Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

We in the United States are still hours away from the New Year, so I am a little early.  To others who are across the pond I may be a little late!  Whatever the case I wish all of you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!  : )

May you dear homemakers hang in there in keeping with making your home a comfortable and inviting place to live and work.  May this be the year for learning new skills and keeping the ones that work for your particular family.  May we all pray for each other because the world can be hard on those who decide to not work outside the home.  May we look forward to a year of possibilities.  And may we keep our Heavenly Father first in everything we do.

I have had the following prayer up on my bulletin board for quite a while now and would like to share it with you:


Precious Father, thank You for another year.
Thank You for the year just past
For the joys and sorrows
For the laughter and the tears
For the lessons I learned and Your
Patience in teaching me
For the people whose  lives I touched and
For those who touched mine
For answers to prayer and the privilege
Of coming to You in prayer
For a year filled with Your presence.

Thank You for the year just ahead
For the hope it holds
For the promises it proclaims
For the expectation of greater things
For the anticipation of what lies in the distance
For the opportunities You'll give me to
Bless others and for others blessing me
For 365 unseen days overflowing with Your grace.
Jonathan Dukes

That about sums it up, doesn't it?  : )

I am slowly taking Christmas down.  Leaving the snowmen up for January and hanging the snowflakes.  We need to keep the tree up for another week because of a late get-together but that is totally fine with me.  I love the lights in the early morning hours - I will miss that.  But there is something sweet about getting things back to "normal."  This is the year where I will look at EVERY THING that we own with a critical eye and ask myself the hard questions of whether or not this is something we want to continue to keep.  I so very much want to pare down this year and keep only what is useful and/or has a very special meaning. 

When writing about thrift yesterday, this "paring down" is a big part of being thrifty.  It's less to take care of.  When we think of women of long ago, they had only what they needed.  No more.  How many potholders do we need anyway?  Not a whole drawer full that's for sure.  

When we go through closets and drawers, we end up "finding" things we forgot we even had. Chances are, that if you've forgotten you had something, you don't need it.  Out it goes!  : )  It's even smart to keep a household inventory notebook on what you have and where you put it.  In this notebook you can begin to list things that you still need and begin to hunt for them at garage sales or thrift stores (the idea being that you NEVER pay full price for anything).  And my friend and I were just talking about this - when you get things out of the house, quit bringing more in!  That's the key.

The only caution to all of this is to start small.  Start with a dresser.  Start with a drawer.  Start with a box.  Do NOT try to do a whole room because this kind of work will wear you down quickly. It's important work to be done, so don't overdo.  Because you are a homemaker, you can fortunately make the time whether that be an hour a day, or a Saturday morning, or whatever works for you and your family.  You can spend the whole year doing this and that's OK.  We spent years accumulating all of this, it's definitely not going to go overnight!  I hope you can give this a try.  

Thank you for dropping in.  ALWAYS nice having you here.  God bless you richly in 2016.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Laura Ingall's Wilder cabin in Wisconsin.

I read and re-read the "Little House on the Prairie" books over and over again because I love the way women used to be so thrifty and it's fun to read how "ma" did things back in the 1800's and how we can take some of that information and use it in our own homes today.  Of course, we aren't as dependent upon the "make-do or do without" plan that they HAD to live with, but we certainly CAN and in many cases SHOULD emulate those ways.

We are so used to being able to just go out and buy whatever we want without thinking.  We aren't used to using our heads as much as far as what it is that we can do for ourselves.  I've said this before, but I'll say it again - I may not bring money into the home by being a homemaker, but I can certainly find many ways to save money.  And it can be a very challenging and exciting job.  

A few ideas for thrift and resourcefulness are:

*Hanging laundry up instead of drying it.  The dryer is an appliance that requires a lot of energy so hanging up a few loads during the week instead of using the dryer is a money saver.  I will admit that on my big laundry day (Monday) I use the dryer because I just don't have the room to hang up all the sheets, etc., but those little loads that I throw in during the week are hung up on a portable clothesline in the basement along with a drying rack.  The cost of purchasing a drying rack is pretty minimal and can save money in the long run.  Hope you try it!

*Cooking and baking.  I think we've gotten so use to all the convenience food (and isn't that the food that's always on sale?) that we don't take the time for real food.  I can't say that I never use convenience food - it's what I buy for deepening the pantry for meals I would have to make in an emergency - but one look at the ingredients list and it quickly motivates me to cook from scratch.  So before ordering a pizza or buying a frozen one, take out the flour, salt, yeast, and oil and make dough! Put it in the freezer so when the mood strikes that part is done and you can have a pizza in very short period of time.  And it's thrifty and it's healthy.

You don't have to buy cake flour to make a cake.  You can make your own cake flour with flour and cornstarch!  And most of us have those two ingredients already.

You don't have to have buttermilk for those pancakes.  You can make your own with regular milk and either lemon juice or vinegar.  Again, I usually have those in my fridge.

If you're out of brown sugar, just make some with granulated sugar and molasses.

Make your own salad dressings with oil and vinegar and a few herbs.

Make your own pancake syrup with granulated sugar, maple flavoring, and water.

And there are SO many other things you can make with just regular ingredients and think about the savings!  Homemade, by far, is the best for you and good for the budget.  

*Instead of making a special trip to the store to buy greeting cards, have fun with making your own!  There are quite a few birthdays this month, so I spent this afternoon making cards.  They are all done now and in a pile so that when I need one I have one.  : )  Yes, at first you need to get things like cardstock and envelopes but there are always coupons available for local craft stores to buy these. And you can go to the thrift store or dollar store to buy embellishments such as ribbon, buttons, etc. And pictures are easily gotten from cutting up old magazines or books.  Once you have a supply you are well on your way to making unique and beautiful cards for just pennies.  For me, it's addictive. I'm almost sad when I'm finished.  I could go on and on.

*Organization.  We all know this is important but it saves money as well.  Have a place for everything and everything in it's place.  This afternoon, I also cleaned out that dreaded drawer that I kept throwing things in over the holidays.  It is now cleaned and organized and feels great.  : )

All of these areas can be fun to work at in our homes.  Yes, all of these things take time.  Hanging laundry takes time, cooking and baking from scratch takes time, making cards and gifts takes time. Organizing takes time.  But for me, I'd rather take the time than spend the money.  Spending money is easy.  It's quick.  It doesn't require a lot of thought and attention.  I'm not saying that I never go the convenience route, but I really want that to be the exception rather than the norm.

May you begin to think of what you can do around your home where it will take time, energy, and motivation rather than all your hard earned money.  Have fun with this!!!  God bless your efforts.  : )

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Keeping Up

The winter storm moved in and now we have a lovely layer of white.  Unfortunately almost all of it fell overnight while we were sleeping.  I rather like it more when it comes during the day while I'm working in the house.  But take it I will.  : )

It was a rather busy day in keeping up with things around here:

*First paying the bills and going through the household budget.
*Next making out the menu for the week and the grocery list that goes with it.  I've been trying to use things up and I've been using my notes from the kitchen notebook to start concentrating on better nutrition.  Here are my menus:

Tonight was Taco Tuesday -

Taco Salads with taco meat, cheese, sour cream, and black olives
Crisp apple slices

Wednesday (Whatever) -

Pizza using soft tortillas as the "crust" (if you haven't tried this, it's one of our favorite ways) - just put soft flour tortillas on a baking pan, top with pizza sauce or sometimes I even use plain old tomato sauce and then whatever toppings you have on hand.  I noticed I have leftover pepperoni and Canadian bacon and cheese, so I will use those.  They're like little individual pizzas. I will serve a side salad with the Pizza.

Thursday is New Year's Eve and we will share in the food with friends.  

Friday is New Year's Day and again, we will share in the food with friends.

Soup Saturday -

Crockpot Chili with cheese and sour cream
Whole grain crackers
Fresh orange slices

Special Sunday -

Oven Pork Roast
Brown rice pilaf
Sweet Potatoes
Ice cream sundaes for later in the day

Meatless Monday - (well, almost meatless)

Baked Potato supper topped with crispy fried bacon, sour cream, and green onions
Salad on the side

Which brings us to Taco Tuesday again!

This time soft shell tacos with chips and salsa
Fresh orange slices

I've also thought through our snacks here at home.  I'm not much of a snacker but when I do want a little something I would like for it to be healthy.  Here's what I'm thinking for the snack box: Pistachios, walnuts, oatmeal cookies (which will be in the freezer), apple slices, raisins, carrots, lowfat Greek yogurt, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and cashews.

I'm also trying to choose recipes with the least amount of ingredients.  And if a recipe calls for a cream of something soup I need to, once again, make my own and leave the cans for the pantry in case of creamed soup emergency and I don't have time.

All of this has been fun.  I'm the kind of person who loves to read nutrition books and cookbooks and learn about which foods go with which, so coming up with decent meals isn't work for me.  It takes a lot of time but it's worth it.

At this time of year I'm also motivated to make homemade mixes where I know what's going in to them.  In the coming days I will post some of my favorites that have been tried and true.  It's so convenient to reach into the pantry and pull out a mix whether it be a pancake mix or cake mix or biscuit mix, it's just such a money-saving and time-saving way to do things.

Lastly, I ironed.  And ironed.  And, then, I ironed some more.  Wow........ that's all I can say about that!

I hope you had an enjoyable day in your home.  It's a lot of work to keep up but it feels great!  Thanks for dropping by.  : )

Monday, December 28, 2015

Back to Work!

It feels good today to get back into the swing of things.  Dusting, vacuuming, changing the bedding, cleaning the bathroom, getting the laundry done for ironing tomorrow.  It also means sweeping up more pine needles and straightening rooms.  It means moving those things out and putting these things over here.  It means pretty-ing up and re-organizing.  It means going through things that are out of place and making a spot for them.  I seem to always have a burst of energy after Christmas and want to get down to the business of purging and giving things away.  I'm in the mood to do with less, so much thought goes into each item before I actually put it away.  I feel that if we bring items into the house from Christmas, some items are going to have to leave the house for the new year.

I'm bringing out my household notebooks in which I write notes from articles I've read in books and magazines to remind me of things that I need to renew this year or begin.  Anything from a cooking tip, to a money-saving idea, to health.

Here are a few:

*In January, start a food pantry for the upcoming year.  If you've already started one, go through every food item to check the "use by" dates and use up anything just about expired or donate them to a food shelf.  If you don't have a pantry, this is a very important thing to do - start small if money is tight but do something.

*Begin a gift pantry - when out and about, look for items that you know would make a nice gift for someone and set them aside on a shelf somewhere in your home.  Buy or make greeting cards and always have them available for timely gift giving.

*Let the new year be the year to eat healthier.  It can be done even on a limited budget.  Do your homework on what your body needs to get all the good nutrition you can.  Limit caffeine, soda, and junk food.

*Make a winter air freshener for on top of the stove - 2 broken cinnamon sticks, 5 or 6 cloves, and apple juice or cider - simmer on cooktop and add a little water to it when needed.  This smells wonderful!

*Learn a new skill in the new year.  There are wonderful tutorials on-line for anything you want to know.  Sewing, knitting, crocheting, gardening, cooking, etc.

*Read good literature.  Keep an on-going list of words that you need to look up in the dictionary for definitions and write them down.  Don't let your brain get lazy!!!!

*Have Christmas through the year - keep the spirit of Christmas going.  Remember others and send cards and letters.  Take treats to people.  Volunteer.  Pick up the tab for someone.  

*Be fun.  We all decorate at Christmas, but put up snowflakes and snowmen in January, make hearts in February, bake shamrock cookies in March, color eggs in April, buy a beautiful bouquet in May, have a picnic in June, decorate and celebrate the 4th of July, have a picnic in August, play games in September, hang leaves in the windows in October, make turkeys and pilgrims in November.  Life is meant to be celebrated.  Again, you don't have to spend a lot of money.  Be creative!

More to come in the days ahead.  : )

I do hope you had a blessed Christmas and that you feel motivated to get back into the swing of things around your home.  Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Joyful and Triumphant

"O Come, All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant."  Are we coming to the Lord feeling Joyful and Triumphant today?  I have to admit that after Christmas is that let-down feeling.  It kind of all comes to a stop.  What we just felt harried and hurried about a few days ago, has settled into, well, nothing. No more thinking of what to buy, no more last minute trips to the store for the forgotten ingredient in a recipe, no more gifts to wrap (or unwrap), no more cards in the mail.  What I'm left with is a pantry in disarray, a drawer filled with items that I just shoved in to get rid of for the time being, and a laundry room (that's small to begin with) holding empty boxes from all the Christmas decorations!

I found myself thinking today that it's a good day to once again - stop.  Tomorrow will be Monday and if the Lord is willing, I will have time to get to the above mentioned areas in my home, but for today I need to stop.  Jesus came to earth to save us.  Save us, the Faithful.  Nothing should steal our Joy.  I may not be the happiest person in the world today, but I can choose Joy and to be Joyful.  And the Triumphant part?  Well, as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we know the ending to this awesome story.  Christ was Triumphant over death.  He will come back to destroy the evil that keeps tormenting this world in which we live.  Yes.  Today we can be Faithful.  Today we can be Joyful. Today we can be Triumphant.  Let those messy areas in our homes and in our lives be.  Let's come and continue to Adore Him!!!  Christ, the Lord.  : )

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!!!!

The only song that keeps repeating itself in my mind this morning is "JOY TO THE WORLD."  And it truly is a joy to the world that God had a plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.  If you have not yet received Christ as Lord and Savior of your life, what better day than today to do it?!  You don't need to be good enough because none of us are.  You don't need to do enough because none of us can.  All you need to do is humble yourself, have a repentant heart, ask for forgiveness (because we ALL need it) and ask Jesus to come and take over because none of us can do this life by ourselves.  And God, in His mercy, will begin a good work in you.  And when this earthly life is over, we have eternal life. It's the miracle of Christmas.

I hope you take time today to get into God's Word and look up the following passages (I was going to write them all down, but it's so important for each one of us to open up the Bible and read for ourselves):

Isaiah 9: 6-7
Luke 2: 10-14
John 1:14
John 3:16 
John 12:46
John 16:33
John 18:37

This takes you from the Book of Isaiah, the prophet, who knew that The One would be born (the Messiah) who would redeem His people to the Book of John where Jesus tells Pilate that He came into the world to testify to the truth.  

Today may you:

*Pray for this world to come to Christ
*Keep Christ in Christmas with your family and friends
*Have courage to show your faith in Christ
*Be still at some point in the day to reflect on what Christ has done for us
*Enjoy the day the Lord has made
*Rejoice and be glad in it!!!

Have a very "MERRY CHRISTMAS" from our home to yours.  Lord willing, I will be back in a few days.  : )  God bless you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Getting Closer to Christmas

We're now entering into the time where if we can't get it done now, it's not going to get done!  I made the above candy yesterday.  I saw it on Saturday on one of my cooking shows.  They were having Christmas cooking shows and this is one that was featured.  I had everything in my pantry so I wanted to give it a try.  So easy and makes a pretty presentation.  All you need to do is melt a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and pour it onto a sprayed piece of foil on a pan.  Put the pan in the freezer to harden.  Melt almond bark and pour that over the harden chocolate and sprinkle with peppermint candies (I used candy canes) that are broken up.  Put it back into the freezer for a while (it doesn't take long) and then bring it out and break it up into serving pieces.  So, if you need just one more little something but don't want to spend a lot of time - this would be it!!!!  : )

The only other candy I need to make (today) is Grandma Pearl's Nut Goody Bars.  We always miss Pearl but especially during the holidays.  She had a way of making everything fun.  Always had a game ready, always had good food, and sometimes had a craft to work on if things got a little quiet. This was the candy she gave to everyone on Christmas Eve.  We miss it so I thought I'd make it this year.

I was going to make Peanut Blossoms (the peanut butter cookie with a "Kiss" in the middle) but  we received some as a gift this year so I don't need to make more.  But I will make my Molasses Crinkles today.  If you want your house to smell great there is nothing like molasses cookies in the oven!!! They freeze well too.

It is gently raining outside right now but later it will turn colder and sounds like we will get the Christmas snow that we've all been waiting for.  : ) Today's to-do's include:

*Grocery shopping for the last minute Christmas Eve and Day food
*Make the above candy and cookies
*Light housecleaning
*A couple loads of laundry

Today I hope you can:

*Concentrate on Jesus
*Have a prayer and devotional time
*Get into God's Word
*Give thanks 
*Take care of yourself in some way
*Know when enough is enough and be satisfied with that
*Enjoy this day
*Smile even when it's hard
*Be kind
*Be gentle

Have a wonderful day as you busily go about your home doing what needs to be done!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Taking Care of Yourself at this Busy Time

I know that, with everything going on this week, it's difficult to take care of yourself.  There are many demands.  Cook that meal, bake that cookie, shop, wrap, clean, keep up with laundry, take care of kids, go to programs, plan parties...........!  But in order to do all of these things without totally falling apart and crashing, taking care of yourself is very important.  

First, prioritize.  I know I've mentioned this before, but what things can you let go of?  Do you really have to do everything?  Can someone help out?  Does every favorite meal or cookie have to be cooked or baked?  Can you say "no" to someone or something?  There is no other time during the year where we put such demands on ourselves.  Again, try simplifying.  Try cutting back.  Can something be put off until after Christmas?  My mother-in-law used to send her cards out after Christmas because her reasoning was that it would be a nice surprise - something that they're not expecting - especially when we start to feel that let-down feeling of it all coming to an end.  Maybe we should bring back the 12 days of Christmas again.  Let some things wait.  We don't HAVE to do it all this week.  Save some things for later.  

Second, take naps or at least little breaks throughout the day.  Actually sit down with a cup of hot tea (or preferred beverage) and read something Christmas-y.  Or close your eyes for a few minutes and rest.  Pick up some embroidery or knitting or whatever else you enjoy doing.  This seems indulgent but it most certainly is not. 

Thirdly, be careful in how you present yourself.  We, as women, can get pretty sloppy in our appearance especially when we're home all day.  Try, when you get up this week to look your best.  Put on nice clothes, do your hair, put on some makeup.  Even if it's just you, this helps in the way you feel.  You'll be more confident in your work when you know you look your best.

Next, be intentional in other aspects of feeling good.  I know this is the season of over-eating.  All those cookies and candies sitting around can be tempting.  The rich holiday foods of ham, gravy, potatoes, etc. can make us go back for more.  It's OK to allow yourselves the pleasure of eating these things but there needs to be a balance of exercise as well.  Whether that's just going out for a walk, or staying active in your home, just try not to sit as much but get up and get moving!  Taking warm baths in the evening after all the work is done is a luxury many of us don't take advantage of.  Light some candles, bring a book, and soak.  Going to bed early is important.  I get teased about this all the time.  I'm an early riser so there is no way that I could go to bed late and get up early.  It just won't happen.  But even if you aren't an early riser, going to bed early after a stressful and busy day just makes sense.  Our bodies were not intended to go on forever.  We actually need to stop and get a good night's rest.  Drinking fluids throughout the day helps in giving us energy.  Dehydration can lead to many problems.  Pay attention to your nails.  You can have the most beautiful dress on, your hair is gorgeous, but if your nails are ragged, the whole look is off.  My hands are in water all day long so I do not have beautiful hands and this is one area I need to remind myself to keep up with.

So, with all the pressures of this week bearing down upon you, I hope you will reconsider taking time for yourself.  It will not only benefit you, but when you feel good you will present yourself to others in a positive way and then they will benefit from it too!  : )

And guess what?  We woke up to a nice coating of snow!!!  Yeah!!!!  I don't know how long it will last with the mild temps we will have today, but I'll take it.  : )

Have a wonderful day.  Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, December 21, 2015

First Day of Winter?

The calendar says it's the first day of Winter, but I'm still looking at lots of green grass!  I remember a LOT of brown (green) Christmases growing up.  I don't particularly like it, but what can you do? Even just a few flakes flying around would be nice.  Having a cloudy day helps a little though. 

Right now I have a cup of coffee off to the side with Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer, listening to Bing Crosby sing The First Noel, smelling apple cider with cinnamon sticks on the back burner of the stove and feeling good about getting done what needed to be done today.  : ) 

In keeping with the "one thing at a time" this year, this week is concentrating on baking.  Today was sugar cookies:

So fun.  And no, the round cookie with the blue and silver sprinkles isn't a Christmas baseball.  It kind of looks like it to me.  LOL   My cookies won't win a prize of any kind, but they're good enough for us!  : )  I only frost and decorate a few at a time - the rest are in the freezer to be brought out when the craving hits throughout the next couple of weeks.

The other major thing I accomplished today was a lot of ironing (it seems like I ALWAYS have lots of ironing!).  I can't seem to get my family to wear things twice.  It goes down the laundry chute before I can mention it, so it gets washed and even though I try to pull things out of the dryer right away, some things still need the touch of a hot iron.  I really don't mind.  I plug in a DVD and before you know it, the ironing is done.  Today I watched the two old Little House on the Prairie Christmas programs.  One when they're still little (my favorite) and then the other when everyone is all grown up and they recall special Christmas memories (very poignant).

Father-in-law's birthday party on Friday evening went very well.  The Chinese take-out food was a hit (although it was a LOT of food), and lots of laughter to go with it.  Here is his cake:

Beautiful Christmas cards keep coming in.  Some of them you just want to keep and frame.  They are like works of art.  The gifts are wrapped and ready under the tree for Christmas morning.  And my mind is occupied for what to do on Christmas Eve and Day to make it special and different.  It won't be traditional this year but that is fine.  One of the lines in the Little House Christmas is "If we want Christmas to be special, we're going to have to make it that way ourselves."  That is so true. Some thoughts that come to mind is to take a walk at a nature preserve just to get out into the fresh air for a while, play a game, have a fire out in the backyard, serve a special meal (of course).  : )

So, how are you doing with your Christmas plans?  I would love to hear what you have planned to make your days special to you!  Thank you for dropping by.  God bless you as you plan for your family and friends.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Taking Time to Pause

The last thing we want to do this week is pause.  But I feel we must.  We all have been DOING Christmas, now we need to FEEL Christmas.  And what better day to do it than on the Sabbath.  : )

We're in the final countdown now and for many a lot is still needed to be done.  But I promise that if you pause today the Lord will give you plenty of time in the upcoming week to get things done.  And, really, if you don't, the world isn't going to fall apart.  No one knows, unless you told them, that a certain cookie didn't get baked this year.  

Here are things to pause for and take time to notice:

*The complexity of the music - when I see sheet music and look at all those notes, it makes no sense to me, yet when a choir comes together in alto, bass, soprano, and tenor, and puts all those notes together and it comes out in angelic voices, I am completely in awe.  How the Lord gifted men and women with, first, the mind to figure out what notes go together to create beautiful music but then to have the voices for us to enjoy it never fails to amaze me.  The same goes for the orchestral music.   So, today, pause and LISTEN.

*The simplicity of ingredients - when simple things such as flour, sugar, and a few spices are put together to form sugar cookies, breads, molasses cookies, and candy, it is also something that we need to pause for and enjoy the TASTES of the season.

*The beauty of the lights - seeing all the reds, greens, yellows, and blues in the lights of the tree gives a calming affect.  Something about the lights makes you just want to stop and stare and get lost in thought.  So, take time to SEE today.

*The nostalgia of the scents around the home - from all the baking and cooking going on to the seasonal candles burning whether it's pine, or cranberry, or apple spice - let's enjoy the gift of SMELL.  Isn't it true that when you smell certain scents it evokes memories?

Give thanks to the Lord today for blessing us with good things like these.  They are gifts to us - early Christmas presents for us to open up and enjoy.  Pause, reflect, relax, slow down and notice the beauty of the season.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Grace, Mercy, and Patience

At this time of year, I so want to constantly experience joy and I want to see that in others as well. But as we all know, that's not always the case.  There comes, with this season, a tendency to be impatient with each other.  Either we're experiencing joy and we get impatient with those who aren't joyful, or we're experiencing sadness and get impatient with those experiencing joy!  Both feelings of joy and sadness are legitimate and both feelings need to be allowed. But think of how much grace and mercy and patience our Father in Heaven gives us - shouldn't we extend the same to those around us? 


*It isn't easy to be a cashier and have to deal with harsh people all day.
*It isn't easy to be wondering how far your finances will take you.
*It isn't easy to lose a loved one at any time of the year, but is especially difficult now.
*It isn't easy to feel alone and forgotten.
*It isn't easy to grow old.
*It isn't easy to have wayward children.
*It isn't easy to be ill.
*It isn't easy to be in constant fear.
*It isn't easy to struggle with addiction.
*It isn't easy to have family members who won't talk to each other.

And the list goes on.  Let each one of us, today and throughout this season and into the new year, really look into the faces of those around us.  If we see sadness, let's extend patience and kindness and grace.  If we see joy, let's be joyful together! 

Have a blessed day today and throughout the upcoming weekend.  : )

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Very Nice Day

Brrrrrrrrr.................!  What a difference from the mild weather we've been having.  During grocery shopping yesterday, I walked to my car in pouring rain/slushy snow (with thunder and lightning), got to another store and the sun was shining by the time I finished, and when home wrapping gifts it started snowing again!  The wind came up overnight ushering in a cold front and now it's very cold.  

I got so much done yesterday that I'm feeling a sudden lightness.  I haven't even begun my baking which really is in line with my "one thing at a time" theme this year.  I needed to get all the shopping done and with that off my mind I can ease into the next. With this theme, I am finding that I am very much simplifying everything and with the baking coming up this weekend and into the beginning of next week I have a feeling all the recipes I have written down on the list will also dwindle.  Which is perfectly fine.  Even a couple of our favorites will be good enough.

The above picture is one of the reasons why I am having a very nice day.  Getting ready for father-in-law's 94th birthday!  There will be 12 of us and a lot of the fun is in the planning and decorating.  I love to set a table.  And I love to clean all the rooms to make it comfortable and cozy for company.  We are having Chinese take-out simply because father-in-law loves Chinese!  : )  I think it'll be fun as everyone can choose their own food from the menu.  And then, of course, cake and ice cream.

I finished a couple of errands that I didn't get to yesterday and then a friend came to call and had a cup of Christmas coffee bearing gifts of homemade banana bread and pumpkin bread.  Yum.  Thanks, Deb!!!!  : )

I need to go and finish a gift that I'm working on.  Hope you are enjoying your time in preparing for Christmas.  God bless your efforts - it all counts.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Busy, Busy

I don't know about you, but I just love to look around and see the Christmas decorations up.  Whether you make it simple or lavish, Christmas decorations are just so pretty.  It's a treat every year.  And then you add to it the old Christmas songs, well, it makes for a cozy environment in which to sit in, wrap gifts in, bake in, or just sit still and doing nothing in.  : )

All through the night I could hear the rain on the windows, but at some point it turned into snow!! Not much, but there is a slight slush out there right now.  Unfortunately it's going to be so mild today that it will most likely be gone by afternoon.  I'm doubting that we will experience a white Christmas this year.

It is going to be busy, busy for me today.  And the busy-ness will all take place outside the home. First, groceries, and then lots of last-minute errands which includes finishing up the Christmas shopping.  As I've posted before, outing days aren't my favorite thing to do but at some point it has to be done!  I also have a few more cards that I need to get out.  And I haven't done any baking whatsoever so I should at least get around to making dough for certain things.  This is where I can easily let other things around the house get out of control and I need to keep that in check.  That's when I definitely feel overwhelmed and I don't want to feel that way this year.

Well, last night we celebrated my husband's birthday with:

*Crab legs
*Peel n' Eat shrimp
*Oven roasted potatoes
*Caesar salad
*Pineapple Upside Down cake

We usually have a tradition of going out to Red Lobster, but this year we decided to just have that fun meal at home.  Every shopping trip I tried to pick up a little bag of crab and shrimp and throw it in the freezer so it didn't seem so much all at once.  : )

Tonight's meal is back to normal:

*Bagel sandwiches with egg/cheese/Canadian bacon

Quick and easy.

I hope you enjoy your day and can find time to just sit back and enjoy the season.  I hope you can get into God's Word and think about Jesus.  And pray - there is MUCH to pray for and pray about.  


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Comfort and Joy

This morning, the song "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" came to mind and I started singing it (fortunately with no one listening) and tried to pay attention to the words.  You know how we sing songs because they're familiar but we don't really go back and pay heed to what the song is trying to convey?  Well, here are the words to the first stanza:

"God rest ye merry, gentlemen, 
Let nothing you dismay;
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day.
To save us all from Satan's pow'r
When we were gone astray.
O tidings  of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy!
O tidings of comfort and joy.

How many of us need to be reminded today that Christmas is about Christ and how He came in to the world to save us?  How many of us need to be reminded that we CAN experience His comfort and joy today amidst the sorrow, the hurt, the pain, the suffering, the fear?  I did.  There is a lot going on personally and with those I care for.  But:

*Rest in God our Father
*Be not dismayed
*Remember Christ our Savior
*In Christ, we are protected from Satan's power
*Experience comfort and joy today

Like Linus would say - "That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown."  : )

Have a blessed day today.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A New Week

Oh the weather outside is .............a windswept rain!  I can't imagine what this would be like if it was snowing.  Well, yes I can.  It would be a blizzard.  The freeways would be crawling, schools would be closing.  We're all hoping for a white Christmas - but I don't think so today.  We want snow, but we want the Hollywood snow.  Where it comes down softly.  The big flakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes.  Where it's pretty but it doesn't tie up traffic.  You know.  : )

I'm so happy to be in my home today.  Just getting to my work.  The weekend was nice.  On Friday we had a couples' get-together in our home, Saturday was just a do-whatever-you-want type of day, and then yesterday we celebrated a family birthday.  

But now it's Monday and there is much to be done.  Christmas is getting closer.  Can you feel it?  Are they feelings of excitement and anticipation, or are they feelings of anxiety and stress?  Or a little of everything?  I hope you can take this upcoming week and sort through those feelings.  Are they brought on by high expectations?  Can you choose to change something in some way?  Are you putting demands on yourself that really don't need to be there?  Lots of questions about lots of things at this time of year.  Once you can answer questions such as these, then maybe that will help you in getting done what needs to be done.  Just remember that you can't fulfill every single person's desire nor should you.  It's not a race to see how we can outdo one another.  If you give from the heart you can never go wrong, if you give out of a sense of comparison, then you will be driven to distraction and then nothing gets done and you'll feel a big letdown.  Again, just do your best and keep it simple!

Here are a few of my to-do's:

*Make a couple of business calls
*Light cleaning throughout the house
*Make sugar cookie dough
*And most importantly - set out all the gift items I've collected throughout the year together with what I have purchased so far and set them all out to go through and divide up either into gift baskets or individual gifts and see how I need to fill in.  Like the food pantry, I am seeing the importance of keeping up a gift pantry too.  Those little items that you collect all year add up and you'll find that when it comes to Christmas you will already have quite a few items.

Tonight's meal (Meatless Monday)

*Meatless Pasta Sauce over spaghetti

That is about it!  God bless you in your home today.  Thanks for dropping by.  : )  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Things Change - God Doesn't

The one thing that keeps me going is to know that God doesn't change.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  I have a hard time with change.  I like some things to stay the way they are especially when it comes to tradition and doing the same things year after year.  But I think we all know that doesn't happen.  That only goes so far and then it changes or stops altogether.  The kids grow up and leave the nest, grandparents and parents die, families are disconnected, people move away.

But the Christmas story - we read it every year.  It is the same.  It never changes.  It is a constant excitement in the hearts of believers.  It is our hope in an ever-changing world.  It gives us encouragement to go forward.  Don't wait for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to read the Christmas story.  It's The Story that we need for today.  

May you keep Christ in your heart and carry Him forward into the week ahead.  Through all the busy-ness that is most certainly coming remember to give thought to Jesus.  Let Him be the reason for the season.  : )

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Kind of a Day Off

When we first received this nativity scene from my parents years ago, we proudly displayed it in our front yard until one morning we woke up to find that someone stole one of the wise men, the camel, the donkey and worst of all, Baby Jesus!  So, not being able to find another light-up Baby Jesus, I had to go and buy a baby doll and wrap him in a blanket.  You can't see him, but he's there!  : )

Well, after having a friends get-together last night (which we very much enjoyed), I feel like I have a "day off."  The house has been cleaned, the kitchen was cleaned up last night, and there are no other plans for today. 

Ideas that come to mind:

*Start wrapping Christmas gifts
*Start on the gift baskets
*Read!!!  : )
*Make my sugar cookie dough
*Watch a Christmas movie (probably while I'm wrapping gifts or making dough)
*Any sewing or craft project

Family idea for Christmas:

When decorating the tree, we use to make a special time of it.  I would make a couple of appetizers and punch, put on the Christmas music, and then we would have a trim-the-tree party.  The husband's job was to put the lights on and then my son and I would do the ornaments.  It's something that has fallen away (I do it all now) but the memories are precious.  I really feel it's important for a family to be determined to make the most out of every opportunity you have to enjoy this life.  It requires thought and effort but it's very much worth it!  I also think it's fun to buy (or make) a new ornament every year.  Something that's meaningful. One from a trip you took that year or one for a special hobby or vocation from that year, or to be added to a collection. The kids (as well as the adults) love looking back and remembering what that specific ornament meant from year to year.

Well, that's it from here.  I hope you enjoy this day and weekend!  : )

Friday, December 11, 2015

The End of the Week Already?

One of my favorite things to do at Christmas is to get up early while everyone else is still sleeping and go out to the living room with just the Christmas tree lights on.  It's so beautiful, so quiet, so calming.  It's a wonderful way to begin the day.  : )

Again, we come to the end of another work week.  Two weeks from today it will be Christmas Day! Still, there's much to be done.  I have to remind myself that the preparation SHOULD be the fun part. Sending cards to friends and loved ones.  Decorating the house and making it lovely for your family. Cooking and baking favorite foods that you normally don't have during the rest of the year.  Even the buying of gifts can be made "fun" if you really put thought into it.  It need not be a burden if you stop looking for the stores to provide what you want.  A good strategy at Christmas is to simplify.  Cut back.  Be creative.  Make things and give from the heart.  I think most of us have stopped thinking. We sometimes take the easy way out.  It's easy to go the supermarket and buy sugar cookies.  It's easy to go to the stores and buy the latest gadgets.  But it has been my observation that everyone loves homemade.  Homemade sugar cookies and candy and mixes and tree ornaments and special photos taken over the year, etc.  Really.  If you took a dozen of those sugar cookies, a handful of those candies, a jar of your favorite homemade mix, a pretty ornament, and a framed photo of a special family gathering, that would make a very memorable gift basket!!!!  And the fun part is that you can give the same thing to everyone.  Not every gift has to be different.  I hope you give it a try!  : )

Here is the final insight from the book "Let's Keep Christmas":

"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 heart 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 will not "spend" Christmas...nor "observe" Christmas.  We will "keep" Christmas-keep it as it all the loveliness of its ancient traditions.  May we keep it in our hearts, that we may be kept in its hope."

I hope this has given you a renewed thought and spirit within.  : )  It certainly helped me.

Well, today will be spent getting ready for a Christmas get-together at our home this evening. The menu is potluck and will be:

*Garlic bread

I'm providing the lasagne and garlic bread and then someone is bringing the salad and the other the dessert.  

There will be games.  I don't have many people in my life who enjoy playing games like I do, so I will be a happy girl tonight!!!  : ) 

My Christmas task yesterday was to finish my Christmas cards and they will all go out in the mail today.  The other task was to sit down and write out all the Christmas cooking and baking and then write the ingredients I need for each.  I found the importance of stocking a pantry throughout the year.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I do not need to buy too much of anything - a lot of it was already on the shelves.  : )

So with the decorating done, the cards sent out, next week will be getting to the food.

That is all I have for today.  I hope you enjoy this day and can find pleasure in it.  God bless you.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Doing Your Best

It is a very damp, mild, cloudy day  today.  It feels more like March than December.  A good day to perhaps hang snowflakes in the windows so we have something winter-y to look at!  : )

Doing your best came to mind because I think we all have perfectionist qualities within us.  And those perfectionist qualities can stop us from doing our best.  It can stop us from doing anything at all because we're always comparing ourselves to someone else.  And doing our best is most often the only thing we should be doing.  I can't make my Christmas tree look like a department store's tree. My home certainly can not look like it should be in the Parade of Homes, my cooking and baking would never be considered for a well-known publication.  But I can do my best.  And each of our "best's" will be different than everyone else's.  God has made each one of us different from every one else.  Some have style.  They know exactly what to do with their homes and their clothes.  Some have good taste.  They have nothing but good quality furnishings.  Some have flair.  The little touches that others might not think of.   All of us need to figure out what it is that we have within us to make our lives unique.  The ability to just do what needs to be done and not worry about whether or not we're doing it "right."  If each of us, every day, tries to do our best, I think we would be happier, more satisfied people.  This Christmas, do what is best for you and your family.  

Here is another insight from the book "Let's Keep Christmas" from Peter Marshall:

"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.  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 the rush to crowd Christmas out of our hearts....for that is where it belongs.  Christmas is not in the stores - but in the hearts of people."

That's a good one, isn't it?  : )

Got things done yesterday, except the ironing (you can tell right away that ironing is not my favorite thing to do - that's why I keep putting if off).  BUT I HAVE to do it this morning.  When we start running out of clothes to wear, it's a signal to me to get it done!  That will be my morning today.

Tonight's meal (Thrifty Thursday):

Baked fish (can't have it for Fish Friday tomorrow because of a Christmas get-together and not everyone likes fish)
Baked Potatoes
Lettuce salad w/tomatoes

And I will keep up with the cards.

That is it from here.  I hope you can enjoy doing something in preparing for Christmas today.  God bless you as you go about your day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Gift of a New Day

During morning prayer time I try to thank the Lord for the gift of a new day.  That's what it is to me. Yesterday is gone.  Yes, we should have learned something from yesterday and yes, some of yesterday's work is added to today's work, but yesterday is no longer here.  Yesterday was a gift to us as well.  But it's TODAY that matters right now.  We open it up as soon as we awaken.  And every thought, every word, every deed matters.  It matters how we choose to act and react.  Yesterday may not have been a very good day, but today CAN be.  It doesn't mean that there will be peace on earth. It doesn't mean that there won't be hardship.  It doesn't mean there won't be death.  It doesn't mean there won't be heartache.  What it does mean is that when all of these situations come knocking at our door, we have the Lord.  It means that He is waiting for us to come to Him with all these burdens.  It means that we have The One who is able to do something about the way the day is unfolding in our lives.  December can be quite the challenge financially, spiritually, emotionally and we cannot take it on on our own.  It just won't work.  Come to Jesus today with EVERYTHING you have going on in your life.  Tomorrow may never come so let's use the gift of this day to glorify the Lord!!!

After supper, we're having family devotion time and last night I pulled out a book that was written in 1952 about a Christmas sermon given by Peter Marshall (Catherine Marshall's husband who was a pastor in Washington, D.C.).  It's a tiny book that I found a while back at the thrift store and it's one of our favorite Christmas reads.  The title is "Let's Keep Christmas" and I would like to share some insights with you for the next few days.

Today's insight:

"Changes are everywhere.  Many institutions and customs that we once thought sacrosanct have gone by the board.  Yet there 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."

Doesn't that sound like it could have been written just a couple of days ago?  But it was 1952! Already things were changing.

Well, it will be a busy day today.  Yesterday didn't exactly turn out as expected but like the title of this post says - it's a new day!  : )

*Grocery shopping
*Go through household budget
*LOTS of ironing!

The Christmas task today will be to continue to work on Christmas cards.  I'm really enjoying the "one thing at a time" way of doing things for Christmas.  First it was decorating, now it's cards, next week (Lord willing) it will be the baking, all with bits of shopping in between.

Tonight's meal (Whatever Wednesday) will be:

Oven baked Swiss Steak
Mashed Potatoes

And another family to-do idea for Christmas:

I know that not everyone has access to a backyard let alone a backyard with a fire pit.  But IF you do, one thing we found fun to do was to go and get a bag full of little burgers, bring out the chips, make hot chocolate and build a fire.  There's something magical about sitting around in the snow with a fire going and eating outdoors.  Kids love it (and I rather liked it too!).  It makes you feel like you're in the northwoods somewhere and brings a calm (as much calm as you can expect living close to an airport and freeway).  : )  Hope you can try it!!

Have a wonderful day today.  God bless you in your homemaking efforts.