slightest trace of sweetness.  But that’s why I think it’s perfect.

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting with Whipping Cream

  • 1/2 cup of softened (room temperature) butter
  • 8 oz softened (room temperature) cream cheese
  • 2 cups of whipping cream
  • 2 – 3 cups of confectioner’s sugar to taste or 4 – 6 tbsp Truvia to taste
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
pouring of mixture on a stand mixer
Photo by SHVETS production on

Instructions for Cream Cheese Frosting with Whipping Cream

  • First, beat the butter with an electric mixer until it’s smooth.
  • Next, add the cream cheese until both are well mixed.
  • Then mix in either the confectioner’s sugar or Truvia, in small increments at a time, ie. 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar or 1 tbsp of Truvia. 
  • And add vanilla, beating mixture until creamy.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use.

There you have it, an easy recipe for cream cheese frosting with whipping cream.  You can ice cakes and cupcakes with this, the most popular flavors being carrot and red velvet cakes.  However I think this frosting also tastes amazing on Devil’s food.

decorated red and white frosted cupcakes

Additionally, if you omit the butter, you can get a stiffer frosting to decorate cakes, cookies, and top ice cream.

Thanks for stopping by!  Please like, leave a comment, and share this post.  And don’t forget to follow!

ducks Extras

How to Process Pekin Ducks

Recently I shared when to cull roosters and Pekin ducks. And I also covered how to process roosters. So now you may be wondering how to process Pekin ducks. In the last post about ducks, I mentioned that in our backyard, it’s similar to processing chickens, which basically means we don’t keep the skin on.

raw chicken breasts on white ceramic plate
Photo by alleksana on

We don’t bother de-feathering either our chickens or our ducks, because it’s a lot harder than just skinning them. Yes, the skin does taste great. But when I buy chicken from the grocery store, I usually just buy it skinless anyway, so this isn’t any different. Except we’re doing the work.

Supplies to process Pekin ducks

box of disposable nitrile gloves
  • A folding table or work table
  • Disposable gloves- you’ll go through plenty
  • Sharp knife
  • Duck size kill cone
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Metal bowl
  • Bleach spray or Clorox Clean-up and paper towels

If possible, remove the feed from the duck you’ve selected ~12-18 hours before you plan on processing it. However you can still allow it to have water.

Instructions to process Pekin ducks

sycamore tree with outbuilding and houses in distance
  • Hang the duck upside down in the kill cone

Hanging it upside down, with the blood rushing to its head, ironically calms it down. Also, our kill cone is attached to the designated ‘killing’ tree, one that’s out of view of our backyard animals.

Because our chickens fit nicely into the kill cone, they don’t necessarily need to be tied to the tree. Although the duck is bigger, so securely attach the duck’s legs with twine, rope, or wire. We used rope.

  • Cull the duck

Some people shoot their ducks, break their necks, use a hatchet, etc. But it’s important that you have everything you need before starting, because, once again, ducks are bigger and tougher than chickens.

After you’ve done the deed, let the blood drain out for a few minutes, knowing that the body will convulse, but it truly is dead. And when the duck has stopped moving, take it out of the cone and cut off the head, assuming you didn’t use a hatchet to do the deed.

hatchet in a block of wood outside
Photo by Matthew DeVries on
  • Wearing gloves, lay the duck on your work table

Periodically change your gloves as they get soiled and covered in duck juices.

  • Pluck the feathers off of the breasts and legs, giving you access to the skin
  • Once the feathers are off, starting at the breast bone, with your sharp knife, fillet breasts off of bones until you get to the drumsticks
  • Then slice around the hip, exposing the pelvic joint; and cut through the pelvic joint, which will detach the drumsticks from the carcass
  • Also, there isn’t enough meat on the wings; they’re scrawny, so leave them alone
  • Next, cut bottom part of the legs off
  • And finally, cut the legs off at the hip joint

Finishing up

raw duck in metal bowl
  • Put everything you’re not keeping into the 5 gallon bucket to bury when you’re finished
  • Then rinse the meat off with a hose before putting it in the metal bowl
  • And with clean gloves on, bring the bowl to your kitchen and package the meat

This doesn’t have to be elaborate freezer packaging; you can just wrap it in plastic wrap for now

  • Then refrigerate or chill the meat

Chilling the duck meat for ~24 hours will help the muscles relax and tenderize; after 24 hours, you can decide on whether you’ll cook it or freeze it

  • Next, return outside to clean up

Bring the knife inside; lay it in the sink and spray with a bleach spray. And once you’re back outside, rinse all of the blood off of the work table, and then thoroughly spray it with your bleach spray. Leave it like that for ~ 10 mins before rinsing.

Detach the kill cone and bring it inside to run it under hot water. After 10 mins, rinse the bleach spray from your table and clean the knife as directed by the manufacturer. Clean the cone with dish soap and hot water.

So that’s how you process Pekin ducks. But if you prefer trying to keep the duck whole, rather than in pieces, then try this site. And here are some alternative instructions in the event you want to keep the skin.

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