Sunday, December 16, 2012

Count Your Blessings

I'm thinking of some of my favorite Christmas things today (and counting my blessings, too.) Here are a few in no particular order, other than the order of the photos on my camera...

I love music. I especially love Christmas music. We watched White Christmas last night, one of my favorite holiday movies. And Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep is my favorite song in it. I've had the sheet music for this song for over 50 years (yikes! I'm old) and it is well tattered from much use.

When Mommy was just a baby, I pushed her stroller into a Christmas shop at the beach while on summer vacation. I saw these beautiful Nativity sets and could not stop looking at them. I finally decided to splurge big time (which I now think was an investment) and purchase the entire set. It was meant to be a collected a few pieces at a time but I was worried that before I got all of it, it would be discontinued. Well, you can still buy this Fontanini set, but then I didn't know that it would be around this long. It was one of the best purchases I've ever made. These unbreakable pieces have survived years and years of little hands "helping" when it was time to set it up. For 29 years it has reminded us of how Christmas began. 

It also makes me smile every year when I put it out. When Mommy was just three, I turned around to see her adding the white fence sections from her Fisher Price farm set to the scene. Slightly aggravated that she was messing up my beautiful display, I asked her what on earth she was doing. She explained that she was "fixing it so the cows wouldn't get out." She--the child of a cattleman--understood all too well, even that young age, that it is not a good thing when the cows get loose! We left the fence up that year.

For the last several years we have attended an outdoor Nativity scene held in a field beside a local country church. We love going because it is so simple and real. I love the glorious wonderfully rehearsed productions that other churches do—sound systems and elegant costumes and trained musicians. But this one, when we sit in cold metal folding chairs outside and listen to the Christmas story being told by their pastor, seems maybe closer to how it happened. A couple of years ago, the shepherds' bonfire caught the grass on fire. A little extra drama that year.

Last night when we came home from the outdoor Nativity, chilled to the bone from sitting outside on those cold metal chairs, I had supper waiting. This new recipe that turned out to be a winner. Daddy-O ate three sandwiches. (Not quite as bad as it sounds—I bought the small buns.) It was a little spicy but when the meat is combined with the bun and cheese in a sandwich, it was just right.


1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 lb beef roast, trimmed of excess fat
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 16-oz. jar sliced pepperoncinis, undrained

crusty sandwich rolls
sliced Provolone cheese

Heat oil in a pot or high-sided skillet over high heat. While the oil is heating, combine the salt and pepper and rub it into the meat. Add more if necessary.

When the oil is hot, sear the roast on all sides so the outsides of it is browned and a little crispy.

Transfer the roast to a slow cooker and add the minced garlic and the entire jar of pepperoncinis (along with juice.)
Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or until the beef is 
fork tender.
 Drain and shred. Keep the peppers!

Toast buns. Pile drained, shredded meat on bottom bun and top with cheese. Put back under broiler just long enough to melt the cheese. 

I used a chuck roast yesterday. No trimming was needed on the outside of the roast but I did use a very sharp knife and cut out as much of the "inside fat" as I could to keep the finished dish from being too greasy. You could also use a round roast.


  1. Another nativity story... when I lived in Mpls, just graduated from school, I wanted Christmas in my apartment, even though I went home for Christmas. The nativity was the first thing I wanted. I had little money. I got all my figures at Woolworth's, as I recall. This is major nativity we still use, although I've added a creche. I discovered some of the pries still on the bottom of a few figures. Twenty-nine cents for figures, fifteen cents for animals. I'm missing a couple figures and there's no way to replace them with anything similar, but it's still our nativity. We have the hand carved one from Africa on the mantle and a miniature one and I've seen many beautiful sets over the years, but I've never had any desire to replace the very first one I bought.

  2. Love the fence story. But love especially the vintage sheet music. What a wonderful cover!! I so love that movie and those two singing that song.


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