Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The End of One Year - The Beginning of a New

Our feathery friends.  : )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 28, 2019

A Post-Christmas Post

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Our Christmas Eve Menu

Another ornament from the tree.  : )

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

A newer ornament made by a friend:

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

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

God bless!!  : )

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Encouragement For Christmas

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

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

Changes are everywhere.  Many institutions and customs that we once thought sacrosanct have gone by the board.  Yet there are a few that abide, defying time and revolution.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May we keep it in our hearts, that we may be kept in its hope.

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

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

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Saturday Morning

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Monday, December 2, 2019

Now.....On To Christmas!

Can you feel the Christmas Eve excitement?  : )

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or, choose a book to read.

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

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

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

From our home to yours.  God bless.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019


From our home to yours.  : )

I have a moment now to drop in to say "HAPPY THANKSGIVING" to you all.  I will be in the kitchen tomorrow and I will not be posting for the rest of the week - taking a little break to catch my breath and begin the Christmas season by bringing forth the decorations (as my husband is finishing up the outdoor decorations of the house as I type!).  

I do hope that you will enjoy your family and/or friends this Thanksgiving.  Enjoy this season of abundance.  Take time to enjoy all the food.  Laugh together.  Count your many blessings!  God bless.   See you later!  : )

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Always Lessons To Be Learned From Scripture

Aren't Cattails cool?  : )

When I read the Bible it amazes me how a small passage can be packed with life lessons.  This morning I was reading from the Book of Luke, Chapter 22, verses 1 - 6.  It is titled "Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus".  It seems odd that I'm about to come to the crucifixion of Jesus when we are about to begin the season of the birth of Jesus but it's just where I am in my Bible reading right now.

In this small passage we see the chief priests and the teachers of the law looking for ways to get rid of Jesus.  Now let's stop here.  "Men of God" wanting to KILL Jesus?  Here are men who knows the Old Testament, knows the Ten Commandments (and one of the Ten Commandments is "thou shalt not kill"), teaches others to uphold these teachings and commandments and are now plotting, in secret, to kill Jesus.  The life lesson here is that NOTHING is "done is secret" from God.  NO THING.  He knows absolutely everything.  He's sees absolutely everything.  There is not one idea, scheme, plan, thought, etc. that He doesn't know about.  A lot of people do things under the cover of darkness thinking that if man can't see them they'll get away with it.  But God sees it and He is the only one that counts.

This passage also says they were afraid of the people.  Their reputation was at stake.  They wanted to be seen as upright men.  Men who were wise and were looked up to to do the right thing.  Another life lesson.  A lot of people are more concerned about what other people think of them rather than what God thinks of them.  Again, it's what's God's opinion of them that counts.

The next thing we read is that "Satan entered Judas" - there are so many people who do not believe that evil exists (which I don't understand at all if they look around and see what's happening in this world).  Our days are battlegrounds for good versus evil.  It's a spiritual battleground for our hearts and souls and minds.  And we need to be reminded daily to pray "lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil".  Pray that God would fight for us.  Pray that He would walk ahead of us and pull out those landmines of temptations lest we destroy ourselves.  We need to pray for our family and friends in this way.  Judas sold his soul for a few lousy coins and this passage says "they were delighted".   Evil delights when we mess up.

There is a reason that the Gospel is called the "Good News" though.  It teaches us these life lessons so that we learn from them!  There isn't one of us who hasn't messed up at some point in our lives.  And it doesn't do any good to point fingers and say that we weren't as bad as so and so because sin is sin - and we are all sinners and we all sin.  But, for the Grace of God, we repent of that sin and turn from our ways and salvation through Jesus comes to us and changes our lives.  Those sins are as far as the east is from the west and we are made new.  

So, remember that nothing is hidden from God and He is just a prayer away.  : )

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Let The Work Begin!

We love our birds!!!  So fun to have them right outside the window.  : )

The house is chilly this morning, the sky is crystal clear and we're in for a very nice day (42 degrees for the high!) and that's why I've titled this post "let the work begin".   For us, Thanksgiving week is the beginning of the holidays and there is much work to be done - inside and out.

Because the weather is going to be mild (mild for us northerners) we will be spending a good part of the day putting some Christmas things up.  Some may think that it's too soon but there are a lot of people who have had their decorations up a couple of weeks ago already.  I used to think it was too soon but around here we really do have to use these warmers temps to do this kind of work.  My husband has spent TOO many Decembers in the freezing cold putting up lights and decorations so we know from the past that if we don't do it now, it's just too cold.

Some may think that we don't HAVE to decorate but it's fun for us to have a "Holiday House" so to speak.  It brings some brightness and fun to the neighborhood and gives the feeling of celebration.  We used to go all out - the whole house outlined in lights, the trees, the bushes, the fence, all the light-up decorations, etc., but this year we plan to keep it somewhat simpler (mostly because my husband is feeling his age and just can't do all the work anymore plus we got new gutters and gutter guards this year and it's difficult now to hang the lights).  But I have a plan in mind and hopefully we can get it all done today.  : )

And then as stated in my last post, the Thanksgiving preparations begin - putting the house in order as far as cleanliness, order, and party ready.  : )  I really do get a burst of energy and motivation in thinking about all of these things.

One thing about this time of year is how we can all "think forward" to the different times that we'll be having friends and family in our home and what that will look like.  What can you do to prepare now so you aren't stressed later?  How will you be entertaining?  Do you have enough chairs to accommodate?  Do you need to move things around (my favorite part - LOL) for people to sit and be comfortable?  Where will you put the tree?  How will you serve the food?  This is another favorite part for me.  I love thinking about all of these things.  Again, we have a small house so I have to make sure that we know what we're going to be doing.

Going through all your serving dishes, flatware, napkins, etc., now will mean that you are ready later.  One thing that I don't do until after the holidays are over is deep clean.  I know that sounds strange but I just clean as I normally would - dust, vacuum, mop floors, etc.  And the reason is that there is enough going on in the next month or so and that people will be coming in and out, the decorations are up and hard to clean around that just keeping up with the daily cleaning is enough for me!   And, really, for most of us who keep up with the daily cleaning won't have unpresentable houses anyway.  Your company is there to relax and have fun and eat good food - they aren't going to look around to see if you've deep-cleaned.  So, I'm encouraging you to relax as well.  Enjoy the wonderful people in your life and enjoy!  Because when January comes and all the decorations are put away - watch out!  Let the REAL cleaning begin!!!!!!  LOL  : )

And in keeping with the importance of learning and reading, I've been reading "Middlemarch" by George Eliot:

Love the old classics!

I've read Silas Marner, Adam Bede, and now this one by her and I'm enjoying this book very much.  Again, I encourage you to read.  Read these old classics because they make you think.  They have good morals and they increase your vocabulary!  Here are a few words that I've yet to look up:

.............and those are just a few!  This was literature that high school students used to have to read a long time ago.  When I was in high school in the 70's we didn't even come close to having our minds stretched like this.  It's really sad when I think back to it.  All the things we WEREN'T taught.

I like to write quotes down too from the books that I read and here are two that I want to share before I end this post:

"We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinnertime; keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to enquiries say, "Oh, nothing!"  Pride helps us; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our own hurts - not to hurt others."

"The Vincy's (a family in this book) had the readiness to enjoy, the rejection of all anxiety, and the belief in life as a merry lot, which made a house exceptional........"

It's the last quote that I encourage you - to make our homes exceptional - to enjoy the things we have, and the people that come in, to reject anxiety by keeping the worldly stuff out, and be merry!  

God bless you as you build up your home and take care of it.  Thank you for stopping by and visiting with me - I appreciate all of you!!!!  : )

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Planning and Preparing

The finished puzzle my husband was working on - it is now in the living room as a decorative way to usher in Thanksgiving!  : )

It was raining overnight (or, I should say, early this morning) and it has changed over to snow (only sticking to the roofs so far).  I really do get more motivated at this time of year.  I love the seasonal changes.  We keep clearing away what is left of the leaves, but we have a "dirty" tree in our front yard that has literally hundreds of long seed pods that fall all over the yard and our roof.  The squirrels love them and it's fun to watch them hold the pods in their little hands like they're playing the harmonica or something and then they flip it over to get to the other side.  Our tree has never been so full of pods and that is why I think we will have another winter of deep snow.  So keep your pantries full, your cars in good condition, and enjoy the season!!!  : )

I know this is unusual to blog on a Thursday, but I wanted to keep in touch.  So far it's been a good week and like the title of this post says - I'm planning and preparing.  Getting ready for our gathering for Thanksgiving even though it's a small group of us is both fun and enjoyable for me.  I love writing ideas down and then seeing how I can incorporate them. I begin writing them in hand-written notes and then I type them out because it just looks tidier and more organized, leaving room to write notes off to the side.  

I begin by writing out the week's menu and this time I wrote out my Thanksgiving menu and EVERYTHING that needs to be done and when.  I then write out what needs to be bought yet next week - things like fresh fruit and vegetables.  Lastly, I wrote ideas down on what we can do after we eat.  I am SO not the kind of person who likes to just sit around and talk - in our home we either have to play games or do a craft project!!!  I remember one year at my in-laws when our son was really young yet and they decided to plug in a movie to watch after we ate.  It wasn't but a half hour later that everyone was asleep except for our son and me!  After that I was determined that we're going to stay a little more on the active side.  LOL  : )

My menu for Thanksgiving is VERY traditional (because that's just me) but I will share it with you anyway.  : )   I make EVERYTHING before Thanksgiving day except for the green beans which is quick and easy to pull together - other than that everything is done and just re-heated and it's just as good.

*Turkey (with a small group I put a turkey breast into the crockpot on Wednesday, slice it, put it into a roasting pan with all the juices and pop it into the oven to heat up on Thanksgiving - that way you still have that turkey smell in the house!)
*Dressing - this is another item that I make in the crockpot the day before.  When it's done, I put it into a casserole and reheat it along with the turkey.  Because I don't have a lot of room to dry my bread, I'm one of those who opts to buy that bag of dried, cubed, bread at the store!
*Mashed potatoes - we really like the make-ahead potatoes that have sour cream in it (a casserole of mashed potatoes) so, again, I make this the day before and into the oven it goes with the turkey and dressing to reheat!
*Gravy - this is also something I make the day before because all I do is make a roux, add the turkey broth and seasonings and then juices from the already cooked turkey.  Reheat on top of the stove when ready!
*Cranberry sauce - I make this a couple of days in advance.  No canned sauce for me - I need the real thing - chunks of cranberries.  : )
*Green beans - this is made right before serving.  Just blanching the beans first, put them into an ice bath, melt butter in a skillet, add minced shallots, the beans, salt and pepper and saute.  So good.  : )
*Dinner rolls - I found another bread machine dough especially for dinner rolls so I will make these the day before as well and just reheat before serving.  Serve with REAL butter!!!!!!
*Beverages - we just serve water and/or milk

This year I'm going to try something new - an appetizer board.  I guess these "boards" are how people are entertaining now and I love the idea.  I bought a new board so that I can entertain in this way.  They have boards for brunches, appetizers, desserts, etc., so this year I'm going to try an appetizer board because we won't eat for a while after everyone gets here.  So on to this board goes:

*A baked brie with figs and fig jam
*Crackers and toasted sourdough bread
*A variety of regular olives and stuffed olives
*A variety of regular dill pickles and sweet pickles
*Mounds of red grapes
*Sparkling cider

I'm envisioning this in my head and I think it will look pretty.  : )

As for what to do afterwards we will either:

*Play games, or.......
*The craft project to work on will be treats for the birds - we'll be stringing cranberries, popcorn, and Cheerios as a garland to hang on the outdoor tree.  And we will also put peanut butter on pinecones and sprinkle them with birdseed, attach a string and then hang those as well.  If time permits, we'll melt suet and add birdseed to that and fill our cookie cutters with this mixture to hang those up too!  I'll provide boxes to put them in for their houses - these can all be frozen until ready to put up.

So, we'll see what we feel like doing but at least there are options!!!!!!!!!!!!

Since the day is filled with food, I'm foregoing any pie this year but I do like to offer some kind of dessert with coffee later so I'm going for the no-churn Pumpkin Spice ice cream.  This is SO good and we'll still feel like we got a little pumpkin in the deal!!!  Here is the recipe if you'd like to try it yourself:


14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
2 cups heavy cream

In mixing bowl, combine pumpkin with all the spices (I mixed the spices together first so there aren't clumps of any one spice) and then add the milk and vanilla and mix thoroughly (I do this with a mixer).  Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form and then add the pumpkin mixture and fold in carefully.

Pour into a freezer-proof pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and then foil and freeze for at least 6 hours (I always do mine the day before using).  Enjoy!!!!!!

This will go great with a cup of coffee.

That's it!!!  My Thanksgiving menu and craft ideas.  Now I've got to get to the day ahead!  God bless you as you plan and prepare for your holiday.  

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Finding The Joy in a World Gone Awry

Nothing but silhouettes of trees against the skies - but don't you love the colors of the sunsets?

I always find it sad when the bad stuff of this world gets all the attention.  And I think we all agree - there's a LOT of bad stuff (and that's an understatement!).  We're bombarded daily with it all.  Just a trip to the store I see far more than I ever wanted to on that given day.  I try to do my part in keeping some semblance of decency while outside the home but it truly feels like I'm a tiny drop of water in an ocean of strangeness.  It feels like we're living in some science fiction futuristic movie where the people are all just unreal.  It feels a little like the Twilight Zone where nothing makes sense.  It can feel overwhelming with what we see and what we hear.  I'll ask it again - when in the world did this all happen?  The dress, the attitudes, the words, the boldness, the rudeness, the complacency, the vulgarity, the morals........

For those of us who care about what this is doing to us, to our families, to our neighbors, to our friends, we need to have within us the need to find what is still okay, what is still good, what is still beautiful.  We all need hope for the future and first that hope is in Jesus.  From there we go on looking for things that we can count it all joy.  Here are a few of my joy finds:

*a new baby - we have a LOT of them at church right now and every time I see one, my heart melts.  They are complete joy - what a miracle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
*praise and worship songs - I absolutely cannot be still while singing praise and worship songs - they bring such joy to my soul and my whole being feels it.
*friendships - the old and the new - people to talk to, to care about you, and for you to care about brings about a joy that warms the heart.
*family - I know.  Families are difficult.  But there are certain members of family that bring great joy to us and we are so grateful that they are in our lives.
*work - getting up in the morning knowing that you are making a difference, being busy and productive gives us joy and satisfaction.
*good books - we can choose books that delight us and take us to a different time and place where we meet people with good morals and standards for living and is a joy to pick it up every day and get away for a while.
*What are your joys in life?  What is it that you can concentrate on when life makes you feel like there is no such thing as joy anymore?  What can you do for others that will make their lives better and help them to remember that there really is a thing called decency and manners?

My "homework" assignment for you this week is to begin to make your home into a place of being different than the world outside the home.  It should be VERY different than what we are seeing and hearing about.  It should be clean, it should be pretty, it should be organized, it should honor the Lord, it should be fun, it should hear laughter (and often), it should be pleasant, it should be comfortable, it should be modest, it should be filled with love and care for each other, it should be safe, it should keep the good things in and keep the bad things out, it should be filled with good memories and the wanting of making more.

It seems like a tall order but it CAN be done if we're serious about finding and keeping the joy in this crazy mixed-up world we live in.  Don't give up in trying.  God blesses our efforts.  He knows our hearts and He will definitely help us in this area because it's something that He wants for us too.  

God bless you and your family this week as you continue to find the joy! 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Cinnamon Rolls for Saturdays

I finally got around to the cinnamon rolls!  : )   The brown transferware I bought from Tuesday Morning years ago - I love bringing it out in the Fall months.

Again, as I sit and write this post, I look out on darkness but there is a touch of sunrise coming.  All is very quiet and the house is warming up and, of course, a cup of coffee off to the side.  A new day.  : )

This past week wasn't anything out of the ordinary so it's not like I have a whole lot to write about, but I guess that's okay as it's in the ordinary daily things that life mostly consists of.  As the title of my post suggests, last Friday evening I pulled out the bread machine and made dough for my much anticipated Saturday morning cinnamon rolls.  : )  I had mentioned to you that I missed my mom's rolls and it was a very special memory of mine growing up.  And now that it's cold outdoors, I just had to do it.  : )

I found this same dough in several places on-line so I don't know who to give the credit to, but it WAS a good one and I hope you can try it too.   I know.  Cinnamon rolls - dough, butter, frosting - you're thinking fat, fat, fat.  Lately I just feel like we're too scared of food.  But people of long ago used to eat food like this.  My mom was never overweight and I don't remember a lot of people who were and we all ate real food.  So, I have to admit, that food doesn't scare me.  One cinnamon roll on a Saturday morning isn't going to break me.  A small snack-size bag of chips with a sandwich for lunch isn't going to put me over the edge.  A cookie or two for a coffee or tea break isn't going to be the problem.  It's the over-doing it that's the problem!  It's knowing portion control and self-control that's important.

I do know, however, that people DO have REAL problems with certain kinds of food and really have to watch what they eat so I'm not trying to be insensitive to that.   But I think it's important that we enjoy food again.  I have heard that French women do this.  When they sit down to a meal they don't look at the food and wonder how many calories it has in it or what the fat content is or whether it's going to be good for them or not, they sit down and comment on how lovely everything looks and how wonderful everything tastes and ask for each other's recipes!  They enjoy the moment of eating together and the delicious food they are eating - the secret though is not overdoing it!    

I'm sure I went on long enough about this and I know you know what I mean, so here is the recipe:


For the dough:  

1 cup warm milk
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup melted butter
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast

Put all of these ingredients in your bread machine bread pan in the order that they are listed.  Select the dough cycle (mine usually takes about 1 1/2 hours).

Once the bread is done, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cover with a clean cloth and let it rest for ten minutes.  Meanwhile, make the cinnamon filling:

For the cinnamon filling:

1 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup softened butter

Mix this together well.

Once the dough has rested, roll it out to a 16 x 21-inch rectangle and spread the 1/3 cup softened butter over the dough and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the butter.  Roll the dough up starting with the long edge tightly and slice with a sharp knife into 12 rolls.  Place these rolls into a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Cover and let rise until nearly doubled.  BUT..............and this is what I did.............

Don't let them rise, but cover them with foil, pop them into the fridge overnight and then take them out 30 minutes before baking.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 25 to 30 minutes tenting them if you want to keep them from over-browning.  This is SUCH a time-saver!  Make them in the evening and bake in the morning - perfect for holidays when you're having someone over for a breakfast or brunch - your house will smell amazing!!!!!!!!

For the frosting (and you HAVE to have frosting):

3 ounces of softened cream cheese
1/4 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

After the rolls have cooled a bit (but still warm) spread all this yummy frosting on top and serve.  : )

I really hope you can try these and let me know what you think.  Since it makes a dozen rolls, we ate just one and then I wrapped each of the others individually and put them in the freezer to just pull out the night before and heat up in the morning.  Works out great.

Other than the regular routine of getting my home-work done during the week, there are a few extra things that I managed to do:

our Thanksgiving napkins!  I finished hand-hemming them yesterday so they are good to go for our meal.  I just love the print on these - they were cut from an old duvet cover.

and I made some soy candles for the house - this one is in the bathroom and is lavender scented, I have one in the kitchen that is, of course, a cinnamon roll scented one (can you tell my love for cinnamon rolls?!)  : )

I spent some time in the kitchen looking at my upcoming meals and prepped a few things ahead of time - making syrup for pancakes that are on the menu, making a salad dressing for the salads, making a pizza seasoning mix for the flatbread pizza, etc.  I also tried to re-organize the fridge (starting off with cleaning it first!) and then putting little baskets to hold like-items together.  Now there is a place for all the nuts we eat and one for all the special grains like quinoa, flaxseed, cornmeal, rice, etc. and one for leftovers that need to be eaten before we make something new.  It has a label that says "Eat first" on it so it reminds me to heat up those leftovers!  

Also in the kitchen I finally pulled all those meal-planning ideas and printed recipes that I have yet to try into one kitchen notebook.  Quite a while ago, I pulled out the recipes that I do cook with and with nutrition in mind, wrote down the entire menu for each meal that would include what vegetable or salad to serve with it, what kind of fruit would taste good with it, what kind of pasta or grain do I need, if any.  So that helps tremendously when sitting down every week to think of meals to prepare.  Now it's in a notebook for ease and for organization.  And all those recipes that I haven't tried yet are in one place because my goal is to try one new recipe a week.

Since the weather for today is going to be so nice, a morning walk pretty soon will have to be planned for.  Come back to a smoothie and a warm cinnamon roll with juice and then get started on today's to-do's:

*Write out the Thanksgiving cards - I just send a few out to family since we can't get together.
*Keep crocheting the "quilt" blocks for my blanket to give away - I'm almost there!!
*Clean out the storage room - I keep putting this one off!!!!

That should do it!  Thank you SO much for dropping by again because I enjoy your visit.  I hope this encourages you to bake, clean, work on something for someone else, take care of yourself and just do what you can to enjoy this day.  That is your assignment for today!!!  : )  God bless.