Saturday, January 18, 2020

Good Saturday Morning!

Pretty snowy-scene puzzle.

Yesterday afternoon and evening brought us a new blanket of white snow to cover up the old.  We were supposed to get a lot more than we did so I'm very thankful we didn't.  I don't mind a few inches but when they talk feet, now that's something entirely different!!!!  The temperatures are supposed to drop dramatically to the single digits by this afternoon and then the wind will pick up and probably make it a little blizzard-y with the snow we did get.  So, it's definitely a good day to stay in and get things done, or read a book, or work on a project, or get crafty, or...........................  : )

It's been another good week as far as cleaning out and organizing.  Quite a few more bags of stuff are gone and that's always a good thing.  This was the laundry area which is the ugliest area of our house - there isn't a lot we can do with it as that is where the furnace is and the hot water heater so there isn't much of a chance to pretty it up - it is what it is but it can be organized!  What are you working on in your home to get better organized?  Do you have any tips that you can share?

As I was busy, when an idea came to mind I wrote it down so that I could share it with you today.  So let's get started!

I really think that breakfast is a very important meal to eat because if you go by the principle of having supper as your last meal of the day and you don't snack in the evening, that is a long time for your body to go without food.  You need to re-fuel for the day's work.  We don't change what we eat too often - usually Monday through Friday we eat oatmeal made with collagen protein, flaxseed, cinnamon, and coconut oil, and then serve fresh oranges with it.  We are very much trying to eat foods in their original form.  We used to have orange juice, but we know that eating the orange is much better for us.  On weekends, we make smoothies with whatever frozen berries we have in the freezer, throw in a banana, add coconut milk or kefir, slice up an avocado and we're good to go.  With the smoothie we have a slice of toast with real butter and a bit of peanut butter sprinkled with a few raisins.  

The kind of oatmeal that I've been making lately is the steel cut oats.  Here is the difference between the 3 kinds of oatmeal:

*Quick oats - these are rolled thin, pre-cooked and dried.  That's why they are so quick to cook.
*Old-fashioned - these are also flattened but not as much as the quick, they are steamed and need a bit more time to cook.
*Steel cut - these are cut but are still in the original groat form which makes them a long-cook oat.

I had done quick oats for a long time, but because they are pre-cooked they are not as good for us but they are good for baking (breads, cookies, etc.).  Then I switched to the old-fashioned but still not feeling that we were getting the nutritional benefits so I use these for really good fruit crisps.  Now we are eating the steel cut oats, but unfortunately they really do take a long time to cook and because I don't want to fuss with the length of time, I found a method to cook the steel oats the night before and then just re-heat in the morning.  Wonderful!!!  Here is the method if you'd like to try it:

1.  Measure out the oats - I use 1 cup.  And then toast the oats in a 2-quart saucepan in 1 tsp. of butter and fry them until they start smelling toasty - about 2 minutes.

2.  Add 3 cups of water and just a pinch of salt.  Bring this to a rolling boil.

3.  Turn off the heat and cover the pan.  Leave it on the stove and go to bed!!!!!

4.  The next morning, just stir your oatmeal, put a low heat under it and bring it back to a simmer, stirring every once in a while.  And I always add 1 cup of coconut milk to it so it's a creamy consistency.  And serve!!!!!!  

Isn't that easy?  I'm always a proponent of getting as much done the night before as we can so this is perfect.  I must say that this makes a lot of oatmeal which is also a good thing because all you need to do is keep putting the leftovers into a smaller pan, put it into the fridge because it keeps up to 5 days and then re-heat what you need.  This is definitely a win-win recipe.  Easy, quick, healthy.  : )


What is a favorite breakfast meal that you eat?

Another thing to share with you is this:


I know these have been around for years now and my friend introduced them to me a long time ago but I just got out of the habit of using them.  Well, I'm buying them again because, honestly, this is the only product I've found that seriously cleans our old 1952 original bath tub.  They are excellent if you'd like to try them.  At this point, I think I'm supposed to say that I'm not getting paid to say this!  LOL  : )  Do you have a favorite housecleaning product that you'd like to share?

The other thing that gets me excited this time of year is this:


The seed catalogs are coming in the mail and there are magazines with articles on gardening!  : )  I can't honestly say that I have a green thumb - I do okay with our indoor houseplants, but gardening has always been daunting.  I do it, but 9 times out of 10 I really don't know what I'm doing!  But I'll continue to try because I love digging in the dirt and making things grow so having these catalogs come in is just the motivation I need to dream.  I would encourage you this year to begin growing something if you don't already.  Think of it as experimentation and learning something new even if you just choose one thing or two (a blooming plant and a vegetable).  If it doesn't work, try something else.  This is especially important if you have children or grandchildren around.  I've probably mentioned this before but when growing up my mom kept a big garden but she never asked us to help.  I think since she worked so hard outside the home, gardening was probably her escape.  Her time of being by herself and enjoying the work without anyone else around.  And I understand that but I sure wish she would have taught me what she knew.  So, please get your kids involved!!!!  Do you garden?  What do you usually grow?

Last week I had mentioned that I was reading "My Friend Flicka" - well..........I'm not reading it anymore.  It's not very often that I stop reading a book unless I'm finished but this book just wasn't me.  But since I NEED to have a book in my hands every day, I ordered two George Eliot books that will get here on Monday and I'm SO excited!  I looked her books up and they gave the top 5 books that she's written.  I have (and read) 3 of those books already (which I found at a thrift store) and so I ordered the other two of the top five.  I love reading a series of books by the same author.  I have many Grace Livingston Hill books.  I'm trying to collect a lot of Lucy Maude Montgomery books, I now I'm trying to collect George Eliot books.  There is just something about the authors of old.  So, again, I encourage you to READ!!!!!!!  Every day!!!!!!  Do you have a favorite book or author that you'd like to share?

Also, in regards to correspondence that I posted on a while back, I'm hoping to getting around to making Valentines this year to send out to the special women in my life (sisters, friends, ladies from church).  Again, I think it's important to let people know how much they mean in our lives and I've always felt that Valentine's day is more of a ladies day with all the pink and red and flowers and lace.   : )  So, maybe that is something that I could encourage you to do as well?  If making them isn't your thing, the dollar store has lovely cards right now.    Do you do anything special for someone on Valentine's day that you could share?

And, lastly, I think it's important to set goals in our lives.  Though I don't do New Year's resolutions, there are a few things that keep going on in my mind that I feel I should at least try.  There are two ideas that I've had for years and I'm hoping that this year is the year I will get around to them.  The first is to start a neighborhood women's Bible study.  I have felt this tug for a long time and our neighborhood has so changed that we don't really know each other and every Sunday morning it's pretty much my husband and I that go to church!  I have the desire within me to reach out and tell others about Jesus but it's not easy is it?  As with a lot of other people, I feel very inadequate but I also know that it's important.  So I keep asking myself if it's more important to feel comfortable and not do anything or is it more important to be a little uncomfortable and bring others to Christ?  So, right now I'm in the thinking and planning stage of that plan and we'll see what happens!  : )

The other goal that I've had for years is to write a homemaker's devotional book.  I love to write and I would love to try to write a book about what I'm passionate about.  And that is our relationship with the Lord and my job as a homemaker and putting those two things together.  Again, it is in the thinking and planning stage (with much prayer!).  

But those are the two goals for this year - two things that aren't just a passing thought but something that I've had on my mind for years and hoping to carry them through.  What is it that you have been wanting to do for years and just haven't gotten around to it (yet)?   That is your assignment for this post - think of that one thing that you might think impossible.  How can you make it possible?

Well, that is it for this snowy Saturday morning.  I wish you all the best and I thank you for stopping by.  I appreciate you!!!!!!!  God bless.  







Thursday, January 16, 2020

Pray Without Ceasing



I guess you'd have to be hiding under a rock if you don't know what's going on politically right now.  Even though I choose not to watch the proceedings, I encourage you to pray for our President.

What I've seen since our President has been elected is embarrassing to our country.  What the leftists and liberals are teaching our children and young people is that if you lose - act like a poor sport.  Don't put up with it.  Cry foul.  And then try to get even.  It's a sad state of affairs.

Please pray:

*that God will make the proud and unmoving politicians humble - helping them to understand that they are FAR from perfect themselves
*that President Trump and his family will be able to stand strong against all the attacks
*that we (the American people) will be protected from the spiritual battle going on in our country but will also be strong and bold and courageous to fight for our rights as citizens of the United States
*for renewal and a Christian revival  - that we have to awaken from our sleep and have eyes to see what will happen if we do not pray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God is still on His throne.  God is still in control.  But we have to do our part as well.  And THAT is calling upon the Name of Jesus for help.   He already knows what's going on but he's waiting for us to ask.  Please................we NEED to do this.  


*

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Saturday Morning in January

Our new calendar for the year is all about chickens and roosters - very country.  : )



Dark, dark, dark.........raise your hands if you can't wait for the sun to rise earlier again!  I've noticed that the sun goes down a wee bit later so that's encouraging.  : )

How have you all been this past week?  It has been a very good week as far as cleaning and purging and organizing.  Bags upon bags of stuff have been taken to the thrift store and after today I'm sure there will be more!  I'm determined to keep in this house only the things that mean something to us, is pretty and adds to the decor of the home, or useful to us.  We just absolutely cannot keep every little thing.  This is much easier for me to do than my husband.  It's more difficult for him to get rid of things.  And I understand that.

Last Saturday was the taking down of Christmas decorations and now only the cute little snowmen are scattered about along with some snowflakes.  I SO miss the tree though - it always adds that touch of beauty especially in the morning when it's dark and you need some pretty light.

I've also come up with a new way to do our menu:


I first think of our meals for every day and then below that I write down what I need to do the day before to prepare for that meal.  There have been one too many times that I forget to defrost something or bake something or prep something and then have to think of another meal to make.  This way each day has something that I need to do for the following day and it works beautifully.  For me, this is a breakthrough.  No more forgetting.  : )

Also this week I've been thinking about how important correspondence is.  I was so disappointed this Christmas with the people who sent out cards.  There were only a couple of people who actually took the time to write a little something - most just signed their names.  It almost seems like they weren't intending to send any card but because we did they hurriedly sent it off and it was done.  I understand that if that card was from someone you already see on a regular basis and talk all the time that there wouldn't be anything else to do but sign their name.  I mean people that live far away and you don't see all the time.  The reason I like to send my cards early is so that I have time to sit down and write in each one.  There were also a couple who sent a photo card and that was it!  No greetings whatsoever.  I think it's a pet peeve of mine.  I know we're all busy, but really?

Correspondence is SO important.  A long time ago I posted about correspondence.  Setting aside some time every month to reach out to others with a letter or a card.  How many of you enjoy going to the mailbox and seeing a personal card or letter?  I know I do - I love it!!!!  What this means is that someone was thinking about you.  They took the time to go to the store and pick up a card (or they took the time to actually make one), then they took the time to sit down and write a few lines.  How does that make you feel?  It makes me feel loved and cared about.  THAT'S why it's SO important.  The "do unto others as you would like others to do unto you" is true!  My assignment for you for the new year ahead is to write down all the people you care about in your life, write their name on the calendar (one a month) and send a greeting to them just telling them that you were thinking about them and give them something newsy.  Something that they can actually sit down and read and enjoy.  Give them the gift of going to the mail and finding a surprise.  It's the unexpected surprises in this life that give it spice.  It makes all of us feel like we're worthy of the time and attention it takes.  And, then, of course send cards (always) if you know of someone who is going through a difficult time - job loss, loss of a loved one, stress, health concerns, etc. - a timely note is sometimes exactly what they need.  Life can get very lonely.  Don't ever assume that if someone is married, or if someone has lots of friends, or if someone is always busy and doesn't seem lonely, that they aren't.  Your card or letter could make all the difference in the world.  There.  You have your assignment - make someone's day!!!!!  : )

Again, I've been thinking health and with planning meals I'm trying to buy healthy and cook healthy - it's a lot of work mentally.  I feel like you have to be a nutritionist in order to do it correctly.  But I think that just incorporating a few changes can make a lot of difference - limit sugar, buy more organic (if you eat the whole thing, organic is good - apples, pears, etc.).  My stomach is already feeling better by limiting dairy (I admit that I can't fully eliminate dairy because I love dairy - kefir, yogurt, etc.).   Your health tip for the day is that if you are a coffee drinker, you HAVE to drink more water every day.  Coffee is very dehydrating and if you look on-line at dehydration, you will find all the health problems that are associated with it.  I have limited my coffee intake to only one cup in the morning and that helps a lot, but I'm also finding myself to be drinking a lot more water than ever and it really does help.  

I made some organic chicken bone broth this past week.  It turned out great - that deep yellow gelatinous broth.  I've made a lot of things for the freezer - lots of pasta sauce, lots of soups, lots of broth and it's a good feeling to know those things are in their when needed.

Last week I finished the book "Middlemarch" (I highly recommend it) and am now on to a new book ("My Friend Flicka").

The original 1941 book I found at the thrift store - and don't you just love this.....

I love it when people signed the book as a gift.  Knowing that Sadie sat and read this book back in 1944 is amazing to me and I wonder if she's still around.

The only thing about this book is (and I hope you can help me with this) that I'm surprised with some of the language in this book.  Isn't this a children's book?  The father in here swears quite a bit and some of the topics they address are questionable if this was supposed to be a children's book.  So, I'm a bit confused.  Another assignment for you - begin, if you aren't already, to pick up a book a read (every day!) - and, in my opinion, the old books are the best!  : )

I think that's about it for today!  I hope you will take this day and use it to the fullest so that when you go to bed tonight you can look back and feel good about what you got done.  This day won't ever come around again - when it's gone, it's gone.  Tackle those projects that you've been putting off, begin by writing a letter to someone, cook a healthy meal, take care of yourself - whatever the need is, put your whole heart into it and you won't regret it.  : )

Thank you SO much for dropping by for a visit - I appreciate all of you.  God bless.  : )

Saturday, January 4, 2020

First Saturday of January

We're keeping this tree up in our backyard at least through January because it brings such beautiful light in the darkness.


Hello!  I hope you have enjoyed this first week of the new year.  Today is the day (for us) to take Christmas down in our home.  My husband took everything down on the outside already (except for the above tree).  Our snowmen (the ones that don't look like Christmas) will stay up through January as well.  

I'm looking forward to going through all the boxes again - what was left in the boxes this year will pretty much go to the thrift store.  And that means that our Christmas things will, once again, be pared down.  We agreed that the way we decorated this year (which was pretty minimal) was the way we liked it so I think that will be our new normal.  : )

The time consuming part of taking things down is the cleaning that goes along with it.  For over a month, there are areas that haven't been dusted so I can only imagine what certain areas will look like.  But that's okay - there is time and it will all get done like it does every year.

There is one thing that happens to me after the first of the year that motivates change - health.  And this year is no different.  With all the food we consume throughout the holidays (beginning with Thanksgiving) I ALWAYS feel this need to step up and change the way we eat.  I have been watching videos on-line for ideas, I have been re-reading my health books and the notes I've taken in the past, and I've been re-writing menus to incorporate healthy ways to eat.  This is fun to me but it's also very challenging because, of course, I'm not a nutritionist so to get that balance of foods into each and every day doesn't come easy.  And we all know that to eat relatively healthy isn't cheap so that's another balancing act.  But I'm determined to do this.  I'm tired of not feeling well and I'm a total believer in the idea that food IS medicine and what we eat does help us to feel better.  

So, I'm up for the challenge!  : )  One thing that I did yesterday was to look in our pantries and take out food that I would like out of the house or things that I know we won't need and filled a bag for the food shelf.  What was left was food that I knew I could prepare decent meals with and then took an inventory and wrote down what I needed to fill in with.  I organized the refrigerator and put healthy choices in bins - things such as nuts and seeds that we need to eat, and in another bin are the grains that we should have.  I'm making sure that I have salad fixings around.  Today I will make a chicken bone broth that I will can for the freezer and I bought beef bones the other day so that next week I can make beef bone broth as well.

And then eating less is, of course, always the best thing to do. It's SO hard for me to not go back for seconds!!!  Having said all of this, I know us.  I know our family.  Eating healthy is a priority, but I have to make concessions in having treats now and then.  I think it's totally okay to have a piece of cake or pie now and then.  We love our no-churn ice cream flavors (even though I'm cutting back on dairy) so we will have those once in a while.  A cinnamon roll for a special breakfast is a treat.  A fresh baked cookie satisfies the sweet tooth.  The "everything in moderation" is true if you can trust yourself to do it.  Small batch baking is best so that you don't constantly have it around as a temptation.  Also, keeping the "treats" for special occasions where you will know that you'll have other people around to help you eat it and then it will be gone is another good idea.  The problem comes when we constantly have these "unhealthy" foods around all the time.

The other area that I will be working on is the craft area.  I definitely need to go through and really re-think (once again) all the things that I enjoy doing and then the things that I think I enjoy doing and then the things that I know I don't enjoy doing.  Narrowing it all down and going through it all.  Purging and sifting those items that I don't enjoy anymore and giving them away.  At this point the things I do enjoy is crocheting (just very basic), embroidering, and card-making, and sewing.  So those will stay put (just re-organizing), but everything else will have to go in order to simplify.  It's not a good sign when you look for something crafty to do and you just stare at everything, get overwhelmed, and then walk out not doing anything at all!!!!  That kind of defeats the purpose of having a craft area!

And I know I've mentioned this before - I'm a big believer in having hobbies.  It gets us off the couch, it gets our brain going in another direction (and for those of us who are aging, that's a good thing!), it helps us to problem-solve and create something beautiful and useful.  Hobbies are VERY important!  So, I know it's one area that I won't and can't give up - I just need to get more organized so that it works for me.  : )

So.........cleaning the house after Christmas, working on a healthier lifestyle, and better organization of my hobby area are the three things that will keep me busy for a while!  What are you working on now that we're in a new year?  What areas in your home need some special time and attention?  I wish you all the best in getting motivated!  I always say this but it is true - doing something is ALWAYS better than doing nothing.  I encourage you today to do something.  God bless.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The End of One Year - The Beginning of a New

Our feathery friends.  : )


It's been quite the weather the last few days.  Starting out as freezing rain on Saturday which created all sorts of problems, then it turned warmish for Sunday (thank goodness) which cleared off the roads and walkways, and then yesterday it snowed quite a bit.  So I'm now looking out the window at beautiful sunshine and clean, fresh snow.  : )

I thought I would post one last blogpost of 2019 as I pause with a little mid-morning break.  So......here we are.  Close to taking Christmas down for another year and close to ushering in a brand new year.  Hard to believe really.  I've always been very sentimental about a new year.  Even when very young growing up I felt there should always be some kind of celebration for it and was always bummed when everyone just called it a night.  There was always something in me that wished and hoped for a better year than the one we just came out of even though as a young child what could have been so bad for me to feel that way?

As an adult, perspective has a way of showing us what is.  And I think I said this last December 31st - that most of us carry into the new year the stuff from the old year and that is sad in many ways.  Broken relationships, death, sickness, loss of a job, uncertainty, fear, worry - they don't just go away.  We will wake up tomorrow (Lord willing) and those things are still there.  But there is also something in a January 1st that gives some kind of hope.  Maybe there will be restoration.  Maybe there will be joy again.  Maybe there will be healing.  Maybe there is another job out there.  That's what I have always hoped for on December 31st.  

We can certainly look around at the way the world has (and is) changed and we can sometimes lose that hope.  People seem to have lost decency, manners, morals.  But if we look hard enough (and sometimes we do have to look hard) there are still people who are making a difference.  People who love and care about someone besides themselves.  They step up and do the right thing.  They are people who work behind the scenes instead of wanting to be in the forefront.  And then if you get a whole lot of those kinds of people together, well........they get wonderful things done!

In this new year, let's look for those people.  Let's BE those people.  It may not take care of the trials that we all face from time to time - there will still be sadness, and death, and discouragement, and all kinds of little annoyances - but in the between times, the times where when we've gone through it, we rise up and encourage one another with the hope that we have.

This year I'm so very grateful for all of you who read my blog.  Really.  Seriously.  I've always enjoyed writing and I find it humbling that someone would actually sit down and read it!  I SO enjoy when you leave comments because that motivates me and if you can think of anything that might be of some interest to you it would be fun for me to know what that would be! I'm not an expert on anything - just your average homemaker who has some thoughts on a few things.  : )  I have a few interests that I enjoy sharing.

So, before I go I want to wish you a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR and hope that you can celebrate in some way - even just giving thanks to the Lord for how He has brought you thus far.  I pray that 2020 will be the year that you will give your life to Jesus if you haven't already and if you have, that you will call upon Him in everything that you do.  I pray that your families are strengthened and encouraged this year.  I pray that you will continue to do your best in your homes because our society needs strong homes.  And I pray that we will all try our best to make a difference.  God bless.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

A Post-Christmas Post

This manger scene was a wonderful find at Hobby Lobby.  : )


Hello!  How are all of you doing?  I hope this is finding you doing a bit of relaxing now that you have celebrated Christmas.  Like Thanksgiving, this Christmas was one of the nicest that we've had in years.  We were very careful not to overdo this year.  We scaled back on decorating, food, and gifts.  It wasn't perfect (and that's okay) and I had to miss out on a lot of Christmas programs and concerts because of my hip/back/leg but it really was a meaningful and calm Christmas and I'm trying to keep up the Christmas feeling until it all comes down next week.  One of the ways I'm doing that is to listen to Christmas sermons from one of my favorite teaching pastors - Alistair Begg.  You can find him on-line and watch or listen.  They are SO very good and it truly helps to keep the true meaning of Christmas alive.  After watching "A Christmas Carol" this year, the emphasis on "keeping Christmas" in our hearts 365 days of the year made me yearn for that.   How CAN we keep that feeling of thankfulness, gratefulness, charity, helpfulness, etc., alive in us?  Instead of putting everything away and saying "thank goodness, that's over" (and I have had years like that!), how can we keep the feeling of wanting to do for others, or make someone's life a bit brighter, or give more of our time, talent, and money (because God can multiply our efforts!).  I guess that would be something for us to work on in the new year ahead.  Being intentional at least once a month (write it down on our calendars) to do something outside of ourselves that would bring the Christmas spirit into the lives of others.  Keep the Acts of Kindness going!!!  : )

Well, I'm sitting here with the darkness of this time of year just outside my window.  And what is falling from the sky this morning is rain (sometimes freezing rain) and not snow like it should be!  We are under a winter weather advisory all weekend into Monday as just north and west of here will be under a winter storm warning where they will be getting all the snow and wind.  Weekends like this is THE reason to keep your pantry stocked well so that you don't have to venture out.

Christmas Eve and Day were such mild days that we were able to have an outdoor fire on Christmas Eve like we wanted to do.  : )  It just gave the evening such a calm and cozy touch before we went back in to open gifts.  If there were things that worked this year (or things that didn't) make sure to write them down as a reminder for next year on what to do and what not to do.  For instance, my meal didn't turn out exactly like I had hoped so I'm writing that down as to what to do differently.  It's good to keep notes (a special holiday notebook) because it's so easy to forget.

But - on to a New Year coming up!  There is something very motivating to me as having a brand new year and the first month of that new year to begin to really look at all of what we have and all of what we can go through and give away.  While decorating for Christmas I have already seen things that will go to the thrift store - even Christmas decorations themselves.  There are just some things that should not be stored away in boxes not seeing the light of day - they should be out of this home and into the home of someone else.  I guess this all leads up to the January to-do's!

JANUARY CLEANING SCHEDULE

*Make new files/store old
*Get taxes together and make appointment for tax man if you do that
*Get your new calendar out and fill in all the anniversaries, birthdays, summer trips, camping weekends, etc.
*Start purchasing (or making cards) for the upcoming year
*Check your attic for leaks
*Sharpen workshop tools and kitchen knives, scissors
*Plan some sewing/crafting/hobby times while it's still winter
*Inspect your roof
*Plan any landscaping and gardening ideas (I've received a couple of seed catalogs already!)
*Check for any drafts around the doors and windows
*Organize your desk area - make it work for you - how can you be more efficient?
*Buy houseplants to purify the indoor air - there are many that won't harm your pets
*Begin to go through all those drawers, cupboards, and cabinets and get rid of things you don't need/use - organize the rest
*Take an inventory of everything in your home - write it all down and take photos - put this in a safe spot so that if anything happens to your home, you have an inventory of everything for insurance purposes

Again, not everything is for everyone so use this list to be a starting point in your own home.  Let this year be the year where we are clutter-free, organized, living simply, and clean.  : )

JANUARY TEA PARTY THEME

*Decorate with lots of greenery, tartan plaid, and lots of candles
*Serve scones with preserves and jams and shortbread dipped in chocolate
*A variety of teas with cream, sugar, and honey
*Play Irish music

Sounds festive and fun!  Being part Irish, this is right up my alley.  : )  

And, lastly, I wanted to encourage you to make a Blessing Jar for the new year.


This is ours and, as you can see, it's almost full.  This REALLY does help in looking around and literally count your daily blessings.  Most of the time it's the small stuff of this life - just getting up in the morning or having clean water to shower in or enough food to eat or clean clothes to wear - but counting it all as blessing is SO VERY important for all of us.  It puts things into perspective and I think it's a most wonderful thing to do throughout the year.  If you have children or grandchildren let them put their slips of paper in as to what they are grateful for.  It's a wonderful teaching tool to use. And then at the end of every year, pour them onto the table and read them aloud and you will be amazed at how blessed you were.  : )

Well, the darkness is turning into light and unfortunately as I look out, everything is glare ice from the earlier rains.  A good day to stay put.  God bless your day ahead and remember that doing something in your home is better than doing nothing.  God has provided this home for us so let's show Him our gratitude and do our best in keeping it well.  Thank you for stopping by!!!!!  : )

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Our Christmas Eve Menu

Another ornament from the tree.  : )


We used to have Christmas Eve at my husband's sisters' house and she used to put on a Christmas Eve buffet like no other.  I wouldn't even be able to come close to what she did but I think I've come up with something good and fun.  Here is the menu:

*BBQ Meatballs (recipe to follow)
*Large baked potatoes with butter, sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped green onions
*Corn
*Relish tray of different pickles and olives

For dessert, everyone is going to have to work for it!!!  : )  All of us like decorating sugar cookies so after our meal is done and our tummies have settled down a bit, I'm going to bring out the buttercream icing along with the piping bags and decorating tips and all those sprinkles and we're going to decorate sugar cookies for part of our dessert.  They will be served with no-churn eggnog ice cream and coffee (or tea).  I LOVE sitting at the table and doing things together because it usually turns out to be a lot of fun and laughs and THAT is a good thing!   : )

We are really trying to not make it all about gifts this year.  Just eating together and having fun together is all we need.  Yes, there will, of course be gifts but it's not the main thing.  One of the things I'm most excited about is having an outdoor fire and sitting around it with hot apple cider and music streaming.  I have ALWAYS wanted to do that but around here, most Christmas's are SO very cold that it really wouldn't be comfortable.  But this year it sounds like we're going to have a warm front and it's supposed to be very mild so we'll be able (hopefully) to do it.  Seriously, I can't wait.  It's been one of my "to-do's" for Christmas for a long time - I think it will slow us down to just be able to talk and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors for a while (maybe ring in Christmas Day and sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus!!!).

Well, here is the recipe for the BBQ Meatballs.  I have brought these to a few events and everyone really enjoys them so I hope you can give them a try!

BBQ MEATBALLS (FREEZER MAKE-AHEAD)

3 lbs. ground beef
1 cup quick-cook oatmeal
1 cup saltine cracker crumbs
1, 12 oz. can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder

Combine all ingredients and mix well (mixture will be soft) and shape them into, well, meatballs! : )
Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze till solid.  (The original recipe said to put them on wax-paper lined baking sheets, but I found that it sticks - when just putting them on un-lined sheets, they come right off).  After frozen, transfer them to freezer bags until ready to cook.

When ready to bake, place the meatballs in a 9 x 13 pan and pour THIS sauce over the top:

BBQ SAUCE

2 cups ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped onion

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or till done (may take a bit longer).  Enjoy!!!!!!

These are, of course, the meatballs when they are frozen and then the sauce off to the side.  This is just so quick and easy - everything can be made well ahead.  I can bake them in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, transfer them to a slow cooker and put it on either Warm or Low and have them ready when we get home from church.  My kind of meal!!!!

The baked potatoes, too, are so easy.  Just wash the potatoes really well (but don't dry them), poke them a couple of times with a fork, put them into a slow cooker and bake on High for 4 hours - they come out perfect.  Again, this is something that I can put in in the afternoon and when we come home from church the meatballs and the potatoes will be ready - all we have to do is set everything out and serve up!!!!  I love it.  : )

That's it for today.  What are you serving for Christmas and how are you going to celebrate this year?




Thursday, December 19, 2019

It's Getting Closer............

I love my snowmen - this one will stay out through winter.  : )

How are you doing?  It's been a while since I've last posted.  Mostly because I didn't feel that I had anything to write about!  I'm sure I'm not doing anything different than the rest of you in preparing for Christmas.  The menus for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are planned and I now need to cook ahead for ease on those days.  I baked our sugar cookie cut-outs today (because it wouldn't be Christmas without the bells, stars, trees, Santas, and angels).  The gifts are wrapped and there is a feeling of the waiting now - I always look forward to that feeling.

My favorite time is the early morning hour - all is quiet and still. I make my way to the kitchen to prepare a cup of coffee (is there a better smell than that first cup of coffee?).  As that is brewing I go into the living room and turn on a few lights - especially the Christmas tree - get my comfy chair ready with my Bible and notebook, go and grab the coffee and settle in.  The Lord is teaching me so much this Christmas - and some lessons to learn are not easy lessons to learn.   God is so patient though.

In the Mary and Martha passage of the Bible, I'm definitely Martha!!!  I find that I can get so wrought up in the doing that I need to constantly take a step back and remember what (Who) the celebration is for!!!!  I think for us women we want everything to be just right, we want everyone to be happy, we want everyone to be comfortable and although we can call it having a servant's heart we have to be careful of not playing the part of martyr.  I can get caught up in the "poor me's" when it seems like everyone else around me is relaxing and having a nice time while I'm the one at the dining room table wrapping gifts, clearing off the table to get the next meal on, cleaning, baking...........you know what I mean!!!  I only need to remember that the frustration I feel is self-imposed and then the lightbulb in my head goes off - "just ask for help" - and everyone is more than willing to help.  As Charlie Brown would say - "good grief".   : )

So, as I look at the tree in the wee hours of the morning I see the old vintage ornament given to us by mother-in-law:

  
A newer ornament made by a friend:


A cute thrift-store find that looks like she is always camera-ready:


All the things that we put out around us to remind us of Christmas past and Christmas present.  There are a lot of things that want to steal the Christmas joy, so what we do in our homes is vitally important.  All these little touches, all the cooking and baking - all of it is a way to tell people that we love them and appreciate them.  It's one of the best gifts of all.

God bless!!  : )

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Encouragement For Christmas



This is my favorite book to read BEFORE Christmas because it is so encouraging.  There are many of us who let the commercialism and worldly worries get the best of us at Christmas and I find just reading this book gets me back into the spirit of it all and begin to enjoy this most wonderful time of year again.

It was written back in 1952 but the things Peter Marshall talks about is the same now as it was then.  It is timeless.  So, today, while you are busy in your shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, baking, sewing, crafting, writing cards, planning parties..................STOP.  Read this.  And then read it again if you have to.  Let this help bring that Christmas feeling back if you've lost it along the way somehow.  Grab a cup of tea or coffee, sit back, and let me write his words down for you:
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Changes are everywhere.  Many institutions and customs that we once thought sacrosanct have gone by the board.  Yet there are a few that abide, defying time and revolution.  

The old message "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" is still the heart of Christmas.  It can be nothing else.  And this message can neither be changed - nor quite forgotten although there are many things that tend to make us forget.

The idea of Santa Claus coming in a helicopter does not ring true.  No interior decorator with a fondness for yellow or blue could ever persuade me to forsake the Christmas colors of red and green.

I must confess that modernistic Christmas cards leave me cold.  I cannot appreciate the dogs and cats, the galloping horses, the ships full sail.......or any of the cute designs that leave out the traditional symbols of the star.....the manger.....the wise men on their camels.

Angels there must be.....but they need not be the modernistic angels in evening dress with peroxide permanents.  There is no need to search for stories new and different.  There is only one after all - and no modern author can improve it:

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night, and lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around about them and they were sore afraid.  And the angel of the Lord said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

We all feel the pressure of approaching Christmas.  The traffic is terrible.  You can't find a parking space.....the stores are crowded....mob scenes make shopping a nightmare.

You are thinking about presents - wondering what in the world you can get for so-and-so.  You think of friends and loved ones who are so hard to shop for.  You can't think of anything they need (which is rather strange when you take time to think of it).

Maybe there is nothing in a store that they need.  But what about some token of love - what about love itself....and friendship.....and understanding.....and consideration.....and a helping hand.....and a smile......and a prayer?

You can't buy these things in any store, and these are the very things people need.  We all need them....Blessed will they be who receive them this Christmas or at any time.

Let's not permit the crowds and rush to crowd Christmas out of our hearts.......for that is where it belongs.  Christmas in not in the stores - but in the hearts of people.

Let's not give way to cynicism and mutter that "Christmas has become commercialized."  It never will be - unless you let it be.  YOUR Christmas is not commercialized, unless you have commercialized it.

Let's not succumb to the sophistication that complains:  "Christmas belongs only to the children."  That shows that you have never understood Christmas at all, for the older you get, the more it means, if you know what it means.  Christmas, though forever young, grows old along with us.

Have you been saying, "I just can't seem to feel the Christmas spirit this year"?  That's too bad.  As a confession of lack of faith, it is rather significant.  

You are saying that you feel no joy that Jesus came into the world.....you are confessing that His presence in the world is not a reality to you......maybe you need all the more to read the Christmas story over again, need to sit down with the Gospel of Luke and think about it.

I thank God for Christmas.  Would that it lasted all year.  For on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, all the world is a better place, and men and women are more lovable.  Love itself seeps into every heart, and miracles happen.  

When Christmas doesn't make your heart swell up until it nearly bursts....and fill your eyes with tears....and make you all soft and warm inside.....then you'll know that something inside of you is dead.  Why?  It is not really important, but it is so nice, and old-fashioned, and appropriate, we think.

Isn't it wonderful to think that nothing can really harm the joy of Christmas.....although your Christmas tree decorations will include many new gadgets, such as lights with bubbles in them....it's the old tree decorations that mean the most....the ones you save carefully from year to year.....the crooked star that goes on top of the tree....the ornaments that you've been so careful with.

And you'll bring out the tiny manger, and the shed, and the little figures of the Holy Family.....and lovingly arrange them on the mantel or in the middle of the dining room table.

And getting the tree will be a family event, with great excitement for the children....and there will be a closet into which you'll forbid your husband to look, and he will be moving through the house mysteriously with bundles under his coat, and you'll pretend not to notice.....

There will be the fragrance of cookies baking, spices and fruit cake.....and the warmth of the house shall be melodious with the lilting of strains of "Silent Night, Holy Night."  And you'll listen to the wonderful Christmas music on the radio...some of the songs will be modern - good enough music perhaps - but it will be the old carols, the lovely old Christmas hymns that will mean the most.

And forests of fir trees will march right into our living rooms....there will be bells on our doors and holly wreaths in our windows....and we shall sweep the Noel skies for their brightest colors and festoon our homes with stars.

There will be a chubby stocking hung by the fireplace.....and with finger to lip you will whisper and ask me to tip-toe, for a little tousled head is asleep and must not be awakened until after Santa has come.  

And finally Christmas morning will come.  Don't worry - you'll be ready for it - you'll catch the spirit all right, or it will catch you, which is even better.

And then you will remember what Christmas means - the beginning of Christianity......the Second Chance for the world.....the hope for peace......and the only way.   The promise that the angels sang is the most wonderful music the world has ever heard.  "Peace on earth and goodwill toward men."

It was not a pronouncement upon the state of the world then nor is it a reading of the international barometer of the present time.......but it is a promise - God's promise - of what one day will come to pass.

The years that are gone are graveyards in which all the persuasions of men have crumbled into dust.  If history has any voice, it is to say that all these ways of men lead nowhere.  

There remains one way - The Way - untried, untested, unexplored fully......the way of Him Who was born a Babe in Bethlehem.

In a world that seems not only to be changing, but even to be dissolving, there are some tens of millions of us who want Christmas to be the same..........with the same old greeting "Merry Christmas" and no other.

We long for the abiding love among men of good will which the season brings.....believing in this ancient miracle of Christmas with its softening, sweetening influence to tug at our hear strings once again.

We want to hold on to the old customs and traditions because they strengthen our family ties, bind us to our friends, make us one with all mankind for whom the Child was born, and bring us back again to the God Who gave His only begotten Son, that "whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

So we not "spend" Christmas......nor "observe" Christmas.  We will "keep" Christmas - keep it as it is.......in all the loveliness of its ancient traditions.

May we keep it in our hearts, that we may be kept in its hope.
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I hope this encourages you today as you feel overwhelmed with it all.  The overwhelmed feelings we have are usually our own doing - Christmas was not meant for us to feel that way.  Maybe today you can step back, take a deep breath, and meditate on what Christmas really means.  Maybe today is the day you say "enough" or "good enough" and let the other stuff go.  

Maybe today is the day that you bring back faith and joy remembering what (who) it is that we are celebrating.  : )  God bless.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Saturday Morning

Our son made this (by himself) when he was very little and it still lights up after all these years!


It's a very dark and chilly morning but the day is supposed to warm up to 37 degrees!   I think it's going to be one of those afternoons where I will have to put a coat on, pour a cup of tea, grab a chair and go sit in the sunshine for a while.  : )

Well, it's been an unusual week for me.  I started the week with my to-do lists that would have carried me through the week and I was happy with that - Wednesday morning I reached across the bed to make it and my back decided to go out on me (this happens at least once a year, so I guess it chose this week to be the week).  So painful on Wednesday and Thursday and then went to the chiropractor yesterday which helped me to finally get a good night's sleep and this morning, although I can still feel it, my back feels better but with strict instructions to not do anything strenuous.  So...........planning is great but things do happen, don't they?!

It will be a good day to write out my Christmas cards.  : )  I know I'm a week behind in the December to-do's and tea party theme (I'm sure you were wondering - haha) so I'll get to them now:

DECEMBER TO-DO'S:

*Bake/buy or make gifts/start wrapping
*Decorate your home (if you haven't already - remember, you don't have to go all out, just a few things here and there can make your home beautiful
*Stock up on salt and sand for those slippery days
*Have your car checked for the upcoming winter months so you don't find yourself stalled out somewhere when it's 30 below!
*If you are planning to use any good dishes or you have a silver set that you bring out for the holidays now is the time to wash and polish
*Same with linens - if you are planning to use any good linens such as tablecloths and napkins, now is the time to wash and iron them

That's it!  Like I've said in another post, I don't do anything other than enjoy the holidays and my home.  I do the very basics - keep the bathroom clean, dust and vacuum, mop floors, etc. but other than general upkeep I don't use this time to deep clean or go through things.  I keep all of that for January.  As I was putting Christmas things up I did notice areas in the house where I need to give some extra attention to after the New Year, so I'm writing things down for that.  But I feel this is a time to do the extracurricular - baking those cookies with Christmas music in the background, watch those old Christmas movies with a big bowl of popcorn, wrapping the gifts with care and getting excited about family and friends opening them, writing Christmas cards to family and friends knowing how much fun it is for me when I go to the mailbox and finding one from them, cooking and baking those things that only come out at this time of year knowing how much it will bring joy to whom you are cooking and baking.  All of these things make this time of year special - we have to be willing to admit that we can't do it all without becoming exhausted - so just set other things aside and concentrate on this one month of the year.  : )

DECEMBER TEA PARTY THEME

I think of all the tea party themes, December is the most fun because you can just go anywhere with this!  You can have a woodsy theme, a nutcracker theme, a classical theme, a retro theme, a Santa theme, a beautiful and fancy theme..............however you choose to decorate in your home, the tea party would just become a part of that decoration!    But here is a suggestion:

*Decorate with lots of little trees (some flocked, some natural), set in little pots of natural herbs, hang snowflakes from the ceiling, set out bowls of shiny red apples - let it have a natural feel to it - like your walking in a winter scene.
*Serve your favorites - decorated sugar cookies, any special candy, pretty wrapped chocolates, decorated cupcakes - set this out on a big board - make it full and lavish!  Serve with a variety of teas and coffee and some of those yummy coffee creamers.
*Then, of course, play all those Christmas carols in the background.

Sounds fun to me!!!!!!  : )  If you find that you can't pull a few women together for this, do it for your family OR just yourself (on a smaller scale).  : )  This is just another way of slowing down and enjoying this time of year.

AN ADVENT IDEA

One thing that is especially important this time of year is to keep Christ in Christmas.  Staying in the Bible is important but one thing we've found is to have a daily Advent reading.  I made this last year and my husband and I enjoyed it, so I saved it for this year as well.


I decorated 25 envelopes and in each envelope is a devotional reading for that particular day.  I tucked them into the above little wicker basket and set it on our table to read each morning after breakfast.  It's just another way to stay in God's word and to slow things down a bit before getting into the work of the day.  I know this first week is over but you still have time to do something like this for yourself!    I hope you can give it a try.  : )

Now, before I go, I've been wanting to share a dinner roll recipe with you that I made for Thanksgiving and we all thought they were the best!!!!!  Seriously, I won't buy dinner rolls anymore.  So here it is:

DINNER ROLLS IN THE BREAD MACHINE (THE DOUGH THAT IS)

1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

Add all of the ingredients to the bread machine in order given, set on dough cycle and once completed, pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough into 24 equal portions and form into balls.  Place the dough balls into a 9 x 13 greased pan and let rise for about 30 - 45 minutes until almost doubled.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or so (you'll have to see about the time - my oven was baking slower so it took close to 20-25 minutes).  Rub the tops with butter while still warm.  YUM!!!!!!  I baked these the day before Thanksgiving and then just put them in foil and reheated them before we ate.  Oh my goodness - they are seriously good.  Please give them a try!!!!  Your family will love you for it.  : )

That is all for this day.  Thank you SO much for dropping by for a visit because I really appreciate it when you do.  : )  God bless your homekeeping efforts.


Monday, December 2, 2019

Now.....On To Christmas!

Can you feel the Christmas Eve excitement?  : )


Hello!  I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.  We had one of the nicest in I don't know how many years!  It was so comfortable and cozy and relaxing.  Doing all the food the day before is totally the way to go!  All I had to do at the last minute were the green beans and that only takes minutes.  Everything else was in the oven re-heating while we enjoyed talking and eating from the appetizer board.  We are game people so games were brought out - no crafting because there just wouldn't be enough time to do it all which was fine.  We even had a chance to do a family photo outdoors.  It was a full day but the time went so quickly and we all look back on it fondly.  : )

And as the title to this post says........on to Christmas!  It felt like a whirlwind weekend as we wanted to get everything up so that we can now just enjoy it.  On Friday both my husband and I felt rather melancholy while putting things up.  We didn't know at the time that we were both feeling a bit sad - not the kind of sad that just keeps you on the couch not wanting to do anything because we were actually enjoying the process, or the kind of sad where you put a couple of things up and say "enough" even though we did downsize it this year - it was the kind of sad in looking back to past Christmas's and missing having parents around.  I think the reason Christmas seems so magical when you're a child is that it's the parents (mostly moms) who gets everything ready.  All you have to do is walk into the house and it's all done for you - good food, decorations in the same place year after year, routine and traditions.  When they're gone, it's us that has to keep it going which means that we can't be the "kids" anymore - now we have "kids" and we have the responsibility to make them feel taken care of.  Which, of course, is wonderful and fine but when we get older we just remember how it used to be too and we miss it.

Saturday was much better as we finished up and saw the end of our labor and watched our first Christmas movie - "Miracle on 34th Street" (since it begins with Thanksgiving and ends with Christmas).  Here are just a few photos of what our home looks like:

Coming up the front walkway.  Merry Christmas!  Jesus is the reason for the season, but I also like to bring out the snowmen - they stay up through January.  The early snow helps it to feel Christmas-y.

What you would see coming in the front door.  Come in and relax!

Come and sit by the "fire" and sip a hot cocoa.

Or, choose a book to read.

Reflect on what God's gift to us was - a Savior, Christ the Lord.

While sitting at your table writing Christmas cards to family and friends, pour a hot cup of tea and sit by a window where you can daydream.

Enjoy the beauty of the season - take time to look around at all the things you put up year after year and be grateful for all you have.

From our home to yours.  God bless.