Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve

I chose the above photo from a very stormy day on what was suppose to be a relaxing vacation this past summer.  It's a lot like life itself, isn't it?  What we want and what we get can be two totally different things.

I think of the song from the movie "Sound of Music" quite often.  It's where Maria is going out of the convent for the first time to be a governess for seven children.  And she sings - "what will this day be like....I wonder."  And it came into my head again as we approach a brand new year.  Only the words have changed to be - "what will this year be like.....I wonder."

I can say, with complete honesty, that year 2016 and 2017 have been the worst years that I can ever remember going through.  So, wondering what 2018 has in store isn't too far-fetched.

I awakened at 3:00 this morning.  For me, waking up in the middle of the night is not uncommon.  I'm a person who tosses and turns on most nights and sometimes I lay there for a while before going back to sleep.  But this was a little different.  Everything sad and bad came to my mind and I just couldn't lie there a minute longer.  

I got up and went out to our living room, turning up the heat and a few lights, and grabbed my Bible.  I needed to hear from God and His Word.  I've been in Psalm 119 for a long time (which happens to be the longest Psalm in the Bible) and with every break in the Psalm I write "prayer notes" and "praise notes" so I continued with that.  By the time 4:00 a.m. rolled around, I was finished with Psalm 119 and was up to Psalm 136!  Still taking notes on everything I need to be reminded of.  I stopped at Psalm 136 because it said what I needed to hear before I could go back to bed and continue my rest.

I'm going to write it down for you as well only in bullet points (not adding to it nor taking anything away).  In the Bible the words "His love endures forever" comes after each point, so I'm going to trust that after each bullet point, you will insert those wonderful words on your own for sake of brevity.  Here they are:

Psalm 136:
*Give thanks to the Lord for He is good
*Give thanks to the God of gods
*Give thanks to the Lord of lords
*to him who alone does great wonders
*who by his understanding made the heavens
*who spread out the earth upon the waters
*who made the great lights
*the sun to govern the day
*the moon and stars to govern the night
*to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
*and brought Israel out from among them
*with a mighty hand and outstretched arm
*to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
*and brought Israel through the midst of it
*but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea
*to him who led his people through the desert
*who struck down great kings
*and killed mighty kings
*Sihon king of the Amorites
*and Og king of Bashan
*and gave their land as an inheritance
*an inheritance to his servant Israel
*to the One who remembered us in our low estate
*and freed us from our enemies
*and gives food to every creature.
*Give thanks to the God of heaven.

I felt great comfort after reading these words.  I was able to go back to bed and finish my rest.

It doesn't take any of what has happened in the past couple of years away.  It doesn't change things or situations or people.  What it does do is reminds us that God is God.  Whether we agree with what He has chosen for us to go through is not the point.  It's whether we will continue to hold Him in awe.  It's whether we will trust Him.  It's whether we will still come humbly before Him and confess our great need for Him.  Whether He parts the waters for us to walk through or not is up to Him because He knows.  Even though we walk through our own deserts at times, I need to remember that He still continues to provide food and water for us. And I HAVE to be reminded of that - sometimes on a moment-by-moment basis.  Because it IS hard.

So, we come to another year.  I hope we can always be reminded of the Christmas Promise.  It may be cliche' but let's try to keep Christmas in our hearts in this new year.  When we think of the hardships we face, let us remember those who are also going through difficulty.  Let's continue to give.  Let's continue to look to the Lord for the strength and guidance we need.  We cannot do this life without Him - it just doesn't work.  

"And may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  May you experience this peace in the upcoming year.  No. Matter. What.  God bless.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Chasing the Chill Away

Lots of soups going on around here (or at least being planned).  To say it is chilly is an understatement.  It's cold!!!!!!!!  But that usually happens around this time of year, doesn't it?  It actually gives me a claustrophobic feeling.  Knowing that you can't go outdoors for any amount of time bothers me.  And I'm not a shopper so going to the mall doesn't exactly thrill me.  So, I'm trying to get a list of things together:

*begin cleaning out all drawers, closets, and shelves (this alone should take me into spring!)
*begin cooking/baking for the freezer (a sure-fire chill chaser)
*make a list of charitable sewing to get started on (thinking of others helps the "poor me's")

Those three things alone should keep me from getting cabin fever.  : )  

Yesterday, my husband and I took all the Christmas things down.  It's early for us but it just felt right.  I was so anxious to get the house dusted and cleaned and everything put back into some kind of order.  It was nice in the fact that we took our time.  I usually find myself just dumping everything into boxes but we were able to wrap things and sort through a lot.  We even took a box of items that we haven't used in a couple of years up to the thrift store so that felt good.  I thought I was pretty sparse this year in decorating but when we were packing up it didn't feel that way!  I think next year (God willing) I will be even more sparse.  There is something beautiful in simplicity.

Well, I'm pretty sure I have already posted the above soup, but it is well worth mentioning again.  It is quick, flavorful, and it's chicken soup!  What better time of year for chicken soup than this with all the colds and flu's going on (another reason to stay home).  So, I just wanted to share it with you:


In a large pot, pour 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in and saute' 1 clove of garlic (I use 2 or 3); 2 medium carrots, sliced; 1 medium onion, diced; and 2 stalks of celery, diced.  Saute' till fragrant and softened a bit.  Add 6 cups of good quality chicken broth, one can of chicken, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Also add 2 bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour or until vegetables are done.  Add 1/2 lb. egg noodles and cook for an additional 8 - 10 minutes or till noodles are cooked through.  Remove bay leaves and serve.  

This kind of soup is a reminder to keep the pantry stocked.  And when we say pantry, it includes what you have in the fridge and freezer as well - not just the shelves.  Making this soup last night reminded me that I need more garlic, that I needed to buy a good whole chicken and make more chicken broth for the freezer (but to keep shelf-stable broth as well), and that I needed to keep cans of chicken on the shelf for quick meals.  I always have carrots, celery, and onions on hand.  

We had plenty of soup leftover for a good lunch this afternoon.  : )  Hope you will give this a try - it truly is good home comfort food.  

That is it for today.  Thank you for dropping by for a short visit.  I do appreciate it.  God bless. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Marching Towards a New Year

I hope this finds you doing well from the long Christmas weekend.  My husband and I have decided to take this upcoming week to rest and relax.  I don't know about you, but Christmas makes me very tired and emotional so we really just want to do things that we normally don't do.  Putting puzzles together, spend more time reading, watching the new DVD's we got for gifts, craft, and plan for the new year.

I was talking with a friend a while back about New Year's resolutions.  I stopped doing that a long time ago.  My resolutions sounded so good on paper, but to carry them through was a bit frustrating and I mostly feel like I set myself up for failure.  However, one thing I do know is that for the year ahead I will need to re-think our menu planning.  With health insurance going up and our monthly income basically staying the same, I think our grocery budget is one area that I do have some control over.

I have been busy looking on-line for ideas in this area and am busy writing the ideas down in my kitchen notebook.  Having been cooking for years now, I basically know what I need to do, but it's always fun to be reminded and start thinking in a different way again.  I don't know about you, but every year after Christmas, I am SO tired of spending money.  And, I'm so tired of eating!  Especially the rich and sweet foods.  I'm very ready to get back to some very simple and basic food.

So, as we march towards a new year, I hope I can bring some new recipes and ideas to get us all to thinking about how we can spend less, save more, and use up what we already have in our homes.  I always feel it's a challenge because sometimes it's so much easier to not be frugal.  I tend to go with what's easier depending upon how I feel.  Especially when I'm stressed or tired - I'd rather have my husband go out and grab a couple of burgers from the fast-food place down the road.  Here are just a few ideas (that I already knew but wrote them down again):

*grilled cheese sandwiches (from homemade bread) and homemade tomato soup
*pasta with homemade tomato sauce
*scrambled eggs and toast
*fried rice
*homemade cheese pizza
*homemade soups
*homemade mac n' cheese

The key to frugal cooking is "from scratch" - "homemade" - to keep the pantry full of ingredients in which to make a wide variety of good things.

I really hope that this is one resolution that I'll be able to keep and do well with and learn from.  

Thank you for dropping by for a visit!!!!  God bless.  : )

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve.  The night of our dear Savior's birth.  I pray that will resonate in your hearts today.  I pray that through the heartache, the loneliness, the will come to know that God has provided for each one of us a Savior.  Let us celebrate in that today.  Again, if you have not yet received Christ as your personal Savior, please ask Him into your heart.  Let this be the best Christmas ever because of that decision.  Because of that decision, you can be assured that your sins will be forgiven, you can be assured that God will be with you always, and you can be assured of everlasting life even when this life on earth is over.  

One of my all-time favorite Christmas carols is "O Holy Night" - the words, the music.  I hope you will be able to listen to this carol at some point today, but here are the words:

O Holy Night

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name

May you experience a Christmas where you will "praise His holy name"!  God bless each and every one of you today.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Pearl's Nut Goodie Candy

As I've said before, this candy is what my husband's mother (Pearl) used to make for Christmas.  All of us (every family) would receive a tin of this candy as part of a gift.  It's very rich so you can't eat a lot in one sitting (a blessing indeed) and it makes a lot so if you make it you'll, of course, want to keep a bit out for your own family, but you'll also need to know if you have anyone else to give it to!  : )'s so very good and I wanted to share it with you too:

1.  In a medium saucepan, melt 1, 12 oz. pkg. of semi-sweet chocolate chips; 1, 12 oz. pkg. of butterscotch chips, and 1 oz. of dark baking chocolate over low heat.  Add 2 cups of peanut butter and mix well.  Spread a thin layer of this onto a greased jelly roll pan and set the rest aside.  Put the jelly roll pan into the freezer to harden.

2.  While you are waiting for the chocolate layer to harden in the freezer (which won't take very long), combine 1 cup of butter, 1/4 cup regular (not instant) vanilla pudding mix, and 1/3 cup evaporated milk.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add 2 lbs. of powdered sugar.  Beat well until nice and smooth.  When the chocolate layer has set, spread this powdered sugar mixture over the chocolate and refrigerate until firm.

3.  In the rest of the chocolate/peanut butter mixture (still in the medium saucepan), add 1 lb. of salted Spanish peanuts and mix well.  Spread this mixture over the powdered sugar layer.  Put back into the fridge to set and then cut into approximately 1" x 1" squares.

*There is a little note at the bottom of this recipe by Pearl.  It says - "Lot of monkey business, but worth it."  : )  I agree!!!!!  Hope you can give this a try.

I was VERY sparse in my holiday baking this year.  Molasses cookies in the beginning of December, sugar cookies in the middle of December (which will last us through this weekend), and then Pearl's candy (to keep a little and to give a little).   I just couldn't see having any more goodies around the house this year.

That is it for today.  Thanks SO much for dropping by when you're probably busy too.  I do appreciate it!!!!!  God bless.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dinner Kits to Make and Freeze

I'm blogging early so that I can get down to my craft room and work on a couple of projects that I have begun.

I think dinner kits for the freezer are such a great idea.  After Christmas, my goal is to make several of these for our own freezer, but since there is still time for last-minute gift ideas I thought this would make a very nice gift for a working-outside-of-the-home woman, an elderly neighbor, a widow/widower, etc.  Anyone who wants to get a meal on the table without a lot of fuss. 

As with the mason jar gift ideas from yesterday, I write down ideas for dinner kits as well.  I only have four right now, but will be thinking about this more in the upcoming weeks.  And I'm sure you will be able to think of some too.  So here we go:

1.  PIZZA MEAL  - into individual bags put -
*homemade pizza dough (or whatever dough you use)
*shredded cheese
*pizza sauce (again, homemade or whatever you use)
*meat (cooked sausage, cooked hamburger, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, etc.)
*vegies (make sure to saute' first - onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc.)
Place these individual bags in a large freezer bag and freeze.  When ready to serve, pull the bag out the night before to thaw everything and then assemble and bake.

2.  FAJITAS - into individual bags put -
*marinated steak or chicken (cut into strips)
*sliced vegetables - (saute' first - onions, peppers, etc.)
*small flour tortillas
Place these individual bags in a large freezer bag and freeze.  When ready to serve, pull the bag out the night before to thaw everything and then saute' the meat.  Add vegetables to heat up.  Serve with the flour tortillas.

3.  TACOS - into individual bags put -
*cooked taco meat
*shredded cheese
*small flour tortillas (or you can keep hard-shelled taco shells on your pantry shelf)
Place these individual bags in a large freezer bag and freeze.  When ready to serve, pull the bag out the night before to thaw everything and then just re-heat the meat and put the cheese (and other toppings if desired) into bowls and fill your taco shells.

4.  STIR-FRIES - into individual bags put - 
*marinated steak or chicken
*chopped vegetables (saute' first - onions, peppers, etc.)
*cooked rice
*stir-fry sauce
Place these individual bags in a large freezer bag and freeze.  When ready to serve, pull the bag out the night before to thaw everything and then saute' the meat, add the stir-fry sauce and vegetables to re-heat.  Re-heat the cooked rice and serve.

There you have it.  I'm sure you can already think of some meals that can be broken down into individual components and frozen as a whole meal ready to go for those days when you just don't feel like cooking but need to feed yourself or others.

Have fun with this!  I know I'm going to look at my recipes in a whole new light.  : )

Thanks for your time and attention - I love it when you visit.  God bless your day.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Last-Minute Mason Jar Gifts

If you still need a few last-minute gifts, I think these ideas are wonderful.  They could easily fit into a stocking, they are wonderful hostess gifts, take them to your place of work, or group a few together for a main gift.  This is a list that I keep adding to throughout the years and here is what I have so far:

*First, of course, get out those Mason jars (thrift stores also have a wide variety of jars so the expense can be minimal - and, jars are something you can add to your gift pantry for ease of giving).
*Fill with homemade Chex mix.
*Fill with chocolate covered pretzels.
*Fill with a homemade pancake mix (attach recipe information).
*Fill with a cookie or brownie mix (again, attach recipe information).
*Fill with hot cocoa mix.
*Fill with a layer of all-ready-baked cookies.
*Fill with spiced nuts.
*Fill with either pretty store-bought or homemade candy.
*Fill with a variety of teabags or small packets of coffee.
*Fill with craft items (if you know the craft the recipient does).
*Fill with homemade granola.
*Fill with popcorn kernels.
* can add to the list!

To make this gift a bit more special, it would be fun to decorate the lids, or wrap some burlap around the jars and tuck in some greens, or put a pretty bow on them.  Make homemade labels.  Make it personal.  I really enjoy giving gifts that someone can use up.  

I hope this helps a little.  Things like this are so much fun and I think anyone would enjoy receiving it.  Thanks for your time and attention!  So nice to have you drop by.  God bless.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

How Are You Doing?

Well, Christmas is getting closer (as though you needed me to tell you that! LOL).  How are you doing?

I can feel the tiredness set in especially the last couple of days.  Last week was so busy in getting everything bought and paid for and wrapped.  Cookies baked and days planned out.  I think I was running mostly on adrenaline.  By the time Sunday morning rolled around I just knew I had better begin to take care of myself.

There are lots of flues and colds going around right now so things to do to help you feel your best:

*wash your hands - my hands are so dry because of all the washing - I make sure I have lots of hand lotion around.
*sleep - I know this is easier said than done - but just getting a few extra z's now and then and going to bed a little earlier than normal will help.  
*eat - no, not more cookies - try to eat as healthy as you can between the holiday snacking and meals.  
*drink - LOTS of water - stay hydrated!!!!
*clean - your kitchen (the sinks, the countertops, the floors, the rugs, the fridge) your bath (the sink, the toilet, the handles and knobs on everything, the countertop) your bedrooms (air them out every day no matter how cold it is, disinfect door knobs).  
*let go of stressers - say "enough" if you feel like it's "enough" - we are not superwomen and we can't do it all.
*stay positive and reduce expectations - keep up that "thankful journal" every day!
*stay in God's Word and be quiet and pray
*just enjoy - your friends, your family, your home
*do something that you like to do - curl up in a chair and read (preferably in front of the Christmas tree), take a bubble bath with Christmas music on and candles lit, knit or crochet a scarf for someone, do some sewing that you've been wanting to get to - anything that makes you feel better.

For me, the last thing I need to get done this week (towards the end of the week) is to make Grandma Pearl's "Nut Goodie" candy.  It was a tradition of hers to make it every Christmas and give it out as part of our gifts.  She's been gone 12 years now, and I'm determined to carry it on.  : )  Other than that, I'm ready!!!  

Thank you for dropping by for a little visit.  I do enjoy it when you do. God bless. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Third Sunday in Advent

Looking back on the past week:

*early mornings with the Lord
*Christmas shopping
*wrapping gifts
*baking sugar cookies
*Bible study with friends
*trying to keep up with home work
*a birthday party
*coffee out with new "daughter"
*friend over for a movie
*quiet evenings with a book
*drinking holiday coffees and teas

It all sounds like what I would want Christmas to be.  Yet, there is always a little sadness that creeps in.  Sadness over what friends and family are going through right now.  Sadness over painful memories of the past.  Sadness in what our world is going through.  

Having said that, Christmas is all about JOY!  I'm reading John Piper's Christmas devotional "The Dawning of Indestructible Joy" before I go to bed at night and it's a reminder that in the difficult times we need to remember why Jesus came in the first place.  He came to destroy evil.  He came to save us from sin.  He came because He loves us.  

Today is the third Sunday in Advent.  It's still the waiting part of the Christmas season.  Waiting.  Waiting for that JOY we are to experience on Christmas morning.  Not the joy of family or friends, not the joy of eating all the good food, not the joy of opening our gifts (although these things definitely make us happy), but the joy of knowing that we have a Savior.  Christ the King.  It brings tears to my eyes as I write this because I don't know about you, but I need a Savior!  This life is hard.  It's tough.  It's painful.  It's sad.  I NEED a Savior that I can give things over to because I can't carry the burdens myself.  

Indestructible Joy!  No one can tear it down or destroy it once you have it.  The moment you ask Jesus into your life, no one can snatch it away.  Let us all pray for that today.  Let us pray for that joy to come into our lives today even through the sadness and weariness of this life.  Let us continue to focus on Jesus - He IS the reason for the season!!!!!!

Our third Christmas carol history lesson today is:


Joy to the world!
the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let ev'ry heart
prepare Him room,
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heav'n and heav'n,
and nature sing.

Joy to the world!
the Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods,
rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat
the sounding joy.

He rules the world
with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders
of His love.

Isaac Watts was a minister who wrote many hymns based on the Psalms.  The words to "Joy to the World" are based on Psalm 98 which tells of the coming of the Messiah.

May we take a few minutes today and every day that leads up to the glorious Christmas morning to count it all joy.  Every day try to write down the joyful things.  Some days might only be one thing, some days might be more, but write them down and thank God for them.  Put a smile on your face today and the upcoming days because there are people out there who need to see a smile on someone's face.  Be nice.  Be gentle.  Be kind.  Be patient.  Be understanding.  Be loving.  Be courteous.  BE JOYFUL!!!!  (Even when you don't feel it).

Friday, December 15, 2017

Easy Christmas Dessert

If you need a quick, easy, and delicious holiday dessert, THIS would be it!  I try to make it every year at Christmas and it is a hit!  : )  I'm going to give you the original recipe, but this year I tried something new with it as you will soon see.  Here it is:


Crust:  26 graham crackers (crushed), 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 c. melted butter, and 2 Tbsp. sugar

Mix the crackers and other ingredients together and line a 9 x 12 pan.  Set aside.

Filling:  1 pint cream, whipped, 1 pkg. mini-marshmallows, 6 (or a few more if desired) candy canes, crushed

To the whipped cream, add marshmallows and crushed candy canes.  Pour into cracker-lined pan and refrigerate until ready to serve.

THAT'S IT!!!!!  Seriously.  Is that easy, or what?   Okay - so......this year I decided to buy an Oreo cookie pie crust (actually I bought 2 because the filling fills 2 crusts).  And then I topped it with crushed dark chocolate bits.  I thought that since peppermint and chocolate go so well together that this might be a good substitute.  But if you prefer to stick with the graham cracker crust, you will NOT be disappointed.  I really hope you can try this and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.  : )

As a matter of fact, this is the dessert on our menu tonight for my husband's birthday supper.

The rest of the menu:

Pork roast (which is making the house smell pretty good right now)
Roasted vegetables (sweet potatoes, red potatoes, carrots, and onions)
Pork stuffing
Caesar salad
Assorted relishes (sweet pickles, dill pickles, tomato slices)
Peppermint dessert w/coffee

That's it from our home today.  Thank you for dropping by for a short visit.  Until you visit again, I bid you a good weekend!!!  : )  God bless.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Homekeeping Christmas

This is a Christmas apron that I made in the Fall for my Etsy shop.  I have since closed my shop and decided that this apron is going to be for me!!!!  : )  My mom had a Christmas apron.  She didn't wear aprons often (neither do I) but I have to admit that when I put one on (especially a holiday one) it makes me feel feminine and ready to get to work.

This is the Christmas book I'm reading.  As you can see, it is very old, but if you need to read books that are clean and moral and sweet, I'd recommend Grace Livingston Hill.  I'm almost finished with this and then I will begin another Christmas one written by her.  *Just a warning here - you might want to have a little snack nearby when you read her books because she often describes meals that someone is making and it can make you very hungry (LOL) - things such as aromatic roasts baking to perfection in the oven, light and fluffy biscuits still warm from the oven, an apple pie with a slice of cheese on top, etc..............  You can just see it and smell it.  There.  You were forewarned.  : )

I'm using the dining table to wrap gifts and I always have a holiday movie on - this is the "Bishop's Wife" with David Niven and Cary Grant.  One of my favorites.  I have been known to watch this WAY in advance of Christmas and a few times after as well.  : )

Bible study tonight.  I thought some frosted sugar cookie cutouts would be nice along with a variety of holiday teas.  : )

We haven't bought new ornaments in quite a while.  These cuties are from our son and his wife - the red pickup truck is for me (because I would love to have a red vintage pickup truck) and the camper is for my husband (because he loves camping!).  Very thoughtful of them.

Well, these were just a few things to share with you.  Other than that, it's pretty much been shopping for needed ingredients for the food we're having and needed gifts (almost done!).  The time is going so quickly, but it's all coming together.  It's such a strange Christmas this year.  SO many people are hurting right now.  SO much going on in families.  For many, Christmas is just a time to get through and I understand that feeling.  I often need to go to the creche we have set up and just look at it and be reminded that God, in His mercy, sent His Son at Christmas to save the lost, to comfort those who mourn, to give hope to the hopeless.  If we get anything else from this Christmas season, let's get that.

Thank you for dropping by and may God bless you.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Second Sunday in Advent

Advent.  The waiting for the Lord Jesus, our Savior.  The preparing of our hearts to accept Him as our Lord and Savior.  The anticipation of His coming again.  Are we ready?  Christmas is all about preparing.  Preparing our homes, preparing the food, preparing gifts.  But are we preparing for the coming of Christ?

The question is being asked more frequently than ever before - are we, indeed, living in the end times?  The signs certainly point to that, don't they?  This is truly rough and tough stuff that is going on in the world and the Bible consistently tells us that these things will happen before Christ comes back again.  Are we prepared for that?  Are we telling others to prepare for that?  Now (nor has it ever been) is not the time to be complacent.  

Jesus' second coming could happen five minutes from now, five days from now, five weeks from now, or five years from now.  Are we prepared?  If not, there is no time like the present and the sooner the better.  If you haven't asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, would you please bow your head, confess that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, and invite Christ into your life - to take over from this day forward.  If you do that right now, you WILL be prepared!  

"Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" is our little history lesson for today.  : )  The words to this carol were written in 1739 by Charles Wesley.  The original words were, "Hark, How the Heaven Rings."  The music was written by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840 to commemorate John Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press.  An English Doctor of Music, William H. Cummings, combined the words and music in 1855 to produce the carol we know as "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing."


Hark, the herald angels sing,
glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
join the triumph of the skies,
with the angelic host proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem!"

Hark, the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!

Christ, by highest heav'n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord,
Late in time behold him come,
offspring of the favored one.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th'incarnate Deity
pleased as Man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel!

Hark, the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!

Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth.

Hark, the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!

I love the way the old Christmas carols were taken from scripture and put into music.  And how blessed we are to have them to sing at this time of year.  May you experience the meaning and beauty of the music and don't be afraid to sing!!!  Even if you're like me and have no singing voice, sing anyway!!!!  : )  May God bless your day and remember........PREPARE!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Making Lists and Checking Them Twice

Another beautiful vintage ornament.

Yesterday was our first full day out for Christmas shopping.  Even with lists in hand, it's still a little frustrating that I can't find what I've written down.  I did buy a few stocking stuffers and a couple of actual under-the-tree gifts items, and I purchased our greeting cards.  It was a great expectation on my part to think that I could get everything done in one day.  

I'm not a shopper anyway, so having to go out again and finish up isn't my idea of fun.  Fortunately we have on-line shopping as a backup because that's where I found quite a bit more.  Having said that, I don't want to make gift-giving feel like a chore - something that just has to be done - so I frequently check my attitude and try to enjoy the moment and remember that what I'm doing and giving are for people that I love.  Keeping the joy of Christmas and trying to remember that if I don't find everything it's okay.  Christmas isn't going to fall apart.   : )

There IS one thing, however, that I wish I would have kept on top of throughout the year and was reminded of this yesterday.  I wish I would have kept up a Gift Pantry.  I stopped doing this for a couple of years now and I certainly am feeling it this year.  A Gift Pantry is a pantry (whether that be a part of a closet or a dresser or a couple of shelves in your house) where you buy things throughout the year as you see them and then set them aside in your home so that when birthdays or holidays roll around you can do quite a bit of shopping from your own home!   Here are a few items to get you started on your (and mine again) pantry:

*first, stock up on wrapping supplies - paper, tape, scissors, bows, boxes, gift bags, filler, cards, gift tags, etc.
*purchase gift cards - most have no time limit in which to use them (but check first!), they can be bought and stored ahead of time
*candles are always welcome (especially for a woman)
*note cards/stationery
*variety of teas/coffees
*fun/pretty mugs
*variety of soap - bath, laundry, dish 
*bubble bath - for adults and kids
*baby items - diapers, bibs, stuffed animals, etc.
*sparkling cider
*pretty glassware/pretty teacups
*dish towels or hand towels
*picture frames
*padded hangers
*coloring books/crayons
*cloth napkins/pretty paper napkins
*puzzles - crossword and/or board
*pens, pencils, highlighters, pencil sharpeners
*lotions - hand, body
*gloves, mittens, scarves
* can add what you think to this list

Not a lot for the men on our lists, but by looking around I'm sure you could add those items as well.  As you can see, with a Gift Pantry, you can go and pull several items off the shelves and put them all together for a very nice gift!  The little bit of work you put into it throughout the year can save a lot of time, money and stress from always trying to figure out what to buy.  You can always be prepared for what comes up.  I know that I'm going to get back to doing this again.  I just need to train myself to always be on the lookout for good deals, good prices, and to think about others and what they would enjoy.  I hope you can give this a try as well!

That is it for today.  I don't have the day planned but hoping that what gifts I did get yesterday will get wrapped today.  : )  Hoping also to get some Christmas greeting cards written.  I feel kind of bad that people aren't sending cards like they used to.  I know I enjoy going to the mailbox and seeing one or two in the mail - when I send them I'm just assuming that others enjoy it as well.

I wish for you a good day - keep Christmas in your heart - remember the real reason for our celebration - enjoy.  God bless.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Another Tasty Cracker Recipe

As you know, a while back I tried making saltine crackers (which we really liked).  Well, yesterday I tried another cracker recipe to go with some cheese and salami that I wanted to serve today.  My mistake was that I made them yesterday - these are definitely crackers that you would want to bake on the day of serving them.  The old adage of the food tasting better the next day isn't true with this.

With all of that said, this is definitely a cracker that I will make again.  It is SO flavorful, so easy to mix together, and baked in 10 minutes.  The other mistake I made was that I didn't roll them out thin enough so instead of crispy crackers, they were on the soft side.  When we tasted them yesterday after cooling, they were delicious.  Today.......not so much.  But I still want to give you the recipe, because baked and served the same day I think you will agree that they are very good for a cheese and cracker plate.  Here it goes:


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. honey
sea salt to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Measure out dry ingredients in a large bowl and cut in the butter to pea-sized clumps.  Add water and honey and mix till just combined.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out thinly and use a pizza cutter to cut into desired shapes.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake for 10 minutes or till crisp - but not brown!!  Enjoy.  : )

We had an ice/snow mix on Monday and now it's very cold.  A cozy day today with cloudiness and flurries in the air.  Pandora has been on all day with old-time Christmas carols.  The coffee beans were ground and brewed and Christmas lists made.  In a while, the plan is to spend the evening with a craft or two while watching a Christmas movie.  

Thank you for dropping by for a short visit - I appreciate it.  God bless.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Menu Book

A photo of the super moon the other evening - lovely.  : )

As I have mentioned before, on Saturday mornings I am usually watching cooking shows off and on with a notebook and pencil for any ideas that I might hear about (and a cup of coffee in the other hand!).  : )

Well, I was watching Jacques Pepin and he showed such a wonderful idea that their family has done for years.  When I first saw it I thought that it was too late for me because my hostessing days aren't as often as they used to be, but then I changed my mind.  I'm going to do it, by golly!  It's called a Menu Book.  And what Jacques Pepin showed were years of scrapbooks, sketchbooks, and notebooks where the pages had what party was being given, what the menu was, and embellishments to pretty the pages up.  And then after the party is over, you have all the guests sign it.  

What a magnificent way to preserve the memories created by having friends and family over for holidays or birthdays!  Fortunately, I had a nice notebook left that I could begin this tradition as well (I SO wish I would have heard about this YEARS ago!!!!-but better late than never).

A nice, new, notebook.

Just inside the cover.

And, the first page for our first party - my husband's birthday is next week and we have decided on the menu and left room for everyone to sign on the bottom.  

I REALLY like this idea and am looking forward to using it for all the parties we will have from now on.  What a wonderful way to look back and see who was at the party, what you served, etc.  This is why I enjoy watching cooking shows.  There are so many recipes they make that I wouldn't even consider trying, but sometimes it's not about the food itself.  It's all these little tips and ideas and new methods.  I don't consider it a waste of time at all.

I hope you can begin your own menu book for all the upcoming friend and family get-togethers!

We are enjoying VERY mild weather right now (in the upper 50's -crazy for December 4th!).  But in just a few hours it's supposed to get really windy and then the cold front will move on in.  Right now all the windows in the house are opened - later I'm guessing not so much.  : o

Thanks for dropping by!  God bless.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

First Sunday in Advent

I love the history behind the Christmas carols we sing and today I want to highlight the carol "Silent Night."

On Christmas Eve, 1818, the organ at St. Nicholas Church was broken.  Joseph Mohr, the pastor, began composing a poem to describe the night when Jesus was born.  He gave the poem, "Stille Nacht," to the church organist, Franz Gruber, who quickly composed a melody and arranged it for two voices, choir, and guitar.  Eventually the song became world famous.  By 1955, "Silent Night" had become the most recorded song of all time and probably the best loved of all Christmas carols.


Silent night,
holy night,
All is calm,
all is bright
Round yon virgin
mother and Child.
Holy Infant so
tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night,
holy night,
Shepherd's quake
at the sight;
Glories stream
from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts
sing Alleluia,
Christ, the Savior, is born,
Christ, the Savior, is born.

Silent night,
holy night,
Son of God,
love's pure light
Radiant beams
from Thy holy face,
With the dawn
of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Discussing certain things with children and grandchildren, help them to understand and think things through.  Here are a few questions that go along with this hymn that you might want to ask them:

1.  Why did the author of this hymn say that the night was holy?
2.  Why did the shepherd's quake?
3.  What are the glories that "streamed from heaven"?
4.  Who were the "heavenly hosts" singing Alleluia?
5.  What was their message?
6.  How was Jesus "love's pure light"?
7.  Do you think Jesus actually had "radiant beams" like light rays coming from His face or was the author saying that God's love was shining through His Son?
8.  How can the spirit of Christmas (God's love) shine through you and reach out to others?

*All of this was taken from the Holiday Series "Understanding Christmas Carols" book that I've had since our son was just a lad.  : )

A very meaningful and memory-making idea is to turn off all the lights in the room (except for the Christmas tree), light all the candles, and sing this song together as a family.  Or, if you aren't a family that sings (we weren't) just have it playing on CD or Pandora or whatever you can find, and sit in silence and just listen to the words.  A wonderful way to end the day right before going to bed.

I hope this day will bring you calmness in the midst of the hurried-ness.  Peace in the middle of difficulty.  Awe for the Christ-child in the midst of commercialism.  Redeeming grace in the midst of conflict.  May God bless this day and may you be a blessing to others.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Gift Basket Ideas

A fun thrift find a couple of years ago - now I have to go and read the book again - I always need a tissue when I do!

Gift baskets.  I love them.  I love making them, I love giving them, I love receiving them.  Here are a few ideas in case you love them too!  : )

*for someone who loves chocolate - hot cocoa mix w/marshmallows, box of chocolate cookies, chocolate bars, fudge sauce for ice cream (the cocoa mix, the cookies, and the fudge sauce could be homemade)

*dinner in a basket - this one needs to be delivered on the spot as you will soon see why - foil wrapped potatoes for baking, a couple of steaks to be grilled, a tossed salad, along with ice cream for dessert

*a family basket - a new game or two, a variety of snacks or munchies, and fun soda pop

*pamper a woman who needs pampering - a good book, bubble bath, new fluffy towel, box of tea, candle

*kitchen basket - a new cookbook, wooden spoons, new dishcloth and towel, new potholders

*for the men - commuter cup, gift card for car washes, car organizer

*a holiday basket - a mug with coffee, tea, or cocoa mix inside, a set of coasters, pretty paper napkins, a tin of cookies

*a teen girl - good smelling shampoo, body lotion, lip balm, fuzzy socks, nail polish

*a gardener - knee cushion, new gloves, good hand lotion, new gardening book

*more for men - shower mirror, razor and blades (or disposable), aftershave, talc, a favorite soap

*a book lover - bookmarks, gift card to a book store, magazine, bookends

*for someone's office desk - notepads and pens, paperweight, picture frame, snacks

*bird lover - bird feeder with seed, birdhouse, gift card to someplace that sells birdseed

*a little girl - coloring book w/crayons, doll w/clothes, a puzzle, sidewalk chalk, bubble mix

*a little boy - soccer ball, marbles, frisbee, slinky, jacks, legos

*for the writer - lap desk, stationery, stamps, assortment of pens

*for the hostess - a tin bucket filled with mixed nuts, a nutcracker and picks

* a gift-giving gift - box of assorted greeting cards, stamps, pens, stickers, assorted gift wrap, bows, tape, scissors

*for someone on their feet a lot (nurses, waitresses, check-out people) - foot cream/lotion, nail file, cotton socks, epsom salts, fluffy hand towel, foot spray/powder  (I used to make these ahead of time and then when we would go out to eat, I would leave one on the table for our waitress - so fun to do! - you could also stop by the hospital or nursing home and drop some off for the nurses - lots of possibilities with this one)

*for older boys and girls - I believe in starting our kids off with a hobby of some sort which can be something they will take with them for the rest of their lives - here are a few ideas for this:

Girls:  simple embroider pattern, fabric, embroidery floss, needles, hoop; crochet hook or knitting needles, beginner's book, yarn; scrapbook, scrapbook paper, stickers, glue, scissors; beginner's recipe book, a few utensils for baking, apron; a beginner's gardening book, a few seed packets, a few pots; a sketch book, a beginner's book, pencils, colored pencils; watercolor paper, a beginner's book, watercolors, assortment of brushes.

Boys:  beginner's woodworking book, a few tools (or woodcarving tools); beginner's leatherworking book, a few tools; a coin collector's book and a few old coins to get him started (same with stamps); beginner's photography book, an easy camera, a sim card; beginner's art book, sketch pad, paints, pencils; a beginner's model (cars, trains, etc.) a book about model cars or railroading; a book on survival skills, compass.

Well, I hope this has been of some help or got your creative juices flowing.  While typing them out, I was reminded of a few ideas for my own gift giving!!!  Gifting is so fun if you know the person and what they like and then putting them all in a basket or pretty gift bag.  You can opt to just put everything in as is, but it's much more fun (for the recipient) if you wrap everything first and then put it all together.  The gift opening takes longer that way and they can't see at a glance what they're getting so the element of surprise is still there.

Have a good Saturday.  Thanks for dropping by.  God bless.