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Weekend wrap up

I am a day late on my weekend wrap up. I tried to post yesterday but got so sidetracked that I forgot to do it before I went to work. Our whole family went to Dixie Stampede Friday night to celebrate the December birthdays that are coming up in the next week. We had a blast. I did manage to get some pictures of the grandchildren during the saloon show. 

L-R: Shelby, Alexis, Colby


Garret and his girlfriend Hannah.

We had a wonderful night. On Saturday, I worked 12:00 - 10:00 but the phones were slow so I got to come home at 5:00. I took advantage of getting off early to finish the decor on my dining room table. I had not done the table yet because I couldn't decide what to do on the centerpiece on my tray.

I had some odd and end pieces that I pulled together and put them with my Santa cardinal I found at Target, I think. Can't remember for sure. But I did like how it turned out.

I was off Sunday and got a text from our Guest Services Department with a picture circulating on Facebook saying Dixie Stampede was on fire, which is understandable that people would think that when this is what they saw. In reality, the wreath on the front of the building had an electrical short in the lights and the wreath caught on fire, not the Stampede. Fire department had it out in no time since they are just a few blocks away from us. There was no damage to the building. It was no big deal. But as a result, the majority of our phone calls yesterday were just people wanting to know if we burned to the ground. 

I wasn't working Sunday so I decided to make some cookies. I made oatmeal chocolate chip and brownie cookies. On the last batch of brownie cookies, with just 2 minutes left to cook, I heard a really loud pop from my oven. I went in the kitchen and smoke was coming out of the oven. I opened the door and my element had some flames on it but they burned out immediately when I opened the door. Now all that is left is a badly burned element and no oven...during cookie season! But my landlord is picking one up and replacing it today or tomorrow so I will be back up and running.

I have been making quite a dent in my Christmas shopping and have more to do. I plan to finish up by the end of next week. Then I can wrap everything on my day off and bake all the goodies that I'm giving as gifts. The week after that, I will be busy getting everything ready for our family party on Christmas eve. I just love family time. I am really looking forward to everything coming up this month.


A Christmas Story

I wrote this for my Mom in 1999.

Packages wrapped up with ribbons and bows,
Stockings over fires with embers aglow;
A tree in the corner strung with tinsel and lights;
A soft falling snow on a cold winter night.

Under the tree on a soft woolen skirt,
Sat a nativity scene of the dear Savior’s birth.
As I knelt down close to take a good look,
My mother would read from an old worn book.

She told of a mother, weary and worn,
Looking for a place for her child to be born.
The inns were all full, no room could be found.
They were shown to a stable with hay on the ground.

She read how the shepherds were watching their sheep
When angels came to them with voices so sweet.
She read of their messages of tidings of joy
As they told the shepherds about the birth of a boy.

We’d listen intently, eyes glued on that book
As she told how the shepherds went to go look.
How they found the sweet baby in a manger that night
And how they gave praise to God for the sweet blessed child.

We hung on her words, the picture so clear,
For this was a child the world would hold dear.
She flipped back some pages as we knelt at her feet,
While she read of some wise men and a star in the east.

She told of their journey to see the small babe.
She read of their worship and the gifts that they gave.
We heard about the frankincense, the myrrh and the gold,
As Mom quietly finished her story of old.

As she closed the worn book that she’d just read,
We’d get our kisses from Daddy and scoot off to bed.
As she tucked us all in and kissed us good night,
We’d think of that story as she covered us tight.

For we had been raised to know the Lord’s love,
And we knew that sweet Child was a gift from above.
We knew that a great sacrifice had been made,
That started with the birth of Jesus that day.

So forget all the presents, the ribbons and bows.
Forget all the stockings and lights all aglow.
For the greatest gift you’ll find on your Christmas morn,
Was given by God, the year our Savior was born.

Brenda Garretson Keefer © 1999

Edgar & Eli

I have no children at home any more, but the granddaughters love when I blog about Edgar, who I have had since Daddy bought him to hang on my first Christmas tree in my new home about 36 years ago. So when Elf on the Shelf became popular Edgar came to life and has created havoc in my home for several Christmas's now. Last year, I thought he was lonely so I found Eli so he would have a buddy to get into mischief with. Yesterday, they decided I was procrastinating on my Christmas baking so they took it upon themselves to decide on my cookie recipes for this year. Edgar even borrowed my reading glasses and was making a list of the ingredients I would need.

They have decided that I need to make Pecan Crispy's which was one of my mother-in-laws recipes that she made each year. I haven't had them since she passed away 25 years ago. She made them to perfection so I have been afraid to try them because if they don't turn out, I'll be so upset.

I am going to make peanut butter cookies from scratch with Mom's recipe. You chill the dough for about 3 hours in the fridge before you make the cookies. They turn out to melt in your mouth. She always chilled the dough in the big yellow primary Pyrex mixing bowl. I have that same bowl so that is what I am going to use.  

One of my favorites is the brownie cookie. You make it with Duncan Hines chewy brownie mix only follow cookie recipe on their website and it is to die for. 

Of course Christmas is not complete without my no-bake oatmeal cookies. Going to make these a couple different times this month.

This isn't a cookie, but for the first time in years and years, I think I will try to make Mamaw Eden's Hershey Chocolate Syrup cake. It's very easy, but you have to time the icing just right or it won't set up. 

Won't be long until I will be saying "Let the baking begin."


Friday Foto Friends

I've been waiting to share my Christmas decorations and I thought Friday Foto Friends would be a great opportunity to do that. So here it goes. 

The Santa on this end table was normally our tree topper, but he is a little too big for the smaller tree I am using this year.

The water in the snow globe is starting to turn yellow, but this thing holds a wealth of memories. We bought it 15 years ago when the first grandchild was just 2. Papaw would set and wind it and Garret would be mesmerized by the train that runs around the outside. It became a tradition and every Christmas eve, the grandkids would gather around him while he would wind the train. I thought it was fitting to set my Santa with all my Grands listed on his list in front of that.

My Home Interior Santa bank that's about 35+ years old.

One of my Christmas tea miniatures that I got at a yard sale for $1.

One of my favorite miniature tea sets. I love the cardinals on it.

My candle Christmas trees that I have had since 1989. Hubby made them when he worked at Melanie's Candles in Gatlinburg. I picked up the two little carolers at a local antique store for $1.95 each.

I love Santa's and little tins to decorate with at Christmas. I've had the little rocking horse tin for about 30 years and the bear one I found at a yard sale for a quarter a few years back.

More of my Santa's. I love pencil Santa's. I need to find some more.

Some of my fave Christmas items. The big deer was made in ceramic class by my mother. The little tree was painted by my oldest grandson when he was about 4. The Santa was one my hubby bought me many years ago. The three vintage dear and the vintage sleigh are things I found on Ebay that we had when I was a little girl. But my favorite Christmas thing I have is the little plastic basket of poinsettias. Mamaw Eden took me to town on the bus when I was 5 and she bought me this for .10 cents at McCroy's Five & Dime. That makes it almost 55 years old. It is one of the first things I set out every Christmas.

More Santa's on a runner my mom made for me.

The pillows in Papaw's chair were made by my sister-in-law over 30 years ago.

Some of my bears.

My $1.95 special from Hobby Lobby last year.

My mother made me this about 3 or 4 years ago. She is 86 years old and still works on her crafts whenever she can. 

One of my whimsical wreaths that has always been my favorite.

My baker's rack decor.

My candles like we had when I was a child and my Home Interior angels from over 30 years ago along with a big Santa that Mom painted in ceramics many years ago.

My little peppermint trees. I love these and anytime I find a new size or different pattern, I pick it up. Stuck some sparkly pipe cleaners in my Santa cup till I can get me some candy canes.

My coffee table. I have had the cat plate for so many years I don't know where I got it. But it says Franklin Mint on the back. Teapot was $2 at a yard sale and the Santa plate was .50 at a yard sale. Mom made me the runner.

My Home Interior Nativity.

More of my Nativities.

My cardinal corner. The little sign has a tiny cardinal dotting the i in the word winter.

My train afghan.

And my tree. It's the smallest one I have ever had, but I am really loving it.

So there you go, from my house to yours, Merry Christmas to you all!


Our mountain updates...

The rain has helped a lot but as of yesterday, we were still hearing fire trucks and emergency vehicle siren's as they headed back into Gatlinburg for any continuing hot spots and flare ups. While the rain was a godsend, it wasn't nearly enough and the winds continue to be high. But even once all the fire is out, the clean up efforts will last for a very long time. My son and many others that are involved in clearing roads, repairing power lines and just basically doing whatever needs to be done shared some photos on Facebook that are just the tip of the iceberg with the devastation left behind.

Local residents and businesses are coming to care and the outpouring of love and support is amazing. Many not only lost their homes and their vehicles, many have lost their jobs with businesses destroyed or temporarily can't work because they can't get back into Gatlinburg because of the clean up required. 

Dolly Parton has always believed in giving back to her community in Sevier County. She has opened a funding effort where donations can be made to the Dollywood Foundation. Through the efforts of her foundation and her companies, Dollywood, DreamMore, Dixie Stampede and Lumberjack Adventure you can see so much effort being done. The Dollywood Foundation will be providing $1000.00 per month to any family that has been effected by the fires until they can get on their feet again. You can learn more about it at 

Where I work at Dixie Stampede, we have opened up hiring to offer jobs to anyone who needs work until their jobs become available again or if they no longer have a job.

The love in our community is something to be very proud of.


Rain, glorious rain...

I was awakened at 2:15 this morning by an emergeny alert on my phone urging people in Sevier County to take cover as their was a tornado warning. Not a good way to wake up. We were having thunder & lightning and surrounding areas were showing some hail. But the best thing I ever heard in my life was the pouring rain. It was a torrential downpour.

From the way they talked on the news channel, it had not made it to Gatlinburg and several new fires had erupted so our firefighters were still battling these dangerous storms. 

We had about 3 or 4 bands of bad weather that is going to move through today and from what I understood, the 2nd or 3rd band would be going over Gatlinburg. I think that is the band moving through right now. I am hoping it is because it is absolutely pouring so hard it sounds like it is going to be a hole in our roof.

My Facebook was full of stories last night of people bonding together to help those who have been evacuated, those who continue to fight the fires and most importantly those who have lost their homes. The first three fatalities were reported yesterday so please keep those families in your prayers. Last I heard there are 14 injuries, but no report on if they are minor or major injuries. 

Even though the much needed rain should have arrived by now, we are also having high winds so this is not going to be a good day for the firefighters and men & women who are out assisting with this devastation.

Continued prayers are needed for our beloved mountains and surrounding areas.


A heavy heart....

Everyone in our beloved Great Smoky Mountains is waking up with a heavy heart this morning...if they ever went to sleep last night. I was up till around 2:00 a.m. and sheer exhaustion took over. Been back up since 4:00 a.m. worrying about what news will bring of our precious county.

The fire started six days ago in the Chimney's outside of Gatlinburg, TN once you start into the mountains. Overnight that first day it raged to cover 500 acres. They have been fight it every since. 

But yesterday, things took a devastating turn. We have been in a severe drought and as a band of rain was heading this way, it was preceded by winds up to 60 miles an hour. By late afternoon, the smoke was blowing down into Pigeon Forge and we were getting reports of fire spreading down into Gatlinburg and surrounding areas. We began to see a lot of smoke and soot. Our whole afternoon and evening was punctuated by sirens after sirens as new fire crews arrived to help fight off the fire in our sister city. By 8:00 when we closed, they had evacuated Gatlinburg. We had just received the news that the fire had jumped the tunnel and the spur (stretch of road between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge) was on fire. We are located about four miles from that fire. When I made it home, I heard that they had evacuated the stretch of Pigeon Forge that Dixie Stampede is located on. 

Throughout the night and into the early morning, reports kept coming in about new fires and more evacuations as it spread into the smaller communities surrounding us. Dollywood and Dolly's new resort DreamMore had fires all around them, but last I heard they were contained and no damage was done. Here is a picture of the fire around DreamMore.

My heart broke all night. Even though I wasn't born here, this has been my home for 28 years. My daughter-in-law was born and raised and attended high school in these very mountains and I know she has to be devastated to watch all this. Not to mention, I worried about them all night because fires were breaking out closer and closer to where she lived. She was home with the kids because my son works for the city and he was called into work to keep trees cut and roads cleared. He took some amazing videos as he was riding around on the job. I worried all night about him and about Jamie and my grandbabies. I haven't seen any updates since about 2 or 3 this morning so I am going on faith that no news is good news. I don't want to call and wake anyone in case they did manage to get any sleep last night.

CNN, USA Today and are all reporting the fire and the evacuations. It is all over national news, but for those who haven't seen any of that, here are some of the pictures that have been posted on Facebook by those who are near the fire and got pictures before they got out. 


This is Ripley's Aquarium in downtown Gatlinburg. Downtown was surrounded, but by all reports the Aquarium and the strip survived without major damages. Not sure how accurate that is, but praying it is true. I do know that the Park Vista Hotel up on the hill overlooking Gatlinburg caught fire and for a while guests were trapped in there, but I have heard of no injuries or deaths so I believe they got out. It is also believed that all the animals in the Aquarium are safe.

We did get some rain last night and again at 2:00 this morning and it was raining when I woke up at 4:00. It's tapered off now but a large band of rain which would be very helpful should arrive tomorrow. We have many fire departments from other areas in the state heading this wait to assist. The National Guard has been sent in and Red Cross and many locals have set up shelters for those who lost their homes. There were 30 structure fires in and around Gatlinburg but it is not known if those were homes or businesses. Our mountains are full of rental cabins so I am sure it will be days before everything and everyone will be accounted for. One of my friends at work has received word her mother's house did burn down last night so prayers for them.


This is someone driving through the fire to evacuate.

 Please pray that God watches over the firefighters who are tirelessly devoted to making sure they get as much of this out as they can. And pray to God that he send rain and keeps these winds away. The winds were so bad that helicopters couldn't assist in dumping anything on the fires to try to get them out. Praying for a better day today.