Life on the creative side

Archive for December, 2011

Christmas On The Bourbon Trail

christmas on the bourbon trail

I sincerely hope you and your loved ones have had as wonderful a Christmas season as I have.  For the first time we welcomed, not one but two new members of our family to a cabin Christmas on the Ridge. We had gatherings where we feasted, played games and exchanged gifts. My two new son-in-laws spent their very first Christmas with us, and I feel confident they felt welcomed, maybe a little overwhelmed, but most definitely welcomed.

the kentucky bourbon trail

As many of you already know my two daughters, Cindy and Kate, were recently married – Cindy in May of this year and Kate, May of last year – but this was the first Christmas any of them had spent with each other. Although Kate was married this time last year, she is a military wife and her new husband was deployed to Afghanistan during their first holiday as a married couple; and last year Cindy’s husband-to-be spent the holiday alone in NYC with  work obligations.

christmas trees on the front porchSo for this very special Christmas on the ridge I wanted to go all out; beginning with decorations.  Thankfully my creative brother and his equally creative wife were available to help, and together we made the cabin look amazing. When the kids finally arrived, on the day of our annual tree trimming party, they found the cabin transformed into a wonderland. Four full-sized cedar trees, cut log cabin doll house decorated for christmasfrom our land and covered in lights and a miniature wagon overflowing with poinsettia, greenery and gourds filled the porch while icicle lights dripped from both the porch and roof eves. A giant snowman singing and dancing with Christmas cheer greeted/startled our arriving guests (Ok the snowman may have been a bit too much) but the overall welcome was magical.

christmas eve dinner at the cabin 2012

 Making this holiday even more special were the gifts: One of their father’s handcrafted wine racks and one of my handmade ornaments for each of the couples and a rugged video camera perfect for our adventurous son.

handpainted first dance ornamentwind rack crafted from salvaged wooden gutters








But the most unusual gift we chose for the kids was a trip along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail! I pre-contacted each of the distillery’s we planned to visit (Woodford Reserve,  Four Roses, Wild Turkey and Buffalo Trace) to make sure they would be open on December 26th; ordered official Bourbon Trail passports for everyone; mapped out a route; rented a fifteen passenger van; packed everyone a breakfast burrito –  filled with eggs, peppers, onions, mushrooms, cheese, ham and bacon; packed a lunch of ciabata bread, cheese, prosciutto, olives and humus; coffee, hot chocolate and sugar cookies for the road.

kentucky bourbon trail passportAmazingly at 8:15 AM me and my hubby,  our daughters and their hubbies, our son, my brother and his wife and  two of my children’s life-long friends piled into the van right on schedule just to discover that the rental company had failed to secure one of the van seats.  After a twenty-minute delay and frustrated phone call to the rental company (“Sorry will not get us to our tour on time”), and an hour and half drive we were finally sipping bourbon and getting our first passport stamp at Four Roses Distilleries – yes if you do the math, we were tasting bourbon at just past ten in the morning.

bourbon tasting four roses distillery

Beautiful Spanish style architecture distinguishes this distillery from others along the trail, not to mention the special Master distiller’s select bourbon, bottled, numbered and for sale only to those that visit the historical landmark facilities. The tasting was informative and fun. While the van delay permitted us only enough time to do the tasting, which consisted of four great bourbons, we’ll definitively be returning for the full tour.

bourbon tasting wild turkey distillery

Twenty minutes down the road was our next stop, Wild Turkey Distillery. Most of the distilleries along the trail offer tours on the hour between 10am and 3pm. The tours can take up to an hour and with the driving time between them ranging from twenty minutes to more than an hour, timing is an issue. So we opted out of the tour but were still welcome to take part in a tasting, after a required viewing of an entertaining short film/Wild Turkey infomercial. This time the tasting consisted of our choice of two out of seven bourbons; and once again the host conducting the tasting was friendly and informative.

wild turkey distillery

bourbon aging warehouse at woodford reserveAfter Wild Turkey we were off to Woodford Reserve another twenty or thirty minutes away and the only distillery on the trail that my hubby and I have previously toured.  Nestled along a scenic creek flowing through the middle of idyllic, Kentucky horse farms and bluegrass pastures, sits the collection of limestone and brick structures that is Woodford reserve.  After viewing Woodford’s own brief film/infomercial, our guide, with his slow Kentucky drawl and sometimes rambling descriptions, lead us through the interesting bourbon process and the faculties that are simply beautiful. We learned that bourbon has to contain at least fifty-one percent corn and be aged in new oak-charred barrels for a minimum of two years.

woodford reserve tour

bourbon barrels at woodford reserve distillery

buffalo trace distilleryOur last stop on the trail was actually not on the trail at all; Buffalo Trace Distillery has opted out of the official Bourbon Trail marketing campaign but is still a worthy destination for Bourbon and history enthusiasts; the historic distillery was one of only three in the country that manged to stay open during prohibition by manufacturing bourbon for “medicinal purposes”. We pulled into the Trace just as the last tour of the day was departing.  Walking through the collection of brick warehouse style structures, complete with their own water tower and street signs and elevated barrel rails, was like stepping back in time, into the buffalo trace distillery tourstreets of a turn of the century town.

After sitting through yet another film, this time lasting almost ten minutes we were given a tour of the bourbon aging warehouse where racks and racks of barrels stacked several layers high created a cave like atmosphere permeated with the sweet, smoky aroma of aging bourbon. Apparently the smell is so enticing that a percentage of the bourbon is lost during this process to the “angles’ share”, although some claim it’s merely evaporation. We finished the tour with a tasting of two bourbons, some “White Dog” (freshly distilled alcohol before being transformed into bourbon) and their new cream liqueur, Bourbon Cream.  Being that is was Christmas time, the entire complex was festooned with Christmas lights and decorations creating an enchanting scene.

water tower at buffalo trace distillery

We finished the day in Lexington at Joe Bologna’s Pizzeria where we feasted on pizza pie, toasted a great day and made our first New Year’s Eve resolutions – visit the remaining distilleries along the Bourbon trail by year’s end of 2012, filling our bourbon passports!

Happy New Year!


Welcome To Our Christmas Cabin











Lights, Decorations – Party!

Isn’t Christmas time wonderful? I love everything about the season; the sappy TV specials and Christmas movie classics, as I type this post Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby are singing their way through White Christmas. I also love the traditions of the season; baking cookies, hanging Christmas lights and decorations, and gathering with friends and family.  Last night was one such gathering for a very special group of awsome christmas light displaymy girl friends, no men.  Well a couple of the guys were there for a while but it didn’t take long for the tide of estrogen to run them off. It was our annual bunco Christmas party and ornament exchange.

 For those of you who aren’t familiar with bunco, it’s a simple game of dice perfect for those of us who would rather laugh and visit than concentrate on strategy, while still providing a reason to get together once a month at each other’s homes.  It is our tradition that this party is hosted by the same member every year and for good reason, her husband is a Christmas decorating maniac! Driving up to their house is a sight to behold, with lights and animated decorations from curb to door. And inside the house the spirit continues.

beautiful christmas lights display

It has become my tradition to make the ornament that I take to the exchange. For the past several years I have crafted a one of a kind scherenschnitte but this year I decided to change things up a little and paint my ornament.

My hand painted ornament for this year’s ornament exchange.


 Painted ornaments from the past.

Recycling Paper Into Christmas Ornament

paper cut christmas treel, tree ornamentI love home-made Christmas ornaments and I really enjoy making them myself. In this post I’m sharing one of my favorite and easiest ornaments to make. It’s a paper Christmas tree cut from recycled paper.  I mentioned this project  in a post last year but it is such a great project I think it’s worth mentioning again, and this time I have a template for any one that would like to print it and use it for a pattern.

All you’ll need to create this beautiful Christmas decoration is a pencil, a pair of scissors, a sewing machine, some small beads and paper (old magazines pages and junk mail work great), glitter, glue stick and my pattern are optional but a creative spirit is not :)



  1. Size the pattern to desirable size and print.
  2. Collect pages from an old magazine (I look for colors that I like within the pages).
  3. Layer three pages together and cut them into a rectangle an inch larger than the tree pattern.
  4. optional – Apply glue using a glue stick to both sides of each page and sprinkle with glitter and let dry before continuing.
  5. With the three pages still layered together, and leaving a six-inch tail of thread on both ends, sew a running sitch lengthwise along the center of the layered papers, stitching them all together. 
  6. Knot the thread on the top, leaving a loop for hanging.
  7. Thread beads onto the bottom thread tail and knot off.
  8. Trace the pattern onto the top page and cut out the design through all three of the sewn pages at once or ( you can fold the pages along the stitching and trace only half the pattern onto the folded top page then cut through all six pieces of paper at one time). 
  9. Fold apart the pages.
  10. Hang on your Christmas tree.

A Christmas Parade

This time of year, all around the country people gather in parks and along streets of big cities and small towns to watch and cheer Christmas parades.  Whether big and fancy or small and homemade, local parades reflect the personality, history and heritage of their communities; tractors roll along the parade route in the midwest, wrangler’s prance on horseback in the west and in our little beach-side town we line the shore and gather on the bridges of the intracoastal waterway for our annual Christmas boat parade.

This is year twenty-four for the boat parade and, after many years of watching from the shore, my first year as a twinkling, floating, celebration of the season.nsb christmas boat parade







There must have been some Christmas magic that moved through a small circle of my friends, the day before the parade, that made us decide this was the year we would finally stop talking about participating and start decorating a Christmas boat. So with a two o’clock entry deadline looming, we split up; some off to register the boat and others scurrying away in search of decorations and inspiration.

NSB Christmas Boat Parade

 And at five thirty the next evening we were lined up at marker 53 along with thirty plus boats, all dripping with Christmas lights and good cheer.


 Drifting at five knots we spent the next hour and half yelling back Merry Christmas to the shadowy crowds lining the dark shore.

There was of course judging, with cash prizes! But of course we didn’t win; not  a prize or even a place in the ranking, but the fun and comradery of the day was reward enough. 

NSB Christmas Boat Parade

nsb boat parade

NSB Christmas Boat Parade

 NSB Christmas Boat Parade

 So I suggest that this year you go out and watch a local parade; or even better yet – enter one!

We’re Booked At The Renninger’s Antique Extravaganza!

Its official, we’re committed.  This weekend we rented our space for the antique extravaganza in January   It’s the sale that Lisa and I have been moving toward with all the repurposing projects we’ve been working on for the past few months.

We attendant this season’s first extravaganza to gather information.  We decided on an area of the show that we would like to be located, observed what items seemed to be popular and of course shopped.

If you’re going to be in the central Florida area January 20, 21 and 22, stop by and say hello.