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**7th Annual FOTESS Holiday Card Swap**

November 23, 2018

7th Annual FOTESS Holiday Card Swap!

It's that time of year again, when we get to celebrate with our FOTESS members by sending greetings and well wishes to All! As most of you know, Shirley (sjc48) initiated this FOTESS Holiday Card Swap 7 years ago. This holiday card swap has been very special to her. As well, I know that this swap has been special to the FOTESS group members, including me. Shirley has been unable to log on to HOUZZ and will be unable to host. Jayeanne (pinkiris) will be your hostess with the mostess for this December Holiday Card swap. I will be Jayeanne's elfie helper....ho ho ho!!!! :

As always, this is going to be a very simple swap: If you sign up, you will be sending a holiday card to 3-5 of your fellow FOTESS members who have been current active members since January, 2018.

If you would like to include a small gift in your card, you can, but make sure that the gift is small enough to fit in the card and mailed with just one regular stamp.

As well, since Shirley will not be able to join us in the fun, I thought it would be nice for each of us to send the host of this swap for the past 6 years....Shirley (sc48), a holiday card. I think Shirley would enjoy hearing from her FOTESS buddies.


Sign ups will be held until Sunday, December 2nd. On Monday, December 3, Jayeanne (pinkiris) will email each FOTESSER that signs up, with the names of the FOTESS members you are to send to.


The deadline for mailing your cards is the end of the year. There is no theme this year, you can send in time for Christmas, the Solstice, New Year's, or any other holiday that takes place in December.

If you need addresses, contact Jayeanne (pinkiris) or Annie (canyonwind).

And please remember to write FOTESS on the back of your envelope, so no one confuses it with the other big swaps.

Merry Christmas.... December is a very busy time for all but I do hope that many of you are able to participate.



Comments (151)
  • amybabyboy3

    Annie, looks great!

    I just made a batch of my grandmother's no bake peanut butter cookies.

    And a found a cute wreath for the door

  • canyonwind

    Amy, I want some of your Peanut Butter cookies NOW,NOW,NOW LOL!.....What is your Grandmother' recipe? Or is it top secret?


  • l1oness

    I received a card from Melinda - thank you! I also mailed out my cards today.

    As far as my cookie recipe, I realize I didn't include the title. Those are Cinnamon Chipper Snickerdoodle cookies. :)

    *****When was Santa Claus invented ?? 1881

    *****Why does Santa dress in red ?? The original St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra in the 4th Century, and his traditional robes were red and white.


    *** How many reindeer fly Santa's sleigh ?? 9 deer, with Ruldoph

    *** Which reindeer is Rudolf's dad ?? Donner

    *** Have you ever had your photo taken with Santa ?? Lots as a kid... and just this past November too, with my mom! We went to a gardening ladies night, and they had santa, so we had to get our picture with him. I'll have to find the picture and post it.


  • amybabyboy3

    Annie, I wish I could share some with you but here is the recipe! Very Easy and pretty tasty!

    Peanut Butter Cookies

    6oz Butterscotch morsels

    1/2 C peanut butter

    Melt both together in a double boiler ( I did this in the microwave for about a minute and a half)

    Pour over 2 Cups corn flakes

    Mix together, Drop small spoonful on wax paper lined baking sheet then refrigerate.

    Annie, I doubled the recipe and just refrigerated for about 20 minutes before tasting. I am keeping them in the refrigerator. Take care and hope you like them. The recipe wasn't real detailed

  • l1oness

    Here's the pic!

  • pinkiris

    The '12 Days of Christmas holiday game'

    DAY 6 - Holiday FUN with GINGERBREAD!

    *****How many of us really know much about 'The History of Gingerbread ?? For (5)
    points, please tell us a little bit about the history of gingerbread

    *****in addition to that ... How did the tradition of making decorated gingerbread houses get started ?? please tell us for (5) points

    *****Who invented the gingerbread houses ?? (3) points

    *****What is the meaning of a gingerbread man ?? For (3) points

    *****What is the moral of the gingerbread man story ?? for (5) points


    *** Have you ever made a gingerbread house ?? (3) points

    ***You know we LOVE photos .... if you have made a gingerbread house - we would LOVE to see it! ....each photo (10) points!


    DAY 5 points - please ladies, correct me if I am wrong


    Annie 30 + BONUS 10 COOKIES PHOTO


    Margo - 24

    Mandy - 15 + BONUS 10 PHOTO W SANTA

    Still BONUS points to earn at anytime for photos.... guessing my trees, cookie recipes, photos of cookies, photos with St. Nicholas ...


    BINGO words ...




  • pinkiris

    SWAPPING HOLIDAY Cards FOTESS style this month.....


    Jeanne - SENT 12/8

    Faye - SENT 12/10




    Margo - starting to mail cards 12/6


    Melinda - SENT 12/3 - ALL CARDS REC'D 12/8



    Heidi - sent 12/6

    Amy - sending 12/10

    Karen Holt


    Mandy - SENT 12/8

    PLEASE POST WHEN YOU HAVE MAILED OUT YOUR CARDS, AND ALSO PLEASE POST WHEN YOU RECEIVE CARDS *** You may begin mailing your cards out anytime now, the deadline for mailing your cards is the end of the year.

    And please remember to write FOTESS on the back of your envelope, so no one confuses it with another swap, thank you!

  • canyonwind

    Run, run, fast as you can, You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man! ~ The Gingerbread Man,

    No confection symbolizes the holidays quite like gingerbread in its many forms, from edible houses to candy-studded gingerbread men to spiced loaves of cake-like bread. In Medieval England, the term gingerbread simply meant ‘preserved ginger’ and wasn’t applied to the desserts we are familiar with until the 15th century. The term is now broadly used to describe any type of sweet treat that combines ginger with honey, treacle or molasses. Ginger root was first cultivated in ancient China, where it was commonly used as a medical treatment. From there it spread to Europe via the Silk Road. During the Middle Ages it was favored as a spice for its ability to disguise the taste of preserved meats. Henry VIII is said to have used a ginger concoction in hopes of building a resistance to the plague. Even today we use ginger as an effective remedy for nausea and other stomach ailments. In Sanskrit the root was known as srigavera, which translates to ‘root shaped like a horn’ – a fitting name for ginger’s unusual appearance. History of Gingerbread Source: Deposit Photos According to Rhonda Massingham Hart’s Making Gingerbread Houses, the first known recipe for gingerbread came from Greece in 2400 BC. Chinese recipes were developed during the 10th century and by the late Middle Ages, Europeans had their own version of gingerbread. The hard cookies, sometimes gilded with gold leaf and shaped like animals, kings and queens, were a staple at Medieval fairs in England, France, Holland and Germany. Queen Elizabeth I is credited with the idea of decorating the cookies in this fashion, after she had some made to resemble the dignitaries visiting her court. Over time some of these festivals came to be known as Gingerbread Fairs, and the gingerbread cookies served there were known as ‘fairings.’ The shapes of the gingerbread changed with the season, including flowers in the spring and birds in the fall. Elaborately decorated gingerbread became synonymous with all things fancy and elegant in England. The gold leaf that was often used to decorate gingerbread cookies led to the popular expression ‘to take the gilt off of gingerbread.’ The carved, white architectural details found on many colonial American seaside homes is sometimes referred to as ‘gingerbread work’. History of Gingerbread Public domain image from the book, Dramatic Reader For Lower Grades, by Florence Holbrook, Copyright 1911, page 118. Source: Wikimedia Commons Gingerbread houses originated in Germany during the 16th century. The elaborate cookie-walled houses, decorated with foil in addition to gold leaf, became associated with Christmas tradition. Their popularity rose when the Brothers Grimm wrote the story of Hansel and Gretel, in which the main characters stumble upon a house made entirely of treats deep in the forest. It is unclear whether or not gingerbread houses were a result of the popular fairy tale, or vice versa. Recently the record for world’s largest gingerbread house was broken. The previous record was set by the Mall of America in 2006. The new winning gingerbread house, spanning nearly 40,000 cubic feet, was erected at Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas. The house required a building permit and was built much like a traditional house. 4,000 gingerbread bricks were used during its construction. To put that in perspective, a recipe for a house this size would include 1,800 pounds of butter and 1,080 ounces of ground ginger. Sounds more like a gingerbread resort! History of Gingerbread Source: Deposit Photos Gingerbread arrived in the New World with English colonists. The cookies were sometimes used to sway Virginia voters to favor one candidate over another. The first American cookbook, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, has recipes for three types of gingerbread including the soft variety baked in loaves:

    I will answer more tomorrow.....


  • amybabyboy3

    Gingerbread houses originated in Germany during the 16th century. The elaborate cookie-walled houses, decorated with foil in addition to gold leaf, became associated with Christmas tradition. ... It is unclear whether or not gingerbread houses were a result of the popular fairy tale, or vice versa.

    How did the tradition of making decorated gingerbread houses get started

    Gingerbread has been around for thousands of years, since the times of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. During its early days, it was baked to be firm so that it could be used for religious ceremonial purposes. Eventually, an Armenian monk brought it to Europe in 992. By this period, gingerbread baking was already quite sophisticated, and specially made molds were used to create images of saints and other important religious characters out of the bread.

    The primary use of gingerbread continued to serve a religious purpose through to the 17th century, when it finally became associated with Christmas holidays. As the creation of religious icons — even in edible forms — was seen as a sacred and prestigious practice, European royalty of the time only permitted gingerbread to be prepared by specially trained gingerbread guild members except during Christmas and Easter. As a result, most people could only enjoy the sweet dessert during this time of the year.

    The Growth Of Gingerbread

    Gingerbread patterns and designs continued to become increasing detailed and intricate. Russian gingerbread makers began crafting some of the first gingerbread men and women. These breads often took shapes similar to matryoshka dolls or kolobok, a round, Russian gingerbread man. Even still, the “house” concept wasn’t introduced until 200 years later through the Brothers’ Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel. The tale’s witchy ginger dwelling was quickly adapted to fit a more festive role, with a merry winter wonderland-esque cottage theme.

    These new houses adopted the German style of bread, having a German origin and taking advantage of the harder consistency. This provides enough support to be able to design taller and more fanciful structures. With gingerbread’s long history of being used as a decorative edible substance, gingerbread house-making quickly became an art.

    The National Gingerbread House Competition

    Today, there’s no better place to see this architectural ingenuity showcased than at the National Gingerbread House Competition in Asheville, North Carolina. Entering its 21st year, the competition has built a reputation for attracting 400 of the best gingerbread house designers from across the nation each year.

    The competition is held every year in the Omni Grove Park Inn. Entries are featured throughout the hotel from November through January and can be publicly viewed (for free) Sunday through Thursday from 9am to 9pm. Hotel, restaurant and spa guests also have access to the viewing area 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So although the house (or horse, or toy box) must be 100% edible and 75% gingerbread, it must be able to survive months of showmanship.

    Submissions can be entered from both teams and individuals, and are broken down into adult, teen, youth and child categories. Since transporting the creations is such a delicate task, an additional prize was introduced and is awarded to the entrant who had to travel the furthest distance to get to the competition. From there, up to nine judges select the winners in each category and an overall winner. Judges vary each year with everyone from the designer of Princess Diana’s wedding cake to the curator of the Department of Drawings and Prints at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. This panel makes their decision based on the following five criteria:

    • Overall Appearance
    • Originality and Creativity
    • Difficulty
    • Precision
    • Consistency of Theme

    The overall winner receives a $5,000 check, 2-night Club Floor stay at The Grove Park Inn, dinner and breakfast for two at one of the inn’s dining outlets, and a prize package from Chef Nicolas Lodge.

    Ann Bailey, A Master Gingerbread Artist

    While holiday cheer (and maybe some eggnog) helps to keep the competition friendly, the top entries take serious skill to match the judges’ reputations. For instance, one year’s winner revolutionized the gingerbread world with her biblical scene featuring three wisemen and a camel standing under a stone archway. The highly detailed masterpiece took over 200 hours to recreate, with high levels of rippling detail unlike any other gingerbread creation ever seen. She was able to work the fine details in by coating traditional bread in a moldable paste of gingerbread, gelatin, corn syrup and olive.

    While years of pastry experience may have something to do with it, Bailey says the most important points of creating a gingerbread gem are finding an idea, building a prototype out of wood or paper, doing background research, and the final baking, carving and assembling, starting with the all-important stable base. By keeping these guidelines in mind, Bailey’s creation was also able to serve the (true) gingerbread purpose of tasting deliciously, despite being on display for months on end.

    In The True Spirit Of Gingerbread

    Not all gingerbread creations will be national competition winners, however. Even if a gingerbread house would have failed every housing inspection test in the book, the true spirit of the holidays is to get together with friends and family and appreciate everything life has to offer. There’s no better way to do so than by gathering together to create something that is both artistic and delicious.

    Along with countless other classic lines, William Shakespeare summed gingerbread up pretty well with: “And I had but one penny in the world, thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread.”


    Germans also invented the concept of making gingerbread houses, probably inspired by the witch's candy cottage in the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel.

    Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558 – 1603) is credited with the invention of the gingerbread man. She would delight visiting dignitaries with gingerbread men made in their own likenesses.

    "The Gingerbread Man" (sometimes, "The Gingerbread Boy") is an American fairy tale. It is a variant of the European runaway pancake story. ... The story tells of aGingerbread Man who runs away from the old woman who baked him. He is chased by several people and animals.

    The moral of the story is that you should not trust anyone without consideration. This story makes lying seem quite compelling, seeing as with a simple bit of trickery, the fox was able to reap the rewards of eating the supple gingerbread man.

  • amybabyboy3

    I am sending my cards out in the morning.

  • pinkiris

    BINGO words ....

    St. Nicholas

    red suit


  • canyonwind

    A little old lady, and little old man, become lonely after living by themselves and with their cat for so long. One day the little old lady decides to
    bake a gingerbread man. As soon as he is done baking, the gingerbread man jumps from the oven and runs away. He comes across many different obstacles,
    animals and humans that want to eat him, and continues to run away. Will any of them finally be able to catch the gingerbread man?

    The moral of the story is that you should not trust anyone without consideration.

    I had more info but it has disappeared....maybe the fox got it!


    I have not made a gingerbread house but I am making one this week....

    And speaking of Gingerbread, I made Gingersnaps Dipped In White Chocolate last week....



    2 cups sugar

    1-1/2 cups canola oil

    2 large eggs

    1/2 cup molasses

    4 cups all-purpose flour

    4 teaspoons baking soda

    3 teaspoons ground ginger

    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

    1 teaspoon salt

    Additional sugar

    2 packages (10 to 12 ounces each) white baking chips

    1/4 cup shortening

    (see note below about white chocolate and shortening)


    1.In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil. Beat in eggs. Stir
    in molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt; gradually
    add to creamed mixture and mix well.

    2.Shape into 3/4-in. balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 in.
    apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until
    cookie springs back when touched lightly. Remove to wire racks to cool.

    3.In a microwave, melt chips and shortening; stir until
    smooth. Dip cookies halfway into the melted chips; allow excess to drip off.
    Place on waxed paper; let stand until set.

    (note: I did NOT melt my white chocolate with shortening in microwave. I zapped white chocolate chips for 30 seconds, then stirred, zapped for 10 seconds more, then stirred... then one or two hits of a few seconds stirring in between....at this point the chips were not completely melted....almost! I then dipped cooled cookies in chocolate/drizzled chocolate on cookies)

    Happy Sunday!!


  • brittneysgran

    Annie I remember the story of the gingerbread man, cute. Hope to try the cookie recipes posted.

  • amybabyboy3

    I forgot to post that I once went into school with one of my boys who was in 3rd grade at the time to help the kids make gingerbread houses. It was fun and they had a contest when they were all finished.

  • xiangirl zone 4/5 Nebraska
    My cards were mailed 12/6. Local volunteers collected Christmas cards and sent them by pony Express (volunteers on horses) between 2 towns. I didn't read about it until it was over. Each envelope was going to have a Pony Express cancellation stamp and I wanted to send each of you one. I'm putting it on my list for next year.
    My mother makes Church Window Cookies. colored marshmallows held together with chocolate in a roll. sliced into 1/2 in. circles. So pretty.
  • pinkiris

    The '12 Days of Christmas holiday game'

    DAY 7 - Holiday FUN with Traditional CHRISTMAS FLOWERS and PLANTS

    *****How many of us really know much about ''The traditional Christmas flowers/plants ?? For (5) points, please tell us a little bit about traditional Christmas flowers and plants

    *****in addition to that ... How did the poinsettia become associated with Christmas?? please tell us for (5) points

    *****What is the legend of the poinsettia at Christmas ?? (3) points

    *****What is the 'Christmas plant' called ?? (3) points

    *****What do Poinsettias symbolize ?? (5) points


    *** What are some traditional Christmas plants and/or other plants used in Christmas celebrations?? please name (10) TEN plants/flowers for (5) points

    ***You know we LOVE photos .... if you have any traditional Christmas plants/flowers at home - YES, we would LOVE to see it/them! ....each photo (10) points!

    *****BONUS BONUS BONUS*****



    DAY 6 points - please ladies, correct me if I am wrong

    Amy 24

    Annie 8 + BONUS 10 NEW RECIPE + BONUS 10 - Pretty sure I saw these cookies in your photo you posted - AND THEY ARE GINGERBREAD! YUM!

    Heidi 3

    Still BONUS points to earn at anytime for photos.... guessing my
    tree decor, cookie recipes, photos of cookies, photos with St. Nicholas, gingerbread house photos ...


    These are (2) of my variegated Christmas Cactus ... first one just getting ready to bloom ... my other one no signs of blooms, no disappointments though as I love this strictly for its variegation ... any blooms would be a bonus ... my other Christmas Catcus has been given to me by my mother, whom was given to her by her mother! Yes it was originally my grandmothers. Ive had no blooms on it yet ... maybe someday

  • pinkiris

    Heidi ... pony express ... now that would be a FUN job. That is so neat that those folks do that.

  • smitties

    Christmas flowers are the popular flowers used during the festive season of Christmas.[1] In many nations, seasonal flowers and plants such as Poinsettia, Christmas cactus, holly, Christmas rose, ivy and mistletoe form a major part of traditional Christmas decoration

    The Christmas plant is the poinsettia.

    There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettias and Christmas come together, it goes like this:

    There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.

    'Pepita', he said "I'm sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy."

    Pepita didn't know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the 'Flores de Noche Buena', or 'Flowers of the Holy Night'.

    The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.

  • smitties

    My Chrisas cactur are blooming right on time

  • smitties

    Ten plants of Christmas

    Christmas tree


    Christmas cactus




    paper whites


    Phalaenopsis Orchid

    norfolk pine

  • smitties

    Our new tree before decorating. Hoping to get that done in the next few days.

  • pinkiris

    *****BONUS BINGO WORD*****

    This is a FREEBIE word ... use it now and cross off (1) ONE of your words - OR - save it till you have one word left and use it

  • xiangirl zone 4/5 Nebraska
    Our new kitty loves Christmas decorations so I liked this post!


  • brittneysgran

    Jayeanne love the freebie bingo word

  • nottougly

    Hi, I mailed all of my cards this morning and I received my first Christmas card today. It is from Shirley. It is a beautiful card with red coloring and is Blessings on your home. Thank you Shirley.


  • brittneysgran

    My family has so much fun decorating gingerbread houses and then friends on facebook vote for the best one.

  • sandlapper_rose

    I received my first FOTESS Christmas card today! Thanks so much, Heidi. I won't tell about it because I don't want to spoil anyone's surprise.

    I love gingerbread houses, Christmas cacti (guess that's the plural) and poinsettias! Has anyone been watching the gingerbread house competition on TV on Sundays? I believe it's on the Food Network. Love seeing their ideas and techniques. I haven't made one in years but I think they are all beautiful!

    Now about Christmas cactus, I used to have success with them, but not any more. I had 2 from my mother-in-law's house after she passed away. One died before last Christmas without ever blooming and the second one is still alive, but no sign of any buds. Maybe I just need to buy a new plant that has blossoms on it and will do better in the future. The inherited plants were lovely and bloomed beautifully when she had them.

    I've been going full steam trying to get the house decorated. I started on Thursday. It usually takes me 10 days - 2 weeks, but I've been putting in many more hours per day than usual on it this year. I'll be glad once it's completed and I can sit and enjoy all of it.

  • smitties

    Just finished making these "peppermint meltaways" from a Taste of Home newsletter I received. Very good!!! I plan to take them to work tomorrow. I love to bake but with no one at home anymore, my hubby and I would have to eat them. At 7 grams of fat each and hubby nit liking mint cookies, no thanks.

  • amybabyboy3

    These plants continue to be associated with Christmas and are still used to decorate our homes today.

    • Holly. ...

    • Ivy. ...

    • Mistletoe. ...

    • Christmas cactus. ...

    • Poinsettia. ...

    • Christmas trees. ...

    • Frankincense. ...

    • Myrrh.

    • From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the 'Flores de Noche Buena', or 'Flowers of the Holy Night'. The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ.

    • Christmas plant- Christmas Cactus

    • The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus.

    • Holly

      Ornamental holly berries are used in both wreaths and table centerpieces every Christmas. These particular berries are produced by 400 species of holly, which grow in the wild all around the world. Holly trees and shrubs are smooth-barked and boast delicate flowers, plump red berries, and leathery, shiny leaves.

      Whether you choose to hang garlands of holly from the roof, the walls or the mantelpiece, it’s guaranteed to add Christmas cheer and a little color to your home.


      Mistletoe has been a symbol of peace, love, and goodwill for as long as we can remember. The ritual and tradition of hanging mistletoe around our homes at Christmas time have been a pre-Christian tradition for many years, whilst the custom of kissing under the mistletoe continues today in many countries during the festive time.


      Poinsettia is a shrub native to Mexico – the locals call it ‘Noche Buena’, which means Christmas Eve. The plant’s connotation with the festive season began 400 years ago.

      Legend has it a young girl who was too poor to provide a Christmas gift for baby Jesus was encouraged by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside. These weeds later transformed into Crimson ‘blossoms’ and have been popular Christmas decorations in North America and Europe ever since.


      Ivy is specie of festive foliage, often used in wreaths and table centerpieces. A simple Christmas wreath fashioned from ivy, holly, red ribbons, and other greenery will add vibrancy and color to the home. Some choose to hang wreaths from their doorways, whilst others will place them above their mantelpiece for decoration.

      Christmas rose

      A traditional favorite; the Christmas rose boasts an abundance of pure white flowers that often age to a color of pretty pink in the winter months. A vase brimming with red and white roses and wonderfully scented blooms make for a gorgeous festive display, especially when teamed with gold foliage.

    • Yew trees and bushes

      North Americans may not associate the yew (Taxus) with the holiday season. In Europe, however, a Yuletide role has been reserved for this evergreen shrub or tree, easily identified by its unique red berries. As landscape plants, yew shrubs are valued as slow-growing, low-maintenance plantstolerant of shady conditions.


    Amaryllis produces clusters of beautiful, trumpet-shaped flowers that come in a variety of lovely colors, including a deep Christmas red. The plants are generally easy to care for and are beautiful additions to a home.


    Coleus is an attractive and popular plant that often has variegated leaves (those that contain more than one color). Some have a lovely mixture of red and green—the Christmas colors. The colors are arranged in a variety of interesting patterns. Plant breeders are creating lots of new and very appealing varieties of coleus.

    Coleus is non-toxic to humans but is toxic to pets. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats, which may occasionally be bloody. In a home without pets, however, coleus is a beautiful plant to display indoors at Christmas and during the rest of the year either indoors or outdoors.

    Jerusalem Cherry

    The Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) is a member of the nightshade family of plants. It produces orange-red berries that can add to the festive atmosphere in a home at Christmas time. The plant is also known as the winter cherry and the Christmas cherry.

    Christmas Trees:

    Evergreens make good Christmas trees and provide branches that become part of Christmas wreaths and table centerpieces. They also provide cones, which add a nice touch to holiday decorations.


    African Violets

    I've read that African violets in bloom may be hard to find at Christmas, but they are available from November onwards in my local supermarket. They are obviously designed to attract the Christmas market since they are located right next to the Christmas cacti and are often placed inside little carrying bags that are decorated with Christmas scenes.

  • pinkiris

    BINGO words ....





    SWAPPING HOLIDAY Cards FOTESS style this month.....

    Annie - SENT 12/11

    Jeanne - SENT 12/8

    Faye - SENT 12/10


    Jayeanne - SENT 12/11


    Margo - starting to mail cards 12/6, SENT 12/12

    Shirley - sent

    Melinda - SENT 12/3 - ALL CARDS REC'D 12/8

    Maggie - SENT 12/11

    Ruth - SENT 12/11

    Heidi - SENT 12/6

    Amy - sending 12/10

    Karen Holt


    Mandy - SENT 12/8


    PLEASE POST WHEN YOU HAVE MAILED OUT YOUR CARDS, AND ALSO PLEASE POST WHEN YOU RECEIVE CARDS *** You may begin mailing your cards out anytime now, the deadline for mailing your cards is the end of the year.

    And please remember to write FOTESS on the back of your envelope, so no one confuses it with another swap, thank you!

  • pinkiris

    The '12 Days of Christmas holiday game'

    DAY 8 - Holiday FUN with Celebrating Winter Solstice

    *****How many of us really know much about ''The Winter Solstice ?? For (5) points, please tell us a little bit about why do we celebrate the Winter Solstice

    *****in addition to that ... What is the shortest day of the year in 2018 ?? please tell us for (3) points

    *****What religions celebrate the winter solstice? ?? (5) points

    *****What does the winter solstice represent? ?? (3) points

    *****Why is Solstice important??? (5) points


    *** Winter sowing at Winter Solstice ... Do you winter sow, and if yes - what do YOU enjoy winter sowing ?? (5) points

    *** When do YOU winter sow and Why ?? (5) points

    ***You know we LOVE photos .... if you have any photos of YOUR winter sowing - YES, we would LOVE to see them! ....each photo (10) points!

    DAY 7 points - please ladies, correct me if I am wrong



    Jeanne - 3

    Amy - 31

    Still BONUS points to earn at anytime for photos.... guessing my
    tree decor, cookie recipes, photos of cookies, photos with St. Nicholas, gingerbread house photos, Christmas plants photos ...


  • brittneysgran

    I mailed my Christmas cards and see that Faye already received hers.

  • sandlapper_rose

    Sorry not to be answering all the questions and I do appreciate the information being posted. It's great!

    I winter sow and love the results. I don't plant the seeds until January or later (even through to early or mid-March). I've never had luck with those planted in December. I winter sow flowers and vegetables. I'll try to find a picture to post. I even have luck with tomato seeds towards March. The only problem is I plant too many seeds and it seems almost all of them sprout!

  • pinkiris

    BINGO words ...


    plum pudding

    Yule Tide

  • Melinda Hagen

    I rec'd the most adorable card from Mandy! It is homemade and looks like Christmas tree bulbs hanging on the front! Loved it! Thank you!

    I too don't answer mych, but love reading it all. I am slow getting on and everyone has already answered most, but it's fun!

    Hope everyone is having wonderful day! Thought I was done with Christmas shopping, but forgot my dirty Santa gift! So done now and all are wrapped! Now can just relax and wait for my surgery next week! Be so glad to get that over!

  • ruthz

    My cards were mailed today. I had them ready Sunday, but haven't been to the post office.

    I've been checking in and reading everyone's posts. Enjoying all the beautiful Christmas trees. Wish mine was up but can't seem to get to it. With no little ones around it's just not as much incentive to decorate.

    Friday we went to a monthly Roll Call luncheon in Fort Worth. It's an organization Honoring & Serving Veterans in the Community. There was over 350 people there. One World War II veteran attending is 105 years old.

    Saturday we had our annual Toys for Tots at the American Legion with Marines. It was a cold rainy day that we took turns standing outside with signs and waving to try to attract attention and get lots of toy donations. Inside we had a buffet of hot soups, cornbread, sandwiches, chips and various sweets for everyone working.

    Yesterday I made Cream Cheese Cherry Brandy balls and oatmeal raisin cookies. Today I've made pecan shortbread cookies and Pecan Tassies.

  • canyonwind

    I am now opening my mail from yesterday....Got mail....from Margo. Thanks so much for the card, the seeds "Manchurian Daisy" and the DARLING **************. I am not going to say what it is so others will be surprised.

    Margo, THANK you so much!! Merry, Merry Christmas to you and your family.......

    I popped my outgoing cards in the mailbox this morning.........

    Amy, Margo and Jayeanne, great info on all the flowers/trees of Christmas. Never thought of Rosemary as being one......

    One of my Christmas Cactus in in bloom, the others are soon to do their thing. One of my friends Mom gave me some cuttings to start maybe 5 years ago.. I found out somewhere to soak or give a good drink of room temp coffee to the cactus now and then. I do it usually once a month. Once I started doing this, my plants went nuts...in a happy way. Do any of you Thanksgiving/Christmas Queens give coffee to your cactus???

    Shirley, how fun...your Gingerbread house competition!!

    Day 8....Celebrating Winter Solstice

    This year Friday, December 21 at 2:23PM

    Also called Midwinter, Yule, the Longest Night, Jól

    Observed by Various cultures

    Type...Cultural, astronomical

    Significance...Astronomically marks the beginning of shortening nights and lengthening days

    Celebrations....Festivals, spending time with loved ones, feasting, singing, dancing, fires

    Date....about December 21 (NH) about June 21 (SH)

    Frequency....Twice a year (once in the northern hemisphere, once in the southern hemisphere, six months apart)

    WINTER SOLSTICE occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum

    tilt away from the Sun.

    The solstice may have been a special moment of the annual cycle for some cultures even during neolithic times. Astronomical events were often used to guide activities such as the

    mating of animals, the sowing of crops and the monitoring of winter reserves of food. Many cultural mythologies and traditions are derived from this.

    The winter solstice was immensely important because the people were economically dependent on monitoring the progress of the seasons.

    Starvation was common during the first months of the winter, January to April (northern hemisphere) or July to October (southern hemisphere), also known as "the

    famine months". In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast

    celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered

    so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a plentiful supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time. The concentration of the observances were not always on the day commencing at midnight or at dawn, but at the beginning of the pagan day, which in many cultures fell on the previous



    Yes, I do wintersow every year. I ws tomatoes, peppers, certain herbs and, of course, many perennial flowers...

    I primarily ws in December and January...I will start winter sowing this week.I winter sow because it works.

    Happy Tuesday! Jayeanne, so enjoying your 12 Days Of Christmas!!


  • pinkiris

    The '12 Days of Christmas holiday game'

    DAY 9 - Holiday FUN with Celebrating Christmas Around the World!

    *****How many of us really know much about Christmas Around the World ?? For (5) points, please name (12) places around the world that celebrates Christmas

    *****in addition to that ... What day is Christmas celebrated around the world ?? please tell us for (3) points

    *****Which country celebrates Christmas first ?? (3) points

    ***** How long does the celebration of Christmas last ?? (5) points

    *****Is Christmas celebrated all over the world??? (5) points

    *****Why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th ?? (5) points


    *** Please choose a country around the world and tell us how they celebrate Christmas (25) points

    *** World's top 10 best places to celebrate Christmas ... (25) points

    DAY 8 points - please ladies, correct me if I am wrong

    Jeanne - 10

    Annie - 31

    Still BONUS points to earn at anytime for photos.... guessing my
    tree decor, cookie recipes, photos of cookies, photos with St. Nicholas, gingerbread house photos, Christmas plants photos, winter sow photos ...


  • amybabyboy3

    The winter solstice falls on December 21st in the northern hemisphere this year. For Christians, we are in the final days of the advent season. Awaiting the birth of Jesus, we sit in darkness.

    The flipside of the darkest night of the year is hope. Traditionally, people have celebrated the winter solstice as a holiday of hope, knowing that more light is coming.

    Winter Solstice – Shortest Day of the Year

    The Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world.

    Ancient people were hunters and spent most of their time outdoors. The seasons and weather played a very important part in their lives. Because of this many ancient people had a great reverence for, and even worshipped the sun. The Norsemen of Northern Europe saw the sun as a wheel that changed the seasons. It was from the word for this wheel, houl, that the word yule is thought to have come. At mid-winter the Norsemen lit bonfires, told stories and drank sweet ale.

    The ancient Romans also held a festival to celebrate the rebirth of the year. Saturnalia ran for seven days from the 17th of December. It was a time when the ordinary rules were turned upside down. Men dressed as women and masters dressed as servants. The festival also involved decorating houses with greenery, lighting candles, holding processions and giving presents.

    The Winter Solstice falls on the shortest day of the year (21st December) and was celebrated in Britain long before the arrival of Christianity. The Druids (Celtic priests) would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months.

    It was also the Druids who began the tradition of the yule log. The Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year.

    Many of these customs are still followed today. They have been incorporated into the Christian and secular celebrations of Christmas.

    The winter solstice lasts for just one moment. It occurs exactly when the Earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun. This usually happens around December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere or June 20 or 21 in the Southern Hemisphere.

    Since the Earth is tilted on its axis, the arc the Sun moves through during the day will rise and fall across the year as the Earth's pole points either towards or away from the Sun. The winter solstice occurs at the minimum point for the northern hemisphere, when the Sun is lowest in the sky.

    I love to wintersow. I get really stir crazy with no gardening outside so it helps me destress. I usually start late January and usually get carried away doing way to many milk jugs. Sometimes I do it in my kitchen which tends to be really messy and I try and do it when my husband isn't around to see me making such a mess.

  • smitties

    Received a pretty card from Shirley today. Thankyou

    I am not doing well at all at Bingo. Only 5 words so far.

    I am not one to wintersow. I did it years ago and had such failure with the wind and other factors, I never did it again. I envy the ones who have good luck though.

  • sandlapper_rose

    I'll take a try at 12 countries that celebrate Christmas: U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico, Poland, Spain, the Vatican, and Germany. I'll say that Australia celebrates it first.

    I'll have to try giving my Christmas cactus some coffee. If it decides to bloom I'll have to celebrate!

  • faerygardener

    Don’t think we’ve seen these yet ....

    Scandinavian and Germanic

    The pagan Scandinavian and Germanic people of northern Europe celebrated a twelve-day "midwinter" (winter solstice) holiday called Yule . Many modern Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree, the Christmas wreath, the Yule log, and others, are direct descendantsof Yule customs. It is believed that the celebration of this day was a worship of these peculiar days, interpreted as the reawakening of nature. The Yule (Jul) particular god was Jólner, which is one of Odin's many names. At the "julblotet", sacrifices were given to the gods to earn blessing on the forthcoming germinating crops.


    Irish Celtic Midwinter. The Winter Solstice is seen as a time of rebirth and renewal, signified by the return of the light. Light triumphs over darkness.

    Mistletoe is also a symbol of the Winter Solstice, as it was thought that Druids revered the plant as ‘ever green’, which signified continued life over the cold dark winter.

    Newgrangeis a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland. It is an exceptionally grand passage tomb built during the Neolithic period, around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. The passage and chamber are aligned with the rising sun at the Winter Solstice.


    Sol Invictus ("The Unconquered Sun") was originally a Syrian god who was later adopted as the chief god of the Roman Empire under Emperor Aurelian. His holiday is traditionally celebrated on December 25, as are several gods associated with the wintersolstice in many pagan traditions. It has been speculated to be the reason behind Christmas' proximity to the solstice. See also Saturnalia Dec17thto 23rd that Amy mentions.


    Iranian people celebrate the night of the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice as, "Yaldanight", which is known to be the "longest and darkest night of the year". In this night all the family gather together, usually at the house of the oldest, and celebrate it by eating, drinking and reading poems (esp. Hafez). Nuts, pomegranates and watermelons are particularly served during this festival.

    Other Religions - Monuments Aligned to the Sun at MidWinter

    Egypt –Temple of Amun-Ra (Creator / Sun god) at Karnak2,000 BCE

    Mexico –ChichenItza 400s A.D, Tulum

    England –Stonehenge, GlastonaburyTor 3,00BCE

    Scotland - Maeshowe, Scotland 3000-2800 BCE

    Germany –GoseckCircle 5,000 BCE

    France –Carnac, Brittany,France 3,300 BCE

    Peru –Machu Picchu 1450 A.D., Stone lines at Cerro del Gentilpyramid

    U.S. - Chaco Canyon petroglyph called the Sun Dagger, New Mexico (AnasazisA.D. 200 to A.D. 1300)





  • faerygardener

    How long does the celebration of Christmas last?

    Roman Catholic "In the older tradition (which is still kept in the liturgical calendar of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass) Christmas lasts until Candlemas, or the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Presentation of the Lord, which isn’t until February 2nd. This marked the end of a long 40-day “Christmastide” that corresponded to the 40 days of Lent”.

    Christmas officially begins on Christmas Eve.

    On January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany where the Magi, also called the Three Wise Men or Three Kings, traveled from the East to pay homage. Many believe that this is the date when the Christmas season officially ends, being the end of the traditional 12 days of Christmas. However, according to the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, Ordinary Time doesn’t officially begin until the Monday after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which (usually) falls on the Sunday after Epiphany (January 6th). This means that the Christmas season actually extends beyond the popular “Twelve Days of Christmas.”


  • pinkiris

    Jeanne ... thank you so much for the beautiful 'Season's Greetings' card with the (2) little birds, love it. and I am just mesmerized by the Kirigami Lily you handcrafted and included, thank you.

    I also enjoy winter sowing, I usually would just use the milk jugs but ran out of those last year and decided to 'try' 2 liter bottles ... what to my surprise but almost everything in the 2 liter bottles sprouted and grew faster as compared to the milk jugs. not sure what that secret is, but found it very interesting.

  • faerygardener

    Cards mailed earlier today (11th) should be well on their way!

    Yes I wintersow!


    Margo - you might try again in your new location - perhaps you have a spot that’s not in the wind.

    I have 5 jugs started before Thanksgiving (all Columbine) as had one commercial not sprout last year (Aquilegia flabellata, noted as erratic). We sometimes get 70s in February (not supposed to happen, but it does) and I wanted to be sure they’d get a long enough chill. Was going to put them in the fridge but so far we’ve stayed cold enough. I go early as although a lot of seed that needs cold chill can take 4 to 6 weeks of cold weather and be happy, most penstemons need 12 weeks of cold weather. We get winter (already had many nights into high 20°s) but often get a few warm spells so I try to do a few jugs early then most by the winter solstice. I’ve done the theme swap a few times - late for me and both times I just showed myself how planting perennials that late won’t work for me. I plant the warm season annuals later - usually March. I do use heat mats & lights for the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant and usually a few chosen flowers I want to get a rush on. They WS fine, but I need them bigger earlier for the Master Gardener plant sales

    What do you enjoy winter sowing? From my Excel log - cut back to just the plant (so Rudbeckia, not every one I start :-) ). I have started all of these successfully in jugs (many became gopher / vole treats - but they did make it to plant out size).




    Asclepias Butterfly Milkweed







    Dietes iridioides African Iris





    Hibiscus Rose of Sharon

    Hyacinth Bean


    Blackberry lily

    Leonotis leonurus




    Onion Bunching

    Pak Choi







    Shasta Daisy





  • smitties

    All cards are mailed.

  • ruthz

    Thank you Shirley and Jeanne for the beautiful cards I got in yesterday's mail.

    Jeanne, I loved the beautiful Kirigami Lily. Great job.

    Tonight I'm going to a Dirty Santa swap, (a.k.a. White Elephant, Thieves’ Christmas, Yankee Swap, Naughty Santa, or Chinese Gift Exchange). Suppose to be nice gifts, not gag gifts, although last year we definitely did have some White Elephant gifts there.

    What do you guys call this fun swap?

    I always thought White Elephant was something nobody wants.

  • pinkiris

    BINGO words ....





    SWAPPING HOLIDAY Cards FOTESS style this month.....

    Annie - SENT 12/11

    Jeanne - SENT 12/8

    Faye - SENT 12/10


    Jayeanne - SENT 12/11


    Margo - starting to mail cards 12/6, SENT 12/12

    Shirley - sent

    Melinda - SENT 12/3 - ALL CARDS REC'D 12/8

    Maggie - SENT 12/11

    Ruth - SENT 12/11

    Heidi - SENT 12/6

    Amy - sending 12/10

    Karen Holt


    Mandy - SENT 12/8


    PLEASE POST WHEN YOU HAVE MAILED OUT YOUR CARDS, AND ALSO PLEASE POST WHEN YOU RECEIVE CARDS *** You may begin mailing your cards out anytime now, the deadline for mailing your cards is the end of the year.

    And please remember to write FOTESS on the back of your envelope, so no one confuses it with another swap, thank you!

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