My “Story Tree” or the stories behind the ornaments …

For those of you who didn’t know; I lean towards the more historical, traditional (gasp and clutch the pearls), crafter, homemade and vintage inspired decorations of holidays, so my tree is often a mix of old and new.  its been that way since I first started to put up a tree (or rosemary bush in those really lean years). Even though these days I put up a smaller tree and yes – its a 1/2 tree, meaning its doesn’t have a back so I can put it flush against the wall to save some room; I still keep track of all my old favorite ornaments and rotate them each year. So while I add a few new ones each year (especially owls). It’s the usually the older, bruised or gifted ones that have become some of my favorites. Why? Because they tell my and my friends stories.

I was never one for fancy ornaments and decorations; rather I always found those that could serve to make me pause a moment to remember, to be an archive of sorts and tell the story of shared pasts, of friends, of families; the good times and the bad. Each year in November, (and yes I always put the tree up the weekend after T-day, unless I am on the road), it is a treat to open the boxes (oh, maybe all 12 of them) and unpack them. img_5641Deciding on which ones get to come out that year. It becomes a sort of “Mission Impossible” episode.

Some of mine; like the angel that has sat at the top of my tree for the last 20 years; and who before that it sat on my family tree since 1965. Yea, her “golden” wire skirt is tattered and torn, but she still gets to be the last thing I put up each year. I even had to make do with a new wand from her a few years back. Thank goodness for cliffs having something just right.. <grin>

Amore recent addition to the “family”; is the Santa diorama. I found this up in the Russian River several years ago at a church bazaar. When I saw it, I knew I was going to buy it. But the best surprise was when I asked someone working to tell me about it, she asked me did I want to meet the woman who made it. I said yes, and she came over with a lovely knowing grin on her face.  She said she knew right away I was going to want it. She told me how she had made it 40 years ago. Her husband built the box custom for her, and all the pieces she either made or custom ordered them. She even wallpapered it. Back then she said it has cost her almost a $100 to make.  I looked at Paul and he smiled, saying go ahead, you know if you don’t you will regret it. So I asked her how much, and she smiles and says $20 and make sure I gave it a good home.

These faded glass ones from a senior nieghbor many years ago. After she died, the family just left boxes of her ornaments on the street. It was sad to see them be tossed aside. Too much trouble to even gift or donate. But I love the dulled luster they offer tucked in the tree, like small candies.

A new one from my mother was delivered this summer. These ceramic trees used super popular back in the 70’s, in fact many of them were made during ceramic classes by crafters. Recently they have been put back in production, but I knew we had two and asked for one of ours. This particular one sits on a bourbon bottle base and wasn’t handmade by mother – my sister has that one.

Some of my other  favorites have come as “thank you’s”;  acquired over the last 20 years after the annual open house, when I get ornaments from friends who attend and realize my quirky little tree is a home for those odd, old or sentimental ornament they had as a kid or the one from Mom’s house that they no longer can use because they don’t put a tree up or it doesn’t match the “theme” tree.  Even the notes telling the story of each,  are saved.  Like this rusted bell, even to me as a way of saying goodbye to someone.

They each have a story to tell and find a home here. Maybe that’s why I always resonated with the seasonal story of the  “Rudolph and The Island of Misfit Toys”.

They all have a home on mine and are become “real”. I guess my tree becomes the playroom from the Velveteen Rabbit; only instead of a playroom it is a tree, where they become real again by being displayed and loved on my “story tree”.

Bringing Back Date Night

‪Perfect rainy night meal @OssoSteakhouse last night. 

As expected it was all about the meat. Several cuts offered, but the bone in filet mignon is what takes it home. It’s monster huge portion size. 

They offer several app and sides to choose from. But that cheese bread captured my heart! Hot, gooey with just some spice from the chirizo- almost worth ordering two. 

So to balance that we went with the crispy potatoes & veggies which were spot on‬. Simple, clean taste with a balance of herbs and butter.  

We tried the italian pot-stickers as well, they were good but not “omg”. I would opt for one of  the seafood skillets next time. 

Reservations suggested. They have these great “command center” seats for couples, but if you are both tall; ask for the booth. 

Not a cheap night; but well worth it when celebrating or just a night out. 

1177 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108


Best part is that we had enough leftovers for sunday brunch!

So little time, but so many ways to make cheesy sausage snacks

So last month I found a Low Country recipe for a cheesy sausage biscuit snack from Hoppin Johns Low Country cookbook; unlike a regular fluffy biscuit these are a much more dense & compact bite that are meant to be a  cross between a savory “cookie” and a snack bite. 

The only change I made after making it a couple times is the addition of a topping of pepper jelly, almost making it like a “thumbprint cookie”. The bite and coolness of the jelly on the dense snack adds a nice break in the flavor.

But there was still a taste of “flour” to it that I didn’t care for, so I kept looking for an alternative which I found in a recent more Italian style version from Valerie Bertinelli’s cookbook.

This cheesy sausage snack uses Bisquick instead of flour, uncooked bulk sasuage and a tablespoon of Tabasco sauce with a result that comes out hot, crisp, dark-golden brown and gooey good


  • Oil, for greasing the baking sheets (cooking spray is fine)
  • 3 cups biscuit mix, such as Bisquick
  • 1 pound spicy sausage (uncooked)

Note: you can use so use a pound of mild or sweet sausage and add in several links of hot sausage or any combination of sausage that meets your preference. The key here us it needs to be in bulk or taken out of the casing).

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 ounces aged white Cheddar, grated
  • 8 ounces sharp yellow Cheddar, grated
  • 2 tablespoons of parmesan  cheese, grated (this is in addition I added to the Recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco (or to taste)
  • Ground pepper to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 2 baking or cookie sheets and set aside.

Note: I think the oven I use runs hot so 400 actually made them darker than I like, when I cook them in the future I’ll be doing them at 350.

  • Combine the biscuit mix, sausage and rosemary in a large bowl. 

  • Mix with your hands, then work in the white and yellow Cheddars and hot sauce. 

Note: this actually may take longer than you think. Because of the limited liquid, its the fat from the sausage as it warms up with your hands that ads to the binding from  the mixing. So be prepared to knead this until it’s really well combined. One trick is to make sure that your sausage isnt ice cold when you mix it together.  

  • Form into balls the size of walnuts and place on the prepared baking sheets.

Note:  I used a small ice cream scooper to divide them out and I tried both just scooping it onto the tray as well as shaping them into balls with my hands and ultimately they both look the same after cooking. 

  • Bake until cooked through, about 18-20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

South at Southpaw

Super great dinner tonight at Southwall barbecue in the mission. All the food past everyone’s taste buds from the smoke brisket to the ribs to the pulled pork. Another shine on the menu are the sides; from salty to sweet – a selection for everyone’s taste from the traditional grits, to a “grits cake”, fried pickles, baked macaroni and cheese and even vegetables. 

If it’s cold out, the restaurant itself can be chilly so dress in layers, other than that it’s a must-see. Reservations recommended. They cater too. 

Southpaw BBQ


(415) 934-9300


2170 Mission St.

San Francisco, CA 94110


Mon 5–10:30p

Tues Closed

Wed 5–10:30p

Thur 5–10:30p

Fri 5–11:30p

Sat 3–11:30p

Sun 3–10:30p

Ok, unbuckle it boys, the holiday treats are arriving, 1st up #wickedwhoopies 

First off this season was a find by Paul; Wicked Whoopies

Boston & Mass as well as Maine folks will get the “wicked” part –  “when something’s good, they call it “good.” When something’s great, they call it “WICKED!” . Get the hestory here.
So Paul had some sent home for us to try… they have mini versions  but for “tasting purposes” he opted for full size… guess we know what tonight’s treat will be…

The cake it self is reminiscent of the caje from our childhood occassional treats; “Devil Dogs”. The Mocha flavor which was the first one to try was a winthe mcha flavored cream filling was sweet, but not “synthetic” tasting. I look forward to trying the rest. 

Online and two locations:

621 Maine Avenue, Farmingdale, ME 04344

ph: 207-622-8860


100 Main St, Freeport, ME 04032

ph: 207-865-3100